The Null Device


Trainspotting: Melbourne's Spencer Street railway station, the city's main hub for rural and interstate trains, will be renamed to Southern Cross Station. Not quite as craven as renaming Museum to Melbourne Central (which is misleading, as it is not a central rail interchange, but was renamed as such because the owners of the Melbourne Central shopping centre bribed the government to do so), but still with a whiff of branding. Oh well; at least it's not "SouthernCross" or "Southcross(tm)" or some made-up word ending in "-nt".

Though I believe that when the station was originally built, in the 19th century, it was simply known as Melbourne. Perhaps reverting to its original name would have been more appropriate.

melbourne public transport railway 2

A somewhat over-the-top Marxist critique of Harry Potter, and the elitist ideologies allegedly embodied in the Potter universe. Or are they reading way too much into it?

They are not culturally productive in their hidden fastnesses. Their games, culture, artifacts, and practices are cribbed from the larger muggle culture - suitably modified, of course, to reflect their peculiar abilities. In short, culturally speaking, they are parasites. One suspects that they are economic parasites as well, leaching off the muggle world. One would expect them to be - they have the slaveholding mentality - but there is not enough evidence in the extant narratives from which to make a judgement.


Reasons to switch to Linux: Al Qaeda terrorists infiltrate Microsoft, plant trojan horses in Windows XP. Or so says arrested terrorist suspect Mohammad Afroze Abdul Razzak, who has also detailed plans to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London and Rialto Towers in Melbourne, among other targets. A Microsoft spokesman has poured scorn on the allegations, saying that their source code is strictly monitored to make sure that there is no malicious code that they didn't plan themselves. (Then again, what's to say he isn't fnord an Al Qaeda terrorist agent?)

al-qaeda microsoft terrorism the long siege 0

Via Meg, this list of untranslatably nuance-laden words in other languages, some of which would make useful English loanwords:

  • plunderbund (Dutch) Alliance that exploits the public (sounds all too familiar; witness Microsoft, the copyright cartels, Bush's oilmen buddies, &c)
  • bricoleur (French) Construction by random messing around (actually, shouldn't that be `bricolage', with a `bricoleur' being one who participates in it?)
  • Ohrwurm (German) Tune that spreads through population. (Literally "earworm", I believe)
  • Papierkrieg (German) Deliberate complicated paperwork for a complaint
  • davka (Hebrew) Universe is conspiring against me
  • hari kuyo (Japanese) Shrine for broken sewing needles


The Recording Racket: The Universal Music Group, the world's largest recording corporation, announced some months ago that by mid-2002 all their CDs would be copy-inhibited. And now they're releasing their first copy-inhibited CD. Bad news: it won't play on Macintoshes, DVD players, game consoles, or even some CD players. Not-so-bad news: the CD is the movie soundtrack spinoff "Fast & Furious -- More Music".


A detailed Newsweek piece giving the background on Marin County Talib John Walker Lindh, and the charges he is likely to face. (Predicted outcome: death penalty, commuted by Presidential decree after his conversion to a suitably severe yet all-American form of fundamentalist Christianity.)


The New McCarthyism (2): Two progressive activists in the US were questioned by police and postal inspectors after going to a post office and requesting postage stamps without an American flag.


The New McCarthyism: Anti-corporate critic Michael Moore's publisher has pulled his latest book on the grounds that it is "offensive". The publisher, the notoriously pro-authoritarian Murdoch empire's HarperCollins group, has also claimed that Moore was "intellectually dishonest" not to state that Bush had been doing "a good job" over the past few months. The existing print run will be destroyed.