The Null Device


Amélie: charming feel-good fantasy movie or insidious racist propaganda piece? And some responses on Metafilter. (via Lukelog)


Shit; I lived just down the road from there up until a few months ago.


In the future, guitars will have Ethernet connections:

"As soon as you plug the guitar in to the Ethernet port or whatever instrument it is, it'll come up 'Nate's guitar,'" Yaekel said. "Just like in Ethernet, when you plug into an Ethernet hub, you're going to see your computer's name on the network. The same works for the guitar, except you won't have to set up any drivers or anything like that. You plug it in, and the mix position knows exactly where you are. It knows your effects, and it knows your sound."


An interesting piece about capital punishment in America, and in particular, the effect it has on executioners:

Often the state takes pains to obscure the executioners' identities from themselves. Some schemes position placebo executioners next to real ones, none of whom knows who's injecting saline solution and who's injecting pancuronium bromide, or who's pulling dummy levers for the gas chamber or electric chair. Even more elaborate is the commissioning of software to randomize the choice of which lever actually starts the mechanism. Some states mandate that the requisition must be done in such a way that the programmers don't know they are writing code that will launch, say, a gas chamber as opposed to a watering system, lending new significance to the term "vaporware."


Excerpts from the secret writings of the Columbine mass murderer Eric Harris, a mass of hate-filled, nihilistic ravings that reads very much like Nine Inch Nails lyrics. I suppose that's the path one takes if one's filled with adolescent hate and not inclined towards making industrial music.

Meanwhile, the article points out that the killers used the words "natural selection" a lot. One can see the argument now: "It's teaching evolution in schools, that's what's turning our kids into homicidal goths."


Surprise, surprise: Asylum seekers in the detention centres, including young children, are developing a violent hatred of Australia and all things Australian. Which could come back to haunt Australia when the children come of age. In decades to come, we may see Australia become a South African-style society, with the privileged hiding in heavily armed gated communities to escape the rage of the have-nots, and the latter having no mercy for anybody of the same cultural background as their oppressors.


Cuba recently hosted a tribute to John Lennon, commemorating the 21st anniversary of his death. The Communist government of Cuba has hailed the dead Beatle as a fellow revolutionary; and thus worthy of being celebrated. (The fact that he's safely dead probably also helps.) This is a far cry from the 1960s, when Beatles recordings were banned as a decadent imperialist influence, and were passed around secretly as samizdat and listened to behind closed doors by an underground of fans.


Linguistic profiling: An investigation in the US has revealed that landlords discriminate against callers who sound "black" on the telephone. Investigators from a nonprofit housing agency found that "black"-sounding callers' messages are often not returned at all, whereas "white"-sounding callers' calls are typically returned within hours. A study at Stanford University has shown that most Americans can identify the race of a caller with great accuracy, sometimes merely by the sound of how they say "hello".


Via onepointzero, a comprehensive page on the other underground railway of London Below; I am, of course, referring to the London Post Office Railway, along which automated electric trains ride along narrow-gauge tracks, carrying mail between sorting stations.

london london post office railway 0

Great eccentrics: A piece on neurologist and author Oliver Sacks. The author of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, among other books, the acutely shy Sacks lives a reclusive life in New York, preferring his solitude to the company of others. He has recently written a memoir, which should be an interesting read.