The Null Device


The Netherlands has just legalised euthanasia; being the second state to do so after Australia's Northern Territory briefly legalised the practice a few years ago. And already, Australian euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke (he of the suicide laptop a few years ago) is planning a 'death ship', registered under the Dutch flag, that would travel the world, staying just outside of national waters, and offering merciful oblivion to the terminally ill. Not a bad idea; though the question remains of what to call this ship. The Thanatos? The Charon? The Angel of Mercy? Or perhaps the Nepenthe?


The 100 Dumbest Moments in e-Business History:

54. Joseph Preston, the CEO of -- a site that features nude women, a stock ticker, sports scores, and a news feed from wire services -- explains the genius of his site as follows: "It's Victoria's Secret meets Playboy meets Car and Driver meets Sports Illustrated meets Fortune. We offer what I like to call the LASS factor: ladies, automobiles, sports, and stocks."
60. Ten separate regions jostle to be called the Silicon Prairie. (Our favorite: Stillwater, Okla., home to precisely one publicly traded tech company.)
72., still the Web's premier retailer of elephant and other exotic dung.

As well as the obvious stupidities, such as DotComGuy, the Iuma Babies, Ham(p)sterdance and money-losing business models.


If you are a goth who's into Star Wars, do you put "Dark Side" on your census form?


Judge Patel to shut down Napster if it doesn't block all sharing of all copyrighted materials. Steal while you still can, leeches!

We could be witnessing the death of unencrypted MP3 as a mainstream music sharing format and the dawn of an era of universal access control for digital media. Napster, for all intents and purposes, will not be operating in any recognisable form for very long. And nobody really thinks that Universal, one of the most vehement opponents of unprotected file formats, will allow its recently-acquired EMusic subsidiary to keep selling standard MP3s. (Given that Universal and fellow 800-pound gorilla Sony have a fascistically copy-controlled music diestribution system in the works suggests that EMusic will be subsumed into it, becoming part of the new world order of end-to-end access control.)

Of course, this brave new world will only be available under Windows and on hardware-based trusted clients. Linux, for example, will never play any secure formats, as there is no way to guarantee a secure media path at the bare-metal level if the filthy thieving user can modify the kernel to divert data as it goes out to the sound card or do something similarly evil and reprehensible.


All your back-catalogue are belong to us: A grim day for independent music labels, as recording-racket giant Universal buys EMusic, gaining control of the catalogues of many independent labels signed to the service. Thus the Big Five hegemony over the means of music distribution grows stronger as another alternative is subsumed. (AtomicPop, which sold MP3s from a number of labels, including 4AD, seems to have folded some time earlier.)


Is the postrock movement a spent force?

The problem is that postrock has thrown out the baby with the bathwater. There's nowhere new musicians can take the stuff, and as much as it appeals to listeners reared on college radio stations and "indie music," you can't help but suspect that you only like it because you yourself are growing old. Rock, for all its faults, gets the pulse going. Postrock, after a while, just seems like innovative easy listening, as the piles of unbought CDs in the record stores' relevant sections attest.

(I myself don't think that the ideas behind postrock will die, even ig postrock itself doesn't outlive the early noughties. Take, for example, early-90s shoegazer; it was swept into commercial oblivion by grunge, but yet musicians kept making low-key, introspective music, albeit with stylistic variation. And rock'n'roll, that old post-war baby-boomer staple, is itself looking rather tired and lacklustre.)


The Israeli military is facing a problem, as reservists are refusing to serve in the occupied territories on moral grounds. The reservists' objections are that the occupation of the territories is undemocratic or immoral, and that Orthodox Jews are exempted from service. Military service is compulsory in Israel.

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