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Home > Weblog w/e 8.12.2001

Saturday 8 December 2001, 23:55 GMT
I've just got back in from seeing Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. For the record, I'm not a huge Kevin Smith fan - I've only seen Clerks and Chasing Amy of his earlier works - but while it was obvious that the gaps in my viewing history caused me to miss out on some in-jokes, it didn't stop me giggling every once in a while as Jay and Silent Bob did something moronic, or as another film reference flew by. Not by any means a terrific film, but the description I read a while ago of the film as "a Road movie for stoners" seems appropriate: amiable fun with no worries about a coherent plot. Besides, a film featuring not one, but four lovely, gun-toting kick-ass women in skintight leather can't be all bad.
This Could Be The Last Time. Jack Kibble-White and Ian Jones count the ways to end a TV series. [Via Off The Telly]
Friday 7 December 2001, 23:30 GMT
A couple of stunning night-time images: a gorgeous, atmospheric moonscape, and a striking shot of a Leonid meteor over water. [Via JimFormation.com and Astronomy Picture of the Day respectively]
Wednesday 5 December 2001, 23:30 GMT
Whitley Strieber To Be Awarded Special Hugo.
Susan Tankersley, spokesperson for the WSFS, explained the situation. "Through such books as Communion, Transformation, Majestic, and The Secret School, Whitley Strieber has managed to present concepts once unique to science fiction and turn them into cultural icons. Thanks to him, you simply cannot hear the phrase 'alien contact' without thinking the complementary phrase 'rectal probe'. Admittedly, he's also thrown the SETI movement back fifty years in the process, but them's the breaks."
Nick Kent, the manager of Ken Clarke's last campaign for the Tory leadership sounds pretty disillusioned with his party:
The party I joined was full of nice old people; today, it is full of nasty old people. Their hatred of gays, blacks, successful women and the European Union is as extraordinary as it is offensive. But they cannot be reasoned with. Duncan Smith voted night after night with Tony Blair against the Major government, something he defended on grounds of "principle"; at the London hustings they cheered him for it. Clarke's choosing to share a platform with Blair was, however, seen as high treason.
[Via linkmachinego]
Design Not Found is a very interesting site, giving web users a place to discuss how poorly (or how well, in some cases) web sites handle communicating choices and errors to their users. A bit specialised for some tastes, but some of the reports and user comments are highly informative. [Via NewsTrolls]
Tuesday 4 December 2001, 23:20 GMT
Bruce Sterling has a few things to say about cryptographers, the spook state and the intellectual property industry. Dazzling stuff as usual from Chairman Bruce. [Via the null device]
Is Your Son A Computer Hacker? The article is pretty amusing in itself, but some of the overheated responses are quite, quite hilarious. [Via Haddock.org]
NASA's Genesis Mission, which aims to help scientists analyse the composition of the solar wind, has just started to collect particles for return to Earth.

What really struck me when I read about Genesis was that it's the first NASA mission intended to actually return physical evidence, as opposed to sensor readings and images, to Earth since the Apollo missions. The fact that for nigh on 30 years all we've done is peer out into the universe is slightly depressing. Where's that lunar colony we were promised by 2001?
Monday 3 December 2001, 23:10 GMT
As an antidote to predictable, short-sighted "best film" lists like the one Channel 4 unveiled the other week, here's Premiere Magazine's list of the 100 Most Daring Movies Ever. Any list that starts with Airplane! is all right with me, but even if you're not in love with all the choices you'd surely agree that it's a highly worthwhile list. [Via Apothecary's Drawer]
Political slash fiction, American-style. I feel so dirty... [Via dutchbint.org]
Dean Kamen has finally unveiled the Segway, the "revolutionary personal transport device" formerly known as IT or Ginger. So far reactions have been mixed-to-negative. Will it really be the next Model T, or is it destined to be another Sinclair C5? Uncle Clive admires the engineering but wonders whether it's what people want, Andy Grove thinks Kamen will do well selling to the corporate market, and various wags think up applications Kamen may not have anticipated.

It's very early days yet, and it's easy to be underwhelmed and identify drawbacks, but you have to remember that this is just Version 1.0. If Kamen manages to do well in the corporate market then a) the price will come down for the consumer market, b) a dozen companies will either produce copies using inferior-but-serviceable imitations of the Segway's neat gyro and battery technology, and c) that microprocessor-assisted gyro-and-sensor system will show up in other applications. It's going to be very interesting to see how this product develops. [Link to Time article via Electrolite, link to C5 site via Found]
A couple of seasonal links with a difference: in a couple of weeks the Edinburgh Dungeon will open Satan's Grotto (complete with impaled elves and roasting robins). Meanwhile, Nico points out a Swedish soft-core advent calendar. [Via MetaFilter and my 2p respectively]
Sunday 2 December 2001, 22:50 GMT
John Schulian has some interesting suggestions as to the direction Britney Spears' career might take if she's not to be forgotten a couple of years down the line. [Via 2 cups mayhem, 1 teaspoon reality]
Underground History. Hywel Williams has obviously spend many hours putting together a fascinating site about the London Underground, and in particular the various bits of it that are no longer used but can still be seen, if you only know where to look.

This is a perfect example of the sort of labour of love that makes the internet such a terrific resource. Can you imagine London Transport spending a penny on documenting this aspect of their network? [Via Kottke]
The Turd Twister. This has to be a joke. Doesn't it...? [Via dutchbint.org]
Richard Bunn has visited every ASDA store in the UK during the last twelve years, and he's got the receipts to prove it. Shouldn't this guy have a web site? [Via nu-produKt.net]

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