The Null Device
The Howard government's fondness for censorship and kneejerk moralism strikes again: now they're pushing to have the film Mysterious Skin banned. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock ordered a review of the film's classification because the puritanical wowsers from the Australian Family Association and evangelical Christian groups read a summary of the film and decided that it could titiliate paedophiles or help them seduce children. Which, as anyone who has seen the film will tell you, is absurd. But it plays well with the Hillsong/Family First constituency who have the government's ear, so the rest of Australia have to make do with the cultural products our appointed spiritual leaders decide are appropriate.
(The film showed here in the UK some months ago, and there was no outcry whatsoever; to people here, it was just another small indie film. But for some reason, Australians cannot be trusted with the same amount of leeway they have elsewhere.)
Anyway, if you live in Australia and are displeased with small-minded petty theocrats from one-book households deciding what you can and cannot legally see, write a letter to a newspaper. It's important that someone lets the censors of Canberra know that they are answerable to people other than religious prudes. (Perhaps it's time someone printed stickers that said "I Watch Controversial Arthouse Films And I Vote"?)
News Corp. buys MySpace, which was the next Friendster/Orkut and/or where all the angsty emo teenagers moved to after LiveJournal became too full of grown-ups. Murdoch paid US$580m for it. No word on whether MySpace.com is going to start showing prominent flags, "We Support Our President" banners and/or ads for Ann Coulter books (or, in Britain, a "Chav And Proud" logo in Burberry check).
(More seriously, News Corporation is known for its fine-grained news-management deployed strategically to influence elections. Perhaps their acquisition of a social-network site, and building up an internet division, could be used to enhance this on an even finer level. Imagine, for example, if they have a system capable of predicting a user's political sympathies, based on their social contacts, web links, and/or keyword analysis of their comments/journal entries. Those with political opinions in line with News Corp. strategic goals could be served with ads and/or news content designed to stir them into activism, whereas those with opposing inclinations could be fed toned-down versions of news articles and ads for escapist entertainment designed to depoliticise them. The possibilities are endless.)
To commemorate the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Google have released Google Moon, a Google Maps for the moon. It's not searchable, and has only six locations in it (i.e., the six moon landings); when you zoom right in, however, it reveals the true composition of the Moon.
(via bOING bOING)
An interesting and comprehensive documentary about the Amen break (QuickTime video), giving examples of its history from The Winstons' B-side Amen Brother to its influence on hip-hop and jungle, its appropriation and fetishisation by pretentious people with PowerBooks, and its subsequent ubiquitification into the wallpaper of consumer culture, and the (increasingly paradoxical) issues of copyright.
(One of the claims made is that The Winstons do not defend their copyright of the Amen break, though that hasn't stopped sample-CD companies from releasing their own versions of it and claiming copyrights on them.)
(There's also one on the cultural history of the Roland TB-303, though I haven't seen that yet.)