The Null Device

2001/6/18

An American commentator on the McVeigh thing believes that both the death penalty (as currently administered in our squeamish, citified age) and imprisonment in America's luxurious prisons are too pleasant to deter criminals and that America should established gulags in Alaska, where murderers, rapists, drug dealers and such could be imprisoned under harsh conditions without parole. Perhaps they should also bring Sheriff Arpaio on board, dress the convicts in pink underwear and set up web cameras?

(As far as the Australian perspective goes, such a system could easily be implemented in the far north of Australia; it could even be combined with the revolutionary Russian drug addiction treatment, with harsh boot camps for junkies being established in the same general vicinity as migrant detention centres. (As for importing the City Without Drugs programme to the United States, that would be easy to do; just add a faith-based element and have someone preach fundamentalist Christianity at the junkies whilst they lie strapped to their beds in withdrawal Hell.)

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Nature/nurture: According to a Canadian study that looked at sets of identical twins, some personality traits (such as tendency to read and beliefs on the death penalty) are genetically influenced, whereas other traits (such as beliefs on gender roles and propensities for playing bingo) seem to have no genetic connection.

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Today (well, technically, yesterday), I also went to the record collector's fair in Essendon and bought a number of CDs. One of these was a single of the JAMs' It's Grim Up North. Or, rather, was meant to be such; when I put it in my CD player, I realised, to my dismay, that it is actually an old Nine Inch Nails single. (The label copy and printing on the CD all says it's the KLF single.) I'm not pleased.

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This is not the Onion: In the homeless shelters of California, the usual drug addicts, schizophrenics and hard-luck cases are being joined by a new class of derelict: former dot-com employees, whose six-figure, stock-optioned lifestyles had been snatched out from under them by the Dot-Com Bust.

"what makes this unusual is that people in the valley have become appendages of their jobs and their workplace. They've worked up to 110 hours per week and slept on the conference room floor," said Ilene Philipson, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Working Families at the University of California at Berkeley. "People have given up all sorts of things to give to their job, and when there's a layoff there's no other support for them."
There's an only-in-Silicon Valley twist to his story: Sacrosante and three other former high-tech workers who met at the shelter are launching a start-up business that will resell wearable mobile computing systems.

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Howard, Watters, take note: A group of Russian philanthropists, under the name City Without Drugs, have devised a novel method for curing heroin addiction; rather than opening up injecting rooms for junkies, they have established treatment centres, where users are strapped to beds and beaten to within an inch of their lives.

"Drug addicts are animals who have lost all sense of values. This way, the next time they think about getting a fix they remember the pain of the thrashing rather than the rush of the drugs. It's very effective. You cannot solve this with mild manners - you need tough measures."
After their initial beating, addicts spend their first few weeks handcuffed to a bed, left to face their withdrawal symptoms with nothing stronger than bread and water. Later the inmates are put to work chopping down trees or labouring. Nobody is allowed to leave during the treatment, which lasts a year.

Given that injecting rooms are Out Of The Question, whilst conventional imprisonment doesn't seem to be having an effect, perhaps we can expect to see Howard's drug war council adopting a similar approach sometime soon? (via Lev)

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Digicam update: The camera in question appears to be a rebadged Pretec DC-520. Which doesn't seem to have much in the way of technical documentation at all online. VMware isn't of much help, as the Windows software doesn't seem to like its serial implementation (I suspect it does some kind of tricky bit-twiddling rather than using the serial port as a character device). Pfaknok.

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