The Null Device


And if you thought the XOR cursor drawing patent was absurd, here is a list of absurd actual US patents. They include things like 3-dimensional pie charts and the use of training manuals. Some of which are almost up there with the Russian bottle patent.

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Now this is interesting: a statistical analysis of voting patterns from US congresses, plotted on a graph. First thing to notice is that the votes fall into two clusters, one o nthe left and one on the right. However, interestingly enough, the two axes (X and Y) are not based on "left-wing" vs. "right-wing", or any ideological classification, but purely on being the "long axes" shown by factor analysis. Quoting from a mailing list:

No other axis is anywhere near as big as these two, so a 2-dimensional map truly is a faithful visualization of what US politics is about---not because some pundit says so, but because the statistics of actual congressional votes say so. The secondary axis can be variously described depending on the era: in the late nineteenth century it amounts to Yankee/black against Southern/Catholic, while by the mid-twentieth it is mostly about segregation (even though, again, the votes that define it may have nothing obvious to do with that issue). In recent decades the secondary axis has a strong "family values" component, but the distribution of votes says it's still "the same" axis as it was fifty or a hundred years ago.

Some conclusions drawn from this are that the two parties are real, and that during the mid-20th century, the southern Democrats were virtually a third party.


The Beast of Redmond: Microsoft buys SGI's graphics patents; penguinheads concerned they may be used to crush OpenGL, or cripple 3D graphics capabilities on non-Windows platforms. Meanwhile, if you use Windows Media Player to download content from sites, the sites can keep track of you, using a convenient global ID number. Apparently this is not a bug but a feature. (via Slashdot)

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Human Rights Watch to John Howard: "Who do you think you are; George W. Bush?"


Tonight I went down to the Empress to see New Buffalo. The supports were various former bandmates of Sally's: one Lara M., who played keyboards and guitar, accompanied by a Roland PMA-5 and a sampler, and an outfit named Friendly Injun. The New Buffalo show was quite good, and probably the last one for a while, while they work on a full-length album.

I also ran into Libby from Sir there; she mentioned that Sir are going overseas (touring the US and Europe) soon, so their last show before they leave may be next Friday's, at the Czech Club in North Melbourne.

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Bad news (though not unexpected): Palm rules out opening BeOS code, essentially burying one of the more innovative fringe OSes of recent years. Though some people are imploring them to accept a plan to allow interested hackers pay to work on a fork, which remains property of Palm. Umm, OK... Though there is some good news: someone is working on a free BeOS clone, which already runs some binaries.

And then there's AtheOS, which already has pretty screenshots and succeeds in making Linux look conservative. (Which it is, in a sense, being for the most part a variation on the 30-year-old UNIX model.)

(Note to self: play around with AtheOS once you have access to spare PCs again.)