The Null Device


Nothing shows patriotism like having a photomosaic of Shrub made of Jesus images in your house, right next to the gun rack. Yeee-ha!

Now someone should make one of John Howard, Our Christian Prime Minister. (via bOING bOING, The Fix)

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Life imitates A Clockwork Orange? A Victorian company wants to sell alcoholic milk. Named Moo Joose, the knifey moloko will have a 5.3% alcohol content, higher than that of most beer; if they get permission to sell it, that is.

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Heard on 3RRR this morning: Morrissey is rumoured to do a solo show in Melbourne, in addition to his Livid appearance. I hope so; I might not need to buy that pair of big yellow shorts in that case.

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First he stole American childrens' Christmas PlayStations, and now that Saddam Hussein rotter has pissed off the US again: by unconditionally agreeing to arms inspections, robbing Bush and Blair of the pretext for an invasion. The US representative doesn't seem at all happy with this, and still hopes to have a jolly good war soon.

Bartlett called the Iraqi offer a tactic aimed at giving "false hope to the international community that he (Saddam) means business this time".

If the US wanted to resolve the issue through negotiation, it would at least adopt the polite fiction that Iraq is an honorable participant in diplomacy, in the hope that Iraq behaves like one and progress can be made. Though the US seems to be spoiling for a fight, at any excuse.

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Meanwhile, in the land of commercial radio, the latest entry to the top-40 charts is a pop group named after a confectionery brand. The fictitious band named Starburst, whose actual performers' identities are concealed, was manufactured by a marketing firm commissioned by confectionery maker Mars. Their song, "Get Your Juices Going", whose lyrics are built around the flavours of Mars's Starburst sweets, was released by Zomba Records (who also released Britney Spears' branded hit "Taste The Victory", free with bottles of Pepsi not that long ago), and is on heavy rotation on "hip", "alternative" new commercial radio station Nova. Is it just a 4-minute ad jingle, or the future of branded pop culture? And what would Naomi Klein say?

(Also, haven't extended versions of ad jingles been released on records before? Was that "It's The Real Thing" Coca-Cola jingle that those DJs sampled recently released to the public; or the German commercial jazz on Popshopping? And I vaguely remember some commercial-techno Coca-Cola jingle being in the suburban Sanity singles racks in the mid-90s.)

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For decades, the recording industry has been a rigged game, with recording companies systematically exploiting if not defrauding artists; now, a growing artists' rights movement, counting among its number many artists (as well as perennial troublemakers like Steve Albini), is standing up to the recording racket, and has its sites set on reforming the system, from giving artists their copyrights and doing away with draconian recording contracts to reforming the arcane and obfuscatory accounting practices that allow companies to fleece artists. Naturally, the RIAA are putting on their best mask of wounded innocence.

As for label fears of financial ruin, Henley fires back, "When the record companies make $5 for every $1 the artist makes, I don't see where they get off making those remarks. It's another spin tactic."

Now that the recording industry is suffering a slump, the artists' rights movement has a chance. Hopefully it will succeed, and the industry will become more like the publishing industry and less like organised crime.

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