The Null Device
The video game of the moment appears to be Katamari Damacy; it involves rolling a ball around a landscape, rolling over objects which become stuck to the ball, and graduating to larger and larger objects as the game progresses. Though, from what I hear, it's even more surreal than this somewhat prosaic description would suggest, with a bizarre and quirky soundtrack adding to the experience.
Unfortunately, the only way to legally play Katamari Damacy outside of Japan involves moving to the U.S.; it's only out there, and only in region-locked PlayStation format. And with governments cracking down on the economic terrorism of modchips all across McWorld and Sony not deeming Katamari to be worth releasing in other territories, this looks unlikely to change.
However, an enterprising hacker has created a simple Flash game based on Katamari Damacy. It's very rudimentary; for example, it does away with the whole 3D thing and all the scenery, not to mention any sound, and merely involves the player rolling a ball around in 2D, collecting increasingly larger objects, which get stuck to it. Unfortunately, it only goes up to telephones, so eventually you end up rolling around picking up speck-sized telephones.
I wonder how long until some penguinhead tail-light chasers decide to do a FreeCiv on Katamari Damacy and make their own (perhaps with a gnu or a penguin pushing a ball around, or even filling it with unsubtle anti-Microsoft propaganda, à la FreeDroid). Bring it on, I say.
The BBC has a special feature on Battersea Power Station (you know, the upside-down-coffee-table-shaped structure in south London, best known from Pink Floyd and Orb cover artwork), including panoramic views (the Art Deco control room looks fantastic, like something from a retrofuturistic scifi film), photographs from its past and sketches of development plans (apparently it is set to become a shopping centre/restaurant complex; let's hope they redevelop it sensitively).
According to a new report, the widespread adoption of (commercial) hip-hop culture and the chav lifestyle by Britain's youth is affecting their educational and career prospects:
"The lure of popular 'bling bling' and Nike identities impacted on young people's engagement with schooling. A widespread and heavy investment in branded identities ("we're Nike people") shaped pupils' aspirations and engagement with schooling," the report continued.
"Desire for fashionable clothes, trainers and accessories meant that many young people wanted to leave school and start earning money as soon as possible. Higher education did not fit with these desired identities and was seen as an unattractive option that would not allow a young people to (afford to) 'be myself'," it said.
(One may well ask, what else is new. School has never been considered "cool", and dropping out to become a bricklayer or filing clerk, live in a bedsit and spend all one's money on flash clothes and partying all weekend dates back to the end of post-WW2 rationing. (Granted, the Mods who pioneered that did it with a lot more style than the thug-wannabes in gold jewellery and Burberry shellsuits.) Which left the picked-on high-school dorks to actually achieve anything other than a dead-end job later in life.
"Lot of the girls were coming into conflict with schools for 'speaking their mind' - there's a notion of being a strong woman - like Beyonce. This was being interpreted by schools as aggressive."(Do they need Beyonce for that? I thought watching EastEnders would have been enough.)
In 1987, the Hawke government tried, and failed, to push through its national ID card, the Australia Card. Now it looks like the Howard government is considering reviving it:
Mr Howard vigorously campaigned against the Australia Card proposal which was raised in 1987, but today he said times had changed. "That's 18 years ago and it may well be that circumstances have changed."The Tories haven't decided on whether to adopt a national ID card (or, at least, so they say), but if they do, they will be able to get it through parliament, given that (with Australian's rigid party discipline) both houses of parliament are essentially rubber stamps for the Liberal/National Party caucus. Whether or not it would survive mass civil disobedience (the threat of which was instrumental in sinking the original Australia Card).