The Null Device
Armed police officers have prevented a motorised Dalek from entering the Houses of Parliament. The remote-controlled replica robot, with a top speed of 5mph (8km/h) was built by a Scottish Doctor Who enthusiast, who took it to London to film a promotional video for a stage version of the TV show: (via Gizmodo)
'Cars were grinding to a halt in disbelief when they saw a Dalek trundling over Tower Bridge. And we were mobbed by Japanese tourists desperate for photos.'
'They are quite difficult to operate, and the huge dents in our living room wall are proof you should never get behind the controls of a Dalek with a drink in you.'
The Graun sends a reporter to Iceland to catch up with Bobby Fischer, former chess master turned paranoid lunatic, who spends most of the time ranting about how the Jews are out to get him.
As he is leaving Copenhagen, he is cornered in a car park by the agitated man from Channel 1 and gives some characteristically robust quotes - to summarise, death to the Jews, death to Japan, death to America, death to George Bush. (Probably death to Tony Blair, too - Fischer refused to fly via London because he feared he would be grabbed by the police there.) Anyway, Fischer has let off steam, the Channel 1 man's job is saved, we have a news story.
Fischer has an obsession with detail that, to my non-medical eye, appears autistic. When he recites his suffering at the hands of the US and now the Japanese, every letter he has received is cited, dated, described exactly. His is a world of tiny details; it is the bigger picture that eludes him, so he falls back on one stupid overarching theory - the world Jewish conspiracy. The Icelandic view that he is a lovable eccentric is a cop-out. He is a paranoid fantasist. But he is deluded not dangerous; Howard Hughes rather than Adolf Hitler. Mastery of detail, obsessionalism, relentless concentration, the ability to shut out the world are advantages in chess; in life they can be a disaster, especially when there is no screen between what you say and what you think.
A survey has revealed that, while Australians overwhelmingly support globalisation, they see US foreign policy as a potentian external threat on a par with Islamic fundamentalism. 58% of Australians have positive feelings towards the U.S., though only one in five would support Australia going to war with China to defend Taiwan if the U.S. did so.
As far as the Americanisation of Australia goes, when do we get nifty things like a bill of rights? We can quite happily leave behind the oversized Hummer SUVs, conservative Christian political powerbase (even though Howard would really like one of those), culture of flag-waving triumphalism (and the boxing-kangaroo flag at cricket matches doesn't really count) and Clear Channel-style homogeneisation of mass culture (though, it could be argued, that Australia has its local version of the last). For that matter, a legal notion of Fair Use to go with the draconian copyright laws we just got from the U.S. would be good, though, of course, there's no multinational profit in harmonising that particular part of intellectual-property law. Still, at least Australians still get 20 days of paid leave a year (as opposed to the 5-10 the average American working stiff gets), and aren't exposed to as many environmental toxins (for which America can probably thank Reagan's pro-corporate rolling back of pollution regulations), so there are a few small mercies to be thankful for. I wonder how long they'll last.
This is what happens when the fans of a band known for its bookish, over-intellectual fanbase grow up and get established: Manchester Metropolitan University is holding an academic conference on The Smiths next week. The symposium, titled Why Pamper Life's Complexities, will look at the influence of Morrissey's lyrics on areas such as gender and sexuality, race, nationality and class, as well as æsthetics, fan cultures and musical innovation.
Orkut-style brownie points for LiveJournal; i.e., a page which lets you say how cool/hot/trustworthy the people on your friends list are, and whom you're a fan of. Not without its share of problems; anyone can impersonate anyone else, and (perhaps for this reason), there's no way of seeing how many brownie points you gave people before. Also, annoyingly enough, it makes no distinction between people in your friends list and people who have friended you; coupled with its lack of memory, this means that every time you run it, you have to pick the serial adders, trolls and prehensile idiots off, and then reassign points to all the people you've selected.