The Null Device
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has revoked an elderly woman's custom license plates because they had become obscene. Pat Niple had had the number plates reading "NWTF" (standing for "Northwood Tree Farm", a business she had owned) for more than a decade, and had had no problems with them—until this year, when they fell foul of technologically-mediated language change:
"Apparently, the young people use it on the computer," she said.
Niple went to a BMV office to get some answers. A clerk had to whisper what the acronym means to some people.
"Now what the -- and the last word begins with an f," Niple said. "I said, 'You got to be kidding me.'"
American Christianity may have fallen behind fundamentalist Islam in the fanaticism stakes, but it's now making an effort to catch up. Witness the Jesus Camps, America's own madrassas, which serve to indoctrinate 9-10-year-olds in a severe form of fundamentalist Christianity, linked to all manner of conservative ideologies, from veneration of George W. Bush to denial of global warming:
Right wing political agendas and slogans are mixed with born again rituals that end with most of the kids in tears. Tears of release and joy, they would claim -- the children are not physically abused. The kids are around 9 or 10 years old, recruited from various churches, and are pliant willing receptacles. They are instructed that evolution is being forced upon us by evil Godless secular humanists, that abortion must be stopped at all costs, that we must form an "army" to defeat the Godless influences, that we must band together to insure that the right judges and politicians get into the courts and office and that global warming is a lie. (This last one is a puzzle -- how did accepting the evidence for climate change and global warming become anti-Jesus? Did someone simply conflate all corporate agendas with Jesus and God and these folks accept that? Would Jesus drive an SUV? Is every conclusion responsible scientists make now suspect?)
at one point Pastor Fischer instructs the little ones that they should be willing to die for Christ, and the little ones obediently agree. She may even use the word martyr, which has a shocking echo in the Middle East. I can see future suicide bombers for Jesus -- the next step will be learning to fly planes into buildings. Of course, the grownups would say, "Oh no, we're not like them" -- but they admit that the principal difference is simply that "We're right."
In another scene a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, with his trademark smirking smile, is brought out and the children are urged to identify -- many of the little ones come forward and reverently touch his cardboard hands.
(via Boing Boing)
Japanese electropop band YMCK are known for making catchy pop songs with instrumentation sounding like 8-bit Nintendo game music. And now you can do the same: they've just released a software synthesiser plug-in that emulates primitive 8-bit sound chips like the one in the Nintendo Famicom. Named the Magical 8-bit Plug, it is free-as-in-beer and available for MacOS X (in AudioUnit format; sorry, Cubase users) and Windows (in VSTi format); it even comes with a demo MIDI file.
Two CDs I picked up in the past week or so and have been listening to a fair bit:
- West End Girls, West End Girls Go Petshopping. West End Girls are a Pet Shop Boys cover band consisting of two teenaged Swedish girls. And they don't only perform covers of PSB's songs, they actually pretend to be Neil and Chris, emulating their respective personalities in their public appearances and posing in videos and photos looking bored with dogs and architecture and such. Goes Petshopping is an album of their covers of various songs from PSB's career, from early ones (West End Girls and Love Comes Quickly appear) to later ones (there is a rather good version of You Only Say You Love Me When You're Drunk). The music itself is vaguely eurodancey in production, though not excessively cheesy (though the version of It's A Sin does sound slightly too reminiscent of the Crazy Frog to be entirely comfortable with; the rest, however, is better). Standout tracks: Domino Dancing, Being Boring.
- CSS, Cansei de Ser Sexy. CSS (whose name translates as "I'm tired of being sexy") are a bunch of Brazilian kids who look like American Apparel models and/or Vice Magazine "Do's" and make a sort of edgy electro-tinged fashionpunk with a touch of Peaches-style rap, and tongue firmly in cheek. In a sense, this is to the whole electrocoolsie milieu what Wolfmother is to cock-rock: it takes its glamour and shallowness and name-dropping and hypersexuality and coked-up over-it attitude, exaggerates it, takes the piss out of it, and has a damn good dance whilst doing so. (Sample song titles: "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex", "Meeting Paris Hilton" (which probably merits a discussion of its own, for the way it sends up and comments on the celebrity-obsessed media culture through the combination of sexual desire, sneering contempt and consumeristic excitement in its lyrics), and the classic "Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above", which is perhaps an anthem for our times.) Standout tracks: a lot of them; the ones mentioned above, for three, and This Month, Day 10.