The Null Device


Well, this year's birthday dinner was fun. Lots of friends (from everywhere, from my school/uni days to gigs), good food (it was at Gogi's, a fairly decent Indian restaurant in Fitzroy) and good conversation all around.


Score! I recently managed to find a copy of Colin MacInnes' Absolute Beginners, for a pittance, in a certain bookshop in Northcote. (It was a mid-80s edition, with cover artwork that looks like a promo still from the supposedly dire film and day-glo lettering in DTP clip-art fonts, making it look more like a cheap romance novel than the cult classic it is acclaimed as.) I had been keeping an eye out for it since reading excerpts or references to it in various other books. So far, I'm enjoying it; it seems to capture the zeitgeist of London in the late 1950s, and the rise of what would become Modernism (and indeed the roots of much of youth culture since), quite vividly.

Once I'm finished with that, I'll probably go onto the PDB file of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

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An official investigation in Britain claims that commuting on trains is a health hazard, with the cumulative consequences of the stress of riding in overcrowded, unreliable trains resulting in high blood pressure, chronic anxiety and even fatal heart conditions for countless passengers. Britain's privatised trains are chronically overcrowded because it's cheaper for operators to pay overcrowding fines than to run longer trains.

Cary Cooper, professor of psychology and health at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, said: 'People develop a constant internal anger on crowded trains that they cannot easily displace.
'Then they hear that the train has stopped for 20 minutes for no apparent reason. If travel was cheap at least people could rationalise it.'

(Similar things could apply in Melbourne; especially with the new trams and trains which have fewer seats as to accommodate more standing passengers. Only here it's easier to drive everywhere, so everybody who can, does.)

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Another piece of cheerful news I can't resist passing on, given that I've just gotten a year older: new research shows that young women no longer dig older men; so, guys, if you were hoping that age would give you an aura of sophistication, and the sorts of cute chicks that ignored you when you were their age would be irresistably drawn to you and away from the immature young studs their age, prepare to be disappointed. (Not that it's a personal issue for me right now, mind you; just passing on the good tidings.)

(All of a sudden, I feel like putting on Pulp's Help the Aged.)

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Pete Townshend, frontman of power-pop pioneers The Who, has admitted to paying for child pornography, but claims that he was doing it in the name of research for a book, and his activities as a vigilante against padeophiles (of whom he strongly maintains he is not one). Townshend's name and credit card number were found when the FBI raided a pay-per-view child pornography web site.

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The British government official in charge of educational standards claims that a decline in family conversations is responsible for today's primary school students have the worst language skills in memory. Family conversations have devolved to a "daily grunt", a monosyllabic exchange, under pressure from long working hours and a TV-centred lifestyle. (via FmH)

(I wonder how this will tie in with the rise of the Internet and mobile phones; could we see a generation who have inarticulate verbal communication skills but can SMS rings around anyone today; a brave new world of grunting, nimble-thumbed cyber-cavemen? The interpersonal skills of a borderline-autistic IRC junkie could be the norm within a decade.)

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Could this be the most authentic gangsta rap song ever? Bandit holds up a fast-food place, kills five people execution-style, and then writes a rap song about it.

I said give me the doe you say no, no?
is it no you said stick some lead to your head
guess what punk now your dead
with all that blood bursting out your Head
from Head to toe if you wanna know I gotta go,
thats why they got me on
the worlds most wanted show

Police found the handwritten lyrics in a suitcase, along with stolen money. Instead of a chance to record with Dr Dre, the author got the death penalty for his trouble. Maybe keepin' it real isn't such a good idea after all. (via

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