The Null Device


Concept of the day (via Found): The Mary Sue story. This is a piece of fan-fiction which is obviously intended as the author's wish-fulfilment trip, features a character who's an idealised version of the author getting to hang out with their favourite Star Trek/Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings characters; the Mary Sue character usually has an Aura of Smooth which causes other characters to trust them and/or fall in love with them for no stated reason, or do other out-of-character things, and often is ridiculously cute, smart, talented or magically endowed, and/or consumed with a very contemporary teen-angst. And, more often than not, has long raven-black hair and exquisitely pale skin.

Or, obviously, Galadriel's secret love-child (Aragorn's unacknowledged daughter) who runs off to join the Company of the Ring, sorts out Boromir's problems, out-magics Gandalf, out-fights Aragorn during the melodramatic scene in which she reveals her true identity, demonstrates herself to be so spiritually elevated that the Ring has no effect on her, and wins Legolas' heart forever.

As you can expect, Mary Sue stories (most of which are probably written by people in the lower reaches of the Geek Hierarchy) are ripe targets for mockery. There is a LiveJournal community dedicated to examining the most egregious examples of Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter fanfic and ripping them gleefully to shreds here; some of the examples (like "Kairi", the raven-haired elf whose abusive father is in league with Sauron, or, indeed, this, or this) sound thoroughly cringeworthy. Anyway, go and read it; it's a laugh-riot.

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With Labor making noises about standing up to the terms of the Free Trade Agreement, now is probably a good time to send this letter to your MP; if enough people do it, it may forestall the worst of the copyright fascism being rammed down our throats. (I sent my letter off this afternoon.)

(Hmmm... there's an implicit assumption in the statement above that Null Device readers live in inner-city Latté-Socialist Elite electorates with Labor MPs. If you live among the Silent Majority Of Suburban Battlers in the Tory electorates, there's still a reason to write your MP; at the very least, it may result in some uncomfortable questions being raised. If you live out in the bush where the Nationals hold court, even better, with the farmers having gotten the rough end of the pineapple and all that.)

You can find your MP's contact details here; to find out which electorate you are in, go here.

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An interesting account of how investigators tracked al-Qaeda operatives via their Swiss mobile SIM cards. The terrorists were apparently sufficiently naïve to assume that the SIM cards (which could be purchased anonymously in Switzerland and used worldwide) guaranteed anonymity, and, whilst changing phones frequently for security reasons, to keep the same SIM card.

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Java applications recently downloaded to my new Nokia 3200:

  • IM+: an ICQ/AIM/Jabber/MSN client for Java phones. It's rather cool to be able to send ICQ messages whilst at a tram stop; however, given that on my phone, there's no way of remaining logged in whilst making calls/sending SMSes/using other phone functions, it's probably not ready to replace SMS. (Though maybe it works better with the new Symbian futurephones or such.) I probably won't be buying it, at least not for my current phone.
  • MobileLJ; a LiveJournal posting client for Java phones. Dies with a Java NullPointerException when I attempt to start it.
  • EmailViewer: an IMAP mail client for small Java-enabled phones. Probably the most useful of the bunch; good for checking your mail whilst away from anything resembling an internet connection. Fetches email by IMAP, and sends outgoing email through the vendor's server. Drawbacks: the mailbox view doesn't support small fonts, and (more disagreeably), all outgoing mail from you appears in HTML-only form. Which I think is pretty stupid for text keyed in on a phone.

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With the details of the free-trade deal revealed (the farmers got screwed over, and we're getting US-style copyright extension), Labor is making noises about resisting it in parliament. Not sure what that will amount to; possibly a few minor cosmetic changes (the equivalent of demanding better lubricant for when you get forcibly sodomised). Anyway, now may be an excellent time to mail your MP about why copyright extension is a bad idea; perhaps if enough Labor MPs get such letters, they'll show enough spine.

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A fascinating and poignant photographic travelogue through abandoned, radiation-contaminated towns near Chernobyl by a young Ukrainian woman who enjoys riding through the "dead zone" on her high-powered motorcycle; contains photographs of abandoned houses, rooms full of old family photographs, records, dolls and other fragments of interrupted lives, the rusting remains of contaminated fire engines, tanks and helicopters, an abandoned fairground, and an entire deserted city in 1970s Soviet style, dead and silent and slowly being reclaimed by nature:

Actually, some people coming back to their homes and settle down, those mostly old people who do not care if they die today or tomorrow. important is to die at home.
marauders in radiation poluted area are not just a regular marauders, they don't steal stuff for themselves. There were cases of radiactive tv sets and other stuff being sold on city second hand markets and then police shot 7 or 8 of them and it helped
Usually a police officer who call himself a town guard was telling me that I was in town alone. then I could hit roads with no worry that I will run accross some car. This town might be an attractive place for tourists. Some tourists companies have been trying to arrange extrim tours in this town, but people- their customers scared and have been complaining about silence which is hard to stand in empty town. They charged 210 us dollars for 2 hours excursion and town guard say, they all were leaving in some 15 mins, complaining that silense is tremendous as if one got deaf.

(The first thing I thought: where can one sign up for one of those tours? It sounds like an amazing place to walk through.)

oncological hospital has been working for 40 days after disaster, then head doctor died of cancer and people abandoned this hospital

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Now that a Christian snuff film is dominating the multiplexes, here is a timely look at the Christian porn industry, which releases films with titles like "Debbie Does Sodom", "Mr. and Mrs. Christ", and "The Last Schtupper". The films vary from moralising sin-and-redemption sagas, which dwell rather lasciviously on the sin, to explorations of "the Son of God's lust for life", and shameless Jesus-themed porn with token moralising endings tacked onto it.

Reverend Flenky, a self-described witnessing evangelist, sees himself as a practicing Christian. I'm spreading the Good Word, he claims. The Word of God. There is redemption for all sinners. The fact that we depict the sins adds to the flavor of the message. In the same way that the anti-abortionist forces display photographs of aborted fetuses, we show the actual carnal acts of the offending sinners. Why not? We display the redemptions, too.
The debauchery goes on for nearly an hour, as Felipe Marlowe, the prodigiously endowed actor who portrays Jesus, copulates with Mary [Magdalene], played by Anita Storm, in dozens of convoluted positions straight out of the Kama Sutra. The films denouement comes three minutes before its end, as Jesus hears the voice of Jehovah commanding Him to fulfill His destiny, then leaves sexuality behind as He goes to Golgotha. The final scene features Jesus on the cross, a weeping Mary Magdalene at its base. Was it good for you, baby? she asks in a quavering voice, tears running down her cheeks. The earth moved, Jesus answers, a smile on His bearded, bloody face.
And what message would that be? That there is an animal, primitive aspect to our Christian faith that needs to be recognized, perhaps emphasized, in order to more fully appreciate the state of grace that is possible when we give ourselves over to the will of God, asserts Monesto.

I wonder who actually buys this stuff. Hipsters with apartments full of ironically-acquired Mexican religious statuettes and the like? Black-clad satanists/nihilists who are into all things sacrilegious? Actual Christian hypocrites who convince themselves that they're taking a hard line against the sins of the flesh by sitting through the token "redemption" parts of the films? Or is there some memetic cross between Californian touchy-feely hot-tub spirituality and born-again Christianity with whose adherents these films strike a chord?

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