The Null Device
Book review: Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, by Robert I. Friedman: (Salon)
Not only are the Russians smarter, they're meaner. The shorthand versions of some Friedman anecdotes follow: "Arm hacked off with ax." "Castrated with crescent-shaped knife." "Gutted like sheep." "Buried to the neck in gravel." "Forced to eat gravel." "Bit off booking sergeant's nose." The Russians are so hard-boiled it gives American cops the willies. One suspect chewed on bullets during a police interrogation. Another vocalized his contempt: "I did time on the Arctic Circle. Do you think anything you're going to do is going to bother me?"
First the Heinleinian pagans and now this: Salon has a fascinating article about the Gor books, bombastic pulp scifi S&M erotica about a planet where "men are men and women are slaves", and the subculture of real-life Goreans, of various degrees, who subscribe to the principles of male domination and female slavery:
The Gorean Argument, something of a definitive statement by "Marcus of Ar," a major contributor to the Silk and Steel site, says that "the process of evolution has naturally selected for strong, competitive males, and females who were both desirable to such men, and who were in turn attracted to such men. ... Weak males would not survive the competitive selection process to reproduce. Females who were not attractive and responsive to strong men would not be selected to reproduce. Therefore, nature being what it is, the non-competitive and unattractive geneaological [sic] lines would fade away and the strong and attractive lines would continue to survive."
Julian also disputed, on theoretical grounds, the very foundation of the Gorean lifestyle as it is being lived: the consensual nature of the slavery entered into by women... Julian's fantasy is that he would be able to make a woman surrender to him totally if he were somehow able to "get away with" kidnapping and "training" her to please him.(Seeing this reminded me of The Houseplants of Gor.)
According to a post on slashdot, the RIAA is now suing the manufacturers of a Linux-based newsreader -- because it automatically decodes binary files, and thus can be used to pirate MP3s. And because, being a small company with few resources, they'd be likely to lose, setting a chilling precedent in the RIAA's favour. (via Jimbobia)
I just discovered Signum, a quirky webzine edited by West Coast new-media eminence Tiffany Lee Brown, and starring a cast of many other digerati. The current issue has a number of features worth reading, including an interesting piece on epilepsy and a good article on how to found an independent record label, by mag/tif herself.
Amusing piece of short fiction: "I Was a Dressmaker for the CIA". (MojoWire)
The US Government has been developing biological agents to kill drug plants. After Florida has suspended plans to test one agent, out of concern over its ecological and health effects, the US is pressuring Colombia into being the guinea pig. (MojoWire)
In Nigeria, corruption has been refined into an art form. The latest scam there involves extortionists intercepting incoming phone calls and demanding payment for connection. (Reuters)
A fascinating piece about the art of looking at women, by a female practitioner of said art: (CleanSheets)
In conversation, observe her eye-contact habits and make a mental note of the rhythm of them. Does she tend to look away when it's her turn to speak? Does she shy away from direct eye contact as you're speaking to her? These sorts of habits often have a delicious consistency, which allows you to accurately time your next peek down her shirt.
Welcome to the New World Order: An online novelty web site (basically a web-based version of those old word-replacement hacks that translate text into jive or Cockney or whatever) has shut down its operations after being threatened with legal action for "contributory copyright infringement" by the Bank of America. This could be the end of a whole genre of web sites. (via Slashdot)