The Null Device


US voted off UN drug control committee. The vote (by secret ballot, though suspected to have been influenced by European and South American delegates concerned with US drug policy) comes shortly after the World's Leading Nation lost its seat on the UN Human Rights Commission, not to mention its unilateral tearing up of the Kyoto treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The question is: is this more likely to marginalise the US as a cowboy state, or to lead to the wane of the UN as a body of real influence? (Didn't the League of Nations die of irrelevance after world powers started ignoring it?)


In London, radical leftists picket film criticising Cuba. Opponents say that Before Night Falls, which deals with the persecution of a gay poet in Cuba, is "playing into the hands of the CIA". Wonder whether, when it reaches Australia, the S11/M1 people will be blockading the cinemas in a "Carnival against Disinformation".

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Muscular Christianity: The Religious Right in the US is trying a new tack to stamp out the plague of homosexuality: perhaps taking a cue from post-Columbine goth-profiling lists, they are circulating lists of warning signs of pre-homosexuality in children. Pre-gay boys, you see, are sensitive and aesthetically inclined, and pre-gay girls like to wear army boots.

What to do with a fashion-obsessed sissy boy? Nicolosi recommended corrective nudging toward macho recklessness. When an audience member worried that such an approach might stifle a budding artist or performer, the therapist responded that a boy wouldn't necessarily have to give up piano entirely; he could simply tickle the ivories a little less and toss the football a little more.

Could this be a sign of a new Christian Fundamentalist war against the artistic temperament, coming in through the door of mainstream Fundie homophobia? As it becomes entrenched, we may see more (non-homophobic) justifications for why anything other than hyper-masculinity and hyper-femininity is un-Christian, and returns to Puritan arguments against art.


The fascinating case history of Elinor Nicol, Scotland Yard's expert lip reader. Nicol (not her real name) was deaf from age 4, and consequently developed the ability to precisely lip-read, and thus make out inaudible conversation. Her talent has helped put away IRA bombers, drug dealers and murderers, and also helped the community in other ways:

"I also work in hospitals, interpreting what is being said by people who cannot do anything except move their lips very slightly. I did one where a woman who was recovering from an operation simply wanted her family to shut up when they came to visit her, to stop asking stupid questions. I was able to pass that message on. She was very grateful, although I am not sure her family was quite so pleased."


A community group to buy the Espy, the (in)famously grungy St Kilda rock'n'roll band venue, from developers who wanted to put condos up on the site. Mind you, the developers still keep the back of the lot. Also, I wonder who the "community group" is; for all I know it could be a consortium of local entrepreneurs wanting to transform it into a more upmarket venue and capitalise on the million-dollar bayside views.


A piece on trip-folk singer-songwriter Dido. (Wonder how much creative control she has now that she has made it big and Arista swallowed up her label; it will be interesting to see whether her next album has a more commercial LaFace-urban-R&B sound.)