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Archive March 21 - April 5 2003
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Saturday, April 5
What the internet was truly meant for: Here is the definitive site about Robby the Robot. Mark Vadnais sends along Robotbuilders.net, a site for hobbyists who painstakingly construct full size science fiction robot replicas, such as the heroically-named Jeffbot.

Another science fiction trope becomes reality with the announcement that a vast and powerful supercomputer will be constructed to determine once and for all if the big bang actually happened. This just screams of "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov, as well as Deep Thought from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Friday, April 4
The Sun has published the first photo from the set of The Thunderbirds. It's a cool shot of Lady Penelope's car.

Photoshop Phriday: Magazine ads you'll never see.

Friend Lee thinks I'm a bastard for not plugging his uber-cool digitally- rendered Velveeta pic. He is correct, about me being a bastard. Synthetic images of synthetic cheese just smack of future shock for me, but I fear this is just the beginning. Virtual Tang. Full immersion Egg-Beaters. Is there a theoretical limit to how fake food can be? Is there a threshold of artificiality? Discuss.

Science Fiction Hardware: There's a new tool for circuit building: Quantum Dots. The first British space capsule was unveiled this week. Astronomy Picture of the Day has an animated sequence of the recent V838 Mon expansion.

Assorted Items: Mike Godwin of Reason Online updates us on the rapidly unraveling digital TV situation. Tibor Machen makes a case for Libertarianism over at The Philosopher's Magazine. The Alan Moore fan site Four Color Heroes has an interview with Top Ten's Zander Cannon.

Thursday, April 3
There are new entries in the "Tours By" section of the Eager Anticipations column down on the right side of this page. Not all of these have U.S. dates up, but the performers have expresed plans for touring this year.
I say this because I have received several emails asking if I could post these earlier. Be aware that it was never my intention to become a music news outlet. In fact I posted the Anticipations column for my own edification as much as anybody's. I keep my ear (and browser) tuned for any new tour news, and promise to post as soon as I hear anything.

I am saddened to learn that the Robot Bar & Grill in Pittsburgh is closing due to lack of interest. I was looking forward to visiting there. The idea of a consuming good meal while metal warriors hack away and brutally dismember each other for my enjoyment has a distinct camp/postmodern/decadent feel to it. I am hoping this idea resurfaces, in a larger city, perhaps, or as a "theme night" at a dinner theater.

The esteemed Cap'n Wacky has a very funny parody of Ain't it Cool News, complete with "news" stories. In keeping with the season he has also put up a Gallery of Unfortunate Easter Cards.

Assorted Items: Bruce Sterling has found a nifty online encyclopedia from 1911. A giant squid has been found (readers of the last issue of Punisher will be happy). A pair of British artists bought a collection of Goya prints, and then promptly proceded to deface them. Howard Hughes wannabes can rejoice that scientists have created clothing that can stab microbes. And lastly my friend Lee Stranahan is back in the magazine business as the new publisher of NewTekPro.

Somehow researchers have determined that sperm respond to smell. I want to know exactly how they came to this conclusion, how much clinical master- bation was involved, and how quickly the perfume industry will concoct a scent for women who want to increase the odds of getting pregnant.

Wednesday, April 2
After the proliferation of this weekend's time-traveling trader story I am hesitant to post this April Fools article from Better Humans.

Assorted Items: The strange confluence of the coming weekend's "Objectivist Easter" and the current eBay/Pay Pal case reminded me just how similar the Patriot Act is to "Directive 10-289" in Atlas Shrugged.
Researchers at the University of Rochester have slowed light down to a sauntering 127 MPH. Pornographic applications are sure to follow.
Stephen Bayley of The Independant reviews the Encyclopedia of Stupidity.
Brunching Shuttlecocks has posted The Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator.
Retrocrush gives us a sure-to-be-controversial listing of the Top Ten Greatest Pin-Ups of All Time.
On the strength of their recent ratings increase SciFi has announced some new shows it has in the works. The Warren Ellis project is not among them.

The Alan Moore Countdown continues: His primary Fan Site has a number of news items about both his retirement and the myriad industy tributes that are coming out. Ninth Art has posted part one of Frank Beaton's chat with him, while the Todd Mundt Show has a streaming radio interview available.

Tuesday, April 1
April Fools Day. "Bah!" I say. True miscreants need no "special day" to wreak epic, wrong-minded havoc on the tender minds of others. All "funny" emails I find polluting my inbox today shall be replied to with a truly revolting 10 meg photo of morbidly obese porn. I keep a folder full of this stuff handy. Laugh it up.
Update: Whoops. I completely forgot that Locus Online always delivers the goods on April first.

Sci Fi Weekly reviews the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator action figures, while McFarlane Toys has put up new pix of them.

The new issue of Free Inquiry has a reassessment of Madalyn Murray O'Hair by Bill Cooke. Paul Kurtz also gives his philosophical reasons for being against the Iraq war. Philosophical discourse seems conspicuously absent from most of the current war debate (replaced with shrieking on both sides). The few exceptions include Robert Garmong's analysis of anti-war protesters using force and destruction to make their point, and William Thomas' observations of the forces and issues that led us here.

Snopes was the first to debunk the time-traveling insider trader story (I'm purposing blind-eyeing that fact that a Weekly World News story needed debunking, my brain is too sore). That being said, Yahoo news, which has historically had a good record of back-tracking stories, should take the high ground and up their fact-checking protocols. Hundreds of bloggers linked to the piece. Google searches on the subject brought up tens of thousands of hits. Let this be a warning to all of us.
For the record, I had, in my usual reactionary manner, penned a thousand word joke-theory about the dire threat of a far-future financial conspiracy when I decided maybe I should do research first, so I'm speaking from pain here. Oh, it was quite funny, but you'll just have to trust me on that.

Monday, March 31
I saw the Tony Levin Band last night. One of the high points was the opening performance by guitarist Kaki King. Women wielding acoustic guitars usually fill me with dread, but the intrepid Ms. King had the predominantly male, musically discriminating, and more-than-a-little-pretensious crowd won over by the end of her first technique-heavy number. I am not often genuinely surprised any more, it's nice to know it can still happen.

Monday Round Up: SciFi.com has some new links, one to the Two Micron All Sky Survey, and another to The Visual Index of Science Fiction Cover Art. They also have an interview with Stephen Baxter. Better Humans takes on the subject of euthanasia with essays by George Dvorsky and James Hughes. Nothing brightens my Monday morning more than the wholesale bashing of bad authors. Kudos to Laura Miller for speaking her mind about Don DeLillo.

Sunday, March 30
I spend most of yesterday afternoon browsing the racks at Jelly's Discs in Worcester. I haven't browsed a record store in about a year, most visits are in-and- out. My back is a tad sore from hunching over all the bins for several hours, but I had forgotten what a fully enjoyable experience record shopping can be.

Locus has announced that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has been has been appointed Grand Master of this year's World Horror Convention.

The theme of this past Photoshop Phriday at Something Awful was really blasphemous ideas for religious toys. Hell awaits us.

Kim Jong-il makes his first appearance on this blog for abducting all the triplets in North Korea. Seems a triplet is "destined" to overthrow him, so he's sent them all to orphanages. Hmmm, do you think one set of triplets will escape this fate, learn superhuman fighting techniques from an old master living in the hills, then go a quest to free their people? Of all the ills that communism visited upon us, the worst has to be tin gods who insist that there is some sacred prophecy tied to their reign, thus giving them licence to dispense human rights violations like bad plot points in a Gor book. If you wanna be a super-villain do some research and be creative. Get a secret base and some robots.
Triplets. Fucking pathetic.

Saturday, March 29
Slush Factory has an interview with Tim Truman about his new book Dead Folks, while at Ninth Art Alasdair Watson asks the burning question "why aren't comics smarter?"

Friday, March 28
Well, it looks like the Charleston atheist invocation didn't go over too well.

Sorry about yesterday's "tract's o' land" link. A bit misleading on my part. You all were expecting tits, weren't you? Okay. Here you go.

Assorted Items: another symptom of a Philip K. Dick world arises as scientists are developing technology to convert brain waves into music. The Star Tribune has picked up the Spanish dada art torture story from a couple months ago. Still no pictures yet. Doris Lessing explains how Zimbabwe became such a shithole. Might be 'cuz President Mugabe compares himself to Hitler. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website has posted an update on the Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman Jonah Hex vs. Johnny & Edgar Winter case, and here's Matt Brady's Newsarama column about it. You gotta love this headline: "Hubble Watches Light from Mysterious Erupting Star Reverberate Through Space" Goddamned poetry. The pictures are pretty, too.

Thursday, March 27
"She's got great...tracts o' land!"

I have added a whole slew of slang sites, indices and databases to the Links Page. Fourth column, all the way at the bottom.

Y'know, my childhood was dull. So were my high school classes.

We interupt this blog: As I have email problems I hope you'll forgive me as I use this hallowed forum to tell Mark Vadnais that Real Art Ways in Hartford is showing Kurosawa films every weekend this month and next. Yes, I am cognizant of the fact that I could have called him with this information. Thank you. Carry on.

I've gotten somewhat used to recent news stories reading like plot points in a science fiction novel, but lately they're reading more like fantasy. First off, diggers in Turkey have uncovered the world's oldest swords (no word as to whether they're cursed). Then there are the scientists who want to improve electronics through the use of a "metaphysical lens." Finally, the Yale Map Archive has aquired a map of your life.

Comic Stuff: Comic Book Resources, Steven Grant lists the five periods in history when comics were cool. Newarama has a story about the public domain status of characters in Peter Hogan's upcoming Terra Obscura series, a spin-off of Alan Moore's Tom Strong.
I have seen disturbing little press about the fact that Alan Moore's planned retirement from comics is less than a year away. The new issue of Previews is chock full of Moore goodies, but it has been confirmed that Promethea is ending with issue 32. I gotta admire a guy for going out at the highpoint of his work. Now if only we could go back in time and warn John Byrne...

By the way, King Kong turns 70 this month. He's still got a loooong way to go to catch up to this guy.

More goodies at Retrocrush: A gallery of yummy Alberto Vargas paintings, and a glorious pictorial of '70s home decor. Gaze in wonder.

Wednesday, March 26
Even If you are not a Tolkien fan, you have to admire the exhaustive research and professional web-work that went into The Encyclopedia of Arda.

It warms my black little heart to know that a full 50 years after discovering the double helix of DNA, Watson & Crick still have no patience for religion, or for those unpricipled shit-stains would teach the bible as science. I also find joy in the fact that mathmaticians still unearth new things abouts numbers, like the idea that those pesky prime numbers may not be as random as once thought. And if you needed a reminder (as I often do) that it is the twenty-first century, Popular Science has a very cool article on Kim Rossmo, an intrepid criminal profiler who investigates crimes with the help of "an algorithm named Rigel."

Retrocrush has a link to a guy with a mission: to collect the autograph of every Star Trek cast member ever. No doubt this will fill the misery-fogged abyss yawning at the core of his being. Y'know, I've always wanted to sleep with every cast member of The Golden Girls...

Tuesday, March 25
Cinescape reports that William Goldman has been hired to write the script for the planned Shazam! movie (no word on casting, though). They also have a story about a Blue Man Group song being used in the end credits of the upcoming Terminator 3 movie. They refer to BMG as an "trippy alternative music trio," which, if you've seen them live, only scratches the surface.

Recommended Readin': Ohkar Ghate gives us a refreshingly philosophical arguement why the government shouldn't legislate morality (as opposed to these ignorant nozzleheads who insist upon it).
David Kelley picks away at the intellectual damage wrought by college Affirmative Action policies.
And I am happy to report that the Charleston (South Carolina) City Council will open its meeting next week with an invocation by an atheist.

Monday, March 24
The official Conan site has an interview with Kurt Busiek about his upcoming comic for Dark Horse.

At Better Humans Philip Shropshire discusses War and Transhumanism.

There's a story going around the web about developing contact lenses that dispense time-released drugs. I find the idea fascinating. Heroin addicts have been shooting up via their tear ducts for decades, it's about time the method be adapted for benefitial drug delivery systems like gloucoma treatments.
That's not to say that hard-core drug addicts won't find a way to hack the technology to feed their own needs.

Sunday, March 23
It's not about oil, silly. It's about alien technology.

The new print issue of National Geographic has a dizzying pictorial about the awe-inspiring caverns of Oman.

Noel Wood at For The Retarded.com gives us the ugly history of the current plans to make a Superman film.

Trolling the links over at Cool & Strange Music I discovered a few fun sites archiving odd and tacky album art: Frank's Vinyl Museum, It Crawled from the Bins, and the Tralfaz Archives. There is also a link to a site with the bold and stirring name When LPs Roamed the Earth, but it sadly appears dead.

Saturday, March 22
Comic Book Resources has a preview of Chuck Austen's two new Marvel Max series: War Machine 2.0 and The Eternal.

Ladies and Gentlemen: tiny robots, robot guards, and a robot monkey.

Friday, March 21
Optimus Prime: Leader of the Transformers, A popular name for punk bands, and now he's an American warrior in the Gulf War.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is offering a course in the persecution of christianity throughout history. No, I'm serious. Really.

A sentence I never thought I would type: Drinking may decrease dementia.

Comic Stuff: At Slush Factory John Byrne has some observations about comic book retailers and how they tend not to cater to the market, and word has come down that Vertigo Comics is cancelling both Hunter: The Age of Magic and (one of my favorites) American Century.

And speaking of cancellations, tonight is the last Farscape. This has been an psychotically intense season for the show and I will mourn its passing. I applaud the efforts to save the show, but I've had it with the insipid "fuck SciFi" and "SciFi betrayed its fans" school of opinion that I see polluting chatrooms and talkbacks. SciFi did a lot for the show. There wasn't a season or even a storyline that went by without serious and continuous promotional support. The size of the audience just didn't justify the cost. The Save Farscape site keeps quoting the increase in ratings due to their concerted efforts. If that's the case, where were they when a fifth season was still a possibility? If fandom would grow up and use its power for good once in a while, like garnering rabid and substantial support for shows still in their lean years, instead of bitching about unfair the TV industry is, there would be a lot more genre shows on the air today. Hell, Crusade would be in it's fourth season now.
Think about it: genre films make up the lion's share of the top grossing films of all time, but the TV outlook is bleak. Why? Movies build followings. Movies exploit word of mouth. Movies build marketshare. The next time a great show appears on the landscape (the recently announced Warren Ellis/SciFi project perhaps?) there should be a freakishly large campaign to recruit viewers. Don't put it all on the network.