The Null Device


Tony Blair to distance himself from Bush ... if that's alright with you, Mr. President. Blair has also described the Abu Ghraib abuses as "revolting", only a week after voting to extend the US's immunity from war crimes prosecution. Someone in the Whitehouse must have given him permission to dissent and play the Good Cop a bit more.

(I'm not quite so sure that being seen as a PNAC asset was as damaging for Blair as some say it is; after all, the alternative is the Tories, who are the Bad Cop to Blair's Good Cop. Oh, and there are the Lib Dems, who are like the worst of both worlds; too small to get elected, and too big to not be in the pockets of corporate lobbyists, at least if Greg Palast is to be believed. Btw, are the UK Greens running for anything other than the European Parliament yet?)

At least Bush still has 100% support from his loyal deputy in Canberra; unlike that hypocritical weasel Blair, Howard is a true believer; for one, he didn't sign the Kyoto treaty, and has recently reaffirmed Australia's opposition to renewable energy. He can probably look forward to a nice "consultant" position with ExxonMobil or Halliburton when he retires.

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The Tokyo area of Akihabara started out as a mecca of electronics shops (think something like Tottenham Court Road, only bigger); gradually, as a subculture of otaku evolved around the area, its focus has mutated from being just about electronics and computers to anime costume shops and venues catering for the bizarre, quasi-sexual fetishes of the truly hardcore:

Psychologists say these "otaku" or geeks are regressive, have poor social ability, and have never fully matured as adults. "Therefore, they are not good at communicating with others, cannot date real human beings, and instead adore an imaginary character," said one.
Self-confessed "super otaku" Tetsuto Fujiyama says, "There are five different kinds of geeks in Akihabara. The oldest denizens are the electric appliance geeks, who come to purchase electronic parts and other equipment. Next are the PC geeks, who like to build their own original computers that run as fast as possible. Third are TV animation geeks whose brains can't distinguish between reality and the animation. The fourth group are the magazine geeks who have made original animation fantasy stories influenced from TV and game animation and publish them in small magazines circulated among themselves. The last group are those geeks who love to play video games in which erotic animation is used."
"They are not ImeCla girls (Image Clubs in which you can act out your fantasy in a situational setting as nurse-patient, teacher-student, commuters in packed train and so on). Nor is it a a 'no-pan' cafe (where mini-skirted waitresses with no panties serve customers). These shops at Akihabara are not in the sex business because for geeks, fantasizing is much more important than actually doing anything with girls."

(via bOING bOING)

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A tribute to Slowdive, from a Spanish (?) MP3 label. Confusingly enough, it's called "Blue skyed and clear", which is very close to the Morr Music glitchtronica Slowdive tribute. This one's mostly in a shoegazer vein, though, with bits of glitchy post-shoegaze electronica here and there amidst the processed guitar textures, and some of the tracks are quite good. Pity about the 128kbps MP3s.

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As a social networking system, LiveJournal is rather doovy; it's got more of a point to it than Friendster and such, and goes some way towards restoring some approximation of the private register. However, as a source of psychoceramic material, it is somewhat lacking, lagging well behind systems such as USENET and the odd self-contained website.

I took a look at LJDrama, an anonymous blog collecting incidents of "drama" from LJ and similar sites. Basically, if someone blows their stack and goes off the deep end, their antics may well end up there. The thing is, most of this is teenagers with brightly-dyed hair and low self-esteem throwing hissy fits about who said what to whom and so on. The issues at hand all seem trivial and interchangeable; their exact details are seldom interesting or unique. To one brought up on a diet of kooks, crackpots and original thinkers, all this makes for rather bland fare. As far as genuine cranks go, LiveJournal has yet to produce an Archimedes Plutonium, an Alexander Abian, a Doctress Neutopia, or even a John "DrGodFuck" Grubor; the closest it gets to the lofty strata of psychoceramicity is a few kinky Furries and slash-fiction writers, and the odd joke community.

I wonder why this is so. Could it be that the social nature of LiveJournal selects against the original cranks and, instead, encourages crankdom to take annoying, lowest-common-denominator forms? Perhaps those who can be bothered setting up and maintaining a LiveJournal account are, by definition, too socially well adjusted to be truly eccentric or "out there" (and no, having lots of body piercings and being into kinky sex isn't "out there"). Perhaps true outsiderhood requires a degree of hermitlike isolation from others' opinions to truly allow one's mental reality to drift away from any sort of consensus.

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