19 June 06 - 14:50Stuck accelerator driver arrestedBack in March, this guy claimed his accelerator was stuck and he had no way to stop his car in a bizarre re-enactment of the tv movie Runaway Car. Looks like the police have now decided he wasn't a victim of a malfunctioning car, but was actually using it as an excuse to drive and high speeds without stopping while trailed by a police helicopter. My favourite part of the story is that he "decided not to turn off the engine incase it made the steering lock". It's true that on cars with power steering, the steering becomes almost useless when the engine isn't running. But still, if the engine isn't running you can stop pretty quickly so as long as you're on a straight bit of road it's a much better plan than just going along at full-throttle while you burn out the brakes trying to keep the car from going over 70mph. It has to be said, the plot of that movie isn't any more plausible (yes, I did sit through it once :).
04 June 06 - 18:21Mark Frauenfelder is the jackass
In a recent post on Boing Boing one of their editors, Mark Frauenfelder relates how they have been sent a "pre-emptive nastygram" concerning illegal streaming of FIFA World Cup footage. Let me get of the way to start with that I think the lawyers in question are stupid for sending out such letters, creating ill-will and bad PR as they do so. Also FIFA, as with the governing bodies of many sports these days, seem more interested in protecting the commercial value of their "rights" than anything else, and I feel absoltely no fondness towards them.
It would be understandable if Mark was annoyed or upset, or wanted to ridicule the law firm of Baker & McKenzie LLP, or Infront Sports & Media, but Mark goes the extra mile with:
Oh brother. I don't even know what the FIFA World Cup is. I'm guessing it's soccer, which I hate just as much as any other pro sport. Every editor at Boing Boing detests professional sports, and we would sooner stream a video of a crumpled up paper napkin in the corner of a room than show some jackasses running after a ball. The only time we would ever post anything about pro-sports would be to make fun of them.
Mark thus demonstrates that he's the jackass, and a bigoted one at that. First he demonstrates the kind of ignorance that actually puts him in the same group as the sports fans he seems to detest by claiming not to know what sport the world's biggest sporting competition is, because it's pretty certain you'd get the same reaction to the world cup from most sports fans in America. Only the USA could be so arrogant as to not only invent all it's own sports, but then deride or ignore the single most popular sport in the world as a game for kids or women (or in particularly obnoxious circles call it "fagball"). Yes, Mark Frauenfelder might hate football (sorry, soccer) simply because it's a professional sport, but in the way he dismisses it with such ignorance he sounds just like every braindead jock he most likely got beat up by at school.
Yes, the FIFA World Cup is the world's biggest sporting competition, bigger than the Olympics even though only 32 countries make it to the finals and far bigger than the Superbowl that I'm sure he also detests. While "pro-sports" in the USA may be dominated by "jackasses" (and no doubt Mark is jealous of the phenominal amount of money they are paid for simply being good at playing a game), soccer is a powful force for good in the world's poorer countries, particularly in north Africa where a lot of the players in Europe's top leagues come from. It's fine for "intellectuals" in America to be dismissive of sports and sit on their butts while they argue about bullshit subjects like copyright and whether it's more ethical to do this or that, but for kids in poor countries who have nothing much to look forward to in life, the game of soccer is not only the cheapest form of entertainment they have, but becoming a player in Europe is the best possible outcome for them. Many of those that made it have been able to build schools and clinics with the money they made.
As for the whole thing of "detesting professional sports", I wonder why Mark doesn't expand on that. I've come across people who variously hate competitive sports (as if it would be sport if it wasn't competitive), hate team sports (presumably because they got picked last at school) or hate international sports competions (because it's supposedly encourages xenophobia and racism). They're all wooley-minded people who think of themselves as intellectual and think that sports are below them, that competition is wrong or that because they don't like the way some sports fans behave, that sport itself is somehow bad. All pathetic attitudes in my opinion. I could write at length about all the good aspects of sport, professional or otherwise, but people with such attitudes uniformly have their heads shoved so far up their own arses that there's no reasoning with them.
I can completely understand someone not being interested in sport, I wasn't really interested in anything but motorsport until five or six years ago and I wasn't even into motorsport until I left school, but to "detest" sport, wow, that takes some effort. I tried but struggled to think of anything I actually detest that isn't something anyone in their right mind would hate like terrorists (or animal-rights activists as they like to be called). There are a lot of things I don't like and an even larger number of things I'm not the slightest bit interested in, but it must take some real vindictiveness to actually detest something that a large percentage of the population derive a lot of enjoyment from.
Boing Boing is a web-zine that bills itself as "A Directory of Wonderful Things". Sure, there are occasionally wonderful things on there if you don't get bored to tears by Cory Doctorow's inceasant whinging about copyright or all the political posts which might satisfy the 'editors' of Boing Boing, but it's hard to argue any of them are "wonderful things". In fact there's a great post where Mark Frauenfelder further demonstrates his extreme arrogance by openly insulting anyone who would dare to complain about the more than occasional political post they publish. Of their 'editors', only Xeni Jardin seems to stick to the web-zine's breif, although there is an amusing post where she laughs at CNN's use of the term "rim-shot" in a headline because, according to her, it referrs to a sexual act. Then she gets all uppity at the legions of people that email her to say that it just refers to that thing the drummer does when the stand-up comic finishes the punchline, thus completely missing the point: it's not at all funny or controversial that CNN would use "rim-shot" in a headline unless you're in the same tiny group of people as Xeni herself, thinking that "rim-shot" means a sexual act. Oh well, there must be something about writing for a web-zine that has hundreds of thousands of readers that makes you unwilling to accept criticism.
Oh, if you're wondering why I keep referring to Boing Boing's 'editors' in quotes like that, it's because I wonder how much actual editing they do before they publish items. If you read it via an RSS reader you'll notice that stories are corrected over and over as they seem to rely on their readers to research everything for them. They must get a hell of a lot of dross in their submissions bin in order for what they publish to be considered "edited". Oh, and I refer to Boing Boing as a web-zine rather than a blog because I think one of the things that makes something a blog rather than just a webpage that gets regularly updated, is the provision for people to add comments. If you've got something to say about a post on Boing Boing, you can try emailing the 'editor' who posted the story and they might add your correction to the original post, or they might just completely ignore it. You're only real option for commenting on their stories is to bitch about them on your own blog, if you have one. I suspect they'll claim that with so many readers, they couldn't support a workable comments system, but for gods sake, even BBC News Online allows commenting on many stories now and they have enough readers they make Boing Boing look like, well, my blog.