The Null Device
The Democratic Labor Party was a fiercely right-wing Catholic party that split off from the Australian Labor Party in the 1950s because they were seen as too Communistic, and disappeared in all but name after the USSR collapsed. Now, it's back, having won two seats in the Victorian upper house and potentially having the balance of power, assuming that the other parties line up on opposite sites. How does an undead party manage to grab two seats out of nowhere? Largely through preference deals with other parties, who all put them ahead of the dangerously un-Australian, pro-paedoterrorist Greens (thus bringing back another Cold War concept, that of a policy of containment).
Anyway, it's not quite as bad as it could have been; the ALP has 19 votes, the Tories have 15, with the Nationals (i.e., the God and Country party), the DLP and the Greens having two each. Victorian politics may soon start looking more like Italy or Israel, with no one party having a clear mandate and a lot of horse-trading going on behind the scenes. Though whether Labour would rather deal with the Greens or throw a few legislated-morality carrots to the DLP is uncertain.
Artificial intelligence/cognitive science pioneer Marvin Minsky, who has recently written a book on the mechanisms behind emotions, gives an interview, weighing in on intelligence, cognition, the nature of self and the ineffable mysteries of life:
Q What, in your view, is love?
A There's short-term infatuation, where someone gets strongly attracted to someone else, and that's probably very often a turning-off of certain things rather than something extra: It's a mental state where you remove your criticism. So to say someone is beautiful is not necessarily positive, it may be something happening so you can't see anything wrong with this person. And then there are long-term attachments, where you adopt the goals of the other person and somehow make serious changes in what you're going to do.
Q And what is the self?
A We often imagine that there's a little person inside ourselves who makes our important decisions for us. However, a more useful idea is that you build many different models of yourself for dealing with different situations -- and each of those self-images can add to your resourcefulness.
Apparently iPods work in zero gravity. That is, unless Apple and their hard drive supplier specifically made special space iPods for cosmonauts and space tourists.
Other hardware that apparently has been used on the International Space Station includes IBM laptops (not sure if they're consumer models or ruggedised mil-spec ones of some sort) and Nikon digital cameras.
After Italy saw a spate of gruesome murders carried out by self-professed Satanists (who, apparently, indulge in "a lethal blend of black magic, hard drugs, sex and heavy metal"), the Italian police are planning to set up a "Satan squad". The special task force will include psychologists and a priest and will investigate "potentially dangerous religious movements". Some are concerned, though, that such a squad would become a hammer of Catholic majoritarianism and persecute harmless minority religions.