OutSider Weblog

Friday, May 31, 2002

I'd love to be able to say "I don't be-lieeve it!" to this, but our wonderful MEPs have just voted for Big Brother. Are they completely and utterly barking mad? I'd have thought that, at the very least, their own "enlightened self-interest" would have let them realise that they don't get a free pass from this sort of surveillance. Okay, maybe they can avoid having their dirty laundry washed in public while they're in power (if they really clamp down on leaks and whistleblowing), but one fine day they're going to lose out in the political lottery, and then someone, somewhere is going to start digging up stuff.

On the other hand, maybe this is the beginning of a Noble Experiment, with politicians who are too honest to have any reason to fear a permanent electronic phone-tap. In which case, can we have our Freedom of Information Act back, please?

Update: Of course, if they're planning to never lose out in said political lottery....

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Possibly a rather useful site: resourceindex.com? CGI and PHP resources, that is...

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

"Drugs: legalise, regulate and tax" says the New Statesman, finishing up with this:

But if Mr Blunkett cannot be persuaded of its merits, perhaps Gordon Brown can. The drugs market is worth an estimated £6.6bn, all of it at present going into the pockets of criminals. The Chancellor can work out for himself what the duty from a legalised supply would yield, and how many of his public spending problems it could solve.

Friday, May 17, 2002

This is fun. Short short stories by Michael Swanwick tied to the periodic table of the elements (via Lois Fundis in rec.arts.sf.fandom).

I have to say, though, that he's wrong about vanadium. Well, maybe he's right about the element itself. In solution all the oxidation states are different colours, and by chosing your oxidant or reducing agent, you can run them up and down the spectrum. Or maybe it's just an example of the old meta-law that the more interesting an element, the less interesting its compounds are and vice versa.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Bye-bye, biometrics. A Japanese cryptographer has demonstrated how fingerprint recognition devices can be fooled using a combination of low cunning, cheap kitchen supplies and a digital camera.


And there's even a hack for iris scanners.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Oh boy. Upcoming problem for the longest undefended border in the world? The Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs is looking as if it might be considering treating cannabis more like alcohol or tobacco. And what's more, they're asking the electorate [NB word document!].

(via James "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary" Nicoll in rec.arts.sf.fandom).

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Ken MacLeod recently recommended this essay by Hal Draper on The Two Souls of Socialism.