The Null Device
In South Africa, a group of self-described "electrosensitives" living near a packet radio tower have been demanding that the tower be moved, and claiming that the radio transmissions were causing health problems, including headaches, rashes, insomnia and nausea. Some of the residents reported the health effects subsiding whenever they left the vicinity of the tower, and recurring when they returned, seemingly proving that the tower was the cause of their health problems. The company's claims that the tower emitted less electromagnetic radiation than (less obtrusive-looking) mobile phone cell towers did nothing to sway them. In fact, the residents continued reporting the ill health effects for more than six weeks after the company secretly switched off the transmitter.
At the meeting Van Zyl agreed to turn off the tower with immediate effect to assess whether the health problems described by some of the residents subsided. What Craigavon residents were unaware of is that the tower had already been switched off in early October – six weeks before the November meeting where residents confirmed the continued ailments they experienced.
“At the meeting in mid-November residents claimed that full recovery of skin conditions could take as long as 6 weeks. Yet, the tower was switched off for more than 6 weeks by this time,” said Van Zyl. “At this point it became apparent that the tower can, in no way, be the cause of the symptoms, as it was already switched off for many weeks, yet the residents still saw symptoms that come and go according to their proximity to the area.”It appears that some of the residents were adversely affected by the sight of a large, imposing, potentially radiation-emitting tower, and others swayed by the corroborating evidence of their reactions, became convinced that they were affected as well, triggering an epidemic of psychosomatic illness. In any case, the residents' groups, unswayed by anything as mundane as reason, have vowed to continue their legal action.
A Russian CCTV surveillance company has allegedly stumbled along an ingenious way of reducing operating costs and boosting profits: by replacing surveillance camera feeds with prerecorded video. The alleged fraud was uncovered during a routine check of cameras in Moscow; the director of the surveillance company, who has been detained by police, denies the claims, claiming it's a setup by rivals.
South Australia has led the fight in keeping Australia a censorious society; the wowser-state's Attorney-General's veto has been the main stumbling block to legalising video games unsuitable for children. Now, state laws have come into effect requiring R-rated films to be displayed in plain packaging, with nothing more than the title:
Adults aged over 18 seeking to buy or borrow a copy of Mad Max, the acclaimed desert war drama Three Kings, starring George Clooney, the Brad Pitt classic Fight Club or the 2009 Blu Ray release of Sasha Baron Cohen's fashion parody Bruno will now find them in plain packaging displaying nothing more than the film's title.
Under changes to the state's classification act, which came into effect on Sunday, businesses will face fines of up to $5000 for displaying a "poster, pamphlet or other printed material" for films classified R18+.
The law was announced by the office of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, whose conservative campaigning is well known to the film industry.
After professional bigot Pat Robertson declared that the Haiti earthquake was God's punishment for Haitians' un-Christian religious beliefs, one eBay seller responded by creating and auctioning a Pat Robertson voodoo doll, with all proceeds from the sale going to the American Red Cross. Bidding's currently at US$770, with eight days to go.