The Null Device
Canada is facing a shortage of healthy donor sperm, and may have to import more from the US. For a country which prides itself on not being American, that would be a major blow. You would think that they'd buy new supplies from Britain and France instead, defiantly retaining their colonial heritage. (via Lev)
A company in the UK is in court for allegedly selling aphrodisiacs as air fresheners. It is alleged that an air freshener, sold as Reds' Room or Rave Room, contains isobutyl nitrate, a "euphoric inhalant aphrodisiac", in medicinal quantities, and has been marketed as such.
Mr Harris said one generic advertisement for the product said it diffused "a deeply erotic aroma throughout the room to set a deeply sexual mood".
About a week ago, Charles Johnson, longtime president of the Flat Earth Society of Lancaster, CA, passed away. Johnson's platygaean beliefs were a quaint mixture of scientific empiricism, Christian faith and common sense (which is, after all, what tells you that the Earth is flat), inherited from Flat Earthers in Victorian England. Among believers in the Flat Earth, Johnson counted Moses, Jesus, Copernicus, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, the last 3 because of the UN logo. It is believed that he was the last of his kind. (via Lev)
Well, The Man may have made it hard to find the latest Britney or Eminem song on Napster, but the fringes of mutant content are still there. You can, for example, find copies of John Trubee's "Blind Man's Penis" song (the result of sending whacked-out nonsense lyrics to one of those mail-order song-arranging services that operated out of Nashville; crooned over a generic kitsch-country backing in a cowboy drawl, it sounds hilarious). You can even find some copyright-violating parody art (Negativland's TLU&TN2, Plunderphonics, KLF, and the notorious NIN/Spice Girls medley, though not the Britney/Eminem mix). Don't tell the RIAA, though.
Following on from Tamagotchis, I-Mode virtual girlfriends and robot dogs, researchers at Japan's NEC have developed a robot that heals rifts in families. Dubbed PaPeRo (Partner-type Personal Robot), the cute, 15-inch robot can recognise facial expressions and tailor its responses according to the speaker, thus acting as a go-between between quarreling family members. It is currently being tested with 10 families; there are no plans to market it yet.
Saudi Arabian clerics ban Pokémon, partly over alleged symbols embedded in the cards. Apparently they're worried that it may seduce wholesome Saudi kids down the deviant paths of Zionism, Freemasonry and Christianity.