The Null Device
Musical Genres That Should Exist: According to Google, the word "casiopunk" appears in only one place on the web, in an article in what looks like Swedish or Norwegian about a band called the Russian Futurists.
An interesting criticism of Civilization 3, the computer game, and in particular, of the rather Western-centric way in which cultural development is modelled therein (i.e., everyone progresses through building cathedrals and stock exchanges, and even if, say, the Aztecs become a dominant civilisation, they start to look a lot like 20th-century America):
In other words, the game lacks a critical element of imagination that would have allowed players to see what a modern world might look like if, 400 years earlier, the Aztecs had repelled the Spanish invasion, developed their own powerful ships, and successfully overrun the Iberian peninsula. Or if the Iroquois had defeated the European migrants trying to settle their land. Chances are they wouldn't be building cathedrals, or researching chivalry, and maybe they'd figure out the secrets of 'ecology' before they even got around to developing a code of laws.
Amazing: A look at the folklore of homeless children, as handed down from child to child in streets and homeless shelters in Miami, kept secret from adults. The stories show a dark world of cosmic war, where God has been forced into exile by hordes of demons, Satan and the terrible Bloody Mary are at large, and outnumbered legions of angels are hiding in the Everglades; an angel named the Blue Lady is on the side of good, but can only help you if you know her true name, which nobody does. Very archetypal, and existing in very similar form.
No one knows why God has never reappeared, leaving his stunned angels to defend his earthly estate against assaults from Hell. "Demons found doors to our world," adds eight-year-old Miguel, who sits before Andre with the other children at the Salvation Army shelter. The demons' gateways from Hell include abandoned refrigerators, mirrors, Ghost Town (the nickname shelter children have for a cemetery somewhere in Dade County), and Jeep Cherokees with "black windows."
There is no Heaven in the stories, though the children believe that dead loved ones might make it to an angels' encampment hidden in a beautiful jungle somewhere beyond Miami. To ensure that they find it, a fresh green palm leaf (to be used as an entrance ticket) must be dropped on the beloved's grave.
Research by Harvard's Robert Coles indicates that children in crisis -- with a deathly ill parent or living in poverty -- often view God as a kind, empyrean doctor too swamped with emergencies to help. But homeless children are in straits so dire they see God as having simply disappeared. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam embrace the premise that good will triumph over evil in the end; in that respect, shelter tales are more bleakly sophisticated. "One thing I don't believe," says a seven-year-old who attends shelter chapels regularly, "is Judgment Day." Not one child could imagine a God with the strength to force evildoers to face some final reckoning.
Folklorists were so mystified by the Bloody Mary polygenesis, and the common element of using a mirror to conjure her, that they consulted medical literature for clues.
Darkness, despair and street violence. I'll be surprised if this isn't picked up as a Vertigo comic (or butchered into a dire Hollywood popcorn flick). (via Rebecca's Pocket)
A big list of fallen popstars of the 1980s, from Steve Strange and the recently institutionalised Adam Ant to the likes of Rick Astley and Jason Donovan, along with whatever happened to them. (Thankfully, 80s pop stars don't seem to share the 1970s-glam-rocker tendency to molest children.)
First there was the Kazakhstan hobbit crackdown, and now, Italian neo-fascists are getting really into Tolkien, running "Hobbit Camps" for young fascists. What's going on?
For the fortysomethings of Alleanza Nazionale (AN), the right-wing party in government, J R R Tolkien and his cast of elves and hobbits are as much a part of their political property as Che Guevara was for the left-wing. So much so that AN members of parliament and sympathisers held their own private première of the film.