1 February 2003
[shuttle] Metafilter on the Columbia Disaster

Screen Grab of Metafilter

2 February 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.’
3 February 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.’
4 February 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]
5 February 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.’
6 February 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.’

7 February 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]
8 February 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]
9 February 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]
10 February 2003
[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.’
[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.’

11 February 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]
12 February 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.’
13 February 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]
14 February 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.”‘
15 February 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]
16 February 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.’
  • ‘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…’

17 February 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 — 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.’

18 February 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.’
19 February 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]
20 February 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.’
21 February 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.”‘
24 February 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.’

25 February 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]
26 February 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?’
27 February 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.
28 February 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]