The Null Device

2008/4/17

This is not the Onion: The latest children's book to be making a ripple is "My Beautiful Mommy", written by Florida plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, and intended to help children come to terms with their mothers' plastic surgery:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.
Then there are the body image issues raised by cosmetic surgery—especially for daughters. Berger worries that kids will think their own body parts must need "fixing" too. The surgery on a nose, for example, may "convey to the child that the child's nose, which always seemed OK, might be perceived by Mommy or by somebody as unacceptable," she says.

(via Boing Boing) affluenza children education mary sues narcissism plastic surgery society wrong 0

2008/4/16

A Russian government agency is now making noises about requiring all WiFi devices to be registered. This will include not only access points, but laptops, VoIP phones, handheld game consoles and so on. The Russian Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service reserves the right to confiscate any unregistered devices:

According to Karpov’s statement, registering a PDA or telephone would take 10 days. Then, only the owner of the device would be licensed to use it. Registering a Wi-Fi hotspot, on the other hand, would be more difficult. Anyone wishing to set up as much as a personal home-network would need to file a complete set of documents, as well as technological certifications. Networks in Moscow or St. Petersburg would also need approval from the Federal Security Guard Service (FSO) and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
The FSB, of course, used to be known as the KGB, and is closely tied to the administration of Vladimir Putin.

(via Engadget) authoritarianism bureaucracy russia unclear on the concept wifi 0

Times columnist Caitlin Moran's latest column takes a very sensibly British view of sex, in particular casting a jaundiced eye over the virtues of the much-vaunted all-night sexual marathon:

Despite decades of insistence that all the best sex lasts 15 hours, spans a minimum of nine positions and has both parties hammering dementedly away at each other's nether regions like a pair of autistic woodpeckers, it seems the truth is a little different. Well, totally different. According to a poll of 50 sex therapists, the most desirable sex lasts, in actual fact, mere minutes. Between 3 and 13, optimally. Or, to break it down another way, a span somewhere between Penny Lane and the second half of an episode of My Family. The time it takes to get from Finchley Road to Wembley Park. Barely enough time to toast a muffin.
Similarly, whilecertainly a great fan of “sexual intercourse” - I find it a refreshing alternative to both arguments and jogging, and believe it to be the only civilised way to end a game of Scrabble - life is, tragically, short. Very short. However wonderful being borne aloft on the wings of ecstasy, etc, may be, there are also an awful lot of Neil Finn albums to get through, hats to wear, air-guitar to play, anecdotes to tell, and clips of cats falling off things on YouTube to watch. I don't believe that these activities are necessarily better than physically uniting with a loved/drunken one. It's just that I wouldn't sacrifice them in favour of 19 hours of a really quite repetitive act. Honestly, if you can't achieve what you set out to do in half an hour or less, it's possible that you just might not be doing it properly. I'd check all available diagrams, and try again.
Further down, Moran mentions the sad decline of birdsong in England, with ambient noise levels causing birds to not pick up each others' songs, and an all-birdsong radio station going out of business.
When I read the first of these reports, I realised that they were right. The dawn choruses of my childhood seemed immense - whole treefuls of birds exploding with the sun, and sounding like the orchestral wig-out in A Day In The Life. These days, however, the dawn chorus sounds like three rats coughing behind some bins - a pitiful collection of bleeps, squawks and rasps that no more welcomes the dawn than the sound of a brick being thrown through a window.

birds caitlin moran humour sex uk 0

Research is showing that a compound found in cannabis has antipsychotic effects. The compound, cannabidiol, naturally occurs in cannabis, though it is perhaps no surprise that high-potency varieties of "skunk" now on the market, which have been bred for maximum THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis, which has been linked to psychosis) have less cannabidiol than older varieties.

Which, IMHO, is an argument for legalisation and regulation of cannabis. Alcohol is regulated; relatively safe varieties are easily available, and those selling liquor with ingredients considered unsafe (from poisonous ethanol to excessive amounts of thujone) face prosecution. With cannabis-induced psychosis looming as a public health issue, perhaps a law restricting the ratio of THC to cannabidiol would ameliorate the crisis?

The other solution, and one infinitely more culturally appropriate for the Anglo-Saxon world, is the familiar zero-tolerance Reaganite war-on-drugs approach. Perhaps if we build more prisons, jail more users and dealers (and perhaps execute a few particularly bad apples for good measure to put the fear of God into potheads), and institute a regime of mass surveillance and appropriate abridgements to civil liberties to catch offenders, then maybe, just maybe, the damned horse can fly we'll eventually achieve a drug-free society.

(via Mind Hacks) crime drugs health marijuana society 0