The Null Device


Former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has apparently attempted to surrender to the US, only to find that they didn't take him seriously. Maybe if he approached the media instead, they'd relocate him to LA and give him his own variety show.


A Rocknerd article looking at what the "copy control" thing on EMI CDs is, how it works, how it fails and why it is likely to backfire.


The Murdoch empire's vehement support of Tony Blair and his neoconservative fellow travellers is about to be rewarded, as the British government is set to deregulate media ownership laws, giving Murdoch (a foreign national and owner of 40% of newspapers, and thus doubly ineligible) the right to buy TV broadcaster Channel 5. (And apparently Clear Channel are looking to profit too, by buying up British radio stations and turning them into a centralised, automated engine of political influence and cultural homogeneisation as they did in the US.) And only the undemocratic House of Lords, which has nothing to fear from Murdoch's command of public opinion, can stop him:

But however bad, you can bet Murdoch's arrival would make it worse. All he touches turns to dross - and gold in his own pocket. Date the decline of Britain's press into a laughing stock among European countries from the day he bought the Sun, and Mrs Thatcher let him break all media laws to acquire the rest. Mrs Thatcher twisted EU law to get him an exemption when he launched Sky to allow him to use almost entirely US programming, breaking EU import quotas. In 1996, John Major, desperate to assuage the wrath of his press, gave him all he wanted in the new digital universe. (Labour put up no objection, with Geoff Hoon smoothing its path through the Commons.) Now here we go again, Tony Blair handing over the last prize to Murdoch, whose papers repay him handsomely just now. (But only for now, so long as there is no euro referendum.) Murdoch is the great corrupter of politicians: John Major dates his downfall from the day Murdoch decided to oust him. Politicians fear they need this bully's patronage. Whenever they cave in, his grip on politics tightens.


And while we're on socially challenging computer games, the latest from the MIT Media Lab, where the future happens today: You're In Control (Urine Control), a computer game controlled by sensors mounted in the back of a urinal.

In an age when few people question that computers are changing social codes, You're In Control questions how technology can both challenge and enforce social mores. On one hand, You're In Control questions a basic social code of privacy by assuming that (even simulated) public urination is acceptable if the participant is playing a computer game. On the other hand, You're In Control proposes the application of technology to positively enforce social codes of sanitation.

(via bOING bOING)

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Unnamed Australian computer game developers have received Australia Council funding for a game based around Australia's detention centres. The game, to be titled Escape from Woomera, will attempt to realistically simulate conditions in four of Australia's most notorious refugee detention centres, down to meal times and the behaviour of guards. Players will be challenged to escape using the means at hand - refugee action groups, sympathetic lawyers, digging tunnels or scaling fences - all based on actual events.

Requesting anonymity, she said the project was also a reaction to the Federal Government policy of restricting media access to detention centres. "They don't want people to know what it's like, and we do," she said.

Immigration minister and outspoken Amnesty International badge-wearer (aside: don't they have procedures for expelling people of poor character, or could a Kissinger or Suharto, in theory, become an Amnesty member without the organisation having any recourse to keep their name from being dragged through the mud?) Philip Ruddock is reportedly not amused. Hmmm; aren't there new "homeland security" laws against humanising people who could possibly be baby-eating terrorist monsters he could use against them?

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