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 (, 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
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]