Facebook soon to equal spam?

Wired: Facebook Rolls Out Highly Targeted Viral Ad System

The real kicker is the third component. It essentially collects the data from the first two components (keeping user info anonymous, of course) and provides it to a given business to assist in its targeted advertising objectives. For instance, a user who goes to Coke’s page and interacts with or installs its viral app (“Sprite Sips”) can pretty much expect to become a shill — inserting all sorts of branding messages and endorsements into friends’ News Feeds.

We suspect that Facebook Ads means more app spam … lots and lots of product-pushing app spam.

All kinds of potentially creepy privacy issues there. I’ve already seen instances where third-party apps were able to display otherwise privacy-controlled information, so it can only get worse.

Beetroot sorbet

I’m posting this recipe so I can find it again.

I know, I know, this sounds disgusting. Mrs Perfect Housewife’s mother brought me back the recipe from South Africa, so I felt duty-bound to go through the motions. I quite expected it to end up in the bin, but it is a delight – not only is the colour sensational, but it tastes brilliant and is easy as can be to make, even without an ice-cream machine. It’s good with strawberries (although the colours clash dreadfully), but it is better with stewed blackcurrants.
1kg beetroot
400ml apple juice (cloudy and dry, if possible)
200g caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
100ml double cream
Salt and pepper
Give the beetroot a cursory wash, then put them, whole and unpeeled, in a pan of water. Set the pan on a high heat, bring up to a boil and cook until tender – this could take anything from 30 minutes to an hour-plus, depending on the size of the beetroot. When they are cooked, drain off the water and leave them to cool. Once cool, peel and cut into rough chunks.
Put the apple juice, sugar and lemon juice into a small pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then set aside to cool.
When the beetroot and syrup are cold, tip both into a blender along with the cream, then season – be bold with the pepper, because its heat will balance the overall sweetness. Whizz to a purée, then pass through a fine sieve and pour into a flattish container.
Cover and place in the freezer for six or so hours, taking it out three or four times to whisk, either with a fork or an electric beater. Alternatively, just follow the instructions on your ice-cream machine. Remove from the freezer half an hour or so before serving

From the world of archaeology: Asterix fans — there’s news!

Those stories told how Asterix’s little village was encircled by Julius Cæsar’s expanding empire unequalled in the art of warfare and determined to civilize a backward people who worshipped Druids and believed in magic potions. Or so it was thought until now.
But a discovery in central France has led to a significant reassessment of Asterix representing
the Gauls, who were, it transpires, much more advanced than previously thought.

‘Pom invasion’ hitting Down Under

Changes to the points system, which come into effect on 1 September, will award five valuable extra points for people who can pass a standard English language test, a Brit-friendly policy partly designed to lure more “poms” here.

To others, the award of extra points to fluent English speakers is more sinister, with shades of the monocultural “white Australia policy”, the umbrella term for a swathe of policies and laws engineered to limit non-white immigration which finally petered out in the early 1970s.

The comments about the new citizenship test are ironic because I’m being forced to learn the most popular sports and when various saints days are to prepare for the ‘Life in the UK’ test. I’ve managed 34 years of my life without having to know a thing about sport, and now I have to learn sports stuff? It’d make more sense if the English were any good at sport!

China is taking action on the English translations of its restaurant menus in its campaign to brush up the country’s image for next year’s Olympics. (BBC)
I hope they keep the traditional names as well, because if you just translate the main ingredients you lose the ability to distinguish between dishes. I’ve had so many different dishes that were simply translated as “stir-fried tofu” or “tofu in tomato sauce” and it’s impossible to order them again if you don’t have any idea what the real name or description is.
It’s interesting reading about the deliberate things China is doing to change Beijing and the habits of its people before the Olympics – all countries do it, but it’s usually more subtle.

What you learn when you read the Daily Mail for a month

Most striking of all, a few days before the end of the experiment I realised that I had stopped worrying about global warming. For the Mail, it barely exists an issue – and certainly not as something to frighten us with – and this, surely, is the secret of the paper’s success. Phantom menaces are given prominence over real ones. The anger it stirs requires no action, no moral or intellectual effort, but simply confirms existing prejudices. By painting the world as a dystopia, we cling to our own cosy certainties.