The Null Device


Are mobile phones human courtship devices, akin to peacock tails?

Hanging around Liverpool's drinking establishments, they found men liked to sit their phones on the table, move them around, check the battery, and generally make sure everyone saw they had one... And as male rivalry increased, so did the behaviour - researchers compared it to male peacocks fanning out their feathers when more suitors were around.


Fnord: Psychologists at Harvard have proven in experiments that we perceive less of the world than we thought, and that the brain fills in the gaps, choosing the most probable explanation and discarding evidence for wildly improbable ones:

Last year, with Christopher Chabris, also at Harvard, Simons showed people a videotape of a basketball game and asked them to count the passes made by one or other team. After about 45 seconds, a man dressed in a gorilla suit walked slowly across the scene, passing between the players. Although he was visible for five seconds, 40 per cent of the viewers failed to notice him. When the tape was played again, and they were asked simply to watch it, they saw him easily. Not surprisingly, some found it hard to believe it was the same tape.


According to some, we will soon have decentralised electricity generation, in which everyone will own a small, efficient generator powered by natural gas or hydrogen, and be able to sell surplus electricity to the power grid. This will help alleviate global warming and make electrical outages a thing of the past.


Coming soon: high-rise farms

"If people can live in apartment buildings, so can pigs. If people don't like the idea, it's because they have a romantic view about agriculture. But that is not tenable."


Meanwhile, it emerges that pets may be enrolled to vote in Australia; and that a cat named Curacao Fischer Catt was on the electoral rolls some 10 years ago.

Mr Becker said he could not say how long the cat had been enrolled or whether it had voted.

(How would a cat vote?)


The Victorian police are looking into claims that a model of Nokia mobile phone can detect police radar. Radar detectors are illegal in Victoria.

A police spokesman said yesterday that anyone using such a device in Victoria would be liable to a heavy fine and would have the device, in this case the mobile phone, confiscated. Police had equipment capable of detecting the use of such devices, he said.

(Is that so? The only way I can think of detecting radio receivers keyed to a specific frequency would involve scanning for a tuning oscillator; and would that work on a mobile phone, which uses frequency-hopping and is driven by DSP chips?)


A variant of the revocation of independence that has been doing the rounds in the wake of the US non-election.

humour politics uk usa 0

A sign of the times: A beer commercial becomes a sitcom.


I stand corrected: you can download Nyetscape 6 for Linux in one big tarball. It is located here. (Warning: this bloated monstrosity is 30Mb in size.) (Thanks, Cos)