Ripping Yarns...
Thrilling adventures at the frontiers of pop culture

"The very finest selections from Mr Berners-Lee's Electric Interweb, hand picked and presented for the more discerning browser."


Complaints and compliments to Stuart Houghton


Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Elves make protein crystallography easier

Do not go to the elves for counsel, for they will say both "no" and "yes."

In this case, 'Elves', is the name of a bit of software that error-corrects and automates x-ray crystallography. Found via Eureka Alert - an interesting feed of science-related press releases.

Posted by: Stuart / 4:41 pm ::link to this entry


Nice name generator script.

Posted by: Stuart / 9:43 am ::link to this entry

Monday, January 26, 2004

Alternatives to teen sex

Guideposts for Teens, a teen absitinence program from the U S of A has created a list of wholesome activities that healthy teenagers can try instead of making the sex. This has been covered extensively by Boing Boing, but I couldn't help but comment on the fact that so may of the suggestions consist of unbelievable double entendres...

31. Eat something you have never tried before.
35. Play in the leaves.
38. Have a squirt gun fight.
62. Lip-synch to Oldies.
84. Rake leaves, shovel snow, plant flowers.

Posted by: Stuart / 10:50 am ::link to this entry

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Windows/Linux software equivalents

The table of equivalents / replacements / analogs of Windows software in Linux.

Posted by: Stuart / 4:23 pm ::link to this entry

The Grey Album

Danger Mouse (the hip hop chap, not the crime-fighting cartoon mouse) has released The Grey Album - Jay-Z's The Black Album, remixed using only samples from The Beatles' White Album.

Apparently it is quite good, but I think he deserves points just for the concept.

Posted by: Stuart / 3:44 pm ::link to this entry

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Gin & A Bunch of Different Juices

Many, many versions of Snoop's Gin and Juice.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:44 pm ::link to this entry

Gary Marcus: Making the Mind

New takes on the Nature V Nurture debate.

The emerging picture of nature’s role in the formation of the mind is at odds with a conventional view, recently summarized by Louis Menand. According to Menand, “every aspect of life has a biological foundation in exactly the same sense, which is that unless it was biologically possible it wouldn’t exist. After that, it’s up for grabs.”

Posted by: Stuart / 3:51 pm ::link to this entry

The Lord of the Rings: The RPG

Amusing rendition of LotR as an RPG transcript.

Posted by: Stuart / 2:09 pm ::link to this entry

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Ethnic Ambiguity is the new, er, black

The Guardian on the apparent dissolution of ethnic boundaries in the UK.

Favourite quote : "On Britain's streets a 'Justin' is the term for a white man taken or desired as a lover by a black woman."

Posted by: Stuart / 7:47 pm ::link to this entry

Friday, January 16, 2004

FIFA plan to boost women's soccer - Hotpants

Women's football has been largely ignored by the mainstream - and FIFA has decided to take a stand against sexist attitudes in the game and find some way to empower female players.

Sepp Blatter, the president of the world governing body Fifa, said women should have skimpier kit to increase the popularity of the game. "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball," he said.

"They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?"

Oddly, this doesn't seem to be the solution most women players were after.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:58 am ::link to this entry

A Cotton Candy Autopsy

ACCA is a 'when clowns go bad' graphic novel by David Louapre and Dan Sweetman that I remember reading in the late, semi-great Ogre Books comic shop in Liverpool (trivia: the proprietor of Ogre Books was expelled from school for hurling a desk at a teacher who dissed Spiderman).

Posted by: Stuart / 11:35 am ::link to this entry

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Return of the Chopper

The Raleigh Chopper is to return, with a limited edition run of 2004 (with a numbered plaque) followed by regular, plaque-free production later in the year. The new choppers have a lightweight frame rather than the original steel and the gear lever has been moved from the crossbar to the handlebars for 'safety reasons'.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:18 pm ::link to this entry

The world's front pages

View the front pages of 288 newspapers from 39 countries.

Posted by: Stuart / 3:06 pm ::link to this entry

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Spiritual Cockroaches

The surreal, dadaist, ultra-short stories of K. Ungeheuer.

Posted by: Stuart / 2:43 pm ::link to this entry

Friday, January 09, 2004

How photocopiers spot banknotes

Most colour photocopiers refuse to let you copy banknotes, as do the latest versions of Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. The PDF doecument linked above explains how.

Posted by: Stuart / 1:13 pm ::link to this entry

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Robert Kilroy Silk is a bigoted wanker

Not really news in itself, but RKS decided to ram the point home in a Sunday Express column entitled "We owe Arabs nothing", referring to Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors" and asking "Apart from oil - which was discovered, is produced and is paid for by the West - what do they contribute? Can you think of anything? Anything really useful?... No, nor can I..."

Interestingly, today's Daily Express reports on Mr Kilroy-Silk's ranting, and the ensuing protests by the Commission for racial Equality and the Muslim Council of Britain without mentioning that it was their sister paper that actually printed the thing - referring instead to 'a sunday newspaper'.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:57 am ::link to this entry

Trash TV quote of the week

The contestants on C4's sleep-deprivation gameshow have been hallucinating a little:

"Jimmy was having a rough time of things earlier today - he thought he was in feudal Japan."

Posted by: Stuart / 12:17 am ::link to this entry

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Aibo goes to war?

The US Army is working on an Aibo-like robotic soldier dog designed to help carry some of the up to 100 pounds of gear that today's soldiers are issued

Hopefully it will end up looking like Battle Cat from off of Masters of the Universe :-)

Posted by: Stuart / 11:54 pm ::link to this entry The Top Ten Nanotech Products Of 2003

Several cool nanothings - High performance sunglasses thanks to am ultrathin polymer coating that self-assembles into a protective barrier against UV and scratches; Wrinkle & stain repellent cotton fiber that causes spilled liquids to bead on it's surface; and nonaocrystalline zinc oxide for high-factor sun protection that goes on clear and doesn't trigger allergic reactions.

Posted by: Stuart / 11:51 pm ::link to this entry

Interesting new tactic from Right Wing US pundits

This article looks at the seeming trend among US political commentators to equate opponents of neoconservative policy with anti-semites.

Reading through the cited articles is like slipping into a bizzare other-world in which language has been turned inside out.

Quick examples from the New York Times :

The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.


In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for "conservative" and neo is short for "Jewish") travel in widely different circles and don't actually have much contact with one another.


What could be happening is that the nice, totally non-scary folk at Project for the New American Century are aware of the fact that they resemble to the untrained eye a sinister plot to take over the world (as if! for shame! why do you hate america? etc.) and are trying to lump that kind of unproductive attitude in with another supposed conspiracy in an attempt to tar the left with the 'crazed conspiracy nut' brush. One could point out that the Elders of Zion exist only in racist literature and the ramblings of dipshits, whereas PNAC has a website, a budget and a published list of staff and intends (to quote from its homepage) to explain what American world leadership entails, but this might be tantamount to wearing a tinfoil hat and shouting at the pavement.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:33 pm ::link to this entry

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

'You cant copyright anything on the internet'

The Daily Star ran a feature about 'The Worst Sex Scenes Ever' which was apparently just a little bit similar to this feature on retroCRUSH. When retroCRUSH contacted the Star for comment they were allegedly told "Well, if it's on the internet it's up for grabs. You can't copyright anything on the internet."

With that in mind, does this now mean that all online content at should be considered to be in the public domain?

Posted by: Stuart / 5:20 pm ::link to this entry

Monday, January 05, 2004

Will Wheaton on how the US Media ignored the Penny Arcade Child's Play campaign

Penny Arcade, the extremely funny webcomic about games and gamers managed to raise around USD200,000 in cash and toy donations for a children's hospital as part of their Child's Play campaign, a fact that seems to have been comprehensively ignored by the same media outlets that are constantly spreading the 'video games are worse than paedophile terrorists' meme.

Posted by: Stuart / 5:29 pm ::link to this entry

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Kuleshov effect and remix culture

The 'Kuleshov' effect is named after an experimental Russian filmaker who used cut-ups of existing films to create his work. It refers to the way the emotional impact of an image can be altered by juxtaposition with other images, music, etc. This has interesting ramifications for remixing and fair-use.

Posted by: Stuart / 9:47 pm ::link to this entry

Are you sure a handbasket is a suitable form of transport? Also, is it me or can you smell sulphur?

Endemol are planning a political reality show - with the aim of choosing a (presumably independent) candidate for the next general election.

I predict that within days of its launch there will be at least three Interweb-based astroturf campaigns trying to weight the results for A) a worthy-but-dull single-issue candidate B) a suspiciously aryan countryside alliance/anti-asylum coalition and C) a comedy candidate representing the Just Laugh Along Like Happy Cattle While We Secretly Rob You Of Your Freedoms Party.

Posted by: Stuart / 9:16 pm ::link to this entry

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