The Null Device
Canadian academic Russel Ogden has spent the past decade studying the assisted-suicide underground; for this, he has been kicked out by various universities (and is now doing a PhD remotely at a Norwegian university) and had his research notes (unsuccessfully) subpoenaed by the authorities:
But the biggest surprise was that many of these deaths were not the "good deaths" often described in proeuthanasia books, which tend to romanticize the process. Of the 34 euthanasia cases, Ogden found that half were botched and ultimately resulted in increased suffering.
These people were first- or second-timers, "not serial death providers," Ogden remarks. "They weren't sure what they were doing." He concluded that the lack of medical knowledge, as well as the unavailability of suitable drugs and ignorance of lethal doses, contributed to the additional suffering. "This study showed that without medical supervision and formal regulations, euthanasia is happening in horrific circumstances, similar to back-alley abortions," he declares.
NuTech's approach is to take medicine out of assisted death, with methods that are simple, painless, inexpensive and impossible to trace. Suffocation devices, such as the "debreather," a modified piece of scuba diving equipment, and the "exit bag," a plastic bag equipped with Velcro straps, are commonly used. Most popular, Ogden has found, is the plastic bag in conjunction with helium gas. "This is the quickest way to go; used properly, you're unconscious after the second breath and dead in about 10 minutes," he reveals. Such methods are more efficient and reliable than lethal drugs, but suffocation devices remain unappealing and undignified to people. Most still want something they can drink.
You are carrying:
A cell phone with a message from your friends Dave and Paul telling you what a fun time they're having in the Bahamas
A slowly coalescing escape plan
A piece of ham
Resentment toward Emily for persuading you that visiting her parents at Christmas would be "totally fun"
Indonesian embassy in Canberra evacuated after biological weapon scare, when white powder in an envelope sent to the embassy tested positive for a bacillus related to anthrax. It is believed extremely unlikely that the incident is unconnected to the recent conviction of Australian Schapelle Corby (who, incidentally, is said to have become the newest client of celebrity agent Harry M. Miller) for drug trafficking in Bali.
It was sickening enough to hear of Australians calling tsunami relief charities and demanding their donations back over this incident; this takes it to a whole new level. If nothing else, the possibility that people who form their beliefs from tabloids and reality-TV shows have access to biological weapons is truly alarming. The human race is doomed.
The latest sartorial innovation from the hipsters of San Francisco is the banana-shaped cell-phone cozy, shown below modelled by the CEO of its manufacturer, Nanaco (wasn't he also one of the writers for SugaRAPE Magazine?):
Note: coolsie afro and ironically mocking attitude not supplied and must be provided by the user; otherwise, you're not a hipster, just the sad berk in the office who desperately wants to be liked and probably has the Crazy Frog ringtone as well.
Even after EMI's herculaean effort to keep the new album from schmaltz-rockers Coldplay off the net (giving it to reviewers as "The Fir Trees", routinely searching pressing-plant employees, sending nastygrams to student radio stations), the
terrorists pirates have already won. Mind you, the fact that EMI's goons couldn't routinely strip-search the entire population of Japan, where the album was released shortly before ending up on the file-sharing networks, probably had something to do with it. Oops!
The Demos thinktank in the UK claims that democracy is facing a crisis of legitimacy, with the public losing faith in the trustworthiness of leaders and the integrity of the political process. This appears to be result of the Blair Doctrine, which holds that in the short term, honesty is a liability and a mastery of weasel words and spin, a good relationship with the press and a faith in the public's short attention span are what counts.
It probably also has to do with the disconnexion between the polite fiction of democratic accountability and the reality of where the power really rests. For example, it's likely that Blair had no choice but to do whatever Washington ordered as far as Iraq went (as Britain has surrendered most foreign-policy sovereignty to the US since World War 2, though maintains the illusion of being an autonomous world power, even having a nuclear arsenal of its own (operated by US technicians)), and to spin it increasingly tortuously into the context of an independent decision, with increasingly bizarre results.
Anyway, the article claims that the main parties have become obsessed with a "strong leader myth", and that the solution is to recast democracy to the neighbourhood level. It is reported that Downing Street has been listening, and is "experimenting with new more direct forms of consultation with the electorate", "experimenting with" presumably translating as "looking at ways to rig".
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have their own crisis with claims that Charles Kennedy has adopted his own version of the Blair Doctrine and put the party too much under the influence of campaign strategists.