The Null Device

2001/1/19

Oh dear: Not content with importing Australian dross (as it usually does with great enthusiasm), Britain is making its own version of Popstars, the TV show in which a throwaway pop band is manufactured before your very eyes, going on to dominate the charts for a while, and then disappear with a whimper of apathetic shopping-centre appearances.

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Future prediction: Eager to shake off their throwaway boy-band image and escape the built-in obsolescence of manufactured teen-pop, the Backstreet Boys take a leaf out of Radiohead's book and release an album of top-40-unfriendly, 6+-minute experimental noodlings, hiring the likes of Richard James and Mark Bell (of Björk fame) for production. It flops and gets about as much critical acclaim as Vanilla Ice's rap-metal makeover (despite being plugged by industry marketing shills), at the same time alienating their fan base. The group sinks without a trace not long after that. The album, soon deleted, becomes a collector's item amongst the more eristically-inclined obscurantist trainspotters (the ones who have Rump's Hating Brenda, Pat Boone's In A Metal Mood and Pee Wee Ferris' commercial-dance take on Blue Monday in their collections)

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Stranger than fiction: The Iraqi government has pledged to donate US$94 million to help America's poor. Perhaps they should have sent election observers to Florida instead?

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Something may be happening with the the rumoured Transmetropolitan movie; whether it appears as a movie or something else is unknown, but apparently an agreement has been signed with a "famous and well-respected actor".

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Poetic justice? A division of UUNet, the Internet carrier which seems to be the source of most of the spam on the Net these days, has been brought to its knees by a flood of spam. More than a million users of Pipex, a British ISP owned and operated by UUNet, have been unable to receive email for the past week, and have been told by UUNet to make alternative arrangements (presumably up to and including finding another ISP?). A UUNet spokesweasel has said that there was a chance that the spam was sent by accident, and that anyone capable of sending that much must have had "pretty sophisticated hacking skills" -- a line rapidly debunked by anti-spam activists, who pointed out that any semiliterate trailer trash could buy a point-and-grunt program which could spew their spam onto the Internet by the million.

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