May 13th, 2003
Kris noticed a terrific slogan in the window of her local tanning salon:
"Our only competition is 93 million miles away."
Kris noticed a terrific slogan in the window of her local tanning salon:
"Our only competition is 93 million miles away."
Conan O'Brien's Speech to the Harvard Class of 2000 is a hoot.
The point is that although you see me as a celebrity, a member of the cultural elite, a demigod if you will, and potential husband material, I came here in the fall of 1981 and lived at Holworthy Hall as a student much like you. I was, without exaggeration – this is true – the ugliest picture in the freshman facebook. When Harvard asked me for a picture the previous summer, I thought it was for their records, so I jogged in the August heat to a passport photo office and sat for a morgue shot. To make matters worse, when the facebook came out, they put my picture right next to Catherine Oxenberg, a stunning blonde actress who was expected to join the class of '85, but decided to defer admission so she could join the cast of Dynasty. Folks, my photo would have looked bad on any page, but next to Catherine Oxenberg, I looked like a mackerel that had been in a car accident.
You see, in those days, I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and I weighed 150 pounds. True. Recently, I had some structural engineers run those numbers into a computer model, and according to the computer, I collapsed in 1987, killing hundreds in Taiwan.
[Via The Rocking Vicar]
Careful viewers of the screenshots in my post about Google News UK earlier this evening might have noticed a significant little DVD icon at the right edge of my screen. Yes, season 6 of Buffy showed up in the post today, courtesy of those nice folks at Amazon UK.
If I post less over the next couple of weeks, you'll know what I've been watching when I should have been browsing the web…
While I'm on the subject, there was more good news today in the Jossverse in the shape of reports that Angel has been renewed for a fifth season with an option for season 6. And Spike is moving to LA!
William Gibson almost manages to convince me that the film version of Johnny Mnemonic could have turned out to be less than awful:
I'll tell you something you may not believe: Dolph Lungren can actually do *comedy*. I mean, like, who knew? But he can, and did, with great gusto. The nature of his character was anchored in a scene in his church (he's the local Panawave-equivalent) in which he preaches, buck nekkid and skin-studded with creepy nano-gizmos, to a congregation of adoring female NAS victims. He delivers a bombastic, faux-Sterlingesque, literally balls-out *sermon* on the virtues of posthumanity. It came off sort of like Fabio as the Jesus you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. It *rocked*. Hilarious. So Sony cut it.
Dolph Lundgren channeling Bruce Sterling: now that would have been something worth seeing.
The Matrix: Rejected is one truly deranged web page.
A film franchise so sloppy, so irresponsible, so lowbrow that it's almost criminal. Here's 50 Reasons to stay away on May 15th.
Reloaded Ridiculousness, 2
I'm not joking; you'll literally feel your I.Q. drop watching this rubbish. For instance, the evil Matrix creates two new enemies for Neo, called the Twins. Their first priority is to blend discreetly into the simulated world of the Matrix, to walk among the people unnoticed. So of course the Matrix made them huge albino men with bleach-white dreadlocks who occasionally transform into shrieking wraiths.
"What's that, honey?"
"Oh, nothing. It just looks like a simple Kung-Fu Swedish Rastafarian Helldemon. I'm sure there's no need to question our fragile, sheltered grasp of 'reality' as we know it."
There are one or two points in this list which look at first glance like spoilers for The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions, but having read the entire list I think it's pretty safe to say that any resemblance between the world this writer lives in and reality – beyond the snippets of information which can be gleaned from trailers, anyway – is entirely coincidental.
(And yes, it is safe to say that The Matrix:Rejected is a joke. But it's quite a good one.)
Whilst some are sceptical about the need for a regionalised version of a news site on a global medium like the internet, I think that's a belief that's much easier to sustain if you're based in the United States. Take a look at these two screenshots (NB/- each image is just over 300KB) of Google News and Google News UK and ask yourself which would be more useful to the average UK resident. Judging by the Google News site, if Clare Short hadn't resigned from the Cabinet today you'd have thought nothing had happened in the UK today.
Warren Ellis addresses the masses at Slashdot.
For me, the most interesting comments were about what's to come in the second half of Planetary, Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's fabulous – in several senses of the word – yarn about the adventures of a group of "mystery archaeologists." I've been reading the trade paperback collections, and the end of the second volume ("The game's afoot…" indeed!) left the story just when it had taken an especially interesting turn. I really want to see where Ellis is going to take Elijah, Jakita and The Drummer next.
Rafael Goldchain's Familial Ground is a beautifully presented, hugely evocative meditation on family ties across the generations.
[Via Making Light]
The 12 Dumbest Covers of American Comic Books is quite, quite amazing. Just as much fun, in a warped way, as the article to which it forms a companion piece, The 25 All-Time Greatest Covers of American Comic Books.
The latter page has iconic images like Brian Bolland's Wonder Woman #72, John Buscema's Silver Surfer #4 and Dave Gibbons' cover for Watchmen #1. Genuinely memorable, classy work every one. The "12 Dumbest" page, on the other hand, features the equally memorable (though not in a good way) The Living Bible #3: Chaplains At War and Criminals On The Run, which features an angler performing an uncanny feat of marksmanship with a wet fish. You don't see that every day!
It looks as if it'll be a while before the Ectaco Personal Translator is ready to be unleashed on the general public.
The Ectaco Personal Translator proved the perfect icebreaker during a dinner party in rural France. It turned "thank you for the great dinner" into "it was disgusting," and "you are very beautiful" into "how much?" What better way to break the ice with a roomful of total strangers in a foreign country whose language you don't know?
Jeff Vogel has posted a new instalment of The Story About the Toddler. Yay!
Cordelia has a playmate. Her name is Nora. She is about three months older than Cordelia. Watching the two interact in their awkward, stilted, "what the fuck is this creature and why is it sucking milk out of MY bottle" way provides an excellent laboratory for analyzing the evolution of interaction between humans.
Cordelia has reached the first milestone in human interaction: Taking Things Away. She is good at this. So is Nora. Watching the two of them steal pacifiers from each other has provided the entertainment for several nauseating evenings.
Even better is the account of how Daddy plans to prepare Cordelia for future playground encounters. But you should go and read that bit for yourself.
Scientists have moved one step closer to the ideal of an electronic display you can fold up and put in your pocket.
Judging by this report in Scientific American e-paper is still suffering from relatively slow update speeds (250ms is far too slow for full motion video, though it'd be fine for static text and graphics), it's black-and-white only, and no doubt it would cost a fortune in production quantities, but that doesn't matter. The point is that electronic paper, with all that implies for truly portable computing, is that little bit closer to reality.
Sour Bob isn't cut out to be a cat-sitter:
Listen Here You Fucking Pussy
When my ersatz best friend asked me to take care of you for a few months, he never mentioned you had this kind of attitude problem, let alone that atrocious fucking breath.
I don't creep up behind you and start making weird noises while you're trying to eat, do I? Okay, maybe there was that once when I leapt out Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -style and yelled "Hee-yah!" at the top of my lungs, just as you were settling into your bowl of Purina Special Seniors' Blend. But even if you did hide under the couch for six hours, I still think you'd have to admit it was pretty funny.
[Edited to shorten the quoted extract, following an objection from the author.]
Quoth Jon Carroll:
The good news: There were survivors of the crash of the space shuttle Columbia after all. The bad news: Said survivors were not humans but worms. The good news: The worms were Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the most beloved worms in all of Nematodeville.
Hundreds of C. elegans were on board the shuttle as part of an experiment to test a synthetic nutrient solution. Because the worms were found alive in the wreckage, it is probably fair to say that the experiment went pretty well.
Technically, the rescued worms were not the worms that survived the shuttle disaster. These worms are the great-great-grandworms of those original worms. They were found in their original container (along with some dead moss), so presumably, they were breeding before and after and perhaps during the disaster.
Imagine, your world is going to hell around you, you're falling out of the sky from 10 miles up, there's a fireball and explosions and flying debris, and you're the size of the tip of a pencil and you're thinking, "Better get on with the breeding."
Talking of Morpheus, here's a nice line from Laurence Fishburne's latest press interview, quoted in CHUD:
Question: Was it hard to keep those sunglasses on?
Laurence: No, you just gotta be really cool when you wear them.
You probably remember hearing about various large American companies going bankrupt in the last year or so because they'd been lying about how much profit they were making. The names Enron and WorldCom probably ring a bell, yes? You might think that the management of these companies would be feeling a little contrite now they've been rumbled, but you'd be wrong. Both the companies named above are in the process of asking for tax refunds from the US government, on the grounds that the amount of tax they paid was based on inflated profits reports.
That's the taxes which were calculated on the basis of the misleading profits reports the companies filed themselves, remember.
Before anyone points it out, I'll freely admit that this is strictly speaking nothing to do with me. It's not my government that's being asked to give money back to companies which lied about their profits, and I don't own any shares in WorldCom or Enron. It's even possible that this sort of manoeuvre is entirely routine in the business world, and it's only the size of the corporations involved and the spectacularly newsworthy way they went belly-up that even makes these latest developments worth reporting. It's just that it's such a mind-boggling notion that a company should claim refunds of taxes which were only payable in the first place because the company's managers told a pack of lies that I thought it worthy of a mention. The word "chutzpah" seems wholly appropriate.
[Via Rebecca's Pocket]
Dark Horizons has some good news about an actor who will be showing up in X-Men 3, but balances this with a not entirely unexpected confirmation from Bryan Singer that he would prefer to direct a few smaller films before attempting another SFX extravaganza. Which doesn't rule out his signing on as a producer, but does open up that whole question of who the fans would trust to direct that tricky third film.
Me, I hope the studio keeps dropping barrowloads of money off at Singer's front door until he gives in and agrees to direct another X-Men film just as soon as someone can come up with a good story.
(Incidentally, I deliberately didn't name the actor is talking about returning for a very good reason. If you haven't seen X-Men 2 yet, do not visit the link to Dark Horizons above.)
NB/- the Dark Horizons link above is to a frame, and may not take you directly to the appropriate news page. If you find yourself at the main news page, you need to look in the archives for the news page for 5 May 2003.
My Tiny Garden is a beautifully presented gallery of images of the wildlife in a typical garden. The photography is excellent, but what really makes the site is the terrific job Jay Dykes, the site's author, has done of using Flash to create a responsive, attractive user interface. (I could do without the ladybird or whatever it is that crawls across the page, but that's just me.)
Comics are full of great role-models. They have really pretty hair, and they flip it around all the time, and they always take the time to Put Their Face On and Look Their Best . And they're all on great diets, too, you can tell by the way their internal organs have shrunk. And there's more! They have their own individualized codenames, sometimes even their own titles, and when they kick butt, fight evil, right wrongs, defend the innocent, discuss complex moral dilemmas, and only get the guy if they want the guy, they do it all in a very feminine, Taking Back The Girly Toughness way that is very inspirational and cool. We could all learn a lot about being more complete, attractive women from these wonderful Girly Heroweens, and here are some basic tips to help you get started.[…]
3. Self Defense. All Girls should be able to defend themselves from unwanted attention. Good Girls may not use lethal weapons for this, but are encouraged to get so good at Martial Arts that it's purely academic. Naughty Girls should not be quite so good at Martial Arts – he can't pin you down and be entranced by your heaving bosom if you're too good at it to be pinned! – but are permitted sexy pointy weapons. Not by law, obviously, but we here at the Girly Perfection Institute are working on that. A Bad Man lawyer can be flown out to you if your relentless quest for girly perfection lands you in trouble with those mean ol' policemen.
[Via Bookslut – see entry for 6 May 2003]
Just a quick note to say that my hosting company is taking the server which hosts this site offline at 1500 BST for an upgrade. The work is expected to take about thirty minutes, so in theory the site should reappear shortly after 1530 BST.