2 August 2002
[books] Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2002 Results — competition to write the worst opening sentences to imaginary novels… [via Massive]

‘The professor looked down at his new young lover, who rested fitfully, lashed as she was with duct tape to the side of his stolen hovercraft, her head lolling gently in the breeze, and as they soared over the buildings of downtown St. Paul to his secret lair he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk.’

3 August 2002
[comics] Global Frequency — web site for Warren Ellis’ new comic … ‘There are a thousand and one people on the Global Frequency. A worldwide independent defense intelligence organization with a thousand and one agents, all over the world. Anyone you know might be with them. It’s the world’s little open secret.’
[film] The Flesh Ripping, Bullet Spraying Ballet Master — profile / interview of director John Woo

‘The Killer was elemental Woo, the template that has relentlessly infused much of his subsequent work. A super-abundance of picturesque violence props up the usual conflict of good and evil, in which we are invited to observe not so much the clash of black and white, but the shades of grey that lie between the protagonists. Hero and villain become interchangeable; creatures of the same culture, victims of the amorphous pressures put upon them by a wicked world, equally beset by guilt, shame and regret, similarly capable of acts of selfless nobility, brothers under the skin. The hitman and the cop are two fingers on the same hand. In other words, it is a buddy movie. Add to that the love interest: the girl is a veritable apotheosis of anorak sexual longing – she is beautiful, lonely, isolated and, best of all, she is blind. No button is left unpushed. You get the car ‘n’ speedboat chases, innocent kiddies caught in the crossfire, a spectacular gun battle in God’s House with His statuettes exploding all over the shop, a close-up euthanasia shot (very matey) and a grande finale of Woo’s special trademark, white doves fluttering over the carnage. Phew.’

4 August 2002
[comics] — Blog Genealogy. Great idea… LMG can be found here on Blogtree and I’m a father already!‘You can register your blogs and record which blogs inspired their creation. You can also search for existing blogs and view which blogs they in turn inspired.’
[comics] State of the Art: Frank Miller — Jimmy Palmiotti interviews Frank Miller about Dark Knight 2 amongst other things …

‘JP: What about comics is driving you nuts right now?

FM: “Crying Fireman” comics. Golly, we all got plenty emotional after 9/11, and a lot of us did some plenty emotional work. But at least we knew when to stop. Now Marvel seems to have turned it into a goddamn cottage industry. Ghoulish. Shameful. It reminds me of the old saw that every American tragedy winds up turning into a farce.’

5 August 2002
[i kiss you] Mahir Is Not A Terrorist‘Who is want to come TURKEY I can invitate ….. She can stay my home …….. I speake turkish , english , rusian , I want to learn other language ! I do not want to learn about terrorism !’ [kinda via Metafilter]
6 August 2002
[comics] Punching Holes Through Time — absolutely fab Sequential Tart interview with Grant Morrison. It’s so good, I can’t decide on a quote so you’re getting three …

At an important time in my life, between the ages of 12 and 19, I was practically autistic at home. I had a lot of fun at a boys school during the day but evenings were grim beyond Morrissey’s most rueful yodellings, spent huddled in our flat above the Finefare, drawing my own homemade comic books and writing fantasy novels with cock in hand (see Flex Mentallo #3 ).

I just re-read a bunch of Doom Patrols and they were fucking brilliant. I’m a little ashamed that I would never dare end the X-Men on a full-page cliffhanger featuring a floating pyramid and a Satanic Noel Coward lookalike with a periscope in his head shouting the words “REVERTH MY BUTTOCKTH SERGEANT MAJOR!”

[Crisis on Infinite Earths] made for a great maxi-series and possibly the best, most apocalyptic superhero crossover ever. Ten billion characters screaming as entire universes caught fire. George Perez was the John Martyn of comics and there was a sense of genuine threat and armageddon. It seemed like the most important event of all time (unless you’d been there for the death of Jean Grey, which fucked with me more, sleek and romantic and 21 by this time. I wept silent tears as Scott and Jean held hands and ran out to face certain death on the moon. Lying on a park bench beside Hyde Park in the sun at 8 a.m., I penned a tear-stained paean to mutantism. Me in Chelsea boots, drainpipe trousers, fluffy moptop, with The Winds of Chaos, my first novel in a folder in my attache case. “Dear Chris, I cried for Jean Grey …”

[war] One Hell of a Big Bang — Studs Terkel interviews Paul Tibbets the man who piloted the Enola Gay

‘ST: One last thing, when you hear people say, “Let’s nuke ’em,” “Let’s nuke these people,” [al-Qaeda] what do you think?

PT: Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: “You’ve killed so many civilians.” That’s their tough luck for being there.’

7 August 2002
[barcodes] Create Your Own Barcode … [via Boing Boing] Barcode

[terrorism] How to make a Dirty Bomb — Jon Ronson attempts to make a Nuclear Weapon … ‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists writes: “Producing either uranium-235 or plutonium-239 in the quantities needed to make nuclear weapons is extraordinarily difficult and expensive. [Nuclear-bomb makers] must be prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, or even billions.” I consequently downgrade my ambition to building a dirty bomb – a conventional bomb mixed with radioactive material – instead. I am a novice in this matter. Not only is my knowledge of the necessary physics sketchy at best (I got 9% in my mock physics O-level) but my resources are extremely limited. The Guardian has told me not to go crazy with the expenses. I don’t even have a garage or a basement; those things are pricey in north London.’ [via Sashinka]
8 August 2002
[life] Why Me? — A psychologist tells why he is sick of self-pitying patients … ‘Everywhere we look, our culture is sending us the message that if we comply, we will be spared anguish. I have bad news. A brief study of history shows that we have put ourselves behind the cosmic eight ball. Mass extinctions, the growth and contractions of empires, sudden evolutionary leaps, even our children’s growth spurts, all show the same thing: If you live on this planet, you will experience periods of calm broken up by periods of intense crisis and radical change. No life is spared.’
[cartoon] Steve Bell on Saddam and Gaddaffi‘If you wanna get ahead get a hat like Tommy Cooper.’
9 August 2002
[] The Bot who Loved Me — just how low can internet marketing schemes go? … ‘Perhaps the most extreme is the Crush007 site. Based in Malaysia, it sends a fake crush e-mail to an unsuspecting stooge. The site then goads the sucker to reveal all kinds of personal facts, including “how many times does she/he masturbate a week?” and “names of his/her biggest crush.” The homepage makes no secret about its motives: “We have developed this website just to help you find out who your friend’s crushes are, and also not to mention, their biggest, most well kept secrets.” Fear for the dorkiest kid in the class, thrilled that someone actually has a crush on him, who is about to be the victim of an Internet humiliation machine.’
[comics] Censorship of The Authority — Panel by Panel analysis of censorship in the Wildstorm / DC Comic … ‘At left, a selection from the bottom panel of page 6 from The Authority #27 as it was printed. At right, the same area of page 6 as Arthur Adams originally drew it. Note the nipple in Adams’s original.’ [via Boing Boing]
10 August 2002
[comics] Moore Morality — Dylan Horrocks on Alan Moore. ‘…he’d taken all his own grief and the lessons he’d learnt from it and had distilled them into this crazy little comic about superheroes and interdimensional travel. He’d given us a gift, carefully copied from the scars on his own heart. That’s what I mean when I say that what really makes Alan Moore’s work special is its morality. His work is pure and sincere. And utterly, deeply humane.’
[blogs] How we’re spending our time at Pyra — what’s happening with Blogger‘Sometime later this month, the first public, large-scale, non-Pyra-run installation of Blogger will go live.’
11 August 2002
[food] Grease is the Word — Nigel Slater makes Elvis Presley’s Fried-Peanut-Butter-and-Banana Sandwich … ‘I have known about this sandwich for years but felt that, along with deep-fried Mars bars, monkey brains and fugu fish, this was territory that I did not wish to explore. The fact that the peanut butter was sometimes mixed with strawberry jam, and that the whole heart-stopping snack was then fried in butter, put the seal on it. Still, what the hell. It can’t kill me. So here I am, standing in the kitchen, debating whether this legendary recipe really is the crack cocaine of the sandwich world, and whether I am going to get out of this alive. I so want to just say no, but I like bananas, have a sneaky fondness for white sliced bread, and absolutely adore peanut butter.’
12 August 2002
[comics] Comic-Book Confidential — Mark Millar dishes up loads of gossip about comics … Now I wonder who… ‘The freelancer who indulged in a little cyber-sex with a reader (the transcript of which is now doing the rounds in the female comics community).’ is?
[bb3] The voice of Big Brother — interview with the narrator of BB3 … ‘”Chickens.” It is quite a thrill. Say it again, I ask. “Chickens.” For some reason, this pleases me no end. As an added bonus, he continues in familiar Geordie tones: “Day 44 in the Big Brother house.” I clap my hands. I am having a conversation with the voice of Big Brother. And I can see his lips move.’
13 August 2002
[comics] This is Information — a page from Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s 911 Tribute comic-strip …

By Alan Moore, Melinda Gebbie -- Panels from 'This Is Information' 9-11 Comic

‘This is what Entropy looks like. Not much Energy. Not much information. The Kinetic Energy bound up inside the structure is released with its collapse, a single Pulverising Burst. Complex information is reduced to dull simplicity. Rubble, for example contains little information it all looks the same. This could be London, New York, Baghdad, Belfast, or Kabul. Or Anywhere.’
[lizards] David Icke’s Media‘I do read the Daily Mail, because its politics stink. In fact, so much so that I have to read it at arm’s length with a peg on my nose.’
14 August 2002
[911] The Mystery of Flight 93 — The Independent’s view on the unanswered questions and conspriracy theories surfacing about Flight 93‘Everything is speculation — that is the problem with the story of Flight 93. And unless the US government reveals more of what it knows, provides a detailed account of the last 10 minutes in the life of Flight 93 and the 44 people who were aboard, there will not only be scope but sound reasons for the conspiracy theorists to continue to speculate as to what really happened in those last few minutes before the plane plunged into the earth; to cast doubts on the soft-focus legend that the traumatised American public has seized upon so gratefully.’ [Related: Mefi on Flight 93]
[blogs] Tom reconstructs We’ve Got Blog‘If you were interested in reading – but uninterested in paying for – the collection of articles printed in the book We’ve got blog (which includes an introduction by the esteemed Rebecca Blood), you may be surprised to realise that almost all of the pieces within it are freely available on the interweb. And don’t worry – most of them are just as interesting online as they are squirted onto paper.’ [Related: We’ve Got Blog]
15 August 2002
[books] Pullman Lays Down Moral Challenge for Writers — Philip Pullman discusses morality. ‘…his real bugbear was with the “propensity of human nature” to use politics or religion to set up one unquestionable truth – “it could be the Bible, it could be the Communist Manifesto” – and to then knock down all that went against it. “This is what I am against. Not Christianity, but every religion and fundamental organisation where there is one truth and they will kill you if you don’t believe it.”‘
[blogs] Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man — old (2000) profile of Jorn Barger‘…Barger felt something was missing — a context for his postings, some frame of reference that would fill in the contours of his Net persona, now badly fragmented across the boundaries of his various newsgroups. His Web log, in the end, was born to fill that need. It was conceived less as the quality news digest it has become (frequented by thousands of the Net’s most knowledgeable) than as a portrait of Jorn Barger, rendered in the medium of his own daily, unexpurgated curiosities. ‘ [kinda via]
16 August 2002
[memo] This Afternoons Events in the Restroom — a classic email from Internal Memos‘I understand from some of you that my recent indecency related arrest in Thailand seems to have clouded your judgement to illegal acts. Let me warn you that I am innocent and will prove so soon. This does not mean the office is a free for all.’ [via Haddock]
[blogs] You’ve got Blog — another ancient article (2000, from the New Yorker) about blogging … ‘Because the main audience for blogs is other bloggers blogging etiquette requires that, if someone blogs your blog, you blog his blog back. Reading blogs can feel a lot like listening in on a conversation among a group of friends who all know each other really well. Blogging, it turns out, is the CB radio of the Dave Eggers generation.’ [via again]
[war] Mock Cyberwar fails to end Mock Civilization‘We’ve seen cities immobilized for days by natural events like blizzards, the severest of which are often accompanied by power and communications breakdowns, financial inconveniences and failures of emergency response teams to function, and yet life goes on. Human beings simply aren’t as fragile and narcotically-dependent on state authority as the government desperately desires them to be. We shift for ourselves rather well for moderate periods of time when the infrastructure of state paternalism lets us down and the life-giving commercial heartbeat flatlines. People are remarkably good at solving problems, both individually and in small ad-hoc groups. Thus we survive earthquakes, floods, blizzards, depressions, epidemics, hurricaines, foreign occupations, famines, plagues, slavery, volcanic eruptions, sustained V-1 and V-2 bombing campaigns, and the like. If we couldn’t, we wouldn’t be here now.’
17 August 2002
[tv] The Long Day Closes — Media Guardian on 24 as the last episode is screened on BBC2 tomorrow … ‘To say that Jack Bauer has been having a bad day is like dismissing the second world war as a little local difficulty.’
[mobiles] Cell Biology — the Washington Post on mobiles phones and swarming … ‘The very fabric of their time has softened. Remember arranging to meet at a specific time, like 8 p.m., at a specific location, like Connecticut and K? Forget it. The new hallmark of squishy lives involves vaguely agreeing to meet after work, and then working out the details on the fly. A time-softened meeting starts with a call that says, “I’m 15 minutes away.” It’s no longer unforgivable to be late, as long as you’re in contact.’
18 August 2002
[tv] 24 Dreaming‘Right now, prawns are plotting to send love letters to a loud albino. My window and leg are raging, and salads that I work with may be rudimentary. I’m Federal Agent Jack Bauer, and this is the most minty surfboard of my life.’ [via Sore Eyes]
[war] The Search for Osama bin Laden‘CIA officials have highly reliable reports that al-Qaeda’s leader managed to cross into northwest Pakistan and is hiding in or near the city of Peshawar, where he commands the loyalty of local tribes and is protected by thousands of armed men. Bin Laden has managed to elude capture by one of the largest concentrations of special-operations forces, airpower and satellite surveillance ever mustered. Blunders at the U.S. command level, lack of coordination between coalition partners, poor intelligence and the unreliability or outright treachery of local allies have contributed to the failure, which now threatens to unleash civil war in Pakistan as al-Qaeda gears up for another attack on the United States.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
19 August 2002
[books] Meet the Parent — interview / profile of Tony Parsons. ‘…Man and Boy seems unstoppable – it does that very rare thing, it reaches people who don’t normally buy books. The trouble is that when Parsons talks about it, there is no glimmer of the vision thing – he sounds almost like Jeffrey Archer, harping on about his sales figures. So, back to my original suspicion. Did he sit down one day and see the Nick Hornby bandwagon rolling past and think ‘I’ll have some of that’? Did he decide, cynically, hackily, to switch from smartarse to sensitive?’
[blogs] Living in the Blog-osphere — Steven Levy on weblogs. ‘…most coverage of the so-called Blog-osphere (the name given to the collective alternate universe consisting of all active Weblogs) seems to focus on A-listers like pundit Andrew Sullivan, gadfly Mickey Kaus or former MTV veejay Adam Curry. Even the various computer-generated lists that purport to probe what’s happening on Planet Blog don’t go beyond the 10,000 or so most popular ones, rated by the numbers of links to and from the various sites. But the bigger story is what’s happening on the 490,000-plus Weblogs that few people see: they make up the vast dark matter of the Blog-osphere, and portend a future where blogs behave like such previous breakthroughs as desktop publishing, presentation software and instant messaging, and become a nonremarkable part of our lives.’ [via Scripting News]
[lmg] An RSS Feed of LinkMachineGo is available here.
20 August 2002
[comics] More Get Your War On [Part 12] [Part 13] …

Panel from Get You War On

[tv] The Dirty Truth — the inside story on Steptoe and Son. ‘…the two actors’ real-life relationship was [..] bizarre – and even more fraught – than their on-screen one. Wilfrid Brambell was gay and an alcoholic, notorious for his outrageous behaviour (on one infamous occasion he exposed himself to a woman at a party). He routinely told adoring fans who met him in the street to “fuck off”. Harry H Corbett was a womaniser who hated his role in Steptoe and died a bitter and disappointed man. When Steptoe finished in 1974, Corbett loathed Brambell. Within three years, the feeling was mutual.’
21 August 2002
[web] PageRank: Google’s Original Sin — interesting view of what’s wrong with Google. ‘… PageRank drives Google’s monthly crawl, such that sites with higher PageRank get crawled earlier, faster, and deeper than sites with low PageRank. For a large site with an average-to-low PageRank, this is a major obstacle. If your pages don’t get crawled, they won’t get indexed. If they don’t get indexed in Google, people won’t know about them. If people don’t know about them, then there’s no point in maintaining a website. Google starts over again on every site for every 28-day cycle, so the missing pages stand an excellent chance of getting missed on the next cycle also. In short, PageRank is the soul and essence of Google, on both the all-important crawl and the all-important rankings.’ [Kinda Related: Googlegate]
[sex] The Son Also Rises — amusing update on the 30th Aniversary edition of the The Joy of Sex

‘Even 30 years after it was first published, the Joy of Sex begs many questions. On pages 114-5 of the latest edition, for instance, there’s a man astride a woman’s buttocks with his hands pressed into her shoulders. The helpful description of what’s going on follows. “She kneels, hands clasped behind her neck, breasts and face on the bed. He kneels behind. She hooks her legs over his and pulls him to her with them.” With me so far? Let’s go to stage two. “He puts a hand on each of her shoulder-blades and presses down. Very deep position – apt to pump her full of air which escapes later in a disconcerting manner – otherwise excellent.” Intriguing stuff. Why would she be pumped full of air? Just how disconcerting is the escape of air? Should we have the emergency services on standby? What tools should they bring? ‘

22 August 2002
[blogs] Haddock Blogs — All the Haddock Blogs in one place … ‘Surprisingly little was written on DMT.’ [Related: Azeem,, Builder of Stuff, Dreadberry,, Interconnected, Malbec, Oblomovka, Overmorgen,, Technovia, Webslog, Yoz Grahame’s Commonplace Megaphone]
23 August 2002
[gambling] Hacking Las Vegas‘In Las Vegas, the casino has the right to bar anyone it wants. (Atlantic City has more “civilized” rules: The casinos can’t bar card counters, however they can annoy and harass them with constant shuffles, dealer changes, and other countermeasures.) Individual card counters who follow Thorp’s system and succeed quickly find themselves first unwelcome and then extinct: In gaming parlance, they’re dinosaurs. By the early ’70s, the casinos had overcome their initial panic. They had learned to identify and contain the enemy. So the enemy did what every good enemy does: It got smarter.’ [via Kottke]
[comics] Chapel Hellion — profile of Get Your War On creator David Rees … ‘After Sept. 11, as the news became grimmer, readers may have noticed Rees’ officeworkers growing progressively more erratic. Allusions to alcohol and drug consumption peppered the strip, limning the depressed, ennui-drenched state of a “nation in crisis.” When one officeworker asks another how he’s “enduring his freedom,” his friend responds: “OK, I guess. I drink myself into a stupor every night. I can’t get out of bed because I’m afraid of what I’ll hear on the radio. My daughter is still wetting her bed. And I’m supposed to fly to Chicago for a meeting on Thursday.” “That’s what I like to hear!” responds his interlocutor, in a Prozac-induced haze.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
24 August 2002
[war] Notes from a Suicide Manual — excerpts from a Kamikaze’s cockpit reading … ‘At the very moment of impact: do your best. Every deity and the spirits of your dead comrades are watching you intently. Just before the collision it is essential that you do not shut your eyes for a moment so as not to miss the target. Many have crashed into the targets with wide-open eyes. They will tell you what fun they had.’
[words] The Julie Burchill Random Recycler‘I must say there are few things that irritate me more than the car-crash that is her private life with no old-school network a drag queen made bitter by a real woman’s breasts.’ [via Sashinka]
25 August 2002
[diana] ‘Now, about that passport…’ — interview with Mohamed al-Fayed‘Chester puts his head around the door again, to suggest his boss’s imminent appearance. “What you must please remember,” he says, with profound delicacy, “is that Mr al-Fayed is still very much a grieving father, and this is the fifth anniversary of the death of his son. He will no doubt among other things give you his thoughts on Prince Philip and, taken out of context, to some unsympathetic ears, some of this may make him sound like a bit of a ranting lunatic… But you must understand he cares very deeply about these things…” I promise to bear it in mind.’
26 August 2002
[music] Hit Charade — the problem with the music industry … ‘Since 1980, the mainstream music industry has only consolidated: Five companies control CD sales, MTV owns a multi-channel music-TV franchise, and a single company, Clear Channel, dominates both the concert business and Top 40 and rock radio. Ironically, if unsurprisingly, the biz has suffered from its near-monopolistic control. Short-sighted labels and tightly programmed radio have bolstered the success of certain styles and performers but prevented anything fresh from breaking through.’ [via Sore Eyes]
[comics] Why New Marvel Sucks Ass! — Mark Millar pretends to be a REAL Marvel Fan … ‘I’m here for a reason, gentle reader, and that reason is to explain why New Marvel sucks the penis of SATAN. Now I don’t write this as some middle-aged virgin typing in his mother’s basement. I am, in fact, currently intimate with a very beautiful, mature lady I met on the Earth: Final Conflict boards last year …’
27 August 2002
[books] The Word Factory — great interview with Iain Banks …

‘I would dread to think that either we’re as good as it gets, or that the universe is empty. If there’s nobody else out there, it’s all going to fall to us eventually, which is a frightening responsibility.’

28 August 2002
[books] Zadie Bites Back — update and interview with Zadie Smith … Phil Davis: ‘…I wanted to get under the skin of a character that I recognised. There are parts of my father in Archie. He’s a product of another era, when things were more fixed and certain, but most people were essentially unhappy, trapped in awful jobs. In many ways, that’s what’s so lifelike about the book. It says, “This is what life is like for most people” – random, mundane, only occasionally inspiring. If you ask me, that’s what touches people about White Teeth.’ [Related: The Autograph Man]
29 August 2002
[comics] Die Puny Humans — Warren Ellis has a weblog … ‘die puny humans is my newsmine. I wanted a place to put my research that was accessible, searchable, and, crucially, not cluttering up my bloody computer. This is it. Means I can get to my stuff from anywhere with a web connection. Anything I find on my daily trawls around the web that interests me goes up here.’
[blogs] Scotblog — A real, live BBC Scotland Blog from Martin at the Copydesk‘Wish you were here, blah, blah, blah… What exactly is the point of postcards?’
30 August 2002
[web] Meet Mr. Anti-Google — interview with a guy who believes that Google’s PageRank algorithm is evil and wrong. ‘…Google does seem all-powerful. It’s been four years since the search engine came online, and in those years, while the whole industry has crumbled around it, Google, somehow, has only became bigger, better and more popular. To someone like Brandt, someone not unfriendly to conspiracy theories and wary of the “power structure,” the Web according to Google must be a hard thing to bear. And bizarre as it may seem to go after a service as loved as Google is, on evidence as thin as Brandt offers, isn’t it more surprising that it’s taken this long for someone to snap up the domain name? Google seems indomitable, and Brandt’s fight is, certainly, doomed from the start. But perhaps it’s time someone took on Google — even if just for the fun of it.’ [Related: Google-Watch, Metafilter Thread, via Beesley]
[blogs] The Sri Chinmoy Project — Mo Morgan discovers a sinister cult abusing‘Odd, I thought. But it was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.’ [Related: Metafilter Thread]
31 August 2002
[comics] The Kill Your Boyfriend Random Quote Generator‘You know, I didn’t think I’d ever fall in love with anyone. Thank God our relationship’s never going to have to stand the test of time.’ [via planetbond]
[underworld] Look Deeper … ‘It was just silly crap but it hit the spot.’