The Null Device


Pet Shop Boys Song-by-Song Commentary; a detailed analysis of the Boys' songs, with backstories and other information. In case you ever wondered what exactly West End Girls was about, or how they came up with the cover artwork and titles for various albums. (via Cos)

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More from the Rachel Goswell interview:

RG: Slowdive I look back with pleasure and pain really. The first couple of years was really exciting. And I was a teenager turning into my 20's. I had a lot of experiences I will never forget! Neil and I broke up around the recording of 'Souvlaki' and it was extremely difficult maintaining a working relationship. there was alot of anger and tears. I would say it wasn't really til we started on Mojave that we really broke free of each other completely, personally. Mojave 3 has been alot easier, far more relaxed and by mid twenties you're kind of more sussed about life (though not as much as when you hit 30, lol).

I didn't know that. After this, I'll probably listen to Souvlaki (and, to a lesser extent, Pygmalion) somewhat differently; in particular, just how personal songs like Dagger really are. Though, OTOH, Pygmalion always did have a sense of transcendence-through-abstraction, at least to me.

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Rub a Dub Dub with Shrub: Criticism is arising from various corners, including such unpatriotic and seditious elements as farmers and the Labor Party, about the Australian government's unquestioning support for the US, from supporting Uncle George's first-strike policy against designated "terrorist" states to not opposing US agricultural tariffs. Some analysts say this is a regression back to the Vietnam War, and "All the Way with LBJ":

"The present Government has been giving endorsement of US policy in a far more extreme form than the Menzies and Holt governments ever did, and in a situation where there is no evident physical threat to Australia as a nation."

Of course, the "no evident physical threat" situation may not last for long; by being the only nation to unconditionally back US first strikes, Australia may be making itself a more tempting target for terrorists. Of course, the increased threat of terrorism may be a good thing for Howard, as it would allow hard questions to be deflected as "unpatriotic", as in Bush's America, and allowing his nice, shiny deputy's badge to imbue him with reflected charisma. And when US troops enter Baghdad, Havana or The Hague, Australian troops will be right among them, in the first wave.

Meanwhile, Australia will be buying 100 stealth fighters, costing as much as $4bn. Next time you wonder why your taxes are so high while social services are so underfunded, think about that.

(I wonder whether these are the 'stealth' fighters that can be detected by measuring their effects on TV and mobile phone transmissions, using only some receivers and a laptop computer.)


Common sense at last: The US Pledge of Allegiance has been ruled unconstitutional, as it violates the separation between church and state. The offending part is the "under God" added to it during the McCarthy era.


Favourite long-defunct indie bands: It seems to be a bumper time for interviews with ex-Slowdive personnel. has one with Rachel (now of Mojave 3), where she talks about how she and Neil started jamming in high school, their change of sound, and so on: (via the Avalyn list again)

RG: Pygmalion was released a year after we had recorded it. During that year Neil had moved on musically to doing different things. Had we not been dropped 'Ask Me Tomorrow' would have been the fourth slowdive album. With 'pygmalion' we had experimented with sounds as much as we had wanted to and just wanted to do more 'traditional' tunes and strip everything down.

(I still think that they threw the baby out with the bathwater, but that's just my taste. Maybe one of these days I'll Grow Up, get into Mojave 3, and start frequenting the Country'n'Preston gigs that dot the inner city of Melbourne; or maybe not.)

Anyway, the interview may be found here if the link works; if not, it's also on their main page (a few columns across).

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Urk. Something's wrong with my phone line/modem/ISP. The connection keeps dying; it usually lasts somewhere between a few seconds and 10 minutes. Not fun...


Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Bootywhang: A piece on the rise of 'alternaporn' sites. These are independently-run online soft- to medium-core porn sites with subcultural themes (raver, goth, geek, punk, and others), 'real' models who often have online journals, and a distinct paucity of the ugly, degrading, exploitative material that your typical spamvertised commercial porn site pushes. And, perhaps surprisingly, many of their subscribers are heterosexual women.

"I want to take the sketchiness and smuttiness out of porn," said Chase Lisbon, 28, who launched Supercult in August 2001. "I don't use words like tits or ass or pussy anywhere on the site." Supercult is a mod-styled website featuring pictures of naked hipsters posing with Lambretta scooters and Star Wars action figures. Chase estimates that 30 percent of the site's paying users are female.

(Well, someone had to put Mod revivalism/retro hipsterism and porn together sometime...)

Anyway, as far as porn has been with us since the Etruscan era, if not cave paintings, and is likely to be with us as long as we have sex and symbols, it's a good thing to know that it's not all misanthropic, envelope-pushing brutality and ugliness ("Teenage sluts get banged hard by farm animals!"), and that perhaps porn can be humanistic and positive. Of course, the religious right don't agree. (via bOING bOING)

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