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* Posts by Spleen

757 posts • joined 5 Nov 2007

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Microsoft buys Minecraft for $2.5bn. Notch: I'm getting the block outta here

Spleen

It's not just the Lego aspect. There are two sides of the game which don't get enough credit: the aesthetics and the game mechanics.

By aesthetics I mean the combination of the graphics and the random terrain generator. They create some beautiful landscapes which are a pleasure to build on. In my first go at Minecraft I built a "house" out of an above-ground cave I converted, filled in and added doors to. Dug out the ugly dirt bits, replaced them with stone bricks and lit the place with recessed torches. Hollowed out the top of the mountain, added some large windows and watched the sun set over the trees. Pure joy. It's not just about what you build but how it fits into the world. (Which is why those giant pixel-art creations are very impressive but IMO miss the point a bit.)

Secondly, the game mechanics, the balance between effort and reward. The start of the game where you punch trees until they break is the butt of many jokes. But once you've got wood you can mine stone, once you've got stone you can mine coal and make torches, once you've got torches (and some weapons to defend yourself from the monsters) you can go underground and find some iron, and on and on it goes. It's a classic progression, like the Civilisation tech tree or the RPG get-bigger-sword-to-bash-bigger-monster routine.

The creative aspect gives you the incentive to progress through it. If I want my house to have iron railings I need to go underground and get some iron. If I want to set up something electrical I need to go further down and get some redstone. If I'm bored of torches for lighting, I need to create a portal and go to the Nether to find some glowstone. And so on.

Although most of the praise for Minecraft goes to the Lego-building aspect, there have been games that allowed you to build stuff out of blocks before (e.g. Infiniminer). Minecraft is a work of genius because of the way it marries that with beautiful aesthetics and balanced, rewarding gameplay.

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Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer

Spleen

Re: Phones4U

Ewww.

What happened to part 2 of that article?

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Spleen

Good riddance. Did anyone see the Channel 4 'comedy' PhoneShop? One of the least funny comedies I've ever seen, but in fairness its portrayal of their obnoxious sales tactics was too close to the bone for its own good.

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Apple Fanbois (and girls) already lining up for NEW iPHONE

Spleen

Re: You may try to read the actual article..

That's even sadder, frankly. What sort of person would buy a product because they thought "wow, if someone at the front of an Apple queue is behind it, it must be good"? Well, I can answer my own question: the Rays are promoting something called "VideoMedicine" which lets you talk to doctors via Skype. So it's an app to make it easier for hypochondriacs to moan about their imaginary aches and pains. If you think about it, the Venn intersection between people who spend all their time talking about their iPhone, and the similarly desperate-for-attention people who spend all their time talking about how they might have bird flu, is probably pretty large.

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Spleen

Re: I suppose that we should hope that Mr and Mrs Ray..........

If they have triplets they could name them Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

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Spleen

As others have said, the whole camping out for weeks on end, followed by the hilarious spectacle of the employees applauding you in as if going to the Apple Store is something worthy of adulation like running a marathon or winning a cup final (congratulations! you're a mug!), is part of the Apple cult image. When something's parodied in an advert for Carlsberg industrial cider you know it's part of the popular consciousness.

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Govt waves stick at pirate-friendly Google search

Spleen

Theft is also commonly understood to mean "taking something that doesn't belong to you". A word can have more than one definition.

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BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV

Spleen

Re: *All* TV programs?

I was quite tickled by the fact that the obligatory remodelling of the Tardis for the new series included an actual computer display for the first time that I can remember. (Albeit I only started watching Doctor Who since the reboot.) Before they were nothing but dials and gauges and flashing lights, like something out of H G Wells. There's something charmingly Victorian sci-fi about a machine that can travel through all time and space but has an instrument panel from a 1950s submarine.

Anyway, perhaps it's not unrelated...

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'I think photographers get TOO MUCH copyright for their work'

Spleen

Re: Plenty of people disagree with copyright

The idea that people deserve to receive payment for the sweat of their labour, and that people don't deserve to receive payment for someone else's sweat without permission, is most certainly not recent. The simplest organism trying to rid itself of a parasitic amoeba is trying to achieve the same thing as an artist who asserts copyright over his work. Nothing fundamental indeed.

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Ofcom will not probe lesbian lizard snog in new Dr Who series

Spleen

Re: And yet nothing said about this exchange

Thanks for quoting that, I must have been making the tea at the time. Great line. Who cares if the lesbians are shoehorned in, that and the "modelling" gag were funny. And you wouldn't be able to get away with either joke if Vastra was a man.

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Spleen

Re: Actually...

"the characters could have gulped a breath every 30 seconds and gotten away scot free"

Have you ever tried taking a breath only every 30 seconds while you're in fear for your life, full of adrenaline and trying to escape from an underground lair?

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Spleen

Re: Lesbianism vs. beastiality

Cheers Valeyard, I stand corrected.

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Spleen

Re: Lesbianism vs. beastiality

I really shouldn't get involved in this. But (correct me if I'm wrong, Whovians) she is not a reptile, she's an alien who in some ways resembles an Earth reptile. There is no reason to believe her species' internal plumbing in any way resembles that of an Earth reptile. They evolved completely independently.

(By the same token the debate over whether lizardwoman can supply breath to her wife via kissing - "no, crocodiles' lungs don't work that way", "yeah, but monitor lizards have air sacs" - is silly. Her species isn't descended from crocodiles or monitor lizards or any other Earth lizard, she's descended from a completely different alien species and she can have whatever biological features the writers feel like.)

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Spleen

If someone into anthropomorphic animals is a "furry", a lizardwoman with a fetish for non-scaled humanoids would be a smoothie, surely.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Spleen

Re: ...workers could hire and fire their doctors.

You think the hoi polloi are healthy now??

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Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?

Spleen

Re: Well, no I'm not in favour of thumping people as a general rule but.......

"Seriously?"

Yes, seriously. You always treat a gun as if it's loaded. You always treat a microphone, a tape recorder or a video camera as if it's recording. Even if you've been told it's off. Those who forget this rule end up on YouTube and in the dole queue. Or in the Darwin Awards, in the case of the gun.

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Spleen

Re: Well, no I'm not in favour of thumping people as a general rule but.......

I think the rule is that it's unfair to hit someone who *needs* to wear glasses. I think hitting someone who wears glasses for no reason other than fashion has always been obligatory.

(This still applies to Google Glass, since as the reviewer points out, their practical use is near nil. People only wear them as an attention-seeking device.)

@AC: You know perfectly well that there is a difference between someone taking a picture on their smartphone in which you are an irrelevant part of the background, and someone walking up to you, holding a camera in your face and deliberately recording everything you say and do. This is what someone who does not remove their Google Glasses is doing.

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IT blokes: would you say that LEWD comment to a man? Then don't say it to a woman

Spleen

Re: How about

Why, because women are precious porcelain dolls and it's not gentlemanly to make running jokes about the thick ones?

Should we stop making "series of tubes" jokes about stupid men because it's misandrist?

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Echopraxia scores 'diamond cutter' on the sci-fi hardness scale

Spleen

Re: I don't think the coriolis effect is that hard science

It's not so much the concept that is difficult to understand but the wilfully obscure way the text refers to it as if its a person. If you weren't aware that there is such a thing as the "Coriolis effect" you might wonder who is Coriolis and why he is turning things into curveballs.

Although only a small part of the text is quoted so perhaps it doesn't come across that way in the full book.

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UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones

Spleen

Re: I got mugged as a teenager by 3 miscreants

If you get mugged, tell them the PIN. The correct one.

It may sound extremely clever to give them a false number, or to write a smudged four-digit number on the back of the card, or to enter your number backwards to alert the police (which doesn't work, it's a persistent urban myth). But when you have to explain to St Peter that you got stabbed to death by an angry crackhead because you wouldn't cough up his dope money, no-one at the Pearly Gates will think you're clever, they'll point and laugh at the idiot who got himself killed over a £250 maximum withdrawal that he could have claimed back from his insurer anyway.

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Simian selfie stupidity: Macaque snap sparks Wikipedia copyright row

Spleen

Re: not likely at all...

The alternative formulation about "an infinite number of monkeys will eventually..." is also nonsense. An infinite number of monkeys will produce an infinite number of copies of the complete works of Shakespeare on their first go. (As well as an infinite number of copies of every other book ever written, infinite copies of every book it is possible to write, and an infinite amount of gibberish.)

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Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Spleen

Re: GIF's?

"IANALBIPOOTI"

I Am Not A Lawyer But I Play One On TV... Incidentally? Illegally? Incompetently?

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You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference

Spleen

Re: Ten Summoner’s Tales

No, Alastair is correct. If it's ten tales by one summoner then it should be "A Summoner's Ten Tales" or "Ten Tales of a Summoner".

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British Lords: Euro 'right to be forgotten' ruling 'unreasonable and unworkable'

Spleen

Re: have I got this right?

@Alpha Tony: I am open to correction, but I believe that if you went around constantly saying "That big_D guy was arrested for murder", big_D would have a pretty good claim for defamation, as he could argue - and the courts would probably agree - that by repeating and emphasising that fact you were making a clear insinuation that he was guilty.

Claiming that you were "just reporting the truth" would be sophistry, it's like going around telling everyone that "So-and-so has never denied beating his wife" when So-and-so has never been asked. If you are clearly trying to damage someone's reputation than the courts are going to see through it.

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Climate: 'An excuse for tax hikes', scientists 'don't know what they're talking about'

Spleen

Re: Maybe we could get a consensus

We may not be able to prove there's more extreme weather, but you can't deny that there's more *news stories* about extreme weather. That's basically the same thing. If you have a degree in climate science from the University of Wisbech.

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Listen: WORST EVER customer service call – Comcast is 'very embarrassed'

Spleen

Whenever I have to make one of these calls and the salesman attempts the retentions patter, I simply say "Thank you, my decision is final and I will not discuss it, please just cancel the account". Then if they still persist I say exactly the same thing, word for word, but in a sterner tone of voice. (You must repeat yourself word-for-word. If you try to argue with them you are entering a dialogue and if you are in a dialogue they will think they can win you over.) So far I've never had to repeat myself more than once.

As soon as the drone realises that there is no chance of retaining you, you can be assured that they will get your account cancelled with maximum speed and efficiency. They need to get you off the phone as quickly as possible so they can get on to someone more pliable.

I admit that this approach will never get me on YouTube though.

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Spleen

Re: This is NOT an aberration...it is how these people do business

If you walk into a health food shop you have already made a conscious decision to get fleeced, and deserve what you get.

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Euro banks warned off Bitcoin as Canada regulates it

Spleen

Re: Er, isn't this like...

Except that:

- shares are more tangible than Bitcoin - if you own a share in Glaxosmithkline, you own a very small percentage of a load of offices, laboratories, drug stockpiles, patents... all things that exist and are of genuine value.

- shares pay dividends.

Shares may not work as a currency because they are too volatile, but they do work as an investment. Bitcoin doesn't work as either.

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UK Xmas 2014: Go to shops a normal human, walk out a glasshole

Spleen

Re: What to get?

- Buy the Blue Expensive Doorwedge

- Find someone wearing Kick Me Glasses and hit them over the head with the Doorwedge. Take their Glasses

- Problem solved

(they won't mind, they'll get in the Grauniad and afterwards they can buy a new pair)

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Journal that published Facebook emoto-furtle study: Proper boffins get CONSENT

Spleen

Re: Informed consent?

I'm not defending Facebook, but that definitely wouldn't work, because if you told them you were doing an experiment with their News Feed, they would start paying close attention to their News Feed and try to work out what their experiment was. And they might deliberately try to act in the way they think the researchers are looking for - or if they're the contrary type, do exactly the opposite to pollute the data.

I'm not saying that Facebook went about it the right way, but the way you suggest would be totally worthless as research.

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Lords try shoehorning law against REVENGE SMUT into justice bill

Spleen

Re: what if they're fake?

On the Internet you can guarantee that someone will consider it porn.

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Hey, Marissa Mayer: Flexi working time is now LAW in UK. Yahoo!

Spleen

Re: So you can now legally ask for flexitime?

Union Rep: STRIKE

Boss: We're outsourcing this department to a country where people actually want to work in exchange for money. You're all redundant.

You now have reallyreallyflexitime.

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Google Glass faces UK cinema ban: Heaven forbid someone films you crying in a rom-com

Spleen

"Google Glass has a light to indicate that it is recording"

Which can be easily turned off, or if you can't be bothered to hack it, a small piece of masking tape will do the job.

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Labour vows: We'll pause one-dole-to-rule-them-all for drastic fix-up if elected in 2015

Spleen

The way welfare works is that you promise to raise £1bn in extra taxes in order to redistribute to the needy. The needy (and those who are afraid of being thought uncaring) elect you into power. You then raise £1bn in taxes, and devise an immensely complicated benefits system which the poor serfs can't possibly understand, which means that they only claim about £300m of the £1bn you've promised them. You then pocket the difference.

UC, like flat taxation and a flat rate state pension, won't happen under any system run by London. Even if it did it would be reversed by the next incoming government, who will start tacking on new entitlements (if Labour) or means-testing existing ones (if Conservative).

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Google starts selling Glass to Brits – for £1,000 a pop

Spleen

I've just had a great business idea. Did you spend £1,000 on a pair of Google Glasses, and have been walking around London for hours waiting for someone to ask you to take it off, but no-one actually cares? Did you spend ages planning how you were going to educate the ignorant masses on public recording rights, only to find that none of them actually give a shit? Have you spent hours sitting in Shoreditch bars waiting for someone to drunkenly assault you, but have got nothing more than a pitying glance?

Then simply pay me £1,000 and I will walk up to you in a location of your choosing and publicly ask you to take your GGlasses off. I can do aggressive, passive-aggressive or Victorian politeness. ("Sir, I must remind you that a gentleman does not wear his hat or his Google Glasses indoors.") For another £1,000 I will actively engage with you in a long and ill-informed argument about whether or not you're allowed to wear them. For £5,000 I will pretend to knock you senseless, and you can use the YouTube footage to get yourself in The Independent.

Act now before I'm fully booked. Contact me on Twitter at @LookAtMyGoogleGlassesPleaseImLonely.

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Spleen

Re: I like gadgets

Hopefully not. You know what else serves as a great sat nav? A sat nav. And it occupies a fixed point in your vision so it won't obstruct your view of, say, children dashing out from between parked cars.

Obviously sat navs are a distraction, but they're only distracting you when you choose to stare at them, rather than constantly floating in front of the real world.

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VIDEO SELFIE DRONE: 'AirDog' UAV follows you everywhere you go

Spleen

Re: "cannot see or avoid any obstacles in its flight path".

I run through a lot of forests. If you wanted to use it to film yourself running (which sounds like the sort of thing it's meant for) then whether it's city running or cross country you would certainly need it to dodge trees. I assume the OP is a skier and the same thing applies.

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Today's get-rich-quick scheme: Build your own bank

Spleen

Re: @Chris Miller

"It could lend other money, such as, for instance, any profit it makes."

I think we've established pretty conclusively that it would be extremely hard to make a profit out of this enterprise, though. After you've paid dividends to the people that have risked their shirt to build this giant mattress, I doubt there'd be enough left to make it worthwhile loaning out the profits. Especially given that setting up a loan arm requires extra accounting, risk assessment, regulation, etc.

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Happy Birthday Tetris: It's flipping 30

Spleen

I remember playing a great freeware variant called Wormtris on the Amiga, which used various bits of art from the original Worms game. Occasionally you would get worms dropping down (which were 1x1 in size), and you would have to avoid squishing worms with the blocks, as after you'd killed a certain number... er, something would happen. I can't remember exactly what happened but it would play the "Revenge!" sample and screw up the playing field somehow. It was an interesting addition as very often you had a dilemma between placing a block somewhere annoying, or squishing a worm and storing up trouble later.

There were also sheep which you could use to blow blocks up. I'm sure there was other weird power-up stuff but it's all escaped me. Anyone else play it?

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Spanish village of 'Kill the Jews' votes for rebrand

Spleen

36% against the change is rather a lot. Though I don't for a moment believe that those who voted against are all Nazis. It's a tricky dilemma: on the one hand, it's embarrassing sounding like Dr Strangelove every time you have to tell someone your address. "Kill the Jews!" "Beg pardon?" "Sorry, that is actually the name of my village. Heil Hitler!" "Heil Hitler is the name of your house?" "No, I am actually a Nazi, I was saying goodbye."

On the other hand, you know that your post is going to be totally f---ed for the next few years once they've changed the name.

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'I found the whole idea of an alien very exciting until it demanded all of my weed'

Spleen

"The lap dance is a great idea but actually it's really boring. ®"

Can't fault the game for realism...

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Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

Spleen

Re: Sliding tackle on a stationary keeper

We always played with fatigue turned off and the aforementioned blind referee which basically turned the game into a Maradona-off. From the centre-circle, you run straight at the opposition while manically jabbing the sprint button and trying to dodge the gauntlet of leg-breaking tackles. If you lost the ball then the other player ran straight at you in turn. Passing is for sissies and continentals.

One of the best things about multiplayer-in-the-same-room is coming up with playground variations like that.

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Japanese schoolkids arrested in £2.4 MEEELLION phone fraud bust

Spleen

It's not remotely true anyway. Some Japanese people look like Keanu Reeves, the rest look like Tom Cruise.

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Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet

Spleen

Re: How about trial by combat?

@Crisp

You're right, trial by combat isn't a good idea. 50% failure rate.

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Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT

Spleen

To be complete, the study surely has to take into account the euphoric effect that comes from plugging away at a really hard and frustrating game for hours, but then beating it.

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Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest

Spleen

Re: Pole polisher?

"My youngest (butter wouldn't melt etc.) used to build rooms in Sims, have a wall full of fireplaces, fill the rest of the room with sofas then put a few Sims in and remove the door"

The second most fun you can have in a simulation game, next to building a "powered-launch" coaster in RollerCoaster Tycoon that flung everyone off a hill to an explosive death. I seem to remember that if you made your deathtrap too obvious (e.g. just a launch and a short ramp) the guests would refuse to go on it. But if you made it look like a proper coaster and that final hill was just a bit too short... then you are become Death.

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WTF: Twitter bug temporarily kills THAT Oscar selfie

Spleen

Re: Oscar Selfie

I'm ashamed that I know this, but it was. It's being taken by the guy kneeling at the front with the silly beard.

*edit*

You could however argue that it isn't a selfie on the grounds that a selfie is taken spontaneously, for reasons of vanity or to show something off (e.g. new clothes or meeting a celebrity). The Oscar shot wouldn't count as a selfie because it was staged for advertising purposes.

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Hey, Glasshole: That cool app? It has turned you into a SPY DRONE

Spleen

The lesson here is that it doesn't matter whether the "recording" light is on or not. Everyone knows that you always treat any tape recorder, microphone or camera as if it is recording, even if you've been told it's off; same goes for Google Glasses. See the final episode of Yes, Prime Minister "The Tangled Web" inter alia.

If someone is wearing Google Glasses, assume they are recording. If you're not comfortable with that, either ask them to take them off or move elsewhere.

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QUIDOCALYPSE: Blighty braces for £100 MILLION cost of new £1 coin

Spleen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_fallacy

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French novel falls foul of Apple's breast inspectors

Spleen

Re: What about Apple's rights?

If Apple was owned by a family of fundamentalist Christians and had on their website a mission statement saying something like "We are faithful to our Christian beliefs and do not sell material that violates the word of the Lord", I don't think anyone would complain. You could disagree with the company's beliefs but their decision re this book would make sense within that context.

But Apple is owned by millions of shareholders and, theoretically, should be run on totally non-religious, rational and profit-seeking lines. And on those grounds the refusal to stock a book because it has a pair of mammaries on the cover is ridiculous. It shows a confused and irrational decision-making process where morality is concerned. It's both bad business and bad ethics. So it's fair game to question it.

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