The Null Device


Scratch an atheist and you'll find a Communist terrorist: Since the terrorist attacks, discrimination against atheists has increased in the US, with the Godless being shunned, denied jobs and vilified as traitors if they reveal their beliefs. As a result, many have retreated to the closet.

Mark Barnes of San Francisco says that revealing his atheism was as difficult as revealing his homosexuality in his native Oklahoma. Filmmaker John Mendoza, whose 2001 movie "Blasphemy" was shown at the meeting, says his mother, "who prayed on her knees in front of the sacred heart of Jesus every day, felt she had failed me and my older brother told me to stay away from his children." And Mary from Berkeley says, "My parents still think I'm going through a stage. Mom, it's been like, 15 years!"

Wonder if it will get to the stage of atheists pretending to be Christians (or indeed Buddhists or Unitarian Universalists or something), or of witch-hunts for "new Christians" who are just going through the motions and secretly teaching their children Darwinism and secular humanism. The more some things change, the more they stay the same. (via 1.0)

atheism conformism culture war usa 1

We Hate Starbucks, a resource for protest and miscellaneous subversion against the McDonalds of coffee. Hmmm; when the Brunswick St. store opens, it may call for some, umm, festivities. (via the Horn)


The long now: A paper looking at ways of marking nuclear waste dumps as dangerous in a way that can still be understood in 10,000 years' time, without reliance on common cultural meanings. (And no, it doesn't include establishing apocalyptic death cults around their periphery or spreading legends of evil spirits or anything.)

* Design of the entire site and its subelements should avoid those forms that humans regularly tend to use to represent the "ideal," "perfection," or "aspiration." Aspiring forms are sky-reaching verticals, the obelisk, for example. Ideal and perfect ones are the the perfect forms of symmetrical geometry (spheres, pyramids, hexagons) and of regular crystalline structures or polyhedrons. If such forms are used, we suggest their perfection be undermined through substantial and obviously meant "irregularity," as if its builders knew about the ideal and perfection, but asserted that this place is not about them. More appropriate types of forms to use are amorphic or jagged and horizontal, a deliberate shunning of the values of "perfection" or "aspiration."

(via Plastic)


The killer application for broadband Internet access has been found, and not surprisingly, it has to do with pictures of cats.

The site has become a huge hit with surfers, as visitors log on to check Frank's progress, send him get well cards and e-mail pictures of their own pets.


Political rant of the day: So the US has reserved the right to launch a nuclear first strike against a list of "rogue nations" (including China, alongside old favourites like Libya and Iraq) if they do anything suspicious. Though now analysts say that a first strike is unlikely, and the most likely scenario is nuclear retaliation for a terrorist attack. Oh, that makes it OK then. Some underground cells connected with the Nefralian dictator (who is most likely a former CIA puppet gone rogue) kill a few thousand innocent American civilians in a terrorist attack, and in return the US nukes the capital of Nefralia, killing a few million men, women and children. Which is perfectly fair and just, because each one of our lard-assed, SUV-driving, TV-watching, shiny-crap-consuming lives is worth a thousand of theirs. Besides, they don't like us much over there. And it's not like they're real people or anything, in the sense of wearing fashion labels and watching Friends and hanging out in shopping malls and keeping up on celebrity gossip and doing regular-people things like that. Heck, most of them probably wouldn't even know who Jennifer Lopez or Tom Cruise are or anything. Giving how boring and lame their lives must be, we'd probably be doing them a favour.


Read: The curse of coffee-table cinema, or how thanks to Disney's Miramax unit, much of "art-house" cinema is now formulaic, content-free soft-focus schmaltz designed to flatter viewers' sense of culture in a mindless sort of way.

Miramax has given the world a host of cliches about European culture - naughty French priests, macho Greeks, hoity-toity Englishmen, zany Italians - and has reduced human complexity to a bunch of hopeless stereotypes bursting with sentiment.

(See also: Working Title, Merchant Ivory) (via FmH)

art-house cinema clichés dumbing down film hollywood miramax stereotypes working title 1

Doctors who allowed severely disabled children to be born are being sued for "wrongful life". (Or should that be "conduct engendering life"?)


There was some interesting music on Local and/or General (the 3RRR local music programme) tonight; they played a track by a Sydney band named Grace Emily, who sounded somewhere between Mogwai and The Paradise Motel, or something thereabouts; brooding, minor-key soundscapes with shoegazing guitar textures and Hammond and such, and no vocals. Apparently they have an EP out, titled Caressing the Page; there's a promising review on this site. Though haven't heard of it.

There was also a great (and rather long) minimalist post-rock instrumental from an outfit named North Atlantic, who sounded vaguely like Flying Saucer Attack or Hood or someone from that headspace. It apparently came off a CD titled A Forest of Masts, which was sent in to the station, and about which no information seems to exist.