The Null Device


A UK university study has found correlations between musical taste and various aspects of lifestyle. According to the study, there is a positive correlation between fondness for hip-hop and dance music and sexual promiscuity, drug use, having committed (or claiming to have committed) crimes, and not giving a fuck about the environment or social justice (see also: "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'"). Which sounds like they have just discovered the Chav phenomenon.

In other surprises: fans of opera and classical music are most likely to have PhDs, have high incomes and not accumulate excessive credit card debt, and (along with jazz fans, who are a shade beneath them) are most likely to drink wine.

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Photos from Banksy's recent exhibition in LA, or actually from a separate VIP preview. It looks like it was a great event, with the stencil pieces, sculptures, the ornate sitting room full of "remixed" paintings refusing to stay in their frames, and, of course, the elephant. They had an elephant, painted pink, wandering around the warehouse and being metaphorical. While the elephant's handlers (a company which specialises in leasing elephants, under carefully controlled conditions, for events) stated that the elephant was not in the least way harmed, animal rights groups were not satisfied with that explanation, some seeing the very stunt as an affront to the dignity of animals:

The political statement by the artist made no impression on Dyer: 'If this man is an artist, then why couldn't he build one out of papier-mache?' Les Schobert, a former L.A. Zoo curator who is a prominent voice in the animal rights movement, said the exhibit 'degrades the elephant. Here we have an endangered species. And we're taking it and moving it into a warehouse and painting it. It's a mockery. There's no reason. This isn't a religious ceremony in India.'
And the BBC has a piece about Banksy, claiming to authoritatively identify the pseudonymous artist:
His real name is Robert Banks, a 32-year-old from Bristol, that cultural melting-pot of a port where graffiti art has a long heritage.
He has no formal art education but learned his craft designing bootleg rock memorabilia. Before that, he'd started spraying graffiti when he was an unhappy 14-year-old schoolboy.
And a Guardian piece here, including the claim that the Paris Hilton CD was done in collaboration with LA-based mash-up artist Danger Mouse.

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Having all but wiped out PalmOS and the PlayStation, Microsoft now targets its heavy artillery at Apple's iPod, and unveils its "iPod Killer", the Zune. Which has an iPod-like scroll wheel, a much bigger screen and more nifty-looking user interface, and WiFi-based media-sharing capabilities.

Oh, and it is also a laboratory for a new regime of total, absolute DRM control. Everything stored on a Zune will be DRM-locked, and while you can wirelessly "share" music with friends, you can only share it with each friend once, and the copy they get dies after 3 plays or 3 days. Since we know that only a negligible proportion of music is not owned by the RIAA, this applies to all music: which means that your own home recording is DRM-locked "just in case", as if it belonged to Big Copyright. Furthermore, if you copy that Creative Commons-licensed MP3 you just downloaded by that cool nerdcore rapper all your copyfighter friends are going on about to your Zune, it gets the shackles put on it, violating its Creative Commons license. Furthermore, apparently those PlaysForSure DRM-locked Windows Media files you bought from Napster or SpiralFrog won't work with your shiny new toy at all, because it's the wrong sort of DRM. Oh, and apparently that iPod-killingly nifty WiFi capability will run the battery down like nobody's business.

My prediction: the people who bought Zunes will feel they've been ripped off, and their players will gather dust in drawers. Meanwhile, the Zune will be quietly get dropped from advertising campaigns and catalogues sometime after the Christmas it's released on, shortly before being discontinued — to make room for Microsoft's next "iPod Killer".

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Earlier this week, a nutter obsessed with the Columbine massacre gunned down a bunch of people in Montreal, killing one, before being shot dead by police. Afterwards, his online journal came to light, being hosted on a site named Vampire Freaks, which seems to be something like DeadJournal crossed with MySpace, with extra Goth. In other words, unlike the Columbine killers (who were erroneously associated with the Goth subculture despite not being part of it), Kimveer Gill vociferously identified himself as a Goth.

Before this leads to reprisal attacks (the torching of industrial clubs, assaults on Goths, punks, hessians, Hassidim, ninjas, or random chromatically-challenged individuals by clueless rednecks), an important distinction must be made. The enemy are not Goths but Gothists. Goth is a subculture of peace, and explicitly prohibits violence against the innocent. Gothism, however, is a militant, intolerant ideology committed to the annihilation or subjugation of all jocks, preppies, "normals" and "mundanes" across the world, and the ushering in of a global reign of darkness. The vast majority of Goths do not subscribe to the extremist beliefs of Gothism, and indeed consider it to be a false ideology, a sick perversion of the tenets of their subculture. It is clear that peaceful coexistence with Gothism is impossible, and this ideology must be uprooted and neutralised before it causes any more damage; this is something which we will need the cooperation of moderate/liberal Goth leaders in achieving.

Having said that, Goth community leaders should be more outspoken in condemning atrocities carried out in the name of their culture, and the Goth community needs to take action to prevent its marginalised youth from being radicalised by the agents of Gothism.

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