Archive: April 3 - April 29 2005
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Friday, April 29
Justin Mullins of New Scientist asks: Whatever happened to machines that think?

It is being reported that Edvard Munch's The Scream may have been incinerated. The painting, possibly the most parodied in history (including this creepy one made of bugs), spawned a line of inflatible figures. According this page on art theft, there are two originals, and they have a history of being stolen (scroll down).
News stories like this always put me in the mood for episodes of Lovejoy and Banacek.
And if you ever wondered why the sky is red in the painting...

Thursday, April 28
The headline reads "Engineer Turns Bacteria Into Living Computers."

Alyssa Ford of Utne Reader has penned a pretty good article on the transhumanist movement and its detractors.

Wednesday, April 27
I'm back.
Had a fun road trip. It kicked off at the Collins Diner, up to Montreal, down the QEW to Toronto (experiencing my first poutine en route). Jennifer and I spent an afternoon at the Ontario Science Center with George Dvorsky and his two sons, visited the Royal Ontario Museum, which is currently running an excellent exhibit on feathered dinosaurs. Finally, we burned a few hours in Niagara Falls before the long ride home. Now I've got to unpack, do laundry, get groceries, etc. Will resume my usual smartass-ness shortly.

Thursday, April 21
I will be "off the grid" for an extended weekend of much-needed R&R. I may update occasionally over on the comment board.
Your homework is to watch the third season opener of Penn & Teller's Bullshit!

The headline reads "'Robotic' dental drill to be tested on humans."

Reality Carnival links to these weird sculptures of male bodies if each part grew in proportion to the area of brain concerned with its sensory perception and movement. Contrary to what many women think, you'll notice how small the penis is on both figures...

Wednesday, April 20
Sign of the Apocalypse: 1984: The Opera.

Since a new pope has been elected, you should go dig out a copy of Robert Silverberg's Good News From the Vatican. Also, here's a list of fictional clergy, including popes.
No word if Popetown will ever make air, however we still have Battle Pope.
Yes, I'm fully aware that I am going to hell...

Tuesday, April 19
LiveScience invites us to rate the robots.

For all the grief I lay down on many of today's Star Trek and Star Wars fans, at least they tend to be harmless, unlike some recent Mad Max fans...

Monday, April 18
On my holiday gift list: McFarlane Toys will be releasing Wallace & Gromit figures.

Future Tech: Pervasive supercomputing is on the way, as are trippy new interfaces and flatscreen 3D displays. If that's not enough, how about psychoanalysis in a pill.
If you need more evidence that we live in a WIlliam Gibson world, meet the U.S. Military's Elite Hacker Crew.

More homegrown supervehicle fun with the Pulsejet Dragster.

Friday, April 15
What the internet was meant for: The television Crossovers and Spin-Offs Master Page.

Science succeeds in improving our lives by discovering how to make better popcorn.

Thursday, April 14
Assorted Genre Items: This year's Eisner Award nominees have been anounced.
It looks like Mongoose Publishing is bringing Babylon 5 back to comics.
Disinformation informs us "'The Cult of Cthulhu has been, is, and shall be established on April 30th 2005."

Gaze upon the world's smallest motor.

Bassist Tony Levin informs us that he is going to Italy soon to partake is a 45 hour long jazz improvisation concert. That's impressive, but a drop in the bucket compared to John Cage's As Slow As Possible, or the 1000-year composition Longplayer.

Wednesday, April 13
Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon: Saving the world from bad literature...

The headline reads "Man Lured Boys With Star Trek."

Marcus Chown of New Scientist reports on Luc Arnold, an astronomer who theorizes that we should look for alien structures in space instead of listen for radio waves. Science fiction has been telling us this for years.

Tuesday, April 12
Comic Stuff: Anna Salleh of ABC Science tells us how superheroes reflect what society thinks about science. The Simon Locke article it examines can be found as a PDF file here.
Comment board regular IAmAGoldenGod post this Best Page in the Universe gallery of unintentionally sexual comic book covers. Meanwhile John Byrne ponders the fact that Superboy never grew up over at UGO Comics.

Monday, April 11
Big congrats to Diana and Paul Hsieh for being named ERNAC's Geeks O' The Week.

Your exoskeletal bionic suit is here. Exo-Man and M.A.N.T.I.S. soon to follow.

Eye of the Goof links to The Museum of RetroTechnology, which features such wonders as a rocket-powered bicycle, a propeller-driven car, and aircraft with paddlewheels.

I think I can say, with absolute certainty, that at no point in the long imaginative history of science fiction did anyone ever envision robots riding camels.
Other future-tech in the animal kingdom includes controlling insects via "genetic remote control," and using a collar-based "petworking" system to monitor your dog's social behavior.

Sunday, April 10
The unfortunate folks at Planet Magrathea attended a preview showing of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy movie. They have posted two reviews, a short spoiler-free one, and a lengthy detailed one. They've also provided a comprehensive list of things not in the film.

Speaking of Hitchhiker's, New Scientist reports that apparently the secret isn't "to bang the rocks together, guys."

Friday, April 8
If you all loved me, you'd pitch in and buy me a Land Walker.

Recommended Readin': Elizabeth Svoboda of Wired hails the return of Bill Nye.
Alex Beam of explains how nonsense is the new sense.
Denise Winterman of BBC asks: what happened to the Segway revolution?
Here's Robert Roy Britt of LiveScience on the recent drilling through the Earth's crust. No word on how this will affect the upcoming expedition into our hollow Earth...

Adam Selvidge writes in to tell me about his site Comic, where he has some 50,000 comic covers scanned in, ready to be viewed.

I got the DVD of Dragon's World: A Fantasy Made Real. It was rather obviously inspired by Peter Dickinson's Flight of the Dragon, but very enjoyable. It's no secret that I am enamored with the recent rash of CGI documentaries. The trend was started by the classic Walking With Dinosaurs and peaked (in my opinion) with the excellent The Future is Wild, which was inspired by the works of Dougal Dixon. BBC recently showed the docu-drama Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets. I think the science fiction "mockumentary" has a future. In print we've seen such astounding works as Ricardo Delgado's Hieroglyph, Karl Kofoed's Galactic Geographic, Wayne Barlow's Expedition and Inferno, and Harlan Ellison's Medea. How cool would a travelogue about the Ringworld be?
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Visions of Xenolympus by Brian Kirk and myself.
UPDATE: I am reminded, also, about those great old Terran Trade Authority books by Stewart Cowley, which looked at the history of spacecraft and starliners. There was one I loved about space wrecks and derelicts that would make a great documentary. Here's a site called Digital Waterfalls inspired by them.
BTW, the Dragon's World disc has a great preview for Mirrormask on it.

Thursday, April 7
How William Shatner Went From Has-Been to Icon in Seven Self-Aware Steps.

Thinking about the trope of extraterrestrial origins of human life. We've all heard of the concepts of ancient astronauts and panspermia. Cults like Heaven's Gate (and to an extent Scientology) have the role of ETs as part of their belief system. Some science fiction examples of this include the Celestials in the Marvel Universe, James Hogan's Giants series, and Warren Ellis' Ocean. You've also got progenitors in Star Trek, as well as the Preservers. On Space: 1999 human life came from the planet Arkadia. The Adventures of Luther Arkwright had human origins from aliens in a parallel universe.
Of course, Alan Moore fans know that life on earth (not to mention the very shape of the continents) is a result of the shenanigans of D.R. & Quinch.
UPDATE: Mark on the comment board reminds me that "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy posits that Man and the Earth are a living computer..."
And before anyone writes in:
The Vorlons on Babylon 5 manipulated early humanity, but did not plant us here.
Humans are the only race untouched by the Progenitors and patron races of David Brin's Uplift series.

Wednesday, April 6
If you didn't get a copy of Action Philosophers in your pile of comics this week, go out and find one. Funny stuff.

Other Comic Book Stuff: The Beat updates us on several projects, including a possible Watchmen opera. Kurt Amacker of Cinescape tells us some Comic Shop Stories, and Steven Grant at Comic Book Resources continues his series on how comics get published.

Modern Drunkard begins a multi-part piece on the career of Jackie Gleason.

Tuesday, April 5
Newsarama looks at the upcoming rumble between Dracula and King Arthur.

Future Stuff: Wil McCarthy of SciFi Weekly talks about having the Singularity Blues.
Catherine Zandonella of New Scientist introduces us to the strange material metallic glass.
Mark Peplow of Nature shows us retinal implants lined with "diamond nanofilm."
Bryan Appleyard of New Times looks at people who will live to be 1000 (via George Dvorsky).
LiveScience reports that office coworkers judge each other by their iTunes playlist.

If you have time to kill, go and browse the Uncyclopedia, a repository of "politically incorrect non-information." I especially like their entries on the seven deadly sins, Ayn Rand, and how to masturbate. As with Wikipedia (which it parodies beautifully) you can add entries, but read their writers' guidelines first.

Monday, April 4
David Michael Wharton of Cinescape uses the fate of HBO's Carnivàle to remind us of other TV shows that were canceled before their stories were wrapped.

Sunday, April 3
In Prog we Trust...

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