Jail a repugnant ass

… is an anagram of “Julian Assange, prat”. But let’s leave that to one side and concentrate on the issues.

Assange is many things. Self-important prick is just one of them. Sadly that’s not illegal in most jurisdictions. In Ecuador it even verges on the compulsory. For the sake of argument here, let’s boil it down to two things. He either is or is not one or more of the following:

1. A tireless crusader for truth and freedom.

2. A sex pest.

These are not incompatible: it is quite possible to be both. Both of these need to be settled in a court. So far he has, in chronological order, upset the Swedes over (2) and the Americans over (1). That is therefore the order in which the court hearings should be heard. He should therefore be bunged off to Sweden with no further delay the moment he sets foot beyond the Ecuadorian embassy.

His supporters say that the Swedes will in turn just bung him off to the USA and he will never see daylight again. There is no reason to assume this is so. At the moment we are the country most likely to roll belly-up when the Americans come seeking someone, and offer our virgin daughters into the bargains. He would be in much more danger if the Americans had asked us to deliver him. I suspect we would do so without a second’s thought. Other nations however have more balls. ‘Twas but yesterday that a New Zealand court, overhearing the extradition cause of another self-important prat, had the nerve to tell the Americans it wanted to see more evidence. There is no reason to assume Sweden won’t do likewise.

(If guilty then that self-important prat deserves extradition and jailing if anyone does, but – and this can’t be stated enough times – that is for the court to decide. Not the Americans. Because that is how justice works in civilised countries.)

The Swedes may or may not hand Assange over to the US once they’re done, but they will first put him on trial under their own judicial system, without any outside interference, as is the right of any civilised sovereign state, on the sex charge. What is the alternative? Sweden would have to tell the women accusing Assange that their woes aren’t important enough to register on the big picture. It would have to tell its own citizens that the politically expedient desires of another country overrule their own rights.

The Swedes won’t do that. Even we wouldn’t do that, and we’re the Americans’ bitch. We handed Christopher Tappin over without a fight because of our blatantly ridiculous and unfair extradition treaty – but if we had wanted Tappin for something unrelated, we would have dealt with it in our own courts first. That is how it works.

Assange will either then be found guilty, and face the appropriate Swedish penalty, or found innocent and released. Either way, the Swedes might then hand him over to the Americans, who will almost certainly send him to jail for a long, long time. That is a bridge to be crossed once he has had his day in court in Sweden. The justice system can’t be short circuited or double guessed because of what might happen. The only certainty at the moment is that he is accused of sex crimes and should stand trial for them. There is no acceptable alternative.

Unless you want to be the one to look any woman in the eye and tell her she’s not important enough to matter?

Windows wow, Macs meh

First day back at work = first time in nearly a fortnight of having to sit and stare at this lump of obstructive machinery perched on my desk in front of me, otherwise known as an Apple Mac Pro 3.1. Mac OS X Version 10.5.8; processor 2.8Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon; Memory 4 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM. Apparently.

All kinds of wibble is spoken by either side in the endless Windows vs Mac debate. The Mac camp generally plug for assertions of superior technology, easier troubleshooting, better software …

Let me state my definitive case on this.


One thing and one thing only am I interested in where computers are concerned: how they arrange their files, and how they let me interface with them. Two things only am I concerned with. How they actually achieve this is of the sublimest indifference. I have stated before that I don’t care if a little goblin climbs up behind the screen every time I press a key and inks in my chosen letter. I consider the possibility my computer is so energy-inefficient that an entire parallel universe might suffer heat death just to supply the power for a game of Minesweeper, and the ennui overpowers me. If it does what I want, when I want it, that’s good enough for me.

I am remarkably consistent in my views, might I add, because I used to think Macs were better – back in the days of DOS and then Windows 3.1. This is hardly a meaningful statement because throwing darts at the keyboard across the room was a better way of interfacing with the computer than Windows 3.1 allowed, but I do want to emphasise the consistency of my philosophy. I’m not grinding a technological axe here, folk.

So here is why, in their current incarnations, Macs fail and Windowses win.

1. The desktop ornament has no hash key. Let me repeat that. The desktop ornament has no hash key. Having repeated, let me rephrase that. The stupid pile of overrated junk lacks one of the most common symbols required for HTML coding. It’s not quite like leaving the letter ‘e’ off the keyboard but it’s pretty similar to leaving out the ‘r’s or ‘n’s.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, you get a # by pressing ALT+3. Hardly intuitive.

2. Minimising applications. I gladly admit that a strength of the Mac is the ability to minimise all open applications with a simply keystroke, specifically F11. Windows could well do with this. However, Macs then go and blow this advantage by having all the applications pop back into view when you select just one of them, missing the point that you actually had a reason for choosing to minimise them all in the first place. I wonder what it could have been?

3. CMD/CTRL + TAB. Related to (2), Macs nicked the Windows shortcut of cycling through minimised applications by pressing CMD+TAB. Except that once again they singularly miss the point of what the user is trying to achieve. The chosen application comes back to the front, i.e. the menu bar in the top left of the screen now relates to that application. But the open window of that application stays resolutely minimised, requiring you to click on it with the mouse anyway, missing the point of a freakin’ keyboard shortcut, you morons.

A Macficionado once tried to explain to me how I could recreate this Windows effect using Spaces – in other words, jump through one extra hoop to get what I can already do in Windows because the system is helpfully designed that way.

4. The inexplicable hang-ups. Even when running a native Mac app, the thing can inexplicably freeze for a few seconds, then remember that it has a fuming user sitting not too far away who is entertaining thoughts of what he could usefully do with a pickaxe, so decide to show a pretty coloured spinning wheel to defuse the situation while it tries to remember what it was doing. Mac software runs more quickly? My nads it does.

5. File selection. Windows and Macs both allow you to choose different icon styles when looking at a folder: small, big, thumbnail etc. But only Windows allows you to select multiple files with a single sweep of the mouse regardless of the icon view.

Let me turn to C.S. Lewis here, possibly for the first time ever in this particular debate. He commented that when he was small he liked lemonade but disliked wine; as an adult, he liked both wine and lemonade. Therefore the growing up has enriched him with an additional experience. He would be impoverished by adulthood if he now liked wine but disliked lemonade, keeping the net total of likes at one.

If Windows lets you do two things, and Macs only one, the superiority or otherwise of the underlying technology is irrelevant. Windows is better. It’s simple maths.

6. Folder listing. Related to 5: Windows and Macs list the contents of folders alphabetically (or by size, or by type etc.) In the alfy view, however, Windows lists first the folders, then the files. Macs list the whole lot in simple alfy order.

It is likely that I might select multiple files to copy/move/whatever. How likely is it that I might select a mixture of files and folders? The answer you’re looking for (hint) is ‘unlikely’. The Windows way of doing it is more helpful.

7. Shortcuts. In Windows, the pop-up menu buttons often have shortcut keys associated with them: rather than click on ‘Save’ or ‘Discard’ you can just hit S or D. On a Mac you have to move the mouse. Again I invoke C.S. Lewis. Windows lets you do more things, more easily, therefore is better.

8. Menu bars. I won’t go into the plusses and minuses of a menu bar that stays in one place as opposed to a menu bar for each open window. I suppose they both have their points. But guess which one I prefer and which one I find prissy and didactic.

So there you have it. A definitive set of arguments that will surely settle this old chestnut once and for all and bring the Applistas defecting over in flocks. Y’know, I might have brought down a mighty empire today. I feel pretty good about that.

Makes you laugh, makes you cry, and somewhere in between

One of those quirks of synchronicity brings three instances of unprofessionalism to my attention within 24 hours, ranging from “disgraceful + should be a hate crime”, to “disgraceful, but …” to “disgraceful but … oh heck, it’s hilarious.”

Item 1: a trans woman in San Francisco (i.e. for the slow of uptake, someone who “used” to be a man, though she would probably say she’s always been a woman, just now it’s more obvious) went to get her driving licence updated with her new details. The apparatchik who processed the application then wrote to her, privately, at her home address, to say that that 1. she had made a “very evil decision”, 2. that she was “an abomination” and that 3. homosexuals should be put to death.

Assuming this individual to have been motivated by a form of Christian belief (isn’t it sad that I inevitably make that assumption? Yet the inevitability is, well, inevitable), I would respond that points 1 and 2 really should be referred to the Creator, and point 3, quite apart from being wrong, isn’t germane to the issue since we’re talking about a trans woman. Get your facts right for goodness sake.

Anyway, that’s the “disgraceful + should be a hate crime”. I hope the twit gets fired and some good, positive case law comes out of it.

(Later edit: more on it here. The writer apparently signed the letter, “In charity, Thomas.”)

Item 2: A couple who thought they were renewing their wedding vows at a ceremony in the Maldives, by some priest guy chanting in some quaint foreign religious language type style, were shocked to learn he was in fact informing them that: “Your marriage is not a valid one. You are not the kind of people who can have a valid marriage. One of you is an infidel. The other, too, is an infidel – and we have reason to believe – an atheist, who does not even believe in an infidel religion. You fornicate and make a lot of children. You drink and you eat pork. Most of the children that you have are marked with spots and blemishes. These children that you have are bastards.”

The tape appears to cut off before he moves on to “Your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberries.”

That’s the “disgraceful, but …”, the “but” being in this case that it’s quite possible the guy is getting fed up of his religion being used as a picture postcard by well-off westerners to whom it’s all gibberish but looks pretty. He probably sees many more of these than the American motor clerk sees transgender drivers. Everyone has a blowing point.

And finally … The Australian guy who went to the tattooist to have a a yin-yang symbol and some dragons tattooed on his back, and unknowingly came away with a 16″ picture of a … well, something else, for which 16″ is pretty darn impressive, if probably not very comfortable.

His suspicions were aroused when he showed it to his housemate, who replied, “I don’t think it’s the tattoo you were after.”

This is of course hilarious for so many reasons, not least that it gives us a post by Scott Adams who says it all much better than I could.