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April 21, 2005
[books] The Article that Changed the World — The Guardian on book subtitles … ‘What all these “changed the world” titles have in common is a lack of self-confidence. Unsure that readers will want to buy a book about sugar or sewing machines or radio in Canada, publishers over-gild their lilies. In a sense, yes, all these things have changed the world, but only in a general sense that everything that exists changes the world.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
April 12, 2005
[bdj] Will the real Belle de Jour please stand up? — Jane Perrone emails Stewart Home to find out if he is Belle de Jour … Home on BdJ: ‘I’m no more interested in who Belle ‘really is’ than I am interested in who Jack The Ripper ‘really’ was. The endless speculation about the identity of such figures serves only to obscure any understanding of them.’
April 6, 2005
[bdj] The web’s Belle de Jour? — the Evening Standard proposes another suspect for BdJ — an author called Stewart Home. I’ve been sent two files of information mentioned in the Standard by verysunnymeadow (a prolific commenter on The Book Club Blog’s investigations into BdJ). Both articles are linked below:

  • ‘Belle De Jour’ Identified As Male London Novelist‘With the Belle diary, while the forensics suggest even to the most sceptical observer that he has, at the very least, an extremely strong case to answer, the nearest I’ve heard of his making an admission is a touch on the side of the nose, given furtively to a mutual friend who was about to raise suspicions a little too high at a party.’
  • Clues that Stewart Home is Belle de Jour‘As readers of “Belle de Jour’s” book will know, Belle mentions several male friends and lovers. However, there is one male friend who gets mentioned in the weblog but not in the book. This is “SH”, a reference to Stewart Home, the real author.’

March 27, 2005
[bdj] Named: the Belle de Jour of the net — The Sunday Times writes up Belle de Hypothesis and outs Lisa Hilton as Belle de Jour… She kinda, sorta denies it: ‘I am afraid I can neither confirm nor deny (involvement). I really do not want to say it is not me, because I do not want to engage to that extent. I really do not want anything to do with it. I have never read any of this woman’s writing. I know nothing about her. As far as I can see it is just tittle-tattle and coincidence.’ [Related: Belle Updated Last Night]
March 16, 2005
[bdj] Belle de Hypothesis (Fictional Account of a London Publishing Scam) — a neatly-detailed conspiracy theory about Belle de Jour being the work of a bunch of writers from the Erotic Review‘The second stage of the project is the delivery. The ER’s circulation is XK and declining. Why not, says RP, harness the power of the internet to show how thoroughly modern our heroine is, and as an adjunct reach out to an entirely new readership in the evolving blogosphere, reach out to the future tweed wearers while they still have beards and sandals or even better, Ipods. The blog must be simple (Blogger, basic template) not be based on exact events (too easy to check, identify, and must be anonymous, to show that necessary element of guilt, naughtiness and suspense to complete the formula.’ [via The Book Club Blog]
March 11, 2005
[comics] No complaints about ‘Doonesbury’ tribute to Hunter S. Thompson — article about Garry Trudeau’s tribute to Hunter S. Thompson … ‘For Trudeau’s Duke, in the end, is a character far more sinister than the self-created, self-destructive gonzo artist who shot himself last month. Duke has a “predatory nature,” the cartoonist explained. Once parachuted into a hot spot such as Haiti, Kuwait, Panama or Iraq, his “relentless opportunism” will always take over. He stands for “a certain kind of mad unconditionality. Duke is never ambivalent, never in personal conflict. His take is resolutely binary: Is this in my self-interest or not? It’s a kind of weird state of grace.”‘ [via The Comics Reporter]
March 8, 2005
[comics] Doonesbury: Duke has ‘…some nasty karmic shift.’ [Useful: Doonesbury RSS Feed]
February 28, 2005
[bdj] Belle de Jour: The Case So Far — Nick over at the Book Club Blog provides a massive summary of links covering much of the available reviews, commentary and gossip on Belle de Jour. … ‘We could continue to allow those who know who Belle de Jour really is to play their games within games and wonder whether RP should be a little more suggestive than last week? [..] Is HGW still satisfied with sales? Have CH4 commissioned a scriptwriter or a director, or cast a leading lady? Is VSM either RP, TY, LH, PW, HGW, CB, MA, CH, AC, or merely VSM? Who are N and As 1 to 4, and where are they now? Did PR ever really know whether she was PR, DA or AD? What do AF and LAF make of all this? However, this merely leaves us with so many questions, yet so few answers. Alternatively, we could simply follow the trail of circumstantial evidence that has been strewn across the public domain and draw our own conclusions…’
February 22, 2005
[hst] Up The Creek — Warren Ellis on Hunter S. Thompson. ‘…how you leave the stage is at least as important as how you enter it. And he left it alone in a kitchen with a .45, dying in — and wouldn’t it be nice if it were the last time these words were typed together? — dying in fear, and loathing.’
[hst] Depraved and decadent: adventures with Thompson — Ralph Steadman on Hunter S. Thompson … ‘We got drunk a lot together but the only drug I ever took with him was psyclobin, a hallucinogenic, in Rhode Island, when we went to screw up the Americas Cup. It scoured my innards, in a way that I cannot deal with. When I woke up the next day, the first thing I wanted to do was spray “Fuck the Pope” on a boat, because when Hunter had asked, “What are you gonna write, Ralph, with your spraycans?”, it was the first thing that came to mind.’
February 18, 2005
[gladwell] How to Start a Revolution — a digested version of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell‘What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior or beliefs in the face of the right kind of impetus. Tipping Points are a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action. Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push; just in the right place; it can be tipped.’ [Related: More Gladwell Links]
February 14, 2005
[blog] Another UKBlog: linkbunnies.org‘Interesting Web Stuff for Short Attention Spans’
February 11, 2005
[books] Neal Stephenson’s Past, Present, and Future — Reason Magazine interview the author of the Baroque Cycle‘It has been the case for quite a while that the cultural left distrusted geeks and their works; the depiction of technical sorts in popular culture has been overwhelmingly negative for at least a generation now. More recently, the cultural right has apparently decided that it doesn’t care for some of what scientists have to say. So the technical class is caught in a pincer between these two wings of the so-called culture war. Of course the broad mass of people don’t belong to one wing or the other. But science is all about diligence, hard sustained work over long stretches of time, sweating the details, and abstract thinking, none of which is really being fostered by mainstream culture.’
January 21, 2005
[bdj] Tracking BDJ — the Book Club Blog is doing a much better job than me at following news about Belle de Jour. Amusing comment from Mil Millington: ‘…Belle De Jour happens to share an editor and a former agent with me, but that is purely because she got in touch with me, and I put her in touch with the two people in London I trusted. We have had email contact, but I have never met Belle in person. Honest! That was a fun moment, having to tell Margret, “Dear, you are going to read something in the newspapers tomorrow about me and a prostitute. Now, put that hammer down…”‘
January 17, 2005
[books] Digested Read: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle de Jour ‘The first thing you should know is that I am a whore. Prostitution is steady work. I open my legs. And then I close them. It beats working in an office.’
January 16, 2005
[mac] How the Mac was born, and other Tales — interview with Andy Hertzfeld regarding his new book Revolution in the Valley‘I had a talk with [Steve Jobs] about a year ago where I was telling him, “Hey, there’s this huge opportunity, things are shifting.” And he kind of said, “No, they’re not. Windows is going to be dominant for at least the next 10 years.” I said something like, “Is it going to be the rest of our lives?” He said, “Depends on how long you live.”‘
January 15, 2005
[bdj] Review of Belle de Jour — from the New Statesman … ‘What Belle does best is reveal the scant, prosaic motivations of men who pay for sex; and it is this lack of embellishment that finally convinces you of the authenticity of her strangely banal document. As she asks one client, a bestselling author: “Wasn’t it Dashiell Hammett who said you don’t pay a call girl to do what she does, you pay her to leave afterwards?” Her customers are not losers, and rarely are they kinky. Mostly, they just want the same things all men want, only quickly, effortlessly, without all that risotto and Sauvignon, without any clever talk or gooey eye contact. I suppose what I am saying is that the sex in The Intimate Adventures is – well, of course it is – transactional.’ [thanks Tom]
January 14, 2005
[bdj] Belle de Jour Answers your Questions — from the Guardian’s Newsblog

‘Guardian: Which do you miss more, blogging or your work as a call girl?

Belle: A very close call – on the one hand, blogging didn’t pay well; on the other, I couldn’t turn a trick unbathed and in my dressing gown. I’d have to decide in favour of working, because the feedback was more positive.’

January 10, 2005
[books] It Pays to Trust Your Gut — Wired reviews Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Blink‘[This is] Gladwell’s point: People make instant decisions, and it is possible to learn how to make them good ones. He’s not saying that snap judgments are always good. Instead, he says, when they are backed by experience and knowledge, they can be good.’
January 7, 2005
[bdj] Belle de Jour Spotted in Oxford Street …on the shelf at Waterstones.
December 13, 2004
[books] Julie Burchill’s top 10 books for teens — from the Guardian’s books section‘6. Chocky by John Wyndham – My imaginary friend’s bigger than your imaginary friend…’
December 2, 2004
[books] Digested Read: I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe‘The cleverest girl ever to leave Sparta, North Carolina felt crippled inside. Her roommate was so posh. “So here we are in our fuck-pad,” grinned Beverley. “Can I use all the cupboard space? You don’t have any clothes.” Charlotte bit her tongue. “I am Charlotte Simmons,” she said to herself.’
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”.’
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 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 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 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.’
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…’
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 21, 2004
[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.’

[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.’
September 20, 2004
[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”.’
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.’
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 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 9, 2004
[comics] Michael Chabon’s Keynote Speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards‘Children did not abandon comics; comics, in their drive to attain respect and artistic accomplishment, abandoned children. And for a long time we as lovers and partisans of comics were afraid, after so many long years of struggle and hard work and incremental gains, to pick up that old jar of greasy kid stuff again, and risk undoing it all. Comics have always been an arriviste art form, and all upstarts are to some degree ashamed of their beginnings. But frankly, I don’t think that’s what’s going on in comics anymore. Now, I think, we have simply lost the habit of telling stories to children. And how sad is that?’
August 4, 2004
[lists] List of the Top 10 Fictional Detectives — from Mark Billingham … ‘I first encountered [Sherlock Holmes] through an eccentric maths teacher who would read The Speckled Band and other Conan Doyle adventures to us instead of teaching fractions. He also used to balance chairs on his chin, but that’s another story. I’m still fond of Holmes to this day, especially now that I can see him as the crazed, controlling junkie that he clearly was.’
July 26, 2004
[comics] State of the Art — Charlie Higson reviews McSweeney’s 13: The Comics Issue … ‘Why does the novel maintain its exalted status as the pinacle of human achievement? Any idiot can write one: you just need patience and a massive ego. It seems extraordinary, when we are surrounded by so much visual information, when we rely on the visual to tell us so much, and the lines between comics, films, advertising, TV and computers are becoming so blurred, that comics should still be considered trivial in some quarters.’
July 14, 2004
[quotes] Sally Emerson’s top 10 books of quotations‘One test of excellence when judging a collection of quotations is finding something intriguing every time you open a page. For instance: “Everything goes wrong for a government which is going wrong” – Richard Crossman, Diaries, Dec 1 1986.’
July 13, 2004
[blog] The Guardian’s New Media Top 10 includes Belle De Jour … ‘And sneaking in at number 10, anonymous call girl blogger Belle de Jour, who sparked a ludicrous media guessing game over her identity that led to a book deal for the author, makes the list as a representative of the millions of online bloggers and the year that blogging went overground.’
July 12, 2004
[blog] Belle De Jour: Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl — BDJ’s novel has aquired a synopsis over at Amazon: ‘Belle de Jour is the diary of a London call-girl. The author will remain anonymous, but she’s from a nice middle-class family, in her late twenties, writing a phD who writes about her rather unusual job with humour, affection and honesty. This isn’t a salacious catalogue of sexual encounters, rather it’s the unfolding story of her life: the difficulties in juggling her very understanding boyfriend with her profession; the question of what to wear to work; the problems associated with managing pubic topiary and the often hilarious hypocrisies she bears witness to every day. And of course, there’s the odd sexual encounter thrown in for good measure… It’s witty, compelling, educative and oddly moving. Belle is a twenty-first century Moll Flanders who will appeal to women because of her honesty and guts, and to men because she lifts the lid on what call girls are really thinking…’
June 24, 2004
[books] The Condensed Bill Clinton — Slate reads Clinton’s autobio ‘My Life’ so we don’t have to… ‘Page 197: “I was so exhausted I fell asleep while the stripper was dancing and the goat head was looking up at me.” Look it up for yourself.’
May 27, 2004
[books] Notes from a Talk by Malcolm Gladwell — comments from the author of the Tipping Point. ‘…he says that the bias should be in editing information, not in adding more information.’
May 13, 2004
[books] Masquerade And The Mysteries of Kit Williams — All about the puzzle book Masquerade, Golden Rabbits and Kit Williams. From the Faq: ‘It’s true in that the person who won didn’t actually solve the book’s master riddle, but instead used ancillary clues and personal information about Kit to determine the burial place.’
May 9, 2004
[crime] David Peace’s Top 10 British True-Crime Books‘Crimes happen in actual, specific places at actual, specific times to actual, specific people. Crimes, their victims and their perpetrators, sadly define the times in which we live. There is no puzzle, only pain. No humour, only horror. The following 10 books seek to understand the crimes they document through the context and circumstances of the places and the times in which they occurred.’
April 19, 2004
[book] Page 23, Sentence 5 Meme … [via Feeling Listless]

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

‘THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON for accepting that Satan exists is that Jesus clearly believed in him.’ — Satan Unmasked (Overcoming the Jezebel Spirit) by Colin Dye.
April 16, 2004
[books] Clearing Up The Confusion — Neal Stephenson on his new book The Confusion. On Isaac Newton: ‘…the gist of it seems to be that Newton was trying to achieve some specific goals with alchemy. Some of those goals might have been religious, but many were clearly scientific. As a scientist, he knew that he could only explain so much with the tools that he was using, and that to advance beyond that point he was going to need a different toolbox. He recognized that a lot of alchemy was nonsense, but he thought that by going about it in a systematic and rational way he’d be able to solve some scientific problems. He would have rejected the label of magician because it might have had dark connotations to him.’ [via yoz]
April 13, 2004
[blog] The Diary of a Nobody — George and Weedon Grossmith’s fictional diary of Charles Pooter converted into a blog … ‘Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see — because I do not happen to be a ‘Somebody’ — why my diary should not be interesting.’ [via As Above]
April 5, 2004
[books] Amazon World — amusing user reviews from Amazon.com. Moby Dick: ‘I am quite the fan of stories which involve man eating sea creatures, such as Jaws. Moby Dick is nothing compared to such classics, I fear. In fact, it is boring with a capital B. What is the whales motivation? You dont know. There is no suspense, and I find the idea of people hunting whales offensive. Offensive with a capital O. Whales are lovely, peaceful creatures and that is why their slaughter has been outlawed. This book makes whales seem like demonic, murderous creatures of doom. Such a thing should not be read to a child, for it preaches that animal cruelty is ok. Never before have seen such an abundance of immoralality! I am offended! I feel as if my brainards are going to freeze over and crumble like spoiled peanut brittle. Take my word for it, dont read this book’ [via Kottke’s Remaindered Links]
April 2, 2004
[book] Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg — one of the New Yorker Articles that formed the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point … [via Sashinka]

‘Once, in the mid-fifties, on a whim, Lois took the train to New York to attend the World Science Fiction Convention and there she met a young writer by the name of Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke took a shine to Lois, and next time he was in Chicago he called her up. “He was at a pay phone,” Lois recalls. “He said, ‘Is there anyone in Chicago I should meet?’ I told him to come over to my house.” Lois has a throaty voice, baked hard by half a century of nicotine, and she pauses between sentences to give herself the opportunity for a quick puff. Even when she’s not smoking, she pauses anyway, as if to keep in practice. “I called Bob Hughes, one of the people who wrote for my paper.” Pause. “I said, ‘Do you know anyone in Chicago interested in talking to Arthur Clarke?’ He said, ‘Yeah, Isaac Asimov is in town. And this guy Robert, Robert…Robert Heinlein.’ So they all came over and sat in my study.” Pause. “Then they called over to me and they said, ‘Lois’ — I can’t remember the word they used. They had some word for me. It was something about how I was the kind of person who brings people together.” This is in some ways the archetypal Lois Weisberg story.’