The Null Device

2003/1/16

Your humble narrator will be DJing this Sunday at Pony, at the Heligoland gig. Expect a combination of shoegazing, laptop electronica, indie-pop and eclectic weirdness. The first DJ set starts about 8ish.

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Here's why you should destroy your old hard disks: two MIT graduate students, Simson Garfinkel (known for his work in computer security) and Abhi Shelat, did an experiment in data-mining old hard disks; they bought 158 second-hand hard disks; on 49 of those disks, they were able to recover "significant personal information", including medical correspondence, love letters, pornography and credit card numbers. And if students can find these sorts of things, it's sure that some businessman of above-average ethical flexibility will have thought of the same thing.

(It's funny that there are no pages on effective ways to physically destroy hard disks beyond recovery. There must be quicker, easier and more efficient means than smashing them with a sledgehammer or tossing them in an incinerator. Cory Doctorow recommended dropping platters in acid in one of his stories; though, obviously, exact instructions weren't given. You'd think that some paranoiac on the Internet would have done the research and posted it for the benefit of fellow victims of persecution.)

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Frodo has failed; we're all fucked now. (JPEG) (via Stumblings)

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A crushing blow in the Eldred vs. Ashcroft case. US Supreme Court upholds copyright extension, paving the way for copyright as a perpetual property title, and the evolution of "intellectual property" into a new feudalism. After this, it is likely that nothing will ever enter the public domain in the US. At this rate, it will take global nuclear war, alien invasion, comet strike or the near-extinction of the human race to do anything about it.

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Another amusingly apt Onion piece I missed earlier: One Look At My Music Collection Will Show You How Much I Respect Women.

Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I haven't really made as many connections as I'd have liked. If I could just get a woman to see my CD collection, I know she'd realize that I'm not like the other guys. I can really understand the female experience.

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Australia is moving one step closer towards developing its own version of a US-style culture of jingoism, only combined with the "unique Australian national character" endlessly waffled on about by the Professional Australians: a group is planning to distribute a commitment oath on Australia Day. The oath itself, which is inoffensively content-free, has attracted support from everybody from the conservative RSL to the go-getting trendies in the Republican Movement. I wonder how long until schoolchildren are reciting something like this every day, with the magic of peer pressure and herd psychology ensuring compliance.

And does anybody else consider the idea of an oath pledging tolerance and openness a bit ironic, if not hypocritical?

"What's the biggest lie the political and cultural ruling class tells itself? Where's the greatest disparity between image and truth? What are the attributes which any self-respecting Professional Australian boasts about the most -- and possesses the least? ... Suspicion of authority. Independence of spirit. Nonconformity."
-- Greg Egan, Distress (pp120-122)

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