The Null Device


The Pentagon's battle plan for Iraq will involve hitting it with 300-400 cruise missiles each day, in order to demoralise the population. This is more than the total number of cruise missiles launched in the first gulf war's entirety. All areas will be targeted; which makes official statements about attempting to "minimise civilian casualties" rather hard to believe. (See also: "we had to destroy the village to save it")

Kudos to the first person to explain satisfactory why this is not terrorism. (via Stumblings)


The Null Device has finally jumped on the desktop icon bandwagon; only some years after the standard came out of the bowels of Redmond. That's what happens when it's too hot to sleep or do anything productive.


Yesterday was apparently the second hottest day on record in Melbourne (something like 44 degrees, which is about 15 more than reasonable). One of those days when you realise that weather is an integral part of the human condition, and not just some trivial fact. It's being too bloody hot is every bit as real and significant as awareness of one's mortality, longing for spiritual transcendence, love, or any other yardstick one may define "being human" by. Which makes one wonder why it's only times when it's too bloody hot (or too bloody cold or too rainy or something) that people notice this fact, and usually write off weather as an inconsequential truism.

I heard today from a former Norwegian exchange student living in Australia that the weather features quite heavily in Norwegian literature, presumably because they have so much of it. For example, one novel published recently over there deals with a prolonged period of intense rain, during which everybody retreated to their homes and got really deeply into various interests and solitary activities; or something much to that effect.

Meanwhile, in English, weather is usually seen as a cliché; i.e., "nice weather we having" being the standard content-free conversation starter; a linguistic no-op, to all intents and purposes.


An interesting WIRED article about E-Gold, an anonymous, gold-based online payment system which can be used to buy everything from EFF memberships to ammunition to cheap books and flag-burning kits (not to mention shares in pyramid schemes and online gambling). It has a related denomination called the E-Dinar, based on an Islamic gold standard defined in the Koran, and for all the anarcho-libertarian kudos it gets, it owes its existence to a radical Islamic sufi sect sworn to the cause of eliminating the evil of paper currency and destroying capitalism:

E-dinar's British COO, Yahya Cattanach, and his family share a communal condo with CastiƱeira in the comfortable Jumeirah district of Dubai. The company's Spanish president, Umar Ibrahim Vadillo, is also the president of the Islamic Mint. And finally, uniting all three men - as well as e-dinar's Swiss CEO, Malaysian CFO, and German CTO - is one crucial biographical datum: All are high-placed members of the Murabitun movement, a modern, Western offshoot of Sufi Islam and possibly the only religious sect in history whose defining article of faith is a financial theory.

A global gold-backed Islamic currency may not be so far-fetched. Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad (best known for berating Australia for its racist commitment to pluralism and intolerance of "Asian values" and such, and denouncing currency trading as a Jewish plot to destroy the economies of Muslim nations) has proposed a global "Islamic trading block" based around the gold-backed "Islamic dinar", which would instantly make E-Gold the currency of a big chunk of the world.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League, the pressure group best known for releasing a list of "hate symbols" including the "peace" and "anarchy" symbols and the Wiccan five-pointed star, has warned that E-Gold is a terrorist tool; then again, aren't open 802.11 access points and MP3 sharing networks also a terrorist tool? Is anything not a terrorist tool these days? (via

e-currency e-gold economics fringe islam mahathir mohamad paranoia sufi terrorism the long siege 3