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Saturday 18 May 2002, 22:20 BST
Uncle Sam Buys an Airplane. The story of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Well-capitalized Seattle start-up seeks Unix developers:
Well-capitalized start-up seeks extremely talented C/C++/Unix developers to help pioneer commerce on the Internet.
For once, a job advert that wasn't exaggerating.

[Via nocto]
In the interests of furthering communication between the genders, Davezilla has provided a glossary for men:
How's your mother?
  1. Isn't she dead yet, and why not?
  2. I ate cheap, Mexican food today. I'm going to sit next to her.
  3. If you turn into that Velociraptor when you're her age, I'll have you put down. Not a court in the land would dare convict me.
In the interests of equality, he's also provided one for women:
  1. No, really. Whatever. Doesn't make a damned bit of difference to me.
  2. I'm just saying that because I really want to infuriate you and that's the word that most infuriates me.
  3. I'm even more passive agressive than you are. Fat chance of me ever telling you what I've got my panties in a twist about.
Microsoft have been copying from the Yahoo! playbook.
Much as I enjoyed Lois Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity, I was a little disappointed that Miles and Ekaterin's marriage took place inbetween novels. I really wanted to see how Barrayar would cope with some of the guests on Miles' list - Taura, for a start.

Happily, Bujold is going to produce a novella set around the wedding which will be included in Irresistible Forces, an anthology of romance/SF crossover stories edited by Catherine Asaro for publication next year. Details can be found here.

This doesn't strike me as an anthology I'd normally rush out to buy - I quite enjoyed Asaro's The Veiled Web, albeit more for the culture clash than the romance elements - but it's Miles' wedding and a chance for Aral and Cordelia to play a bigger role than they have in recent Vorkosiverse novels, so I'll be there.

[Via rec.arts.sf.written]
Rate My Kitten. We can close the World Wide Web down now, our work is done...

[Via blogjam]
Friday 17 May 2002, 23:55 BST
CORUSCANT -- Presiding over a memorial service commemorating the victims of the attack on the Death Star, the Emperor declared that while recent victories over the Rebel Alliance were "encouraging, the War on Terror is not over yet."
"We will continue to fight these terrorists, and the rogue governments who harbor them, until the universe is safe, once and for all, and the security of the Neo-New Cosmik Order ensured."

It was one year ago today that the Death Star, perhaps the greatest symbol of the Empire's might, was destroyed in an attack by fanatic Rebels, who used small, single-person crafts to infiltrate seemingly impenetrable defenses. Thousands of mourners were on hand to remember and pay tribute to the victims and their families.

"We lost our innocence that day," reflected one mourner. "I guess we thought we were immune from the kind of violence that happens in other galaxies. We were wrong."
[Via Boing Boing]
Mickey Rourke's desperate truths. A sympathetic profile of a singular actor. He's made far more bad films than good, and sometimes you have to wonder what the man was thinking when he chose the scripts he did, but when he was good he was very good indeed.

The question is, could Rourke's mainstream Hollywood career could have worked out any other way? Someone so stubborn and erratic was never going to have the sort of career a reliable, career-minded near-contemporary like, say, Mel Gibson would enjoy, but what if one of Rourke's 80s films had turned out to be a surprise blockbuster?

I know 9½ Weeks and Angel Heart did OK, but the success of the former had little to do with its stars' acting ability, and the success of the latter was probably credited as much to the director and co-star as the lead actor.

If Rourke had been able to point to a single megahit attributable to his undoubted charisma, perhaps he'd have been given more chances before being consigned to the straight-to-video market. Or perhaps he'd still have shown such poor judgement when it came to choosing scripts and frittered away his mainstream career regardless.

[Via I Love Everything]
The Book Group came to a close this evening. I still can't explain just why I found this show so fascinating. Part of it was undoubtedly that the writers carefully failed to wrap up loose ends the way a more formulaic show might have. Was Claire really a published author? Would Janice ever find out about Rab's affair with her husband? How long before Fist and Dirka would have resorted to a full-on fist fight over Kenny? I can't imagine that there will ever be a second season, but that's fine by me.

One thing that does bug me: in articles like this one, critics of The Book Group seem to feel compelled to slag the show off for inheriting its timeslot from Black Books, as if the latter series had some sort of exclusive title to the Friday 9.30pm timeslot and the use of the word "Book" in the title. That's like saying that after Spaced no other Friday-night comedy is allowed to make fun of fannish obsessions with The Phantom Menace. If I'd seen this just once or twice I'd assume it was just a throwaway line, but it seems to crop up rather frequently. Why?

[Guardian article via Arts & Letters Daily]
Thursday 16 May 2002, 22:30 BST
The Turkish parliament has passed a law regulating the internet which requires that hard copies of all new web sites be submitted to the government for prior approval. Oh yes, and ISPs can be fined for "airing pessimism." John Ashcroft and David Blunkett must be so jealous.

[Via Techdirt]
Wednesday 15 May 2002, 23:20 BST
The decision by the Ferrari Formula 1 team to order Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher win the Austrian Grand Prix has caused quite a furore. A lot of newspaper columnists are echoing Clive James and saying they'll never watch another race if the result is allowed to stand. Then there are some crackers who take a more direct approach.

[Guardian article via Haddock.org]
Meanings of Meow. Cornell Researcher Seeks to Prove How Cats Manipulate People. Not that this is exactly news to anyone...

As it happens, I finished reading a novel called Cats in Cyberspace by Beth Hilgartner this morning. It's a fantasy about a pair of cats who decide that their Two-Feet need to be able to spend more time at home so the house's feline inhabitants can get plenty of pampering around the clock, and set about achieving just that goal with a little help from the internet. It's a quick, highly amusing read - nothing deep, but plenty of moments that put a smile on my face as I recognised standard feline tactics for manipulating their 'owners.' Recommended.

[Via Charlie's Diary]
Tuesday 14 May 2002, 22:00 BST
Doing fascists a favour. Neil Davenport says that the Left reveals its lack of confidence in the electorate by insisting that the British National Party be denied a platform to state its case.
Animal congregations. Ever wondered what the collective name for a group of tigers is?

[Via oh! indeed]
Nice tattoo.

[Via Davezilla]
Could this be the world's scariest dialog box?

[Via NTK]
Monday 13 May 2002, 21:55 BST
The Joy of Tech! presents The Quantum Mechanics of Girl-Watching.
The US Department of Energy have released some extraordinary photographs of nuclear weapons tests from the years before US testing was moved underground.

[Via Boing Boing]
My Buffy season 4 DVDs arrived today.

Naturally, I had to make sure I didn't have a duff set of disks, so I watched Primeval and Restless, followed by the Joss Whedon commentary on the latter episode. I'm so glad to hear Joss confirm that the man with the cheese slices was meant to be meaningless.

My one reservation about the commentary track is that Joss not only revealed some details about season 5 (which is just about acceptable given that season 5 has been on BBC2 now) but mentioned the plot of a specific season 6 episode which many UK fans - me included! - haven't seen yet. I realise the commentary was probably recorded for global use, and thus couldn't take account of the vagaries of scheduling around the world, but to my mind it would have been better for Joss to stick to discussing the season the box set covers.
Vintage Labels - The Lost Art of Travel and the History of the Luggage Label. A fascinating little site. I particularly liked the airline labels from the early years of commercial aviation, such as Air Atlas Morocco.

[Via dollarshort.org]
Sunday 12 May 2002, 22:00 BST
Jim Henley has seen Spider-Man, and shares his thoughts on the pros and cons of paying attention to continuity when adapting a comic book storyline. Good, insightful stuff.

[Via Electrolite]
Frequent-Flyer programmes are getting out of hand.

[Via Ponderous Ponderings]
Jon Carroll (or rather, one of his readers) shares some thoughts about clothes.
Fans of Slipknot are very unhappy with The Knitting & Crochet Guild.

[Via dust from a distant sun]

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