LRRH’s brook found, claim archeologists

Archeologists claim to have found the brook in which the wolf was thrown that ate Little Red Riding Hood. As you may remember, the wolf had seduced Little Red Riding Hood with his sweet words, and then eaten her and her grandmother, and had fallen asleep afterwards. Luckily for the two women a hunter came by, who cut open the wolf’s stomach, released the women, and replaced them by stones. After that, the hunter sewed the wolf’s stomach back together. The wolf went for a drink in a nearby brook, and the weight of the stones made him fall into the water where he drowned.

Now, archeologists say they have discovered this brook, and not only that, but they have also found something that may or may not be the remains of the wolf.

Of course, this all proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there once were sapient, speaking wolves. Yay for science!

(Via Sargasso.)

How to mess with telemarketers

Telemarketers giving you a hard time on the phone? Here’s one solution.

(Via Xt.)

Podcasts and landgrabs

Copyprof Michael Geist has an excellent article up roughly outlining how the US is blackmailing most of the rest of the world into adopting copyright laws even more ridicous than it already has. Basically the idea is that the US wants to force other countries to buy its wares while offering nothing in return. (The US is one of only two net exporters of “content” in the world.)

The surprising thing is that a mainstream publication like the BBC publishes this.

(Thanks BoingBoing.)

Local news: the cabal of Dutch record companies has decided that anyone who wants to podcast in this country, can, for a modest fee of 1000 euro a year. Yeah, whatever.

(Thanks Natasha.)

Ewa Wisnierska: “I thanked the angels, but I don’t believe in God”

German paragliding champion Ewa Wisnierska was training for the world championship when she established the world altitude survival record, ascending 8000 meters in 40 minutes of unpowered flight. She had been sucked into a storm that according to one commenter “not even 747s fly through”.

A frost-bitten Wisnierska’s response: “I thanked the angels, but I don’t believe in God.”

Another paraglider was found dead after being caught by the same storm. Wisnierska has gone back to preparing for next week’s world championship.

Walking in Castricum

A very bleak winter day in Castricum yesterday, where we went hiking. Just a short walk; after 90 minutes it turned out we had only travelled 5 kilometers, so we decided to go for the short 11 kilometer route instead of the longer 18 kilometer one. This way we avoided tramping through a forest in the dark (which if I remember correctly can be a lot of fun, but just something I wasn’t in the mood for).

There is a wooded area between the village of Castricum and the dunes that consists of both evergreens and decidious trees. I shot some 65 photos, most of which I consider failures. My brother doesn’t like the winter time for photography; he says the bleak light makes everything look flat. Though that is true of course, I see that more as a challenge (plus I like restraints). My problem is that I don’t know what’s beautiful, and that I stlll need to learn how to work a camera. And that I need to develop my own aesthetic. (Being the son of two photographers and the brother of a videographer that makes me somewhat of a black sheep.)

Initially I wanted to leave out this first photo because it was extremely out of focus. But I do like everthing else about it — the colours, the composition, the foreground, the background, and especially the dynamic of the two hikers — so I decided to unsharp mask it to the extreme. I also stretched up the values; in doing so I killed some nice contrasts, but I also brought out the foreground, which I thought more important.

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The first photo was taken with the camera held high up above my head. After a month or two of using the Canon Powershot A620 it seems that its tiny lens (7 mm) makes it little better than your average fixed-focus disposabe camera. What does set it apart though is its swivelling LCD screen, which makes it much easier to take photos like this (assuming you don’t have anything to stand on), or photos from close to ground (if you don’t want to get your clothes dirty). I believe the entire 600-series has this feature. I am not sure if it’s worth buying a Powershot 6xx for this reason alone though; I bought mine because it is one of the few digital pocket cameras that can be pc controlled, which I need to make pack shots. The 6xxs are typically 150% of the price of the otherwise equally capable 5xx series (Natasha uses the 540, that’s how I know).

The next photo: Bob Ross gone nuts!

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I only include it here because the texture is pretty (and this much saturation in the winter makes the moss seem to come from outer space). The photo is cropped to get rid of some twigs in the foreground, but otherwise uncorrected.

After the first 90 minutes we sat down for tea and snacks at some picknick tables that were lining a lake. You can well see how dreary the weather is. I took a couple of unexciting pictures of the lake, and I would have excluded them all if it weren’t for this family of humans that wandered in front of my lens.

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The next photo is included purely because of all the terrific detail — scaling it down from 2200×1500 really doesn’t do it justice, I am afraid. It is slightly blurry because the camera decided to autofocus on a sprig of wood splinters sticking out in the bottom left corner.

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In case you are wondering, this is the trunk of a tree with a chunk of bark missing.

Again, I wasn’t going to include the next photo, but this one I needed to make a point, namely that a lot of the trees we saw were extremely bent and curved and twisted. Castricum must be the capital of twisted trees in North Holland. A lot of photos I took of such trees did not come out very well, because the subjects tended to blend into the background.

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Then, at the end of the afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds and we got this very idyllic lane at the end of our walk.

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Before I forget: new anti-spam measures

I have installed a further filter to help me get rid of comment spam. Where the previous filter merely made your comments go from “will never be deleted other than actively by me” to “may be accidentally deleted through my neglicence”, the new deal is that if your comment looks like spam, it will be deleted, and I won’t even know about it. Basically it’s gotten to the point where my comment spam filter needs to be as aggressive as my e-mail spam filter.

For the past few weeks I have been keeping an eye on this system, and so far I have seen no false positives. That doesn’t mean much; not many people comment here anyway. Signal to noise ratio is something like 1 : 200, so you understand why I need to take these increasingly drastic measures. Should your legitimate comment be caught by trap, mail it to me instead and I’ll see what I can do.

The Great Wikipedia Webcomics Purge of 2007

Earlier today, I posted the following at the Teleblog.

Kristofer Straub made a point. Specifically, that those who want to delete all mention of webcomics from Wikipedia for being non-notable seem to get much more leeway than those feeling that a so-called encyclopedia should endeavor to describe all facets of life. Reasons for deletion? Who needs reasons?

Straub set out to get the entry about his own comic deleted, and succeeded. In order to do so, he started the deletion process for Starslip Crisis and created several sockpuppet accounts to support the delete. The sockpuppets used shaky logic to support the delete — Wikipedia barely wants to know if a deletion is Right, only if it is Supported. The account that he used to start the deletion process was new. It had not been involved in any editing before, just as one would expect of the account of someone with personal reasons to get an entry deleted.

Interestingly enough, somebody had created a sockpuppet to vote keep; this was discovered by Wikipedians, and the puppeteer’s votes were not counted. But apparently no one discovered that ten of the delete votes came from sockpuppets too.

It would appear that the Deletionist faction is gaining importance at Wikipedia. If the rules that the Deletionists live by were followed to the very end, shouldn’t the Wikipedia entry about Wikipedia be deleted too?

Via Reinder.

The losers of 2006

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Comedy gold from Dunglish.nl. In case you do not get the joke: a Dutch news show trying to be cool by using English words. Van means of.

It’s here!

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Real snow.

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The trails of the homo sapiens sapiens.

Winter in Amsterdam

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The Plane (Sycamore for you Merkins) already looks like shadows are playing tricks with it, so I thought it could be even more interesting when shadows actually are. Heavily cropped, and had to unsharp-mask this one quite a bit.

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So it’s February, and the season is what we’d like to call Winter, so instead of snow we get … flowers. Weird. (Also heavily cropped.)

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I like this one because of the way the street lamps, the trees, and the surfaces of the cars all interact differently with the sunlight. The street is the Stadionkade, near my office. I took the picture where the Stadionkade crosses the Parnassusweg, looking towards the Schinkel.