The Null Device


A good piece on how CD copy-denial mechanisms work, why they can be easily defeated, and why the "stopping MP3 piracy" argument made for them doesn't make sense, and is a smokescreen for their true purpose: recording companies extending their control to the way customers access their music, with a view to forcing them onto a pay-per-play or rental model. Which would be the holy grail of late-capitalism; driving up profits by giving the customer less and otherwise compelling them to pay more for it, or what K.W. Jeter called the "turd in a can". (via bOING bOING)

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Scare meme of the day: How you can build a cruise missile for US$10,000 in your garage, using only off-the-shelf components; and if you can, so can Osama, Saddam, or next week's international supervillain. Though I'd be more worried about the $400 EMP bombs, myself. (via Plastic)


Eric Raymond has written a smug Libertarian critique of Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod, rooted in the fundamental notion of the total bankrupcy of socialism and indeed the undeniable supremacy of the Free Market. No Ayn Rand quotes though. And here's Charles Stross' rebuttal.

(IMHO, the Randian/Propertarian argument of the supremacy of the Free Market is somewhat naïve, for the reasons Charlie describes (markets are good for some things but not all); the recent fashion of defining everything as being, in its basic sense, a market is rather daft. OTOH, I don't think the future belongs to any variant of Marxism (which was, after all, constrained by its 19th-century backgrounds).)

And then there's the "Cowboys vs. Eurotrash" subtext that usually emerges in the whole recurring argument, with predominantly American Libertarians making smug digs at the bankrupcy and impending collapse of Eurosocialism (usually coming down to how the ultimate oracle of the Market has shown that Big Macs and Britney Spears are inherently superior to baguettes and Johnny Hallyday, and any argument to the contrary is just the elitism of sore losers in the global cultural marketplace), and left-leaning Europeans pointing at rampant obesity, firearm deaths and other aspects of the Ugly American stereotype in response.

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Oh yes, and this piece on the appeal of depressing music; pretty much hits the nail on the head. (via Cos)


I just found in my SpamCop held email a spam from some outfit claiming to sell a spam blocking system. At the end was the usual "this is not spam, you have opted in" disclaimer; the thing that struck me about this one was that the group claiming to be responsible called themselves the "Coalition for Responsible Internet Marketing". A fine piece of acronymic serendipity there...


A big welcome aboard to Kristin, who has recently taken up this blogging lark. Currently just about books, though maybe if you ask her nicely she might mention swing dancing or Discordianism or something. Meanwhile, Graham has joined the Circle.


Pedro Carolino may be long dead, but his spirit lives on in automatic translation engines. I was searching on Google for information about the PMA-5's chord transposition feature, and found this document, which seems rather informative. Unfortunately for me, it's in Portuguese, but Google's translation engine can translate it to English as She is Spoke.