May 1, 2002
[tv] ITV Digital: An Insider’s Story — a middle-manager at ITV Digital talks about what went wrong … ‘Quality needs to override the consumers thirst for quantity. The quality of UK digital programming must improve in order that the digital platform becomes attractive. The consumers’ perception can be summed up by a letter sent to HQ this week from a subscriber. They offered to buy a monkey in exchange for a lifetime’s supply of crisps – is this how we are to be remembered? We are a supplier of programmes not a toy store!’ [Related: Media Guardian Coverage of ITV Digital Shutdown]
[blogs] The Life Cycle of your Weblog — Sadly, no section on ‘Endlessly Linking and Quoting Meaningless Drivel’. Oh well… must try harder. [via More Like This]
May 2, 2002
[quotes] Physics Quotes‘I do not like Quantum Mechanics, and I am sorry I ever had anything to do with it.’ — Erwin Schrödinger.
[comics] Through the Eyes of Karen Berger — interview with Vertigo’s Executive Editor … Berger on Original Graphic Novels: ‘We’re interested in creating bodies of work that the person who’s not going into comics shops weekly – if at all – can easily pick up and enjoy as a self-contained experience. As the evolution of books from serialized reading experiences published in magazines a hundred years ago to original self-contained entities allowed greater popularity with the advent of the paperback format, it’s likely we’re going to make a similar transition, at least with a large portion of our material. It’s not an easy transition, as the industry is still built on getting your comics ‘fix’ on a weekly or monthly cycle. Kyle Baker is a good example of a creator who can build a truly great story that really can’t or shouldn’t be broken up into pieces. It’s a thing as a whole and that’s the only really good way to absorb it.’
May 3, 2002
[spouses disunited] When Friends Reunited Goes Bad‘Until recently he had his details on this site, accompanied with a photograph of himself, which was an extremely good likeness of the ugly twat. Unfortunately none of you will now be able to look at his photo because he has deleted all his details as he is embarrassed to admit that on 5th January 2002 he deleted his wife and 9 year old daughter out of his life when he met a hoar called CLAUDIA *******, just before Christmas and began shagging the slag while his wife and daughter were out shopping for Christmas presents.’ [thanks Phil]

Update: The Register has more details‘The posting has been pulled from Friends Reunited, but we’ve been sent a copy of the page, which is now doing the email rounds. We’ve checked out the address of the poster, the tel no. (which appears to have been disconnected), we know the school and the year. But we’ve not made contact with either protaganist. We know that one national newspaper is on the case, so we reckon a local stringer could be camping outside the protaganists’ houses right now.’ [via Blogjam]
[comics] Jazzy John Junior — interview with John Romita Jr. from Newsarama … ‘My style may have been altered by a change of events when I got on Daredevil, which was my ultimate turning point. I was ready to get out of the industry before then. I got on Daredevil, and was given free reign by [editor] Ralph Macchio. He gave me permission to do full pencils and tell the story as I saw fit. Before that, I was always under Chris Claremont or Jim Shooter’s guidelines. From that point on, I was really able to stretch my wings.’
May 4, 2002
[politics] What I learned about Tony – the Hard Way — William Hague on Tony Blair … ‘All politicians like to identify with their audiences, but his desire to do so is extreme. People who listened to his speech of welcome to the Australians who came to London to celebrate their centenary two years ago could have been forgiven for believing that he had spent most of his life there. When Frank Sinatra died, he bizarrely announced that he had “grown up with him”. In the Labour party magazine it was announced that “Tony’s favourite food is fish and chips. He gets a takeaway from his local chippy whenever he is at home in his constituency.” In The Islington Cookbook his favourite food was “fresh fettuccine garnished with an exotic sauce of olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and capers”. So, even more than most politicians, he wants to be loved by everyone, and can act himself into the necessary part without the sense of the ridiculous that would overcome most of the rest of us.’
May 5, 2002
[disunited] Web Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned — UK press mention of the Spouses Disunited Meme. ‘…although the site carries accounts of marriages between previously estranged friends and even some cases of adopted children reunited with their natural parents, it is also responsible for a growing list of divorces and painful separations.’
May 7, 2002
[tv] The Young Ones Fansite — excellent episode guide and complete set of scripts [via Fark] …

RICK: There’ll be plenty of chicks for these tigers on the road to the Promised Land. This is it! It’s really happening! Who needs qualifications? Who cares about Thatcher and unemployment?! We can do just exactly whatever we want to do! And you know why? Because we’re Young Ones. Bachelor boys! Crazy, mad, wild-eyed, big-bottomed anarchists!! [Rick gazes ahead in horror] Look out!! CLIFF!!!

[The bus plows through a Cliff Richard billboard and over an enormous man-made cliff, crashing down hundreds of feet.]

VYVYAN, MIKE, RICK, NEIL: [together] Whew! That was close!

[The bus explodes]

[comics] Mad Cover Site — 50 Years of Mad Magazine Covers … [via Plep]

Mad Magazine Cover #166
May 8, 2002
[media] Paranoia, stupidity and greed ganging up on the public — Dan Gillmor on the “Entertainment” Industry … ‘Jamie Kellner, head of Turner Broadcasting, part of the AOL Time Warner conglomerate, told the newsweekly CableWorld that you are a thief if you use one of a PVR’s best features — skipping commercials. “Your contract with the network when you get the show is you’re going to watch the spots,” he said. “Otherwise you couldn’t get the show on an ad-supported basis. Whenever you fail to watch a commercial,” he added, “you’re actually stealing the programming.” It gets better. When the interviewer asked whether it’s OK to go to the bathroom or get a soft drink out of the refrigerator, Kellner replied, “I guess there’s a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom.”’ [via Red Rock Eater News Service]
May 9, 2002
[net] Me and my Net Stalker — interesting article on stalking over the internet … ‘…last year Gobion Rowlands logged on as usual to check his email. There was a message from an unusual Hotmail address. Its title was Gob on Rowlands. Its text – not for sensitive eyes – read: “You probably don’t remember me, but I haven’t forgotten you. So you’re still into your wanky dungeons and dragons shit… Clearly you have lived up to your full potential: a self-obsessed arsehole with bad kidneys. Oh yes Rowlands, I fucking know who you are… So why am I emailing you? Just to let you know that you can’t leave your past behind…”‘
[destroy] Delete, Baby, Delete — on the difficulty of destroying evidence … ‘On the eve of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran, in 1979, American officials desperately fed secret documents into the embassy’s paper shredders. Over the next several years, while waiting for satellite dishes and Baywatch to arrive, the Iranians painstakingly stitched the documents back together. They ultimately published the reconstituted intelligence files in some sixty volumes, under the overarching title Documents From the U.S. Espionage Den.’ [via Sore Eyes]
[comics] Trash of the Titans — Kevin Smith on the difference between Marvel and DC‘I had Green Arrow referring to Green Lantern as an ”old fart.” This was excised from the story, and the term ”old toot” was used instead. Mind you, this was in the same month that Superman and Wonder Woman had such passionate sky sex that it shattered the earth in Frank Miller’s DC-published ”The Dark Knight Strikes Again.” The lesson: A Kryptonian can knock red boots with an Amazonian, but at no time can either fart.’ [via Neilalien]
May 10, 2002
[idle thought] Something I’ve wondered about… Who is Merv Griffin? [via Haddock]

Evan Dorkin's Milk and Cheese -- MERV GRIFFIN!!

Merv Griffin Bio — I think I’m beginning to understand now… ‘Merv became increasingly popular with nightclub audiences and his fame soared among the general public when he struck gold in 1950 with “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” reaching the number one spot on the Hit Parade and selling three million copies.’
May 13, 2002
[schooldays] Sacks appeal — interview with Oliver Sacks‘[He did not know] as a very young child, that chemistry would end up saving his sanity. But in September 1939, with war breaking out, his London school was evacuated wholesale to the Northamptonshire village of Braefield, and he and Michael became boarders, while the school became, by his account, a jaw-droppingly brutal institution even by the standards of the time. He was repeatedly beaten by a headmaster “unhinged by his own power”, who once hit him so hard that his cane broke. The cost of replacing it was added to the Sacks family’s tuition bill.’
[comics] All About POP — interview with Philip Bond … What made him want to get into comics in the first place: ‘The chance to use a talent for drawing to tell stories. That sounds like a stock answer, doesn’t it? OK, a chance to draw pretty girls over and over again.’ [via Bugpowder]
May 14, 2002
[books] A Deadline Bandit’s Last Hurrah — A brief review of The Salmon of Doubt from Douglas Adams. ‘…as Robert MacFarlane has already noticed in The Observer, Adams is more plausibly ‘the Lewis Carroll of the twentieth century’, a writer who articulated painful, accidental truths behind a mask of foolery and who found in his parallel universe a happy release from the vanities of earth and the almost intolerable stress of everyday life.’
[comics] Peter David is blogging (kinda) and REVEALING SEASON SIX BUFFY SPOILERS (beware) … ‘Greetings and solicitations. This will be the first of what will ideally be daily updates in this on-line journal. In the near future, we’ll have a regular Q&A set-up, plus we’re trying to figure out how to produce an on-line whack-a-mole.’ [via Neilalien]
May 15, 2002
[tv] It’s Really Happening — what it’s like at Greg Dyke’s BBC‘…executives trip gaily (in the old sense) down the rose-petal-strewn boulevards of Television Centre, chatting amiably to programme-makers they’ve actually met before, and insisting that everyone calls them by their first name. They still go to pointless meetings, as we all do. But now they can wave “cut the crap” cards so it’s pointless but fun.’
[comics] Theory.Org.UK Trading CardsUnofficial Card #21: Dave Sim‘Particularly toxic in the parlor setting, these slash and burn ideological stylings are not suited to those needing affirmation, or friends. Or sex.’ [via Cerebus Yahoo Group]
May 16, 2002
[comics] An interview with Chester Brown covering all aspects of his career … along with an excellent republished comic strip — My Mom Was A Schizophrenic. Brown on Peep Show: ‘I think there are a lot of people out there who do think that the person in Peepshow is me, portrayed accurately. They don’t take into account the fact that JOE MATT IS A LYING BASTARD!’ [via WEF]
May 17, 2002
[movies] Age Shall Wither Them — the Guardian on the twilight years of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis. ‘…they’re getting on a bit now. Stallone will be 56 this year, Schwarzenegger 55, whilst Willis clocks in at a mere 47. Think of it this way: Stallone has been a superstar since the Ford administration; and Schwarzenegger first started to make his mark in Hollywood in 1968.’
[politics] Fortunate Son — the Barbelith Webzine looks at the murky past of George W. Bush. ‘[Fortunate Son] contained the allegation that in 1972 Bush senior had arranged for a Texas judge to have his son’s conviction for possession of cocaine expunged from the records, in return for which Junior performed works of public service. This last was already documented; the fact that he worked for a while in the early seventies in an outreach centre for teenagers in one of Dallas’ poorest districts has often been touted by republican publicists eager to round off some of their leader’s corners. Needless to say, it stands out like a sore thumb.’
May 18, 2002
[swimming] Don’t be so wet — Julie Burchill on Swimming Pools … ‘I’m not being a killjoy here. I know that swimming pools can be used for physical activities other than swimming, and that “breaststroke” can have a double meaning in any place where strangers are packed together wearing very little. In fact, “No Running, No Diving, No Petting” made it on to my shortlist as a title for my autobiography, neatly summing up my steadfast idleness, my obdurate heterosexuality and my intrinsic heartlessness.’
May 19, 2002
[books] Philip Pullman resources on the Web from Robot WisdomPullman: ‘The rise of fundamentalist religion I think, is the most dangerous aspect of late twentieth-century life, whether it is intolerance among Christians or Muslims or Orthodox Jews. I think fundamentalist religion is one of the greatest dangers we have ever faced. And so if there is a source of wickedness in the book, you can place it there… What makes a religion fundamentalist is the insistence that because of some book of scriptures or some revelation given to the founder of the religion, that they alone possess the ‘truth’. And when anyone believes that, they’re wrong. I think my position would be that throughout human history, the greatest moral advances have been made by religious leaders such as Jesus and the Buddha. And the greatest moral wickedness has been perpetrated by their followers.’
May 20, 2002
[film] The Unlikely Pin-Up of the Cannes Festival — interview with Michael Moore‘The film includes sequences in which Moore investigates the civilian Michigan Militia, with which Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh trained, and a bank which offers free guns as an incentive to clients. He also interviews weapons-obsessed teenagers, including one who admits to manufacturing home-made napalm. Rock star Marilyn Manson, widely accused of being an influence on the Colombine killers, makes a lucid and pithy response to the charge. When asked by Moore what he would say to the Columbine Killers, he replies, “I wouldn’t say anything. I’d listen.”‘
[movies] Road to Perdition Trailer … [via Ghost in the Machine]
May 21, 2002
[rip] Stephen Jay Gould is dead … Two quotes:

‘We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer – but none exists.’

‘Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one. The tragedy of human history lies in the enormous potential for destruction in rare acts of evil, not in the high frequency of evil people. Complex systems can only be built step by step, whereas destruction requires but an instant. Thus, in what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible as the “ordinary” efforts of a vast majority.’

[Related: Metafilter, BBC News, Guardian, Slashdot ]
[science] MC Hawkings CribFuck the Creationists [lyrics] …

‘Fuck the damn creationists, those bunch of dumb-ass bitches,
every time I think of them my trigger finger itches.
They want to have their bullshit, taught in public class,
Stephen J. Gould should put his foot right up their ass.’

May 22, 2002
[comics] Leach Revisits Warpsmiths — Gary Leach to rework and complete his Warpsmiths comics written by Alan Moore … ‘…the decision was made to reprint the reprint the whole Warpsmiths story. One small problem though ? the original artwork no longer exists, and no reproducible copies were kept. “Garry gave away a lot of the artwork for the first two parts,” Elliot said. “He does have most of the artwork for the A1 story but feels some of it needs to redrawn. He’s a bit of a perfectionist – a perfect match for someone working with Alan.” So ? back to the drawing board. Literally.’ [via Barbelith]
[rip] Stephen Jay Gould Obit‘Stephen Jay Gould will be missed: he was a one-off and nobody can even try to fill his shoes. He was always there, ready to foment a revolution or challenge a cherished belief. He was a scientist, historian and populariser of his time’
May 23, 2002
[web] Geeks go hack to the futureBen Hammersley on O’Reilly’s ETCon‘It was either a masterpiece of timing, or serendipitous coincidence. Either way, 500 of the world’s leading developers, hackers and alpha geeks gathered in a Santa Clara hotel for the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference last week. At the same time, Apple launched a new machine, Star Wars: Episode II premiered, the X-Files ended, and Napster shut down and then reopened. It was all just asking for trouble.’ [Related: Matt Webb’s notes on ETCon]
[science] The Man Who Cracked The Code to EverythingSteven Levy on Stephen Wolfram. ‘…he’s saying that all we hold dear – our minds, if not our souls – is a computational consequence of a simple rule. “It’s a very negative conclusion about the human condition,” he admits. “You know, consider those gas clouds in the universe that are doing a lot of complicated stuff. What’s the difference [computationally] between what they’re doing and what we’re doing? It’s not easy to see.”‘
May 24, 2002
[games] The Top 100 Video Game Engrish Of All Time … [via Lukelog]

[aftermath] GIs Battle ‘Ghosts’ in Afghanistan — great article about the mopping up operations in Afghanistan … ‘The soldiers would set up nighttime roadblocks to search every car coming north from the Pakistani border, a particularly dangerous task. “If the vehicle tries to roll through a roadblock that is clearly marked as a roadblock . . . they are now hostile,” Fetterman told his subordinates. “That’s hostile intent. They could hurt you with the vehicle. You are allowed to engage. I spoke to the lawyers about this.”‘ [via Red Rock Eater News Service]
May 25, 2002
[film] Dinomania — Review of Jurassic Park from Stephen Jay Gould in 1993 … ‘…the mantle of carnivorous heroism has clearly passed to the much smaller Velociraptor, Henry Fairfield Osborn’s Mongolian jewel. Downsizing and diversity are in; constrained hugeness has become a tragic flaw. Velociraptor is everything that modern corporate life values in a tough competitor—mean, lean, lithe, and intelligent. They hunt in packs, using a fine military technique of feinting by one beast in front, followed by attack from the side by a co-conspirator. In the film’s best moment of wry parody of its own inventions, the wonderfully stereotyped stiff-upper-lip-British-hunter Muldoon gets the center beast in his gun’s sight, only to realize too late that the side-hunting companion is a few inches from his head. He looks at the side beast, says “Clever girl” in a tone of true admiration (all of Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs are engineered to be female in another ultimately failed attempt to control their reproduction), and then gets gobbled to death.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
May 26, 2002
[blogs] Pat — the Scottish journalist and musician has a weblog … ‘pop, politics, technoculture…& scotland’
May 27, 2002
[aftermath] When Uncle Sam meets ‘Stan — another great report from Afghanistan …

‘In her book An Intimate History of Killing , the historian Joanna Bourke looks at the narratives men create to comprehend their own roles in war and, more specifically, in combat. Apparently, soldiers in each war look to the previous for a frame of reference. Those in the Pacific in the Second World War looked to the First World War. Those in Vietnam looked to the Pacific Theatre. No prizes for guessing where the men in Afghanistan were looking.

Thus the graffiti on the walls of the Portakabins where, if you got to them later than 9am, you’d be greeted by a 5ft-high pile of soldiers’ faeces:

Toilet 7: “I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds’; ‘I am become Bored, Destroyer of Motivation”

Toilet 3: “Though I walk through the valley of death I shall fear no evil, because I am the meanest motherfucker in the valley.”

Toilet 6: “MARINE – Muscles Are Required, Intelegance [sic] Not Essential”

Toilet 2 (women only): “I miss my cat.”‘

[film] Biggie and Tupac — review of Nick Broomfield’s new Documentary … ‘If James Ellroy wrote a novel about gangster rap, it would be a lot like Biggie and Tupac, teeming with chancers and casualties and underpinned by the threat of death. “You knocking like you scared,” chuckles the bodyguard who opens his door to let Broomfield in. And yet his timid knocking pays dividends.’
May 28, 2002
[comics] More Get Your War On [Part 10] [Part 11] …

Panel from Get You War On
May 29, 2002
[film] Soon to be a major motion picture — The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen‘Variety reported on February 20, 2002 that although Sean Connery has not yet signed the deal, he is in final negotiation for the key role of Allan Quatermain. Apparently, the storyline has been altered to include Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer (the latter to generate more appeal in the American market). The $80 million project is said to begin shooting in the Czech Republic and Morocco in summer 2002.’ [via]
[aftermath] The Battle For Ground Zero — what happens next in NYC … ‘…very tall skyscrapers are out of fashion these days, isn’t there still an impulse, he asks, to see something tall and triumphant at the site? So what about, say, a 70-story office tower with a sculptural steel lattice at the top that climbs to the 110-story height of the original Twin Towers? And what if it becomes more delicate as it rises, suggesting spirits released into the sky? Then again, where will you find a developer willing to pay for 40 stories of unprofitable frosting on his cake?’
May 30, 2002
[comics] The Boston Globe wonders if Comics are Good or Bad … [Related: Metafilter Thread, via Neilalien]

Comics: a vast universe to explore‘Reading McCloud’s first book, you may find yourself feeling a peculiar combination of exhilaration and exhaustion. It’s a feeling that I’ve come to recognize as part of the comics-reading experience, at least for me. Absorbing complex ideas through the combination of pictures and words is a new skill for most of us, and one that takes a particular kind of intellectual effort. But it also rewards that effort in ways that neither words nor pictures alone can do. When we simultaneously experience both the visceral effect of pictures and the intellectual engagement of words, our brains connect with the material in a richer and more interactive way. Because we have to put the words and pictures together, we’re more actively involved in constructing meaning, and the effort wakes us up. That’s how it feels to me, anyway.’

Got plot? Complex thoughts? Imagination? ‘Growing up, on the rough streets of Chestnut Hill, there were two groups: the comic-books kids and the others. While I found myself drawn to such wholesome preteen activities as shoplifting Atari cartridges and sneaking Marlboros at the town dump, the comic book kids – identified by the Marvel classics they kept protected under plastic – chose the world of fantasy. These weirdos scared me: A kid named Brian who spent hours at Hebrew School composed a ”hit list” of countries he would like to bomb. A group of peers at grammar school formed the ”Chinese Ninja Club.”’
May 31, 2002
[web] The Guardian’s On-Line Section takes a look at what is available on the BBC’s Websites‘Every night in the UK, the dwindling number of executives left in the online content business must go to sleep cursing the BBC. Rather than worry about plummeting advertising revenues and failing strategic partnerships, the Beeb is in the enviable financial position of letting the licence fee take the strain, and now spends around £60m annually on its online content, all based around its home page. So what exactly do we get for our money?’
[tech] A couple of interesting articles from Steven Levy [thanks Kabir] …

Great Minds, Great Ideas — Levy on Stephen Wolfram and Dean Kamen‘“A New Kind of Science” is encyclopedic, a “Ulysses”-like text that applies Wolfram’s ideas to a wide range of subjects: physics, math, philosophy, robotics, economics, logic, even theology. One reason it took him so long is that he kept unearthing new discoveries in various fields. It became a joke among his assistants. “So you’re going to figure out some big thing in this field in the next couple of days?” they’d ask. And Wolfram would say, “Yes, that’s what I’m going to do.” And proceed to do it, at least on his terms.Some scientists aren’t exactly thrilled. “There’s a tradition of scientists approaching senility to come up with grand, improbable theories,” says physicist Freeman Dyson. “Wolfram is unusual in that he’s doing this in his 40s.”’

Will the Blogs Kill Old Media? — Levy on Blogs. ‘…once you’ve created your blog and filled it with links to news accounts of the Pim Fortuyn assassination, snarky criticisms of Bill O’Reilly and witty rants about airport security, how do you get visitors? Judging from the top blogs, the answer seems to be working hard, filling a niche, winning a reputation for accuracy, developing sources and writing felicitously. This sounds a lot like the formula to succeed as a journalist inside the Big Media leviathan. With the difference that traditional journalists uh, get paid. What makes blogs attractive — their immediacy, their personality and, these days, their hipness — just about ensures that Old Media, instead of being toppled by them, will successfully co-opt them. You might argue that it’s happened already.’
[omg!] Spiderman Body Painting [Warning: Link Contains Gratuitous Pictures of Blue Penis.] … Painted Naked Man As Spiderman. WHY? DEAR GOD, WHY?! [via FilePile]