The Null Device


Increasingly many Americans are looking to move to Canada. The reasons range from dismay with the neo-conservative political monoculture since 9/11 to canny consumers shopping for a better social contract (i.e., health care, decriminalised marijuana, tougher gun laws and/or gay marriage), or just for more pleasant weather (and not everybody agrees that "good weather" means "hot and sunny").

Which makes me wonder: now that Howard is hell-bent on remaking Australia in his own image, transforming a formerly liberal, pluralistic social democracy into a warlike, xenophobic, censorious, paternalistic corporate cowboy state, are Australian small-L-liberals emigrating en masse to anywhere? Is New Zealand going to be full of left-leaning Australian expatriates in 10 years' time, for example? Or are those who don't fit in in Howard's Australia going to be either squatting in Earl's Court and pulling pints in pubs (in the hope that Phony Blair pretends to not be a complete and utter Tory) or else building some kind of neo-Whitlamite Port Watson somewhere on the beaches of Thailand or Papua New Guinea?

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Four-legged chicken born in Delaware. The poultry industry has declined to comment about the potential revolutionary implications of this mutation. (via jwz)

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As more and more people look for love online, a new industry has arisen: online dating consultants. For a fee, they'll spruce up your profile (or write you a new one guaranteed to make your boring, unimaginative self look dazzlingly witty and original), and/or furnish you with a digital portrait guaranteed to reel 'em in. (via Techdirt)

A Los Angeles-based firm's site,, offers a choice of packages, ranging from a 40-dollar "bronze" service that provides basic profile editing to a 200-dollar "platinum" option where a personal consultant writes a profile from scratch and follows up with a 30-minute phone consultation.

Yes, Los Angeles sounds like the place for that kind of thing.

Despite the increasing popularity of online dating, Stricke says she often has to counsel people who are worried about the "loser" stigma that still sticks to the idea. "Some people are like, 'OK, I'm going to a photographer. Am I weird for doing that?' And I say, look, it's totally cool, everyone deserves a good photograph," she said.

So if you hire a consultant to write your online dating profile and pay a special photographer to give you that killer portrait people might think you're a bit desperate or insecure? Whyever so?

(Though, perhaps as increasing mobility and "labor-market flexibility" (read: longer and/or more unusual work hours) and the tendency to postpone marriage until long after leaving school/university take their toll on the traditional theatres of courtship, perhaps soon everyone will be looking for their next partners online; and thanks to the Red Queen Effect, the only way to not be a loser will be to hire the most cutting-edge dating consultants, armed with the latest techniques, to put yourself ahead of the competition who are using all of last week's hottest profile tips.)

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