The Null Device


Falco! Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys' record label and home to a great many innovative American and international indie acts, is dead. What I'm wondering is what will happen with the copyrights to artists' recordings which they own; will they be flogged off to pay debts and end up in some multinational media conglomerate's back catalogue?


Unintended consequences: In the US, the War on Drugs and resulting rise in workplace urine testing has given rise to a new growth industry: the trade in drug-free urine.

By chugging fruit juice, tea and coffee, Curtis says he produces enough urine to make 50 kits a day; he keeps another 500 gallons of his liquid waste stored in industrial freezers. "I don't waste a drop of my assets," he said.
"People do all kinds of things to avoid getting tested," Ferris said. Some borrow urine from friends and microwave it in a convenience store on their way to work. Others dilute their samples with water or Gatorade, or spike the sample with commercial products that claim to destroy unwanted toxins. In one case, a job applicant had another person's pee injected directly into his bladder.


A psychologist has claimed that these days, adulthood dawns at 35, and not 21; this is because housing is more expensive and people tend to spend more time in the education system and spending disposable income on lifestyle products rather than mortgages and children; hence the extended adolescence. (via Meg)


Harry Potter wins the Hugo award? Whilst the Potter books aren't bad (they're certainly enjoyable), they're definitely not sci-fi. Though I suppose they could be lumped in as "genre" (a euphemism for "fanboy interest" or "spotty people in black trenchcoats and ponytails like this", or something like that). Which ties in with Graham's rant about the "sci-fi" shelves in bookshops being full of naff fantasy novels.

Though it's reassuring to see that Greg Egan won something. (link via Slashdot)

books culture harry potter sci-fi 0

Last night's Splodge film night was a good one, with a slightly psychoceramic theme. They had a 1960 documentary (produced in England with funding from drug company SmithKline) titled Seven Ages of Psychiatry, showing how mental illness was perceived by different civilisations (from primitive shamanism to mediæval witch hunts to the "modern" day, albeit one in which patients were still lobotomised regularly); this reminded me a little of Haxan, the 1920s Swedish documentary about witchcraft, which equated it with the "modern" mental disorder of hysteria. Then they had a 1963 film titled Shock Corridor, in which a journalist has himself committed to a mental hospital to track down a murderer, mingles with the patients (including a black man who thinks he's the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and an ex-POW obsessed with the Civil War), and ends up losing his grip on sanity as he gets closer to his goal. Not a bad film, with interesting portrayals of mental illness and its treatment, and commentaries on postwar American society.