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Thursday, May 31, 2001

explicit discouragement
Why I am a Bad Correspondent by Neal Stephenson : A perfectly reasonable document that tries to explain why he is not very diligent about answering his mail, and why he doesn't accept speaking engagements. He gives a summary:
"I am not a recluse or a misanthrope or a grouch. I simply cannot respond to all incoming stimuli unless I retire from writing novels. And I don't wish to retire at this time."
I found the document at Stephenson's webpage, which is, in itself, a plea for people to leave him alone so that he may write his next novel. He cites the quote "We live in an age of continuous partial attention." and goes on to explain that writing novels is one of those activities that requires ALL one's attention. I find the idea of "continuous partial attention" to be a fascinating one, as it is something I try to avoid whenever possible. There is a certain attitude in our culture that expects us to be able to do everything at once and be happy about it. Personally, I would rather do one thing really well than do many things averagely. So I can see where Mr. Stephenson is coming from, I recognize it as a completely reasonable request and I am determined to do my part in helping him achieve his goal. That is to say, I am going to do nothing.

Nothing except link to The Big U, Stephenson's first novel, self described as: a first novel written in a hurry by a young man a long time ago. Which basically means its not that good. I only mention it because its reproduced there in its entirety, and, until recently, its a hard book to find.
Posted by Mark on May 31, 2001 at 01:01 PM .: link :.


The Weakest Links
No. I would never, ever do such a thing. Trust in me, loyal patrons (all 3 of you). Rest assured, this post has nothing to do with the annoying gameshow of the same title. It has to do with links and usability. Apparently, someone thought up 23 ways to weaken Web site links, from the obvious (broken, wrong) to the subtle (miscolored, unexpected) to the unfairly accused (embedded, wrapped). Its an interesting read, though its funny to note that weblogging, by its very nature, seems to break some of these rules. Especially those pesky memepoolers! [via webmutant]
Posted by Mark on May 31, 2001 at 12:03 AM .: link :.



Friday, May 25, 2001

Incendiary Moviemakers
Interview with Oliver Stone and Darren Aronofsky: Its interesting to note the dynamic between the older veteran filmmaker and the fresh-faced, spunky young director. I've never been much of a fan of Stone (especially his newer works), but its clear that Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) looks up to him. I didn't get the feeling that Stone had actually seen any of Aronofsky's films, which I thought was kinda funny (though its probably not true). I saw Requiem for a Dream the other night; its probably the best flick of last year. I'm now looking into therapy though. Very brutal movie. Stylistically brilliant, Aronofsky pulls just about every punch in the cinematic book, and it works.

I'm looking forward to his upcoming projects too. Originally, he was going to work on a WWII haunted submarine movie called Proteus that was going to revolutionize the horror genre (he said this film would be the scariest film you've seen in the last ten years), but he chose to do Requiem instead and handed the script over to David Twohy (director of Pitch Black and The Arrival). Twohy renamed the movie Below and is reportedly retooling the script, which (for me) is bad news. I really would have liked seeing what Aronofsky would have done with it. Next up is Batman: Year One. Aronofsky is working with Frank Miller on a script, and if Warner Brothers likes it, he might also be directing. Don't hold your breath though. Then there is this Untitled Aronofsky science fiction project that he keeps mentioning in interviews and talks, but refuses to give any details about... this is apparently the next thing we'll see from him. He said the movie, which he co-wrote with his old roommate, would be huge in scope, and "freaky." I can't wait.
Posted by Mark on May 25, 2001 at 01:46 PM .: link :.



Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Disturbing Search Requests
Going through my referrer logs the other day, I came across a few oddities. Apparently someone was "desperate to urinate" and they thought google could help out. The freaky thing is that the end of the referral string had "start=70", which, in Googlespeak, means the link to kaedrin was on the 8th page of results! The page found by this desperate fellow was none other than The Rebel Fire Alarms (kaedrin's very first Tandem Story) and there is indeed a scene in which a character is desperate to urinate. But wait! There's more to this insanity. It seems that The Rebel Fire Alarms has the ability to attract other wierdos searching for things like: "alcohol effects on the human body," "forced licking images" and, my personal favourite, "harem sex slave images" (apparently kaedrin is in the top ten for that search). More Disturbing Search Requests.
Posted by Mark on May 23, 2001 at 12:37 PM .: link :.



Monday, May 21, 2001

Requiem for a Blog
The first blog I ever stumbled upon was dack.com, "the 2� of Dack Ragus, a guy living in Minneapolis, MN (USA) who likes to golf, cocktail, and watch movies ... in that order." I truly enjoyed reading Dack's pragmatic, cynical posts on any of his varied topics, even if I happened to disagree with his sometimes severe opinions. His Flash is Evil article and people's reactions to it are priceless. His movie reviews are sarcastic and biting, and it works. It was through Dack that I cought on to the whole weblog culture, and for that, I owe him a lot of thanks. Sadly, Dack has decided to move on:
"...what I really want to do is make computers, and specifically the Web, a much smaller part of my life.

"Sure, a new article or web movie might be added every once in a great while, but the weblog � that 315 pixel-wide space with the too-small type � is off the air."
And that's the way it is. You will be missed Dack.
Posted by Mark on May 21, 2001 at 12:12 PM .: link :.


Bending Time and Space with Light
Time twister: New Scientist reports that a professor of theoretical physics, Ronald Mallett, thinks he has found a practical way to make a time machine. Unlike other "time travel" solutions, such as wormholes, Mallett's solution relies heavily on light, a much more down to earth ingredient when compared to the "negative energy" matter used to open wormholes. Even though light doesn't have mass, it does have the quirky ability to bend space-time. Last year, Mallett published a paper describing how a circulating beam of laser light would create a vortex in space within its circle (Physics Letters A, vol 269, p 214).
To twist time into a loop, Mallett worked out that he would have to add a second light beam, circulating in the opposite direction. Then if you increase the intensity of the light enough, space and time swap roles: inside the circulating light beam, time runs round and round, while what to an outsider looks like time becomes like an ordinary dimension of space.
The energy needed to twist time into a loop is enormous, but Mallet saw that the effect of circulating light depends on its velocity: the slower the light, the stronger the distortion in space-time. Light gains inertia as it is slowed down, so "Increasing its inertia increases its energy, and this increases the effect," Mallett says. There is still a lot of work to do to make this process a reality, and it probably won't happen for some "time", but the concept of plausible time travel in our time is intriguing, if only because of the moral and paradoxical issues it raises. The most famous paradox, of course, is going back in time to kill your grandparents, effectively negating your very own existence - but then you wouldn't be able to go back in time, would you? My favourite solution to said paradoxes is the Terminator or Bill and Ted version of time travel in which what you've done in the past has already influenced your present (and future). [via ArsTechnica]
Posted by Mark on May 21, 2001 at 09:35 AM .: link :.



Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Lateralus
Today marks the release of Tool's long awaited new album, Lateralus. DyRE was lucky enough to catch KROQ playing the album in its entirety, two days before its release. He recorded his thoughts during the playing. Apparently, it rocks ("fuck yeah!"). DyRE also posted a weblog entry with an awfully cool interview with Maynard and Danny Carey (I was especially pleased to see Mike Patton as a "related artist" at the bottom of said interview). All of this craziness has inspired me to embark on a perilous quest for the new album during mine lunch break. I can only hope that my co-workers understand when I start trashing my cube because the album rocks so much...
Posted by Mark on May 15, 2001 at 08:36 AM .: link :.



Monday, May 14, 2001

Chick Football
Football gets in touch with its feminine side: The Philadelphia Liberty Belles are one of 10 charter members of the National Women's Football League. The 45-woman team, which plays on high school fields and travels by bus, has romped over its first three opponents in an eight-game schedule that runs from April to June. The players buy their own uniforms, pay their own insurance, and raise money with car washes. And they don't earn a cent, despite their ass kicking performace. So far the Belles have schlacked three opponents by a combined score of 106-6. I've never seen them play, but I imagine it being quite an entertaining experience; not just because its women, but because they're genuinely in love with the game of football. Some day, when and if they become profitable, the league might lose that quality, so I hope to catch a game soon...
Posted by Mark on May 14, 2001 at 08:53 AM .: link :.



Thursday, May 10, 2001

Hope and Gory
Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) writes about the Olympic wrestling trials. Amateur wrestling, not WWF or any of its ilk. The article for the most part gets it right. I was a wrestler. I have cauliflower ear. I cut too much wieght. I've walked off the mat and puked in a trash can. I broke my thumb once. I had ringworm. I did it all. And I wasn't even that good. So why did I do it? For the life of me, I really can't nail down a solid answer to that question, yet I know that if I could do it again, I would. Palahniuk focuses mostly on the physical pains of wrestling, but there's more to the sport than pain. Pain is a part of it, and its not a bad thing either (and Palahniuk does a good job describing this), but theres a lot of technique, elegance, and beauty in the sport as well. Sometimes it just takes a wrestler to recognize it when its happening. Which, I suppose, is why the sport has such a wierd reputation...
Posted by Mark on May 10, 2001 at 02:04 PM .: link :.



Monday, May 07, 2001

Newspeak
One of George Orwell's most interesting essays is Politics and the English Language. His insight into the use and abuse of language is astounding, especially in his argument that the abuse of language is a necessary part of oppressive politics. Furthermore, Orwell does not just equip us to detect this corruption of language, he actually suggests how writers can fight back (giving simple rules for honest and effective political writing). Who knows, maybe the business perversions of the english language and dot-com communism actually did have a lot to do with the internet's collapse....
Posted by Mark on May 07, 2001 at 01:38 PM .: link :.



Friday, May 04, 2001

The sky is falling
Its been falling for quite some time now, and some think it won't stop until the internet is dead. Why did it fall, and why does it continue to fall? Could it be the numerous business perversions of the english language? Perhaps dot-com communism is to blame. Its more likely, though, that this industry fallout is indicative of simple growing pains:
"What is happening now happens with every new explosion of technology. When the sky has finished falling, it will leave behind an industry with far fewer, but much healthier players. And then things will get better than they ever were."
Automobiles, television, and video games all underwant similar pains in their infancy, then grew beyond control. Soon enough, we will find that the internet is growing vigorously, even if we have to pay for some things we used to get for free... [via evhead, arts & letters]
Posted by Mark on May 04, 2001 at 02:40 PM .: link :.



Tuesday, May 01, 2001

The Earthquake Rose
Earthquakes are generally considered to be nasty, rather destructive events, but after a recent earthquake in Seattle, someone noticed some interesting patterns produced by a sand tracing pendulum (or Foucault Pendulum). The entire pattern resembles an eye (some say Poseidon's eye, for the god of the sea is also the god of earthquakes), but the pupil of said eye, the part of the pattern created by the earthquake, looks very much like a rose (and thus, it is called an Earthquake Rose). It is really quite pretty, and it's fascinating that "such a massive and very destructive release of energy can also contain such delicate artistry within its chaos." [found somewhere I don't remember the name of].
Posted by Mark on May 01, 2001 at 12:22 PM .: link :.



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