1 May 2003
[books] A couple of William Gibson links from the Guardian …

  • Talk time: William Gibson — brief interview on Blogging, Google and the Internet … ‘Q: Is brevity the key to good internet communication? A: It’s hard to say whether it actually is brevity when it involves a hyperlink. If what you’re presenting is a customised node, then the node is the message and you don’t want a lengthy node!’ [Related: Slashdot]
  • Back to the 80s — review of Pattern Recognition [Buy: UK | US] … ‘Pattern recognition, as a human phenomenon, becomes something else when it goes too far; it becomes “apophenia… the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things”. One of the disappointments of the novel is that it doesn’t push this far enough as a potential plot device. If there were an insane number of interconnections by the end, as is sometimes the case in thrillers, then the reader would feel more fulfilled.’

2 May 2003
[comics] Fear Factor — profile of Jack Chick‘This Was Your Life! created a template — sin, damnation, the possibility of redemption — for scores of future tracts. The artist’s formula and drawing style have changed little in five decades. When an archivist at the Pasadena Playhouse began rooting through old boxes in the late ’90s, she discovered drawings that he had done in 1948. The single-panel cartoons revealed the same perspiring characters, pop-eyed faces, and 1940s Sunday-comics sensibilities of his current tracts. “He’s not worried about impressing other cartoonists, which is kind of what motivates a lot of cartoonists to pick up their chops a little bit,” says Clowes. “There’s something really interesting about seeing a cartoonist not develop at all.” Art Spiegelman, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust, is less kind. “It makes me despair about America,” says Spiegelman, “that there are so many people who read these things.”‘ [via Boing Boing | Related: This Was Your Life! | Metafilter]
3 May 2003
[books] Tomorrow’s Man — profile of William Gibson

‘”…I find myself thinking sometimes that there isn’t anything other than the impact of technology on society – possibly that has been more significant historically than any sort of political thought, in terms of bringing us to where we are now.” Gibson chooses a contemporary example: his friend’s camera-phone. “I get these pictures every once in a while – no explanation – and it’s just so cool, and it’s such an intimate thing. The view down an airport corridor, or something that struck him as funny.” But to every silver lining there is a cloud. “If that becomes very common,” he points out, “that’ll change the texture of life. You’d lose things. Someone telling you about their new girlfriend, for instance, and you don’t meet her for six months, so you have this picture in your head of her, and then you meet her … and that won’t be happening because he’ll have emailed the photograph right away. Apparently small things like that have a huge cumulative effect on how people experience reality.”‘

6 May 2003
[comics] A Blog For Galactus — the Devourer of Worlds has his own weblog. ‘…suddenly, out of the planetary orbit comes my employee and galactic herald, Norrin Radd, and he is all up in my business! He is like, “Master! For the first time I realize the dreadful enormity of what you plan to do! You must not tamper with other worlds! You cannot destroy the entire human race!” And it is like he is SAYING, “These are NOT ants, Master! They think..they feel…they have even created the primitive civilization which we see all about us!” But what I am HEARING is, “Galactus, you are fat and no one will ever REALLY love you.” People can be real jerks sometimes…’ [via Do You Feel Loved?]
7 May 2003
[books] Have You Seen This Man? — a look at the reclusive life of Thomas Pynchon‘In 1997, a CNN crew spent days staking out Pynchon in New York, eventually capturing him on film. After the novelist’s heated objections, they finally broadcast three minutes of footage of street scenes without identifying the one-second clip that featured Pynchon himself. Some fans believe they have identified the man nevertheless, and the Dubinis’ film ends with a digitally enhanced loop of the man in army-surplus jacket and red baseball cap that one contributor believes to be Pynchon. The “fan” who has enhanced the clip affects sadness that Pynchon has finally been “caught”, even as he gazes at the TV monitor with something like possessive lust.’
[iraq] Dear Raed — the blogger from Baghdad updates … ‘Let me tell you one thing first. War sucks big time. Don’t let yourself ever be talked into having one waged in the name of your freedom. Somehow when the bombs start dropping or you hear the sound of machine guns at the end of your street you don’t think about your “imminent liberation” anymore.’
8 May 2003
[spam] Spam You Never See … [via Diamond Geezer]

yes I have a very juvenile sense of humour...

9 May 2003
[blogs] Microsoft’s Got Blogging On the Brain — weblogs are finally being noticed at Microsoft‘With one foot in the consumer world, and the other in the business realm, Microsoft seems to be hedging its bets as to how to capitalize on Weblogmania.’ [via Anil’s Daily Links | Related: List of Microsoft Bloggers]
10 May 2003
[comics] Warren Ellis Answers — interviewed on Slashdot … [Related: Die Puny Humans]

‘When you talk about movies, there’s always that which bookstores live by; the book is almost always better than the movie. You could have no better case in point than FROM HELL, Alan Moore’s best graphic novel to date, brilliantly illustrated by Eddie Campbell. It’s hard to describe just how much better the book is. It’s like, “If the movie was an episode of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ with a guest appearance by the Smurfs and everyone spoke Dutch, the graphic novel is ‘Citizen Kane’ with added sex scenes and music by your favourite ten bands and everyone in the world you ever hated dies at the end.” That’s how much better it is.’

11 May 2003
[books] Luke Rhinehart: Throw and tell — interview with the author of the Dice Man [Buy: UK | US] … ‘His idea was a serious one: he wants us, if not actually to take up dicing to dictate the course of our lives, at least to realise that we have options and that escaping the patterns of our existence is at least a possibility. Yet he is also a comic writer. The Dice Man is anti-political correctness and is consistently terribly funny. So, naturally, he is joking. Let’s pretend that there are millions of dicers sabotaging the normality of their lives and those of others around them because, hell, it will promote the book. Seriously, though, how many devotees of the dice way are out there? “I think very few,” he replies, finally.’
12 May 2003
[comics] Last Week’s Comics …

  • The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen #5“I simply can’t let things go. Do you know what I mean?’
  • Alias #22‘My Head — it feels Strange! I – I need some air!’
  • The Filth #10‘Have you any idea what happens when you cross stupidity, a love of science-fantasy fiction, and blind idealism with humongous amounts of money?
  • Reload #2‘You think people want to know the American Government’s been run as a criminal enterprise for the last eight years?’
  • 100 Bullets #44‘Word on the wire is, you’re a fuckin’ Cop Killer. I’m envious, Dawg, Knowhumsayin?’

13 May 2003
[politics] Gasps as the Wrecking Machine Careers out of Control — Simon Hoggart on Clare Short’s Resignation Speech. ‘…it was for [Blair] she saved the unkindest swing of the ball, the one meant to bring the chandelier crashing down on to the ballroom floor. “To the prime minister I would say that he has achieved great things since 1997, but paradoxically, he is in danger of destroying his legacy as he becomes increasingly obsessed by his place in history.” The man sounds like Blofeld. It was not hard to imagine the roof of Downing Street opening, klaxons sounding, as the nuclear-tipped missile rises up, trained on Birmingham Ladywood.’
14 May 2003
[books] The Baroque Cycle Is Coming — preview of Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson’s new book … ‘He hadn’t really known what to expect of America. But people here seem to do things — hangings included — with a blunt, blank efficiency that’s admirable and disappointing at the same time. Like jumping fish, they go about difficult matters with bloodless ease. As if they were all born knowing things that other people must absorb, along with faery-tales and superstitions, from their families and villages. Maybe it is because most of them came over on ships.’
[politics] Blair’s Rule by Diktat — Cartoon from the Guardian by Steve Bell … ‘THE . MAS-TER . DOES . NOT . RULE . BY . DIK . TAT’
15 May 2003
[comics] Great/dumb Comic Book Covers — Metafilter discuss the Best and Worst Comic Book Covers … ‘Threads like this make me long for the days when I spent hours in the comic book shop discussing comics, M:TG cards and bragging about my collection of extremely rare and entirely coverless comic books (at some point I realized that they only way I could have items such as “Amazing Spider-Man #1” was to find copies without covers….lol). I do have more money now though.’
16 May 2003
[comics] Rebel in Exile — preview of a Graphic Novel about Marjane Satrapi’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. [Buy: UK | US] ‘…Persepolis, her tale of this remarkable childhood, is published in English for the first time. It is an extraordinary book, outspoken and caustic on the suffering of so many of her fellow Iranians, but also funny and surprising and in parts extremely moving. It is told in graphic novel form, in stark monochrome drawings reminiscent of medieval woodcuts or ancient Persian murals.’
17 May 2003
[weblogs] Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It — the New York Times on the perils of knowing a blogger … ‘The proliferation of personal bloggers has led to a new social anxiety: the fear of getting blogged.’ [via Anil’s Daily Links]
18 May 2003
[books] The Honest Outlaw — Paul Theroux on Hunter S. Thompson … ‘One of my favourite Thompson pieces (reprinted in his collection Better than Sex) was written after the death of Richard Nixon. As the funeral orations were being delivered and everyone was praising Nixon, Thompson wrote “He Was a Crook”, one of the best, the funniest, the most sustained polemics I have ever read. Midway through it, in a burst of candour, Thompson reflects on his harsh words and says, “but I have written worse things about Nixon many times, and the record will show that I kicked him repeatedly long before he went down. I beat him like a mad dog with mange every time I got a chance, and I am proud of it.”‘
19 May 2003
[obit] He was a Crook — Hunter S. Thompson’s classic obituary for Richard Nixon … ‘If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.’
20 May 2003
[iraq] Interview with Salam Pax — more from the Baghdad Blogger‘During the war, the Arab-language news program of the BBC had a story about my virtual diary. Coincidentally, my father was in the first floor of our house and heard the story on the radio. Then he came down the stairs and told everyone the strange story of this mysterious Internet blogger, who supplied the world with news from Baghdad. (Laughs). At that moment, I sought to keep my composure, but in reality I thought I was going to die…’ [via Nick Denton]
[books] An interview with Zadie Smith — yet another one … [via kottke]

‘Q: Did the Rushdie fatwa cause you trepidation when you were writing your book, in which you lampoon Islamic separatists?

Zadie: I wrote White Teeth in the late nineties. I didn’t really feel trepidatious about it. It was a different time.’

21 May 2003
[film] An Auteur Packs His Bags to Venture Onto the Web — preview of Peter Greenaway’s New Project (which sounds interesting intriguing amazing) … ‘”The Moab Story” and the Web site are part of the first phase of what may become Mr. Greenaway’s magnum opus, “The Tulse Luper Suitcases.” The project is as unusual for its scale as for the Internet’s prominent role in it. As now conceived it would eventually include three to five films, a 16-part television series, a touring theater production, several books, DVD’s and Web sites and an online computer game. Mr. Greenaway acknowledged that the project’s scale was “megalomaniacal.”‘ [via Fimoculous]
[iraq] ‘Salam Pax’ plays Americans for fools in Iraq — the backlash begins against Where is Raed?‘Salam is the scion of a senior figure from Iraq’s Baathist nomenclature. He was brought up at least partly in Vienna, which is the OPEC headquarters; his father was therefore an oilman, and possibly a former head of Iraq’s OPEC mission. Another clue is a hint that his grandfather was an Iraqi tribal chief, from which I infer that his father was one of the Iraqi tribal chiefs that Saddam Hussein rewarded for loyalty, outside the Tikrit clan.’
22 May 2003
[comics] Bachalo’s X Weapon Plus — brief interview with Chris Bachalo about his upcoming work on GM’s New X-Men … On working with Morrison: ‘I feel like I’m on an X-Men / Steampunk / 2001: A Space Odyssey trip written by Shade the Changing Man. Fabulous!’ [via Barbelith]
23 May 2003
[war] “If We Run Out of Batteries, This War is Screwed.” — Wired Article on the US Army’s creation of a “tactical” internet during the War in Iraq …

‘The history of warfare is marked by periodic leaps in technology – the triumph of the longbow at Crécy, in 1346; the first decisive use of air power, in World War I; the terrifying destructiveness of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, in 1945. And now this: a dazzling array of technology that signals the arrival of digital warfare. What we saw in Gulf War II was a new age of fighting that combined precision weapons, unprecedented surveillance of the enemy, agile ground forces, and – above all – a real-time communications network that kept the far-flung operation connected minute by minute. Welcome to the so-called revolution in military affairs…’

‘I’m headed north again, this time with a 97-vehicle convoy whose mission is to deliver missile launchers and set up a Tactical Operations Center just south of the Baghdad suburbs. But there’s a problem; the convoy makes two massive U-turns in search of a side road that leads to a much-needed fuel stop. “We’re lima lima mike foxtrot in Iraq,” says Sergeant Frank Cleveland, who’s riding shotgun in the truck where I’ve hitched a ride. “What does that mean?” I ask from the backseat. “We’re lost like a motherfucker,” he says.’

24 May 2003
[bb4] Big Brother 4 has started. I’ve already been sucked back in (I am weak!). Any First Impressions?

  • Official Big Brother Site‘Anouska was more hurt than she was letting on. “Whatever we’ve done in the last hour,” she told Scott, “has irritated someone in some way. “The last hour I’ve been me,” she went on, “Give a s**t! Give-a-s**t! Where’s my wine, Goddamit!” she finished, marching off towards the kitchen.’
  • Big Bro 4 — Unofficial site … ‘Todays top headline: the victims enter the house’
  • Big Brother’s not-so-dirty dozen — BBC News Report … ‘”Have you seen her bum?”, screamed Davina McCall as Anouska tottered into the house on her heels. And with that, the tone for this year’s Big Brother was set…’
  • Diamond Geezer: ‘It’s back. 64 days of meaningless addiction. Excellent.’
  • Barbelith on BB4: ‘…Cameron, the happy clappy Bappy that deserves a slappy.’

[comics] Yet Another Grant Morrison Interview — I’m wondering… If the DC Universe did become self-aware would Paul Levitz have it Pulped? …

‘…now that we have the idea in our heads that “intelligence” appears when systems become increasingly complex, we can approach my notion of “living comics.” Think of a STORY. My contention is that a story can be made sufficiently complex that it achieves some measure of self-awareness – in fact I believe this is what’s happening when authors talk about characters “taking control” or when they say “the story just took a turn I wasn’t planning…”. When I was doing The Invisibles, I was definitely aware of the book as a living entity which was interacting with me in many of the ways a human being might but at the time I was thinking of this “aliveness” as a kind of mystical quality not as an emergent property that could reproduced without recourse to the spirit world. I’d like to see if I can deliberately “wake up” a story and let it make its own decisions.’

25 May 2003
[bb4] Earlier, in the Girls Bedroom at the Big Brother House

‘”I’ve got a big bed and no-one to share it with me” [Anouska] says. They then started mentioning “Follow The Van“.

The rest of the girls then start saying “follow the courgette”, “I don’t get it” says Anouska …

Meanwhile in the living room the boys are discussing Star Trek.’

[web] LJDrama Files — all the drama of LiveJournal distilled into a weblog … ‘There are many lessons to be learned in your life. chief among them is “don’t go sending people pictures of your tits while you’re drunk and then get mad when they post them online!”‘ [via scribot]
26 May 2003
[paranoia] Spam Anxiety… what are the Spammers trying to tell me?! …

Effort and Expense of a Large Manly Penis

27 May 2003
[comics] Timeline for the 2000AD Universe — it manages to tie together the histories of Judge Dredd, The A.B.C Warriors, Sam Slade and Strontium Dog‘The robotics revolution is not without its difficulties. The mark one war droid cannot discriminate between enemy soldiers and civilians. The mark two war droid is programmed with genuine moral values, but becomes a pacifist and surrenders to the enemy. The mark three war droid, named Hammerstein, is created at the University of Wisconsin in a project funded by Rover. The first emotion ever experienced by a machine is jealousy and results in the accidental death of the creator…’ [via scribot]
[bb4] Jon Tickle on Women: ‘You have only one prize to pick — and you know there are, let’s say, 30 prizes on the conveyor belt. They are coming through one at a time. But what makes you stop the conveyor belt and say you want a prize? The mathematical way is to look at the first ten items — the first third. Then the first thing you see out of the next two thirds is better than anything you have seen before. Because if the first ten items are spread evenly on the good or bad scale, you will get a few things in the 90 per cent area. It’s unlikely you are going to get the 100 per cent best item in your first third. So pick the best thing in the next two thirds. Then you’re going to get something pretty good.’
28 May 2003
[gm] Grant Morrison wonders if Justin Timberlake is a Mutant: ‘Definitely a pure mutation – and he’s trying to push his powers in a more evil direction. I think they inject all of those Disney kids, like Britney, with something when they’re young. One minute, they’re singing about mice, and the next, they’re riding motorcycles and fisting each other.’
29 May 2003
[bb4] Anouska-isms — On Death: ‘It’s just another transformation… granted a bit more radical than puberty.’
30 May 2003
[comics] Fantagraphics Needs Your Help — Fantagraphics (publisher of Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Robert Crumb and Chris Ware) is in deep trouble … ‘Inexperience with the book trade resulted in our erring on the side of overprinting our books too heavily throughout 2002, so that our anticipated profit is in fact sitting in our warehouse in the form of books. Loans must be paid in cash, not books. The only way to get out of this hole we’ve dug ourselves into is to sell those books. Which is where, we hope, you come in.’
[iraq] Salam’s Story — the Guardian interviews Salam Pax ahead of them publishing his new fortnightly column. ‘…in the final weeks before the impending conflict, he became increasingly anxious that the men of the Mukhabarat, the feared Iraqi intelligence agency, were on to him. “They were not only paranoid, they were going crazy,” he says. At one point the regime blocked access to the website on which he was posting his writing, “There was the possibility that they knew. I spent a couple of days thinking this is the end. And then you wait for a couple of days and nothing happens and you say, ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ Stupid risks, one after another.”‘
31 May 2003
[bb4] Jon’s Website (of rather interesting things and little known facts) … ‘The universe is like, well big and is made up of loads of galaxies. Galaxies contain stars which are rather like our sun. Molecular structure differs but their intrinsic function is very often similar. Stars can die. Like people, but with less crying. It is my ambition to be an inter-galactic Jedi.’