Archive Jan 14 - Jan 31 2003
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Friday, January 31
Some cool bits of web-synergy to accelerate Bad Day's memetic spread: my Link Page has been listed at the Link Page of the official Christopher Hitchens website. Philip Shropshire who runs Three River Tech Review (as well as writing for Locus and Better Humans) has set up a link to me on his page. Steve Portigal (who built the Foreign Grocery Museum) has also linked to me on his blog. Thanks to all of the above.

Has everyone been following the Garry Kasparov/Deep Junior chess tournament in New York this week? Coverage has been spotty and not nearly as high profile as the Deep Blue match a few years back. Strange, considering the future of humanity is at stake, or not.

I have a beautiful dream that someday a candidate for District Attorney will run on the campaign promise that psychics, charlatans, and other such con-men will not be prosecuted for bilking the gullible. There is enough real crime out there to deal with without tying up the courts defending the claims of nozzleheaded idiots too stupid to NOT hand over their money to tarot readers, astrologers, etc. There should be no legal recourse for posessing a staggering lack of common sense. It's the same as giving money to a drug dealer or stripper: you ain't gettin' it back.

It's Photoshop Phriday again at Something Awful. This week: Rejected Food ideas. My hands-down favorite is "Cream of Pete."

Thursday, January 30
The National Post has a cool story about Max Berry's outstanding recent novel Jennifer Government, a great and uncomfortable satire about a corporate-run future. The book is getting press, and that usually means it can't possibly be science fiction. It's available at Amazon.

I love it when wild science stories materialize out of nowhere. Here's one about the successful teleportation of elementary particles. No, it didn't come from the Raelians. Expect a comprehensive ban on teleportation soon.

There's a piece on Reason about the growing "Christian Culture Industry" in this country and what it means.
Which leads me to the interesting subject of Texas Tech University biology professor Michael Dini, who has wisely decided to not give letters of recomendation to those students who believe in creationism. Can you guess where this is going? This policy has led, of course, to cries of discrimination. His criteria on the matter are quite clear and concise, but the uber-religious Liberty Legal Institute have decided that's just plain wrong. I guess the concept of biology being a science doesn't get to enter into it.
If my atheism gets me banned from divinity school, can I sue?

Retrocrush has proven beyond doubt that photos of women in sweaters from the 60s and 70s are hot. Similar photos of men, however...

Comic Book Resources has an interview with writer Geoff Johns about his plans for The Avengers, while Comics Continuum has samples of Olivier Coipel nifty uniform designs for the book. Here's Warbird, Jack-of-Hearts, and Ant Man.

Locus has posted Claude Lalumière's personal look back at 1992, including the stinging and unwelcome realization that it's been a full decade since Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash was published. Sigh.

Assorted Items: The Libertarian Party is protesting New York's expanded gun law proposals by starting a program called Toy Guns for Tots, Christian idolotry is now braving new territory with the Jesus Beanie, and a 54-year old British woman vacationing in Spain demonstrated a profound poverty of intellect by sticking her arm in a lion cage and (c'mon, say it along with me now) having it ripped off. I hope there were video cameras there to capture the undoubtedly alarmed look that came across her face as she gripped the flailing, gushing meat-stump that until recently had anchored the limb, and the genuine surprise of seeing her own arm being stripped of its skin like a piece of chicken. Good lion.

Wednesday, January 29
She's so ugly, but so, so rich...

I wore braces for four years. I was burdened with a cumbersome, drool- generating retainer for another three. At the end of a trying adolesence riddled with slurred speech my teeth were still a mess, requiring that some of them be sacrificed. I have worn upper and lower partial plates for the entirety of my adult life.
Now that I am a hoary, toothless puddle of irrelevance far removed from any desirable demographic, they have invented this.
Bastards. Filthy, contemptable bastards.

Peter David has chimed in on the fact that Todd MacFarlane is pretending he didn't lose his recent court battle with Neil Gaiman and is proceeding with his resin statue of Miracleman.
Also, McSweeney's has a teaser excerpt of the Gaiman story that they are publishing next issue.

Dark and brooding congratulations to Tatiana de Profundis who won the inaugural Miss Gothic Massachusetts Pageant last week. It was quite a big story, even the Boston Globe covered it. I expect Miss de Profundis will be presiding at the grand openings of Hot Topics and funeral homes around the metro Boston area. Thanks to Patrick, the co-producer of the event, for the link.

Also from the mailbag: David Wolff wrote to suggest for the links page. This was quite fortuitous. An Esperanto category has been on my "to do" list for a while, primarily because it's been about two decades since I was able to speak it, albeit poorly, and thought it was time for a refresher. I am also looking for an Esperanto Word-of-the-Day site. I know there used to be a one but my recent searching of caches has been fruitless.
And thanks to whoever sent the link to Bob McCoy's creepy/funny Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. I deleted the email while cleaning my mailbox. This is precisely the kind of site the link page thrives on. As is the case with all good Museums, this one has a great gift shop.

Tuesday, January 28
Thursday, May 1st is the National Day of Reason. I have added my name to the list of endorsers.

Check out this impressive photo from last week's Terry Bozzio/Pat Mastelotto show in Austin, Texas. That must have sounded so cool. Here are some more pix.

In the first major toy-related story of the new year, someone has stolen one of two existing Stanley Cup replicas made from Legos. Who would steal Legos?

Mark Vadnais forwards a story of two youths who took inspiration from The Sopranos and dismembered their mother. Now, while they admittedly got the idea from watching violent television, one has to wonder exactly what kind of upbringing they received that allowed them to muster up the ethical leeway to think hacking a parent into smaller, more managable components was an acceptable idea. I didn't always get along with my folks, but forcibly rending their limbs from their trunks never presented itself as a viable option. And I watch a lot of horror movies.

Only in England could the time-honored tradition of saturating one's life with Star Trek fandom be successfully merged with the fine art of drinking.

The Pope wants the European Union to declare itself a christian state. That takes admirable balls considering the heat the Catholic Church is currently taking about the outright slavery practices of its infamous Magdalene laundries in Ireland.
Will somebody please put the church on trial for this shit?

New stuff at Free Inquiry Online:
The Ethics of Humanism Without Religion by Paul Kurtz
Everybody Must Get Cloned by David J. Triggle
Why I Did It by Michael Newdow (about the "Under God" case)

With the State of the Union address tonight, I want to post my hope that Bush announces a plan to send an army of robots into battle against Iraq.

Monday, January 27
It has been revealed that during the Spanish Civil War, modern art was used to torture prisoners. This is the funniest thing I've read in weeks. Kandinsky, Klee, Brunel and Dali were all allegedly the inspiration. Asymetrical bauhaus prison cells were built to disorient inmates, unnatural colors and shapes were used to blunt psyches, and they claim it was quite effective. I want this technique used now. You want to break the destructive will of terrorists? Let Roger Dean and Jacek Yerka design modern versions of the Village.

There is new stuff at Better Humans. There is a story about some pro-cloning comments made by Christopher Reeve. Sabine Atkins writes "A New Kind of Hope: Can a nonreligious philosophy encourage optimism, happiness and compassion?" while Simon Smith has posted "Transcending Humanism: The outdated secular worldview was a good start, but the future belongs to Transhumanism" This second piece really snagged my attention. I've spent years supporting both Humanism and Transhumanism, and, yes, some stripes of Humanists are more politically demanding than others, but there is a lot of common ground between these two schools of thought and I think that commonality needs to be built on. Humanism has a more firmly grounded set of principles (Update: I am reminded that there is also a Declaration as well as a Manifesto), but Transhumanism has some far-reaching and well-defined goals. Infighting would be a bad idea. Just look what it did to Objectivism (another philosophical school that could be of some benefit to futurism). I find that almost all forward-thinking, rational, individualistic mindsets fit nicely onto a continuum, but if they bicker the future might happen without them.

In other philosophical-difference news, the Intellectual Activist website has a teaser for a story about Oregon's Clemens Foundation (a charity built exclusively from lumber profits) pulling scholarships from the left-leaning Philomath School because they teach anti-lumber environmentalism. The funny thing is that if you read about the same story in Education Week, the reason for the break is the school's allowance of dyed hair and homosexual clubs. The anti-timber bias is almost and afterthought. I'll be doing more research on this story.

Charles Paul Freund has a funny and telling piece in Reason on the subject of forbidden subjects.

And if all that heavy philosophical thinking is bringing you down, go order Robert Berry's new video compilation of old commercials at Retrocrush. This looks so cool.

Sunday, January 26
My suggestion of Clockwork Orange's The Heaven Seventeen has been posted at T. Mike's Rocklopedia Fakebandica. To be fair I wasn't the only one to suggest it. I also sent him The Puddlians, the spy band from President's Analyst, but there is no listing of it yet. There are a lot of great new entries, nonetheless.

There was once an editorial in The Onion about a guy personally insulted over an "unwarranted" negative feedback he received on EBay. I searched for the story but it doesn't seem to be archived. Anyway, I bring this up because, as is the case with all good Onion stories, it is coming true.

I've added even more entries to the Links Page. I'm gradually moving towards having a full 2000 entries there, which (at least in my feeble, easily-amused mind) will constitute the dreaded Bad Day Millennium. Mythos, legends, and predictions concerning this most auspicious milestone have yet to be determined.
Speaking of milestones, Bruce Sterling had a link to Singularity Watch, a group providing news stories on technological acceleration. Some really wild stuff there.

I read this news story about a guy who stalked his ex-girlfriend using GPS technology. Two points: 1. Can waiting periods and background checks involving the purchase of personal satellite gizmos be far behind? 2. If a flustered and possibly violent ex manages to track you wherever you go, and actually shows up in your proximity repeatedly, I'd imagine the first thing you think of  would be "Hmmm, he must be using a tracking system." Am I just jaded and paranoid here? Or are some people so oblivious to the rammifications of high tech that they can't put two and two together? Did this girl think her ex was consulting a tarot to divine her location?

Saturday, January 25
This is the first Super Bowl weekend I haven't had to work in eight years, but since I have no interest in the game I guess it really doesn't matter. I will spend Sunday in my sweatpants, reading a pile of comics and science fiction magazines, listening to a stack of prog CDs, and dreaming of a world without football.

Friday, January 24
Sharon Tate would have turned 60 today.

Holy shit! They have reattached a man's (almost) severed head and he lived!

Today's Photoshop Phriday: Tech Toys from Hell.

Penn & Teller's new show Bullshit premiere's on Showtime tonight. The timing is perfect as the Catholic League wants them removed from the big Super Bowl pre-game special for being blasphemous and offensive.
On a related note, the funniest piece in this week's Onion: Skeptic Pitied.

Thursday, January 23
According to a fluff piece in TV Guide, Dustin Diamond of Save By The Bell now plays bass in the progressive rock band Salty the Pocketknife.

A college student whose diet consists mostly of cheese and cookies, but no fruits or vegetables, has come down with a case of scurvy. I post this for the benefit of my girlfriend, who maintains disturbingly similar eating habits. I'm expecting her utterly unnatural dependance on Nutella and Easy-Cheez to bring on a dose of jaundice any day now.

There is a news story going around about a current court battle between the Hatfields and the McCoys. I foresee an Adam Sandler movie coming out of this.

My life of reading sprawling space operas and Jim Starlin Marvel epics paid off when I found a science news headline that contained the phrase "Cosmic Doom." Here's another that exclaims "Distant World in Peril." Scientists are just having too much fun coming up with tag lines.

In the new issue of Wizard Edge, Brian Michael Bendis makes a rather casual remark that I had never really thought about: "every single person making the top 20 mainstream comics started out or continues to produce outstanding work in the independant comics field."

Wednesday, January 22
Willie & Joe cartoonist Bill Mauldin has died.

Check out the sweet preliminary cover art to Justice League: Age of Wonder.

It was inevitable: Babies will soon be bar-coded. The idea is to give them a temporary tattoo bar-code so that they don't get mixed up at the hospital. I say leave the bar-code on. Maybe it could set off the grocery store cash register scanner like Maggie in the open of Simpsons.

The new National Geographic arrived yesterday. It has an eye-popping story on Galaxy Hunters full of a lot of neat computer images, including this rather organic "map" of dark matter.

Brian Eno appeared on the radar last week when he wrote a piece for the european edition of Time about the dangers of America's current love affair with isolationism.

Tuesday, January 21
I do enjoy reading news story headings like this: "Giant squid latches on to yacht in Jules Verne race."

The countdown has begun towards wireless tactile interfacing. Combine this with the recent story about porn as a motivating factor in new wireless technology, and you can see what lies ahead of us. Couples will be feeling each other up from miles away. "Phone sex" will take on a completely new meaning. Cell phones may actually begin to get bigger to accomodate...oh, how do I put this accomodate a new range of functions. It is so over.

The Guardian has a great story about how Scotland Yard recovered Edvard Munch's The Scream from art thieves a decade ago.

Schism Matrix has a link to the site of "contemporary" designer Verner Panton, full of stuff like this mind-blowing room and a groovy chick posing with the furniture. Where's Derek Flint when you need him?

Geeks Inherit the Earth: In a single surreal news day I have read that a judge has officially declared that the X-Men are not human, Darth Vader is set to become an honorary director of English third division soccer outfit Exeter City, and clueless tourists want to go visit Middle Earth.

Al Hirschfeld has died. He was 99. I just watched the documentary about him a couple months ago. Here's an obit, and another (with his named misspelled). There's also a gallery of his caricatures in alphabetical order.

Monday, January 20
Recommended Readin': Richard Goldstein talks about issues surrounding the Persecution of Pee Wee Herman in the new Village Voice. James Hughes contemplates the war torn Future of the Human Genome. Steve Mirsky discusses what the hell we should do about the "moon hoax" thing.

Hey, how about a convention for childless folks?

Government bio-ethicist Leon Kass spoke out against life extension and mood enhancement again this weekend. Apparently the only role we humans play is to procreate and die. This man is a savage. He puts no value in human intellect and insists we live our lives in fear and misery. According to him our impermanence and limitations are the standard of value. Strangely enough, the fact that he is about thirty years older than the average male life expectancy of a century ago didn't come up in his speech.
By the way, Ronald Bailey's article in Reason detailing the battle over brain chemistry and intelligence enhancement was posted online this weekend. Read it.

Meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein discusses the idea of suing weathermen who get the major forecasts wrong.

Image Comics is about to release the fourth issue of Dean Motter's excellent art deco/science fiction/detective comic Electropolis. Unfortunately issue #3 came out over a year ago. Now I gotta reread all the back issues.

Sunday, January 19
And now a moment of silence for Richard Crenna.

The finalists for this year's Arthur C. Clarke award have been announced.

No Such Thing as Too Much Free Time: Fatherdan at Memepool has posted a link to this magnificent miniature reproduction of a 1960's teenage boy's room, complete with model kits, horror movie posters, and a plethora of memory-jarring details. If that isn't ambitious enough for you, how about the entire bible retold completely in Legos.

Saturday, January 18
Y'know, I am uncertain of the exact date, but we have got to be close to the anniversary of the very first Gravity Lens. Damn. What a pompous ass I was. (was??) Tempus fugit. Anyhoo I've cleaned up the banner a bit to commemorate.

Computer News: ZDNet has an article on some cool directions that computer technology may go. Students at CalTech have planned the first-ever competitive Turing Tournament for their computers. And the first sign of actual forward-thinking at NASA in a long time has taken place with the creation of the Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing, a think-tank charged with developing thinking spaceships. 'Bout time.

Anyone who remembers the 1977 (26 years ago oh god) TV movie Exo Man, based on a Martin Caidin story, will be happy to know that the technology from that film is now available.

Assorted Items: Revolution SF asked Michael Moorcock what he enjoyed about 2002. His response was surprisingly long. He also mentions the possibility of an Elric movie.
Jesse Walker has posted an unauthorized ficticious interview with Mickey Mouse (allowable under "fair usage" laws, y'know) concerning the recent copyright law rulings. Very funny and informative.
Film Threat has uncovered the existence of yet another high profile fan film. This one's an Icelandic number call Star Wars Episode X: The Lords of the Sith.
The website is well done, with all kinds of photos and designs.
This Valentine's Day, give someone you love a Sid Vicious toy.

Friday, January 17
If you go to the official Rush site, click on the box that says "Dialogue with Duke" to see a Flash cartoon of Geddy Lee being interviewed by his dog. You should also check out the two existing episodes of "Big Al's Tiki Lounge."

SciFi Wire reports that Enterprise is going to do an AIDS themed episode. I was going to comment that since they're obviously out of ideas they should try a musical episode like Buffy, then I saw this story in Cinescape about a gay, German Star Trek parody making its way to the states. I'm not certain I want to live in a world where the sad reality of this rapidly decaying franchise outstrips my cruel mockery of it.

Walt Simonson talks about his plans for Wonder Woman in an interview over at Comic Book Resources.

And take a good look at the list of merchandise licences that have been issued for the upcoming Hulk movie. I smell a train wreck coming.

I just read this article over at ABC News about some of the downright idiotic notions that current college students have about sex. Put children through an emotion-based public school system rife with relativism and junk science, buy into the notion that their sense of well-being needs more fostering than their intellect, and this is the kind of wive's tale/superstition-riddled knowledge base that they end up with.

And speaking of moral indignation, two recent op-eds discuss elements of Atlas Shrugged being played out in the real world. Ed Hudgins talks about the doctors' strike and Robert Tracinski takes on the continuing collapse of Venezuela, a country that will no doubt die a horrible death in my lifetime.

Thursday, January 16
Raving Toy Maniac has photos of Bandai's new Godzilla figures. Please note how the "skin" on the figure bunches up in front, approximating the flaws of an ill-fitting latex costume. Brilliant. There is also a review of a new book chronicling the history of the Captain Action franchise out from TwoMorrows publishing.

Harry Knowles reports on the upcoming project by strange animator Bill Plympton, Hair High.

Science Daily tells us that Scripps research labs have decided to delve into Swamp Thing territory by growing human antibodies in algae.

Wednesday, January 15
Y'know, there just aren't enough good news stories about men cutting off their own heads. This could make an interesting reality series. In other news a Boston janitor has been found in possession of a large stolen art collection. I guess last year's attempt at a strike didn't work out too well. And pick your poison: 1500 surgical tools left in the bodies of patients each year, or 1200 men of the cloth preying on youth in order to fondle their genitals. Hmmmmm.

Writers on the Web: The Alien Online has a new interview with Warren Ellis, Locus Online has an excerpt of their chat with Connie Willis, and Strange Horizons has an article on James P. Hogan. The new issue of Eddie Campbell's Egomania with the Alan Moore interview came out, and its back cover hosts an ad for a new edition of Moore's Voice of the Fire.

New Toys: has posted new images of the Hellraiser figures, as well as info on the soon-to-be-released Hanna-Barbara line (no new pictures though). Also found some neat pix of the new Beserk figure. I have found that most anime translates poorly into action figures but this piece looks nice.

An abandoned ship with a hold full of rotting fish and no sign of the crew has been found adrift off the coast of Australia. C'mon, there's got to be a monster...

Oh look, another hole for science fiction television to fall into and struggle to climb out of. This one's called Chariots of the Gods: The Series.

Clear some room on your shelves. Monkey Brain Books, the folks who'll publish Jess Nevins' League of Extrordinary Gentlemen Annotations this spring, are also on tap to publish a book version of his Fantastic Victoriana site in 2004.

And the latest in a series of reminders that I am getting old: It has been 22 years since the release of the last remotely listenable Genesis album. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 14
Promethea artists Mick Gray and JH Williams III both have interviews up on the web. Pop Image talks to Gray and Ninth Art talks to Williams.

Okay, scientists have announced the creation of the first completely unnatural organism. They are just begging for the Cthulhu mythos to come true, aren't they?

I found a two more really impressive images of Theo Jansen's windwalking Strandbeests here and here. Also found a little info on a video of his early work. I really want to see a herd of these things lumbering down the beach.

Movie News: There's a mockumentary in the works called Man Conquers Space. It looks back at an alternate 1969 space program as imagined by the 1952 Collier's features, where astronauts use glorious retro-hardware to travel to Mars. This looks awesome.
Wolfland Pictures have posted some very neat teaser images from the upcoming web-movies based on Moebius' Arzak Rhapsody and Druillet's Nosferatu. I breathlessly await these, hoping they will finally purge the traumatic memory of the last Heavy Metal movie out of my brain.

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