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August 9, 2004
[urban.myth] Son of a Gun — another urban myth examined by Snopes‘It seems that during the Civil War (May 12, 1863, to be exact), a young Virginia farm girl was standing on her front porch while a battle was raging nearby. A stray bullet first passed through the scrotum of a young Union cavalryman, then lodged in the reproductive tract of the young woman, who thus became pregnant by a man she had not been within 100 feet of! And nine months later she gave birth to a healthy baby!’
August 10, 2004
[web] Do You IMDB? — profile of the Internet Movie Database. ‘…how does IMDB work? It’s easy to imagine some airplane hangar in a dusty, out-of-the-way desert location, and inside is a sea of desktop computers manned by 20-something Oompa Loompas in T-shirts, jeans and Converse. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.’ [via Sashinka]
August 11, 2004
[movies] Five Things You Probably Didn’t Notice in The Shining — interesting commentary on Kubrick’s Horror Film … ‘Kubrick deliberately undermines all the most frightening moments in the book. He’s still trying to scare you, but not the way it’s usually done. Jack Torrence is trying to kill his wife with an ax. Isn’t that frightening enough? Isn’t violence terrifying all by itself? Kubrick feels no need to cheat you by not showing what’s on the other side of the door. To Kubrick, Ozzie and Harriet is the ultimate snow job, and a man, woman and child trapped alone together is the most horrifying prospect imaginable.’
August 12, 2004
[comics] The Grant Morrison Experience — nice PR site from Vertigo – includes a video interview and a sneak peak of Morrison’s latest comic We3 … [via Barbelith]
August 13, 2004
[paper] Why I love… Shredding‘I refer here not to the squalling style of guitar playing typified by Eddie Van Halen but instead to the unbridled visceral pleasure of slicing unwanted scraps of paper into small mountains of confetti. Elton John has the right idea: one of his homes has a room just for shredding. He knows how satisfying it is seeing an old gas bill grated into a thousand tiny pieces.’
August 14, 2004
[al.qaeda] Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive — a look at the files from a computer looted from Al Qaeda after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan … ‘Renovating our computer doesn’t mean buying a new one but making sure that adjustments are made to suit Abdullah’s [bin Laden’s] work. There were many technical problems with the computer.’
August 15, 2004
[books] A Code for Dark Times — Jonathan Freedland on the Da Vinci Code. ‘…perhaps there is a simpler yearning this book meets; the same desire nurtured by Pullman and the Harry Potter series, both of which found large adult audiences, and the forthcoming sorcerers’ tale, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which hopes to do the same. It is that even grown-ups want to believe in magic. The 21st century may be replete with technology that can do everything and science that can explain everything, but human beings seem to crave the mysterious and miraculous, the forever out-of-reach.’
August 16, 2004
[comics] Something Awful Photoshops Watchmen


‘…the harrowing specter of sexual dysfunction.’

[comics] We3 #1 Preview — the first four Pages from Morrison and Quitely’s new comic which is out next week … ‘They’re the ultimate cyborg assassins; armed with missiles, poison gas, state-of-the-art computer technology and unbreakable exo-skeletons. The government has spent millions to fuse the firepower of a battalion with the nervous systems of a dog named Bandit, a cat named Tinker, and a rabbit named Pirate. As part of a program to replace human soldiers with expendable animals, the U.S. government has transformed three ordinary pets into the ultimate killing machines. But now, those three animals have seized the chance to make a last, desperate run for ‘Home’. A run that will turn into a breathless hunt to the death against the might of the entire military/industrial complex.’
August 17, 2004
[blog] Blog Interrupted — the Washington Post gets the inside story on Washingtonienne‘Jessica and her friend slid onto stools in the cool dimness of Bullfeathers, a popular Capitol Hill watering hole. Jessica ordered a Southern Comfort. It was the middle of the afternoon on May 18. “What happened to you today?” the bartender asked. “I got fired. I lost my boyfriend and my job, and it’s my birthday,” Jessica remembers telling him. “How did you get fired?” the bartender wanted to know. “I wrote an X-rated blog,” Jessica said. The bartender looked puzzled. “What’s a blog?” he asked.’
August 18, 2004
[comics] Bags and Boards — Variety Magazine’s weblog about ‘…the trends, the buzz and the business of the comic book industry.’
August 19, 2004
[comics] 2000AD and British Comics — nicely done website from the BBC Cult. Includes a reprint of Alan Moore’s DR & Quinch Have Fun on Earth (with art from Alan Davis) … ‘My name’s Ernie Quinch, college student. I like guns and starting fights. My psychiatrist says I’m a Pyschotic Deviant. But that doesn’t mean I’m a Bad Person, right?’
August 21, 2004
[lists] Note To Self — lots of intriguing lists from celebrities. John Cleese: ‘List of newspapers that have recently interviewed me, invented a quote, used it as a headline and then failed for over a month to reply to my letter pointing this out – The Independent.’
August 23, 2004
[blogs] Blog-in-a-Box — an eBay auction which looks likes a real bargain at only £7.99 … ‘ANYONE Can Create Their Own Blog Quickly AND Successfully Make A Profit, Even If They Have NO IDEA What A Blog Actually Is! It’s True!’ [via Sashinka]
August 24, 2004
[comics] The Beat — another weblog about comics – this one from Heidi McDonald.
August 25, 2004
[blogs] QT’s Diary — allegedly Quentin Tarantino’s Weblog … ‘QT here. I’m typing up this bastard of a diary entry myself because my typist isn’t around. Sorry if there are any typos, cause frankly I don’t give a fuck.’ [thanks Kabir]
[comics] Green Arrow’s Journal of Crime Fighting and Goatee Maintenance — allegedly Oliver Queen’s Weblog … Evil Do-ers Beware: star city smells like piss in the summer. the only thing that gets me thru my daily rooftop patrols is the new wilco album on my ipod.’
August 26, 2004
[africa] Mark Thatcher faces Court Showdown over Coup Plot‘[Thatcher’s] appearance at a nearby magistrates court was then delayed, apparently because Sir Mark was robbed in his holding cell by other prisoners who, according to a court official, stole his mobile phone, shoes and jacket. All belongings were later returned.’ [thanks Phil]
[films] Hope Springs Eternal — interesting essay about Shawshank Redemption from Mark Kermode. ‘…the symbolism is implied rather than announced, with the falsely convicted Andy resembling a latter-day Christ figure who, at one point, seems to vanish from his tomb-like cell only to be reborn in the baptismal waters of a nearby creek, causing Norton to scream: ‘Lord, it’s a miracle!’ And of course, the most famously iconic image from the film is that of a stripped Andy standing with his arms outstretched, his head turned heavenward, in a moment of agony and ecstasy clearly resembling the crucifixion. The deeper one delves into The Shawshank Redemption, however, the more the search for such religious symbols becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…’ [via Mad Musings of Me]
August 28, 2004
[comics] Let’s get Vizical — BBC News Magazine on 25 Years of Viz‘In the 25 years since Viz comic first appeared, Sid [the Sexist], one of its most enduring characters, has spectacularly failed in the pursuit to which he has single-mindedly committed himself: having sex. Yet it almost didn’t happen like that, says Simon Donald, who started the comic with his brother Chris. When they set out to find a serious publishing deal, Sid’s crass exploits did not raise a smile with the suits at one of Britain’s magazine publishing giants. “They wanted Sid the Sexist to be Sid the Smooth Talker. They were offended by the fact he was politically incorrect,” says Simon Donald.’
August 30, 2004
[politics] W Ketchup is America’s Ketchup™‘Choose Heinz and you’re supporting Teresa Heinz and her liberal causes, such as Kerry for President.’ [via Neil’s World]
August 31, 2004
[comics] Drawing Pains — a Guardian profile of Art Spiegelman‘Next year he will publish a visual memoir of his 10 years at the New Yorker, “with all the different covers and images I did. It’s basically a history of the wrestling matches, of what it means to try to graft an underground cartoonist’s sensibility on to the DNA of the New Yorker. God bless ’em, they tried. And God bless me, I tried. I guess I got spoiled at an early age. I got used to publishing myself without editorial interference.”‘
September 1, 2004
[missing] Raising the Dead — interesting article about finding missing people using the internet, Google and many eyeballs … ‘Families post all over the Web, searching for missing loved ones. Local coroners and cops, nudged by the Doe Network, upload pictures and vital statistics of their Does. Groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children do the same. Networkers comb through it all like they were playing the kids’ card game Concentration, digitized by Patricia Cornwell. Comparing death dates on coroner sites with last-seen-on dates on missing persons sites. Checking for scars, tattoos, anything that distinguishes the person from a crowd. Googling until the coffee runs out. It all sounds like amateur hour. It is amateur hour. There’s no order, no discipline to the investigations. These amateur sleuths slog along at their own pace, chasing their own bogeymen. “That’s why the Doe Network is invaluable – real people looking at real data,” says Emily Craig, forensic anthropologist for the state of Kentucky.’
[only.in.america] ‘Vengeance’ swipes cake, eats it, too — man invades house and eats a childs birthday cake. ‘…the owner of the home asked the man who he was, the intruder replied, “I am vengeance. I am the knight. I am Batman.” Then the man went into the kitchen, cut a piece of birthday cake, took it into the living room and ate it. After continued questioning by the homeowner, the man left the house and drove off in a red 1988 Cadillac.’ [via Do You Feel Loved?]
September 2, 2004
[quote] Douglas Engelbart: ‘I confess that I am a dreamer. Someone once called me “just a dreamer.” That offended me, the “just” part; being a real dreamer is hard work. It really gets hard when you start believing your dreams.’
September 3, 2004
[quote] Ted Nelson’s Four Maxims: ‘Most people are fools, most authority is malignant, god does not exist, and everything is wrong.’
[blog] The Policeman’s Blog is not a happy one… ‘So, whilst The Scorpions, MI6, the CIA and Special Branch have been dealing with mercenaries and international terrorists, what have I been doing? Well, dear reader, I have been finalising the case against a 14 year old boy suspected of robbing another child of £5.00 and a novelty key fob.’
September 6, 2004
[books] The Science of Fiction — Philip Pullman on science and fiction … ‘There’s no abstract human who will always behave in the same way – except in economics, where every human being is assumed to be rational and selfish to exactly the same degree as every other. No wonder it was called the Dismal Science.’
September 7, 2004
[blog] My Life As A Morrisons Employee — blog from worker in a British Supermarket … ‘It’s official… the first christmas stock went on sale today, at 3pm on Friday 3rd September.’ [via Call Centre Confidential]
[blogs] UK Political Blog Feeds — another UK Blog Aggregator.
September 8, 2004
[comics] Disney With Fangs — Newsarama interviews Grant Morrison on We3 … The Influences on We3: ‘Anything to do with innocent, misunderstood animals on the run from vicious human bastards. Animals getting their own back. The events played out in We3 are very different and far more shockingly violent than the adventures of Thomas O’Malley and the Duchess in The Aristocats, for example, but the basic idea of the animal odyssey across country in search of some seemingly hopeless safe haven is a very resonant and appealing theme which no-one has really played much with recently… certainly not in comics. I’ve always wanted to do one of those classic animal stories that make people cry, so this is like that… Disney with fangs. We3 is probably one of the first of these kind of stories to treat the animal heroes as animals and not as anthropomorphized representations with human emotions and speech patterns. So basically, we gave the popular old ‘animal quest’ idea a sci-fi coat of paint, spliced it with Miike Takashi uber-violence, and created a vehicle to demonstrate the ‘Western Manga’ storytelling style Frank and I are trying to develop.’
September 9, 2004
[blog] Progressive Ruin — new-to-me, nicely done blog about comics.
September 10, 2004
[blogs] Jon’s Jail Journal — the Blog of a Brit in a US Jail … ‘My first cellmate was a satanic priest called Lonely who had a pentagram tattooed on his forehead.’ [thanks Phil]
September 11, 2004
[politics] Tom’s Little Black Blog — the Guardian comments on blogger Tom Watson’s new job as assistant whip for the Labour Government … ‘I’m taking a blogging break this weekend to have a look at Chequers. Great swimming pool, great people. Can’t really say much more than that. You know, the closer you get to really powerful people, the more you realise how much they’ve got going for them – tact, discretion, brevity.’
September 13, 2004
[movies] Sin City Preview Trailer‘A hardtop with a decent engine and make sure it’s got a big trunk.’


Click Image for Stills from Sin City.

September 14, 2004
[blogs] Diary of a Fast Food Life — behind-the-scenes blog of an employee at a UK Burger King … ‘Whilst getting into a cab at 4 a.m. this morning, I saw an interesting sight (not exactly unusual in any British city at this time). It was: none other than our RM (Restaurant Manager) looking very cosy and friendly with a very young female friend. It so happens that I know this girl. How? She works in our store as a crew member.’
September 15, 2004
[blogs] The Guide — the Guardian finally starts publishing it’s Sunday Guide on the web using a blog format. Charlie Brooker on Crisis Command: ‘…it’s essentially pornography for paranoid news junkies; a gameshow in which a panel of managerial types from everyday life (who are presumably used to making tough decisions, like which secretary to goose next) get to “run the country” for an hour during a simulated crisis.It boils down to a series of agonising multiple-choice questions. Will you quarantine the plague-sufferers? Or line them up and shoot them? It’s that cheery. The correct decision usually turns out to be the most brutal – start agonising over whether or not you should send in the army and it all goes tits up (diseased tits in this case).’
[bdj] Belle de Jour signs off: ‘All things pass. For instance: Harts the Grocer, I am saddened to note, are now Tesco Metro. But that is the way of things.’
September 16, 2004
[comics] Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Alan Moore… as Lego. [via Neil Gaiman’s Journal]
[bdj] Call Girl “Belle de Jour” Ends Web Diary — Reuters covers BDJ’s retirement … ‘LONDON (Reuters) – “Belle de Jour,” the writer of an online journal describing her life as a London call girl, is quitting the website that launched fevered speculation about her true identity and landed her a book deal.’
September 17, 2004
[comics] Saved by the Beagle — profile of Fantagraphics‘When Love and Rockets debuted, underground comics consisted primarily of, as Thompson puts it, “Batman with tits — just like regular mainstream comics, but with a little bit of sex and violence thrown in.” The Hernandez brothers may have had a knack for beautiful female characters, but the stories — rich, multifaceted, character- rather than plot-driven — were an anomaly. Along with Crumb’s Weirdo and Art Spiegelman’s Raw, which appeared around the same time, Love and Rockets helped reinvent the comics underground for a post-hippie age, and it put Fantagraphics on the map.’
[bdj] BBC News: London ‘Call Girl’ Gives Up Blog‘Belle de Jour captured the wave of blogging and earned notoriety for the sometimes explicit online accounts.’
September 19, 2004
[film] Michael Mann’s Dark World — Brief BBC News profile of the director of Collateral‘Collateral displays all the classic Mann themes – the exploration of the male psyche, the blurred lines between good and evil and the disaffection that comes from living in the big city.’
[bibble] What is “bibble”? — I really don’t post enough random google crap to LMG anymore … ‘This handy chart is good for thinking about what bibble means, but you probably won’t get it. Think of this as an incantation that invokes the four fundamental elements of thought and language: bibble, fire, love, and death…’
September 20, 2004
[bdj] Web’s most Famous Hooker Kills Blog — the Register on Belle de Jour’s retirement … ‘Belle did what most of the waste can never accomplish simply because she actually had something to write about or at least something to pretend about. The real-world musings of a call-girl, participating with the hopefully washed masses, are fair more gripping than an Emergent Insomniac intoxicated by sloth, riddled with Diet Coke driven anxiety and climaxing over his latest “scoop” on the intricacies of Microsoft Word.’
[books] Dark Rider — interview and update on Stephen King‘King still plays guitar and sings. For the past decade he has played in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a writers’ band featuring Miami Herald humourist Dave Barry, novelists Barbara Kingsolver, Scott Turow and Amy Tan, and Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Once they went on tour with Warren Zevon, who insisted King sing his tune, “Werewolves of London”. “I was shy to do it because he wrote the song. He took me aside and said: ‘It would be the apex of my career’, and he was not kidding. So I did it.” It’s a song for a horror writer to sing, with a memorable howling chorus, “Aah-woo, werewolves of London”, and such couplets as, “He’s the hairy-handed gent who ran amuck in Kent”.’
[politics] Boris Johnson’s Blog‘Tim tells me that the idea is that I fall out of bed every morning, blazing with inspiration, and thunder out 3000 words on the issue of the hour, so generating a pandemic internet controversy. I am not sure, frankly, that I will manage that.’
September 21, 2004
[God] The Official God FAQ‘Question: Is there a God?’
September 23, 2004
[distraction] 56K Modem Emulator — the sound of the internet on dialup (I don’t miss it!).
September 24, 2004
[music] Review of Smile — Brian Wilson’s long-lost Beach Boys Album finally released … ‘The news that Wilson and his backing band (based around American 1960s revivalists the Wondermints) were going to completely re-record and release Smile, after touring a completed version of it, was enough to cause an outbreak of mild hysteria. One Sunday supplement urgently sought the government’s opinion. Even they may have been surprised to get an answer not from the arts minister, but from defence secretary Geoff Hoon. Luckily, the past 18 months have been exceptionally quiet for the British armed forces, giving Hoon plenty of time to ponder the influence of the Beach Boys’ mid-1960s work on current alt-rock. He certainly seems well informed – “It’s such a good time for its re-release,” he told the Observer; “the indie bands my son listens to are building on Wilson’s ideas” – which will doubtless come as some comfort to the 8,900 British troops stationed in Iraq.’
September 25, 2004
[god] Official God FAQ vs. Official God FAQ — click on the left link or the right link… you decide! [via Mefi]
September 26, 2004
[geek] The Geek Hierarchy — where X considers themselves less geeky than Y.
September 28, 2004
[ebay] eBay Boomers — Observer profile of eBay in the UK… ‘The five items I sold last week did quite well. Nigel Slater generously agreed to bake a large fruitcake for The Observer ‘s Christmas appeal, which sold for £51. A signed selection of Eddie Izzard DVDs and promotional lipsticks went for £63.03. A pair of Jimmy Choo size 40 diamante and satin high heels, rescued from The Observer fashion desk, also for the benefit of the Christmas appeal, sold to a instant-paying woman called Louise in west Yorkshire. I then sold an old Batman car and Batboat, valuable in its original box, for £395.01. A packet of fruit-flavour Pez, which was an ironic sale designed to take the eBay story back to where it began nine years and 100 million transactions ago, sold to a buyer in Germany for 10 pence, plus much postage.’
September 29, 2004
[politics] Brimming Certainty gives way to Painful Humility — Jonathan Freedland sketch of Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech. ‘…he uttered two sentences that must have caused physical pain to his throat: “The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong. I acknowledge that and accept it.” That brought some unscripted applause, a sense of relief that at last he had said what so many had longed to hear. He didn’t give the full “sorry,” but like the liberal parent who does not demand complete humiliation from a remorseful child, the Labour tribe took what they could get. The language was lawyerly – “I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong,” he said, rather than I do apologise – but he seemed to get away with it.’
September 30, 2004
[comics] Comics 101 — nicely done column profiling the history of various comic books including Daredevil, Doom Patrol and V for Vendetta … On Marvel’s Secret Wars II: ‘In this 9-issue train wreck, the Beyonder, his interest in humanity piqued by his observations last time around, shows up on Earth and decides to try humanity on for size. The Beyonder creates a body for himself (a perfect duplicate of Captain America, as a matter of fact) gives himself a Jheri-curl hairstyle and heads off to discover life as a human, starting off with a trip to Spider-Man’s apartment, where he gets a lesson in how to take a crap. (“The experience is consummated!” says the Beyonder as he exits the bathroom.) I only wish I was kidding.’
[blogs] Random Acts of Reality: ‘The Potters Bar train crash was phoned into the Ambulance Service as a “Chest Pain”… ‘
October 1, 2004
[tube] What The Numbers On Your Tube Ticket Mean — from This isn’t London‘H: Number of loud, badly behaved teenage German exchange students in your carriage.’ [via Kevan’s del.icio.us]
October 2, 2004
[tv] alt.nerd.obsessive — a tribute to the Comic Book Guy‘Inspired by the most logical race in the galaxy, the Vulcans, breeding will be permitted once every seven years. For many of you this will mean much less breeding, for me, much much more.’
October 4, 2004
[politics] Robert Kilroy-Silk’s Views About Foreigners‘French. Not Kilroy’s favourite race – “devious” (2 Feb 2003), “treacherous… not to be trusted” (16 Feb 2003) and “self-regarding” (9 Mar 2003). In short, they are utterly unlike the British and Americans, who “can be relied upon to keep their word and to act with altruism to a degree that would seem foolish to the French” (13 Apr 2003).’ [via The Daily Chump]
October 5, 2004
[religion] Klingons for Christ: ‘…we all know that there is really no such Alien Race as the Klingons, they were created by the late Gene Roddenberry for his much loved Science Fiction series STAR TREK. His vision has enriched our lives by giving us this wonderful mythology to speculate about. But there are REAL KLINGONS. The real Klingons are the many dedicated Fen who take the time to dress, look, act, and even speak the language of the mythical aliens. And it is to these real people , and all other Fen that this message is aimed at. Jesus Christ, the Great God of the Universe is real.’ [via Metafilter]
[tech] GDI Scan Tutorial and how to fix the GDI+ JPEG Vulnerability — nice how-to article on fixing the most recent Windows exploit‘At the time of this writing more reports are coming out about tools and sample code to take advantage of this vulnerability. The sooner you run this tool and fix any of the exploitable copies of this DLL on your system, the safer you will be.’
October 6, 2004
[politics] My Trip to Ukipland — Guardian journalist observes at the UKIP Conference … ‘Inside, my bag is searched by smiling women “for flour and eggs, my dear”. Might I bake a Ukip cake to hurl at Kilroy’s perfect nose? I see facial hair, 1930s hats, Arran sweaters, angry vicars, fishermen and Jonathan Aitken. If Agatha Christie had written a political thriller, or if Engelbert Humperdink’s fan-club entered parliament, this is what it would look like. It is, for a grimy urbanite, very strange indeed.’ [via Sashinka]
October 7, 2004
[blogs] Spilling the Beans — The Guardian covers job bloggers like Call Centre Confidential and The Policeman’s Blog‘You could argue that job blogs are a way of kicking back against our overwork culture. As people work longer hours, blogging is a way of wasting a little time and claiming back some mental space. It’s a way of dealing with office stress by taking control and making work “your story” – a comedy in which the blogger has the starring role and all the best lines.’
[internet] ROTFL-3000 — The new keyboard for Chatrooms, AOL and Blogs … ‘HOME, DEL, etc have been replaced by face-parts so you can make your own emoticons if you so wish.’
October 8, 2004
[ukblogs] Webloggers’ End Of Year Party 2004‘I’m very suspicious of fishtanks. At last year’s venue you could see right through one of them into the Ladies… (Jack) Damn how come I never saw that! (Adrian)’
October 9, 2004
[coffee] Starbucks vs. Its Addicts — Slate on Starbucks raising the price of it’s coffee … ‘A recent survey of scientific literature by psychiatrists Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins and Laura Juliano of American University found that people who have a one-cup-a-day habit can become addicted. It’s not so much the buzz — pleasant as it is — that keeps people coming back for more: It’s the symptoms of withdrawal. In other words, Starbucks may not have to fret about the impact of raising prices because a goodly portion of its customer base may begin to feel sick without its products. Talk about a great business plan!’
October 11, 2004
[comics] “Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You’re on the Winning Team!” — Rolling Stone article on Marvel Comics from 1971 … Marie Sevrin on Comic Fans: ‘”Gee,” she said, “they’re so uninteresting, that why they’re fans. If they were interesting they wouldn’t be fans. I mean, is a hospital ward interesting? The fans buy the books, but they don’t support comics. Comics are supported by many other normal little children, but the fans are the ones who are hung up on it. I think fans are very lonely.” She says the fans are arrogant now. They don’t gasp and ooh and ahh anymore. The new breed of fans just want to lean over your shoulder and tell you what you’re doing wrong.’
[comics] Christopher Reeve Obituary: ‘Of playing Clark Kent, Reeve reckoned that “there must be some difference stylistically between Clark and Superman. Otherwise you just have a pair of glasses standing in for a character.” Reeve, though he played the two roles straight without any sign of camp, revealed a deft Cary Grant-inspired comic timing. Unfortunately, the three sequels were a matter of diminishing returns and, after Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987), Reeve, determined to ‘escape the cape’, explained: “Look, I’ve flown, I’ve become evil, loved, stopped and turned the world backward, I’ve faced my peers, I’ve befriended children and small animals and I’ve rescued cats from trees. What else is there left for Superman to do that hasn’t been done?”‘
October 12, 2004
[comics] Cerebus No. 84, Page 2 — Dave Sim on Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter, Secret Wars and a page from Cerebus … ‘Another of Big Jim’s hard and fast rules of storytelling was that “conflict creates character” which is why Dirty Fleagle and Dirty Drew spend most of their time as the Secret Sacred Wars Roach’s henchmen beating crap out of each other.’
October 13, 2004
[science] People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid‘Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking “superorganisms,” highly complex conglomerations of human, fungal, bacterial and viral cells.’
October 14, 2004
[comics] The Sim/Gaiman Project — a collection of letters that Dave Sim has been sending to readers of Neil Gaiman’s Blog.‘…for those who haven’t actually responded to the offer, it should be known that the sometimes irrascible tyrant and fire-breathing dragon Dave Sim has been enjoying tremendously the response he received from the Gaiman blog readers and those whom they’ve infected with the knowledge. These form letters are delightful and charming and so enjoyable that now everyone who has seen one wants to know what others have received.’
[search] Google Desktop Search — Google releases beta software which allows you to search your desktop as easily as the internet … ‘Search your own computer.’
October 15, 2004
[film] Feeling Listless on Clerks X: ‘To some degree it’s a depressing experience because I’ve seen this film so many times that it’s lost that shock of the new. It’s the kind of piece which people are still discovering and I wish I still could. Even at student age I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the melancholic desolation which seeps through the cracks of the comedy. Like the best film with longevity it changes each time we revisit because we are older and our perceptions change. Which is the film’s real achievement – that something could cost that little money, be made under those production limits and still be have that value.’
[politics] Bush Like Me — a Rolling Stone Reporter spends ten weeks undercover with the grassroots of the Republican Party …

‘”We have a transvestite at our school,” I repeated. Only Susie heard me. “No!” she screamed. “Did you hear what he said? A transvestite works at his school!” She turned to me in horror. “Is he allowed to dress like a woman?” Now I had everyone’s attention. “Oh, yeah,” I said. “Totally normal guy, except that at some point, he started reading all kinds of . . . ” “Books!” Susie guessed. “It’s called possession,” her husband said. “Yeah, books,” I said. “It started… he was reading Agatha Christie books at first, then he got really into detectives. Next thing you know, he’s reading Nietzsche. You know, the German philosopher.” “The weirdo German!” Susie exclaimed. Everyone was staring at me in shock.”And he comes up to me one day and says, you know, ‘Well, since there’s no God, I might as well be gay!’ ” “Oh, my God,” her husband whispered.’

October 17, 2004
[comics] The Ascent Of Fan — Ninth Art on Comics Fans … ‘Far from discussing their love of comics, the fans seem to spend more time debating the precise reasons why they suck, with particular reference to why things aren’t as good as they used to be – whether ‘used to be’ goes back two years, five, ten or twenty. This, of course, is the basic joke of THE SIMPSONS’ Comic Shop Guy. For a man who’s devoted his life to comics, he doesn’t actually seem to like any of them very much. And remember, these are the people who really adore comics. Just imagine what the people who can’t stand them must be like.’ [via Neilalien]
October 18, 2004
[collecting] Smartie Museum — a webpage for a collection of Smartie Lids … ‘You wouldn’t think there could be much to say on this subject, would you? WRONG!’
October 19, 2004
[politics] Without a Doubt — Ron Suskind on George W. Bush’s Faith-based Presidency …

‘He truly believes he’s on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. But you can’t run the world on faith.’

‘The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”‘

October 20, 2004
[politics] Faith Against Reason — commentary from Jonathan Freedland on the faith-based Presidency… ‘As the [Republican] faithful streamed out of the Evesham Recreational Centre in Marlton, a Kerry-Edwards bus with a loudhailer was taunting them from across the road: “Don’t be scared of science, guys. Please guys, we need science.” It seemed an odd kind of election slogan, but it might be right to the point. For the clash under way now is about more than Bush v Kerry, right v left. It seems to be an emerging clash of tradition against modernity, faith against reason. The true believers pitted against the “reality-based community”.’
[distraction] Just Letters — fun, multi-user fridge magnet letters …

October 21, 2004
[books] Neal Stephenson interviewed by Slashdot. On the Singularity: ‘I have a personal mental block as far as the Singularity prediction is concerned. My thoughts are more in line with those of Jaron Lanier, who points out that while hardware might be getting faster all the time, software is shit (I am paraphrasing his argument). And without software to do something useful with all that hardware, the hardware’s nothing more than a really complicated space heater.’
[politics] Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004 — Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in Rolling Stone …

‘Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for — but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush-Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him. You bet. Richard Nixon would be my Man. He was a crook and a creep and a gin-sot, but on some nights, when he would get hammered and wander around in the streets, he was fun to hang out with. He would wear a silk sweat suit and pull a stocking down over his face so nobody could recognize him. Then we would get in a cab and cruise down to the Watergate Hotel, just for laughs.’

October 22, 2004
[fact!] True Facts — a page of trivia … ‘In her later years, Florence Nightingale kept a pet owl in her pocket.’
October 24, 2004
[politics] The Baghdad Blogger goes to Washington — Salam Pax visits America before the election… On arriving at JFK: ‘This is the moment where, in a perfect world modelled on Bollywood movies, I would break into song and dance; my chorus boys would be the beautiful boys in turbans and beards brandishing their “axis of evil” passports and I would look as fabulous as Kylie Minogue while singing: “What do I have to do to get the message thru? I am Iraqi, Iraqi!” It would be a hit with everyone at the airport and I would be escorted by adoring fans to the limousine waiting outside. But this is not a Bollywood movie and I am being taken to a “secondary screening”. My first visit to the USA might just end up with me being shackled and sent to a very unpleasant place where the colour orange is the height of fashion.’
October 26, 2004
Human Nature — audio download of Malcolm Gladwell exploring ‘…why we can’t trust people’s opinions — because we don’t have the language to express our feelings. His examples include the story of New Coke and how Coke’s market research misled them, and the development of Herman-Miller’s Aeron chair, the best-selling chair in the history of office chairs, which succeeded in spite of research that suggested it would fail.’
October 27, 2004
[web] Who knows? — Simon Waldman on the rise of Wikipedia‘The current Encyclopedia Britannica has 44m words of text. Wikipedia already has more than 250m words in it. Britannica’s most recent edition has 65,000 entries in print and 75,000 entries online. Wikipedia’s English site has some 360,000 entries and is growing every day. But numbers mean nothing if the quality is no good. And this is where the arguments start…’
October 28, 2004
[blogs] Hierarchy of Blogging — a useful guide from Random Acts of Reality. I look down on Family Blogs and Bloggers who blog about their pet cats apparently… [Related: Sasha has mirrored the Hierarchy]
October 29, 2004
[work] Forty per cent of IT workers vomit at office Xmas party‘…while more than third admit to snogging their boss or a colleague […] The research doesn’t reveal what proportion of people threw up before snogging their boss.’
October 30, 2004
[useful] Google Cheat Sheet — I learned a couple of new tricks from this … ~auto loan – loan info for both the word auto and its synonyms: truck, car, etc.’
October 31, 2004
[politics] You Ask The Questions — PJ O’Rourke‘Q: Is Tony Blair Bush’s puppet, poodle or fig leaf? A: Tony Blair is your Bush, or Clinton, or Kerry. He is your first really American politician: he has a great facility for baffle-gab; he gets intrigued with all sorts of complex ideas without really thinking them through; and he attempts to be all things to all people at all times. I think George does care what Tony thinks. They are the only two people on the same page about international intervention by Western powers…’
November 1, 2004
[reading] Pattern Recognition [Buy: Amazon UK | Amazon US] … ‘There must always be room for coincidence, Win had maintained. When there’s not, you’re probably well into apophenia, each thing then perceived as part of an overarching pattern of conspiracy. And while comforting yourself with the symmetry of it all, he’d believed, you stood all too real a chance of missing the genuine threat, which was invariably less symmetrical, less perfect. But which he always, she knew, took for granted was there.’
[tv] The real King of Comedy — the Observer on the DVD release of Seinfeld‘One episode is entirely set in a Chinese restaurant where the cast wait for a table, and George (Jason Alexander) confides his latest girlfriend disaster to Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld). He has had to leave midway through sex because he is too embarrassed to go to the toilet in his girlfriend’s tiny flat, where his every move will be heard, and he has “an intestinal requirement that surpasses by great lengths anything in the sexual realm”. So how to extricate himself? “The only excuse she might possibly have accepted is if I told her that I am in reality Batman, and I’m very sorry, I just saw the Batsignal”.’
November 2, 2004
[politics] More Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail — long interview with Hunter S. Thompson

‘Hunter S Thompson is not regarded as one of world journalism’s easier subjects. […] It’s a combination of things, really: the ubiquitous firearms and narcotics; his nocturnal regime and sudden mood swings. I first encountered him in the early 1990s when I was working for another newspaper which had decided to send him to join the Royal press corps for the Highland Games. I met Thompson at Gatwick, at 6am. He lit his hash pipe while we were still in sight of the customs hall and insisted on being driven to Smithfield Market for whisky. When we reached his hotel, he barricaded himself in his suite for 36 hours, then fled back to Aspen in the middle of the night. His subsequent faxes referred to me as an “evil treacherous dingbat” and a “weird limey freak”. “In a strange way,” says Ralph Steadman, “insults are Hunter’s way of articulating affection.”‘

November 3, 2004
[comics] Snowed-under Briggs resorts to eBay — Raymond Briggs has so much The Snowman merchandise stored at his house that he’s decided to attempt sell it all on eBay … ‘Briggs, 70, admitted he is a novice at internet selling. ‘I didn’t know about eBay. A lady who works for me is putting the stuff on. It could be a disaster: there are already pages of Snowman things there. I assumed everything would be £10 at least, but I’m amazed to see some of it going for 50p. Why bother? There are all the costs of postage and packing. You can buy something for that in a charity shop. ‘We’re starting with one item to see if it will work: a Snowman toy holding a tiny teddy bear, which I’ve signed. It’s very well made, like Steiff teddy bears, and I can’t remember if we’ve said £50 or £150. There are mad collectors out there who will buy anything with signatures…’
November 4, 2004
[comics] Milk and Cheese on the US Election Result:

Milk and Cheese -- WHEEEEE! Four More Years Of Hell!

November 6, 2004
[books] Another interview with Neal Stephenson‘I do think that those who devote their lives to studying science or to building new technologies learn certain habits of thought. They derive satisfaction from finding new truths, or doing things in a way that is more elegant. Perhaps this could be considered spiritual. It is a way of confirming over and over again that the universe makes sense and follows orderly laws, which a religiously significant assertion.’
November 7, 2004
[comics] The Comics Reporter — Tom Spurgeon’s comic news weblog.
November 8, 2004
[comic] Dan Clowes Switch Commercial — the creator of Ghost World did an unused commercial for Apple (directed by Errol Morris) … ‘It’s like a perfect robot pal.’
November 9, 2004
[web] Firefox 1.0 Released‘Thus did the followers rejoice with a clamour that shook the heavens; for the Fox came forth in its majesty, fully grown, and did henceforth swear an oath to do battle against those who would oppose it. Truly, rejoice, for the Fire hath descended from heaven to cleanse!’ – from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9 [Related: Download Firefox 1.0 using Bittorrent]
November 10, 2004
[apocalypse] 19 End-Of-The-World Prophecies — We missed at least one apocalypse last month: ‘2004-OCT-17: Clay Cantrell computes the date of the Rapture from size of Noah’s Ark with particular attention to the precise location of the “escape window” in the top of the vessel.’ [via Kevan’s Delicious]
November 11, 2004
[blog] Thought of the Day — moblogging a handwritten thought-of-the-day sign at Oval Station on the London Underground … ‘Those who dance are thought mad by those who do not hear the music.’ [via Sashinka]
[iraq] Steve Bell on Falluja‘These people are hardcore.’
November 12, 2004
[quote] Kurt Vonnegut Quotes‘I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.’
November 14, 2004
[games] Spacewar – Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums — a profile of Spacewar (one of the first computer games) and the personalities behind it by Stewart Brand from Rolling Stone magazine in 1972 … ‘Spacewar as a parable is almost too pat. It was the illegitimate child of the marrying of computers and graphic displays. It was part of no one’s grand scheme. It served no grand theory. It was the enthusiasm of irresponsible youngsters. It was disreputably competitive (“You killed me, Tovar!”). It was an administrative headache. It was merely delightful. Yet Spacewar, if anyone cared to notice, was a flawless crystal ball of things to come in computer science and computer use…’ [via del.icio.us]
November 15, 2004
[books] Dark Star of LA Noir — long profile of James Ellroy‘For many, his ostensibly shocking claim that he had “figured out how I could use my mother’s death, reduce it to sound-bites and sell books”, might have seen him tagged simply as a grotesque opportunist. But then, in a bravely imaginative departure, he complicated matters further by addressing head-on the nature of that exploitation in his ground-breaking 1996 book My Dark Places, which was part memoir and part, ultimately doomed, attempt to identify her killer, who has never been identified. The more one finds out about the man, the more his title of the essay in which he claims novels are mislabelled autobiography makes sense: he called it “Where I Get My Weird Shit”.’
[spam] Trial Shows How Spammers Operate‘As one of the world’s most prolific spammers, Jeremy Jaynes pumped out at least 10 million e-mails a day with the help of 16 high-speed lines, the kind of Internet capacity a 1,000-employee company would need. [..] In a typical month, prosecutors said during the trial, Jaynes might receive 10,000 to 17,000 credit card orders, thus making money on perhaps only one of every 30,000 e-mails he sent out. But he earned $40 a pop, and the undertaking was so vast that Jaynes could still pull in $400,000 to $750,000 a month, while spending perhaps $50,000 on bandwidth and other overhead, McGuire said. “When you’re marketing to the world, there are enough idiots out there” who will be suckered in, McGuire said in an interview.’
November 16, 2004
[comics] Stuart Immonen’s 50 Reasons To Stop Sketching At Conventions:

50 Reasons To Stop Doing Sketches - #11 The Superfan

[lard] Lard Crisis: Mince Pies Threatened As Supplies Dwindle‘Demand in east European countries for cheap cuts of pork has led to a shortage of meat suitable for rendering into lard. New members of the European Union, including Hungary and Poland, are buying within the union to avoid a levy on non-EU imports. Supermarkets such as Morrisons have been forced to display signs on shelves apologising for the lack of lard’ [Related: Mefi on the Lard Crisis]
November 17, 2004
[web] Portable Firefox 1.0 — useful adaptation of Firefox‘Portable Firefox is a fully functional package of Firefox optimized for use on a USB key drive. It has some specially-selected optimizations to make it perform faster and extend the life of your USB key as well as a specialized launcher that will allow most of your favorite extensions to work as you switch computers. It will also work from a CDRW drive (in packet mode), ZIP drives, external hard drives, some MP3 players, flash RAM cards and more.’
November 18, 2004
[comics] The Strangeness of Brendan McCarthy — nicely done unofficial website for the much missed artist best known for his work on Judge Dredd and frequent collaborations with Peter Milligan … ‘Will he ever return to drawing a full comic strip? He has been quoted as saying, “Of course I will produce comic books in the future, but first I want to make sure I have enough money behind me so that I can self-publish the material I choose. I’m getting too long in the cock to have silly people telling me how to produce my own work. There’s just too much crap to put up with and quite frankly, I can’t be bothered with it”‘
November 19, 2004
[buy sell] eBay Pulse — find out what’s selling on eBay. [via BingBangBosh]
[royalty] Prince Charles: ‘What is wrong with people nowadays? Why do they all seem to think they are qualified to do things far above their capabilities? This is all to do with the learning culture in schools. It is a consequence of a child-centred education system which tells people they can become pop stars, high court judges or brilliant TV presenters or infinitely more competent heads of state without ever putting in the necessary work or having the natural ability. It is a result of social utopianism which believes humanity can be genetically engineered to contradict the lessons of history.’
November 21, 2004
[wifi] How To Steal Wi-Fi — a useful guide to using your neigbours wi-fi access point without asking from Paul Bouting… ‘Every techie I know says that you shouldn’t use other people’s networks without permission. Every techie I know does it anyway.’
November 22, 2004
[tube] Blood on the Tracks — article about suicides on the London Underground … ‘How the tube got its reputation as a good spot for suicides is a mystery. It is a completely stupid choice. A large number of jumpers don’t die immediately and plenty don’t die at all. Those that are successful often manage because they get themselves crushed between the far wall and the train, instead of on the rails. It is very far from clinical. At the first “one-under” I attended, the woman was still alive underneath the train, screaming and trying to get up. The image stayed with me for years.’
November 24, 2004
[london] B3ta interviews London’s “Are you a Sinner or a Winner?” ManQ: Daddy or chips? A: Both. If your chips are down you need your Daddy (points skyward).’
November 25, 2004
[politics] Impeach Tony Blair? Not this Crazy Gang — Simon Hoggart on the attempt to impeach Tony Blair … ‘Some of us had gone along in the hopes of hearing Harold Pinter, a keen supporter of the move to impeach the prime minister. Perhaps he would read one of his poems: “‘ Bombs hurtle down. They split open the skulls of babies. George Bush fills the skulls with shit, the shit of shitty shit-covered damnation’. Thank you.” Or words to that effect. Sadly, Mr Pinter was not able to attend…’
[descaler] Cillit Bang FAQ — everything you need to know about the much blogged household cleaner … ‘Q: How does Cillit Bang work? A: I’m not sure. Any Chemistry gurus out there? Is it a surfactant? Oxidant? Acid? What would happen if you necked a shot of it?’

  • PeterCooper.co.uk: Cillit Bang … From a Comment: ‘…for the people who said it is a real product…..where the hell can I get it? Its driving me nuts…..I NEED Cillit Bang!!! My life will never be the same without it….HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

  • The Ulterior: BANG! … From a Comment: ‘I have seen the advert everyday for about a week now on channel 4, and in my Chemistry class about 2 weeks ago, when discussing oxidation, somone shouted out CILLIT BANG! We were all fairly confused and thought he was winding up the teacher, but no! He was discussing the oxidation power of Cillit Bang! It has now started a religion in my school and every time we meet each other we have to shout Cillit Bang! Its not a great religion, but i thought you should all know about it…’

November 29, 2004
[descaler] On eBay: CILLIT BANG – New and unopened [via Tech PR blog] … ‘YES – it does exist – but very difficult to find!! This is an excellent product and does everything that it says it does – great for kitchens and bathrooms and for shiny new pennies!!!’
November 30, 2004
[internet] Penny Arcade: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad
December 1, 2004
[blogs] Getting Fired From Weblogs Inc. — some interesting comments from behind-the-scenes at a couple of Blog “nano-publishing” Empires … ‘It’s probably every blogger’s dream: one day, they will achieve blogging nirvana and someone will actually pay them to blog. Despite the fact that people pay me fairly regularly to write for magazines, I admit that I, too, indulged in the blogging nirvana dream. And on the 18th of October, the absolute weirdest thing happened: Nirvana knocked on my door. Twice…’
[ipod] Troubled Diva: 17 things which I love about my beautiful, bouncing new iPod’16. The surprisingly intense surge of paternalism which I experience before leaving the house each morning, as I squeeze my iPod into its bendy “skin” in order to protect it from the ravages of the outside world. “Come along, my lovely; let’s wrap you up nice and warm in your matinee jacket. Easy does it. There’s a good boy.” Followed by the corresponding evening routine, as I gently prise off the matinee jacket (or is it a Babygro?) and place my baby back into its cradle.’