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Home > Weblog w/e 7.9.2002
|Saturday 7 September 2002, 23:40 BST|
Crash Bonsai. The
No passengers have been injured in CrashBonsai accidents, although some drivers have reported a brief, even euphoric loss of consciousness.[Via Boing Boing]
|Damn! Word has it that Farscape has been cancelled.
There's one season left to see for those of us watching the show on BBC2, but since the announcement was only
made as the final scenes of season 4 were being shot it's unlikely that the season finale will bring the story
of John Crichton's adventures in the Uncharted Territories to a satisfactory conclusion.
Farscape may have lacked the name recognition of the Trek franchise, but at its best it was enormous fun. The show took more chances with the basic space opera format than shows like Andromeda or Enterprise, or any show this side of Lexx for that matter. (That's not to say that the aforementioned shows are necessarily bad, just that they're somewhat more formulaic. In terms of written SF, it's the difference between Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy and Iain M Banks' Culture novels.)
I just hope the finale the writers had planned for Farscape's fourth season didn't end on a cliffhanger the way season 3 did. That would be a horrible way to go out.
|Google Cooking: it's the latest
|I thoroughly enjoyed The Rocketeer on Channel 5 this evening. It's not
quite up there with Raiders of the Lost Ark as a homage to the 30s pulps, but it's streets ahead
of junk like The Shadow. Bill Campbell was OK as the title character, but Jennifer Connelly
(Mmmmm... Jennifer Connelly...), Alan Arkin and Timothy Dalton were all excellent - Dalton especially.
The film looked the part, there was no attempt to be all ironic and knowing about the genre and its
conventions, and even the special effects held up reasonably well. What's not to like?
This promises to be quite a film-heavy weekend for me. I killed time while waiting for a bus after work on Friday by wandering into my local HMV, and ended up getting sucked into their "Buy 1 DVD, get another free" promotion. I picked a couple of favourites from directors whose fortunes have declined in the last decade. The 2-disc special edition of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China is pretty much guaranteed to please, being a very nice blend of action and humour and featuring a nicely judged performance from Kurt Russell as a hero who has no idea just how far out of his depth he is.
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands is slighly more of a gamble, insofar as I haven't seen it since the initial cinema release, but the cast is solid, the script - as far as I can remember - was excellent, and Burton was in the middle of a run of really good films at the turn of the 90s. All in all I think it's safe to say it'll at least be worthwhile. And besides, it was free (sort of) so how can I go wrong?
|When I'm not watching DVDs this weekend I'll be devouring Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, a fantasy novel set in an mythical version of China and telling the story of Master Li, who has a slight flaw in his character, and his companion Number Ten Ox. I'm only some sixty pages in, but I've already noticed that I can't help grinning like an idiot as Hughart's tale unfolds.|
|Friday 6 September 2002, 23:05 BST|
|In these days when
copyright is such a touchy subject, it's entirely appropriate that Spider Robinson's short story
about copyright extension Melancholy
Elephants is available online free of charge.
[Via Boing Boing]
|Bonjour. Mon nom est lying motherfucker. "Undermining literacy projects
everywhere." Sheer genius.
|Thursday 5 September 2002, 22:35 BST|
|Superb Flash-based Air Hockey game. Very fast, but also quite
tricky to control if you're using a mouse.
Cutting words. Over at Mighty
Girl, Margaret Berry notes a writer with a nice line in scorn:
In the June 2002 issue of GQ, Bob Drury writes of former George magazine editor Richard Blow's memoir:
|Contrary to earlier reports, it turns out that the
Greek government hasn't banned all electronic
[Via pop-up toaster]
|Kris pointed out a fascinating collection of Barbie Dolls repainted and costumed to resemble
film stars. Cher looks especially lifelike (though it could
be that's because she's had so much surgery she's more plastic than the doll!), but Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at
Tiffany's is pretty fine too. I'm not at all sure about this rendering of Denzel Washington though.
|Wednesday 4 September 2002, 23:35 BST|
|Q&A With Steve Wozniak. For those of
you who haven't heard the name, just take it from me that this is one of the guys who shaped the personal
computer revolution back when Bill Gates was still trying to get Microsoft Basic working.
The interview covers a lot of territory, going for breadth rather than depth, but it gives a really good insight into the mindset of the techies who built the first couple of generations of personal computers. Not that the likes of Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula didn't make important non-technical contributions to Apple's success in the pre-IBM PC era, but without Woz Apple wouldn't have been half as important.
As it happens, one section of this article links nicely with yesterday's post about Professor Kevin Warwick's plans to come up with a child-location implant. It turns out that Woz is currently looking at precisely this sort of GPS-meets-wireless-networks-meets-the-internet technology - albeit as a device you carry round on your person, rather than as an implantable chip. Woz versus Warwick: I know which one I'd bet on to crack the problem.
|According to a survey cited in The Register, email and
internet "abuse" are the most common reason given for sacking employees in the UK. Apparently
two-thirds of the sackings are because the employee has been viewing or distributing porn. I find this a quite
staggeringly high proportion, considering all the other ways you can get the sack nowadays without the use of
I can't help wondering what the definition of "porn" is in this instance. Is "porn" being used as a catch-all term to cover not just pornography but also rather tamer pictures or messages which are deemed objectionable because they are considered degrading or to create a hostile atmosphere? Does it include cases where someone accesses a web page which isn't in itself pornographic but which sometimes runs ad banners advertising porn sites? Or is it just that there are vast amounts of hardcore material floating around my employer's intranet but nobody ever includes me in the distribution list so I'm working on in blissful ignorance...
I wonder what the other third of internet-related dismissals are all about? Given how easy it can be to drop a friend an email from work, the former trade union representative in me can't help but wonder how often management jump on a couple of innocuous private emails as a pretext for dismissing an employee who they've been wanting rid of but couldn't build a solid inefficiency case against.
|Tuesday 3 September 2002, 22:25 BST|
|Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living in Utah. Barbara Mikkelson of snopes.com talks to Salon about the September 11th rumour mill.|
Register is seriously
unimpressed with Professor Kevin Warwick's latest
|Tom of plasticbag.org has noticed something interesting about Six Feet
Under. Had you spotted the resemblance between Dallas and
Six Feet Under?
|Monday 2 September 2002, 23:25 BST|
|The 2002 Hugo Award results have been announced. I'm particularly delighted that Neil Gaiman's American Gods won best novel, not least because it's healthy for fantasy novels to win a Hugo every once in a while. Not to mention that American Gods was a tremendous piece of work in its own right.|
|Over at digitaltrickery.com, Paul points out a very neat feature I'd missed in Mozilla
You can bookmark a group of tabbed browser windows using the Bookmark This Group Of Tabs... option on the Bookmarks menu, then open them all again later with a single click.
This isn't a completely novel idea - Opera has allowed you to open all bookmarks in a folder with a single command for quite a while now - but it's still very nice to see it in Mozilla, especially as you can drag additional URLs to and from the group bookmark later. I'll be using this feature a lot.
from the left Banks. Iain (M) Banks interviewed for Scotland on
FOR all I know Iain Banks may lead a private life as suave and sophisticated as that of a character in a Noel Coward play. After our interview, he may go home to North Queensferry and don smoking jacket and cravat, but somehow I don't think so. Bearded and bespectacled, he comes across as an eternal geography student with gingery whiskers. In plaid shirt and chinos, with bulging, black backpack worn strapped neatly onto both shoulders, he's a real-ale-quaffing boy who likes his toys - fast cars and computers.[Via mssv.net]
gleaned from watching movies.
|Sunday 1 September 2002, 21:55 BST|
Nine Men And A Little
Lady. Mary Sue meets The
Lord of the Rings.
Legolas' Journal[Via rec.arts.sf.written]
|Robin Williams Must Die says Sean Nelson.
I'm not quite convinced that capital punishment is the answer - but then, I've never seen Patch
Adams or Bicentennial Man, so perhaps I'm simply not familiar with the most damning
evidence for the prosecution.
[Via Lots of Co.]
Stross is still getting
used to being a Hugo nominee attending a WorldCon.
Freakish experiences of your life: having, say, Joe Haldeman come up to you and say "I really like your work" is, um, slightly disconcerting but gratifying. But when the experience is repeated with Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Robert Silverberg, and Vernor Vinge, you start looking over your shoulder wondering when the guy they're talking about is going to show up and denounce you as an imposter. Weird.I think he'd better get used to it. Lobsters, the novelette which earned him his Hugo nomination, is very good indeed, and his short story collection Toast: And Other Rusted Futures demonstrates that Lobsters was no fluke.
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