Hard News by Russell Brown

Scary synapses

So that's what happens when you drink $10,000 worth of methamphetamine for breakfast: you - allegedly - slice bits off your ladyfriends with a sword, then hit the road to shoot one man in the back and hold another hostage at gunpoint for hours.

Assuming that the police account of events is proven, the Antonie Dixon case demonstrates that the problem is less that New Zealand's criminal fraternity has amphetamines, or even that it manufactures them (that's been going on for decades). It's that they have so goddamn much of the stuff these days, and an apparent absence of any restraining instinct to go with it.

Darren McDonald's exhaustively-reported celebrity drug hell peaked at around a gram of P a week. That's a hell of a lot; a $1000 a week habit at retail rates. Dixon is said to have consumed ten times that much - plus a little cocaine to sweeten the brew - in a minute or two. It's hard to imagine what was going on with his synapses for the next 18 or so hours, but I'm glad he wasn't anywhere near me.

So: a Fart Tax backdown (in the works for a while, it appears) and a more decent form of internment for Ahmed Zaoui. The government appears to be taking the view that it can only be staunch on so many fronts at once: especially when it's more trouble than $8 million is worth (the Fart Tax) or embarrassing and immoral (Zaoui). Must be something to do with Spring being in the air. I suspect that Zaoui has been treated as he has largely because he appears on the US's Big List of Terrorists, courtesy of Algeria's ugly military regime. I wonder whether there'll be a chat with the Americans at Apec.

So it's not only VeriSign messing with the Internet's plumbing, but the wiki-fiddlers who build blogging software. Trackback is screwing Google. This is bad.

I've always thought that successful searching is mostly about coming up with the right search terms, but my friend James Michael Moore directed me to this page of useful tips for deeper Googling. Cool.

After the recent post here on climate change, Aaron Oxley got in touch to tell me about climateprediction.net, a distributed computing project much like Seti@Home, but running a climate change model instead: "By using your computers," say its founders, "we will be able to improve our understanding of, and confidence in, climate change predictions more than would ever be possible using the supercomputers currently available to scientists." Windows-only, though …

The dodgy Diebold voting machines story has crossed the Atlantic - and this story in The Independent is probably the best one yet in the mainstream media. It actually defies belief that the situation could be as bad as it is, but, well, it is.

A poll of US troops in Iraq. Interesting.

There's a transcript of the BBC's Inside Guantanamo programme.

The Guardian has a more accurate and less hysterical story on the British GM crop trials, now that the report is actually out. The full text of the report is here. One interesting point is that Britain depends on its farmland as a kind of cache for biodiversity, so the trials were quite relevant there. That's rather less the case in places which have real wilderness, like New Zealand, but it's likely that the report will have an impact on regulatory decisions here. There's a little something for everyone in the report, but if you're to grasp only one thing about this study it's that "GE" didn't kill any weeds: weedkillers did.

And thanks very much to Mary from Heron's Flight for dropping around a bottle of the La Volee Unoaked Chardonnay 2002. Until such time as Public Address effects fundamental change in the new media environment and we all get rich, small acts of kindness help a lot.

PS: Did anyone else experience a vague but not unwelcome sense of disbelief watching Lou Vincent and Mark Richardson as they put on an opening stand of 231 against India? Not just that they did it. Not just that Fleming actually won a toss. But also that it was on TV at all. It's there thanks to Sky's need to put up something against TVNZ's Rugby World Cup coverage. I wonder how it's rating?