The Null Device


Two designers in Germany (where else?) have developed a video game which inflicts pain when you lose. Called the PainStation, the game is a two-player tabletop version of the ancient TV game of Pong, only players place their hands on anelectrical plate. An electric shock is delivered to a player when they miss a ball; it can do several sorts of pain, including heat, punches and electric shocks of various duration, and looks likely to be a big hit with the Big Yellow Shorts crowd:

"When you're playing in public against a friend with people cheering you on, it's very hard to throw in the towel without putting up a good fight. I've seen people leave the table with blood on their hands and their skin completely raw because they didn't want to back down in front of an audience."

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Surprise, surprise: Connections between filtering software manufactorers and conservative religious groups. In the US, censorware is mandated by law in public schools; and while firms keep their blocked lists a secret and downplay connections to religious groups, it's likely that school students' access to the Net is shaped to conform to religious-Right ideology, with sites about everything from non-traditional religion to sexual orientation being blocked.

The same Fundamentalist-linked firms provide the mandatory censorware required to be supplied with all ISP accounts in Australia, which probably suits Senator Alston just fine.


Happy International Womyns' Day: Voters have narrowly defeated a referendum to tighten Ireland's abortion laws, already some of the most restrictive in the world. The proposal would have closed the loophole allowing women to leave Ireland for an abortion if they're deemed to be at risk of suicide (something which came out of a court case involving a 14-year-old rape victim in 1992). Though the fact that almost half of the voters suppoted such a mean-spirited restriction is somewhat alarming. It seems that the Middle Ages aren't quite over in parts of Ireland.