Hard News by Russell Brown

Can hardly wait

The New Zealand branch of the iTunes Music Store isn't too far off launching by the look of what Apple Insider has found this week. It has a shot of an account sign-up page for New Zealand. Apple NZ's "we know nothing" response to an enquiry from Computerworld's Paul Brislen was to be expected, but it looks basically ready to go.

Expectations were raised by this Sydney Morning Herald story saying that the Australian version of the store was about to launch. The bad news? "[Russell] Crowe said songs he had recorded since the break-up of his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunt, would be available when iTunes launches." I can hardly wait.

Slashdot has a thread on it too.

The main issue in this part of the world will be price: US99 cents a song sounds a hell of a lot more of a bargain than $A1.80 or $NZ1.99 (which is what the locally-brewed download service Digirama is already charging for tracks in WMA format) and the well-established Amplfier is charging for its nice range of works by local artists.)

I'm due over at Apple NZ this afternoon for a look at Tiger (my copy will apparently be couriered tomorrow morning), but they're still insisting their official comment will be some variant on "we know nothing".

Staying with digital music, quite a few local news organisations bought the spin that Nokia's newly-announced N91 phone is an iPod killer. Not just yet, actually. At about $1000 for 4GB of storage, the forthcoming (as in, the end of the year) phone won't compare very favourably with a 60GB iPod Photo or a $200 Shuffle. That said, the N91 is a hell of a piece of technology, and its broad support for formats - MP3, Microsoft's WMA, Apple's AAC, M4A - is encouraging.

I'm running out of ways to say that Jon Stewart is funny, but the latest instalment of The Daily Show's occasional GayWatch segment (3.5MB QuickTime file) is, well, funny. It's also relevant here because it covers the Texas legislature's passage of a bill banning same-sex couples from adopting foster children - at least partly on the basis of what sounds a lot like the bogus "research" that convinced Dick Hubbard, Ralph Norris and several other gullibles to sign a letter opposing the Civil Union Bill.

It also covers Microsoft's weasley decision to withdraw its longstanding support for an anti-discrimination bill after fundamentalist loonies threatened to boycott it.

Major American IT companies have generally embraced diversity for the same reason they generally never went for workplace drug testing: competitive necessity. They really can't afford to turn away the best people on the grounds of what they do after hours. I think it was HP that instituted workplace drug-testing and had to rescind it because it was bleeding talent as a result.

Anyway, Microsoft is now under pressure to stop paying former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed $20,000 a month to er, advise on "trade and competition issues." Protests from his employees have prompted Bill Gates to say that the company may reconsider its change of mind, apparently putting him at odds with Steve Ballmer. I actually feel a little bit sorry for Microsoft - it makes a big target for these people - but for God's sake, Bill, you're a monopoly ...

AmericaBlog has more on the whole mess, which keeps getting messier.

And one for all you readers who think the hardline religious right are just ordinary folks: the Family Research Council gets the odd sympathetic mention from our local religious conservatives (as here in the Maxim Institute magazine Evidence, where it is described as being among "groups on the so-called religious right"). Dear old Christian Heritage links to it too. Its parent organisation, Focus on the Family, is mentioned more often.

So what kind of people, are they, the Family Research Council? Well, The Nation has a story on that. FRC president Tony Perkins hosted the recent "Justice Sunday" political-religious event, attended by several senior Republican politicians. Quite a character, is Tony.

The Nation has revealed that four years ago he addressed a conference of the white separatist group the Council of Conservative Citizens. Two years before that, he purchased a mailing list from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke - and lied about it afterwards. Sure, this isn't yesterday, but what would you think if an influential religious organisation in this country was run by a man with links to the National Front?

Dog Biting Men duo Ben Thomas and David Young debut their new political column in NBR today, with a look at - what else? - political blogging.

Vigorous discussion of the Doone case over at DPF's blog yesterday - although it does make me remember why I don't have a comments feature here ...

Lawyer and PA reader Anthony Trenwith was not too impressed with the former commissioner:

As Peter Doone pretends that he was hard done by and doggedly pursues a defamation action, the public's sympathy is anywhere but with him.

The cold hard reality was that Doone's career was done for the moment he stepped out of the car. It doesn't matter what he said to the officer - whether it was "that won't be necessary" or "good afterbul consternoon" - the appearance of impropriety was already created.

What some in the police seem to have missed - judging by some comments on the porn probe - is that their role makes them different from everyone else. It is because of this role that they're called to adhere to strict standards. This adherence involves the avoidance of even the appearance of anything untoward.

Point well made on the police porn thing. To me it's much less a matter of morals than of simple professionalism.

Righto: time to post. See you at in Aotea Square for Shihad on Sunday afternoon. Oh, and this website may look strangely familiar to Public Address readers. Good grief.