American-British Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Were Punishable By Death

What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by [Bush] are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn’t-somehow-torture - “enhanced interrogation techniques” - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.


A font is fixed… But the fix is banned!

Publishers say that computer users pose a problem for copyright, but that way of conceiving the issue is back to front; it is copyright that poses a problem for computer users.

In a perfect illustration of this, someone fixed a bug in a proprietary piece of software - font software, in this case - and posted his fixed version on his blog for everyone to benefit from.

The copyright holder noticed this and demanded he stop redistributing the font, banning the fix. The helpful neighbour is forced to do this by law, copyright law.

This is sad, because both of these outcomes are bad: asking people to agree not to redistribute fixed versions is bad, because everyone suffers under the problems that remain unfixed. But redistributing the font after agreeing not to is bad too, because making agreements and breaking them is obviously not a good thing to do.

The solution is for font software developers to find ways of making fonts that respect users’ freedom, getting paid in the process, and for users to stop agreeing to these terms which restrict them from getting on with life - by switching to GNU/Linux from their current proprietary operating system, and not using proprietary software any more.

How clothes on the UK high street are so cheap

The cheap clothes on the UK high street are cheap thanks to paying workers half what they need to live in sweatshops:

Let’s Clean up Fashion … checking the sourcing policies of 23 national retailers. Only three accepted the need for a significant improvement in pay and had “apparent genuine plans” to do so: Gap, New Look and Next. Twelve retailers did not respond – Bhs, Diesel, House of Fraser, Kookai, Matalan, Mk One, Moss Bros, Mothercare, Peacocks/Bon Marche, River Island, Rohan Designs and Ted Baker. One Bangladeshi worker, Mohua, who earns about £16 a month making clothes for Asda and Tesco, told researchers: “The wages I get are not enough to cover the cost of food, house rent and medicine.” In Sri Lanka, workers sewing school dresses for M&S received just 10p of its £6 retail value.

Wow. Looks like I’ll be shopping at Gap, New Look and Next, then.

GNOME vs KDE, again

It seems like GNOME and KDE are putting out the latest and greatest releases:

The GNOME community announced a new release today after six months of development. GNOME is a desktop environment primarily used on Linux and other open-source platforms. GNOME 2.20 includes numerous improvements and new features that benefit users, administrators, and developers….


Second Beta Release of KDE 4.0 available. On 6th September 2007 the KDE Community released the second Beta release for KDE 4.0. This release marks the beginning of the feature freeze and the stabilization of the current codebase. Simultaneously the KOffice developers have released their third Alpha release, marking significant improvements in this innovative office suite.

Whats interesting is that KDE is GPL though and through, although Version 2 only, while GNOME is Lesser GPL - and also Version 2 only.

Which in a way makes KDE actually more of a supporter of the software freedom movement. Especially since the GNOME project has totally left its GNU project roots behind, with its own Foundation, conferences, and no FSF presence at the GUADEC.

I look forward to comparing the two when KDE4 comes out; I’ve been a GNOME user for the past year or so, but I might well switch….

GNU HURD still in development!

Recent discussion on the gnu-system-discuss mailing list has centered on the HURD kernel. Richard Stallman explained why it is still being developed:

The Hurd has a more powerful design, and we hope this can provide benefits that those other systems could not achieve without a similar redesign. If that doesn’t work, then the Hurd won’t be a success.

However, Jose Marchesi said something much more interesting in my opinion:

I can tell you what is my idea about this. My interest in having a GNU kernel for the GNU operating system has nothing to do with technical aspects, but with polithics. The Linux development is managed by a person who doesnt agree with the ideals of the free software movement. I cannot trust that person. AFAIK the copyright holder for Solaris is SUN. I cannot trust that company. Linux is released under the terms of the GPL version 2, and it seems that the Solaris kernel will be released under the terms of the GPL version 3. That is: free kernels. But the FSF may need to write a new version of the GPL in the future to face new problems. Will torvalds or SUN switch to that new license?

The irony is that the HURD will probably not switch to GPLv3 either though, since the copyrights are not wholly assigned to the FSF.

So the GNU/Linux naming controversy is here to stay….