It can be hard to shut Homer Simpson up, but São Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab did it. In August, Fox Films and Brazil’s Gol Airlines decked out the fuselage of a Boeing 737 with Homer adhesives to promote The Simpsons Movie. But since the plane was scheduled to fly over municipal airspace, city hall nixed the campaign under its new Clean City Law that bans outdoor advertising and severely limits storefront signs. As a result, the airspace above São Paulo is a Homer-free zone.
In fact, much of this teeming metropolis of 11 million people is now ad-free. Implemented gradually over the past year, the Clean City Law targets almost all forms of external advertising, including ads on planes and blimps as well as those adorning the 12,000 legally registered billboards and untold thousands of unregistered placards that dot the city. The removal of what Mayor Kassab calls “visual pollution” has exposed both the beauty and beastliness of Brazil’s bustling business capital. For the first time in decades, the ornate facades of old downtown buildings have been revealed in all their glory; On the other hand, the slums, or favelas, that line the expressways are no longer hidden behind gaudy billboards.
Residents of São Paulo seem to like what they are seeing—or not seeing, as the case may be. Some 73 percent approve of the law, and 54 percent think the city is a better place for it. Even many merchants and executives who were forced to change the layout of their storefronts have come to endorse the overall effect. “The visual cleanup of the urban environment has contributed to the well-being of residents,” says António Freitas, general director of Drogasil, a pharmacy chain that revamped all the signs adorning its establishments. Kalle Lasn, editor-in-chief of Adbusters, the Canadian anti-advertising magazine, hailed the law as “a seminal phenomenon,” expressing hope that it could become “a catalyst in a backlash that may lead somewhere.” At this, Mayor Kassab beams. “Time has shown that the city wanted this law.”
SYDNEY (AFP) — Australian television comics who breached security at a global summit by posing as part of a Canadian motorcade carrying an Osama bin Laden look-alike Monday had all charges against them dropped.
The team from The Chaser’s War on Everything show came within metres of US President George W. Bush’s hotel in September after their fake three-car convoy was waved through security checkpoints.
They were stopped only after one of the comedians from the show emerged from a car dressed as fugitive alleged terror mastermind bin Laden.
New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery said the circumstances of the case, which had been set for a two-week hearing in July, were “unusual” and the charges against all 11 had been dropped.
Cowdery said the comics, drivers and crew, who carried fake APEC security passes, had been allowed into the secure zone by police.
“Police permission in fact constitutes special justification for entry,” he said.
“Accordingly, there is no reasonable prospect of conviction and for that reason the prosecutions should not proceed.”
It’s been so long ago that I’ve seen common sense like this that I’ve become a cynic and wonder: isn’t it done just prevent even more egg on their face?
How on earth does Microsoft continue to pour massive resources into building the same frigging synchronization platforms again and again? Damn, they just finished building something called Windows Live FolderShare and I haven’t exactly noticed a stampede to that. I’ll bet you’ve never even heard of it. The 3,398th web site that lets you upload and download files to a place on the Internet. I’m so excited I might just die.
I shouldn’t really care. What Microsoft’s shareholders want to waste their money building, instead of earning nice dividends from two or three fabulous monopolies, is no business of mine. I’m not a shareholder. It sort of bothers me, intellectually, that there are these people running around acting like they’re building the next great thing who keep serving us the same exact TV dinner that I didn’t want on Sunday night, and I didn’t want it when you tried to serve it again Monday night, and you crunched it up and mixed in some cheese and I didn’t eat that Tuesday night, and here it is Wednesday and you’ve rebuilt the whole goddamn TV dinner industry from the ground up and you’re giving me 1955 salisbury steak that I just DON’T WANT. What is it going to take for you to get the message that customers don’t want the things that architecture astronauts just love to build. The people? They love twitter. And flickr and delicious and picasa and tripit and ebay and a million other fun things, which they do want, and this so called synchronization problem is just not an actual problem, it’s a fun programming exercise that you’re doing because it’s just hard enough to be interesting but not so hard that you can’t figure it out.
Why I really care is that Microsoft is vacuuming up way too many programmers. Between Microsoft, with their shady recruiters making unethical exploding offers to unsuspecting college students, and Google (you’re on my radar) paying untenable salaries to kids with more ultimate frisbee experience than Python, whose main job will be to play foosball in the googleplex and walk around trying to get someone…anyone…to come see the demo code they’ve just written with their “20% time,” doing some kind of, let me guess, cloud-based synchronization… between Microsoft and Google the starting salary for a smart CS grad is inching dangerously close to six figures and these smart kids, the cream of our universities, are working on hopeless and useless architecture astronomy because these companies are like cancers, driven to grow at all cost, even though they can’t think of a single useful thing to build for us, but they need another 3000-4000 comp sci grads next week. And dammit foosball doesn’t play itself.
If you thought the CSS Homer was awesome, check out this modification that animates the characters so you can see how Homer was built..
House and Senate campaign committees of both parties are explicitly offering lobbyists access to members of Congress at this summer’s political conventions in exchange for campaign contributions.
Big donors have been feted at political conventions for years, but some of the latest arrangements exploit loopholes in the new ethics law, which was designed to reduce the influence of special interests.
Among the convention perks being peddled: tickets to receptions with lawmakers and hard-to-find hotel rooms. The price: anywhere from $30,000 to $200,000.
Aides to Sen. Hillary Clinton defended on Thursday her support for a gas-tax holiday – a proposal that has been roundly criticized by economic and energy experts and derided among pundits as political pandering.
“We believe the presidency requires leadership,” said Wolfson. “There are times that a president will take a position that a broad support of quote-unquote experts agree with. And there are times they will take a position that quote-unquote experts do not agree with.”
I don’t think anyone who refers to experts as “quote-unquote experts” should be making important decisions, let alone be allowed to tie her own shoelaces. For the past seven years we’ve seen how well such an attitude works. Apparently Hillary is just as big a quote-unquote moron as W is.
Despite daily headlines bemoaning record gas prices, the U.S. is actually one of the cheaper places to fill up in the world.
Out of 155 countries surveyed, U.S. gas prices were the 45th cheapest, according to a recent study from AIRINC, a research firm that tracks cost of living data.
Most expensive places to buy gas
Swelling populations and a global tide of immigration will present new security challenges for the United States by straining resources and stoking extremism and civil unrest in distant corners of the globe, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in a speech yesterday.
The CIA director also predicted a widening gulf between Europe and North America on how to deal with security threats, including terrorism. While U.S. and European officials agree on the urgency of the terrorism threat, there is a fundamental difference — a “transatlantic divide” — over the solution, he said.
While the United States sees the fight against terrorism as a global war, European nations perceive the terrorist threat as a law enforcement problem, he said.
“They tend not to view terrorism as we do, as an overwhelming international challenge. Or if they do, we often differ on what would be effective and appropriate to counter it,” Hayden said. He added that he could not predict “when or if” the two sides could forge a common approach to security.
Gee, I wonder how the Red Army Faction, Red Brigade, November 17th Group, the IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force, ETA, Action Directe, and several others are doing. Dear Hayden, the “when or if” is simple: start realizing which approaches actually work.
Today is actually the National Day of Prayer. Really. Let that sink in for a moment.
The head wackaloon of this year’s National Day of Futility is Shirley Dobson … of those Dobsons, the fundagelically evil kooks behind Focus on the Family. This was supposed to be an ecumenical event, as near as something that celebrates religious idiocy can be ecumenical, but it has since evolved into an exclusively evangelical Christian church service, sponsored by our federal government. Using her vast powers as chair of the national task force, Dobson requires her coordinators to sign this statement of faith.
I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of The Living God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only One by which I can obtain salvation and have an ongoing relationship with God. I believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his sinless life, his miracles, the atoning work of his shed blood, his resurrection and ascension, his intercession and his coming return to power and glory. I believe that those who follow Jesus are family and there should be unity among all who claim his name. I agree that these statements are true in my life.
Hello, Jews and Moslems! Nice to see you’re joining us atheists in rejecting prayer. Oh, you’re not? Well, at least we’ll be able to keep each other company with all the other second-class citizens.
Creative becomes the second company behind Seagate to settle with consumers over exaggerated drive capacity.
Creative was accused of misrepresenting the number of files and hours of songs that players could hold, as well as inflating capacities by as much as seven percent.
While Seagate’s settlements dealt with its hard drives, Creative’s deals with its MP3 players. Any consumer who bought a player between May 5, 2001 and April 30, 2008 is eligible to receive a settlement.
The terms of the deal call for Creative to “make certain disclosures regarding the storage capacity of its hard disc drive MP3 players,” in addition to giving those affected the option to purchase a new 1GB player at 50 percent of the retail price, or receive 20 percent off a product at the company’s store.
So you win a lawsuit against a company, and as a prize you are allowed to spend even more money with that company.
I think I’d like my customers to “win” that way from me as well…
riaa-logo-123.jpgThe Recording Industry Association of America suffered a legal setback this week in a music piracy case where a judge ruled that the sole act of making a music file available in a “shared folder” does not violate copyright laws.
In Atlantic v. Howell, the RIAA made the legal assertion that a “sound recording” that is ripped to a computer and stored in any kind of a shared folder is unauthorized. This was an interesting statement because a shared folder can be a very broad category that wasn’t entirely made clear by the RIAA.
In the ruling this week, U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake denied the RIAA’s summary judgment motion and shot down all of the RIAA’s theories of file distribution where the digital file did not change hands.
The RIAA and MPAA are already working on new laws…
Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj has been released from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay and is being flown to Sudan, according to sources.
Al-Hajj’s family is expected to greet him when he lands in the capital Khartoum late on Thursday.
Once he arrives, al-Hajj will undergo a series of medical checks.
Al-Hajj was seized by Pakistani intelligence officers while travelling near the Afghan border in December 2001.
Despite holding a legitimate visa to work for Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel in Afghanistan, he was handed to the US military in January 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Al-Hajj, who is originally from Sudan, was held as an “enemy combatant” without ever facing a trial or charges.
The Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling (pdf) in United States v. Arnold allows border patrol agents to search your laptop or other digital device without limitation when you are entering the country. EFF and many civil liberties, travelers’ rights, immigration advocacy and professional organizations are concerned that unfettered laptop searches endanger trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other private information. These groups have signed a letter asking Congress to hold hearings to find out what protocol, if any, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) follows in searching digital devices and copying, storing and using travelers’ data. The letter also asks Congress to pass legislation protecting travelers’ laptops and smart phones from unlimited government scrutiny.
In the meantime, how can international travelers protect themselves at the U.S. border, short of leaving their laptops and iPhones at home?
The EFF has many suggestions, but it really boils down to: if you’re not a US citizen, don’t travel to the US if you can avoid it. If you are a US citizen, you’re fucked.
Two German companies have patented technology for sending scented text messages on mobile phones.
Partners in the project, the Institute of Sensory Analysis and Marketing Consultancy in Göttingen (ISI) and the Oberhausen-based specialist for interactive services Convisual, announced the patent for the smart card-sized chip on Tuesday.
“People will be able to send the smell of the beach and sunshine to their friends when they’re on vacation,” Convisual spokesperson Sandra Wiewiorra told The Local on Wednesday.
If you though marketing sms messages were bad, just wait….