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January 1, 2003
[web] The Peanuts Arcana Tarot Deck‘Featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown’



The Hierophant: ‘…often represents learning with experts or knowledgeable teachers. This card also stands for institutions and their values. The Hierophant is a symbol of the need to conform to rules or fixed situations. His appearance in a reading can show that you are struggling with a force that is not innovative, free-spirited or individual. Groups can be enriching or stifling, depending on circumstances. Sometimes we need to follow a program or embrace tradition, other times, we need to trust ourselves.
January 2, 2003
[web] Jamie Zawinski’s Livejournal is always worth a look‘You’ll often hear cypherpunk weenies with poorly-thought-out philosophies trot out “information wants to be free” as some kind of pseudo-socialist Utopian vision, but the point is, information “wants” to be free in the same way nature “abhors” a vacuum: it’s not some moral view, it’s just the natural state of affairs. It’s the path of least resistance. It is “the sound of inevitability.”’
[world] Our Quality of Life Peaked in 1974. It’s All Downhill Now — George Monbiot on the illusion of never-ending growth and progress … ‘Our economic system depends upon never-ending growth, yet we live in a world with finite resources. Our expectation of progress is, as a result, a delusion. This is the great heresy of our times, the fundamental truth which cannot be spoken. It is dismissed as furiously by those who possess power today – governments, business, the media – as the discovery that the earth orbits the sun was denounced by the late medieval church. Speak this truth in public and you are dismissed as a crank, a prig, a lunatic.’
January 3, 2003
[web] Metafilter: Remixed — A collaborative site for rating posts on Metafilter‘The posts you see on this page have been voted on as excellent Metafilter threads. A lot of people find Metafilter a little too unwieldy to read through these days, and a lot of people also wish they had some better way of rewarding great posts other than just commenting “Great thread!”‘ [via Metatalk]
[religion] Why Mother Teresa Should not be a Saint — Christopher Hitchens on the canonization of Mother Teresa‘I discovered that she had taken money from rich dictators like the Duvalier gang in Haiti, had been a friend of poverty rather than a friend of the poor, had never given any account of the huge sums of money donated to her, had railed against birth-control in the most overpopulated city on the planet and had been the spokeswoman for the most extreme dogmas of religious fundamentalism. Actually, it’s boasting to say that I “discovered” any of this. It was all there in plain sight for anyone to notice. But in the age of celebrity, nobody had troubled to ask if such a global reputation was truly earned or was simply the result of brilliant public relations.’
January 4, 2003
[comics] Scarlet Traces: Digital Artwork Step By Step — Comic artist D’israeli’s guide to creating comic art digitally … ‘I miss the smell of ink and the feel of my fifty-year-old drawing pens against smooth drawing paper, but I don’t miss smearing ink across the page by accident or correcting with process white or trying to erase the pencil on a finished page and constantly finding you’ve missed a bit. Because I trained as a designer, I don’t value original artwork; to me it’s just a stage on the way to the finished product. On the whole, working without originals is a great relief. And I just love the Undo function.’ [via Bugpowder]
January 5, 2003
[lmg] What LMG was linking to in January 2001 and January 2002.
[radio] Northern Lights — BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting a dramatisation of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman over the next three weeks… Terrance Stamp is playing Lord Asriel. [via I Love Everything]
January 6, 2003
[books] All the Best for the New Year [Part 1 | Part 2] — a cultural preview for 2003. William Gibson’s new book looks really interesting: ‘Pattern Recognition, his seventh novel, is notable for being set in London one year after 11 September, and the business of imagining the future takes a back seat to the complexities of the modern world. In a tip of the hat to Naomi Klein, the heroine, Cayce Pollard, makes her living through an unusual sensitivity to corporate branding. When a toothsome ad executive asks her to investigate the source of a mysterious phenomenon on the internet, which could be the most important viral marketing campaign ever devised, Cayce soon becomes entangled in a world of paranoid surveillance and commodity fetishism. Pattern Recognition is a stylish and ambitious novel.’
[comics] Who Cares? — Jack Chick on 9/11 … [via Metafilter]



‘Bob, now I know that Allah doesn’t really love me or even care about any Muslim. But Jesus, the Son of God, does. That’s why I must chose Jesus.’
January 7, 2003
[blogs] William Gibson has a blog‘In spite of (or perhaps because of) my reputation as a reclusive quasi-Pynchonian luddite shunning the net (or word-processors, depending on what you Google) I hope to be here on a more or less daily basis.’ [via Boing Boing]
January 8, 2003
[comics] Eyewitness in Gaza — Observer review of Joe Sacco‘s Palestine … ‘Approaching such daunting topics with a disreputable and supposedly juvenile medium may seem futile, even absurd, yet Sacco’s greatest achievement is to have so poignantly depicted contradiction, oppression and horror in a form that manages to be both disarming and disquieting.’ [Buy Palestine: UK | US]
[books] Pattern Recognition — extract from William Gibson‘s new book … ‘Damien is a friend. Their boy-girl Lego doesn’t click, he would say. Damien is thirty, Cayce two years older, but there is some carefully insulated module of immaturity in him, some shy and stubborn thing that frightened the money people. Both have been very good at what they’ve done, neither seeming to have the least idea of why. Google Damien and you will find a director of music videos and commercials. Google Cayce and you will find “coolhunter,” and if you look closely you may see it suggested that she is a “sensitive” of some kind, a dowser in the world of global marketing. Though the truth, Damien would say, is closer to allergy, a morbid and sometimes violent reactivity to the semiotics of the marketplace.’
January 9, 2003
[comics] Two Samples [#1] [#2] from Joe Sacco’s Palestine comic. ”It’s good for the comic. It’s good for the comic. It’s good for the comic.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
[blogs] Nico asks: ‘If you kill your clone, is it suicide or murder or both?’
January 10, 2003
[comics] Author Praised for Comic-Book on Palestine Tragedy — more on Joe Sacco and his comic Palestine … ‘Drawing on first-hand experiences, extensive research and more than 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews, Sacco has gained access to unusually intimate testimony, giving space to details and perspectives normally excluded by mainstream media coverage. “I came from the standpoint of ‘Palestinian equals terrorist’,” Mr Sacco wrote. “That’s what’s filtered down in the course of watching the regular network news.” He makes no pretence of the observer’s invisibility and depicts his own initial disbelief of reported detentions and torture. Nor does he shy away from revealing his own ambiguities as a visiting Western journalist.’ [via Egon]
[cloning] A Clone Writes — Lowri Turner writes about what it’s like to be a clone twin. ‘…up to now, I may have been a freak, but I was regarded as a benevolent one. Now, thanks to a mad doctor working for an even madder religious cult, the term clone has entered everyday use. Suddenly, being part of a matching set has taken on a much more threatening edge. My worry now is that I will be seen not so much as a genetic accident as part of some Bond-style plot to people the world with an identikit master race.’
January 11, 2003
[uk] A Cynic’s Guide To Entitlement (*cough* ID *cough*) Cards — an internet campaign against proposed compulsory ID cards in the UK …

‘ID Cards are one of those ideas that the public never votes on, but governments always propose. When you’re a minister, having an easy-to-get-at list of everyone in the country sounds a terrific idea. But when you find out quite how many people don’t share that opinion, you’re tempted to think again. Especially when those people are voters. Oh, sure, that’s us speaking cynically. But cynically speaking, we think, is better than not speaking at all.’ [MORE]

January 13, 2003
[books] Particular Obsessions — profile of the author Nicholson Baker and his new book‘A Box of Matches isn’t just about groping around the house before dawn and lighting fires. It also deals – in exhaustive detail – with such domestic mysteries as hole-ridden socks, belly-button lint and emptying the dishwasher. It features a protagonist/narrator practically indistinguishable from Baker himself and a family suspiciously like the wife and two children sleeping soundly in various rooms around Baker’s 18th-century wood-panelled, oak-beamed house. Even the pet duck that features prominently in the book is instantly recognisable as one of two now quacking in the yard. Baker has made a virtue of celebrating daily existence, whether it is the kaleidoscopic detailing of a single lunch hour in The Mezzanine [or] the labyrinthine sexual obsessions of The Fermata…’
January 14, 2003
[comics] Begging the Question — interview with Bob Fingerman the creator of White Like She and Minimum Wage …

‘NRAMA: So that’s the key to success?
BF: [laughs] Keys to happy living. Don’t draw comics, don’t write about comics, marry well.’

January 15, 2003
[web] With Friends Like These — Rod Liddle on Friends Reunited‘The long, intervening years since school are assumed to have overlaid a gloss of civility, nostalgia and affection but, really, they haven’t. Radgey: you can sod right off, you little thug. So can the snivelling, boring, fat boy who, in a physics class in 1976, we wired up to the mains using crocodile clips. Zzzzapp! They have photos at Friends Reunited and he is still fat. And snivelling and boring, too. He communicated with me, the fat boy, in the manner of a much-loved, long-lost friend. But really he was just curious to see whether I was in prison yet.’
January 16, 2003
[comics] Warren Ellis reviews Get Your War On. [Buy GYWO: UK | US] …

Panels from Get You War On

‘This book, collecting the majority of the strips so far, is an amazing artifact; not only is it one of the few successful transferences of web material into print, but it clearly shows the guy growing into the work and, in a few short months, sees him go from clunky-but-funny into someone totally in control of his materials and timing.’
January 20, 2003
[film] The Two Jacks — profile of Jack Nicholson‘Nicholson has often said that his films are “one long autobiography” – the reason he has no plans to write a memoir. With a little poetic – or comic – licence, you can well imagine many lines from his movies being written about the actor himself. In Five Easy Pieces, his character is criticised for abandoning his pregnant girlfriend: “I can’t say much for someone who’d leave a woman in a situation like that and feel easy about it.” “I don’t think he’s overly psychotic,” a psychiatrist says of his character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, “but I still think he’s quite sick.”‘
[comics] The Accidental Artist — interview with David Rees the creator of Get Your War On. ‘…despite rumors of hate mail, Rees says the response to the strip has been almost unanimously encouraging. “The positive outnumbers the negative 30-to-1,” he said. No one has made the slightest move to shut him down. “This is an awesome country!” he exclaimed. It’s hard to be sure whether he means it. On the other hand, it’s possible that Capitol Hill has just not yet noticed Rees. “It takes like 400 years for culture to get there,” he observed.’ [via Sore Eyes]
January 21, 2003
[books] Extract from A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker. ‘…when the hole in the sock on my foot became intolerable, I reached down and pulled it off in a clean, strong motion and flipped it across the room in the direction of the trash can — although I have to say there is something almost painfully incongruous in the sight of an article of underclothing that one has worn and warmed with one’s own body for many days and years, lying bunched in the trash.’ [via Anglepoised]
[weblogs] Warming Up — the comedian and writer Richard Herring has a weblog (kinda) … ‘I’ll do my best to eventually have something from every day. Sometimes it is quite hard to think of anything. Especially as much of my day is spent sitting in my house writing, or failing to write. But I figure that there has to be one interesting thing in every 24 hours.’ [via Gas Giant]
January 22, 2003
[comics] Fans Howl in Protest as Judge Decides X-Men Aren’t Human — the X-Men are apparently “nonhuman creatures” according to a Judge in New York … ‘To Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan (x-mencomics.com/xfan/), Marvel’s argument is appalling. The X-Men — mere creatures? “This is almost unthinkable,” he says. “Marvel’s super heroes are supposed to be as human as you or I. They live in New York. They have families and go to work. And now they’re no longer human?”‘ [via Pete and Pelvey]
January 23, 2003
[reading] At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft‘Through the desolate summits swept ranging, intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evilly fabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book at the college library.’
[blogs] Tagline: ‘So Gangs of New York. Hey, from what I saw: the street fights, the spaceships, the elephant, the Transformers cameo, the ornate facial hair; it looked great, you should check it out.’
January 24, 2003
[politics] British-U.S. Union — web site for the The Expansionist Party who advocate UK union with America … ‘Britain is in the wrong Union. Rather than the European Union, a group hostile to Britain and the English language, Britain belongs in the American Union, on the road to worldwide English-Speaking Union.’ [via politX]
[links] Remaindered Links — Kottke launches a Linklog.
January 25, 2003
[email] Reaction to the DEC Spam of 1978 — the first ever Spam email … ‘WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH. […] A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE.’ [Related: A Brief History of Spam]
January 26, 2003
[comics] New X-Men #136 — a great thread on Grant Morrison‘s latest issue of X-Men over at the comics forum on Barbelith‘There were worrying things about Xorn even in his stand-alone issue, and I remember this being discussed – “If I could save every life, I would” – but you can’t. And how do you deal with that realisation – how do you handle death? Morrison did actually say in an interview early on that NXM would be about death, and he wasn’t kidding. Xorn’s already got so depressed he nearly destroyed the world once – what if the senselessness of it all pushes him that close as well?’
January 27, 2003
[film] Young and Breathless — profile of Paul Thomas Anderson‘Anderson’s main characters talk in just the same way — Boogie Nights’ porn star Dirk Diggler; Magnolia’s earnest LAPD cop, Jim Kurring; Punch-Drunk Love’s Barry Egan, a sex-line-ringing, occasionally violent entrepreneur. These men might seem slow at first glance — even gormless — but all prove remarkable: superheroes whose special power is innocence.’
[politics] Hoggart’s Parliament Sketches — an archive of recent articles by Simon Hoggart about the British Parliament. On Tony Blair: ‘…he walked away with the cheers of his own party echoing round the chamber. It must be an extraordinary sensation – even in these days when the Commons counts for so much less – to arrive facing 30 minutes of abuse and complaint, and to leave hearing huzzas, bellows of applause, and the demented waving of order papers. It was like those TV dramas in which Winston Churchill thrills the House in 1940: the noises are a little too loud, over enthusiastic, too actory. It sounded like that. My guess is that Alastair Campbell has had a silicone chip installed in Mr Blair’s Y-fronts.’
January 28, 2003
[mp3] Hating Hilary — profile of Hilary Rosen the frontwoman for the RIAA

‘Commercially speaking, it’s hard to argue that peer-to-peer music-sharing doesn’t have the same effect as walking out of Virgin Megastore with the latest Coldplay CD under your jacket. But by moralizing the issue – here and in a series of ads featuring artists like Stevie Wonder and Britney Spears – Rosen and her colleagues have failed to grasp the fact that they’ve already lost. File-sharing has become part of pop culture; witness the Intel ad that shows a scruffy guy happily burning tunes onto a CD-R. To some extent, at least, the record companies have themselves to blame. Whereas blank CDs sell for pennies at the nearest CVS, the price of new releases continues to creep up in most stores, to the point where movies can be cheaper to own. Rosen, 44, seems to have planted herself squarely in the path of inevitable technological change.’

January 29, 2003
[comics] When Grant Morrison had hair… (click image to enlarge) …

Grant Morrison in 1990 by Steve Yeowell

‘It was great […] I got to do the Flash. The real Flash, not this abomination that’s running around today. One of the most exciting moments of my entire life, believe it or not, was writing the sequence where Barry Allen presses his ring and the costume leaps out. When I wrote that I was sitting there all charged up with adrenalin. I suppose that just shows how sheltered a life I’ve led.’
January 30, 2003
[books] Logomancer — a review of William Gibson‘s new book by Rudy Rucker‘Cool hunting, advertising, and marketing pervade Pattern Recognition – the book’s acronym is PR, after all. Pollard “knows too much about the processes responsible for the way product is positioned in the world, and sometimes finds herself doubting that there is much else going on.” But The Footage is there to prove her wrong. The Web makes it possible for an independent artist to gain a global following for no commercial purpose whatsoever. Gibson exploits the inherent tension between the monoculture and the emergence of novelty. On one hand, the monoculture lives by assimilating originality. On the other, new art has nothing but the monoculture to launch itself from. It’s one of the happy paradoxes of modern life.’
[comics] Interview with Grant Morrison by Rich Johnson. GM on the WACKYJAC photos: ‘…think of it as a kind of Victoria’s Secret that should have been KEPT and perhaps the images won’t hurt so badly. Now if I hadn’t been flaccid, it would have been illegal, so be glad I spared humanity.’ [via Barbelith]
January 31, 2003
[politics] The lady’s not for turning – but will her party turn to her? — what’s Ann Widdecombe up to? ‘…she must be more of a threat to Mr Letwin than anyone on the Labour side of the House. She praises him with deadly condescension as “a brilliant brain”, and predicts that, at the next election, the Tories will advocate the detention of all asylum-seekers. “On asylum, crime and tax, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in 2005 the manifesto that we fight on is the same under another name as the one in 2001.” Ambition still lurks. Twice in the interview, she accidentally referred to herself as Home Secretary.’
[distraction] Snowball — throw snowballs and get sworn at. Not safe for work. [thanks John]
February 1, 2003
[shuttle] Metafilter on the Columbia Disaster

Screen Grab of Metafilter

February 2, 2003
[shuttle] ‘I knew what was about to happen’ — two NASA engineers describe the “inside story” behind the Challenger Shuttle Disaster in 1986 … ‘When the clock reached T minus five seconds the two engineers held hands and braced themselves for an explosion. But to their immense relief Challenger cleared the launch pad. “I turned to Bob and said ‘we’ve just dodged a bullet,’ because it was our expectation it would blow up on the pad.” The two men began to relax. But then, at 73 seconds, the heart-stopping plume of white smoke suddenly filled the screen.’
February 3, 2003
[comics] Eddie Campbell has announced he has stopped self-publishing for “the foreseeable future”. Some good news: ‘For the rest of the year I’ll be working on a one-off Batman book, writing and painting. (I seem to have got into this gig by a series of peculiar accidents). In a way it could be viewed as a development of my interview with old Batman artist Lew Sayre Schwartz in Egomania #1. I’ll also be revisiting From Hell territory since the book is set in London in 1939 and involves a complicated mystery and a very eccentric secret society.’ [via ¡Journalista!]
[shuttle] Net History… First Mention of the 1986 Challenger Disaster on Usenet. ‘…it appears that the first inflight disaster of the NASA space program has claimed the lives of six astronauts and NASA’s first passenger. The disaster occured 17 years and 1 day after the Apollo I tragedy.’
February 4, 2003
[comics] The Muslim World — a great map/cartoon from Derf. [via Bugpowder]
[shuttle] Beam Me Out Of This Death Trap, Scotty — article from 1980 about problems within NASA’s Space Shuttle program … ‘The main cause of [problems] is currently the shuttle’s refractory tiles, which disperse the heat of reentry from the ship’s nose and fuselage. Columbia must be fitted out with 33,000 of these tiles, each to be applied individually, each unique in shape. The inch-thick tiles, made of pyrolized carbon, are amazing in two respects. They can be several hundred degrees hot on one side while remaining cool to the touch on the other. They do not boil away like the ablative heat shieldings of capsules and modules; they can be used indefinitely. But they’re also a bit of a letdown in another respect–they’re so fragile you can hardly touch them without shattering them.’ [via Metafilter]
February 5, 2003
[films] UK Film Release Dates — very useful. [via Sashinka]
[music] Oh, You Little Devil — profile of Kelly Osbourne‘She says Jack, her younger brother, is actually less crazed than he used to be. “The therapy has helped. He’s less violent and more motivated to do stuff.” Are you in therapy, Kelly? “God, no. I tried it once and hated it. I can give myself better advice.” I bet she can. And does. She appears not only absolutely to know herself, and her mind, but also absolutely to like herself as she is, which is quite something. If she is fast becoming a sort of anti-Britney, anti-Christina teen icon — “They can both kiss my fat ass,” she once famously said — I think it can only be good news, frankly.’
February 6, 2003
[books] AL Kennedy’s top 10 controversial books … [via I Love Everything]

‘Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S Thompson. Insanity, obscenity, profanity, illegality and reptilian paranoia – but which is more distressing, HST’s lunatic chemical life and Gonzo prose style, or Richard Milhous Nixon and co taking a whole country for a nasty ride? And where, by the way, is the energy of Gonzo now when we need it?’

Brief Extract from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

‘On page 39 of California Living magazine I found a hand-lettered ad from the McDonald’s Hamburger Corporation, one of Nixon’s big contributors in the ’72 presidential campaign: PRESS ON, it said. NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF PERSISTENCE. TALENT WILL NOT: NOTHING IS MORE COMMON THAN UNSUCESSFUL MEN WITH TALENT. GENIUS WILL NOT: UNREWARDED GENIUS IS ALMOST A PROVERB. EDUCATION ALONE WILL NOT: THE WORLD IS FULL OF EDUCATED DERELICTS. PERSISTENCE AND DETERMINATION ALONE ARE OMNIPOTENT. I read it several times before I grasped the full meaning.’

February 7, 2003
[comics] Matt’s World — Newsarama interviews Joe Matt. ‘The last few girlfriends I’ve had including my current one have all read my comics. They were all fans. It definitely helps. If they can read all that and still want to go out with me the worst is over.’
[books] Brewer’s Unoriginal Miscellany‘This is not Schott’s Original Miscellany.’ [via Troubled Diva]
February 8, 2003
[shuttle] Shuttle Tiles had History of Glitches — backgrounder on the history of Space Shuttle tiles … ‘It took forever to glue on the thermal tiles that shielded the space shuttle from the scorching heat of reentry — nearly two man-years of work for every flight — and the glue dried so fast that technicians had to mix a new batch after every couple of tiles. But they came up with a solution: spit in the glue so it took longer to harden.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
February 9, 2003
[film] Who’s the proper Charlie? — nice profile of Jonze and Kaufman’s new film Adaptation‘…little is revealed about Kaufman beyond what we suspected in the first few minutes; that he is effortlessly neurotic, terminally self-conscious, and spectacularly ill-suited to the latte-sipping, air-kissing, back-stabbing, social snake pit that is contemporary Hollywood. What’s more, the sweating, pacing, fretting Kaufman we see on screen, barely articulate in an interview with an executive, could well be an exaggeration, even a caricature, of the real one. Or, indeed, a complete fabrication.’ [Related: the film trailer, and Kottke’s Adaptation Blog]
February 10, 2003
[music] Bjork Video Gallery — all of Bjork’s videos in Quicktime … [via Metafilter]

big time sensuality -- bjork in nyc on a flatbed truck
‘I don’t know my future after this weekend and I don’t want to.’

[comics] Chaykin’s Mighty Love — Newsarama interview with Howard Chaykin … On his new comic: ‘The germ of this came from my wife — who asked me why there weren’t anymore love comics. I explained that all comics are love comics, because they’re all soap opera. That wasn’t what she wanted to hear, so she pushed and badgered me, and ultimately what emerged was the title, Mighty Love — the idea of doing a screwball romantic comedy with people wearing masks. The natural source of that would be The Shop Around the Corner, You’ve Got Mail, and all those stories of mistaken identities.’
February 11, 2003
[politics] If it was a nasty party that won all those elections… — profile of Norman Tebbit‘He admits that he plays “spot the Brit” on escalators on the London Underground. But it would be very wrong to see the man who once proposed a “cricket test” for immigrants as today’s Enoch Powell figure. His distaste for “multiculturalism” should not be mistaken as a cover for racism. He recently was the star guest at a dinner to raise funds for medical services in Bangladesh, and repeatedly praises many aspects of Muslim life. “If we had more people in our inner cities who benefited from extended families and from sharing places of worship, we would probably have a better society,” he says.’
[blogs] Dear Raed — blogging from Baghdad … ‘Powell speech is around 6pm in Baghdad, the whole family is getting together for tea and dates-pastry to watch the (Powell Rocks the UN) show. Not on Iraqi TV of course, we have decided to put up the satellite dish to watch it, yes we will put it away afterwards until the next event. I don’t exactly like the thought of two months in prison just to have 24 hour BBC…’ [thanks Pete]
February 12, 2003
[tv] The Hair Apparent — Charlie Higson discusses turning Swiss Toni into a sitcom. ‘…Swiss is a man who has invented his own persona in order to deal with the world. A lot of people do this, they create a character for themselves which they can hide behind. The comedy comes from the gap between how Swiss thinks the world perceives him and how he really is. He’s a man putting up a suave, sophisticated front while behind it everything crumbles to dust. So he has an over-the-top look, voice and manner, but somewhere there’s a frightened little boy peering out at the world from inside this glossy suit of armour.’
February 13, 2003
[comics] Seth Returns to Palookaville — update on the cartoonist Seth‘Outside of his work, Seth is probably best known for his appearances in Joe Matt’s Peepshow comic, where the conversations between those two and Yummy Fur’s Chester Brown has become part of comic book legend. Do the three still hang out? “Sure. But last night the three of us had our farewell dinner for Joe Matt. He’s leaving Toronto for good.” What, can this trio really be broken up forever? “It’s going to be odd. But Chester and I were friends before Joe showed up.”‘
[blogs] UKBlogs Aggregator — follow ukblogs via an updated feed … Also available as an RSS Feed.
pete bagge cartoon[comics] Observations from a Reluctant Anti-Warrior — “cartoon journalism” from Pete Bagge … [Related: Mefi Comments | via Boing Boing]
February 14, 2003
[fight] Who could you take in a fight? — the Onion AV Club asks a bunch of celebs. Alan Moore: ‘Ooh, let me see. Most superheroes, really. When you know them, they’re not anywhere near as tough as they appear. Whoopi Goldberg. I don’t think I’d have any trouble there. Macaulay Culkin. He better not start anything.’ [via I Love Everything]
[film] Let’s Make a Meta-Movie — more on the movie Adaptation‘”I guess it documents my failure to do my job,” Kaufman says. The real Kaufman, that is. The real Kaufman is neither balding or sweaty. He is, instead, a wiry man in his mid-40s, hunched inside a black suit, with a tangle of brown curls on top of his head and a faceful of beard. He wears the polite grimace of someone for who all social contact is inherently painful, the only variant how much. “Although it’s not something I’m good at being snappy and quotable about.”‘
February 15, 2003
[film] Green Party — Entertainment Weekly asks: “Is the Hulk ready for his close-up?” …’the real test of the movie Hulk will come not in the scenes of him smashing tanks, but in his quieter interactions with flesh-and-blood characters. ”In the commercial, we don’t get a sense of whether the Hulk will emote at all,” Knowles says. Given the past work of director Lee (”Sense and Sensibility,” ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), some sensitive Hulk moments seem inevitable, and such scenes could show up when a full-length trailer hits theaters Feb. 14 with prints of ”Daredevil.” But even without them, one expert already sees the beast’s softer side. Says Ferrigno: ”I think he’s cute.”’ [Related: Hulk Trailer]
February 16, 2003
[blogs] Google Buys Blogger — WTF?! ‘…now Google will surge to the forefront of what David Krane, the company’s director of corporate communications, called “a global self-publishing phenomenon that connects Internet users with dynamic, diverse points of view while also enabling comment and participation.” “We’re thrilled about the many synergies and future opportunities between our two companies,” he said in a statement on Saturday.’

  • Evhead: ‘Holy Crap.’
  • Shellen.com: ‘Well, looks like someone scooped us on our own story.’
  • Boing Boing: ‘Right in the middle of the panel discussion [at Live at the Blogosphere], Ev gets a call on his cellphone and announces live for the first time in public — in person, and by way of his blog — that Google bought Blogger.’
  • Metafilter: ‘There goes the neighborhood.’
  • Slashdot: ‘Great :( So as if my searches weren’t already becoming diluted with Blog drivel they definitely will now!’
  • Blogdex, Daypop and Google News Tracking.
  • Oblomovka: ‘Winer’s going to go ballistic.’
  • Nick Denton: ‘It’s huge news, both for weblog publishing, and search.’
  • Anil Dash: ‘Now that the platform is moving to a presumably much more robust infrastructure, it’ll be interesting to see what effect that has on the services they offer in the future. My sense is that weblogs as a whole are more valuable than any one platform, tool, or community of weblogs.’
  • Interconnected — Google is building the Memex: ‘They’ve got one-to-one connections. Links. Now they’ve realised – like Ted Nelson – that the fundamental unit of the web isn’t the link, but the trail. And the only place that’s online is… weblogs.’
  • Cory Doctorow: ‘Blogger’s been treading water. It has a million blogs tied around its ankle, users who require constant care and feeding (I’m one of them!), who occupy a large fraction of its cycles. New users flow in every day, and the competition is sniffing around its heels, adding features (better RSS, trackback, more flexible APIs, RSS aggregation) that often require less scalability than they would in Blogger’s context…’

February 17, 2003
[books] Eggers v the Establishment — update on Dave Eggers‘He is what every young literary publisher in New York would love to be if only the accountants didn’t keep telling them the money is in self-improvement books. In short, Eggers can do it all. What he will not do is sit down and be interviewed, having learnt on the road to literary fame that accessibility is the death of journalistic curiosity.’
[blogs] More Google Buys Blogger Linkage:

  • Ev: ‘Everyone got quiet for a second while they read “Google buys Pyra.” Doc said “holy shit.” It was the coolest culmination and synchronicity, wirelessness, and instantaneous publishing.’
  • Live from the Blogosphere Transcript: ‘one more thing — Ev — evhead.com GOOGLE BUYS PYRA!!!! BLOGGING GOES BIGTIME HOLY SHIT!!!!’
  • Kottke: ‘It reminds me of the Netscape IPO. At the time, Netscape had a ton of good will from its users: it was good, it was free, people loved using it because it gave them access a global network of people and information…’
  • Mena Trott: ‘To truly integrate weblog metadata, Google needs to expand that content base. And in fact, Google’s acquisition of Deja, and subsequent creation of Google Groups, may provide a model for that: When Google acquired Deja, they only got access to about 6 years of Usenet history. But with the help of Usenet archivists they were able to piece together the entire history back to 1981.’
  • Guardian — Google gets Blogger and better: ‘Google has bought Blogger. Forget those peace protests around the world on Saturday: there is nothing more interesting to the weblog community than the weblog community, and this was the news of the weekend.’

February 18, 2003
[poet] Wizard of Oz — Guardian Online interviews Felix Denis‘There are jobs, particularly database-oriented ones, for which computers are necessary, but for everyday office life, I question whether they have brought the productivity that their enormous cost, up to £10,000 per person, demands. Nor do I believe they will. Computers are wasteful of paper and time. Once, we’d get documents with a few errors. Now, people make hundreds of copies until each sheet is flawless and memos are duplicated endlessly. Managers get swamped with emails.’
[blogs] Fame or misfortune beckons for weblogs? — BBC News on Google and Blogger … Comment from Rebbecca Blood: ‘Google buying Blogger validates the importance of weblogs to the internet ecosystem. You can’t devalue people and the things they care about.’
February 19, 2003
[web] Microsoft Gets a Clue From Its Kiddie Corps — Steven Levy on Microsoft’s new IM/P2P app Threedegrees‘Threedegrees is also a fascinating experiment in how music can be legally shared over the Internet. After much negotiation, the labels OK’d musicmix, once Microsoft agreed to somewhat hobble its features. (Playlists have a maximum of 60 tunes, and the songs won’t play unless the original owner is participating.)’ [Related: Slashdot on Threedegrees | thanks Phil]
February 20, 2003
[comics] Grant Morrison at the ICA on 28th March:


[science] You Ask The Questions — Richard Dawkins‘Q: If, when you die, you find yourself unexpectedly at the Pearly Gates, what would you say to St Peter? A: OK, I was wrong. But I was wrong for the right reasons. Those guys in there were right. But just look at their reasons.’
February 21, 2003
[tv] Chris Morris: the Movie — rare interview with “Britain’s greatest contemporary satirist”… On his BAFTA nomination: ‘Morris is even unsure whether or not to attend Sunday night’s Bafta bash. He hasn’t received his invitation yet, and doesn’t know if he’ll have to part with any money. Then there is the obvious fear of terrorist attack. “Just imagine if there was a similar situation to that siege in the Moscow theatre,” he moans, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Just think of it. All those celebrities, held inside at gunpoint. The looks on their faces. Wouldn’t that be terrible?” A moment later he has strolled off on a tangent. “It would be the perfect opportunity, though. I thought about this after the tragic death of Jill Dando, when they believed that she might have been killed by a Serbian agent. [I thought that] if a terrorist organisation wanted to knock out the moral compass of Britain, all they’d have to do is to kill 100 celebrities at random. The entire country would have an instant nervous breakdown.”‘
February 24, 2003
[comics] Comic Links …


[mood] Meanwhile, at Davos … [Related: Mefi Thread | via ext|circ]

‘The world isn’t run by a clever cabal. It’s run by about 5,000 bickering, sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who are accustomed to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal power. A few have both. Many of them turn out to be remarkably naive — especially about science and technology. All of them are financially wise, though their ranks have thinned due to unwise tech-stock investing. They pay close heed to politics, though most would be happy if the global political system behaved far more rationally — better for the bottom line.’

February 25, 2003
[film] Being Charlie Kaufman — Tilda Swinton profiles Charlie Kaufman‘Charlie Kaufman writes about identity. About escapology. About mortality. About monkeys. About the possibility of ‘facing inadequacy as a chimp’. About minds, refracted, inhabited, spotless and dangerous. About loneliness and its relationship to love. About the dance of despair and disillusionment. About what incarnation might actually be. About, as he puts it, the fact that ‘art always tells the truth even when it’s lying’. And above all about our incapacity to know the answers to any of our questions.’ [via I Love Everything]
February 26, 2003
[film] In Your Dreams — interview with Steven Soderbergh‘My theory is that he has never figured out what it is in his movies that works – what it is that his audience looks for when they come to a Soderbergh film. I don’t mean technically. Clearly, he has a visual sense that never flags, and any director who could orchestrate Traffic, shot in nine cities largely by himself with a hand-held camera and combining 110 principal parts, has to be something of a technical maestro. But what is his personal component?’
February 27, 2003
[comics] Why Team Comics is Still a Bad Idea — Tom Spurgeon dismisses grassroots/fan-based attempts to revive the comic-book industry … ‘Team Comics switches between two basic modes of entreaty: duty, by suggesting someone who really loves comics would do his best by them; and self-esteem, where one is flattered into believing he has the power to create a world in which his choice of entertainment reflects favorably upon him. The first asks for a cynic’s acceptance of standard business practices, while the second requires an optimist’s imagination to see the current day’s output as the medium in full flower. Stan Lee seized on both ideas to galvanize hardcore fans behind Marvel’s efforts in the 1960s. Today’s Team Comics booster resembles a Marvel Maniac with a slightly broader reading palette and industry-wide ambition.’ [via Neilalien]
[blogs] Let Slip the Blogs of War — amusing commentary on warblogs. ‘…it is precisely their unconventional methods that make the war bloggers enemies to be feared. Like Al-Qaeda, the war bloggers are a loosely structured network, a shadowy underground whose flexibility and compulsive log-rolling make them as cost-effective as they are deadly. Kill Glenn Reynolds and a thousand James Tarantos will rise in his place. Try to apply the Powell Doctrine and the war bloggers will elude our grasp. Ignore them and they’ll use our own weapons against us.’ [via Haddock]
[search requests] Bush and Blair Sing Endless Love.
February 28, 2003
[comics] Vertigo X Interview with Grant Morrison [Part 1 | Part 2] … On Reality TV in Scotland: ‘We have McBachelor, where a kilted throwback from the Isle of Eigg wrestles goats to the turf and slaughters kestrels with his fists in an attempt to impress single career women from the mainland.’ [via Barbelith]
March 2, 2003
[computers] Maximum Overdrive — Cory Doctorow on PC Overclockers. ‘…for those bent on achieving the highest clock speeds, there’s nothing like liquid nitrogen. Whether the chip survives doesn’t matter, as long as there’s time enough to boot up, launch a benchmark app, and capture a digital trophy of your accomplishment. Purchased in bulk from chemical or medical suppliers, liquid nitrogen can drop a CPU’s temperature below -310 degrees Fahrenheit – though, after being subjected to that kind of cold, the machine’s other components won’t have much life left in them, either. Still, the message boards at Futuremark.com overflow with legends and advice about handling liquid nitro. “LN2 evaporates off your skin instantaneously,” one veteran writes, “but if it gets on your clothes, it will stick to you – instant frostbite. Work naked for safety.”‘
March 3, 2003
[comics] Abiogenisis Publishes Moore Tribute — Newsarama previews a tribute comic due in May for Alan Moore’s 50th. birthday. Gary Spencer Millidge: ‘…we quickly got together a wish-list of creators would we would invite to contribute. Our criteria was that they had to be either of significant stature, or they had to have had some kind of relationship with, or interesting connection to Alan. We also wanted to reflect Alan’s influence across the worlds of literature, film and music in addition to his comics writing, and also highlight his influence and popularity across the world of comics, so we have many international comics creators contributing to the book.’ [Related: Press release from Abiogenisis | thanks Stu]
March 4, 2003
[name] Your Not Me — find out how many people in the UK share your name My name is… ‘unique like a yeti or some form of Magic Chimp.’ [via Swish Cottage]
[blog] Blimey! LMG is Three Years Old! It all began with a quote (very apt) …

‘I’ve done questionable things.’ — Roy Batty.

[war] The Palace of the End — Martin Amis on the coming war in Iraq … Three quotes:

‘Osama bin Laden is an identifiable human type, but on an unidentifiable scale. He is an enormous stirrer – a titanic mixer. Look how he’s shaken us up, both in the heart and in the head. One could say, countervailingly, that on September 11 America was visited by something very alien and unbelievably radical. A completely new kind of enemy for whom death is not death – and for whom life is not life, either, but illusion, a staging-post, merely “the thing which is called World”. No, you wouldn’t expect such a massive world-historical jolt, which will reverberate for centuries, to be effortlessly absorbed. But the suspicion remains that America is not behaving rationally – that America is behaving like someone still in shock.’

‘We hear about the successful “Texanisation” of the Republican party. And doesn’t Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?’

‘Saddam’s hands-on years in the dungeons distinguish him from the other great dictators of the 20th century, none of whom had much taste for “the wet stuff”. The mores of his regime have been shaped by this taste for the wet stuff – by a fascinated negative intimacy with the human body, and a connoisseurship of human pain.’

March 5, 2003
[google] Intriguing Search Request … Tidy Version: ‘My brother is disenchanted with his position as an advertising artist and has told you that he plans to leave this job to open a small business. He knows that he has an excellent reputation and is known as an outstanding artist. He also has a friend in the advertising industry who will provide him with a loan to start the business. These three factors (reputation, talent, and start-up financing) are the most important if he is to succeed at is new endeavor. He has asked you for your opinion regarding his plans. Agree / Disagree? Explain.’
March 6, 2003
[war] War is Stupid — lots of quotes on war …

‘Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.’ — Winston Churchill

‘I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.’ — Dwight D. Eisenhower

‘It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.’ — Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

[food] How to: Pasta Bolognese — student cookery from Minor 9th‘To make pasta bolognese you will need: small pack of mince, can of chopped tomatoes, an onion, two cloves of garlic, mushrooms, basil, oregano and mixed herbs. Wine optional…’
March 7, 2003
[science] You Ask The Questions — Sir Patrick Moore‘Q: Have you ever seen a UFO while gazing into space? Would you be surprised if an alien landed in your garden? A: Yes, I have spotted a UFO. I was in my observatory one night, looking at the Moon. Then I saw dozens of flying saucers swirling around. I thought: “The Martians have arrived!” But then I realised I was looking at pollen slightly out of focus. The moonlight was playing tricks on me! Of course, aliens could visit Earth — after all, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy. And I’d be delighted if they landed in my garden. I’d say, “Good afternoon. Tea or coffee?”‘
March 8, 2003
[joke] Aleister Crowley explains Magic …

”There were these two men, sharing a railway carriage. They didn’t know each other. They just happened to be travelling together. One of the men had, resting in his lap, a cardboard box with holes punched in the top. After some time spent contemplating what might be inside his travelling companion’s box, the other man at last could not contain his curiosity. He said, “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help noticing your box. Does it contain some variety of animal?” The other man, though obviously surprised by this impertinent intrusion from a stranger, smiled politely as he answered, “You’re absolutely right. There is indeed a creature kept inside this box. And furthermore, I may reveal, the animal in question is a mongoose.”

The first man, who’d initiated the enquiry, was astonsihed by this revelation. Spluttering with surprise, he sought some further explanation of this certainly provocative disclosure made by his strange fellow-traveller. “A mongoose? Sir I must confess I had expected it to be perhaps a cat, or rabbit, not a creature so exotic and outlandish. The animal you mention so excites my curiosity that I must beg you, sir, to tell me more. Where are you bound with such a specimen, if I may be so bold?” The other man, who sat with the perforated box on his lap, shrugged wearily as he replied, “Well, it’s something of a personal matter, as it concerns a family tragedy. However, since I’m confident I may rely on your discretion, I suppose I don’t mind sharing my unfortunate account with you.”

“You see,” the man went on, “this sorry tale concerns my elder brother. He’s always been what I suppose you might refer to as the black sheep of the family. He has for many years indulged himself in a predictable and commonplace array of vices, of which the worst is his fondness for strong spirits. His drinking has progressed until he is now in the final stages of delerium tremens. My brother now sees serpents everywhere, which is the reason I am taking him this mongoose, that he may be rid of them.”

“Excuse me,” the other man interjected, looking puzzled, “But, these snakes your brother sees… aren’t they imaginary snakes?”

“Indeed,” his fellow traveller replied. “But this,” and here he gestured meaningfully to the perforated box set on his lap, “is an imaginary mongoose.”‘

March 10, 2003
[comics] “A Healing Innoculation of Grime” — Newsarama interviews Grant Morrison about the final issues of The Filth‘The real weird thing about this series is the amount of people who think they don’t get it when they clearly do. What’s that all about? I must admit it’s quite baffling to me – I’ve read reviews saying things like ‘Yes, it’s Art but why should we care?’ and ‘why should I care about an old guy and his cat?’ …and my only answer is ‘why should you care about a fictional character who dresses up like a bat or a man who grows to giant size and abuses his wife?’ Why should anyone care about any story and yet people clearly do, because fiction helps to illuminate life. Personally, I believe that if you can feel sympathy for a ridiculous superhero and not for an ordinary, lonely man tending a sick animal then there’s something desperately wrong with your emotions and your priorities.’ [Related: Crack!Comicks | via Barbelith]
March 11, 2003
[film] ‘You need the taste of blood in your mouth’ — interview with Paul Schrader … [Related: Auto Focus Trailer]

‘Inescapability is central to Schrader, as is emotional coldness: think of the slick hustler played by Richard Gere in American Gigolo – inhumanly cold, impenetrably opaque. It is Schrader’s one big commercial hit – and evidence that it’s not his subject matter so much as his treatment of the subject that puts him outside the mainstream. There is no trajectory in a Schrader film that leads to a happy ending or a neat solution. “I don’t believe life is about problems and solutions. I believe it is about dilemmas, and dilemmas don’t have solutions; they have resolutions, which then morph and lead you into future dilemmas.” So he takes his human dilemma, writes it large, abstracts it from the rituals of daily life – his people don’t function in a “normal” world, nobody is having breakfast with their kids, mowing the lawn, or meeting a friend for lunch – and plays out their inevitability.’

March 12, 2003
[war] The Pentagon’s New Map — globalisation and the US Military’s view of the world … ‘That is why the public debate about this war has been so important: It forces Americans to come to terms with I believe is the new security paradigm that shapes this age, namely, Disconnectedness defines danger. Saddam Hussein’s outlaw regime is dangerously disconnected from the globalizing world, from its rule sets, its norms, and all the ties that bind countries together in mutually assured dependence. The problem with most discussion of globalization is that too many experts treat it as a binary outcome: Either it is great and sweeping the planet, or it is horrid and failing humanity everywhere. Neither view really works, because globalization as a historical process is simply too big and too complex for such summary judgments.’
March 13, 2003
[tech] How to Make Real One Behave Nicely — a software engineer from Real explains how to make the Real One media player install with sensible default settings … ‘First, regarding the well known bad behavior of older players: Yes, we know! and as developers we were embarrassed. But things have changed. Everybody has realized there are very strong negative feelings about this behavior, and we really want to improve. In that respect, the latest RealOne V2 is better than older RealPlayers, and on OS X, it’s downright wonderful. On Windows you still have to do the following, which isn’t too bad, but still could have been better…’
March 14, 2003
[charity] The Let’s Get More Comments Than Wil Wheaton Project — if Mike get’s 235 comments in this posting today he’s going to donate £100 to Comic Relief‘Yes, it’s a sponsored Comments Box Lurk! It’s turning Comment-Whoring into Cold Hard Cash! It’s shameless, but hey, it’s for Char-i-dee! God, I do hope this will work.’
[war] Pentagon hawk at war with his own side — interesting profile of Donald Rumsfeld‘A couple of weeks ago he was addressing a gathering of international officials at the Pentagon. “There are four countries that will never support us. Never,” barked Mr Rumsfeld, before instantly creating his own new axis of evil: “Cuba, Libya and Germany.” “What’s the fourth?” someone asked. “I forget the fourth,” he said, which was probably fortunate. Who knows who else he might have offended?’
March 15, 2003
[comic] Evolution Of A Hip, Ironic Catch Phrase‘Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.’
March 17, 2003
[comics] The “Synchronicity” Triptych — Dave Sim reminisces about Bill Sienkiewicz

‘…Bill walked up and asked if anyone wanted to see some pages from the new project which he was working on with Frank Miller. And, of course, we all said “sure”. What ensued was the most “jaw-dropping” moment I have ever experienced in getting an advance look at a project in my life (smoking dope in a hotel room at Mid-Ohio Con while Frank Miller acted out a lot of The Dark Knight Returns comes a close second, though). The project, of course, was Elektra Assassin and what Bill had were original pages from (I believe) the first two issues. No word balloons, but fully rendered colour. Fully rendered colour but rendered in every imaginable way. Crayon, acrylic, charcoal pencil, pencil crayon, crayon, oil pastel. And collage. This was years before Dave McKean would define the extremes of collage with his Sandman covers, but — before Bill did it — it was completely unthinkable in a comic-book. Unthinkable.’

[sars] SARS resources and comments — disturbing on-the-spot account from Hong Kong of the new lethal pneumonia called SARS … ‘Note that ICU staff are not going home to their families. As a physician, I find that observation chilling.’ [via Boing Boing]
March 18, 2003
[google] How Google Grows…and Grows…and Grows — profile of Google. ‘…the difference between 0.3 seconds and 0.2 seconds is pretty profound. Most searches on Google actually take less than 0.2 seconds. That extra tenth of a second is all about the outliers: queries crammed with unrelated words or with words that are close in meaning. The outliers can take half a second to resolve — and Google believes that users’ productivity begins to wane after 0.2 seconds. So its engineers find ways to store ever-more-arcane Web-text snippets on its servers, saving the engine the time it takes to seek out phrases when a query is made. And it’s why, most of the time, the Google home page contains exactly 37 words. “We count bytes,” says Google Fellow Urs Holzle, who is on leave from the University of California at Santa Barbara. “We count them because our users have modems, so it costs them to download our pages.”‘
[war] Sun sets on Kuwaiti Border Peace — eye-witness report from Northern Kuwait … ‘In the setting sun, the camouflage netting of one British camp looked like a sprawling field of jagged rocks, spreading from the road to the horizon. All these camps are filled with the lumps and spikes of armour and artillery. British tank guns point unblinkingly at the main highway, as if expecting attack from that direction. Yet it is not the weaponry which is most chilling about this armed host, which, with its five divisions, its training, its speed and mobility, its vast fleet of helicopters, its ability to fight at night and its digital technology is probably the most capable killing machine the world has ever seen. It is the industrial scale of the supply operation, and the amount of money which is visibly being spent, which scares. This is a professional army, and it goes at the job like a contractor.’
March 19, 2003
[war] Douglas Rushkoff has been talking to Grant Morrison about the war in Iraq‘[Morrison] says he’s decided not to think about the war and all this mess, at all. He’s calling it “what the adults do,” and making a strong case for the idea that “we told them this would happen,” and “they never listen to us, anyway.”‘
[war] Reporters’ Log — BBC News Correspondents are [b]logging the War … ‘The overwhelming feeling among the British troops is a wish to get on with the job they have been sent here to do. As one British commander put it: “It will be tea and medals in Baghdad in a few days time.” And no-one really wants to contemplate the alternative.’ [via Grayblog]
March 20, 2003
[war] Steve Bell’s Iraq Cartoons (so far) …

Single-handedly, Jim lad! by Steve Bell.

[war] Iraq on-the-spot Linkage …

  • Where is Raed?‘there is still nothing happening in baghdad we can only hear distant explosions and there still is no all clear siren.’
  • Reporters’ Log: At war in Iraq … Paul Wood in Baghdad: ‘People are very jumpy here. We now know the city of Baghdad was not the main thrust of the air attack. The focus is being described as a “target of opportunity”, where five senior members of the Iraqi government were gathered. It is believed that Saddam Hussein was amongst them. In the last few minutes it appears the telephone system has gone down here.’
  • Suddenly, the War is Very Real — Yesterday in Baghdad … ‘Reality finally came to Baghdad yesterday. Overnight, sandbags sprouted on football fields and roundabouts. In the evening the authorities rustled up yet another peace demonstration. The number of fatal car accidents seemed to surge, with drivers in a panic to get home, or to get out. Chemists sold out of valium.’ [via Words of Waldman]

March 21, 2003
[blogs] Q: Is the Baghdad Blogger for real? — Paul Boutin wonders if the Where is Raed? iraqi weblog is a hoax … ‘Salam claims to connect to the Net via Uruklink, the state-run Iraqi ISP, using Web-based email from the British music magazine New Musical Express. Remember the Sex Pistols line, “I use the NME?” So does he. IP addresses in his email headers aren’t sufficient to pinpoint his location, but they’re consistent with his story, being in the same range used by past Uruklink posters.’ [thanks John]
[war] Power Tool — profile of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles‘The message it communicates is not one of brute force, but of sheer, unmatchable technological superiority, enforced from a safe distance. “It’s still seen by many as a somehow unnatural development in the culture of war,” says the military historian Antony Beevor. “We have still failed to realise what an astonishing technical development there has been in a very short period of time. Human perceptions of change are simply not flexible enough.”‘
March 22, 2003
[war] Minute After Minute the Missiles Came, with Devastating Shrieks — Robert Fisk in Baghdad. ‘…the symbolic centre of this raid was clearly intended to be Saddam’s main palace, with its villas, fountains, porticos and gardens. And, sure enough, the flames licking across the facade of the palace last night looked very much like a funeral pyre.’
March 23, 2003
[war] Iraq Still Online — brief article about the status of Iraqi Internet. (Where is Raed? has not updated since Friday) … ‘It’s not immediately clear, however, whether Iraqis have been able to easily access the Internet since the initial attacks. Repeated checks of the abbreviated log files for Uruklink.net and BabilOnline.net reveal only a few hits from users of SMS and AIT, the two satellite ISPs that supply Iraq.’
[war] BBC War [B]log links …

  • 22 March – Pushing … Rageh Omar in Baghdad: ‘Every sign here is that Saddam Hussein and his commanders have escaped attempts to assassinate them, despite persistent rumours from London and Washington ‘
  • 21 March – Attacks … Gavin Hewitt in Southern Iraq: ‘In the last few minutes we just crossed over the Basra-Baghdad highway. We’ve had several bizarre incidents in the last few minutes of drivers on the highway completely unaware that American armour may be this far north, stopping their vehicles in utter amazement as we crossed the highway.’
  • 20 March – At War … Nick Bryant in Washington: ‘The White House is trying hard to show that things are calm. They’ve put a lot of effort into making the President’s day seem effortless.’

March 24, 2003
[comics] Get Your War On — Part 22

Panel from Get You War On

[war] Baghdad Calling — the Guardian’s G2 Section had several pages of recent postings from Where is Raed? today … ‘Those who know Baghdad well, and who have read the diary closely, say there is no doubt in their mind that whoever is writing it is currently resident in the Iraqi capital. The author may display evidence of spending time in the west (possibly Britain, though he does use Americanisms) with his cynical sense of humour and love of David Bowie lyrics, but the reams and reams of fascinating detail about domestic and street life in Baghdad are highly convincing.’
March 25, 2003
[comics] Zenith Phase 3 Scorecard — amusing list of all the characters in Morrison and Yeowell’s corruption and destuction of a vast array of old British comic heroes … General Jumbo: ‘…this is General Jumbo. While we don’t see him properly until part 5 “Letter from the Underworld”, he is in this prologue – we see him dead, face down in the sea with his trousers round his ankles. Quite what Grant felt he did to deserve so ignominious a death I don’t know.’ [via Venusberg]
[war] Shock Tactics — interview with Harlan Ullman the creator of “Shock and Awe” … ‘On Wednesday night, after US commanders ordered a smaller strike of Tomahawk missiles at targets they believed included Saddam Hussein, CNN, for one, began running an on-screen alert reading “Shock and Awe postponed”. But “that was classic shock and awe,” says Ullman, who is now strategic associate at the centre for strategic and international studies in Washington. “If you kill the emperor, the empire’s up for grabs. And had we killed him, it would have been a classic application [of the theory]: $50m of ordnance, and we won the war.” After this, the argument begins to get a little circular: the postponement of shock and awe “was shock and awe, too,” Ullman says, because “we were threatening shock and awe”.’
March 26, 2003
[comics] Sex in New X-Men #118 — X-Fans get worked up over subliminal SEX in an issue of the New X-Men … ‘When the issue in question was released several months ago, it went by almost unnoticed, but there is a subliminal message inside. Sure, some readers noticed the word SEX being hidden in the background art here or there, but only after an article in Wizard the general audience took a closer look and in fact the secret message has been discovered 17 times — so far.’ [thanks John]
March 27, 2003
[war] War Porn — interesting article about the portrayal of War on television and the press … Krista Cowman: ‘Boys are both innately and through programming turned into obsessive collecting from an early age. My son collects Digimon cards at the moment; my husband, though an early modernist, has an anal obsession over first-world-war aircraft. It’s about categorising and sorting; it’s about the way the sexes communicate. Girls talk about their hopes and dreams and fears; boys communicate through the swapping of lists and football cards.’
March 28, 2003
[news] The West Pier on Fire — a slideshow from Kevan.
March 29, 2003
[blogs] Bloggers’ Delight — Steven Levy on Warblogging … ‘”I’ve got 32 windows open on my browser, the TV is on, and I’ve got the BBC on my RealPlayer,” says the 32-year-old freelance financial consultant. “I woke up to 332 e-mails this morning.” From this command post, [Sean-Paul] Kelley single-handedly creates a Weblog called The Agonist, which tracks and comments on developments in the war with Iraq.’ [Related: The Agonist | via Boing Boing]

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