Looking at tonight's edition of "London Lite" (the rival free paper to "Metro"), one of the main news stories is this one:
'Evil' pervert built super computer to store one of Britain's largest child porn collections.
Without wanting to defend this guy's actions in any way, I wouldn't really count a desktop PC with two extra hard drives as a "super computer". For that matter, the article doesn't say how big the drives are; my server at home has three drives (one for Windows/applications, one for data, one for logs), but the total capacity is only about 80Gb, which is relatively small by modern standards, i.e. you could get one drive that's bigger than all three put together. What's slightly worrying is that this term apparently came from the prosecutor, i.e. it's not just lazy journalism. The problem here is "inflation" - if that's a super computer then how do you describe something like Blue Gene? (See also the Top 500 supercomputer sites.)
I've been thinking recently about our justice system, particularly in the context of lawyers who defend guilty people. I think the best way to look at it is that they keep the system honest - it's the equivalent of peer review for a scientific paper. So, by forcing the prosecution and the police to do a good job, and not get lazy, they make society safer for everyone, even if that does mean that some scumbag gets away with committing a crime. There was a recent Astro City story along these lines (reprinted in the Local Heroes TPB), where the protagonist (a defence lawyer) describes his work as a ritual dance against the darkness.
Coming back to the computer issue, it sounds quite damning to say that the guy in question built a super computer, but I don't think it's accurate. If it was relevant, i.e. the case depended on it, then that puts the conviction at risk. If it was irrelevant (i.e. the rest of the evidence was enough to convict him, as I'm sure it was), then it shouldn't have been mentioned, because it muddies the water for other people who've built their own PCs from scratch. I don't expect lawyers to be computer experts (given that I'm not a legal expert), but I do think that they should restrain themselves from introducing evidence that they're not qualified for, in the same way that they wouldn't be able to diagnose someone (not being a medical doctor).
Meanwhile, I went to Amazon to restock my bookshelves (after successfully clearing some space at nou's recent book swap). The front page had their usual selection of special offers, recommendations, etc., and that's all well and good. This included a bunch of calendars at 40% off (only 4 months left until 2007!), including one of the scantily clad "Keeley" (whoever she is). Under that, it then proudly told me about 50% discounts on their erotica. Erm, why? It's not that I'm offended by this or anything, I'm just not quite sure why they're targetting me, given that I've never bought anything like that from them. My working theory is that I searched for the novel Wicked earlier today (a story about the witches of Oz before Dorothy turned up), and one of the erotica books was called Wicked Words 4: A Black Lace Short Story Collection, so maybe it got confused about keywords.
I then had another browse just now, and I saw that the erotica section had disappeared from the front page. Instead, they had a link for Amazon DVD exclusive boxsets, e.g. one of the most recent Dr Who series in the shape of a Cyberman's head. That's all fine, except that the fourth entry in the list is 20 Hard Porn Films. So, they've apparently now decided that I'm not interested in any arty stuff - I just want the hard core pornography! Other people who've been to the site tonight don't seem to be seeing any of this, so it's either being targetted specifically at me or I've just wound up on the wrong side of their random number generator. Ah well, maybe this is their revenge for me exposing their lies...
Speaking of Avenue Q, my new favourite song from that is "It's a fine, fine line" - I think that would work pretty well as a power ballad in its own right, outside the context of the show. (Chorus: "There's a fine, fine line between love ... and a waste of time.") On the wider subject of musicals, I'll probably go to see Wicked (once I've read the novel that inspired it), so give me a yell if you're interested in coming too.