Archive May 25 - June 8 2003
Gravity Lens Main Page

Sunday, June 8
Art Stuff: Jesse Walker of Reason Online views the recent eBay "Ghost in a Jar" posting as the birth of a new art form. Josie Appleton of Spiked Online puts forth the theory that the concept of "creativity" is overused. The Globe & Mail's Russell Smith wonders if naturalism is "well and truly dead."

Assorted Items: Dan at Extrasonic posted this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the state of the comics industry. Route 1 in Maine now hosts a large roadside scale model of the solar system. New Scientist has a neat special section exploring human nature. Richard Taylor at Free Inquiry asks if marriage has become an anachronism. Cory Doctorow linked to the Shakespeare On The Run festival in Central Park. Finally, The World Stupidity Awards were unveiled on Friday and appear to be quite Canada-centric.

Saturday, June 7
Assorted items: The new issue of Atomic features the yummy Jane Monheit on its cover. Bruce Sterling linked to this sweet page of Jules Verne related goodies. My favorite future shock story of the week is the rise of the virtual mob.

Comic Stuff: Comic Book Resources chats with Kerry Callen about the very funny Halo & Sprocket, Newsarama talks to Peter Hogan about his upcoming Terra Obscura miniseries, and John Byrne asks for slightly more faithful movie adaptations over at Slush Factory.

From the mailbag: Brigitte Botnick warns everyone of a "personal info" scam going around under the guise of "updating PayPal information" (I got one too). Philip Shropshire has subtly corrected the link to Gravity Lens on his site (thank you). Attorney Robert Gelinas wonders why this eBay auction for a "Sean Connery Life Mask" that looks nothing like Mr. Connery.

Friday, June 6
Assorted Items: I was disturbed to learn that within each of us there are molecules that walk upright like humans. Robert Fulford of the National Post asks the World Future Society What Ever Happened to the Paperless Office? The Wooden Rocket Awards for the best science fiction websites were announced yesterday by SF Crowsnest.

Here's a humdinger from the Jesus Museum: Once upon a time Karla Faye Tucker and her boyfriend got drunk and took pick axes to the skulls of some folk. Karla eventually found herself strapped to a gurney with a needle in her arm, but because she discovered Jesus during her long incarceration, some born-again nozzleheads have built this loving tribute site to her "beautiful spirit."
This, dear friends, is pornography.
May devils feast on their grotesque souls.

Thursday, June 5
Weird Science: Wired has a story on Biomimetics as a form of human/ machine interfacing. The headline of this Science Daily story reads Cloning Embryos from Cancer Cells, but despite its psychotic title it's about the concept of deprogramming cancer. Simson Garfinkel of MIT Tech Review shares with us some tips for getting better results with Google. I was disappointed to learn that offerings of incense and squirrel blood don't help.

Raving Toy Maniac has a look at the new Twilight Zone Invader figure. More figure stuff with this sorta creepy alien bust from Lucky Onion and these freaky and disturbing bronze figures from Gods for Future Religions by Ho Baron.

Assorted Items: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Fred Saberhagen's first Beserker tale. I'm a fan of this ongoing space opera, and now there's a new Beserker novel. reviews it. Sequential Tart interviews Jill Thompson, and Film Threat celebrates the DVD release of Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter.

Wednesday, June 4
Comic Stuff: Newsarama has a rundown of Vertigo projects updated from this past weekend's WizardWorld con. A California court has decided it was okay for Joe Lansdale and Tim Truman to parody Johnny and Edgar Winter in Jonah Hex. Warren Ellis gives a status report on all the books on his plate at his website. Four Color Heroes has a sweet, spoiler-free preview of the cover to The League of Extrordinary Gentlemen #6

Assorted items: The Wall Street Journal's Sharon Begley looks at the limits of human knowledge, Bill Steigerwald of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review chats with Penn Jillette, Ralph Brave of Alternet explores James Watson's gloriously cantankerous views on genetic enhancement, and according to New Scientist it seems we all have a built-in geiger counter.

Tuesday, June 3
The ESA's Mars Express is en route to the red planet. Looks like it will have nice weather for the trip. Continuing coverage can be found here, here, and here. If you haven't been jazzed about Mars in a while, check out the Red Colony and Explore Mars Now sites for some inspiration.

In more terrestrial news, this Friday will bring us the first annual World Stupidity Awards.

Monday, June 2
Addendum to yesterday: The God of the Month for is Mati Syra Zemlya.

Recommended Readin': Steven Pinker tells us why genetic enhancement is too unlikely to worry about, James Hughes discusses "Better Health through Democratic Transhumanism," and Simon Smith examines the current state of drug reform. has an interview with author Michael Swanwick while Slush Factory chats with artist Colleen Doran.  

Sunday, June 1
It is June.
The Quantum Muse Artist of the Month is Bill Wright.
The Acid Logic Interesting Motherfucker is Penelope Spheeris.
The Molecule of the Month is Pnictogen.
The Wacky Patent of the Month is this strange fireman's gear.
Carry on.

I am of the firm belief that every house needs a hidden door, a clandestine entrance to your basement lab, or perhaps that secret lair you've been working on.

So, let me see if I got this straight: we never get to visit Westworld or Jack Kirby's planned Science Fiction Land (thanks to the CIA), but Erich von Däniken can open a theme park. There's no justice, I tell ya.

Saturday, May 31
Comic Stuff: Slush Factory has an interview with Joe Kubert. Art Bomb has a new Brainpowered column by Warren Ellis about the history of Fantagraphics. From Cinescape, here's new pix of Hellboy and Abe Sapien.
Cory Doctorow has linked to The Unh Project: A Collection of Guttural Moans from Comics. Here you will find assorted oooorfs, urks, and yyaaargggs. These are indexed by the sound uttered or the cause of the sound.

Psychic Sylvia Browne is skeptical about the existence of James Randi's one million dollar psychic challenge. I could not possibly add any commentary to this.

I'm gonna miss the Concorde.

Friday, May 30
I don't know which of the following disturbs me more: the fact that scientists plan to create artificial black holes, or the fact that this story was only reported by the Christian Science Monitor.

Congrats to eighth-grader Sai Gunturi who won the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee in the fifteenth round. The winning word was "pococurante," but check out the other mouthfuls he had to tackle to get there.

Fantagraphics Press has run into some dire finacial straits and is appealing to readers to buy their books. I'll be placing an order this weekend.

Cool new link at's Webguide: Two Minute Danger Theater.

Thursday, May 29
The final rounds of the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee will be aired live on ESPN today. The public school system would never condone such a competition because proper spelling is an artificial constraint to self-esteem.
Watching all the resultant shrieking spurred on by the widely reported list of "banned textbook words" has been fun. I remember two months ago when Bill Maxwell wrote about the exact same story thinking "is there a press release of this stuff?" Somehow I doubt the alledged "Language Police" called a news conference to announce this year's list. Anyway, with all the patently false news items popping up I'll wait until I see Diane Ravitch's fingerprints on the matter before passing judgment. Besides, it's been tough to pin down what constitutes "news" lately.
Case in point: Most of my friends and I have known for years that dementia fosters creativity, but apparently this was news to everyone else.

Scott Slemmons has written a much-needed response to Michael Medved's critique of recent "unpatriotic" Captain America storylines.

I laughed profusely at this Quicktime video of a dog having his way with a Pikachu plush. The tune makes it work.

Wednesday, May 28
My inner ear is still trembling from last night's magnificent Dick Dale show. The evening, however, belonged to two young men. The first was Mr. Dale's 11-year old son Jimmy, who took the stage and shredded out several tunes on a beautiful brushed-aluminum guitar, thus assuring us all that there will be (as friend Bob Mankus put it) an uninterupted supply of surf rock for at least 40 years. The second is Gravity Lens' youngest reader Trevor Kirk who, with pick in hand, strummed away on the Maestro's left-handed Fender during a prolonged Peter Gunn improv.
Sympathies to Trevor's mother Sue who was in the bathroom and missed it.

Speaking of the young, Physics Today has a piece on the sub-par quality of middle school physics textbooks. In other science news David Louis Dreier of MIT Technology Review discusses the coming of aircars.
And I have tried to avoid posting stories that have gotten a lot of exposure on other weblogs, but future shock is kicking in. The last few days have brought stories about a telepresence robot that goes to work for you, a pocket server, and a browser you control with your brain. Stare into the abyss, dear friends.

Or stare at this pretty primordial quasar from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Tuesday, May 27
A pair of Weird Science stories: There is now fossil evidence that kangaroos used to have horns. Also, some art students have come up with a brilliant plan to use trees to store templates of human DNA. A living genetic time capsule. Cool.

Back before Gravity Lens was a proper blog I wrote an essay about how most people tend to define themselves by what they like. Joshua Ellis of Mindjack  treads through similar territory and explores how technology reinforces this form of branding in his essay Taste Tribes.

Used to be, in the old days, that the universe either expanded or remained in a steady state. Now it stops and goes. Damn universe, make up your mind!

George Dvorsky examines the moral drive and motivation of Transhumanists who support life extension in Fearing And Loathing on the Road to Immortality.

Monday, May 26 Memorial Day
Attorney Robert Gelinas sends along this curious page of un-photoshopped X-Men erotica from The Raven's Wing. The site also contains erotic fan fiction about The Authority.
If that's not your speed, check out Twisted Toyfare Theater's photo essay The Further Adventures of Frozen Captain America.

A study has shown that people who download a lot of music tend to have better taste and actually buy more CDs. Of course, this is common knowledge among music aficionados, but the record industry chooses to ignore that segment of the population that actually seeks out new and exciting tunes.

Sunday, May 25
More Comic Stuff: Slush Factory's Alexander Ness interviews Grant Morrison. Newsarama reports that Jim Starlin's Dreadstar will be collected in hard-
cover. They also follow-up on the recent story of the Pittsburgh Con disturbing the sensibilities of the AFA.

Peter Hall of Metropolis has penned a neat article about the architectural services firm of Milgo/Bufkin in Brooklyn, which is producing wild metallic shapes for future buildings.  

Karen Haber reviews the new documentary about Frank Frazetta at Locus.

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