Friday, August 27, 2004
Read + weep: this piece on the Reg argues that the Internet is terminally polluted by malware. I believe him: I recently took in my home PC to have it scanned by the alpha geeks in our IT dept. It had been running kinda sluggish of late - not surprising given the boys found 250+ items of spyware and assorted malware parked on the hard disk.
Another list to enjoy: this time of seven - Mickey Hart's favourite 7 CDs of word music:
- Freedom Chants from the Roof of the World, The Gyutu Monks. Imagine a single human voice sustaioning up to three notes simultaneously. That's the sonic miracle of the Gyutu monks, recorded when they came from Tibet to America to chant for the freedom of their country and oppressed people word-wide.
- Drums of Passion, Babatunde Olatunji. A magical session of West African trance music by a Nigerian drummer.
- Sarangi, The Music of India, Ustad Sultan Khan. An informal performance in California by one of India's greatest musicians.
- Honor the Earth Powwow: Songs of the Great Lakes Indians. The Ojibwa, Menominee, and Winnebago perform a powwow deep in the Wisconsin forest.
- The Music of Upper and Lower Egypt. Six works recorded by Hart in Aswan and Alexandria round the time the Grateful Dead did a gig at the Pyramids.
- Voices of the Rainforest. Field recordist Steven Feld weaves a 24-hour cycle of primal sounds by the Kaluli people of New Guines into 60 essential minutes.
- Mbutu Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest. Often singing in rounds and accompanied by hand-made flutes, these voices will carry you to places unknown.
You can hear sound clips of these recordings here.
Ye'll need RealPlayer though, the WMP links don't work
Thursday, August 26, 2004
So what do you think are the top ten best SF movies of all time??
Well, here's what the Guardian readers think anyway ...
- Blade Runner
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Star Wars / Empire Strikes Back (2 movies, shurely? ed)
- Terminator / T2 Judgement Day (2 movies, shurely? ed)
- The Day the Earth Stood Still
- War of the Worlds
- The Matrix
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Lists are by nature contentious, but the absence of The Abyss, Soylent Green, and any Star Trek (what about The One with the Whales?) deserves comment.
And the top ten SF writers (from the same readership)?
- Isaac Asimov
- John Wyndham
- Fred Hoyle
- H.G. Wells
- Philip K. Dick
- Ursula K. Le Guin
- Arthur C. Clarke
- Ray Bradbury
- Frank Herbert
- Stanislaw Lem
Well it is a Guardian list, so the heavy preponderance of British writers hardly comes as a surprise. More than a whiff of pipe and tweed jacket with suede elbow patches off this one.
Wake up and smell the coffee guys: two modern writers that richly deserve inclusion - William Gibson and Neal Stephensen, who dragged SF kicking and screaming into the current century.
And for those who like their SciFi in Classic format, what about Robert A Heinlein (who was the first writer to earn a living from SF, and whose Stranger in a Strange Land was the first SF novel to make the best-seller lists)? Not to mention Eric Frank Russell and Frederick Pohl? Or the *founder* of SF (Arthur Conan Doyle, author of The Lost World, take a bow, sir).
Check out this interesting story on how Dev persuaded Irish patriots to underwrite the formation of the Irish Press. No flies on the Long Fellow ...
Hat-tip to North Atlantic Skyline for this one.
Tuesday, August 23, 2004
Good interview here with Neal Stephensen, with some thoughts on the blurry boundaries between SF and historical novel, and general musings. I liked his observation on e-mail: "Clearly the people who originated the technology never in their wildest dreams could have imagined that everyone on Earth who has e-mail would get 30 penis enlargement advertisements a day."
Monday, August 20, 2004
Arbitrary systems can be defined as systems about which nothing much can be said in general, except that nothing much can be said about them in general.
Canada is cool! Yep, thought that would get your attention :)
When I went sailing with my uncle on Lake Ontario back in the Seventies, I learnt small boat handling real fast. The reason was: if you went in the water, you would have hypothermia in 20 minutes and would need helicopter rescue fast. So you didn't tip the boat - or else.
The reason: Lake Ontario freezes up in winter to a distance of several miles from the shore. It never warms up much above zero: even in the blazing 30 C Canada summer. Going out on the lake on a sweltry day was bliss: instant air-conditioning. And coming back was equally nice: after chilling (literally) on the lake for a few hours, the wave of warm humid air hit you about 50 yards from the shore and warmed your cold bones. Then we took down the sails and went and had a burger and coke at the Satellite ...
So what's the deal? Just the other day, Toronto switched on a new water-cooling system, which in summer time pumps water from the lake through a heat transfer system that runs *cold* radiators in all the skyscrapers (the water itself is passed on into the water municipal system having been warmed up somewhat from the -4 C it lived at on the bottom of Lake Ontario). The cooling system saves heaps of money on air-conditioning, and even more importantly, prevents 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere each year.
It reminds me of the time the Torontonians built a 'scaper which had gold windows - appropriately enough for a bank. The solid ingot on the skyline got up some peoples noses - worship of Mammon and all that - until it was pointed out (no doubt by a bland Canadian accountant) that the gold in the glass (several tons of it as I recall) saved enough money in air-conditioning to, um, amortise itself in less than three years.
Got to love this list of book review cliches by Tom Paine. Completely unputdownable, this laughoutloud rollercoaster is a rattling good read. A heady mix of high-octane editorial chutzpah and bellyaching cliche, the panoramic sweep of penetrating insights will appeal to the serious scholar and the general reader alike. Hat-tip, Mark.
Wednesday, August 16, 2004
After a delay of pan-galactic proportions the first three Star Wars movies (imho the only ones worth eyeball time) are finally about to hit DVD.
Tuesday, August 16, 2004
Spotted by Mark in Malmo, here's a good list of the top 100 SF books. Check out how many you've read - I just counted 23, so there's plenty life left in the old genre.
Here's a thought-provoking interview with John Perry Barlow, a leading figure in the alternative software culture (he's a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) - and also wears other interesting hats such as farming a ranch in Wyoming, and working as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus) also participates.
Just banged off another missive to the Times there yesterday, and it was in today. It went as follows:
Madam, - We must all congratulate Charlie McCreevy on his elevation to the role of Commissioner for Internal Market and Services in the new European Commission (The Irish Times, August 13th).
As the former finance minister of a country that for years has responded to many EU market reforms designed to reduce trade barriers by systematically derogating, long-fingering, failing to comply and generally wriggling out for as long as possible - the car trade, insurance, and personal financial services to name but three areas - Mr McCreevy has ample experience of the tactics used by countries with an à la carte approach to the application of free trade principles.
No doubt the former poacher will make an effective gamekeeper. - Yours, etc.,
Monday, August 15, 2004
Just back from a magical weekend in Sligo. Standouts: watching a pod of dolphins cavort in the silvery twilight off Strandhill Beach; fine seafood with a fabulous view at The Venue; a real old style session in a Sligo pub; swimming with Ais at Streedagh and "surfing" six inch waves; a great meal with friends, wine and Basque fish parcels; a visit to Sligo's excellent new arts venue - state-of-the-art gallery in former secondary school: Jack B. Yeats Sligo collection gets a worthy home, and some very interesting work by a visiting African artist.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
ISM for the day:
Fondness for conspiracy theories.
ORIGIN: The “grassy knoll” lay near the route of John F. Kennedy’s ill-fated motorcade through Dallas, Texas.
BACKGROUND: Conspiracy theories have disputed the proposition that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone, crazed killer: instead, a cabal of insiders plotted the assassination, using multiple gunmen to ensure reliability. The grassy knoll was much touted as the location of one of the backup killers.
Not meaning to simply ghost BoingBoing today, but this selection of vintage ads for modern products is unmissable.
Blogging meets H.P. Lovecraft. This pastiche is wildly funny for anyone who knows both of these "mythos", and plain incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't. All I have to say about it is ""I'a I'a Cthulhu fhtagn". Thanks, BoingBoing!
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
ISM for the Day
PREJUDICE: Discrimination against a person because of their accent or the sound of their voice.
ORIGIN: Neologism. Latin, vox, voice.
BACKGROUND: At first glance, voicism may seem like another ripple in the rising tide of political correctness, but most people – if pressed – would have to admit that there are accents and modes of speech that grate on them. Voice is one of the indicators that enable us to classify people according to age, race and class, and can act as a powerful trigger on any prejudices we have in these areas.
The Perseids are on the way, on Thursday and Friday nights this week. Should be good with no full moon to dim their glory.
Monday, August 9, 2004
ISM for the Day
TRAIT: Concealed admiration for something that is universally condemned.
BACKGROUND: Spotted in an article on violence in GAA games (Irish sports such as Gaelic football, hurling and camogie), the term captures a widespread form of hypocrisy. The writer identifies a common human trait - in this case, public cluck-clucking in disapproval of "the game being brought into disrepute" accompanied by silent admiration for the hard men who "sort out" their opponents. The soccer player, Roy Keane, has also been associated with these sentiments. And on a much grander scale, outfits such as Al Qaeda, the IRA, or the Abu Ghraib prison staff are held in sneaking regard by an unknown - but undoubtedly large - number of people.
New creatures discovered by an expedition to the North Atlantic Ridge.
Friday, August 6, 2004
Bushism for the day, from the Irish Times.
The latest installment of misspeak from the president came during a signing ceremony for a new $417 billion defence appropriations bill that includes $25 billion in emergency funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we," Mr Bush said. - (Reuters)
Thursday, August 5, 2004
Au revoir, Henri Cartier-Bresson.
In the tire tracks of Keruoac and Kesey come ... some idiots with Segways. The two-wheeled device is being ridden at 10 mph across the States, complete with support team, spare Segway, piles of batteries, iPods, blogs, texting, yadda yadda yadda. The Reg is quite snippy in its review of this, um, escapade, and the readers are even more vicious. Now ... where are those rednecks with the pickup truck and gunrack from the final scene of Easy Rider when you need them????
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Vibrators banned in Alabama: or should that be Albamanastan? Sweet home, indeed ...
Spotted by Mark in Malmo, this is a great list of animal collective nouns and related words, such as male / female, sound made, and offspring. I particularly liked: a congregation of alligators; a rumpus of baboons; and a charm of goldfinches (though they're not so charming when 30 or so of the colourful chappies are hoovering up some freshly planted lawn seed!).
The sun shone all weekend, and got some great progress in the garden, including a massive soak-away to take care of poor drainage on the front lawn. Starting to see some progress on the water-garden, and the boules court had its first official outing on Monday when C&S joined us for a barbeque after a few bevvies up at the Gap.
There's a good essay here on potential convergence between iPod and mobile phone, and Apple's long-term plan as gatekeeper of DRM content.
posted by A Seeker after Knowledge 7:37 AM