The Null Device


The latest trend among Generation Xers: starter marriages; an increasing number of first marriages lasting fewer than five years. A sign of a society conditioned more to short-term gratification? (via Plastic)

(Also, Generation X seems to be moving, remaining constantly the mid-to-late-20s demographic; given that the GenXers in Coupland's novel would be approaching middle age now, and no longer in the lifestyle-product target demographic (or as The Onion once suggested, having passed 36 and fallen into the target market for lawn-care products and foot powders and such), and a new crop of people have become the new Xers. Perhaps you start off in Generation Y, and graduate into Gen X as soon as you lose your interest in extreme sports and MTV and replace your Limp Bizkit records with Yo La Tengo or the Dandy Warhols or somesuch, and your Big Yellow Shorts with a black turtleneck or possibly an ironically-worn 1950s gas-station-attendant shirt or somesuch.)


Abandonware news: Desqview/X released into the public domain (though without sources). I recall that it looked pretty impressive; it could run remote X11 applications and multitask DOS/Windows apps, all in a tiny amount of RAM. Not sure how useful it is these days, though. Anyway, there's a mirror here, and a Slashdot discussion here.

abandonware desqview/x ms-dos retrocomputing software x11 0

An interesting article about the physiological effects of television. In short, TV can be physiologically addictive, acting as a depressant, and the edits used in TV programmes, and particularly ads, induce a Pavlovian "orienting response", which grabs the viewer's attention involuntarily, and causing physical tiredness in the viewer by overworking this response. Also, families who become dependent on TV as a primary recreational activity find it difficult to cope with TV deprivation:

Nearly 40 years ago Gary A. Steiner of the University of Chicago collected fascinating individual accounts of families whose set had broken--this back in the days when households generally had only one set: "The family walked around like a chicken without a head." "It was terrible. We did nothing--my husband and I talked." "Screamed constantly. Children bothered me, and my nerves were on edge. Tried to interest them in games, but impossible. TV is part of them."

In short, withdrawal symptoms. However, the good news is that only heavy users become addicted, and they actually enjoy TV less than those who watch it occasionally or in moderation. (via those liberal elitists at Plastic)