The Null Device


A wristwatch-sized Power Macintosh-based PDA for $100, complete with AirPort, speech recognition and video camera? I'm skeptical, but it sounds intriguing.


A bottle, believed to contain Jacobean wine, was found in the ruins of a 17th century house in Surrey. However, as the archæologists opened it, with the intention of organising a tasting, it turned out to be not wine but urine, along with a mixture of bent pins and pubic hairs. The archæologists now believe that the bottle was a folk charm against witchcraft.


David Touretsky, of DeCSS gallery fame, on why the DeCSS decision sets a frightening precedent:

The judge decided to invent a new category of speech that does not enjoy First Amendment protection. Besides the old standards (libel, fraud, obscenity, incitement to riot and copyright infringement), the court's new category is, essentially, "anything that potentially threatens the profits of Time Warner and Disney."
In the long run, what the motion-picture and music industries want to do is take control of your hardware. They want everything encrypted: the disk drive, the monitor, even the wires that run between them. What they're doing gradually is outlawing all forms of reverse engineering... I think we're headed toward a dangerous time. There aren't going to be telephones, radio and televisions -- it will be one device. Unless the right kind of people take up arms, the government is going to say that you can't just hook up any computer to the Net. Only trusted machines can be hooked up. You could be running an approved version of Windows, or if you're using Linux, you would have to run a specific version of TCP/IP.
Now, the implications of this are as follows. If the government has a compelling interest in suppressing DeCSS, doesn't it have a far more compelling interest in protecting our innocent young children from the hideous scourge of illegal drugs? And therefore, shouldn't our wise leaders be allowed to suppress speech that might serve to facilitate the manufacture or use of these drugs?


The War on Copying escalates, as the US attorney general declares war, calling for piracy to be prosecuted as vigorously as drug trafficking. Which means it is probably only a matter of time before we see civil forfeiture of assets suspected of being connected to MP3 swapping or unlawful DVD use.


Am I glad I don't live in Sydney: Meanwhile, civil liberties have been suspended, as Sydney is turned into Disneyland for the Olympics, replete with totalitarian restrictions designed to maximise the sponsors' profits. (Or so these lefties are saying anyway; though in this case I'd probably believe them.)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the power to disqualify athletes who "promote a political or religious message" and requires them to sign an agreement prohibiting them from "recording their thoughts" of their Games experiences, which according to the IOC would amount to "an athlete acting as a journalist." The rule, which covers athletes' personal web sites, is an attempt to ensure that athletes do not scoop official broadcasters. Any breach will constitute grounds for expulsion from the event.
It is illegal for residents living within a five-kilometre radius of an Olympic venue to allow cars to be parked on their property, with any breach punishable by a $15,000 fine. Parking in Olympic-designated zones incurs a $348 fine, five times the current penalty, and those attempting to travel in special Olympic traffic lanes on Sydney roads will be fined $2,200.

(Somewhat reminiscent of the special lanes on Soviet motorways that were reserved for Communist Party apparatchiks.)

Welfare workers have complained that treatment of the homeless by security guards "borders on harassment". The guards, however, are taking their lead from the state government, which has offered the homeless a "choice" of staying in an overcrowded city hostel or being transported to a tent encampment in one of Sydney's outer suburbs

(Brazilian-style shanty towns, here we come; perhaps we should borrow more of the Brazilian solution and just cull the homeless like feral kangaroos?)

civil liberties corruption free speech olympics sydney 0

The S11 insurrection has been crushed, all without a single canister of tear gas or rubber bullet. And all McDonalds are (so far) still standing, multinational capitalism and private property still exist, and the revolution has been postponed yet again.


The technology of influence: Advertisers are now uses brainwave monitoring to research what subconsciously appeals to customers. (via Rebecca's Pocket)