Network: Web sites

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The Independent Culture
The Simulator

http://www.conceptlab.com/simulator/

index.html

Get up, have breakfast, go to work, make burgers all day, come home, watch TV, sleep. Canadian web artist Garnet Hertz here takes visitors link-by-link through a humdrum daily round, enlisting them in a virtual McJob just as tedious as its real life counterpart. It's a fascinating evocation of the banal, sending up not only the fast food industry but also the obsession with "interactivity" as something inherently useful. Hundreds of choices have to be made, moving through the site - which cereal to have for breakfast, which shirt to wear - but they are all without significance, leading back to the same circular routine. As the end of the shift approaches, the options move with agonising, clock-watching slowness. Add all-beef patty. Add processed cheese slice. Add bun.

Luddites On-Line

http://www.luddites.com/index2.html

Or, as Neil from The Young Ones used to say, "technofear!" Although still in beta-test mode, this tribute to the late, great, 19th-century loom-smasher King Ned is now as navigable as any anti-Website has the right to be. These jokey pages, catering to those who feel like "roadkill on the infobahn", don't recommend taking a hammer to your PC, but they do nominate a selection of modern luddites, including Ronald Reagan for "his aggressive program of industrial decay". The message board labours all the obvious contradictions, though those in search of greater authenticity tend to be haunted by the example of the Unabomber. More New Luddism at http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/hood/, from where links lead eventually to Thomas Pynchon's 1984 lecture on the subject, and to the manifesto of the uncompromising Lead Pencil Club, which prefers HB to HTML.

The Ape of Thoth

http://www.best.com/larabell/Hanuman/

Do what thou wilt with this wonderfully-named index to the works of Aleister Crowley, magician and honorary fifth member of Led Zeppelin. The "Thelemic Text Daemon" available for consultation here is the work of a US software engineer, and reeks more of search algorithms and CGI scripts than of sulphur. Crowley's writings, as dictated by the Egyptian god Horus, can be searched line by line, and the site also assists "bibliomancy" by selecting words and phrases at random. The webmeister is himself Grand Cancellarius of the Temple of Thelema, but has added some tongue-in-cheek writings of his own: Crowley's own Book of the Law is followed by a parody "Book of the In-Laws", presented in "per-verse" format. Even more oddly for a site dedicated to a self-styled Beast 666, the only animal on display here is distinctly and contentedly bovine - a sacred cow, apparently.

The Rocking Horse Shop

http://www.rockinghorse.co.uk/

Prices seem eminently reasonable at this York-based vendor of "fine wooden rocking-horses", but only the plans are supplied. So shop as early for Christmas as your carpentry skills dictate - a selection of carving tools is available at the site.

Rocking-horses are seemingly not just for kids: the larger, Victorian model is declared strong enough for adults, and even the smaller variants have rather grown-up names such as Little Red Rocker, and Swinger. Also on offer, pedal cars and dolls' houses, and a range of accessories with a surrealist flavour: real horsehair tails (medium), pounds 12.40, small glass eyes, pounds 1.05 per pair.

Female Flight Attendants in Narita

http://www2m.meshnet.or.jp/takuji-s/

Meet Anna Marie, Jacqueline, Bobbi, Claudia, Katja, Esther, Vosawale and dozens of others - a steady stream of what used to be called "air hostesses" passes before Takuji Kuwana's camera every month, to be captured in tastefully lit head-and-shoulders portraits on this amateur photographer's site. Takuji lives near Narita, the main airport for Tokyo, and approaches his subjects as they finish their shift. After shooting a couple of rolls of film, he takes them shopping while the prints are being developed. Many of his impromptu models apparently come back for further sessions, and it all looks very innocent, if a little poignant.

As of December, though, Takuji is changing the name of his site to "Snapshots" and cutting down on the flight attendants, an action he hopes will not discourage visitors.

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