The Null Device
Prominent Malaysian human rights lawyer Karpal Singh has claimed that Malaysia's prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (you know, the one who blamed the International Jewish Conspiracy for Malaysia's economic woes and keeps accusing Australia of racist contempt for "Asian values" for refusing to silence critics of his regime) is moving Malaysia towards sharia law. Mahathir declared 18 months ago, for reasons of political expediency, that Malaysia is "a fundamentalist Islamic state", ignoring the Supreme Court's pronouncements that Malaysia is a secular state, and has had little respect for the evil British imperialist legacy of common law and an independent judiciary. His edict and the fact that many of Malaysia's judges are on the verge of retiring have emboldened Islamist hardliners seeking to abolish common law. Could Mahathir be the next Mugabe?
It emerges that Melbourne's tram operators have come up with an innovative way of dealing with overcrowding: removing seats from trams to create more standing room; this will be no surprise to anybody who has had the misfortune of having to ride on one of the slick, much-hyped new Citadis trams at any remotely busy time. Of course, there are sheds of mothballed trams waiting to be pressed into service to alleviate the load, but that would cost more and cut into profits. Besides which, beggars can't be choosers, and if you want a seat, you can bloody well buy a car or catch a taxi.
Of course, if public transport is run as a safety-net service for the carless poor, anyone who has a choice will avoid it, and the system will decline. Which makes one wonder whether Yarra Trams have been bought by a car company with the intention of dismantling Melbourne's tram system.
A survey of Anarchist and Libertarian Societies in Science Fiction; encompassing everything from Stateless to Libertaria to Port Watson, including pirate anarchist utopias, Randian-Heinleinian gun-toting anarcho-propertarianisms, the psychedelic milieus of Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson, H.G. Wells' Fabian socialism and the "fascist-socialist" utopias of H.P. Lovecraft's alien races.
I found this on this page of essays, which is a few links away from Ken MacLeod's blog. The page has a number of other intriguing essays, including one on Christian symbolism in Blade Runner and Iain M. Banks' notes on the Culture, his post-Singularity anarchosocialist utopia.
Ah yes; the long awaited 2.0 release of Rockbox (that's the enhanced open-source firmware for the Archos Jukebox MP3 player/recorder units) is out. This update adds MP3 recording (so you don't need to boot the rather pedestrian Archos firmware), file queueing, playlist creation, allegedly improved battery life and charging, various sound enhancements (fade in/out on start/end, pitch changing and stereo wide/narrow/karaoke modes), and numerous other minor enhancements. If you have a compatible device, grab it; you probably won't be disappointed.
Where did Iraqi minister of information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, famed for his fancifully optimistic statements, disappear off to? It turns out that he's now writing a column for the Guardian, weighing in on matters such as the catastrophic failure of congestion charging in London:
Do not believe for one moment the lies of the immoral mercenaries of the mayoral office. The truth is that in the weeks since the charge was implemented, traffic on all ring roads and major arteries has trebled, while central London has become a scorched wasteland, populated only by foxes and jackals. Yet still millions of innocent people are charged each day for journeys that they have never undertaken.
I wonder how long until some genius from blogspot.com seizes this article as evidence that the Graun really is Saddam Bin Laden's propaganda engine, just like Al Quaeda or Al Jazeera or whateverthefuckit'scalled.