The Null Device

2001/10/18

Capitalising on the anthrax scare (part 2): Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has approached aging metal band Anthrax (possibly soon to be known as Basket Of Puppies) about advertising its anti-anthrax antibiotic on their web site, which happens to be "anthrax.com".

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2001/10/17

I spent most of the day at home, feeling like death warmed over. I must have caught some sort of bug. Hopefully it will be gone in time for the FourPlay show tomorrow evening at Revolver. (You are going to that, aren't you?)

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America's own home-grown Hezbollah, the Army of God, has been capitalising on the anthrax scare, by mailing white powder to Planned Parenthood offices. It'll be interesting to see whether the Bush administration (which is virulently anti-abortion) devotes much in the way of resources to tracking down the perpetrators or just shrug it off as "you reap what you sow".

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Voting has opened in the Minigame contest. The contest was about writing a functional 8-bit computer game (for C64, Atari, Speccy or Amstrad) in 2K or less of machine code (with a separate category for 512 bytes or less). And you too can vote, as soon as you download all the entries (31 games in a 52K ZIP file). (via NTK)

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As more and more Americans (and other westerners, to an extent) spend more and more of their lives on medication, from childhood ritalin to adolescent MDMA to adult Prozac, the question arises of what proportion of personal relationships are mediated by medication: (via Follow Me Here)

But according to Dr. Amy Banks, a psychiatrist at the Stone Center for the Study of Relationships at Wellesley College: ''There are two categories of medicated couples. There are those in which the medication allows the rightful relationship to emerge, and then there are those in which medication serves as a screen to cover up real issues. How can you tell them apart?''
"I saw a woman ... with 7-year-old twins. She came to me because she felt she needed to be less mean in her relationship. But she has 7-year-old twins while her husband gets to kick back, sleep late. She resented the hell out of him. I told her: 'You know what? Drugs won't fix this. I don't want to take away your anger.'" What Banks is saying makes a lot of sense, but there's also something a tad condescending to it. I mean, if the woman doesn't want anger, why impose it on her? Maybe, for her, the best thing is to mellow out. There is something to be said for living a less honest life, the edges softer, peace in place of confrontation.

(This piece reminded me of a scifiesque story idea I once had, about chemical marriage counselling, in which troubled couples are given drugs (acting much like phenylethylamine, the "falling-in-love" neurotransmitter) to make them fall in love all over again. I never figured out, however, whether such a programme would be a roaring success or a catastrophic failure.

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"If satire died on the day Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize, then last week its corpse was exhumed for a kicking:" UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who creatively reinterpreted the UN charter to sanction revenge bombings against nations housing terrorists as "self-defense" is likely to get the Nobel Peace Prize; while one of the other candidates, a pro-peace group named Women In Black has been branded as "anti-American", and thus a potential terrorist organisation (alongside the likes of Reclaim The Streets).

Lumping Women in Black together with al-Qaida requires just a minor addition to the vocabulary: they have been jointly classified as "anti-American". This term, as used by everyone from the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Daily Mail to Tony Blair and several writers on these pages, applies not only to those who hate Americans, but also to those who have challenged US foreign and defence objectives. Implicit in this denunciation is a demand for uncritical support, for a love of government more consonant with the codes of tsarist Russia than with the ideals upon which the United States was founded.

Wait for the House Committee on Anti-American Activities to be convened any day now...

If we are to preserve the progress, pluralism, tolerance and freedom which President Bush claims to be defending, then we must question everything we see and hear. Though we know that governments lie to us in wartime, most people seem to believe that this universal rule applies to every conflict except the current one. Many of those who now accept that babies were not thrown out of incubators in Kuwait, and that the Belgrano was fleeing when it was hit, are also prepared to believe everything we are being told about Afghanistan and terrorism in the US.
There are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. The magical appearance of the terrorists' luggage, passports and flight manual looks rather too good to be true. The dossier of "evidence" purporting to establish Bin Laden's guilt consists largely of supposition and conjecture. The ration packs being dropped on Afghanistan have no conceivable purpose other than to create the false impression that starving people are being fed. Even the anthrax scare looks suspiciously convenient. Just as the hawks in Washington were losing the public argument about extending the war to other countries, journalists start receiving envelopes full of bacteria, which might as well have been labelled "a gift from Iraq". This could indeed be the work of terrorists, who may have their own reasons for widening the conflict, but there are plenty of other ruthless operators who would benefit from a shift in public opinion.

(From The Guardian (who else?))

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