The Null Device


Parisians unlucky in love now have a seduction school to help them hone their technique: (Reuters)

``We teach men to dare,'' said Veronique Jullien, 42, the flamboyant founder and head of the school.


In the age of riffs, grooves and samples, the question of what constitutes songwriting is not easily answered: (Salon)

The traditional definition of a song -- a lyric set to melody over chord changes -- works fine for Jewel, Bob Dylan or Celine Dion. But it doesn't work for Metallica, Public Enemy, the Wu-Tang Clan or any other groups that build songs from riffs, beats and sound effects.
Take "I'll Be Missing You," a smash hit for Sean "Puffy" Combs in 1997. Built on a sample from the Police's 1983 hit "Every Breath You Take," Combs credited the song to Sting, who wrote the Police tune, and the two lyricists who wrote the new words. For Police guitarist Andy Summers, this constituted a double whammy. "My job in the Police was to provide the guitar part, but I provided a rather seminal one there, which kind of made the song," says Summers, who received no writing credit, and never thought to ask for it.
"If I can sit down and play the chords and sing the lyrics and melody, that's my song," says Kooper, 55. "Anything else is arrangement. That's why those words were coined."
Another reason for sharing in hip-hop may be African-American cultural norms. "There's this Western European idea of one guy who sits down and comes up with the important thing -- the melody and the words," notes guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M. "Whereas the African conception is that everyone plays together. Bo Diddley should be a millionaire for the Bo Diddley beat, but that isn't the way it works."


As you give, so shall ye get: Psychological experiments show that altruism has indirect benefits:

They invented a laboratory game in which volunteers passed money to each other. The rules prevented a player from directly returning the favour to the donor - they had to give their cash to a third party.
But as the game developed, the researchers noticed that the most generous players actually began to accumulate the most money. The scientists conclude that doing good deeds increases the likelihood that someone else will treat you better.


A lot of Melbourne's Art Deco buildings are in danger of demolition, not being considered old enough to be worthy of protection: (The Age)

What the buildings have in common, however, is their place in the new conservation battleground, according to the president of the Society Art Deco, Robin Grow. Many people recognise the value of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, he says, but anything built after the First World War has not seemed quite old enough to be worth saving.
Houses in the style were built in "desirable" suburbs and the people likely to buy them have the financial resources to demolish and rebuild. Many simply don't like, or appreciate, old.
Unlike Victorian and Federation buildings, there is as yet not much business in producing the hardware of the Moderne period. "I was quite surprised at what we could not find - even down to furnishings. There's a lot of Art Deco couches and yet trying to find Art Deco upholstery fabrics ... it's just no show. Yet there was some beautiful stuff produced in that era and it was only 50 years ago."

architecture art deco design history melbourne 0

AOL flexing its muscles and ordering Mozilla to remove an ad-blocking mechanism from the menu? (Slashdot)


Word to the bootywhang! Sydney funk septet The Modernists have released a Samuel L. Jackson tribute EP, consisting of 70s-style blaxploitation-inspired funk grooves. The title track is available as a MP3 download too...


Not the best day; this morning, I discovered that someone has been stealing my mail. Along the other side of the street, I found the remains of two parcels addressed to me, though the contents were nowhere to be found. One of them had contained a copy of Jeff Noon's latest novel, too, which pissed me off to no end. I intend to send a complaint to Australia Post; leaving two large parcels sticking out of a mailbox is just negligent, and in all fairness, they owe compensation for the lost items.


Dawkins' Selfish Gene theory disproven? (via Virulent Memes)


New developments in practical solar power: (LA Times)

A large dish of several hundred square feet, resembling a radio telescope covered with mirrors, collects sunlight and concentrates it on a receiver above the dish. Gas inside the receiver expands as it is heated, driving an engine that runs a generator that produces the electricity. ... A computerized solar-tracking device will tell the mirror where to point. It will "wake up" in the morning, Tyner said, and point to the sun. It will follow the sun across the sky and then shut itself down at night.
The units are expected to cost between $30,000 and $40,000, not much considering they will supply electricity for 30 years with no cost for fuel. But that's still a lot of money for some regions of the country, so the Department of Energy will foot the bill for the test facilities.