The Null Device
Is the recent Hollywood film The Patriot, which depicts British troops committing atrocities in America, an attempt to rehabilitate the Nazis? (Salon)
By transposing Oradour to South Carolina, and making 18th century Britons the first moderns to commit this particular war crime, Emmerich and Rodat -- unwittingly or not -- have done something unpleasantly akin to Holocaust revisionism. They have made a film that will have the effect of inoculating audiences against the unique historical horror of Oradour -- and implicitly rehabilitating the Nazis while making the British seem as evil as history's worst monsters.
Speaking of Linux on tiny machines, there is a project named MicroWindows, aimed at making a lightweight GUI for Linux. It'll be interesting to watch; something like this should make a lot more sense than putting a bloated X server on a handheld with a 240x320 screen.
It looks like Compaq and HP are planning Linux-based handheld computers. Of course, the question remains whether they'll be genuinely open devices, or just Tivo-like proprietary boxes which happen to have a Linux kernel hidden under their proprietary interfaces.
Silly teenage subcultures: After being prodded to do so by a friend, I recently picked up the latest issue of GloomCookie. For those not in the know, GloomCookie is an independent comic with a sort of goth motif. Actually, a goth motif about as subtle as a bludgeon to the head. It is published by Slave Labor, who also published the excellent Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Unlike JtHM, GloomCookie never transcends the goth milieu, and tends to pile on the sp00ky clichés rather thickly. You could play Goth Cliché Bingo with it, ticking them off as they appear. I almost laughed out loud when the latest issue shifted action to New Orleans (which, being the home of Trent Reznor and Poppy Z. Brite and mecca for thousands of black-clad teenage runaways each year, is sort of the Goth equivalent of Seattle). GloomCookie's position relative to the laugh-at/laugh-with dichotomy is somewhat ambiguous. Either it is explicitly designed to be laughed at, or it blatantly attempts to pander to those hungry for comics with more goth-cred than a Big Mac has cholesterol.
Anyway, as far as subcultural semiotics appropriation goes, Dead Enders is probably more interesting; 70s Mod retro meets post-apocalyptic dystopia. (Which Mod revival are we up to now anyway? The fifth one or something?)
The Long Now Foundation is considering the question of encoding data for future civilisations. Naturally, magnetic media, CD-ROMs and the like are out, as even if they last (which is not likely), it is unlikely that the equipment required to read them will. One alternative is the "Rosetta disk", a small etched metal disc which is expected to last up to 10,000 years. (BBC News)
While the recording industry goliaths struggle to replace MP3 with copyright-enforcing audio formats that maintain their control over music distribution, the Fraunhofer Institute, who own the MP3 patents, may be helping them, by demanding payment for all MP3 players and downloads. There is an open-source alternative, Vorbis, but without the momentum of MP3, it should be easier to persuade a judge that it is a "circumvention mechanism", and thus against new digital copyright laws. Then again, marijuana is also illegal, and nobody smokes that, right?