The Null Device


Nobel laureate James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA, recently gave a talk at Berkeley, about the protein pom-C. In the talk, he made claims of biochemical connections between skin pigmentation, sexual activity, thinness and ambition, with more than the usual candour:

Witnesses were flabbergasted when the 72-year-old discoverer of the double helix suggested there was a biochemical link between exposure to sunlight and sexual urges. ``That's why you have Latin lovers,'' Watson said. ``You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient.''

The outcry of racism and sexism was immediate and resounding. The question is how much of that is because of Watson's abrasive style, and how much is the usual Marxist knee-jerk reaction against any concept of a biological basis for human nature?

biology james watson race racism sex the blank slate 0

Details on the final film in Kevin Smith's New Jersey pentalogy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (currently in development). Judging by the cast list, it looks like it will tie up a lot of loose ends.


Meanwhile, the Victorian government is looking at introducing compulsory desexing of dogs and cats. This I'm not so sure about; on one hand, cutting the numbers of unwanted animals would be good, but on the other hand, if breeding cats/dogs is illegal for private citizens, it may make the animals more expensive and harder to come by, and it also seems like a rather authoritarian approach.


The Los Angelesization of Melbourne (an ongoing series): The Federal Government is set to throw hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' funds on a freeway in outer Melbourne, which just happens to run through several marginal seats Howard's mob need to stay in power. The benefits of the freeway are doubtful, and public transport in the outer suburbs is woeful (buses typically don't run after 7pm or on Sundays), and doesn't look likely to get any better.

cars melbourne politics suburbia urban planning 0

WIRED News has a piece on Peter Molyneux, creator of Populous and originator of the "god game" genre.


I've gotten Windows 98 installed under VMWare (the problem was with using my old SCSI CD-R as a CD-ROM; when I put the IDE CD-ROM drive back in, it went smoothly), and set up IP masquerading, and now I can access the web with a web browser that's actually supported. To test it out I decided to go to SissyFight. Whilst downloading Shockwave (and doing a few other things), Windows bluescreened (as it does). The underlying Linux system was entirely unaffected. Life is good,

I get the feeling I'll end up buying a VMWare license; it's a very useful piece of software.


In today's search requests, among the obvious ones ("/dev/null") and the generic porn searches, I was pleasantly surprised to find someone looking for "Herbert Quain".


The price of dreams: English schoolgirl Emma Richards, 16, has undergone an expensive and painful operation in order to become taller, and realise her dream of being an air hostess. Emma stopped growing at 4ft 9ins, whereas the minimum height for hostesses is 5ft 3ins, for reasons of safety. The details of the operation will sound familiar to anyone who has seen Gattaca:

Emma underwent a six-hour operation in January which involved breaking each femur in two places. Six five inch pins were then screwed into each bone and attached to a metal frame. Over the next four months, Emma was bedridden while the screws were turned four times a day to draw the broken bones away from each other.

Since then Emma has suffered fractures in her weakened bones, as well as infections. Adding insult to injury, the operation only added five inches to her height, and she is still literally one inch short of the minimum requirements.