The Null Device
Whoever fights monsters...: The US has been eager to establish the broadest possible alliance against terrorism, and as such has called in many allies who are less than perfect champions of the values this war is supposed to be defending. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as defenders of liberty?)
Maybe we can justify these compromises, and maybe we can't. But we can't even have that debate until we stop deceiving ourselves about what we're doing. We're not building an alliance for democracy, pluralism, or freedom of speech and religion. We're setting aside those principles in order to build the broadest possible alliance against terrorism.
If anti-terrorists twist the definition of terrorism so that they can continue to use it while slaughtering civilians in the name of fighting it, they'll be the ones who have obliterated every value except the will to power. Like Joe McCarthy, they'll become the enemy they set out to defeat. They'll be the ones who end up in history's grave. Or worse, they won't.
And then there's the issue of Russia being given free rein to do what it likes in Chechnya, free of the criticism of Western human-rights busybodies ("Silence on Chechnya is the price for this new solidarity", as a German politician is quoted as saying), and the possibility China wanting tit-for-tat support in bringing to justice its own Bin Laden, the Dalai Lama. (Perhaps the FBI could arrest him at a Hollywood function and ship him off to Beijing?) (via Satisfaction Refunded)
The Universal Music Group, the largest and arguably most rapacious recording company, has vowed to copy-protect all of its CDs by the first quarter of 2002. So if you want to listen to your new PJ Harvey or Eminem album on a computer, you'll have to lease it from PressPlay, and you'll have to run a proprietary Windows-based secure player.
Personal: Today I went down to Synæsthesia and picked up the Angels of the Universe soundtrack, by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Sigur Rós, and have been listening to it. It is beautiful; very evocative and atmospheric. I'll probably write it up for RAN soonish. (I also picked up a copy of the Models' early recording compilation, Melbourne, which I won from 3RRR, who were giving it away. It's the first time I have won anything from 3RRR.)
I also went to Babble (the spoken-word night) again this evening; they had some kind of special night where they had people who weren't regulars speaking, and a lot of iffy pieces. There was the woman who read out a short greeting-card-grade poem about being loved (or something like that), prefacing it with a 2-minute, rambling autobiography, and then appending an autobiographical anecdote which had nothing to do with the poem as such. And the poem itself was pretty trite, with the most obvious and banal rhymes; though it wasn't quite as bad as the proud-to-die-for-my-country doggerel in the letters page of mX today; perhaps the author of the latter should be made a News Corp. poet in residence? (Rupert Murdoch as patron of the arts: now there's a scary thought.)
A piece on anti-American sentiment across the world. Another one? Yes, but this one is in BusinessWeek, a publication I doubt is known for its bleeding-heart politics.
Doom and gloom roundup: The spooks aren't the only people using the Current Situation to get all the things they've wanted for so long: various corporate interests are trying to as well, from opening up oil drilling in Alaska ("screw the caribou! what have they done for us lately?") to groups trying to rush through everything from tax cuts for the wealthy to expanded free-trade zones, with minimal debate, as Matters of National Urgency. Meanwhile, a librarian at a Florida university has been suspended without pay for 30 days for ordering the removal of "Proud to be American" stickers from the library's public desks. The treacherous Commie ratfink in question said she did it as "not to offend foreign students", and that "librarians should be neutral and not express opinions". A likely story. Meanwhile, closer to home, apparently Bin Liner's terrorist networks are active in Australia, and things can only get more dangerous in this part of the world. (Or so a terrorism researcher says, anyway.) Not only that, but those Taliban fiends are preparing to flood the market with cheap heroin. Is there any low to which they will not stoop?
A US high school student's sketch of a gun-toting Statue of Liberty has become a mass phenomenon, appearing on T-shirts, on cars and at truck stops across the country. And to think that, three weeks earlier, it would have probably gotten her kicked out of high school for drawing guns.