The Null Device


This week's Onion has some good pieces, such as God Finally Gives Shout-Out Back To All His Niggaz, and Plan To Get Laid At DragonCon 2001 Fails,

"I imagined some girl and I talking about the new Lord Of The Rings movie," Melcher said. "Then I could say, 'Oh, I have the trailer on my laptop back in my hotel room if you want to see it."
Though a distinct minority, some females were present at DragonCon. "There was this one girl dressed up like Black Canary. She had the boots and the fishnet stockings and everything," Melcher said. "I couldn't really talk to her, though, because there was a pretty dense crowd of guys around her at all times."

not to mention this gem: Oh, Girls Are No Good At Genocide.

The Khmer Rouge picked Pol Pot because they knew he'd be good at murder and torture and all that other boy stuff. A girl probably would have planted flowers in the killing fields.

geek gender genocide hip-hop humour role-playing satire sex the onion 0

Pinkness and horror: What's the front page news in today's mX (that's the free street murdoch in Melbourne)? Well, it's all about McDonalds' exciting and "healthy" new menu. Front page news indeed.

And the new menu is "healthy". The meat has probably still been mechanically recovered from some poor steroid-pumped beast from a feedlot and the vegetable products are probably still Monsanto's Finest, but now it's "healthy". That's right, youth of today: you now have permission to no longer feel bad about eating at McDonalds.

Apropos of which, some rumours I heard about what goes into the food:

  • The "hot apple pies" contain no apples, but instead contain chokos (a tasteless vegetable) stewed in apple sauce. Because it's cheaper.
  • The "soft serves" and "thick shakes" are not made of milk but rather of vanilla-flavoured lard or something similar. The consistency is the same and it's a lot cheaper. Which is why they don't call them milk shakes, ice cream or the like.

No idea whether those are true or merely urban legends (like the one about earthworms in burgers), but I've heard them from multiple sources.


Coming soon: environmentally friendly 'green grenades'; just the thing for killing enemy troops in the eco-conscious 21st century.


Make your own joke: Police have been called to remove a ram found in a New Zealand hotel lift. The hotel manager believes that the ram was brought to the hotel by "someone who had a few too many to drink".


I went to see He Died With A Felafel In His Hand tonight (well, most of it; I missed the first 10 or so minutes of it). It was pretty good; there were quite a few similarities with Lowenstein's previous opus Dogs In Space (such as the interstitial titles, the neo-pagan burning of things and the sharehouse motif), though this was done on a bigger budget. The story isn't directly taken from the book (which is a collection of anecdotes with very few recurring characters), but rather made from the anecdotes, with multiple characters often amalgamated for the sake of coherency, though it keeps to the spirit.

The music was pretty well chosen too; two versions of Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat (during a thunderstorm, no less), and an electronica remake of the Dr Who theme, and all of two Paradise Motel songs (their blandly approachable Cars cover and, not listed in the credits nor on the CD, German Girl, from their excellent first EP). One gets the feeling that Lowenstein is a bit of a Nick Cave fan; Dogs In Space has a Boys Next Door song (Shivers), and then there's this film, not to mention Noah Taylor looking rather like Cave in places in the film (such as on the promotional material).

Now if there's any justice in the world, someone will rerelease Dogs In Space on DVD to cash in on Felafel. (There was a UK DVD release, apparently, but the transfer is said to be appallingly bad.) The soundtrack, with all that early-80s Melbourne postpunk, would also be good.


Oh dear; now there's a boom in Harry Potter slash fiction. (via Meg)


Just when you think that the Recording Racket may not be totally evil, something like this comes along: Dixie Chicks sue Sony for screwing them out of royalties (which, traditionally, are a pitifully small share of the pie, even before advances are deducted). But get this: Sony wrote the contract in such a way that they cannot be considered in breach of it even if they screw the artist out of every penny.

"Even if Sony had a contractual obligation to compensate the Dixie Chicks in this instance," the letter states, "Paragraph 19.07 of the agreement states explicitly 'Sony shall not be deemed in breach of this agreement unless such claim is reduced to a final judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction and Sony fails to pay you the amount thereof within 30 days after Sony receives notice of the entry of such judgment.' "

Wonder whether if this lawsuit is successful, it will invalidate such clauses and force recording companies to stop acting like pimps. Or at the very least, inspire more artists to stand up to the companies. Wonder how Courtney Love vs. Universal is going...


Robert Elz, the reclusive programmer who ran the Australian domain name registry out of an office at Melbourne University, has been deposed, and control of handed to a private body of some sort. On one hand, Elz has been slow to put domains through (a friend of mine who worked at an ISP had US clients screaming down the phone at him because a they ordered hadn't been put through for months); on the other hand, he had principles (he refused to accept MelbourneIT stock options, for one, and his judgments tended to be Solomonically fair), and the new keepers of look like a corporate monopoly of some sinister, neo-liberalist sort.

(I worked at Melbourne University, in the same building as Elz, for a year once, and don't recall seeing him once. All I know is that he apparently has a UNIX-sysadmin beard and is rumoured to disappear even more completely when there's a cricket match worth watching.)