The Null Device
This site lets you play old Commodore 64 games in your browser, without downloading any software. (Assuming your browser has Java and is on a reasonably fast machine, of course.) The experience includes everything, from SID chip sound to cracker-group intro screens, though your frame rate may vary (it feels roughly like C64 emulation on a 486-class machine in the mid-90s). A new game is added every day; today's addition is Giana Sisters, a Mario Brothers knockoff with added 1980s hairspray.
Mark Dery looks at spam subject lines as Dadaist found literature:
If only Tristan Tzara had lived to read spambot subject lines, some boiler-room hacker's idea of a foolproof strategy for bluffing your way past spam-killer defenses. "Be godparent or osteology," admonishes today's first hunk of junk mail, a Dadaist ultimatum if ever there was one. What mental-ward wisdom hides in this love-it-or-leave-it, my-way-or-the-highway dualism? Does it mean: If you're not part of a social network, bound by family ties, you've got your nose in the boneyard? "Ragweed conjunct Sherlocke," the next spam asserts, cryptically. A reference to Conan Doyle's mythical detective?
But why the antique terminal "e"? Intriguingly, this one makes use of the market-tested alt.music formula of stringing together three unrelated words to generate a record title or bandname guaranteed to inspire hours of beer-bong explication de texte, as in Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or The Butthole Surfers' Locust Abortion Technician or Independent Worm Saloon or the Mother of Them All, Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. Do spambot programmers in offshore sweatshops have a secret sweet spot for the Captain? Or is there a neurocognitive reason for our requirement that three's the magic number when it comes to dream-logic word games? I've archived mails with Beefheartian subject lines such as "biracial Auerbach crankshaft," "boil longleg Kant" (those of us with little patience for the bewigged old dear couldn't agree more) and the painful-sounding "hardwood pancreatic departure".
(via bOING bOING)
The latest rebranding of Jesus Christ makes him a black revolutionary in Africa:
Instead of robes and homilies about turning the other cheek, this Jesus wears jeans and T-shirts and urges supporters to resist - peacefully - a tyrannical regime in an unnamed southern African country which resembles Zimbabwe. A collaboration between Spier films and the Dimpho Di Kopane, a theatre and film ensemble, the feature, made in South Africa, was shot in rural Eastern Cape and in Khayelitsha, a township outside Cape Town plagued by poverty and crime.
Son of Man, directed by Mark Dornford-May, depicts Jesus as a divine being who performs miracles. But it may prove contentious for switching the story from Roman-occupied first-century Palestine to misruled 21st-century Africa. "He gathers people around him to fight against poverty and political oppression," said Pauline Malefane, who plays Mary. "It feels a bit like apartheid, people living in fear that soldiers could come into the house at any time and kill children."Compare and contrast with the hip Jesus-as-Che/Mao icons that evangelical groups around the world have been using in recent years.
Former Australian ambassador to the United Nations Richard Woolcott claims that Australia's reputation around the world is being diminished thanks to government policies of uncritically supporting the Bush government, restricting civil liberties and pandering to bigoted tendencies where expedient:
Australia today is not the country I represented with pride for some 40 years. This country of such great potential risks becoming a land of fading promise.
We have seen Australian democracy diminished by government hubris and arrogance, opposition weakness and a curious public detachment and apathy. Our national self-respect has also been eroded by our excessively deferential attitude to the Bush Administration's foreign and security policy, especially in Iraq. The revelations about the Australian Wheat Board's dealings with Iraq under Saddam and the Government's links with the Board, make its proper opposition to corruption and its demands for good governance, especially in the South Pacific, look hollow. Moreover, truth in Government has yet to be restored.
With our participation in the Iraq war, the Howard Government has also reinforced the image of an Australia moving back to the so-called Anglosphere, rather than focusing more on its future in its own neighbourhood.IMHO, it is not Australia's definition of itself in the "Anglosphere" that is the problem, but its position at the reactionary end of the Anglosphere. The United States, for example, has its famous constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention an elaborate system of checks and balances which have done much to rein in the powers of radical governments. Britain has a diverse and independent media, which, at its best, is possibly the best in the world. Canada has extensive guarantees of human rights as well. Meanwhile, in Australia, there are no legal rights of freedom of speech, association or conscience (the only constitutionally guaranteed right is not to have a state religion imposed on oneself), the press is owned by a handful of media proprietors (who all supported the Liberal/National Coalition in the last election; even the liberal Age was coerced into running editorials telling voters to vote Tory). In a lot of areas, from treatment of refugees to sedition laws, Australia trails behind other "Anglosphere" countries. Australia could do a lot worse than look towards the other "Anglosphere" countries as models of good governance.
The treatment of Vivian Alvarez Solon, the injured Australian citizen deported to the Philippines, has also undermined the Government's credibility in protecting its citizens' rights. Again, a detached wider community does not seem to care too much about the principles involved in such cases.And public apathy is part of the problem. The famously laconic Australian "no-worries-she'll-be-right-mate" attitude, when extended into politics, does turn into apathy, and, sometimes, a belief that those who aren't apathetic and are "whinging" about these things are "ratbags" and thus suspicious. It's probably no coincidence that this attitude is something John Howard has lauded with his talk of a "relaxed and comfortable" Australia.