The Null Device
Rubbing their hands with glee, the Australian government reveal that not only will their industrial-relations reforms scrap unfair dismissal laws and reduce holiday entitlements to 10 days a year (well, officially, allow workers the freedom of cashing in 10 days, but when this decision is written into employment contracts and there's always someone behind you willing to sign if you're not, your chances of keeping four weeks of leave are looking somewhat slimmer), but also to allow workers to trade away their lunch breaks for more money. Again, similar provisos come into it: there won't be a guarantee of those wishing to keep lunch breaks being able to do so.
"The reason why many of them are much happier to work say a 36-hour week without smokos is because you leave for home earlier ... what we want to do is give people maximum flexibility in relation to hours and the right to negotiate."Hang on, isn't Australia already on a 38-hour week, or is the choice between 40+ hours with lunch breaks or 36 hours without them?
Now it looks like two right-wing senators (one from Christian Fundamentalist party Family First and one from the right-wing lesser partner in the governing coalition, the National Party) are making noises about blocking the changes on grounds of family values.
How much do you want to bet that the Tories will attempt to trade them a wowseristic legislated-morality campaign unconnected with workers' rights (i.e., tougher censorship laws, minor symbolic restrictions on abortion, perhaps even the national internet firewall Family First wanted) in return for their cooperation in this matter?
C86, a compilation tape released in 1986 by NME (then a more leftfield, not to mention left-leaning, paper than the meretricious publication we see today) ended up giving a name to a whole genre of shambolic, wet jangle-pop and influencing everything from Sarah Records to Belle & Sebastian to commercial alternative music, is now online in downloadable MP3 form. I can recommend Primal Scream's Velocity Girl, The Bodines' Therese, the Shop Assistants' It's Up To You and the surreal head trip that is Stump's Buffalo. The Half Man Half Biscuit track isn't bad either, though, not having grown up in England in the 1980s, I don't get the references. Actually, you may as well get the whole lot and make up your own mind.
As someone pointed out in the comments, it's about time someone put up the preceding NME cassette, C81, which features significant post-punk/new-pop artists such as Pere Ubu, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Cabaret Voltaire and the Buzzcocks.
And what is today's answer to C81 and C86? Well, don't look to anything quite so groundbreaking NME for it; the closest they'd give you would be things like NME Britpack, with the latest watered-down, sharp-suited Gang Of Four/Duran Duran copyists, tediously derivative retro-rockists like Razorlight and Yourcodenameis:Milo and, of course, Dionysiac Genius of Rock, Pete Doherty.
A list of some of the most unusual questions sent in to urban-legend researchers snopes.com, revealing the anxieties of the public:
I just read a blurb that pre-packaged foods can cause people to turn gay because of too much estrogen. If I was only allowed one question for snopes, I would ask if this is true. Is it?
They say that if a person has a pet cat and dies, if the person's body is not found fairly soon after death, the cat, having not been fed, will become ravenously hungry and eat the dead person's face off--JUST the face!
Is this true? My cat often looks me in the face. I used to think he was just being friendly. Now I know he's just sizing me up, like a chef at a butcher shop, waiting for "the big day". Since hearing this rumor, every time my cat licks his chops it gives me the willies!
I've heard that it is impossible to take a lightbulb out of your mouth once one puts it in, without either breaking the bulb or dislocating the jaw.
Do you know if this is true? I'm counting on you - my husband is really curious, and I don't want to have to drive him to the hospital...
(via The Fix)
Times columnist Amir Taheri claims that much of contemporary "Islamic" attire is a symbol of militant extremism, or "adverts for al-Qaeda" as he puts it:
Muslim women should cast aside the so-called hijab, which has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with tribal wear on the Arabian peninsula. The hijab was reinvented in the 1970s as a symbol of militancy, and is now a visual prop of terrorism. If some women have been hoodwinked into believing that they cannot be Muslims without covering their hair, they could at least use headgears other than black (the colour of al-Qaeda) or white (the colour of the Taleban). Green headgear would be less offensive, if only because green is the colour of the House of Hashem, the family of the Prophet.
Muslim men should consider doing away with Taleban and al-Qaeda-style beards. Growing a beard has nothing to do with Islam; the Prophet himself never sported anything more than a vandyke. The bushy beards you see on Oxford Street are symbols of the Salafi ideology that has produced al-Qaeda and the Taleban.
Some Muslims also use al-Qaeda and Taleban-style clothing to advertise their Salafi sentiments. For men this consists of a long shirt and baggy trousers, known as the khaksari (down-to-earth) style and first popularised by Abu Ala al-Maudoodi, the ideological godfather of Islamist terrorism. Muslims who wear such clothes in the belief that it shows their piety, in most cases, are unwittingly giving succour to a brand of Islamist extremism.
After six and a half years, Graham of Virulent Memes calls it a day, closes down his blog. Though for all we know, he may resume blogging in some form or other soon enough; then again, perhaps he'll devote his online publishing energies to minting LiveJournal user icons and posting photos of agricultural shows and indie-rock gigs to Flickr or somesuch. Or maybe his girlfriend made him give it up or something; who knows?
Anyway, VM was a very entertaining blog, especially when it ran special features like the Chockablock Players or Hernan "the Boa Constrictor" Mendez or went into full-on rant mode, not to mention quite astute without owing allegiance to any one dogma (which, I imagine, comes from straddling the twin worlds of rural Australia and the rootless cosmopolitans). Though I must admit I did tune out whenever he started discussing the football in depth.