Post 801: Kill the Hallucinating Goldfish

This is blog post number 801. It’s time for something special. Time for an extended essay encapsulating several trains of thought which I’ve been following for some time.

We are the 801,
We are the central shaft
And thus throughout two years
We’ve crossed the ocean in our little craft (Row! Row! Row!)
Now we’re on the telephone,
Making final arrangements (Ding! Ding!)
We are the 801, we are the central shaft

Cover from Brian Eno album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

So sang Brian Eno in the song The True Wheel from his 1974 album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).

Eno says he wrote the lyrics while visiting New York:

I went to stay with this girl called Randi and fell asleep after taking some mescaline and had this dream where this group of girls were singing to this group of sailors who had just come into port. And they were singing ‘We are The 801 / We are the Central Shaft’ — and I woke up absolutely jubilant because this was the first bit of lyric I’d written in this new style.

Yes, apparently in the 1970s a musician wrote a song while under the influence of hallucinogens. Who’d have thought.

Society generally frowns upon people who make important decisions while under the influence. (By an odd coincidence, Hugh MacLeod posted some vaguely-related thoughts only yesterday, in dying young is overrated, revisited.) However the more I look, the more I worry that we’re governed as if our societies were hallucinating. And even worse, it’s as if they’ve forgotten how to remember the lessons of the past.

I’m worried that we’re governed by Hallucinating Goldfish.

Continue reading “Post 801: Kill the Hallucinating Goldfish”

A sordid tale from the dot-com boom

Photograph of Marc Collins-Rector from Florida sex offenders registerAh, this story has it all, but where to start? Money, drugs, underage sex, venture capital, Hollywood stars, Interpol and dodgy TV programs!

The chap in the picture is Marc Collins-Rector, and the rather unflattering photo is from the Florida sex offenders register. Back in the dot-com boom, he founded a company called DEN (or >en) for “digital entertainment network”.

“TV is dead,” he proclaimed, because we’d all be streaming video off DEN. Somehow he got millions in venture capital funding, even though most people were still on dial-up and video streaming just wasn’t happening. Most of the money, it seems, went on drugs and parties where… ahem! young men were invited when they were perhaps not of appropriate age.

Some $12 million was spent on a TV series called Chad’s World. Yet the pilot episode is “low-rent porn” quality rather than “network TV”.

For a highly amusing and somewhat smutty summary, check out this parody video of DEN’s business model.

Needless to say, it all imploded — but this investigative report makes for compelling reading. If only because it’s like watching a slow-motion car crash. And because the key characters are still out there, and involved in new business ventures which on the surface sound less than salubrious too.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the pointer. I think.

Toy of the Year’s “Magic Beads” are… magic beads!

The Hong Kong-manufactured craft toy Bindeez, named as Australia’s Toy of the Year, is being withdrawn because its “magic beads” turn into the drug GHB (“fantasy”) when you ingest them.

Sydney-based poisons specialist Dr Naren Gunja said the list of Bindeez’s ingredients supplied by the manufacturer said it should contain the non-toxic chemical known as 1,5-pentanediol.

“What we’ve found in the beads from testing done … by our hospital scientists is that it contains 1,4-butanediol,” Dr Gunja said, adding that this chemical was metabolised by the body into GHB.

“Magic beads” indeed. Get ’em while they last.