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April 2, 2008
[books] The Return of Neal Stephenson‘Stephenson, author of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, etc., you know who he is, has a new novel out this September. It’s called Anathem…’
March 15, 2008
[books] The 100 Best Last Lines from Novels‘P.S. Sorry I forgot to give you the mayonnaise. –Richard Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America (1967)’ [via Kottke]
March 9, 2008
[42] What on earth is 42? … BBC News on the Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything … ‘The answer can be interpreted in two ways. One is that it is a bad joke, implying that there simply is no answer, no meaning, no sense in the universe, and you would be no worse off if you jumped into the nearest black hole. But the other interpretation is that the joke was wise. It shows that seeking numerical answers to questions of meaning is itself the problem. Digits, like a four and a two, can no more do it than a string of digits could represent the poetry of Shakespeare.’
March 2, 2008
[wikipedia] Nicholson Baker on The Charms of Wikipedia‘Without the kooks and the insulters and the spray-can taggers, Wikipedia would just be the most useful encyclopedia ever made. Instead it’s a fast-paced game of paintball. Not only does Wikipedia need its vandals—up to a point—the vandals need an orderly Wikipedia, too. Without order, their culture-jamming lacks a context.’ [via Metafilter]
March 1, 2008
[books] 50 Crime Writers To Read Before You Die‘We wanted to compile a list of writers we had, jointly and severally, loved. We wanted to include writers like Dashiell Hammett, who brought something new and exciting to the genre; like Elmore Leonard, who turns an old trick in it with incomparable style; and like Poe, who invented it. We did not, except incidentally, take into account popularity.’ [via Metafilter]
February 20, 2008
[books] Youth of Today — Charlie Stross wonders about the what his future readers will be like … ‘There have always been cameras in shops and schools and other public places, although there are more of them than there used to be. Old folks grumble about privacy, but really, you’re being watched wherever you are. If you don’t like it, get a hoodie.’
January 9, 2008
[funny] Improbable Pop-Up Books — funny photoshop contest from somethingawful.com

an improbable pop-up book


December 18, 2007
[funny] Porn For Girls By Girls.com — another spoof website from The Internet Now in Handy Book Form

roughly taken...

December 17, 2007
[kipple] Philip K. Dick on Kipple — brief 43 Folders post on Kipple‘I think kipple is the main problem with my computers. It’s not just adware (on the Windows box), but the weird little things that wind up in the nooks and crannies. Installers for demoware. Photographs of children. Zipfiles loaded with mp3s… of songs that I already have in other directories, or on other machines, or on CDs on the shelves on my walls.’
November 22, 2007
[evil] Ask Mefi: What fictional evil has great corporate branding?‘OCP, Omni Consumer Products. From Robocop.’
November 21, 2007
[books] Interview with William Gibson from Rolling Stone‘The very first time I picked up a Sony Walkman, I knew it was a killer thing, that the world was changing right then and there. A year later, no one could imagine what it was like when you couldn’t move around surrounded by a cloud of stereophonic music of your own choosing.’ [via Kottke]
October 26, 2007
[books] Children’s Books You’ll Never See‘The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator’ [via linkbunnies.org]
September 18, 2007
[books] The legacy of Hollywood’s favorite sci-fi writer — The Los Angeles Times on Philip K. Dick … ‘When was the last time Hackett saw her father? Well, in a way it was 2005. That’s when a team of scientists — all of them among Dick’s many devotees in the wired world — put his face on an eerie android with lifelike skin, camera eyeballs and an artificial intelligence that allowed it to recognize old friends. When Hackett saw the face she almost fainted…’
September 17, 2007
[books] What single book is the best introduction to your field (or specialization within your field) for laypeople? — great list from Ask MetaFilter … ‘This is, almost certainly, the most expensive thread in the history of Ask.Metafilter.’
September 1, 2007
[comics] Edgar Allan Poe — Allergic to alcohol? — nicely done short comic biography posted on Scans Daily

biographical cartoon about edgar allan poe

August 13, 2007
[books] Space to think — the Observer interviews William Gibson‘I’m reminded of something Gibson once said: ‘I didn’t imagine that art girls in the Midwest would be flashing their tits in cyberspace… but I’m glad that they’re doing it.’ Does he retain that optimism? ‘You could say, in some ways technology and entertainment culture does not look that good from outside. I mean, if you looked at the internet objectively, sometimes you would think it was just a tsunami of filth, something you would not want anywhere near your children.’ It is though, he believes, an intimately human form of culture. ‘I think that one of the things that sets us most thoroughly apart is the ability to preserve our individual memory. The information of the cave paintings becomes Borges’s library, Borges’s library becomes a laptop computer.’ The internet is the shared memory of the species.’
July 5, 2007
[blogs] Lowdham Book Festival Lecture Notes — Mike of Troubled Diva’s guide to Blog-to-Books… ‘There is something which has recently come to be seen (in certain quarters) as the Holy Grail to which every personal blogger must aspire. Two little words, which have an almost mystical hold over certain sections of the blogosphere… …and I’m going to say them now… BOOK DEAL!
June 27, 2007
[books] Henry Raddick’s Amazon Reviews — spoof book reviews on Amazon. Raddick reviews God, Why Did Dad Lose His Job?: … ‘A truly wonderful guide which has enabled me to explain my recent sacking for vandalising company property to my children in terms of a minor act of redemption. First rate.’
June 13, 2007
[books] The Digested Read: God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens‘The purpose of this book is not to prove God does not exist; it is to prove I am cleverer than Richard Dawkins.’
June 12, 2007
[books] TwitterLit — neat idea – twittering the first lines of books … ‘Albert Einstein was born in 1879, in Ulm, Germany, with a head shaped like a lopsided medicine ball.’
June 4, 2007
[books] Sci-fi writers join war on Terror‘”We’re well-qualified nuts,” says Jerry Pournelle, co-author of the best sellers Footfall and Lucifer’s Hammer and dozens of other books. […] During a coffee break at the conference, Walker, Bear and Andrews started talking about the government’s bomb-sniffing dogs. Within minutes, they had conjured up a doggie brain-scanning skullcap that could tell agents what kind of explosive material a dog had picked up.’
May 18, 2007
[books] Spoof Amazon Customer Reviews for Richard Littlejohn’s New Book: ‘After reading this searing deconstruction of our liberal, permissive society, I was almost blind with rage. And so I followed Littlejohnson’s example and did the only thing open to a red-blooded, patriotic Briton: I buggered off to America. Luckily, before I left I went out speeding one last time and managed to run over an immigrant, who I believe was also homosexual – as is my God-given right as an Englishman. God bless you, Littlejohnson, God bless you.’ [via qwghlm.co.uk]
May 5, 2007
[books] Long Zoom: Interview with Steven Johnson — he discusses his book The Ghost Map amongst other things … ‘I called up my editor and he asked, “How’s it going?” I replied, “It’s kind of like Emergence, you know, if Emergence were a disease thriller.” And he said, “Yeah, it’s like Emergence if the slime molds started killing people in chapter four.” And that became my mantra as I was writing it: “Just think Emergence with killer slime molds and you’re golden.”’ [via Kottke]
April 25, 2007
[blogs] The Diary of a Nobody, as a daily weblog‘This is a weblog version of The Diary of a Nobody, written by George Grossmith and originally serialised in Punch magazine in 1888 and 1889. Bringing Charles Pooter into the 21st century, his diary is now available as a selection of weblog-style RSS feeds which you can subscribe to…’ [via As Above]
April 9, 2007
[self-help] Ask Metafilter: What is the dumbest, funniest, most peculiar piece of advice you have ever found in a self-help book?‘From the worst ‘How To’ book on screenwriting ever written (“How to Write a Movie in 21 days” by Viki King): WEAR YOUR LUCKY SOCKS.’
March 17, 2007
[books] Douglas Coupland on bloggers, YouTube and Bubble 2.0‘In the future, all these kids now with MySpace pages who put absolutely everything out there, like number of tampons they used, everything, in 40 years there’ll be a political culture where stuff like that, minor details, don’t shock anymore. Now in the States if you hire a maid who doesn’t have her papers you have to withdraw from politics. I hope I live to see the day when stuff like that doesn’t matter, but at the moment I think after a certain age – I tag it arbitrarily at 22 – everyone’s more withdrawn in fear.’
March 16, 2007
[blogs] Shaggy Blog Stories — Mike at Troubled Diva has succeeded in publishing a collection of funny blog stories for Comic Relief in a week. Buy a copy Here‘Make no mistake: this is one absolute BELTER of a book: a showcase of British Blogging at its finest. Most of the entries, and indeed many of the submissions which didn’t make it to press, have made me laugh out loud. Sometimes, I have been in stitches. Yes, that might have been simple hysteria. But never has hysteria felt so sweet.’


March 12, 2007
[blogs] Shaggy Blog Stories: a collaborative blog-stunt for Comic Relief — Mike at Troubled Diva is producing a self-published book of funny blog-entries from UK Bloggers for charity. (Submission deadline is 6pm tomorrow night – so don’t procrastinate about entering!) … ‘Occasionally, in my more delirious moments, I feel like the Anneka Rice of British blogging. At the Nottingham blogmeet on Saturday afternoon, I was tempted to run into the bar in a canary yellow jumpsuit, squawking “OK gang, we’ve got SEVEN DAYS to WRITE A BOOK!”‘ [quote from Mike’s Progress Report]
March 3, 2007
[comics] Ask Metafilter: What’s the appeal of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller?‘The disillusionment portrayed in Catch 22 is symbolic of the disillusionment that was forming in the American conscious throughout the 20th century. Just look at Vietnam, a war that began just a few years after Catch 22’s publication. And I would say that the same ideas are still with us, maybe growing. Our Presidential and congressional leaders seem just as incapable of hearing the truth as any authorities in Catch 22. All one can do is navigate through the bureaucracy, using its illogical rules to our own advantage whenever possible.’
February 5, 2007
[books] The Naked Truth: Authors Who Write in the Buff.‘When Victor Hugo, the famous author of great tomes such as Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, ran into a writer’s block, he concocted a unique scheme to force himself to write: he had his servant take all of his clothes away for the day and leave his own nude self with only pen and paper, so he’d have nothing to do but sit down and write.’ [via Quiddity]
January 31, 2007
[comics] Warren Ellis, Novelist — Ellis on his new book Crooked Little Vein‘I sat down and wrote the first ten thousand words of an utterly unsaleable novel. I figured I could recycle the material into comics later. So I handed her this horror of a thing, complete with Godzilla Bukkake scene, and said, take this and leave me alone. Thinking, obviously, that she’d decide I was insane and never bug me again. Two weeks later, she phoned to tell me she’d sold it to Harper Collins in New York…’
January 21, 2007
[gladwell] Open Secrets — Malcolm Gladwell on Mysteries, Puzzles and Enron … ‘The national-security expert Gregory Treverton has famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are a puzzle. We can’t find him because we don’t have enough information. The key to the puzzle will probably come from someone close to bin Laden, and until we can find that source bin Laden will remain at large. The problem of what would happen in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein was, by contrast, a mystery. It wasn’t a question that had a simple, factual answer. Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much.’ [via Kottke]
January 5, 2007
[books] The Great Right Place: James Ellroy Comes Home — Ellroy on returning to LA… ‘My mother was murdered. The crime was purely L.A.-adjacent. It was a hot Saturday night. She was out with a man. He strangled her and dumped her on an access road. I was in the real-L.A./safe-L.A./now-non-safe-forever-L.A. that weekend. The central event of my life occurred off-page. The crime remains unsolved.’ [via BeaucoupKevin]
November 26, 2006
[books] Robert Pirsig Interview — a wide-ranging discussion with the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘He says that ever since he could think he had an overwhelming desire to have a theory that explained everything. As a young man – he was at university at 15 studying chemistry – he thought the answer might lie in science, but he quickly lost that faith. ‘Science could not teach me how to understand girls sitting in my class, even.’ He went to search elsewhere…’
November 24, 2006
[books] Digested Read: In Search of Perfection by Heston Blumenthal‘Black Forest Gateau has an undeserved reputation as a dessert for chavs. My extensive research, both in Germany and at the Fat Duck development kitchen, has proved that Toscano Black 63 chocolate, when combined with cherries soaked in the urine of adolescent male squirrels, is a feast for the senses.’ [Related: In Search of Perfection on Amazon]
November 21, 2006
[books] Creator of a monstrous hit — profile of Thomas Harris the man behind Hannibal Lecter and his new book Hannibal Rising‘The profound mystery of the first two Lecter novels, Red Dragon (1981), in which the doctor appears only as a minor character, and in prison at that, and The Silence of the Lambs (1988), was that no psychological explanation was offered for his extreme cruelty. He was beholden to no one and seemed to have come from nowhere. ‘Nothing happened to me,’ he tells Clarice Starling, the investigator whose mission it becomes to trap him. ‘I happened. You can’t reduce me to a set of influences.’ But this, it seems, is exactly what Harris is now attempting to do: to reduce Lecter to a set of influences, to show how he became the man he is, without conscience or remorse…’
November 16, 2006
[books] The Mother Load — another interview with James Ellroy … ‘What I like about the era I am writing about, meaning 1958 to 1972, is that the anti-Communism mandate justified virtually any kind of clandestine activity. I like exploring the mind-set of extreme expediency.’ [via Kottke]
November 14, 2006
[stories] Very Short Stories — some notable writers create six word stories inspired by one from Ernest Hemingway … Alan Moore: ‘Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a time’ [via qwghlm.co.uk]
November 2, 2006
[books] My Mother and the DahliaJames Ellroy on the Black Dahlia and his Mother … ‘I wrote six good novels and crashed Betty and Jean with The Black Dahlia. It was a salutary ode to Elizabeth Short and a self-serving and perfunctory embrace of my mother. I acknowledged the Jean-Betty confluence in media appearances and exploited it to sell books. My performances were commanding at first glance and glib upon reappraisal. I cut my mother down to sound-bite size and packaged her wholesale. I determined the cause of my ruthlessness years later. She owned me…’
October 19, 2006
[books] Penguin Books Covers — a collection of seventies book covers on Flickr … [via Limbicnutrition]
October 15, 2006
[books] The Candy Man — A Profile of Roald Dahl‘Children need the dark materials of fairy tales because they need to make sense—in a symbolic, displaced way—of their own feelings of anger, resentment, and powerlessness. Children also benefit from learning about violence and brutishness in fairy tales, Bettelheim writes, for it counters the “widespread refusal to let children know that the source of much that goes wrong in our life is due to our natures—the propensity of all men for acting aggressively, asocially, selfishly.” Many fairy tales—and most of Dahl’s work—are complex narratives of wish fulfillment. They teach the reader, Bettelheim writes, that “a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence—but if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious.” Or, in any case, this is a hopeful fantasy which sustains us all’
October 13, 2006
[books] The Genesis of Gonzo — Extract from Who’s Afraid of Tom Wolfe by Marc Weingarten … ‘Like [Tom] Wolfe, [Hunter S.] Thompson recognised one salient fact of life in the 60s: the traditional tools of reporting would be inadequate to chronicle the tremendous cultural and social change. War, assassination, rock, drugs, hippies, Yippies, Nixon – how could a traditional “just the facts” reporter dare to impose a neat and symmetrical order on such chaos?’
October 12, 2006
[books] In Cold Blood – The Last To See Them Alive — the New Yorker Online republishes one of Truman Capote’s original magazine articles which formed the basis for his novel In Cold Blood. ‘…in the earliest hours of that morning in November, a Sunday morning, certain foreign sounds impinged on the normal Holcomb noises—on the keening hysteria of coyotes, the dry scrape of scuttling tumbleweed, the racing, receding wail of locomotive whistles. At the time, not a soul in sleeping Holcomb heard them—four shotgun blasts that, all told, ended six human lives.’
October 6, 2006
[books] Passing the Gladwell Point — some interesting criticisms of Malcolm Gladwell‘At times, lately, Mr. Gladwell sounds like someone trying to tell other people about something he read once in a Malcolm Gladwell piece, after a few rounds of drinks.’ [via Kottke’s Links]
October 4, 2006
[books] Steven Johnson on The Ghost Map — a ‘book trailer’ on YouTube about Steven Johnson’s new book on cholera, london, medicine and cities. [via Kottke’s Links]
October 3, 2006
[search] i feel better after i type to you — a book reporting the 254 page search history of one AOL user in May 2006 … ‘The text in this book is pseudo-anonymous autobiography stored as proprietary corporate data which was de facto released into the public domain.’ [via As Above]
September 30, 2006
[books] An Evening with J.G. Ballard — a transcript of an interview and questions with the author of Empire of the Sun and Crash‘At the end of the last century, people would ring me up and ask me my views about the future. I said I can sum up the future in one word — it’s going to be boring. Vast suburbs that extend around the planet: utter boredom, broken by acts of unpredictable violence. The man in the supermarket who opens fire with a machine gun. And the suicide bomber, a man who has nothing, setting off a bomb in a desperate way to prove himself. The idea of meaningless violence, which I looked at in my previous novel Millennium People, has a huge appeal. I can understand that. It’s in the roots of one’s childhood — all children smash their toys. The trouble, of course, is that people get killed.’ [via As Above]
September 11, 2006
[books] Ellroy’s Dark Places — interview with James Ellroy‘Ellroy recently moved back to Los Angeles, where he is completing the final instalment of his “Underworld USA” trilogy, which began with American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand. Keenly anticipated, the novel deals with America between 1968 and 1972, but that’s just about all he’ll reveal. “It’s going very well,” he says. Any idea when it’s going to be finished? “Not the slightest.” What is it about? “America, 1968 to 1972.” Does it have a title? “Yes, but I’m not telling anyone.” ‘
September 1, 2006
[books] Cool Tools on the book ‘Moving Heavy Things’‘Applied Sloth – As stated in the stagehand’s axiom: “Never lift what you can drag, never drag what you can roll, never roll what you can leave.” Creativity germinates in indolence, and the cleverest people are often the laziest: they are always looking for an easier way. The easiest way is often the simplest, most direct, and the best way.’ [via Limbic Nutrition]
August 30, 2006
[books] AN Wilson is a Shit‘It is, at first glance, a tantalising insight into the love life of one of the nation’s most celebrated poets. The letter from Sir John Betjeman to his mistress must have seemed almost too good to be true when it fell into the lap of AN Wilson, the late poet laureate’s biographer. It was so convincing that Wilson included it in his new book about Betjeman as evidence of a hitherto unknown “fling”. But it was indeed too good to be true. It now seems Wilson was the victim of an elaborate hoax. The poet, who was born 100 years ago today, never penned the note. The telltale sign that the letter is a joke is that the capital letters at the start of each sentence spell out “AN Wilson is a shit”…’

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