The Null Device


Much like Meg, I'm not a morning person either. Left to my own devices, I would get up at about noon, do things, go walkabout before dusk for an hour or two, then do things and finally spend the wee small hours reading, or working on something, or just browsing the web and blogging, going to bed at 5am or so, before the sunlight makes sleeping hard. Though with work, I more often get up at around 10-11, and go to bed around 3, unless i'm too tired.

I have found that I tend to be most creative in the hours before dawn; perhaps it's the approaching deadline that motivates me. (Sometimes I feel inclined to go to bed at about midnight, but when I don't (which is most of the time, inertia being what it is), I stay up and sometimes get things done.

Mind you, one negative side effect of this is that I virtually never am awake to hear the 3RRR breakfast show, and thus depend on third-party reports of what John Safran has been going on about.


Viral marketing: A US marketing company is pioneering a new stealth-marketing method of selling products to ad-jaded GenYers: by hiring attractive-yet-approachable young people to to out and be overheard talking about the product, in a form of consumer-capitalist street theatre:

''We invent various scenarios, like, we'll make up what kind of company we work for and we say we just sold it so we're celebrating and we're going to buy you a drink,'' he says. ''Then we'll try to implant things about the product into their head that don't come off as if we're planting things in their head. It's somewhat challenging.'' For that challenge Lawrence earns up to hundreds of dollars a night. ''No one is going to be able to go out and buy a Lexus tomorrow from this,'' he says. ''You're getting paid to go drink for free and act weird.''


This evening, I went to see Naomi Klein speak at the Athenaeum Theatre. She spoke mostly about the topics in her book, No Logo, such as branding, the privatisation of public space and scary new international treaties due to shift even more power to multinational corporations (apparently, corporations will soon have the power to sue governments for subsidising industries in sectors where private enterprise exists; this is happening with the Canadian postal service (being sued by FedEx or UPS), and Naomi suggested it may happen with educational institutions in Australia, thanks to things like Melbourne University Private).

Naomi spoke well and quite interestingly, stopping only to take sips from a branded bottle of No Logo soda. Then there were questions from the floor, in which one person in the audience claimed that provocateurs from the Lyndon LaRouche group were handing out alcohol at anti-globalisation protests to disinhibit protesters and turn them violent.

Outside the theatre, greenies and Marxists did a roaring trade handing out pamphlets. Perhaps surprisingly, there were no contingents of Young Liberals or Ayn Rand fans protesting Naomi Klein's appearance.


Killing for Life: Looks like some devoutly religious nutter in Australia decided to imitate his Army of God heroes and go kill some abortionists. A gunman opened fire in an East Melbourne abortion clinic, killing a guard. The gunman was wrestled to the ground before he could go from room to room, spraying patients and staff with machine-gun rounds and reading from the Old Testament, and is now in the custody of the police. Meanwhile, Australia's religious-right Right To Life group has said that the shooting was regrettable, though not surprising, and made it clear that pro-lifers don't kill abortionists, here or in the US, though they can see why others might be tempted to do so.


Sing me to sleep: When her boyfriend dumped her, webcam girl and electronic artist Stacy Pershall decided to end it all; so she posted a suicide note to her online journal, moved her webcam into the bathroom and swallowed lots of pills, right in front of the camera. Horrified (or possibly titiliated, depending on what kind of crowd it was) onlookers watched her pass out, slumped over her toilet, and then police and paramedics taking her away. Ms. Pershall survived this, her second suicide attempt at least, and probably got a lot of web hits in the deal. Meanwhile, a somewhat sarky parody site has opened, giving a vaguely misanthropic, Social Darwinist account of the incident.

"I often find that people who are very heavily involved in Net 'culture' such as the cam girls take themselves entirely too seriously. I believe the Net has become a haven for people who are socially inept."


CAU$E$-OF-WAR$: Two researchers at York University in Toronto have determined that wars are caused by an excess of young unmarried men; and hence that nations with higher proportions of young men to old men are more likely to initiate wars; a theory which dismisses the traditional economic theories of aggression:

Mesquida is particularly dismissive of the idea that individual leaders can provoke a country to start a war by themselves. Had Adolf Hitler never been born, Mesquida says, the Second World War would have happened anyway. "There would have been somebody else. There are always little Hitlers around, but they don't have much influence until there is a demographic situation that puts them there."
Mesquida prefers to deal with civil conflicts, which he says invariably occur in regions with fast-growing populations. He gives Northern Ireland as an example of a country that suffered through three decades of violence because of too many young men. Now that its population growth is slowing, Mesquida believes the violence will diminish. He is less hopeful for regions where high birth rates persist, such as Africa, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia. India and Pakistan are also potential hot spots, he said.

(via Plastic)


Did jazz improvisation arise as a side-effect of schizophrenia? One Professor Dr. Sean Spence from the University of Sheffield believes that one of the pioneers of jazz improvisation, Charles "Buddy" Bolden, began improvising as a means of coping with the onset of "dementia praecox", or schizophrenia; his novel playing style turned out to be so popular that others began imitating it, and the rest is history.