The Null Device


The BBC's new Head of Religion and Ethics is (gasp!) an agnostic. Alan Bookbinder, the son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, is the first non-Christian to take the post. Some religious groups are questioning the appointment ("Would the BBC appoint a head of sport who knows nothing about football?", a member of the Evangelical Alliance asks), seemingly confusing not being in the thrall of a belief system with ignorance of religion. If anything, Bookbinder's mixed religious background and freedom from commitment to any one faith may make him a more qualified candidate in a pluralist, no longer exclusively Christian, Britain.


The Linux web browsing situation is looking slightly less dire, now that the KDE web browser Konqueror supports Windows ActiveX plug-ins. Well, some of them; Shockwave and Flash run, but Windows Media Player doesn't. Mind you, such plug-ins get full access to any filesystem WINE (the Windows-emulation layer) can see, which means that your files may be at the tender mercies of the proliferation of viruses, worms and spyware that infects the Windenburg world.

Perhaps someone should create a secure WINE library, which one can link to to provide Windows DLL loading and such for one's applications, and a specifiable subset of Windows API calls and access to the outside world (i.e., filesystems, networks). If we've got the WINE sandbox, we may as well use it to keep Bad Things from happening.

(via the Reg)


Hitler a failed artist, Mao a failed poet... Josef Stalin, paranoid mass-murdering fruitcake that he was, is still held in high esteem amongst parts of the Russian population; as such, archives revealing unflattering aspects of his personality (well, other than his penchant for exterminating real and imagined enemies from all sides) have been slow in emerging. But now it is revealed that Stalin was an avid cartoonist, and would sketch his enemies being put to death in various imaginative ways.

In one cartoon, which Ilizarov believes Stalin drew around 1930, his finance minister, Nikolai Bryukhanov, is depicted naked, hanging from a rope by his genitals... Under the heading "Special File", it read: "To all members of the politburo, for all his present and future sins, Bryukhanov should be hung by his balls. If they hold up he should be considered not guilty as if in a court of law. If they give way he should be drowned in a river."

He also tortured cats as a young child and, whilst in office, knocked up a 14-year-old girl, the existence of whose child by him had been suppressed by the KGB for decades. (via Shauny)


The results of the latest Bulwer-Lytton contest are in, and there are some beauties here:

The lone monarch butterfly flew flutteringly through the cemetery, dancing on and glancing against headstone after headstone before alighting atop Willie Mitchell's already lowered casket, causing gasps of awe to fly from the open mouths of five or six lingering mourners, until a big shovelful of dirt landed on it and it died.

(via Found)


Actually, Graham, I think Beijing would be a perfect candidate for the 2008 McLympic Games. The mechanisms of repression already in place could be put to use preventing people from wearing anti-Nike T-shirts in the vicinity of venues or tourist areas, or from otherwise diluting the sponsors' eyeball-herding investment by consuming non-sponsor products. A special law suspending civil liberties for the duration of the McLympics, as was passed in NSW, would not even be needed to turn Beijing into an Olympic Disneyland.


Damn. And I was thinking of making my next PDA a Psion too.