The Null Device
This morning on 3RRR, I heard about an interestingly subversive art installation being launched at the Blackbox gallery. It explores the nature of globalisation and personality, and consists of a love-letter transcription service. Users record a romantic message on a computer, and it is sent to a data-processing consultancy in Bombay, India, where (thanks to the cheap, skilled labour that is so popular with the call-centre and medical-transcript industries in the West) it is hand-written and mailed to your beloved. I believe it is part of the Experimenta "Waste" programme.
Creepy yet oddly fascinating: Philip Jenkins, a professor at Penn State University, made a name for himself by debunking child-abuse scares in the 1990s; more recently, he has investigated the shadowy online child pornography subculture, anonymously infiltrated its bulletin boards (after judiciously disabling image loading in his browser) and found that it exists and is more widespread and complex than most people suspect. He has published a book about this, Beyond Tolerance.
Jenkins may be among the first outsiders to have witnessed on-line interaction among self-described pedophiles. In some ways, theirs was like any Internet community, with its newbies, revered regulars, and arcane tech discussions. As much as users exulted in finding directions to caches of child porn, they rejoiced in finding others like themselves. Questions like "When did you first realize you were a pedophile?" provoked endless responses, Jenkins reports.
All of this reminds me of the "Collectors'" convention in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (via Plastic)
Memetic warfare: Reason magazine has a rather clever suggestion on how the US could use the "WTC-was-an-Israeli-plot" conspiracy theory popular in the Middle East and turn it against Bin Laden, by casting him as a Mossad operative.
British comic Rowan Atkinson (best known for his roles in Blackadder and Mr. Bean) has written a letter, claiming that proposed new religious vilification laws may stifle comedy, to the point where making something like Monty Python's Life of Brian would be criminally prosecutable. (via Lev)
The local street press has just confirmed the impending closure of the Punters Club (sometime after January), The proprietor is looking to open another venue somewhere less gentrified (possibly Northcote). Because of rising rents, whatever takes the Punters' place in Brunswick Street will probably be much more upmarket. In related news, a new venue has reopened on the site of the legendary Continental, another band venue which closed a while ago. It is probably enough to note that this venue is called the Boutique Dance Lounge, and recently played host to a single launch by manufactured Top 40 star and former Hollywood trophy wife Tina Arena. Ah yes, there's nothing like shiny machine-extruded crap for conspicuous consumption...