The Null Device


It appears that the recent panic about cameraphones happened 116 years earlier, when Kodak released the first portable camera:

The appearance of Eastman's cameras was so sudden and so pervasive that the reaction in some quarters was fear. A figure called the "camera fiend" began to appear at beach resorts, prowling the premises until he could catch female bathers unawares. One resort felt the trend so heavily that it posted a notice: "PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO USE THEIR KODAKS ON THE BEACH." Other locations were no safer. For a time, Kodak cameras were banned from the Washington Monument. The "Hartford Courant" sounded the alarm as well, declaring that "the sedate citizen can't indulge in any hilariousness without the risk of being caught in the act and having his photograph passed around among his Sunday School children."

Given the recent prohibitions on photography at railway stations from the New York Subway to the City Loop in Melbourne (undoubtedly to make people feel that something's being done to fight terrorism or somesuch), it appears that the "camera fiend" never really left the public demonology.

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A list of telephone numbers reserved for fictional use in Britain; i.e., the equivalent of the US's 555 numbers. (via Found)

Btw, does anybody know what the equivalent standard practice for Australian phone numbers is? Does Australia's telecommunications regulator have a similar list of numbers reserved for fictional use, or is there a US-style single fictional area code, or has nobody thought of this problem before?

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They Work For You, the website which makes British Parliamentary politics searchable and browsable, and, with any luck, politicians more answerable to the public affected by their decisions, has now released its complete source code. Any volunteers for putting one of these in Canberra?

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Peter Costello has taken time out from courting religious zealots to denounce Michael Moore as an "the quintessential Ugly American" for saying bad things about the Australian Prime Minister.

"Personally, though I have no say in any of this because I'm not an Australian, I hope the Australian people throw Mr Howard and his people out of office for participating in this," Moore said.
Moore repeated his bewilderment that Mr Howard, who he described as someone with half a brain, had chosen to back Mr Bush's war plan. "What is John Howard doing in bed with an idiot?" he asked.

If, however, he was a Bush Administration official warning that there will be Consequences if Labor wins the next election, that would be perfectly alright.

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A UK "accelerated learning" company recently did a survey of the contents of MP3 players owned by various types of IT professionals and found relationships between career niches and musical tastes. Microsoft weenies, apparently, are into shiny mainstream pop like Britney Spears and Dido, penguinheads are into "electro" like The Orb and Kraftwerk (and, I imagine, a lot of industrial/EBM bands the researchers haven't heard of), developers are into metal (Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Slipknot), and the coolsie chat types who listen to The Smiths and Suede tend to congregate around database administration careers for some reason. Project managers are into Queen and the Rolling Stones, security wonks are into '60s psychedelia (maybe it's the beards or someting?), whereas, for the management, it's all classical music. Nope, no stereotypes here.

(In the office where I'm working, the soundtrack is the iTunes collection of one of the programmers, constantly playing quietly on loop/shuffle. It consists of a combination of metal, commercial pop and Radiohead.)

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A taxonomy of obnoxious fuckwits at rock concerts (via rocknerd):

The Reckless Smoker -- A cigarette is a dangerous weapon around people packed together tight. At a Guided by Voices show in New York -- before that glorious smoking ban went into effect -- fans were so jammed one night at a club called Tramps that you had to applaud with your hands above your head. This didn't stop a guy behind me from lighting up -- and then singeing some unlucky fan standing in front of him. "Sorry, man," the Smoker said. No doubt this made the burn victim feel a whole lot better.
The Angler -- They arrived late, and they don't want to stand in the back. So the Anglers connive to get close to the stage, which is tricky -- and rude -- at a show that's sold out. The most inventive Angler I've seen waited till right before the first song and pretended to be on the verge of vomiting as he waded toward the lip of the stage. People leapt out of his way. When he got to the front, he just smiled.
The most stupefying Talker I've seen was at a Melissa Etheridge show at the Warner Theatre, a woman who called a friend on her cell phone just as Etheridge hit the stage. "I'm at the show! Yeah, Melissa just came on! Yeah! Can you hear me? What? Can you hear her? What?" There were murderous stares from everyone in her vicinity -- and then verbal threats -- but it didn't matter. The dedicated Talker doesn't care.

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I just saw Fahrenheit 9/11 (which was screening at (ironically enough) the George in St Kilda as a fundraiser for the Greens). I was impressed. In this film, Michael Moore basically goes from the 2000 US Presidential election (which he mentions briefly) to the present day, piecing together facts from many sources into a coherent whole, with a good deal of opinion and some humorous editing. Thankfully he keeps his trademark attention-grabbing clowning to a minimum, and focuses on presenting the story of these past four years as he sees it (and it's not a pretty picture: the current US administration, and much of the US economy, is in the pockets of untouchable Saudi interests, whom it is protecting from 9/11 investigations, instead using the aftermath of the incident to grab power and maximise its cronies' profits, whilst manipulating the American public into a constant Orwellian state of fear and screwing over the poor working stiffs sent to fight in its dubious war). It's not a happy story to watch (and some of the images of war casualties are graphic), though I'd say it is an important film to see.

It's telling that, when Fahrenheit 9/11 was released, Disney's hastily assembled riposte to it was a piece of neo-Norman Rockwell kitsch about "American values". The implicit message being "don't think, feel; asking questions causes trouble; go back to sleep, you'll feel better".

But yes, I think that Fahrenheit 9/11 has the potential to cost Bush the next election (notwithstanding wildcards such as trick voting machines, suspensions of elections, or Osama bin Laden's pre-election capture, of course). It won't sway the true believers in either camp, who are already decided, but it could electrify many of those who are currently uncertain, or who would otherwise not have voted.

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