The truth about the Israeli art scam

OK, a while ago I posted something about an Israeli art scam occurring in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne. And for a two bit blog like this one the response has been overwhelming, 80 comments of peoples experiences all over the world and counting. From Brisbane to Ireland to Arizona, people have been having so called Israeli art students knocking on their door with a folio full of student canvasses for sale. Whether or not this is a con or not depends on your moral disposition. It is a con if you don’t like people lying to you or being grossly ripped off. Some of you seem to think that this is the essence of capitalism. The culprits of this scam probably go with the Israeli bit because of poor old Israel always getting bombed in the news and what have the Jews done to anyone (a hem, MOSSAD! But let’s stick to the point). In this sense it is a scam. It’s highly unlikely that they’re Israeli. They’re just backpackers. And because of the all the bohemian Israeli hippies that travel the world (we saw a bunch in Peru), it’s a lovable and harmless persona for some unsuspecting homemaker cooking dinner to be surprised by. The other way is it’s guaranteed not student art – Jewish or otherwise. They are reproduction paintings of more famous art, made in a factory probably somewhere in China. What is consistent is at poor quality canvases and very inferior inks are used. They’re typically not going to look great forever. Just think, Ford could paint your car with crappy paint, but...

The internet’s Pearl Harbour. The iPatriot act is coming

Thank you Alternative Tentacles (who may well be Jello Biafra incarnate. Who knows!) for publishing this on Facebook. I hope this will never happen but this is a lecture from July 28 entitled ‘The Future of the Internet‘ and is quite dire. Here’s a shorter excerpt on Youtube. Terror is coming online! Quickly followed by the iPatriot Act. Basically they’re talking about a terrorist like event online. Such an event would be used as a catalyst to introduce legislation that would greatly reduce our freedoms and functionality online. Not that’s it’s without precedent. Call me far out, but without Pearl Harbor, the US would never have entered WWII; without 9/11, there’d be no Patriot Act I or II. Yes sir, there’s speculation of an iPatriot Act. Yet another example no doubt of how you’d have to sacrifice a little more liberty for freedom. Which was in 2001, and still is now an absolute contradiction in terms. The comment itself was made by Laurence Lessig. Yes I’m sure you’re thinking big pedophile beard and ugly glasses, but he’s a Stanford law professor and was instrumental creative commons licensing for internet content. This is the really sensational comment though: “Remember that after 9/11, the government dropped the Patriot Act in about 20 days, and it was passed, and the Patriot Act is huge. I remember someone asking a Justice Department official, how do they write such a large statute so quickly? The answer was, it’s been sitting in a drawer at the Justice Department for the last 20 years waiting for the event that would allow them to drop it.” What...

eTax too slow?

PREFACE. If you’re about to do your tax return, i’m about to save you 5 minutes. This is the link to the eTax executable for Windows XP SP2 and above for all I know. You could still read Pride and Predujdice while it downloads, but next time you see me you owe me a beer for saving you about ten clicks to get to the stupid sod. Etax is not a new thing. I have been using it for at least five years now and I find it’s simply getting harder to download (e.g. navigating the ato.gov.au web site) and slower to download. Not the actions of a clever country. At a time when the Australian federal government is talking up a nation-wide broadband network, is it little surprise they’re still coming up a little short online? What am I talking about? If you do your own tax return and you’ve submitted it by now, you’ll know what i’m talking about. Downloading eTax from the ATO web site is hideously, painfully slow. Seriously it takes about how long it took to download back anything back in 1995 when Mosaic was about the only browser around it and Netscape 1.0 wasn’t out yet. It may have been on a 24K modem, I can’t remember. What I can remember is how in 10 years, I thought ridiculously long download times for an 8 meg file would be a thing of the past. Clearly not. So have I benchmarked my claims? Well yes. On an ADSL 2+ connection not more than 800 metres or so from the exchance I was downloading the...

lost categories WordPress 2.6

If you were starting to think that categories are old starting to get old school, well so do the guys at WordPress. Because when I upgraded from from some reaaaally recent version, my categories and tag clouds went blank. Good grief Charlie Brown. Anyway if you’re here you’ve probably broken your blog too. Don’t despair, here’s how to fix. Note: This is probably a really important time to mention that .1 releases (as in the 2.6.1 that I’m eagerly awaiting) always have bug fixes like this. So don’t blow your load too soon with new releases like I did! 1. Log into your CPanel if you have one 2. Scroll down to ‘Databases’ and select ‘PHPMyAdmin’. For the lay, this is a database browser/admin tool 3. PHPMyAdmin should load in a new tab/window. 4. On the left hand side, you will see a list of databases installed on your web site. Select the database that runs your WordPress. It usually has ‘wp2’ in the name. 5. The screen will refresh displaying all the tables in that database 6. From the left hand side, select the wp_terms table. 7. You should see a screen with the following rows in the table listed term_id, name, slug, term_group 8. To view the table in a bit more context, select the ‘browse’ tab 9. If you had the same problem that I did, this whole table will be all but blank. Maybe the ‘slug’ column will be a bunch of minus twos, e.g. ‘-2-2-2-2-2’ 10. Anyway name is your category name and slug is the directory for it e.g. ‘cars and stuff’ as...

Web portals that suck

I’m amazed and elated that Vincent Flanders is still doing web pages that suck. He had some good principals back in the day and taught me a hell of a lot. But with the sands of time, I thought that would’ve died out. Perhaps Web 2.0 has increased his business tenfold. Anyway for those of you that came in late, he highlighted sites that suck to emphasize design principals that do work. A very healthy thing to do and often quite funny. For the first time in a long time I’ve been inspired by web design that truly sucks – yes in this day and age. BEA Weblogic are meant to be leaders in portal technology, but not according to this BEA I define demo. It’s totally in Adobe Flash and is designed so that everything is one click – and about ten seconds – away. Why? Because they’re trying to be cool. You click something and doors spin around and a mock movie screen loads up. This spinning door thing is made especially sucky because they’re are really high resolution. So they don’t spin smoothly. They’re really clunky unless you have a gazillion gigs or RAM and as many processors on your machine, making it look especially stupid. The person who was trying to look cool forgot the premise ‘I am here to download a document. Just give me the document’. Until BEA, I thought this stuff had died off in the nineties. So here they are pitching a very expensive product to a highly qualified audience and it’s like they’re trying sell ice to eskimos with an...

RIP George Carlin

Another top bloke bites the dust. George was in his early seventies but worked at a prolific pace until death. Most gen X and Yers would know him from Kevin Smith movies such as Dogma and Jersey Girl. Whilst he may not have been the pioneer that Lenny Bruce was, he made a huge contribution to the art of stand up. He used obscenity not just to offend, but hold a mirror up to America and show how ridiculous conservative thinking really was. Point in case “Selling’s legal. Fucking’s legal. Why isn’t selling fucking legal?!”While the delivery may not have been completely original, the material was. Oh yeah, and the ‘7 words you can’t say on television’ skit that almost made him the second commedian in US history (after Lenny) to be charged with obscenity in the early seventies. Post 9-11, he also got really stuck into airport security saying words to the effect of ‘it’s just to make white people feel safe’ and ‘it’s the government’s way of saying that we can fuck with you any time we want’. He also had a famous altercation on Fox news that saw an interview end in furore and argument when he refused to tow the Republican line the program was taking. Carlin basically argued the news presenter down and walked off. While he’s done so much great edgy stuff, it did take him a while to find his groove. Before he was the angry old man, he was a contemporary groovy comedian doing mostly impersonations. Which don’t really work today in all honesty. But it’s harder to appreciate an artist...