The Null Device
Pro-life except for those already born: Two Religious Right congressmen in the U.S. have introduced a bill to ban RU-486, the early-option abortion drug which brutally murders small clusters of cells that Bible Belt preachers and Republican Party members insist have souls. (via rebecca's pocket)
The decoupling of sex from reproduction has taken another step, with the announcement of a female oral contraceptive which reduces periods to four times a year. Which is quite sensible, if the doctors who say that a monthly menstruation schedule serves no purpose other than advertising the woman's fertility (which made sense on the ancestral savannah of the hunter-gatherers, but makes less sense nowadays when most women have fewer than two children in their lives). Perhaps eventually, our posthuman successors will be naturally sterile, taking pills to activate sperm or egg production on the rare occasion when they need to reproduce. Given that most people don't reproduce all that often, such an adaptation would make more sense.
Et tu, Brutus? Elton John must be really hard up for money (or possibly publicity); the flamboyant singer and gay icon has agreed to perform a duet with gay-bashing white rapper Eminem.
All things come to an end: The primary hard disk on my Linux box (a 2Gb Quantum Fireball, from about 1997) had been starting to misbehave, so I decided to replace it before it lives up to its namesake. I picked up a 10Gb disk at the swap meet and swapped that in, copying the file systems to it. Things haven't quite stabilised yet (copying partitions with tar did odd things to some of the partitions, particularly /dev, though that should be fixed soon.
I've had the old disk for a bit over 3 years and it has served me well, but now has reached the end of its life. It's the first hard disk I can remember in recent times wearing out, as opposed to merely outgrowing.
The 10gb disk I bought was the smallest new disk available at the market, dwarfed by 40/70gb units, and was only $165. I can remember some years ago, getting off the bus from Monash at an electronics shop in Clayton and plonking down $500 or so for a shiny new 540Mb Quantum hard disk, and being pleased with the amount of space it would add to my cramped 170Mb system (which was probably a 386SX-16 running Linux 1.0 or so).
(I'm showing my age here, aren't I?)
Germany's recording industry body, the Bundesverband der Phonographischen Wirtschaft, are calling for filters to be installed at "key Internet junctions", blocking downloads of copyrighted materials. Chances are this technology is already well under development, if Sony senior vice president Steve Heckler's comments last year are anything to go by, and it only needs the political will or pressure to force it onto ISPs and the public, either with legislation or the threat of lawsuits.
Police in New Zealand are trying a new tactic against burglary: they are giving advice to suspected burglars and their families on how to get benefits, with the aim of getting them out of the cycle of poverty. The police say that this initiative has already cut burglary rates by 20%.