Greengrocer gets lethal injection of Pherotones

Plus China and Bravia's bouncy balls-up

Letters Before kicking of this Friday's dip into the Vulture Central mail bag here's some breaking news for Tom Cruise fans: the Trapped in the Closet episode of South Park in which the celebrated heterosexual locks himself in said closet will "air in Australia on Monday night on SBS Feb 20", as Ed Taylor explains. This is very good news for Cruise fans and also "for anyone who missed it and cant get it off the net". The net? You mean the episode they can't show in the US for fear of Top Gun legal airstrike is available on the net? Good Lord!

In case you've forgotten already, Tuesday was Valentine's Day, which we treated with the contempt it deserves:

What, you mean you haven't changed the Vulture logo to a heart and made your whole website pink? What's wrong with you. <LOL>

Anyone would think you were not getting into the spirit of Valentines Day, otherwise known as "Yet another excuse to gouge people for their hard earned cash Day".

I bought the girlfriend a card and inserted an IOU for a huge bunch of flowers to be bought once the prices return to something approaching normality.

George Garratt

Dear Lester, Very nice ironic touch to this article. If only there was a product that massacre those who released Valentine's Day PR stunts, Valentine's Day would then be complete. Regards, Sean.

p.s. On a different topic, el Reg should create a 419 letter generator. The format is well known now and is ripe for parody.

Sean Redmond

Hmmm. An interesting idea...

A Valentines day themed product plug disguised as an article about a product that prevents Valentines day themed product plugs from being sucessful....

I like it :D

Er, are you sure about that?

Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't this article also a shameless Valentines related plug for several filtering products????



Moving swiftly on, let's get down to the meat of it. Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! took a bit of a hammering on Wednesday over their activities in China:

So will those companies also take a beating after they divulge vast amounts of personal data to the US government? Or do such things only apply when it's happening outside the USA?

Guy Fraser

It's funny how when it comes to technology (businesses which apparently don't offer enough in the way of kickbacks and bribes - sorry I mean lobbying - to the senators doing the questioning) they get all righteous, but at the same time are apparently willing to allow companies like Walmart (who probably have larger financial returns than most European countries), GE, Phillips, et all to profit from cheap Chinese labour and poor working conditions in order to offer $30 DVD players and otherwise flood the market with low-priced electronics.

Let's not forget Nike and other clothing manufacturers that not only profit from these beleaguered workers, but then take the piss by selling shoes worth 2p to mugs like us who are apparently willing to pay over $100 for trainers.

If there's a hypocrite in the house please raise your hand, as we need additional condemnation of various internet based businesses.

Obviously I'm not condoning the actions of these businesses, particularly Yahoo who apparently have a habit of giving up Chinese dissidents to anyone who asks, but it seems only right that if we're going to ban imports from places like Cuba and North Korea on the grounds of basic decency and human rights violations, we should also ban all US businesses from dealing with China.

Andy Bright

So, it's alright for Americans to dress in clothes which are made in sweat-shops in China, where there are little or no workers rights, but it's not alright for other companies to deal with the Chineese?

Maybe being worked to death for a pittence is alright, but being locked up for political views isn't? A double standard for political gain? Shurely Shome Mishtake?

PS. I'd just like to point out that any dealing with China worries me, but it is entirely possible that the growing use of the Internet will actually help to bring down the current regime. You can't censor everything.

Fraser MacIntosh


You quoted an interesting comment at the very end of your article:

"The bill, Smith explained, would include "export controls on certain types of hardware and software and prohibit putting email servers and other assets in countries that lack US-style due process laws." "

Such a law, were it to ever be created, and actually have some teeth as opposed to many other wonderful laws created by the Republican government, could have some interesting effects. For one I can't see Microsoft continuing to extend favours to a government that just stuck a big pointy needle in its latest profit source. That might mean all of the "sure you can look at the source code" and "hey.. how's about a knock 20% off .. hell take a couple of extra free licenses.." gets held back and in turn allows the government to look towards "Alternatives".

Unlikely, but possibile. However what did strike me as a major bonus to a law like that is another weapon against spammers. Many statistics suggest that the largest percentage of spammers live in the US. Many anti-spam places also indicate that many spammers host their spamming and web sites in China with those so called "bullet proof" hosting companies. Were a law to be passed that said that you couldn't host servers in China because its evil, it would probably be another nice weapon in the arsenal of those suing spammers. Admittedly you still have to catch them first, but it does happen, so being locked away for being a supporter of evil regimes as well as a spammer has to be considered an added bonus for the rest of us :-)

Thanks, Colin Keith

It was all just an amusing spectacle of Congressional posturing and corporate weasling until your last paragraph:

The bill, Smith explained, would include "export controls on certain types of hardware and software and prohibit putting email servers and other assets in countries that lack US-style due process laws."

Putting aside for the moment just how "export controls" could deprive China/Iran/Burma of email servers, that last bit is chilling in the unwritten possibility that it may be illegal for a U.S. firm to place its own email server in a country that lacks US-style due process laws such as those that allow the president to ignore FISA.

So it may be more sinister than just posturing...

Mike Albaugh

Most people can't read between the lines on this issue. The truth is much more simple. The U.S. government wants control of the internet. That means they need to get control and leverage over big search engines.

How do you get control of search engines that are abiding by U.S. law. Simple, draft laws that they are not abiding by. Currently Sen. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) is drafting legislation that will put search engines in hot water. This is all orchestrated so that the government can get leverage over the search industry.

Let's also get one thing straight. Since when has the government cared what U.S. companies are doing in China? And why just Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search? There are dozens of Fortune 500 companies that have been conforming to Chinese regulations for years. What about them?

Conclusion: Google and other search engines will lose this fight and evenutually be forced to hand over key information about how they operate. Once the government has reverse engineered search ranking algorithims, they will be able to manipulate search results at their pleasure. People will then see the results that the U.S. government wants them to see.

Welcome to the new world order that is controlled so that people never know the truth.

Don't believe me? Read all about it:


Dan Peterson

Funny how Tom Lantos didn't have any problems voting for the original "Patriot Act", nor for the invasion of Iraq. Now he gets on his high horse about Google, Yahoo!, and company in China. Let's see him change the law so these companies are able to avoid revealing customer information to the government in the U.S. first, then take on China.

Dennis Sosnoski

Democrat Tom Lantos summed up the mood with: "Your abhorrent activities in China are a disgrace. I simply do not understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night."

Probably the same way the US president does... Or congress...

John Robson

'Rohrabacher told the assembled executives: "You have to choose between Mr Lee [sic] and a gangster regime."'

Presumably she meant the Chinese gangsters, rather than the White House gangsters, but obviously, Yahoo, Google, Wal-Mart, and the rest of Corporate America have already made the decision: Profits at any cost, and human rights have no place in capitalism.

I can only hope my bunk in Gitmo is deloused before I am spirited away on Air Rendition.

Morely Dotes

Poor old Sony - if it's not one thing it's another. The latest tale of woe from the Japanese electronics monolith is regarding 400,000 Bravia TVs suffering from a software fault which "could prevent them from being turned off after a cumulative 1,200 hours in stand-by mode". Crikey.

1200 hours? Hmm... let's see. 2^32 milliseconds == 1193 hours (and change). Sound about right?

I guess someone at Sony forgot that integers could overflow. Maybe they could get a job making the next Ariane rocket?

Dave Cuthbert

you guys got it wrong.. its not that it cant shut down, it's just busy, scanning every piece of hardware it can find for ripped music and/or videos.. The problem comes from timeouts trying to talk to the fridge (who's bluetooth is obviously switched off) to see if you have any of those cheap rip-off cola's in stock... and the washing machine checking for those imported not-quite levis...


"over-the-air fix"? Does this mean that such TVs can be automagically updated by the content providers without the owner knowing it? So, taking this a little further, the DVD players -and whatever other piece of home entertainment system- can sometime also be updated and possibly rendered useless as some greedy BOFH sees fit?... That doesn't sound good to the paranoid in me... regards varver

p.s. No offence to Simon's BOFH! He rules! :-)

None taken, we're sure.

I was actually thinking these tv were quite good after the glossy advert with all the balls. So now we have the root kit issue, no more aibo robot dogs and now their tvs ARE made to last a fixed time before you need to replace them... Is it just that they have been caught this time so they are calling it a software bug?

Jeremy Manser

After the recent commercial, would it be fair to say that this is another Bravia (bouncy) balls-up?

I'll get my coat.


Yes, we think you should.

I've recently seen a hilarious Sony TV software bug (unrelated to the Bravia units you mention)

It was a friends TV set and I don't know the model number.

He told me jokingly that his TV automatically censors 'crap programs' and said it would not let you watch Big Brother or Trisha.

As big brother was on at the time he handed me the remote and told me to try and watch Big Brother. So I switched over to channel 4 and a few seconds later the TV changed channel on its own to some other random channel. I tried again, and it did the same. Once Big Brother had finished the TV seemed quite happy for you to watch channel 4 without doing the random channel change.

The problem was reported to Sony and an engineer came out and upgraded the software. This cured the fault (fault? I would call it a feature)

Every TV should have this software!

Simon Wells

Agreed - Sony take note.

Talking of Big Brother and human suffering, California has been ordered to make its executions a more comfortable experience for customers.

You have to love US justice. The victims always suffer while the criminals go to the end in protected comfort.


If this man's crimes are any example of the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society," then any pain he endures in the last few moments of his life is quite humane.


Fast deaths: - canon fired in face - 500 Ton metalpress - collision with car at high speed - <insert any other real life experience here>

Slow deaths: - trusting the US system of being able to kill - being in a deathcell for 20 years

Either way, humane is neither. You kill someone, or you keep him alive. Frustrating the person with delays and uncertainty is severe torture.

-- Greetings, Bertho Stultiens

Prostitutes are demanding a clampdown on Grand Theft Auto. As the old saying goes - you're havin' a laugh, aintcha?

Read your article on "Prostitutes demand GTA ban" a little while ago and just now finally stopped laughing!! Come on! A web site run by prostitutes, who want to legalize the sale of sex, are asking for a ban on the sale of violence? Yeah... Someone in that organization needs to get a dictionary and look up the meaning behind the following two words: "hypocrite" and "contradiction". What a crock! Altough it was nice to finaly get the chance to cast my YES vote (on their web site) for the decriminalization of prostitution. Once that happens I can get one of their hookers to come over and spank me while I play some GTA!! :)


Now, as is the local custom, we'll have a few more fun-sized snippets to cheer us on this chilly winter's day:

If the "Ebuyer in laptop search result outrage" amuses you, try going to the HM Revenue and Customs (Inland Revenue as was) website at and do a search for "teleworking".

Personally, I thought that searching for what the tax implications on working from home were, was a perfectly reasonably request. But the system suggests that perhaps I meant "teleporting".

Now I'm dying to know what the tax implications are with regard to teleporting, but that search doesn't return anything. The mind boggles though... If you teleport to a meeting instead of driving, can you still claim a mileage allowance...?


Peter Hoare

Lovely. Should cut down commuting times.

Oh dear. We're old, and out of touch, man:

You outed yourself as unhip, daddy-o. ;-) "Blow" is not weed/grass/pot/marijuana/green/puff/etc, it's cocaine, by universal consensus..


Well, not where I come from it isn't, but the Urban Dictionary backs you up on this one.

More linguistic shenanigans now, this time from the Ebuyer search outrage piece. Anyone for greengrocer's apostrophe?

--begin quote-- then try in "PC's/Displays" [sic]. Yes that's right, not only is Ebuyer punting filth to unsuspecting computer buyers, but it also has a nasty case of greengrocer's apostrophe --end quote--

Actually, they're entirely correct in using an apostrophe here, being as it's a plural of an abbreviation. At least, the chappies at the OED think so:


Euan Robertson

Actually, up until around recently, this was quite correct and indeed acceptable use of the apostrophe. It's ("it is"!) only recently that the apostrophe has been dropped from the plural forms of abbreviations, acronyms, and dates, and indeed across the Atlantic, it's still quite common.

Just don't ("do not"!) use it in possessive determiners (my, your, his, her, its, etc.) or possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, hers, its, etc.).

I commend "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss for the grammatically challenged... :-)

Interesting, but we're having none of it. PCs it is, just like CDs and DVDs.

A man menaced police with a didgeridoo. Nothing unusual about that. But one police officer's eyewitness report?

“wild animal that had been caged, pacing around while watching the officers with his weapon raised in anticipation of striking out"

RANDOM COPPER FOR POET LAUREATE!!! He'd get my vote. Normally poets are so poncy, this one comes with his own pepper spray, he'd wow them down the palace.


Agreed. Beats Philip Larkin any day.

Penultimately, the amazing Pherotones mate-attracting ringtone: breakthrough

"Pherotones were discovered by Myra Vanderhood, a world-traveled intimacy expert. Vanderhood studied human sexuality, sexual physiology and interpersonal psychology at the university level for over 12 years. During that time, Vanderhood also conducted rigorous fieldwork, observing and experiencing first hand the sexual practices of cultures around the world."

Im not to sure weather I'd trust the word of this woman. 'World-traveled intimacy expert' just sounds like a fancy way of saying globetrotting hussy..... and her rigorous fieldwork?!? she's just spent alot of time watching people get to 'know' (probably in the more biblical sense of the word) eachother whilst sitting in various brothels around the world, I could do that at home with a few special import DVDs or a broadband connection.... and not to mention 12 years in university, if thats not taking the piss i dont know what is!? freeloading, skiving little <insert expletive here>!!

Name supplied

Well, there's always one, isn't there? And finally...

Always been curious how one gets one's letters printed in the 'Letters' column at The Register. There's no obvious link, the two letters I sent to the editor's email address never got printed (perhaps they were too boring?), and none of the letters I've ever sent to individual authors seem to get printed, though they do frequently get responded to.

--Adam Lang

I think your question has just been answered. Have a top-notch weekend. ®

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