Friday, February 5, 2010

Australian court crushes copyright lobby; rules ISPs not obligated to enforce copyright

Canberra, Australia (TNR) - In a crushing defeat for the international copyright lobby, the Australian Federal Court ruled today that Internet service providers are not obligated to punish customers or turn over their identities because of allegations of copyright infringement.

In his 200 page decision, Justice Dennis Cowdroy, OAM, completely denied the plaintiffs' claim that simply providing Internet access to an alleged copyright infringer is the same as authorizing copyright infringement under Australian law, on the basis that it is the BitTorrent system, and not the ISP, that enables copyright infringement, the ISP does not control BitTorrent, and that torrents may be used for legitimate purposes, making a blanket block improper.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BREAKING: Stephen Hawking hospitalized

Monday, April 20, 2009

London, England (TNR) - Renowned professor and physicist Stephen Hawking has been rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge after fighting a chest infection for several weeks, The Nerd Report has learned. The 67 year old scientist is known mainly for his work on theoretical astronomy, including research into black holes and quantum gravity, which seeks to bridge the theories of general relativity and quantum physics in a thus far elusive unified theory.

Professor Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, properly known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, at age 21, which has caused his motor functions to atrophy. He now communicates through a voice synthesizer activated by his fingertips, since he is almost entirely paralyzed and can no longer speak. Dr. Hawking is one of the few patients of ALS to live more than a decade after his diagnosis. Whether this condition is exacerbating his infection is unknown to TNR as of this writing.

Dr. Hawking is the author of A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (a post he has already announced his retirement from, effective September, 2009), and is best known for describing singularities in the context of general relativity and theorizing that black holes should emit radiation, now known as Hawking radiation in his honor.

Editorial note: We here at TNR wish Dr. Hawking the best of luck. Science can scarce afford to lose him now.

Update: Professor Hawking is now expected to make a full recovery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Large Hadron Collider tested; Earth not destroyed

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Geneva, Switzerland (TNR) - At 7:35:05 UTC this morning, the Large Hadron Collider was tested, sending photons in a complete circuit of the 17 mile (27 km) long particle accelerator for the first time. The test was without incident, and contrary to some predictions, Earth was not consumed by a black hole created by the LHC, which in fact created no black holes at all.

The test this morning sent photons in one direction around the circuit. The next test will send photons the other way around the accelerator before the first collision test next month. Widespread fears that the accelerator experiment would destroy the planet, fed by a theory by physicist Stephen Hawking that the collision experiment may create miniature black holes, have led to lawsuits in European courts to stop the planned experiments. The resulting hysteria has prompted the satirical Earth Advisory Board to report Earth's destruction by the initial test, while at least two other websites have been created with the sole purpose of answering "No" to the question of whether the planet has yet been destroyed by the collider.

The initial test this morning was not expected to produce black holes in any event, since it was not a collision test. If the first collision test in the coming weeks does produce a miniature black hole, however, it will not have enough mass to either sustain itself or destroy the planet; Hawking's theory that the experiment would create miniature black holes also states that they would dissipate nearly instantaneously by emitting Hawking radiation before they could draw in more matter.

German chemist Otto Rossler has voiced concerns that this may not occur, and that a black hole may grow and consume the planet, but Professor Hawking and other leading physicists dismiss these concerns, with Hawking observing in an essay written to Newsweek that "The LHC is feeble compared with what goes on in the universe. If a disaster was going to happen, it would have happened already."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pageantry in the Park a great success

Monday, July 14, 2008

Evansville, IN (TNR) - With the clash of swords and clang of armor, Sunday saw the Society for Creative Anachronism's annual Pageantry in the Park public demonstration at Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve in Evansville.

Put on by the SCA's Shire Riviere Constelle of the Midrealm kingdom, the demonstration included showings of fencing (in the round, that is, not the line fencing of modern sports), heavy armored combat, and Medieval and Renaissance era arts and crafts.

The majority of the afternoon was taken up by fencing demonstrations in several different styles, including single sword, sword and buckler, and Florentine two weapon style. One combatant, going by the moniker of Lady Calivorri, went nearly undefeated while The Nerd Report was on the scene, losing only one single combat fencing match throughout the two hours observed.

The heavy fighting matches were less one-sided in victories, and included their own assortment of weapons, including sword and shield, axe and shield, and large two-handed axe.

All participants wore heavy protective gear, and it is not recommended that these activities be tried by the untrained without the necessary protection.

In addition to combat demonstrations, there were displays of medieval arts, jewelry, arms, and armor, as well as a short demonstration of period music.

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international educational group that focuses on preserving and reenacting Medieval and Renaissance history. More information is available at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Judge recommends Jack Thompson be permanently disbarred

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tallahassee, FL (TNR) - Judge Dava Tunis, the appointed referee over Jack Thompson's ongoing bar trial, has recommended the permanent disbarment of the anti-video games attorney, The Nerd Report has learned.

The Florida Bar Association is seeking Thompson's disbarment for a period of ten years, but the Judge Tunis has declined to follow this recommendation, instead taking the precedent-setting step of permanent disbarment, noting that Thompson "does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior, but rather uses other means available to intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose
him" when engaging in litigation, and that there is "no evidence whatsoever to indicate that [Thompson] is amenable to rehabilitation, or even remotely appreciates the basis upon which a need or purpose for such rehabilitation is warranted."

Mr. Thompson has engaged in extensive litigation against the gaming industry for over a decade, claiming that violence in video games teaches children to engage in violence themselves. Throughout this time, he has treated those opposing him with disdain and even open mockery, at one point submitting a document to the court in picture form, claiming that the court couldn't understand him without the visual aids. The court in question was Judge Tunis' own, during the proceeding that has led to the recommendation for his disbarment.

The decision in the case is not yet final, but the appointed referee's recommendation makes it highly likely that Jack Thompson's days as a practicing attorney are numbered.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Opinion Column: An Open Confession

Thursday, June 26, 2008

There is no easy way to do this, but it must be done. I have broken my vows, and the first step to amends is to air my transgressions and motivate myself to not allow it to happen again.

I should explain before I go further. When I was in college, I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism. This is the world's largest medieval reenactment organization, and it is highly organized into kingdoms, baronies, and so forth.

As befits medieval reenactors with that kind of organization and scale, the Society has titular kings, lords of various grades... and knights.

I confess, I dearly wished to earn knighthood in the Society when I was still active, but it takes years of participation and dedication, years that I didn't have. Partly I wanted it for the sheer, nerdy glory and fun of it, but it was also partly because my temperament is such that it needs a restraint upon it that I care about, and I felt that the vows of knighthood would be just such a one.

As I said, I never earned the authority and responsibility of a knighthood, but as I knew the time when I would have to move away, too far away to feasibly participate any longer, was drawing near, I took the vows regardless, not bound to any lord or king, because none knighted me, but binding myself to the virtues of knighthood, as a safeguard against the fouler side of my temper.

The vows are many, but at their essence, they are outlined in this, the statement made by a knight before he is invested:

I swore to "ever be a good knight and true, reverent and generous, shield of the weak, obedient to my liege-lord (which I interpret as loyalty to my country and my vows, since I swore to no lord), foremost in battle, courteous and truthful at all times, champion of the right and the good."

I do my best, but I have of late failed and failed miserably at one: Courtesy. After a hard and frustrating day at work, I allowed my temper to gain the better of me and, without provocation, flamed a non-native English speaker for his poor spelling. I was mortified afterward, but pride motivated me to keep my silence for a time.

No more. I have made amends to him and obtained his forgiveness, but I have thought long and hard on it and realized that if I do not make a stand with myself, give a motivator to stop it here and now, I will continue to slide, and eventually what I promised to myself will mean nothing to me. I know of no better way than to write an account of my failure and place it up as a reminder that I expect better of myself, and shall keep a level head.

At the end of a knighting ceremony in the Society, it is traditional for the king to strike the new knight hard upon the chest after he has risen a knight, and to tell him to let the blow remind him that knighthood will bring him pain as well as honor. It has brought me pain these last two weeks, and I hope to return to honor. It may seem silly to people reading this, but this is important to me; I must reestablish shamefastness, the fear of shame, to keep myself from straying like that again. I renew my vow, and go forward with the virtues of chivalry at the forefront of my mind.

Cross-posted to the Nerd Report from my personal weblog because the subject matter may be of interest to the readership.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview: That Guy with the Glasses

This is an interview conducted with That Guy with the Glasses, formerly of YouTube, though alleged copyright troubles with some of his satirical works have prompted him to move his videos to his own site. The videos are well worth watching, though several are definitely not safe for work.

The Nerd Report secured this interview via e-mail.

The Nerd Report: What got you started doing videos? What was the inspiration for Five Second Movies, the Nostalgia Critic, and so forth?

That Guy with the Glasses: 5 Second Movies came about when my brother and I were making fun of all the goofy lines from Star Trek 2. We were quoting “Kahn!” “Kirk!” “Spock!” and I just said “Hey, that could be the movie in 5seconds. So I decided to make it and put it on YouTube. Then Star Wars in 5 seconds jumped in my head, and then Lord of the Rings, and so on. I didn’t think it’d be quite as big a hit as it was.

Nostalgia Critic came out of my love for things I grew up with. I noticed a lot of people around me liked talking about old shows and movies they grew up with and how silly they are today. I thought it’d be funny if I created a character who used to love these movies, but then was somehow betrayed by his aging and change of taste. I thought it’d be funny if someone took it really seriously and wondered how he could like so many ridiculous programs and films.

Chester A. Bum of ‘Bum Reviews’ just came out of me trying to find an excuse to use that voice. I used it first in my Cloverfield Review and I just fell in love with it. I don’t know why, it’s just a really fun voice to do. So I just turned it into a weekly character who seems to like any film that’s shown in a warm building.

TNR: When you started, did you believe that your videos would turn out to be as popular as they are?
That Guy: I had a feeling Nostalgia Critic would catch on, but I had no idea about 5 Second Movies.

TNR: Did you anticipate the movie companies' and YouTube's response to your Five Second Movies?
That Guy: Yes and no. I knew there was a lot of controversy with copyright and YouTube videos, but after I read up on copyright law, I thought I was safe. Obviously not though.

TNR: Did you intend to get your own website before the troubles with YouTube, or was it purely a reaction to their deletion of your material?
That Guy: I did it originally just to give them a place where they wouldn’t get deleted, but since then, it’s slowly turning into it’s own strange business, which I very much enjoy doing.

TNR: How is running your own website for your videos, as opposed to using YouTube's service, working out for you?
That Guy: Good, though I don’t really put the videos on, somebody else does that for me. I love having the site, but if you were to ask me ‘How does it work?’ I would have no idea how to answer.

TNR: Out of your videos, do you have any favorites that really stand out to you?
That Guy: My Favorite 5 Second Movie used to be Scarface, but now I think that’s been replaced with Million Dollar Baby. As for Nostalgia Critic, my favorite is probably The Wizard, that Lucas kid just kills me.

TNR: Given your chosen hobby, one can only assume you like movies; do you have any particular favorites?

That Guy: My all time favorite is a film called Brazil. I guess others would include To Kill a Mocking Bird, Amadeus, Batman, Eyes Wide Shut, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Good Night and Good Luck, Sweeney Todd, and a ton of others.