The Null Device

2002/8/12

A Washington Post article on the whole Obey Giant phenomenon and its origins. (via Reenhead)

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The latest big thing among those seeking immortality: donating your body to plastination. As one candidate says, it beats being worm fodder.

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Via Graham, a near-comprehensive list of all those Factory catalogue numbers, and all the CDs and miscellaneous bizarre objects they were given to (at first posters and such, but then buildings, lawsuits, and famously, a cat; not to mention an 8-bit computer game Stephen Morris never got around to writing).

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When memes compete for mindshare in the ideosphere, one of the things they're selected for is emotional impact. The most sensational story wins, as does the most disgusting urban legend, according to this paper. (via FmH)

(Which all makes sense; by the same token, there are other (so far anecdotal) laws of memetics. For example, it has been observed that urban legends that mention a "brand" of some category mutate to refer to the best-known brand. (For example, the one about some small fried-chicken restaurant chain supporting the Ku Klux Klan mutated into an urban legend about KFC, and it's probable that the "Albert Einstein said we only use 10% of our brains" UL started as a claim about some lesser known very smart person making that statement.) I'd speculate that this is the result of a selection for economy or consistency with one's existing knowledge/memes, or a streamlining process that erodes memes into more agile forms.)

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Edward Felten, of SDMI-breaking fame, has a blog tracking the copyright absolutists' attemps to take away your freedom to tinker.

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The pendulum swings both ways: while the teen-rebellion industry fuses rap into hard-rock, a new generation of black musicians in America, disappointed with the limited scope for expression in hip-hop and so-called "R&B" are picking up guitars and turning to rock.

Their sound is most often a deeply soul-inflected rock reminiscent of the mellower moments of Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Parliament Funkadelic rather than the full-on guitar assault of Fishbone or Living Colour. Much of this rock is difficult to distinguish from soul music, but the musicians use the word rock to distance themselves, they say, from the overly produced treacle that passes for modern soul.

(Meanwhile, commercial R&B producers such as Babyface have recently been knocking off '90s alternative-rock sounds for some of their projects (such as the very aptly named Pink).)

"Vulnerability doesn't work at all in hip-hop," Mr. Luther said. "You don't want to expose a weakness in that arena. Rock 'n' roll has no boundaries. You can talk about your dreams, fears, all kinds of things."

Though the black-rock movement faces serious barriers in the formulaic world of American radio/TV, not fitting into either black/"urban" formats or the predominantly white world of rock/alternative music. I.e., Clear Channel probably won't play it; though maybe it'll flourish in the MP3 underground.

Rock, they say, gives them the freedom to express their own ideas. Santi White of Stiffed said: "There's a Smiths song that I love that says, `Hang the D.J. because the music he constantly plays says nothing to me about my life.' And that's how I felt. So I said, `Fine, I'm going to find some music that does say something about my life.' "

Funny that they should mention that, as that quote is sometimes cited as an argument for Morrissey being racist. Though what would that make the equation of skin darkness with dance/club music? (via FmH)

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