The Null Device


Looks like Broccoli Spears CDs have their uses after all. Whilst listening to them may not be advisable, you can always use them to scare away feral pigs, as farmers in Germany are doing.


If you Pirate MP3s, You're Downloading Communism Terrorism: Walt Disney Corp., a key proponent of restrictive mandatory-copy-control legislation, fires a salvo in the anti-file-sharing propaganda war with a cartoon about the evils of file-sharing. Judging by the description, it sounds rather heavy-handed and propagandistic; then again, that is filtered through the perceptions of the article's author, who is probably of the penguinhead persuasion.

Btw, speaking of the MP3/Communism propaganda poster, I was thinking that someone should do a version with Stalin replaced by Osama Bin Laden and "Communism" by "Terrorism". Given the RIAA's recent push to equate MP3 copying with terrorism (and the MPAA labelling DeCSS as "terrorware" before that), it would be quite apt.


Looks like those anthrax attacks may not be Saddam's doing after all, but that of all-American extremist cranks:

Despite the letters sent to Mr Brokaw in New York and to Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader in Washington, calling for "death to America" and praising Allah, agents are quick to point out the messages do not mean anything. The letters could have been sent by a right-winger, trying to stir up racial tension in the wake of 11 September and using the hijackings as cover.

Mind you, I get the feeling that 99% of the anthrax scares after the initial attacks will turn out to be copycat actions by disparate disturbed individuals.

Much has been made of the timing of the attacks, that coming so soon after 11 September they must be linked. But anthrax terrorism is not a new phenomenon, especially in the US. For the last four years, the country has been in the grip of anthrax. It is an American phenomenon: in 1999, the latest year for which records are available, there were 83 criminal incidents worldwide where a quantity of anthrax was actually present, of which 81 were in the US.


MacOS X geek-out: Qt is now available for MacOS X. Mind you, there's no X11-style free licence. Meanwhile, Apple say they have ported Tk to MacOS X. Which means that Tkinter may soon be available to Python scripts running on OSX.

Now hopefully someone will get around to writing a Gtk backend for Quartz (the MacOS X windowing/drawing mechanism). (There are already backends for Win32 and frame buffers, so it shouldn't be impossible.) Then it will be possible to run GIMP on MacOS X without an X server.

Another thing I'd like to see would be some Python bindings to Cocoa/AppKit. (Given the nature of the Objective C runtime, it may be doable.)

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Actually, Graham, it's not a blog; it's an E/N site. (Gimmicky design: check. High levels of testosterone: check. Use of the word "bitch" to refer to females: check.)


Australian politics; skip if not interested: Labor is narrowing the gap, as Howard's aura of statesmanship starts to wear a bit thin.

IMHO, both of the parties look rather uninspiring at the moment. On one hand, most of Howard's popular appeal comes from the nice shiny deputy's badge George W. Bush gave him; in addition to that, his administration is reactionary, paternalistic and vaguely reminiscent of the Joh for PM campaign of the late 80s. OTOH, Beazley is hardly a font of charisma, especially as his campaign has been based more on how conservative Labor will be.

I'd rather have Labor win, as they're less likely to be as reactionary and authoritarian as Howard's Liberals, though for the most part they'd be similar. More importantly, it'd be best if whoever wins does so by a slender margin, and the senate is in the hands of someone reasonably trustworthy (typically the greens, or various independents; the Democrats are a bit too slick, and the various loony Nu Marxists that are coming out of the woodwork are a bit too ideological).

Paradoxically enough, I'm thinking of putting the Liberals ahead of Labor in the Lower House. I live in one of the safest Labor seats in Melbourne, one routinely held by senior party apparatchiks, and it's extremely unlikely that Labor will lose it. Though the closer the margin is, the more of a message it would send that this seat is not to be taken for granted. Though what would be more impressive would be if the Greens (or even Democrats) made a scarily powerful showing in the traditional Labor heartland. (As they have in other domains; not far from here, a Green councillor won a seat on a traditionally all-Labor council.)

In the Senate, my first vote is going, as it has traditionally, to Murgatroyd.

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Bush lines up behind Northern Alliance in designing the future Afghani government. Given that they're cut from the same fundamentalist cloth as the Taliban, only without the Bin Laden connection, and thus have the same strong commitment to faith-based government (something Dimbulb wholeheartedly believes in), it's not surprising. Looks like the women of Afghanistan can't look forward to being able to live like human beings any time soon.