The Null Device
"Princess Dreams" oven-ready turkey nuggets. Which means that someone decided that the best way to sell mechanically reconstituted meat was to brand it with a sub-Barbie/Disney "Princess" motif, complete with oddly mannish-looking "princess" character.
Commodore brand DVD+R discs. Presumably from the same Dutch outfit which is bringing us the VIC-20 brand MP3 player and PET brand USB flash drive.
It looks like the people behind the Rockbox* MP3 player firmware/OS (which runs on Archos Jukebox series hardware) have started preliminary work on porting it to iRiver devices; they're starting on the (discontinued?) iHP-1x0 series, but hopefully that'll lead to an H-3x0 version as well (assuming that they're based on a similar architecture).
* not to be confused with Rocbox, a MP3 player brought out by rap record/fashion label Roc-A-Fella. (Hang on, aren't they part of Def Jam/Universal? If so, I wonder if their corporate parent knows that they're putting out a MP3 player.)
An interesting interview with leftist/neoconservative Christopher Hitchens, by Johann Hari:
Hitchens was on a TV debate with the leader of a small socialist party in the Irish dail. "He said these Islamic fascists are doing this because they have deep-seated grievances. And I said, 'Ah yes, they have many grievances. They are aggrieved when they see unveiled women. And they are aggrieved that we tolerate homosexuals and Jews and free speech and the reading of literature.' And this man - who had presumably never met a jihadist in his life - said, 'No, it's about their economic grievances.' Well, of course, because the Taliban provided great healthcare and redistribution of wealth, didn't they? After the debate was over, I said, 'If James Connolly [the Irish socialist leader of the Easter Risings] could hear you defending these theocratic fascist barbarians, you would know you had been in a fight. Do you know what you are saying? Do you know who you are pissing on?"
He believes neoconservatism is a distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy. "It's explicitly anti-Kissingerian. Kissinger hates this stuff. He opposed intervening in the Balkans. Kissinger Associates were dead against [the war in] Iraq. He can't understand the idea of backing democracy - it's totally alien to him."
I feel simultaneously roused by Hitch's arguments and strangely disconcerted. Why did Hitch so enthusiastically back the administration's bogus WMD arguments - arguments he still stands by? I think of the Bush administration's denial of global warming, the hideous 'structural adjustment' programmes it rams down the throats of the world's poor (including Iraq's), its description of Ariel Sharon as "a man of peace"? Why intellectually compromise on all these issues and back Bush?
The latest round of beatifications is out; among the candidates is Emperor Karl, who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1916 and 1918. Some objected to his beatification on the grounds that he signed off on the use of poison gas in the trenches of World War 1, but he also miraculously healed a Brazilian nun's varicose veins, so it's alright. The last Habsburg Emperor is not a saint yet (that requires a further miracle to be attributed to him), but he may be accorded a feast day and his relics may be venerated. Which makes me wonder whether, in a century's time, the world may see Tony Blair or someone nominated for sainthood, supported by some true believer or other miraculously recovering from a medical condition.
Rallies across Australia call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, with up to 2,000 people in Sydney marching for the cause. I am somewhat skeptical of the rationale of this; I was as much against invading Iraq as any right-on Green-voting inner-city non-Herald-Sun-reader, but at this stage, pulling troops out, and essentially handing what's left of the country over to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or whichever other thug manages to bloodily scramble to the top of the pile, would be screwing Iraq over twice. (Unless, of course, one is one of those anything's-better-than-western-liberal-capitalism Trotskyists or Islamofascists or what have you, but if one is of such a persuasion, then they would be beyond reason anyway.)
Now, if the rallies were calling for the US occupation authority to be replaced by a transparent multinational peacekeeping administration less likely to strip-mine the country for the benefit of Halliburton stock whilst humiliating and brutalising the locals and ensuring enough animosity to poison generations to come, that would make more sense than "Troops Out Now".