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February 17, 2003
[books] Eggers v the Establishment — update on Dave Eggers‘He is what every young literary publisher in New York would love to be if only the accountants didn’t keep telling them the money is in self-improvement books. In short, Eggers can do it all. What he will not do is sit down and be interviewed, having learnt on the road to literary fame that accessibility is the death of journalistic curiosity.’
February 6, 2003
[books] AL Kennedy’s top 10 controversial books … [via I Love Everything]

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

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

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

January 30, 2003
[books] Logomancer — a review of William Gibson‘s new book by Rudy Rucker‘Cool hunting, advertising, and marketing pervade Pattern Recognition – the book’s acronym is PR, after all. Pollard “knows too much about the processes responsible for the way product is positioned in the world, and sometimes finds herself doubting that there is much else going on.” But The Footage is there to prove her wrong. The Web makes it possible for an independent artist to gain a global following for no commercial purpose whatsoever. Gibson exploits the inherent tension between the monoculture and the emergence of novelty. On one hand, the monoculture lives by assimilating originality. On the other, new art has nothing but the monoculture to launch itself from. It’s one of the happy paradoxes of modern life.’
January 23, 2003
[reading] At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft‘Through the desolate summits swept ranging, intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes held vague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a wide range, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimly terrible. Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evilly fabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book at the college library.’
January 21, 2003
[books] Extract from A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker. ‘…when the hole in the sock on my foot became intolerable, I reached down and pulled it off in a clean, strong motion and flipped it across the room in the direction of the trash can — although I have to say there is something almost painfully incongruous in the sight of an article of underclothing that one has worn and warmed with one’s own body for many days and years, lying bunched in the trash.’ [via Anglepoised]
January 13, 2003
[books] Particular Obsessions — profile of the author Nicholson Baker and his new book‘A Box of Matches isn’t just about groping around the house before dawn and lighting fires. It also deals – in exhaustive detail – with such domestic mysteries as hole-ridden socks, belly-button lint and emptying the dishwasher. It features a protagonist/narrator practically indistinguishable from Baker himself and a family suspiciously like the wife and two children sleeping soundly in various rooms around Baker’s 18th-century wood-panelled, oak-beamed house. Even the pet duck that features prominently in the book is instantly recognisable as one of two now quacking in the yard. Baker has made a virtue of celebrating daily existence, whether it is the kaleidoscopic detailing of a single lunch hour in The Mezzanine [or] the labyrinthine sexual obsessions of The Fermata…’
January 8, 2003
[books] Pattern Recognition — extract from William Gibson‘s new book … ‘Damien is a friend. Their boy-girl Lego doesn’t click, he would say. Damien is thirty, Cayce two years older, but there is some carefully insulated module of immaturity in him, some shy and stubborn thing that frightened the money people. Both have been very good at what they’ve done, neither seeming to have the least idea of why. Google Damien and you will find a director of music videos and commercials. Google Cayce and you will find “coolhunter,” and if you look closely you may see it suggested that she is a “sensitive” of some kind, a dowser in the world of global marketing. Though the truth, Damien would say, is closer to allergy, a morbid and sometimes violent reactivity to the semiotics of the marketplace.’
January 7, 2003
[blogs] William Gibson has a blog‘In spite of (or perhaps because of) my reputation as a reclusive quasi-Pynchonian luddite shunning the net (or word-processors, depending on what you Google) I hope to be here on a more or less daily basis.’ [via Boing Boing]
January 6, 2003
[books] All the Best for the New Year [Part 1 | Part 2] — a cultural preview for 2003. William Gibson’s new book looks really interesting: ‘Pattern Recognition, his seventh novel, is notable for being set in London one year after 11 September, and the business of imagining the future takes a back seat to the complexities of the modern world. In a tip of the hat to Naomi Klein, the heroine, Cayce Pollard, makes her living through an unusual sensitivity to corporate branding. When a toothsome ad executive asks her to investigate the source of a mysterious phenomenon on the internet, which could be the most important viral marketing campaign ever devised, Cayce soon becomes entangled in a world of paranoid surveillance and commodity fetishism. Pattern Recognition is a stylish and ambitious novel.’
January 5, 2003
[radio] Northern Lights — BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting a dramatisation of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman over the next three weeks… Terrance Stamp is playing Lord Asriel. [via I Love Everything]
December 18, 2002
[film] Orchid Fever — article from the New Yorker which was the initial inspiration for Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s film Adaptation … [via lukelog]

‘Collecting can be a sort of lovesickness. If you begin collecting living things, you are pursuing something imperfectible, and even if you manage to find them and then possess them, there is no guarantee they won’t die or change. The botanical complexity of orchids and their mutability makes them perhaps the most compelling and maddening of all collectible living things. There are nearly twenty thousand named species of orchids — it is the largest flowering-plant family on earth. New orchids are being created in laboratories or discovered every day, and others exist only in tiny numbers in remote places. To desire orchids is to have a desire that can never be fully requited. A collector who wants one of every orchid species will die before even coming close.’

December 6, 2002
[web] Little House on the Info Prairie — Danny O’Brien blogs interviewing Brewster Kahle … ‘I keep hearing him say “we can make a different world, by building it”, which sounds clumsy copied from my notes, but in context, spoken by Brewster Kahle in an old wooden house with a bunch of commodity web servers in one corner, a whiteboard with plans to scan a million books on the wall to the left, and shelf with a freshly minted Alice in Wonderland…’
November 28, 2002
[film] Solaris, Rediscovered — backgrounder on Stanislaw Lem and Solaris‘…this is the source of Lem’s uneasy relationship with American science fiction, and of his inevitable misalliance with Hollywood. Lem’s stories are about humanity in general. Movies – at least popular ones – are about characters. Moreover, when confronted with a beautiful woman who may be a phantom, an alien, or some kind of machine, Hollywood is more or less required to put one question ahead of all others: Can you have sex with it? This is what Soderbergh refers to when he says the movie will be a cross between 2001 and Last Tango in Paris.’
November 17, 2002
[books] Swaggering genius — more Sunday reading… a profile of Dave Eggers‘His attitude towards publicity is certainly contradictory; having written a candid memoir about his family and friends, he then retreated into Salinger-like reclusiveness and reportedly dismissed his US agent, bizarrely accusing her of wanting to make money out of his family’s story. Others have pointed out that although Simon and Schuster paid $100,000 for the manuscript of AHWOSG, he later accepted a $1.4 million advance for US paperback rights, and that in spite of early news stories (which Eggers later denied) claiming he had refused to sell the film rights because he felt a cinema version would surrender the book’s integrity, the rights were nevertheless sold to New Line for a weighty $2m.’
November 3, 2002
[books] Why He Died Before He Got Old — Pete Townshend reviews Kurt Cobain’s Journals … ‘The entries are not uninteresting. It is simply that they are devastatingly hard to contemplate. They actually hurt. These are the scribblings of a once beautiful, angry, petulant, spoiled, drug-addled middle-class white boy from a divorced family who just happened, with the help of two of his slightly more stable peers, to make an album hailed as one of the best rock records ever. I sometimes get letters from people who write and draw like Cobain. I put them in a file marked ‘Loonies’, just in case they try to sue me in the future for stealing their ideas.’
October 4, 2002
[books] Angry Bed Positions from Mil Millington‘Think of it as a ‘K’. One person is in the standard half-‘X’ shape (facing away) and the other is a rigid ‘I’; lying prone, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Here you lose points for style if the ‘I’ person doesn’t let out frequent sighs and snorts in an attempt to get the Half-‘X’-er to ask ‘What is it?'” [via Anglepoised]
October 3, 2002
[books] The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith — The Digested Read … ‘Jesus, thought Alex-Li as he checked his messages. I must have booked a flight to New York while I was out of it. Still, it will go down well with US readers. He phoned Ads. “I’m off to New York.” “You’ll miss Esther’s heart operation.” “Hmm. That adds some pathos.”‘
September 25, 2002
[rant] Trouble when Tweed Comes to Town — Will Self rants about the Countryside March … ‘Yes, Countryside Alliance, you’re the Tories who can’t stand the free market; you’re the libertarians who can’t handle homosexual rights or decriminalising drugs; you’re the defenders of Fortress Britain who get bankrolled by Brussels. You aren’t old MacDonald – you’re bloody senile.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
September 22, 2002
[books] Philip Pullman Reaches the Garden — interview with the author of the His Dark Materials Trilogy … Pullman: ‘It’s a curious thing: we have to be told how to fall in love. We don’t do it automatically. Somebody made the point that if there were no stories about love, nobody would ever fall in love. We wouldn’t know how to do it.’ [via Interconnected]
September 19, 2002
[books] Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington — his new book looks interesting … ‘Millington’s customarily whimsical take on contemporary gender relations is, of course, much in evidence but some of the sharper comedy here actually occurs beyond the familial settings. In certain respects the book has possibly more in common with the wry, mild-mannered satire of the Ealing films or David Nobbs’ Reginald Perrin than the novels of Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby and co.’ [Buy: UK | US]
September 15, 2002
[books] Man and Wife by Tony Parsons — The Digested Read … ‘I. Don’t. Know. Why I. Write in. These ridiculous. Sentences. And repeat. Re. Peat. Mys. Elf. Now. To women. Know I hate. The poncey. Middle-classes. That. Watch the. Late. Review. I. Really. Love Pat. He’s my son. Pat I. Love. He’s the. Best. Thing. I’ve ever. Done. Best. The. It breaks. My heart. That he. Lives. With. Gina.’
September 13, 2002
[books] On The Road: American Writers and their Hair — Zadie Smith in America … ‘Kansas City is oven hot, dead metaphor or no dead metaphor. And for some reason it is God’s plan to have me read in an inter-denominational all-faith meeting house, the better to offend all his children in different ways. By the time I get back to the hotel I’m washed up. The Jews hate me. So do the Catholics, the Muslims, the Hindus and the Jehova’s Witnesses. The Buddhists aren’t so crazy about me either. It turns out Kansas is not the city for religious comedy. Who knew?’ [thanks Prentiss]
September 12, 2002
[books] Warren Ellis on James Bond‘In some ways — and I don’t think Fleming was unaware of this — he is what Allen Ginsberg called “bleak male energy,” causing and taking immense damage in single-minded pursuit of what he wants. At the conclusion of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, the front end of his personality essentially rubbed out by torture, drugs, multiple trauma and a sequence of horrible mental hammerblows, there is an almost disturbing glimpse of an amnesiac Bond as gentle, open, devoted, and almost sweet. And his lover dreads the day that he recovers. He is England’s blunt instrument of international assault — the spiteful, vicious bastard of a faded empire that still wants the world to do as it’s bloody well told.’
September 10, 2002
[books] A Diverting New Chapter in the Life of a Literary Superstar — Zadie Smith Profile … ‘The essential charm of Smith’s writing is not its multicultural sweep, nor its Rushdie-like exaggerations and swift changes of direction, not even its incisive comic wit; it is the warmth with which she invests her portraits of even her unloveliest characters.’
September 9, 2002
[books] Last Rites, Last Orders — extract from Zadie Smith’s new book The Autograph Man [UK | US] …

‘Whose idea was it to drink alphabetically? Alex did not come to Bubbles with that intention. He merely came to have a drink, maybe drinks, maybe drinkseses. After five swift whiskies, though, the idea just sort of presented itself. And Roy, who was the barman, and must take some of the blame, Roy did no frowning, no reluctant shrugging. Oh, no.

Roy said: “Go for it, my son.”

And Tommy, a pregnant Irishman, whose idea it may have been, said: “Twenty says you don’t get beyond Haich.”

Which was a dare. And drunk men take dares like they take breaths.

Absinthe, then, set it off with a bang.’

September 4, 2002
[blogs] Lying Motherfucker — various famous authors blog, kinda … Frederick Forsythe: ‘Oh, how different it had all been in the glory days, back when Maggie held firmly the reins of a nation and men weren’t afraid to knock a Big Issue vendor into the gutter where it belonged. When the fuzzy-wuzzies knew their place and everyone stopped for a roast dinner on Sunday. Henry fingered the limp white collar of his shirt. A gentleman couldn’t even get a dependable starch anymore. It all went downhill with the Labour government, when they forced the coolie laundries to stop using child labor.’ [Related: Scott McCloud explains LyingMoFo]
September 2, 2002
[books] The Other Mother — Philip Pullman reviews Neil Gaiman’s Coraline [UK | US] … ‘When Coraline finds a door that opens into another flat strangely like her own, but subtly different (thus making the classic transition from here, where we live, to there, where the mysteries begin), we believe what we’re told. And when she discovers a sinister woman there, who looks a little like her mother but has eyes that are big black buttons, the matter-of-factness of the woman’s response when Coraline says “Who are you?” is both disarming and terrifying. “I’m your other mother,” she says. And so begins a struggle for Coraline’s soul.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
August 28, 2002
[books] Zadie Bites Back — update and interview with Zadie Smith … Phil Davis: ‘…I wanted to get under the skin of a character that I recognised. There are parts of my father in Archie. He’s a product of another era, when things were more fixed and certain, but most people were essentially unhappy, trapped in awful jobs. In many ways, that’s what’s so lifelike about the book. It says, “This is what life is like for most people” – random, mundane, only occasionally inspiring. If you ask me, that’s what touches people about White Teeth.’ [Related: The Autograph Man]
August 27, 2002
[books] The Word Factory — great interview with Iain Banks …

‘I would dread to think that either we’re as good as it gets, or that the universe is empty. If there’s nobody else out there, it’s all going to fall to us eventually, which is a frightening responsibility.’

August 21, 2002
[sex] The Son Also Rises — amusing update on the 30th Aniversary edition of the The Joy of Sex

‘Even 30 years after it was first published, the Joy of Sex begs many questions. On pages 114-5 of the latest edition, for instance, there’s a man astride a woman’s buttocks with his hands pressed into her shoulders. The helpful description of what’s going on follows. “She kneels, hands clasped behind her neck, breasts and face on the bed. He kneels behind. She hooks her legs over his and pulls him to her with them.” With me so far? Let’s go to stage two. “He puts a hand on each of her shoulder-blades and presses down. Very deep position – apt to pump her full of air which escapes later in a disconcerting manner – otherwise excellent.” Intriguing stuff. Why would she be pumped full of air? Just how disconcerting is the escape of air? Should we have the emergency services on standby? What tools should they bring? ‘

August 19, 2002
[books] Meet the Parent — interview / profile of Tony Parsons. ‘…Man and Boy seems unstoppable – it does that very rare thing, it reaches people who don’t normally buy books. The trouble is that when Parsons talks about it, there is no glimmer of the vision thing – he sounds almost like Jeffrey Archer, harping on about his sales figures. So, back to my original suspicion. Did he sit down one day and see the Nick Hornby bandwagon rolling past and think ‘I’ll have some of that’? Did he decide, cynically, hackily, to switch from smartarse to sensitive?’
August 15, 2002
[books] Pullman Lays Down Moral Challenge for Writers — Philip Pullman discusses morality. ‘…his real bugbear was with the “propensity of human nature” to use politics or religion to set up one unquestionable truth – “it could be the Bible, it could be the Communist Manifesto” – and to then knock down all that went against it. “This is what I am against. Not Christianity, but every religion and fundamental organisation where there is one truth and they will kill you if you don’t believe it.”‘
August 14, 2002
[blogs] Tom reconstructs We’ve Got Blog‘If you were interested in reading – but uninterested in paying for – the collection of articles printed in the book We’ve got blog (which includes an introduction by the esteemed Rebecca Blood), you may be surprised to realise that almost all of the pieces within it are freely available on the interweb. And don’t worry – most of them are just as interesting online as they are squirted onto paper.’ [Related: We’ve Got Blog]
August 2, 2002
[books] Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2002 Results — competition to write the worst opening sentences to imaginary novels… [via Massive]

‘The professor looked down at his new young lover, who rested fitfully, lashed as she was with duct tape to the side of his stolen hovercraft, her head lolling gently in the breeze, and as they soared over the buildings of downtown St. Paul to his secret lair he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk.’

July 30, 2002
[books] Fundamentally Unsound — Salon takes a look at Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series … ‘Left Behind cloaks itself in the conventions of ordinary airport thrillers, but it does far more than just provide a Christian alternative to decadent mainstream entertainment. It creates a Christian theory of everything, one that slates current events into a master narrative in which the world is destroyed and then remade to evangelical specifications. It’s an alternate universe in which conservative Middle Americans are vindicated against everyone who doesn’t share their beliefs — especially liberals and Jews.’ [via Follow Me Here]
July 29, 2002
[911] Reach for the Sky — Salman Rushdie on 911 and what should happen on the site of the WTC … ‘At Ground Zero that November day, the hollow air seemed to gather and shape itself into those huge lost forms and soar upwards towards the memory of billowing fire. “That was where it happened,” I kept reminding myself, “not down here, but up there.” I tried to identify cubes of empty space “up there” that might correspond to the exact locations of the twin crimes, wanting, a little crazily, to repossess those spaces by the pure force of seeing. An aeroplane passed overhead and made me wince.’
June 26, 2002
[science] Professor Brainstorm — another profile of Oliver Sacks… On Chemistry and School: ‘When I first saw the periodic table it filled me with a sense of revelation. These were the building blocks of the universe, and they have a wonderful mathematical order. Comforting? Immensely after the chaos, caprice and cruelty of boarding school. Human behaviour seemed to be very unpredictable, whereas chemistry was the opposite.’
June 10, 2002
[books] Strange ramblings in Woody Creek — interview with Hunter S. Thompson thirty years after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘I have a photographic memory and a very visual way of working and thinking. Christ, the cops at the [narcotics and dangerous drugs] convention is a scene that will never leave me. And I somehow remember the [Mint] gun club and going out there [for the Mint 400]. I remember long boulevards and cruising them in those convertibles, really just looking for action. That’s what we were doing. When you’re working on a story, you don’t have to manufacture the action, but you look for it with a keen eye. You know, something that will strike a spark.’ [via WEF]
June 4, 2002
[books] Narnia books attacked as racist and sexist — Philip Pullman on C. S. Lewis, Narnia and the “Republic of Heaven” … ‘Asked about his concept of a republic of heaven, Pullman said: “When it was possible to have a belief about God and heaven, it represented something we all desired. It had a profound meaning in human life. But when it no longer became possible to believe, a lot of people felt despair. What was the meaning of life? It seems that our nature is so formed that we need a feeling of connectedness with the universe. If there is no longer a king, or a kingdom of heaven, it will have to be a republic in which we are free citizens. We ourselves as citizens have to build the republic of heaven.”‘
[comics] An interview with Neil Gaiman [Page 1] [Page 2] [Page 3] … On Sandman: ‘The point about Sandman is it’s the single largest body of work I’ve done. It was about 10 years of actual work. I started working on it in ’87, and finished it in ’96. That was a solid nine years, for eight of which it was coming out in the public, but for one of which was just me. Sandman’s 2,000 pages long. It was 4,000 pages of script. It was done over nine years and it came out every month. It’s still 10 volumes long. […] The only reason I survived Sandman, frankly, is that it was coming out every month.’ [via Sore Eyes]
May 19, 2002
[books] Philip Pullman resources on the Web from Robot WisdomPullman: ‘The rise of fundamentalist religion I think, is the most dangerous aspect of late twentieth-century life, whether it is intolerance among Christians or Muslims or Orthodox Jews. I think fundamentalist religion is one of the greatest dangers we have ever faced. And so if there is a source of wickedness in the book, you can place it there… What makes a religion fundamentalist is the insistence that because of some book of scriptures or some revelation given to the founder of the religion, that they alone possess the ‘truth’. And when anyone believes that, they’re wrong. I think my position would be that throughout human history, the greatest moral advances have been made by religious leaders such as Jesus and the Buddha. And the greatest moral wickedness has been perpetrated by their followers.’
May 14, 2002
[books] A Deadline Bandit’s Last Hurrah — A brief review of The Salmon of Doubt from Douglas Adams. ‘…as Robert MacFarlane has already noticed in The Observer, Adams is more plausibly ‘the Lewis Carroll of the twentieth century’, a writer who articulated painful, accidental truths behind a mask of foolery and who found in his parallel universe a happy release from the vanities of earth and the almost intolerable stress of everyday life.’
May 13, 2002
[schooldays] Sacks appeal — interview with Oliver Sacks‘[He did not know] as a very young child, that chemistry would end up saving his sanity. But in September 1939, with war breaking out, his London school was evacuated wholesale to the Northamptonshire village of Braefield, and he and Michael became boarders, while the school became, by his account, a jaw-droppingly brutal institution even by the standards of the time. He was repeatedly beaten by a headmaster “unhinged by his own power”, who once hit him so hard that his cane broke. The cost of replacing it was added to the Sacks family’s tuition bill.’
April 25, 2002
[comics] Evan Dorkin’s Fisher-Price Theatre — Catcher In The Rye [Part 1 | Part 2] …

Evan Dorkin's Fisher-Price Theatre -- Catcher In The Rye

April 24, 2002
[books] The master of all he surveys — interview with Alexi Sayle. ‘…he reads “whatever my wife’s reading group is doing that month. I read it first and she never gets round to reading it.” He recently finished Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and is currently trying his best to get through Dickens’s Great Expectations . It’s a safe bet that he doesn’t read much by his fellow comedians. “I was the first alternative comic to write a novel,” he says with a sigh. “Fucking hell, it’s a terrible legacy . . .”‘
April 20, 2002
[books] McVicar’s crime against Jill Dando — review of John McVicar’s new book about the murder of Jill Dando‘[McVicar] believes that George did commit the murder – under, according to the theory he and Pell construct, the combined influence of Queen lyrics, Zoroastrianism, Ninjutsu, born-again Baptism and Highlander.’
April 19, 2002
[blogs] Douglas Rushkoff has a blog‘I’ve always resisted the polarity of a dialectic – those heated, two-sided debates. The process itself seems to entrench us further in specific reality tunnels. Academics and committed politicos hate me for it, but I really am committed, for the timebeing, to avoid getting too stuck in a singular, absolute way of seeing the world. Polar argumentation and the duality it promotes make this harder to do. And this is why fundamentalists enjoy things like the Middle East crisis so much. It throws even formerly “moderate” people back into the more extreme corners of their reality tunnels.’
April 18, 2002
[911] Jerry Pournelle’s reaction to 911 The Black September War

Kinda Biblical: ‘There shall be monuments, perpetual, large enough to be seen from the air, from space: monuments of desolation in each of those cities. A million square feet; let the company commanders measure each building before flattening it. Let it be recorded. And let salt be sown where those places stood. Let their refugees go where they will. And if that requires the Army fight its way into those places, then the devil take the hindmost. We have no lack of volunteers.’

Then Sci-Fi: ‘…build our monuments, but then put solar power receiving stations on them, and give about 800 megawatts of power to each of the cities in which we built those. The more I think on it, the more it grows on me. Of course I have been for building space solar power satellites without this incentive: to build SSPS will required a fleet of reusable space ships, and if we have those we automatically have Thor (non-nuclear orbital precision bombardment: tungsten telephone poles that can hit any target at about 15,000 fps velocity with an accuracy of about 10 feet CEP)’
April 17, 2002
[science] The Time Lord — profile of Stephen Jay Gould‘…in 1974, Gould – now with Harvard University – began writing a monthly column on ‘This View of Life’ (a phrase borrowed from Darwin’s The Origin of Species) for the US journal Natural History. It became a Western publishing phenomenon. For the next 26 years – he always vowed he would stop writing them in 2001 – Gould produced a stream of 10,000-word essays, uninterrupted even when he needed intense treatment for abdominal cancer, on subjects that have ranged from snails to the evolution of typewriters, from dinosaurs to Antoine Lavoisier, and from space travel to, of course, baseball. All were written with authority and verve, and very often an engaging dry wit. One, on the evolution of human sexual organs, he even tried to call ‘Clits and Tits’ but was blocked by his publishers.’
April 16, 2002
[blogs] Weblog Bookwatch — it searches recently updated weblogs for links to books on Amazon and compiles a list… ‘For recreational use only — please, no wagering.’ [via Scripting News]