The Null Device
An article in The Times takes apart the genre of Feel-Good Brit Flicks:
The Germans have given us the paranoid depths of Expressionism, the Italians created Neo-Realism, the French have perfected brooding Melodramatic Existentialism, while the British bask in the bathetic glow of a plucky little yokel, a couple of nude scenes and a happy-clappy sing-song finale.
It's no wonder, then, that the FGBF is terrified by modern realities. It tentatively flirts with difficult issues such as race, gender roles and sexuality, yet it does so merely for narrative frisson and is quick to reassert the power of tradition and to subsume all unresolved conflicts into the high-spirits finale. Thus the miners' strike in Billy Elliot is forgotten in the face of Billy's closing Swan Lake stage dive. In The Full Monty the strippers are still unemployed even as their thongs fly through the air. And at the end of Kinky Boots, conflicted transvestite Lola/Simon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is no less enlightened about his identity crisis, but he gets to perform some infectious show tunes. In each case cinemagoers leave with smiles on their faces and the entirely erroneous belief that they've just witnessed a film about modern British life.
An interview with James Freedman, an illusionist and white-hat pickpocket who was employed as a consultant for the film Oliver Twist:
Freedman gives me his jacket to put on. In the inside pockets are two wallets and two pens. Keeping eye contact, he asks what I have in my jeans pockets. I show him some keys and replace them. During those few seconds, he nicks the wallets and pens. As I'm reacting to this first loss, he manages to extract the keys out of my backpocket. I don't see a thing.
It's embarrassing. I knew what he was going to do and yet he still managed to fleece me. I don't even have the excuse of a natural distraction, which, Freedman says, is what pickpockets look out for. "At Westminster Tube station," he says, "the first thing people do when they come out is look at Big Ben." And, of course, thieves love the posters in the Tube that warn people to safeguard their belongings "because people show you where their things are when they pat them."
The Australian High Court has just ruled that console modchips are legal, as they can be used to play legally-purchased software from different regions. This reinforces an earlier ruling, which Sony and others were hoping would be overridden by the draconian paracopyright provisions in the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement; their hopes, thankfully, were dashed:
"in construing a definition which focuses on a device designed to prevent or inhibit the infringement of copyright, it is important to avoid an overbroad construction which would extend the copyright monopoly rather than match it. A defect in the construction rejected by Sackville J is that its effect is to extend the copyright monopoly by including within the definition not only technological protection measures which stop the infringement of copyright, but also devices which prevent the carrying out of conduct which does not infringe copyright and is not otherwise unlawful. One example of that conduct is playing in Australia a program lawfully acquired in the United States. It was common ground in the courts below and in argument in this Court that this act would not of itself have been an infringement."Which means that Australians can now legally play Katamari Damacy and such. (Except perhaps that importation of games without an OFLC classification may technically be a criminal offence.)