News & Politics

NetNomad 33

Five offbeat, timely reviews of Web sites on the arts, politics and news -- with a dash of the absurd thrown in for good measure. This week: Phone Losers of America . . . "Big Brother" & The Stockholm Syndrome? . . . iToke . . . Evangeline: A Study in Cajun Culture . . . Carrie Newcomer.
Phone Losers of America (www.phonelosers.org/)

For the past 30 years the lowly telephone has been used as a training ground for all manner of anti-social behavior. If a phone or phone line can be hacked, cracked or spliced, the user can usually count on unlimited free telephone calls and hours and hours of madcap fun. Much of which has been documented at the "official" PLA site. Our favorites include the Fun with Cordless Phones section in which a regular police scanner is used to listen to cordless phone calls (when the hacker hears a man saying he is going to Hawaii for vacation he calls him up and tells him he is not welcome there) and tapping into a department store's public address system to play music throughout the store. There's also a very amusing take on the midnight shift in 7-Eleven Hell.

"Big Brother" & The Stockholm Syndrome? (www.salon.com/ent/tv/feature/2000/08/22/bb_web/index.html)

Any moment now we expect the inhabitants of CBS's TV show "Big Brother" to start showing signs of the "Stockholm Syndrome," whereby hostages begin to sympathize with their captors and become emotionally attached. Think of Patty Hearst changing her name to "Tanya" and joining the SLA. Sure "Big Brother" is just a TV show on one level, but these are real people living their real lives in a fake house with virtually no contact with the outside world. Think about how many times you've interacted in one way or another over the past week and you'll start to get the picture. Martha Soukup, writing for Salon.com, has put together this very interesting overview on the behind-the-scenes antics of the captives* ah, houseguests.

iToke (www.itoke.co.uk/)

Folks in Amsterdam will soon be able to answer the question "need weed?" without leaving the comfort of their comfortable abode. Set to launch on September 1st, iToke will soon begin offering delivery of marijuana, replete with a "3-Minute iToakeatee." What more could you ask for? "For years, Europe has been striving for a rational, balanced policy towards marijuana," says one of the co-founders. Well, balanced or not, the streets of Amsterdam will soon be dotted with green and white iToke courier bicycles delivering weed, paid for with prepaid iToken- SIMs (smart cards) that can be obtained and refilled online via credit card. For those feeling left out, iToke is also launching a chain of "toke style" clubs called iTokeo, first in Amsterdam, followed by three flagship outlets in London, New York and Tokyo in 2001 with a dozen more locations in pre-production.

Evangeline: A Study in Cajun Culture (www.evangelineweb.org/)

This project began in 1994 as an attempt to transfer Longfellow's epic poem, "Evangeline," into computer format. The site's author soon realized that few of the people reading the poem would understand very much about Acadian culture, and so began to gather text, pictures, drawings, maps, sound clips and video files in order to explain the culture in detail. And we do mean detail. It begins with an overview of what it means to be Cajun, along with a recounting of the terrible injustice inflicted upon the original Acadians who were forced to flee their homeland in Nova Scotia Canada before settling in Louisiana. The text is available in English and French.

Carrie Newcomer (www.carrienewcomer.com/)

Is it possible to affect change without losing hope, without becoming disenfranchised? Carrie Newcomer seems to think so. Her latest album (The Age of the Possibility) -and in fact her entire career- is based on the notion that we should be "developing a greater awareness for the spiritual component of our everyday lives." We should honor the ordinary, thereby allowing each of us to explore "our connections to other human beings and to the natural world, as well as our connection to the sacred." Not only does she have the social conscience, but she's also got the voice and the words to back it up. "The Age of Possibility" site features audio clips from the CD, while the video section contains what is promised to be a new video clip each week, with interviews, live performances and more.
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