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Open letter to Joe (the weblog vacuums all content):
Dear Joe,*see also Joe Sacco's graphic novel/documentary Safe Area Gorazde
I missed the vertexList opening--were you here?
Finished the 2nd Vernor Vinge book [A Deepness in the Sky]. I liked it better I think [than A Fire Upon the Deep]. It seemed more grounded in realistic physics, as opposed to zipping hither and thither through some new kind of spacetime.
Vinge's very influenced by Larry Niven (and Niven & Pournelle). Niven's (early) Known Space books and N&P's Mote in God's Eye are recommended if you haven't read them.
I like "innovation in the face of scarce resources" stories (Jean de Florette is one of my favorite movies*). In this one, the grinding wait followed by very rapid action--that's probably how it would be in space.
Another thing I really liked was that the fairy story quality of the stuff that happened among the aliens was explained as something filtered through the translator's memories and attempts to find correlations for human readers/hearers. That meta level was missing from the first book.
You may have read about the bust at Kim's video recently. Apparently our old friend RIAA, the music copyright KGB, was behind the raid, because Kim's was selling....(prepare to be shocked and horrified to the depths of your soul)...mixtapes! (or CDs, whatever). From the MTV story:
The raid is just the latest offensive [excellent word choice] in the RIAA's battle against the growing trend of pirated music sales through small, established businesses. While traditional physical goods or "commercial" piracy previously required large and expensive facilities to produce massive numbers of illegal tapes and CDs, some retailers now possess the potential to yield lucrative returns with only a minimal investment of space and capital, Buckles said.Teenagers, grandmothers, corner video stores... The bravery and ultimate value to society of this organization can not be overstated. And to New York's finest, who helped them shake down, I mean deter, a local business: way to fight crime!
According to the RIAA's Web site, because several retailers — including the owners of convenience stores, liquor stores or corner markets — are attempting "to make a quick buck by reselling illegal CDs, or, in some cases, manufacturing counterfeit CDs themselves," [and because, frankly, they're easy to catch and intimidate] the RIAA has adopted an "aggressive 'zero tolerance' approach to retailers engaged in this activity."
A similar raid late last month in the Albany, Schenectady and Troy areas of Upstate New York resulted in 11 arrests, the seizure of 3,400 illicit CD-Rs and more than $54,000.
"Dude, You Rule" [mp3 removed]. Fortunately I have RIAA protecting me so you will never hear this on a mixtape. Oh, I don't, because I'm too "small"? Well, God bless them anyway for their efforts to stamp out creativity, I mean "piracy."
The New York Times slips the Downing Street Memo into its back pages in the form of a Frank Rich column. I don't really like him--his way of massaging the week's news into a single jocular story line is clever but ultimately toothless. If the column had any meaning, the Times would fire Judith Miller, the reporter who printed the WMD lies from the Iraqi exiles, fire the editors who approved her stories, and go front-page aggressive with Downing Street and other hard evidence that Bush committed impeachable offenses. I mean, the President's not popular any more, his numbers are the 40s, so what's to lose? Anyway, here's an excerpt from Rich's "tough" column. Nice to read, but big whoop.
The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including the Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar WMD hype [uh, how about "spoonfeeding its prewar hype to the public"?], new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 "Downing Street memo," the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix "the intelligence and facts" to justify the war in Iraq, was published by the London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.Yeah, well, you ought to know. Actually Rich isn't a lapdog, more like a court jester. It should also be said that the MSB (mainstream bloggers like Atrios, Gilliard, and the ever-boring Kevin Drum) also passed on giving the Downing Street Memo big play. I think it's different from the Clarke revelations, et al, because no one has a bone to pick or a book to sell. It simply states the facts from that time period.
This is the kind of lapdog news media the Nixon White House cherished.
wormy animation - pencil test 2. still a few kinks to work out, but getting there. yes, it looks fuzzy in safari enlarged like this--the designers of that product never anticipated that a sharply pixelated look might be considered good.
Chris Ashley, GIF of excellent HTML piece removed from website in January 2005
Frank Q. Jones, Drawers, .GIF image
Frank Q. Jones, Mic, .GIF image
Paper Rad, image from Foxy Production online exhibition announcement last year.
Frank Q. Jones, Lifescan, GIF image. According to this web page, a show of this and other striking images listed on the page is being held this month at Woods Memorial Library, Barre, MA. No idea how they are presented--printed and hanging on the wall, on a computer screen, or what. Guess I need to email and find out. (via Cory A.) (Update:They're printed out.)
The Best Movies I've Seen This Year
Napoleon Dynamite (just catching up to this on DVD). In this movie set in what looks like a remote exurb of Denver, everyone seems to have a mild case of autism. Especially the eponymous teenaged hero, who has a weird and thoroughly convincing way of turning his head to one side and saying "Gosh!" (or "Uggh!", or "Idiot!") whenever something happens he doesn't like. His brother Kip, a bespectacled, epicine man in his 30s who sits on the couch a lot, is similarly disengaged from reality--or at least you think so until his chatroom "soul mate," a fantasy femme from the depths of R. Crumb's libido, shows up. Napoleon's best friend Pedro also seems among the walking dead, yet manages to spout good advice about girls fairly regularly. This movie is the good twin of Welcome to the Dollhouse. Just as dark, but with a veneer of wholesomeness that is not ironic, but rather more like the zombie-like state of denial most of us live in. The essential depravity of small town America ca. 2004 appears in occasional lecherous glances by authority figures towards the high school females, a brief but frightening scene inside a factory farm (chickens), and the simple tragedy of characters living in the past or going nowhere. But everything is kept light and funny. One has to fill in the blanks of the backward-looking, wised-up urbanity making the movie work.
(Bonus soundbites: Hear Napoleon say "Do the chickens have large talons?" and other lines here.)
The Layer Cake (still in theaters). Violent movie in the scruffy cockney gangster genre along with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, with a generous helping of Sexy Beast providing a slightly wistful, thoughtful mood. Many funny/macabre moments, and Michael Gambon never better as an aging criminal who's reached the upper echelons of respectable society but still talks like a stevedore when it suits him. He is ultra-cool. I liked the contrast between the lowlife, pill-pushing arena--especially disturbing was the bloodless efficiency of the ecstasy factory, with its Serbian assassin-for-hire a phone call away--and the "legitimate" capitalist world of exclusive country clubs, high rise developments, and book-filled libraries. These are not Tony Montanas flaunting their new wealth with 80s disco tackiness and a chained tiger by the pool, but smoothies who know how to eat, drink and decorate.