The Null Device


Via the "does Morrissey have a girlfriend" thread, A collection of letters from Morrissey to a penpal in 1981, in which he waxes disjointedly Wildean about records and other things.

Dear person,
So nice to know there's another soul out there, even if it is in Glasgow. Does being Scottish bother you? Manchester is a lovely place, if you happen to be a bedridden deaf mute. I'm unhappy, hope you're unhappy too.
In poverty,
Why do you have such an odd address, IE 22-60, do you live in a shop? Or a barn? I must know everything. I'm sorry to hear that your friend is going to Australia. He doesn't sound very intelligent. Nobody with any sense goes there. Never mind, you won't be lovely, after all, you have my letters..

He was a strange one, alright...

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Europe is divided over the question over whether a future EU constitution should mention "God". The Catholic Church has pushed for a constitution that establishes Europe's heritage as based in Christianity, which has been watered down to "God as the source of truth", to appease other monotheists (atheists and pantheists be damned). There is strong support for this in Italy and former Communist countries (such as vehemently Catholic Poland). Meanwhile, other nations are wary of violating the separation between church and state: (via 1.0)

In Poland, where the government installed a crucifix in its Parliament after the fall of communism, a reference to God in the constitution would serve as a tribute to the church's role in resisting the government during the country's years as a Soviet satellite.
In Spain, a reference to God evokes the years under General Francisco Franco, where coins were stamped with the dictator's profile, ringed by the words "Leader of Spain by the grace of God." "Religion is a private matter," said Ana Palacio, Spain's foreign minister who is also a member of the presidium. "Our identity is the fight for democracy, for human rights, for the separation between church and state," she said in an interview. "The only banner that we have is secularism."

I'd be inclined to agree with the Spanish. Organised religion lends itself to being a tool of repression and control; and supporting any one religious view (such as monotheism) implicitly disenfranchises those who don't share that belief; stating that values and morality come exclusively from religion equates secularism with amorality, atheism with nihilism.

Meanwhile, Poland's entry to the EU in 2004 is threatened by fears that the EU may challenge the country's ban on abortion. The left-wing and pro-european government fears that conservative Catholic groups may boost the "no" vote in the June referendum on joining the EU. The mainstream Catholic church, however, supports the "yes" case. Unlike Ireland and Malta, Poland does not have a clause in its EU treaty exempting its abortion ban from EU laws. (via Reenhead)

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The Pentagon declares that France is no longer an ally and must be "contained". Pentagon Policy Advisory Board Richard Perle also declared that the UN Security Council, on which France has a permanent seat, is irrelevant. Multilateralism, and the post-WW2 ideal of resolving conflicts through debate and consensus, edges one step closer to collapse. (via die puny humans)

(France is one of the small number of "legitimate" nuclear powers. Perhaps now that France is no longer worthy of trust (in the ways that, say, Israel and Pakistan, are) we can expect the USA and Britain demanding that France abandon its weapons of mass destruction or face military intervention? Won't Ann Coulter be pleased when that happens.)

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The Independent (best known as home of serially discredited journalist Robert Fisk, and for making the Guardian look like FOX News by comparison) has a piece which claims that many ordinary Americans think that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are the same man. (via Unknown News)


Two articles on the America-vs.-Europe thing: Firstly, a Grauniad piece on the American cowboy elite's disdain for Europe and all the sissified, un-manly things it stands for:

When Bush's America disdains Europe, it also sneers at the American north-east. To them, "Washington, DC" is an insult, and "New York City" is where Europe begins. This counter-elite rules today as fervently and exclusively as in Reagan's 80s - more so, since they control all the branches of government. Rumsfeld is from Illinois, but his plain-spoken disdain speaks for the whole cowboy elite.
Even after his messianic State of the Union address, Americans at large are unconvinced of the need to rush to war. There's no evidence either that Americans overall enjoy riling Europe, Old or New. Just as John le Carré was wrong to declare recently that "88% of Americans want the war", there is little reason to fear that most of America sneers at the Kyoto protocol; or at the International Criminal Court; or at most of Europe's commitments - or, indeed, at Europe.

Meanwhile, the New York Times on those principled Europeans, putting forward the thesis that the Euroweenies are being anti-American out of sheer petulance rather than serious conviction.

Europeans, out of some romantic rebellion against America and high technology, were shunning U.S.-grown food containing G.M.O.'s -- even though there is no scientific evidence that these are harmful. But practically everywhere we went in Davos, Europeans were smoking cigarettes -- with their meals, coffee or conversation -- even though there is indisputable scientific evidence that smoking can kill you. In fact, I got enough secondhand smoke just dining in Europe last week to make me want to have a chest X-ray.

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A recent interview with Phil Spector (who came out of seclusion to produce the new album for next-Oasis-candidates Starsailor) in which he talks about his psychological problems.

"I take medication for schizophrenia, but I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic. But I have a bipolar personality, which is strange. I'm my own worst enemy. I have devils inside that fight me."

And the Graun has a brief biography of the gun-toting studio genius.

(What is it about music producers and guns? First Joe Meek went berzerk in the '60s, then Martin Hannett started shooting telephones, and now Phil Spector's gun-waving antics have come to a tragic denoument.)

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Arabic-surnamed German KDE developer comes to Australia for the Linux conference, is interrogated and beaten by customs officials and/or ASIO types. Welcome to the South Africa of the 21st Century.

After a while he gave me the device and I used it to help myself. He dragged me up again by my shirt and this time he hit me. When I woke up I was no longer with them and my companions were with me also a Deutsch representitive was with them. My face hurt and I had blood on my shirt. They put me in a car and took me to the hospital where I had a broken nose and fractured rib, I did not know what they had done while I was passed away.
I left Australia as soon as I could I would never return to that place again.

It's things like this (and the detention centre thing, and Howard's neo-Bjelkean cowboy politics) that make me ashamed to be Australian. It's almost enough to make one want to emigrate and start petitioning for economic sanctions against that redneck hellhole in the southern hemisphere. (via The Fix)

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