Elly and Dave have both already written good posts about the recent Manhunt infleunced teen killing. They are right — neither of the boys involved should even have had access to the game (they were 14 and 17 respectively). The parents citing Rockstar as the source of all their son’s troubles is classic blame-shifting.

But what I find almost amusing about this is the reactions of stores stocking the game. You’d think by now that people would think for a moment and try to solve the right problem in a case like this, but it would appear not. Partly I imagine this is because it would be PR hell if they did so — to see why let’s look at the actual problem.

The Problem
Extremely violent, 18-rated games are being played by minors. They have access both to the games and the facilities on which to play them.

The Knee Jerk Solution
Take it off the shelves!

The Real Solution
1. Make sure that certificates on games are enforced where the games are purchased (probably by making sure there are stiff penalties if not)
2. Instil some sort of sense of responsibility in parents to make them aware of what games their kids are playing/having them buy for them.

See why this is a PR nightmare? The stores can’t claim that they’re going to put in restrictions on who can buy games, because that would be admitting they weren’t policing this well enough to start with. Equally, they don’t have the spinal inflexibility to point out that parents a) shouldn’t buy the games for their kids if they’re underage and b) should have at least some vague clue of what their kids are up to!

Every now and again I look at the management consultancy industry in wonderment that businesses feel they need an entire industry to help them solve their own problems. Then I see a story like this and am suddenly converted to the same belief.

  • Worldchanging has an interesting
    article about “cool”
    TF-SOFCs
    . If they can
    pull these off they’ll be fantastic — I love the idea of my laptop running for
    longer than currently on a battery the size of 4 sugarcubes.
  • Eliza
    sex-bot passes Turing test
    — I’m not sure whether this is a sad reflection on
    humanity or not
  • Jason has a fantastic comedy (or possibly
    predictive) post about the
    Cult of Ken Jennings
    , where he describes a world when the Jeopardy-winning dude’s
    winning streak carries on so long it becomes part of the game. I think we should
    all remember he predicted it first 😉
  • BugMeNot’s Registration Form is one
    of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. My favourite questions are:

    Would you be willing to have an RFID chip inserted under your skin in
    exchange for a free, 12 month newspaper subscription?
    What if we told you that you couldn’t access news unless you agreed?

    Make sure you read right to the end, it’s worth it!

  • Interesting
    look at the changing state of the diamond market
    via Kottke
  • Great story about a Microsoft presenter assuming everyone uses IE and being

    completely wrong
    . As the article suggests, what if Mozilla
    really does win?
  • Some interesting design
    guidelines
    . Worth a read

  • Zoom in IE
    , via ParanoidFish
  • GooglePreview puts thumbnails
    of the site next to Google search results. Looks quite a cute Firefox extension;
    via ParanoidFish
  • So, what happens when you have a load of tribal artefacts and you parade them around
    their country of origin?
    They take them back
    . Bloody fantastic! And they’ve hit the nail on the head, when they
    say

    “If you haven’t got a past then you haven’t got a future and it is our future at stake here.”

  • We were surprised when we heard that Google in
    the UK had slowed down to MyDoom. Surely they’re not running Windows? Well, as this article
    explains, it was actually
    requests from infected Win machines that slowed Google down
    . We can all rest easy again 😉

Jeremy Clarkson is fantastic entertainment. His opinionated, but entertainingly witty, postulations on just about anything are always something to enjoy and often make a program worth watching. I love Top Gear, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun if he weren’t there enthusing about the new Jag, being surprised that a Skoda _anything_ could beat a new Mini, or pouring scorn liberally on the last little tin thing that has come on the market.

The other day, though, he was presenting a program all about how the jet engine had changed the world. It was quite an interesting look at things, but the show was made by some choice musings. My particular favourites were:

[Talking about security procedures in airports and planes] “Of course, once you leave America and get back into the free world, anything’s possible”

and

“700 million people have been carried on 7 million flights in the last 10 years and there have been no deaths. According to government statistics, you’re more likely to be killed by your trousers!”

Jeremy Clarkson is great. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but his bitching is entertaining … so much so, I reckon if Top Gear ever decided they didn’t need him anymore, he’d have the option of a cracking career as a drag queen. And people would definitely pay to see that 😉

  • Interesting article about “barefoot solar engineers” — illiterate but hardworking women building solar energy kit and earning a lot of respect in their communities for it, which is cool. I also agree that their work being sponsored by the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources is quality
  • I also remembered why I love reading Neil Gaiman’s journal so much when I found him saying this, in reference to a news story about a pastor wanting to burn sinful books, being denied by the council and it being suggested he shred them instead:

    “I’m sure this is the kind of pastor who would assure you that in the bible, Jesus always made a point of burning his novels, tee-shirts and CDs on proper bonfires. None of that new-fangled shredding nonsense for him.”

  • A computer in a motorbike petrol tank?. Of course. Now why didn’t I think of that?
  • There goes anonymity. And political freedom. But hell, nevermind, hey? Incidentally, it’s the anniversary of the moon landing (or not, if that’s the way you prefer to think). Seems strangely ironic.
  • Googlefight is my new favourite made-up-statistics tool. Amused that the Linux-Windows fight is quite that close though…
  • Burgers don’t kill people. People kill people” — Alton Brown’s website almost makes me want to get satellite TV just to see his show
  • Grouphug — the online confessional is really really weird. And addictive. Just like Neil Gaiman says:“It’s like driving down a road, passing car crash after car crash, and always having to slow down and watch.”

There’s a great article over on the NYT website, about a call centre operated McDonalds drive thru. You drive up to the window and give your order to the speaker — you are actually talking to someone in a call centre 900 miles away. At the same time a small digicam takes your photo and pairs it with your order, which is sent electronically _back_ to the store where you are making your order.

Apparently it’s all cheaper and more efficient — the photo ensures you get the right order and apparently cross-state call charges aren’t enough to overwrite the staff saving. The system itself is run by a McD’s franchisee who set it up for himself and others, but the main McDonald’s corporation is looking at whether it would be feasible to reapply across all their massive network of stores.

There are some comedy thoughts though — what if the call centre has a blackout or the phone lines go down or something? Can you imagine being the poor store manager that has to wander out to the forecourt and explain to all the waiting customers (this being America, in massive 4x4s) that they can’t use the drive thru because a call centre two states away is down.

Slightly more sinister is that if they didn’t destroy the photos immediately afterwards. Imagine the applications: a name & shame campaign or more of that data mining to find terrorists stuff? What would you do with the biggest database of McDonald’s customer photos linked to their favourite orders?