TECHNOFILE

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The Independent Culture
TRULY INCREDIBLE

No doubt about it, DisInformation is a smart name for a site devoted to alternative news. The trouble is, it's just too apt. Intended to become the main gateway to counter-culture on the Internet, DisInformation is a multifaceted site - and each page seems to have a different personality. "DisInformation will encourage skepticism and common sense," the statement of Editorial Policy promises. "It will provide the context that intelligent people desperately need in order to form responsible opinions." Not from most of the links on the Revolutionaries page, though. Common sense and responsible opinions aren't what come to mind when the names of Timothy Leary, William Burroughs and Aleister Crowley are mentioned. The Counter Intelligence page invites you to "free your mind" from the "lies, distortions and mainstream media obstruction of important news stories". Click to another page, however, and you are assured that "primarily the database draws from quality news sources such as Time magazine's on-line component, Hot Wired, CNN, etc"; plus liberal or leftish publications such as The Nation and Mother Jones.

What DisInformation subverts best of all is itself. To experience the effect at its maximum, call up the Infinity Factory video or audio files, and leave them to run as you read the pages. These shows bring the barking and twittering of American public access TV to the Net, courtesy of DisInformation's creative director, Richard Metzger, and his co-host Genesis P Orridge, for it is he. The former underground art provocateur and Prince of Darkness, long exiled from these shores, is now silver-haired and keen to natter with the kind of guest that sits there with flowing locks and straight face, discoursing about books planted by aliens and the use of ketamine to make contact with "transmundane entities". Richard and Gen are the Richard and Judy of the twilight zone.

In many ways DisInformation is a great site. It is smartly designed, by Razorfish; it wants to make the world a better place; and there is much high- energy food for thought in some of the dossiers, which have links representing different perspectives on subjects ranging from genetically modified foods to the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas of Peru. Its flaw is that of the broader counter-culture at the end of the century, spanning X-Files fans, crystal- gazers and backwoods militiamen, who share a readiness to believe absolutely anything, as long as they aren't told it by the government.

PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMUNITION

Like many other interpretations of Christ's message, the Christian Guide to Small Arms sees past those warnings about those who live by the sword, and turning the other cheek. Quoting Luke 22:36 - "he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" - the Guide proclaims that "it is not only the right, but in fact, the duty of Christians to be armed." The Guide is there to provide the technical support.

Even agnostic psychopaths will appreciate the commitment and attention to detail that the folks at Gospel Plow have brought to their reviews of semi-automatic weapons such as the Russian SKS, the Bulgarian SLR-95 and the ArmaLite AR-10A2. They bring out the tactical implications in a historical essay that highlights the difference between what regular and irregular forces want from a rifle. In the American War of Independence, British doctrine ordained volleys of unaimed shots, whereas the insurgents adopted the more effective tactic of picking off targets from a distance. Similarly, modern armies rely on high rates of fire rather than accuracy, and therefore prefer light assault weapons to longer "battle rifles". Members of the modern "remnant" - the fundamentalist term for those souls not past saving - are in a similar position to the American irregulars. "The disadvantage of greater weapon and ammunition weight is of little concern to the typical Christian freeman who will not likely be "sprayin `n' prayin'' but rather placing well aimed shots. Even in an urban or heavily forested area, we would prefer a battle rifle like the M1A or AR-10 to the carbines." Hunting rifles with telescopic sights also have a place in "the armory of the Christian freeman", for the "sniper role".

You might think that Gospel Plow was on the final frontier of gun zealotry, but with its boast of being "America's Most Aggressive Defender of Firearms Ownership", Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership is more Catholic than the Pope. You don't have to be Jewish to join, and the inclusive touch extends to its concern for the underarmed peoples of the world, such as Mus- lims during the Bosnian war. The Milwaukee-based organisation's big idea is that gun control is "the key to genocide". Listing seven great genocides of the 20th century, from the slaughter of the Armenians through Stalin and Hitler to Pol Pot, it notes that all of them were preceded by the passage of gun control laws. QED: the reasoning is simply the American firearms advocates' argument, that decent citizens need guns for self-defence, taken to its logical conclusion.

The highlight of the JPFO site is "Ask the Rabbi", with Rabbi R Mer- melstein, the Handloading Editor for Petersen's Handguns Magazine. He dispenses rabbinical wisdom on questions such as whether Jews can carry weapons outdoors on the Sabbath (possibly, in a violent neighbourhood, but consult the best Halachic author- ity available), whether Palestinians should have the right to keep and bear arms (yes; it's a universal right) and whether firing .38 cartridges in lever action carbines chambered for magnum pistol cartridges will cause erosion to the forcing cone.

No, says the Rabbi, but remember to clean the chamber with a phosphor- bronze bore brush after each use.

TECHNOTIP

If you aren't sure of an e-mail address, copy the message to a range of likely variations, such as:

- marek.kohn@mcr1.poptel.org.uk

- m.kohn@mcr1.poptel.org.uk

- mkohn@poptel.org, and so on

Only the first will get through, but it's quicker than waiting for a failed message to return before trying again.

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