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Archive Feb. 17 - March 5 2003
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Wednesday, March 5
Friend and goddamned hippie Dave Hibsher will be performing with the World Beat Ensemble as they play several shows in the Western Massachusetts area.

The Science Fiction Book Club has released a list of the 50 Most Significant Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years. It looks like this list is based almost solely on popularity. Where is Hyperion by Dan Simmons, or Radix by A. A. Attanasio, or Queen of Angels by Greg Bear, or Metropolitan and/or Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams? Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett make the list but there's no James Hogan or Jeffery Carver or David Brin. I guess I should be grateful that no Star Trek novels made the cut.

The good news is that Michael Moorcock has announced that an Elric movie is in the works. He was interviewed in the Austin paper last week and will be the cover story of the next issue of Locus.

The saddest are these, "it might have been": Yesterday, several weblogs had links to the art for a proposed-but-never-built theme park designed by Jack Kirby. I do not know what depresses me more, the fact that it wasn't constructed, or that if it had been constructed Donald Rumsfeld would have had it demolished for promoting pantheonism.

Tuesday, March 4
Congratulations to my friends Cheri and Doug who have decided to get hitched.

Science News: Half of obese American men may have less cognitive power than their non-overweight counterparts. Unfortunately scientists are not certain which causes the other. Also, it seems limited to males. I find that strange because most of the fat women I've met are waaaay dumber that men. (sound of rimshot)
Thank you, I'm here all week.

Would you rather have a action figure of Joey Ramone or a Hugh Hefner

Monday, March 3
Friday, July 4th, will be Wrong Trousers Day.

A reminder about what the internet is for: I love reference sites, especially really specialized ones. Here's an exhaustive site that lists usages of the line "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" in popular culture. I also like E-Gor's Chamber of TV Horror Hosts.

Monday means new content at Better Humans.com. This week we have Bruce J. Klein's Building a Bridge to the Brain about neural interfacing. Philip Shropshire discusses the effects of "democratic rot" in the field of nanotechnology. George Dvorsky spins uneasy tales of activism in  The Hazards of Transhumanist Living. Over at Reason, Ronald Bailey looks at pros & cons of life extension.

A Salvadore Dali sketch was stolen from the lobby of Riker's Island. As we speak, dozens of bad scriptwriters are drafting screwball comedies based on this.

A perusal of the preliminary guest line-up for this April's Chiller Theater reveals such yumminess as Toni Koehler, Musetta Vander, and one of my all-time favorites Caroline Munro. Also, the subject of my first boyhood crush Pamelyn Ferdin will be in attendance. I fully embrace my TV geekiness when I say she was my favorite Edna on The Odd Couple.

Sunday, March 2
As I flip the calendar over to March, I gaze in horror at the fact that the next two weeks brings regional shows by Link Wray, Idlewild, Dita Von Teese, Project Object, King Crimson, the Kodo drummers, and Sigur Ros. Hopefully, when all that is over, it will be spring.

Recommended Readin':
Robert L. Park shares with us the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science. More of this vilest of commodities can be scrutinized over at JunkScience.com and in James Randi's weekly column.
C. Bradley Thompson files a brief-but-scary report from the recent annual meeting of the American Historical Association discussing what children should be taught in school. 
At Extropy.org, Amara Graps puts forth the intriquing proposal that what Transhumanists need are mythologies.
There is a neat interview with Cory Doctorow  at O'Reillynet.

I always wondered what happened to the Screaming Blue Messiahs.

Saturday, March 1
Stupidity is apparently curable. Everybody dance. The rather obvious problem is exactly how the afflicted parties would know they need treatment. Also, what would happen if you were not stupid and received treated? Hmmmm...

Warren Ellis has linked to a neat site about a subject that is near and dear to me: Warplane Nose Art.

Scifi.com's Web Guide has a couple new posts. First there is Killer Clip Art from Outer Space, which I will be raiding for this site soon. Secondly, the freaky Interactive Alice in Wonderland Adventure is a fun way to kill time.

And speaking of freaky, Carol Channing is getting married at the age of 82. That vibration you're feeling is the collective shudder of millions of men thinking about this very disturbing fact.

Friday, February 28
The increasingly-irrelevant Phil Donahue has been cancelled.

New World Disorder reports that now the Raelians claim to have built an artificial womb, in which to gestate their clones. I am just happy that this story wasn't picked up and sensationalized by the big news outlets. The less attention we pay to these nozzleheads the sooner they will go away.

Philip Shropshire has discovered a very nice bi-lingual Alan Moore fan site.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA.

It appears that CMJ, once thought to be the bastion of independant music, has been playing dirty with college playlists. They have condemned the big labels and commercial stations for this practice in the past.
And if I didn't have enough reason to detest radio: Polyphonic HMI has developed an artificial intelligence application that helps music labels determine the hit potential of music prior to its release. Such potential "can be found in the mathematical properties of the music and which mathematical patterns produce certain feelings and reactions to what we hear."
I'm convinced that when the artificial intelligences, robots, and our other mechanized creations finally rise up to destroy us, if will be because of bad music.

Screw Mars, Alan Stern wants to go to Pluto.

Thursday, February 27
Who needs Atlantis? Apparently ancient Iraqis may have invented batteries.

James McLurkin goes and creates a swarm of small, autonomous, and probably evil robots, and MIT gives him $30,000! What is wrong with these people? The phrase "a swarm of robots" can only bring badness to our lives.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put up a cool interactive site for their exhibit Leonardo: Master Draftsman.

Reasonably Clever.com has posted an all-Lego tarot card set.

Both Pioneer 10 and Fred Rogers played roles in my formative years. I spent a big part of the summer of 1972 charting Pioneer 10's progress on a National Geographic map of the solar system, imagining what strange things it would encounter. No wonder the Land of Make Believe, with it's museum-go-round and a miniature trolley that everyone could understand held such fascination for me.

Some revamped music sites: Goth minstrel Voltaire has got a spiffy new site to cover his music and animation, while the prog ensemble Spock's Beard has redesigned their webpage.

It is one thing when the Government's clamp down on liberty leads to raids on online head shops, but now model rocketry is in jeopardy.

Sunday night at 8 PM there will be an moderated online chat called The Moral Philosophy of Physical Immortality. It will discuss the ethical basis for proceeding with medical research into extending human lifespans, and define why striving for immortality is a noble goal.
I won't be there. I'll be watching the season premiere of Six Feet Under.

Wednesday, February 26
Sexy Retrofuture Stuff: In Philadelphia there is an exhibition of the deco- topian art of A.C. Radebaugh, including his comic strip Closer Than You Think.
Artist Frank Wu has a big gallery of Frank R. Paul's vintage science fiction art on his site.
Dr Andrew Wood has published a neat scholarly essay about William Gibson's The Gernsback Continuum.
I have found several stories about an upcoming production called The World of Tommorow starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. What little info exists on this sounds cool, with one rather confusing exception: I keep seeing it described as "retro sci-fi in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark," and I am a tad uncertain what that means. Raiders hardly resides in that vein, or even in the same cardio- pulminary universe.
Regardless, I hope that a high profile film like this expedites the release of Man Conquers Space.

I was bummed when Mark Waid departed as writer on Crossgen's Ruse, but I am very pleased that DC is resuming publication of Empire, the book he did with with Barry Kitson. It was originally published by Gorilla Comics, which folded after two issues were released.

Actor Pete Schrum, who had bit parts in a lot of science fiction and horror films, has died.  

Tuesday, February 25
"Pope John Paul II described sarcasm as a modern form of martyrdom."
I am hoping that someone far more versed and knowlegable in Catholic canon law will please read this and explain it to me.

Julian Sanchez, writer for the Cato Institute and columnist for Laissez Faire Books, not to mention a snazzy dresser, has posted an interesting little piece on Libertarianism and Feminism.

Science Fiction Hardware: An Israeli aeronautics company plans to make a spy plane that's no bigger than a credit card. I personally think it would be far more interesting to release a bunch of these at a wedding than a flock of doves. They could fly in formation, sky-write the couple's names above the church, update traffic conditions en route to the reception, and end up as centerpiece souveniers.

Monday, February 24
If you have nothing better to do, and twiddling your thumbs just doesn't hold the charm it once did, Roy Rivenburg would like to tell you why boredom is bad.

Cybercinema is a well-researched site that tackles the history of computers and artificial intelligence in movies. With frightening computer-centered doomsday scenarios at an all-time high, Simon Smith suggests some steps to avoid a future where we bow to our synthetic masters.

Nick Gillespie of Reason analyzes Marvel Comics ascendancy in pop culture.

I am very curious how Genndy Tartakovsky, who has mastered the art of intense, no-bullshit, low-dialogue, no-great-backstory, (and most importantly) fun story telling on the wonderful Samurai Jack cartoon will handle the sophmoric and ponderous Star Wars universe. I like the fact that these cartoons are going to be three-minutes long, as any three minutes of the first Star Wars film were more enjoyable than the entirety of the last two. Stripping the "mythos" down to low-fi action volleys the length of the average pop song should be a wonderful thing. By the way, "mythos" is in quotes because in my book if it's a licensed property, you shouldn't get to use that word.

Sunday, February 23
All of this badness in the news has kept me from trolling too deeply on the web. However one thought keeps nagging at me: In their carnivorous search for tie- in stories to the Warwick RI fire, the media stumbled upon a similar fire in Minneapolis earlier in the week. The pyrotechnics in that instance were set off by The Jet City Fix, currently touring with Link Wray. The main difference was that nobody died or was injured in that blaze, even though the club was totaled, so it wasn't deemed especially newsworthy.
I know that hindsight is 20/20, but if that fire had been pumped up by the media, with all the ancillary talk of fire exits and safety precautions, do you think the Warwick incident might not have been as severe? Would raised awareness of fire hazards and orderly use of marked exits have saved lives?
The problem with the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality of the news media is that stories with relatively happy endings, at least where no one is killed, get buried even though there is a lot of beneficial information to be learned by them. The philosophy that only the tragic and unspeakably horrible are worth repeating and rehashing ad nauseum is obscene.

Comic Stuff: DC Comics has posted an online preview of the upcoming Warren Ellis/Colleen Doran graphic novel Orbiter. Pop Image previews Anarchy for the Masses: The Disinformation Guide to The Invisibles. John Byrne speaks out about the problem of "people who talk as if they know what they are talking about, when in fact they do not" in fandom over at Slush Factory.

If you miss the over-the-top psycho-babble of those old, psychotic, pre-Vertigo 80's comics, read the strange essay Ethical Love by (get this) Avatar Polymorph.

Word has come down of a plan to release a Captian Scarlet video game.

Better Humans has a story concerning the recent findings that there is no real valid argument against the use of euthanasia.

Friday, February 21
Assorted Items: I was completely unaware that one needed a licence in order to tell fortunes or read the future in the Boston area.
Neal Pollock at The Stranger wishes writers would stop giving their opinion about going to war.
There's an electrode-studded thinking cap in your future.
Both Comics Continuum and Ain't It Cool News have stories on the Cartoon Network's rollout plans for the year. Looks like Justice League is pulling a Soprano's strategy and not coming back until the fall.

There are some neat monsters in the new McFarlane toys catalog, but what really caught my eye was the Twisted World of Oz section.

Thursday, February 20
SciFi.com has (thankfully) received a much-needed facelift. It now loads much quicker and is easier to navigate. None of the content has really changed, which is good. 
While I was browsing I discovered the Web Guide has a link to a really impressive site called Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions. This site compares the relative size of ships, habitats, monsters, and other phenomena from shows, movies and cartoons, in progressive magnitudes from big to bigger to biggest. The coolest feature is that you can drag items to compare them. This is an engineer- geek's dream site.

Recommended Readin':
Nicholas Carroll discusses the inherent problems of establishing, and then maintaining, an online reputation in the latest Mindjack.
The story of the increasing number of doctors' strikes protesting malpractice rates is updated by Robert Tracinski.
John Brockman mulls over the intellectual future of humanism at Edge.org, and has included many reader responses.
Vadim Prokhorov tells us an interesting tale of how the way was cleared for an American symphony to perform Soviet cold-war propaganda music. You have to love the timing of this.
Both Christopher Hitchens and Arrianna Huffington chime in on this past week's anti-war protests.

It's been too long since I sang the praises of Retrocrush. Recent yumminess over there includes galleries of Salma Hayek and Raquel Welch, not to mention a downright heroic and noble attempt to answer the ancient question who is hotter: Jeannie or Samantha? "P'shaw!" say philosophers, "Some things are unknowable!"

Wednesday, February 19
Paul Graham ponders the issue of "why nerds are unpopular." It may have to do with the fact that we get excited over odd things, like the Lovecraftian news of a comet returning to local space after 37,000 years. Perhaps it's the way we can come up with a dozen filthy uses for this unnerving computer peripheral. All I know is that when I look at this cool picture of the Eagle nebula (courtesy of Astronomy Picture of the Day) and spend several minutes deciding whether it looks more like the hand-over-earth logo from War of the Worlds: The Series or the giant cosmic hand at the beginning of the DC Universe, I realize such unpopularity is well- deserved. Sigh.

For some unknown and unexplained reason, I've developed a hankerin' for a bottle of Flirt Vodka.

Faerie-monger Brian Froud, designer of the unearthly beasties in The Dark Crystal, is expanding his empire to include action figures and CDs. This guy is overdue for some movie work. Speaking of faeries, I am hoping that someone can define for me the exact target audience for these mischeivous androgenous abominations.

And If you, like myself, dig those streamlined futures of days past, you'll be pleased to know that the Taschen Books has put out a volume on the subject by the name Future Perfect.

Tuesday, February 18
Big steam-driven thanks to D. L. MacKenzie at The Secret Journals of Phineas J. Magnetron for linking to me.

How cool is this DC Direct Kingdom Come Captain Marvel figure?

Other Comic Stuff: Art Bomb has a brief review of one of my favorite recent graphic novels, Mark Rickett's beat-noir mystery Nowhereville. Slush Factory has a gallery of John Byrne's nifty 3D rendering skills. Very pretty, but I wish he'd focus a little more on his writing skills.

In true science fiction tradition scientists have built a gravity wave detector to detect "ripples in spacetime" caused by supernovae and black holes. It was also announced that a completely artificial heart (like the ones implanted in Tony Stark and Jean-Luc Picard) will be available by 2005.

Monday, February 17
Brain Food: Bruce Sterling has found a sweet little british news site called Infobreakfast. If your gray matter requires something more substantial, try this Globe Technology article on the linguistic rammifications of text messaging, or George Dvorsky's look at our cybernetic future.