The Null Device


The latest thing out of Japan: rubber duck-shaped USB flash drives, in a choice of three pastel colours. They don't play MP3s, they don't clip onto a keyring, they have a great unwieldy USB plug sticking out of them, they probably don't take kindly to water, and they're only 16Mb in size. I'm sure that it makes sense to someone, though.

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Mental health groups protest Gollum, who, they say, perpetuates negative stereotypes of people suffering from schizophrenia. Umm, yeah.

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3RRR finds a new home, in East Brunswick too (right at the end of the #96 tram line). Good to see that they won't have to move out to an industrial estate in Lalor or Thomastown or somewhere. (via Cos)

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A report from the Human Rights Council of Australia says that Australia is moving towards an authoritarian state under Howard. Among the symptoms of this are a political climate dominated by fear, insecurity and division, and the "de-legitimising" of dissent., including, for example, through the demonisation of those with alternative views and the restriction of their resources and public standing, the council says.

There are increasing controls on information, while potential dissenters are co-opted or even coerced, for instance through exploiting growing financial dependence on government and use of provisions in contracts.
There has been a radical shift in how government business is done, with tight constraints on the capacity for dissent. "All but the bravest" will avoid speaking out as more organisations become dependent on government funding.

(Wasn't Howard going to revoke the tax-exempt status of charities that become involved in political debates (as opposed to just handing out soup or blankets)? Has that gone through?)

Though at least here we have the Democrats Greens; on the occasions that Labor shows some backbone, they can blunt the worst of the government's legislation. Unlike in the US (where third parties only serve to leech votes from their respective lesser evil) or the UK (where the upper house is comprised of hereditary peers, gradually being replaced by anointed political cronies; I'm sure a true believer in protecting the interests that matter from the friction of excessive democracy like Teflon Tony won't be in any hurry to bring in proportional representation.

Speaking of which, Blair is planning to lower the voting age to 16 in Britain. Not sure what he'll do to prevent outbreaks of Greenism and socialism in the Houses of Parliament; introduce US-style first-past-the-post voting, count on British youth being less given to rocking the boat (see also: Greg Palast's rants about the Brits habitually deferring to their betters where Americans would raise a fuss), or just sign over enough sovereignty in international "free trade" treaties to render Parliament no more relevant than a student union?

(Speaking of Palast: have there been any counterexamples to his assertion, of British subjects forcing the powers that be to overturn odious legislation through protest or civil disobedience? Wasn't that what happened to Thatcher's poll tax?)

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