The Null Device


A number of new products have emerged in the climate of fear in the wake of terrorist attacks. They include anthrax-proof mail-opening tanks (created from fish tanks), parachutes for highrise employees and metal-free bras that don't set off metal detectors. It's all rather Viridianesque.


One-time big-name pop star Michael Jackson is releasing his first album in many years; and attempting to put his freak-show image and child-abuse allegations behind him, has attempted to make it as straight and boring as possible, with any eccentricities swept under the carpet of slick, commercial-strength R&B production. According to The Guardian, however, the result has been not only tedious, but also unintentionally disturbing:

Then there is The Lost Children, a hideous, syrupy sub-Broadway showtune featuring Jackson and an infants' choir. It ends with a fearful child's voice saying "It's so quiet in the forest... it's getting dark, I think we'd better go home now." It's creepy, has deeply unpleasant connotations and is appallingly misjudged.

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Seen on a mailing list:

Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali visited the ruins of the World Trade Center on Thursday. When reporters asked how he felt about the suspects sharing his Islamic faith, Ali responded pleasantly, "How do you feel about Hitler sharing yours?"

Muhammad Ali was, of course, the American boxing champion who was stripped of his title for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War; an action echoed recently when the World Boxing Council stripped Australian boxer Anthony Mundine, a Muslim, of his rank for saying that the US brought the attacks onto itself. (Apparently athletes aren't meant to say anything controversial, just parrot the patriotic party line.)


Via Lukelog: the Quirky Japan Homepage; a collection of resources on all the odd and unusual aspects of Japanese culture, from fringe subcultures to unusual vending machine items.


The EFF are attempting to catalogue instances of the chilling effects of "anti-terrorism" on freedom of expression. So far we have some Middle Eastern militant sites pulled, the web site of radical leftist activist Al Lewis (better known as Grandpa Munster) pulled by his ISP and a page on flag-burning whose owner removed it after "choosing to no longer to care about this cause", among other incidents.


A new scourge is afflicting Manchester's gay bar/club scene: hordes of straight women who come for the atmosphere, and the hope of emulating the plot of a recent TV soap and "converting" one of those gorgeous, stylish gay guys. Only the gay guys aren't too happy about the whole thing:

"These women come clattering in here like herds of wildebeest, shouting: 'Oi! I think you're f---ing sexy'," complains Mark Blake, a Via Fossa regular. "They're always fat and bawdy, and I really don't know where they get their clothes from.


Meg's none too happy with blogger cliques and A-lists, and so has posted this mini-diatribe on the topic:

Whatever. Lists and cliques and blogmeets and non-blogmeets and, in fact, the entire concept of communities and blogs and bloggers in general bugs the fuck out of me at the moment and makes we want to jack this whole thing in - or at least walk away from the gameplaying backslapping snideness of it all. It's so tedious.
Perhaps I'm allergic to bloggers? Could this be the cause of my mystery ailment?

That echoes pretty accurately my sentiment towards another group of petty-minded, clique-forming, hierarchy-obsessed wankers, namely goths. Not the ones who sacked the Roman Empire, but the pale, spotty kids who got left out of all the popular cliques at school but failed to move on, and now have formed their own cliques with fellow socially insecure losers so that they can have a turn at conforming and ostracising, all the while affecting a stance of mock-suicidal alienation hewn from a few carefully stereotyped clichés. (Don't get me wrong; there is a lot to be disaffected about, but the empty clichés that constitute the goth vocabulary are incapable of expressing anything other than a few stale, stylised poses. For an example, note the difference between Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.)

I realised a while ago that I am allergic to goths; or at least to groups of more than one or two at a time. (Put them in groups and the Gothic Hive Mind takes over and they cease to be individuals and become herd-following tossers.) As such, these days I typically avoid large concentrations of goths. Though maybe I would not do so if I was wearing one of these T-shirts.