The Null Device

2001/7/7

Disturbing image of the day: Seen on the side of the "Spanish Donuts" truck parked outside Victoria Market this afternoon, this charming image of a big-eyed, smiling, brightly pink hot dog, gazing adoringly at its future devourer, in whose hands it is undoubtedly cradled. Is it just me, or does anyone else find this kind of thing slightly creepy?

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Language and evolution: The word "retarded", for long a clinical term to describe IQs below 70, is now considered offensive, having gone the way of other clinical terms such as "moronic" and "feeble-minded".

Of course, it's a step up from "moron," "imbecile," or "idiot," which were actually codified as appropriate technical terms in 1910 by the AAMR, then known as the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiots and Feeble-Minded Persons. (Morons were the brightest, followed by idiots and imbeciles.) The AAMR replaced those terms with "mild," "moderate," and "severe" retardation in 1959, but the old words did not go quietly: Davidson recalls attending a guest lecture in graduate school in the 1970s where the speaker, an esteemed professor in the field, discoursed on "low-grade imbeciles."

(via Plastic; insert your own George W. Bush references here)

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2001/7/6

Here comes the cavalry: In an attempt to stave off Microsoft's domination of the Internet through its .NET initiative, Ximian (the outfit pushing GNOME/Gtk on Linux and employing several of its key developers) is planning an open-source rival, with the uninspiring moniker of "Mono". More power to them, I say. If we end up in the Microsoft Millennium, let's not do so without putting up a good fight.

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Who would have thought? The former deputy leader of Britain's Conservative Party calls for cannabis to be legalised, and available in special off-licences, much like alcohol is:

"Nothing could more vividly dramatise reaffirmation of our belief in freedom and personal responsibility than to move clearly in favour of liberalising the law on cannabis."

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Keeping It Real: Since dumping her gangsta boyfriend, sassy hip-hop sista Jennifer Lopez (or "J-Lo" as she calls herself) has been struggling to hold onto her street cred. Her latest attempt to stay in touch with her assumed ghetto roots involved her using the honorific "nigga", considered acceptable if used by black people but extremely offensive otherwise, in a song. For some reason, this has not endeared her to the African-American community.

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Why is it that male real-estate agents are invariably tall and athletic and look like basketballers, and female agents are invariably blonde and look like TV hosts? Could it be some sort of natural-selection thing, in which those who don't look and act like alpha-(fe)males and give off that winner vibe don't persuade as many clients, and end up dropping out of the business and becoming secondary school teachers or something?

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