The Null Device


Last year, I saw an amusing indie duo from London named Partition at the Empress. I recently found out that they were back in Melbourne and doing more gigs, so I went to see them tonight at Good Morning Captain.

It was a fairly good gig; about 2 parts indie-pop and 1 part comedy. They did a number of good songs, the one about fancying some bird for 10 years and then going out with her for 2 weeks that they did last year (apparently it's a true story, too); one titled Emigrating Next Week, about the perils of falling in love with someone when you're about to move overseas, a few mildly political numbers (about war being bad and bigotry against deinstitutionalised mental patients; don't expect bolshy agitprop on the level of Jihad Against America or Stereolab or someone), and some rather amusing and deliberately daft interludes, in between dancing around bozotically.

They were joined on cello by one Sheila B, who's in a band named Fosca (think sort of like Baxendale only not quite as zany); she did a good job accompanying them.

Anyway, it emerged that the guys from Partition were at the Ninetynine gig in London in October, but we didn't run into each other. Probably because darkened caverns with loud music and black-painted walls aren't the best place to recognise someone you spoke to half a year ago in a different country; unless you expect them to be likely to be there, that is.

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Internet-based voice-over-IP now has its own IDD country code: 87810. Which is progress, though at five digits, it is a bit unwieldy, especially when compared to the codes of dinosaur nation states (by comparison, the USA and Canada are 1, the UK is 44, and Australia is 61). (via 1.0)

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A candid email from the World Economic Forum in Davos; interesting to note that the Illuminati are becoming even more anti-American than the dreadlocked anarchists who were kept well away from proceedings (partly out of concern about Bush's warmongering threatening their wealth and partly out of a personal dislike of the fundamentalist zealots running the Bush administration) fnord. And apparently al-Qaeda is all but a spent force. (via MeFi)


US ambassador criticises federal Labor opposition for its skeptical stance on Bush's Iraq war; opposition leader Simon Crean rejects the criticism as unprecedented interference in Australian politics. Unprecedented? He seems to have forgotten the Whitlam dismissal, Australia's own bloodless coup against an inconveniently left-wing regime; either that or he's sticking to the polite fiction that there was no US encouragement of it and the G-G acted alone (much as Oswald did, I suppose).


A Scottish artificial intelligence lab has developed a robot with an eye for the ladies. The robot, nicknamed Doki, can identify male and female faces by appearance, and as a side effect, can calculate how physically attractive female faces are. (Mind you, this assumes that attractiveness is exclusively a factor of femininity of appearance, a somewhat simplistic model.) I wonder if (a) it would be fooled by transvestites, and (b) whether it gives a readout in Helens millihelens (the unit of beauty required to launch one ship).

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The Top 10.25 Things Women (genders 1-2.5) Don't Know About Men (genders 3-5): (via

Yes, we know the JebJeb can sting you to death if it's brought into the exterior. Yes, we know it lives in your cloaca. But still, we are turned on by the image of you catmating with a 2.5-3 constricted JebJeb. It's just how we are.

And then there's Selections from My Name is Blanket, © 2046 Blanket Jackson:

From observing the children my father invited to the ranch, I assumed that everyone outside of my family had a terminal disease. I desperately wanted to be as ill as them. When I was about to turn 10, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said, chemotherapy.
I spoke about going to college and having a life of my own, like my brother Prince. I wanted to study veterinary medicine. But my questions fell on dead ears. Finally he erupted. No one else is leaving the ranch! No one! His legs were shaking, but he steadied himself and walked across the room to a statue of Apollo, flipped open its marble head, and pressed a keypad hidden in its neck. Sirens went off. The sound of deadbolts locking echoed throughout the room, and great mechanical noises came through the window. In the distance, a hippo lowed.
At the end of the clanking, a moment of total silence. Finally, my father said, "We are a happy family, Blanket."

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I just finished reading Iain Banks' The Crow Road. An excellent book; at once profoundly moving, wryly humorous and deeply philosophical, saying a great deal about the human condition. It's one of the best books I've read in recent memory.

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