The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'news'
Blogging has been sparse over the past few days, as Your Humble Correspondent has been away in Berlin.
Anyway, a round-up of things I've noticed from while I was away:
- After the European University in St. Petersburg, Russia, got involved in an EU-funded project to ensure the fairness of the election process, the Russian authorities shut down the university, claiming that it is a "fire hazard". Opposition figures accuse the Kremlin of moving Russia back towards totalitarianism (or is the goal a Singapore-style "managed democracy"?)
- While we're on the subject of democracy, Charlie Stross weighs in on why forms of democracy are becoming increasingly prevalent these days, with even otherwise illiberal regimes adopting aspects of democracy, rather than autocratic systems.
Anyway. Here we have three ways in which democracy is less bad than rival forms of government: it usually weeds out lunatics before they can get their hands on the levers of power, it provides a valuable pressure relief valve for dissent, and it handles succession crises way better than a civil war.
- Barack Obama, it seems, is doing well in the US primaries; so much so that someone in the Clinton campaign seemingly decided to resort to dog-whistle politics and took it upon themselves to circulate photos of him wearing scarily Middle-Eastern-looking attire, in the hope that enough Texans are sufficiently prejudiced to be unable to vote for someone whose name not only sounds like "Osama" but who once wore similar headgear.
- After writing a piece on the mainstreaming of neo-folk music, Momus has discovered Emmy The Great. His great revelation has little to do with her music, mind you, and much to do with her being young, (half-)Asian and fanciable.
- Apple have finally released a new MacBook Pro. It gets the Air's multi-touch trackpad, and the usual quantitative bump in specifications, alas, a higher-resolution screen isn't isn't among them, so if you want 1600 pixels across on something that doesn't look comically oversized, you'll have to buy a Windows machine.
- Meanwhile, Microsoft have been slapped with a US$1.4bn fine by the EU, as well as having made vague promises of being more open in future, and apparently they're working on a Windows Vista-based GNU rival named UNG ("just like GNU, only without all that pesky freedom").
Berlin, for what it's worth, was great; four days, though, is nowhere near enough time to see everything and enjoy the city. Though I was surprised that the attendants on the Deutsche Bahn sleeper train didn't seem to speak English. Hopefully they'll remedy this by the time they start running services through the Channel Tunnel.
For what it's worth, photos are being uploaded here.
A US astronaut has been charged with trying to kidnap a woman she thought was a romantic rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot.
Police said Capt Nowak drove 1,000 miles (1,600km) from her home in Houston to Orlando International Airport, wearing a nappy to avoid a toilet break.
Ms Shipman was then attacked with the pepper spray, it says. She drove to a car park booth and police were called.It is believed to be the first time an astronaut has been charged with a crime.
A Times columnist's take on France24 and those silly French people:
Since, alongside the news , the new state-funded France 24 channel sees itself as an ambassador for the French "art de vivre" (French for "way of life") and for its "savoir faire" ("rural snail-tasting festivals"), the channel launched at 7.29 GMT yesterday evening -- presumably in order to allow staff and viewers to first knock back a couple of reviving Pernods after their return from the traditional Gallic post-work/pre-dinner bout of hanky-panky ("mouchoir-pouchoir").
That means that at the time of writing, we don't actually know what the opening headlines were. But we might guess they were something along the lines of, "Iraq, c'est encore un grand mess, n'est-ce pas?" (literally, "That George Bush is a dork, isn't he?"); And "L'Angleterre evidemment a une équipe de cricket qui joue comme un bunch de garçons de Nancy -- pas, obvieusement, notre Nancy en Lorraine!"); though maybe not, "Et maintenant, les actualités chaud directe de Rwanda ...").
France 24 is basically a TV channel for a nation that is annoyed that it has failed to persuade the rest of the world to speak French rather than English (apart from -- and this really embarrasses them -- the word gauche, which is the universally used term for "Donald Rumsfeld").Aside: I wonder which variant of English France24 will use: whether it'll be broadcast in the Commonwealth English of their ancient adversaries and fellow EU members across la Manche, or the American English of their former revolutionary protegés and historical friends, recently seen eating Freedom Fries and putting "First Iraq, then France" bumper stickers on their Hummers.
Not that long after al-Jazeera launched its defiantly postcolonial English-language news channel, another player is entering the market; France 24 will be a 24-hour news channel, funded by the French government and a French private TV network, and broadcasting in French and English (with Spanish and Arabic to be added later).
France 24 can be viewed through its web site (if you have Windows Media installed), and will be available on cable TV. Its mission is, in its own words, "to cover worldwide news with French eyes"; the channel insists its editorial policy will be independent of the French government (though, in either case, you'd expect them to say so).
The invisible hand of the free market shows its ingenuity: as improvements in radar systems make it harder to smuggle cocaine by air, the Narcolombian cartels (which, it must be said, are short neither of resources nor motivation) have been turning to submarines to make sure that their finest produce gets to the boardrooms, clubs and recording studios of the affluent world.
(via Boing Boing)
This evening, I tuned into BBC News 24. The intro ran, and on came the newsreaders, informing the audience of the big story: the English football team was beaten by Portugal, and was out of the World Cup.
The report played a clip of the goal that ended it all, and the Portuguese player's triumphant expression. Then they crossed to England supporters outside the stadium in Germany, with the reporter asking them how they felt. Not surprisingly, they were disappointed.
Then the report crossed to Lisbon, where fans were partying. The reporter asked a few how they felt; they were elated. This just in: Portuguese football fans celebrate when their team wins.
This went on for 20 minutes, discussing the mechanics of the game, the hopes and dreams of various fans, and so on, after which they briefly crossed to the rest of the day's news. And in other news: 60 people were killed in a bomb blast in Iraq, as sectarian violence threatens to escalate further. Presumably things are also happening in other parts of the world (such as, say, the Gaza Strip and Somalia, to name two recently newsworthy locations), though one can't be sure because there wasn't time to mention them.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?