21st Log: Brief reports and tidbits from the info-sphere.

Prank takes down anti-impeachment site; Id's Carmack loves, hates the Mac; The truth about Chinese movie-title translations; Haiku error messages surface in Microsoft courtroom!

By Salon Tech Writers
January 12, 1999 1:00AM (UTC)
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Prank takes down anti-impeachment site

Congress isn't the only place where pro-impeachment advocacy is out of control. Call it "hacktivism" or call it juvenile digital delinquency -- pranksters have now struck against a popular Web site that opposes the impeachment of President Clinton. All day Wednesday, some visitors to Censure and Move On discovered to their dismay that the site had suddenly become unreachable. Instead, anyone who typed in the "moveon.org" Web address or clicked on a hyperlink to the site would be immediately sent to a page titled "Impeach Clinton Now!"


The "Impeach Clinton Now" site is registered by the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society, spokesmen for whom were unavailable for comment for this story. (The phone number listed at the Internic domain registration service for the site was out of service, and e-mail to the address listed was not answered.)

But it's unclear that the John Birch Society had anything to do with the hack. Wes Boyd, who co-founded Censure and Move On with his wife, Joan Blades, said that someone unknown had forged a request to Internic, asking that moveon.org be reregistered to point to the address of Impeach Clinton Now. Boyd said that it is the Internic's policy not to seek confirmation for such requests unless specifically asked to do so beforehand.

Boyd didn't sound upset by the incident. "Most people respect political speech," he said, "but it is a word of warning to everybody, how easy it is for this to happen."
-- Andrew Leonard
SALON | Jan. 14, 1999


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Id's Carmack loves, hates the Mac

John Carmack, lead programmer at game-software powerhouse Id, showed uponstage at Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote last week to declare, "I'm here today because Apple finally hastheir act together." Indeed, one of the loud messages from Macworld wasthat Apple is eager to mend fences with game developers and bring cutting-edge games back to the Mac. Windows users got the first chance toplay the Id bestsellers like Doom and Quake that spearheaded the craze for first-person shooting games; Mac users had to wait. An endorsement from Carmack might suggest a shift in that pattern in Apple's favor.


So game-world insiders took note last weekend when Carmack posted a lengthyand detailed critique of the Macintosh's strengths and weaknesses --one that minced no critical words. In his "info dump," Carmack told his readers that Apple was "playing catchup to Wintel": "The Mac has not instantly become a 'better' platform for games than Wintel, it has just made a giant leap from the back of the pack to near the front."

Carmack praised Apple's new PowerMac G3 line as "a great system, butApple has oversold its performance relative to Intel systems." He offeredharsh complaints about the Mac operating system: "The hardware (even theprevious generation stuff) is pretty good ... The low level operating system SUCKS SO BAD it is hard to believe." He specifically cited theMacOS's lack of memory management, memory protection and true preemptive multitasking (which allows computers to run simultaneous programs safely and efficiently).


Apple's next-generation operating system, MacOS X, due by the end of this year, "nails all these problems, but that's still a ways away," he concluded.
-- Scott Rosenberg
SALON | Jan. 13, 1999

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The truth about Chinese movie-title translations


Last week, we reported that ABC News was the latest mainstream news outlet to mistakenly repeat as fact the satirical "Chinese Movie Title" list from TopFive.com. Peter Jennings had closed his report by repeating, in all seriousness, that "Babe's" Cantonese translation is "The Happy Dumpling-to-be Who Talks and Solves Agricultural Problems."

Although TopFive's contributors said they'd made that title up as a joke, an ABC News spokesperson insisted that the network had fact-checked it with bureaus in Beijing and Hong Kong. So we consulted our bureau in China -- a gracious 21st reader named Chuck Allanson, who teaches English in Jinzhou City -- and discovered that, in fact, the title of "Babe" in Chinese reads, "Little Pig Babe." As Allanson puts it: "Pretty boring."

However, with the aid of the students in his English class and a friend who owns a video store in China, Allanson has submitted a list of equally funny -- and this time, accurate and real -- movie translations that Jennings might want to consult for future inspiration:


"Fargo": "Ice Blood Cruel and Sudden"
"The Grapes of Wrath": "Angry Flowers"
"Frankenstein": "The Silent Strange Man"
"Gone With the Wind": "The Confused World of a Beautiful Woman"
"Trainspotting": "Dreaming of Trains"
"Clueless": "Clever Women's Power Manager"
"Boogie Nights": "Fanatical Dance Night"
"Hamlet": "The Story of the King's Son Who Kills for Revenge"
"Scream": "Deprive Life Crazy Shout"
"Psycho": Literally, "Sight Fear Touch Heart," which, Allanson writes, idiomatically means "see it and become scared."
-- Janelle Brown
SALON | Jan. 12, 1999

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Haiku error messages surface in Microsoft courtroom!

Salon 21st's "Haiku Error Message" contest results, last seen bobbing across the Net on hundreds of e-mail humor mailing lists -- hijacked and uncredited -- have resurfaced again, this time in the solemn Washington, D.C., courtroom in which the U.S. Department of Justice is waging its antitrust war upon Microsoft. It seems that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson somehow got his hands on an e-mail currently making the rounds -- one that "borrows" many of the Salon haiku and appends a satirical introduction claiming that they are a part of a new Sony operating system. The judge apparently liked our contestants' work so much that he decided to recite some of the poems to the courtroom on Thursday. The New York Times reported the story in its Friday business section, though it failed to note the correct origin of the haiku.It's too bad that Judge Jackson apparently never saw the full original trove of error message haiku, because many of them carry messages relevant to the Microsoft trial -- like this one by Margaret Segall: "Yesterday it worked/Today it is not working/Windows is like that." Then again, for the judge to recite that verse might have shattered any pretense of judicial impartiality.
-- Scott Rosenberg

Salon Tech Writers

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Apple Bill Clinton China Moveon.org The New York Times