The Null Device
Nature adapts: Rare species abound in the North/South Korean Demilitarised Zone. As one would expect of a vast stretch of land which has been off limits to human civilisation for half a century. Now there is talk of listing the DMZ as a Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, and also of it becoming a destination for eco-tourism. (via Plastic)
An eye-opening and somewhat alarming piece about the US fast food industry, its effects and costs.
About eighty percent of the cattle in the United States were routinely fed slaughterhouse wastes - the rendered remains of dead sheep and dead cattle - until August 1997. The USDA banned the practice, hoping to prevent a domestic outbreak of mad-cow disease. Millions of dead cats and dead dogs, purchased from animal shelters, are being fed to cattle each year.
Today, hundreds of McDonald's restaurants dot the landscape of eastern Germany. In town after town, statues of Lenin have been torn down, and statues of Ronald McDonald have popped up. One of the largest is in Bitterfeld, where a three-story-high illuminated Ronald McDonald can be seen from the autobahn for miles.
At a primary school in Beijing, Yunxiang Yan found that all of the children recognized Ronald McDonald. The children told Yan they liked "Uncle McDonald" because he was "funny, gentle, kind, and . . . he understood children's hearts."
I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... well, allow me to explain with a story:
Recently a flyer caught my attention; it announced, in ravey typography, that a singer/songwriter named Julia Messenger was performing at a pub known as the Grace Darling. Reading further, it mentioned her involvement in the "downbeat" and "electronic dub" scenes in Germany, and worked with Klaus Schutze (of Tangerine Dream fame). This piqued my interest; this would at least be interesting, I thought, and probably somewhat enjoyable. There was nothing to prepare me for the pinkness and horror that was to await.
The show was tonight, scheduled for 10pm. I arrived half an hour late. Instead of a musical performance, I found a fold-out stage prop in the form of a cruise ship and three inflatable floaties. It turned out to be the set of some dating game show called the Love Boat. Two loud-voiced women in sailor costumes were asking questions like "what is your star sign?" and "which reality TV show describes you?", of a group of fashionably dressed (and probably fashionably drunk) late-twentysomethings. The audience seemed to be similar people, as well as a large proportion of middle-aged people, and a few children running around making noise. A bad sign; definitely not an avant-garde crowd.
I was told the game show was running overtime and Julia Messenger would perform at 11pm. I sat down at the bar, reading a copy of InPress and waited, expecting some music. At 11pm I was assaulted with the Love Boat theme blaring out of the PA, and the synchronised off-key singing of the two hostesses as the next instalment of the game began. I retreated to the other room, lest I win a dinner date there with one of the contestants.
Julia Messenger did perform, finally, just before midnight; though her show didn't seem anywhere near as interesting as the flyers suggested; it seemed more like radio-friendly pop songs over canned electronic backings, with one of the choruses sounding dispiritingly like a Britney Spears song.
If they have band venues in Hell, I now know what they must be like.
Eric S. Raymond, god of bootywhang.