The Null Device


Italian prosecutors have shut down a radio station after discovering that it was sending coded messages to Mafiosi via record requests:

Police listening in on a conversation between Pesce and his wife at Palmi jail in southern Italy heard him talking about record requests and concluded there was more to it than a love of music. According to a transcript leaked to the daily Il Giornale, Pesce told his wife, after scribbling down the name of a tune: "If it's positive you send me [this] song on the radio tonight. If it's negative you send me another."

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Melbourne City Council workers have painted over a Banksy rat stencil in Hosier Lane, after the council neglected to tell them that the graffiti in the laneway (famous for its aerosol and stencil art) contained a priceless artwork among the graffiti.

Alexander said the city council would rush through retrospective permits to protect other famous or significant artworks in Australia's second-largest city. "In hindsight, we should have acted sooner to formally approve and protect all known Banksy works," she said.
I wonder what's happening there. Have anti-street-art factions seized control of the council and decided to whitewash all of Hosier Lane as a declaration of a Rudy Giuliani-style zero-tolerance policy? What would they have done had they known that the works of an internationally renowned (and valuable) artist were there? Would we have seen the bizarre spectacle of a white-painted laneway with a solitary Banksy rat in one corner? Of course, one of the quickest ways to condemn street art in Melbourne is to bless it with the imprimatur of official approval; Australian graffiti artists are, by and large, larrikins who have only contempt for the approval of officialdom:
Vandals created another outcry in 2008 when they poured paint over the artist's stencil of a diver in an old-fashioned helmet and wearing a trenchcoat. That work was afterwards protected by a sheet of clear perspex, although vandals struck again and poured silver paint behind the barrier, tagging it with the words "Banksy woz ere."

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An article in The Guardian (which, incidentally, has a paid online dating site) claims that online dating is now socially acceptable, to the point where people who met on dating sites no longer lie about having met in a pub.

Meanwhile, OKCupid's excellent stats blog claims that paid-for online dating is a losing proposition, and puts forward a theory backed with numbers on why it's so. Behold: the Desperation Feedback Loop:

The Desperation Feedback Loop is exacerbated by the economics of paid-for dating sites, 93% of whose profiles (by OKCupid's reckoning) are inactive and which make higher profits by presenting these inactive profiles to customers. (Doing so keeps subscribers signed up longer.) Meanwhile, the punters flirting into the void get no replies, and slump into the feedback loop of sending out more, lower-quality, messages. Meanwhile, the recipients of these messages, confronted with a higher signal-to-noise ratio, stop reading their messages, further reducing the number of active profiles.

Of course, it's in OKCupid's interests to tell you this because they're an unpaid dating site who compete with the paid dating sites. The implication is that their model works better.

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