The Null Device
The monarchy is copping a lot of flack in Britain, with the PM's father in law, an outspoken socialist, now calling it arrogant, greedy and stupid. With this groundswell of anti-monarchist sentiment, could we see republicanism gaining respectability in the Sceptred Isle? Of course, if they don't want to go quite that far, they could always just privatise it and make it pay its own way.
As the former hippie-trail resort town of Byron Bay bcomes fashionably popular with mainstream people with respectable jobs and kids and such, the police have acted to make it safe for suburban normalcy, and tackling the town's runaway marijuana smoking problem. This they are doing by cracking down on cannabis possession with sniffer dog patrols, searching suspected drug fiends in the streets. Naturally, the dreadlocked and drugfucked hippie types that have frequented the formerly easygoing town for decades aren't pleased, and are planning to protest what they consider an erosion of their civil liberties. (Or perhaps the goal is to get them to move to Nimbin, thus making room for people with more money to spend?)
Killing by the book: In a few weeks, convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh is due to be sent off to Redneck Valhalla; to mark the occasion, freedom-of-information web site The Smoking Gun has obtained and posted online the 54-page "protocol manual" for executing convicted federal prisoners; written in dry, bureaucratic language on what seems to be a typewriter, it covers everything from the last meal and disposition of personal effects to the handling of witnesses and protesters, as well as the mundane necessities of purchasing lethal chemicals and cleaning up afterwards.
The lost sex scenes of Jane Austen? (via Hobbsblog)
Another mystery solved: If you've ever wondered what that "GUMPY IS BACK AND HE'S NOT HAPPY" billboard in Richmond meant (it was around too long to be a teaser for an ad campaign), the latest issue of 3RRR's subscriber magazine has the answer. Gumpy, it turns out, was one of the members of 1980s Beastieesque rap act Mighty Big Crime (best known for their single 16 Tons), and then went on to form teeny-bopper hippie-retro-kitsch band the Freaked Out Flower Children (best known for having professional scantily-clad blonde Sophie Lee in its lineup). Not quite Bill Drummond, but...
Marketing through irritainment: First, Hollywood studios started promoting unsuccessful films as deliberately bad cult movies to be enjoyed ironically (vide Showgirls), and now Microsoft are doing the same with their much-hated animated paperclip.
Reasons to avoid meat? As abbatoirs in the US accelerate their production to compete for lucrative contracts, some non-essential steps have been cut out; such as making sure that the animals are dead before they cut them up. Clandestine videos have emerged showing that a lot of cattle are alive and conscious well into the slaughter process.
Still Moreno would cut. On bad days, he says, dozens of animals reached his station clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide puller. "They die," said Moreno, "piece by piece."
Though the abbatoir companies aren't taking this lying down; the plants in question have taken proactive measures to ensure that such an outrage does not recur. The measures include installing surveillance cameras to catch illicit videotaping and coercing workers into signing statements that they have never seen living animals where there shouldn't be any.
The Reg on the EU directive on copyright; it's even more draconian than the DMCA, and essentially abolishes fair use; a new law for a new era of multinational corporate feudalism.
Its profit margins hit by the dot-com crash, beleaguered Internet giant Yahoo is turning to the one area of e-commerce which has weathered the storm: online porn sales.