We flatter ourselves that our idols are clever because they are not made out of wood, but silicon
Spengler offers a meandering review of a new English translation of a "20th-century classic" of Hebrew literature, And from There You Shall Seek, by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Isaiah, Goethe and the great god Google figure prominently.
A man came to the caliph claiming to be a prophet, goes a 9th-century joke. "By Allah, you are a stupid prophet!" exclaimed the caliph. "That," the prophet replied, "is why I was sent to people like you." That God might send a stupid prophet to a stupid people is one thing. But what if the prophet were sent by a stupid god?
Ron Moore describes the idea as "a little too cute" but I rather like this alternate ending to Battlestar Galactica.
"Cut to the present-day in Central America where there are these enormous mysterious mounds that archeologists have not been able to understand (it may have been South America, I can't recall the exact location, but these mounds really do exist). Someone is doing a new kind of survey of the mounds with some kind of ground-penetrating radar or something and lo and behold, we see the outlines of the Galactica still buried under the surface."
Janet Daley makes a point that should be obvious to Marxists. A technical term for the mistake is reification - Verdinglichung, actually - i.e. treating a social relationship as if it were a thing.
Those who talk of "overthrowing" capitalism are determined to depict it as a system of government in a precise parallel with socialism, when in reality, capitalism is not a system in the ideological sense.
It is, if anything, an anti-system: the aggregation of human behaviour as it goes about fulfilling particular wants and needs. It can be described in anthropomorphic terms, such as "ruthless" or "benign" but of itself has no motives and no objectives. (Gordon Brown is more than usually fatuous when he insists that markets need to have "values": only people have values, methods of exchange do not.)
We could also usefully deploy the word "irony" except such would be to lend credit the protesters have not earned. Not one in a hundred Marxists has bothered to read Marx let alone attempted to make sense of the gaping pot holes in his logic.
It was a nightmare scenario: A scientist accidentally pricked her finger with a needle used to inject the deadly Ebola virus into lab mice. Within hours, members of a tightly bound, yet far-flung community of virologists, biologists and others were tensely gathered in a trans-Atlantic telephone conference trying to map out a way to save her life.
Less than 24 hours later, an experimental vaccine — never before tried on humans — was on its way to Germany from a lab in Canada.
Ron Howard is set to bring The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft to the silver screen.
Yet another indie graphic novel is headed to the big screen. Image Comics' The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, created by Mac Carter and Jeff Blitz, is being developed for Ron Howard to direct at Universal. The fictionalized tale borrows elements from Lovecraft's life, such as his own bouts with writer's block, and transforms his darkest nightmares into reality when he comes across a book that puts a curse on him and lets the evils he conjures up loose on the world. Universal picked this up because its take on classic horror fits in well with their monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolf Man.
A flea, with legs finer than a human hair, can pull up to 700 times its own weight! A flea can lift up to 60 times its own weight! A flea can jump over 150 times its own height! When we build circuses on Mars, or asteroids one day, then we'll perhaps witness similar dexterity, but for now - consider a humble flea
Former NASA astronaut Thomas Jones, a veteran of three spacewalks before retiring from spaceflying in 2001, thinks the odor could stem from atomic oxygen that clings to spacesuit fabric.
"When you repressurize the airlock and get out of your suit, there is a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell," Jones told SPACE.com, adding that the smell is also similar to burnt gunpowder or the ozone smell of electrical equipment. "It's not noticeable inside the suit. The suit smells like plastic inside."
The smell, he adds, only occurs on a shuttle or the space station after a spacewalk and is unmistakable to astronauts working with the spacesuits and equipment that was used in the vacuum of space.
A recently constructed section of the controversial US-Mexico border fence expansion project crosses previously pristine desert sands at sunrise on March 14, 2009 between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California. The new barrier between the US and Mexico stands 15 feet tall and sits on top of the sand so it can lifted by a machine and repositioned whenever the migrating desert dunes begin to bury it. The almost seven miles of floating fence cost about $6 million per mile to build.
Pro-tip: The Spice must flow. Best take care not to prevent on Worm migration. Also, those suckers are like a vacuum cleaner on lint when it comes to sucking up illegal immigrants so fair dues.
The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is now threatening $11,000 dollar a day fines for linking to sites on its internet blacklist. So much for my escape-to-Australia plan.
The Australian communications regulator says it will fine people who hyperlink to sites on its blacklist, which has been further expanded to include several pages on the anonymous whistleblower site Wikileaks. Wikileaks was added to the blacklist for publishing a leaked document containing Denmark's list of banned websites.
The move by the Australian Communications and Media Authority comes after it threatened the host of online broadband discussion forum Whirlpool last week with a $11,000-a-day fine over a link published in its forum to another page blacklisted by ACMA - an anti-abortion website.
The cynical among you may think posting a suggestive image of Grace Park is a shameless bid for traffic. And you would be right. I can only imagine the raised eyebrows as I link to yet more cheesecake photos of scifi babes; take this generous collection of Battlestar Galactica actresses, for example.
Well, it's dumb and they play it for absurdity laughs, but two of the points are irrefutable
1) Canada wouldn't be able to routinely underfund its military if it weren't so very close to the heart of the American security umbrella; and
2) It's ridiculous that the CF can barely keep its critical trades recruiting and logistics act together long enough to wage war for a decade.
This is, after all,. the second time we have taken an "operational pause" in the past six years. Meanwhile USN and USAF have been flying and fighting in the Gulf since 1991, no operational pause. Of course they are also suffering from a lot of airframe aging, so maybe they should have.
Given my build up to Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Watchmen, Flea-readers might be forgiven for wondering why I have taken this long to comment on success or failure of the project. I think he did a brilliant job, actually, and Snyder's ending - while not canonical and therefore abomination - is actually a more elegant solution to the plot than Moore's own. There is a limit to what any adaptation can accomplish and I believe it is a mistake to nitpick oneself out of enjoying the thing. Not a gripping critique, I realize, and one reason I have taken so long to offer it. But there is a bigger problem.
I am a great admirer of Alan Moore, obviously. Not only for his work as a transformational comics writer but also as an interpreter and popularizer of the work of Aleister Crowley. That said, Moore falls into the same trap as many - perhaps most - intellectuals: simple-minded anti-imperialism coupled with cultural condescension toward the United States.
These views can be as simplistic and ugly as Moore's wrong-headed, crude assessment of American values by way of comment on the American comics industry or they can take a subtler form. Take Moore's appearance on Flea-fav Prisoners of Gravity. Ruminating on Watchmen, Moore poses an hypothetical about how the public would really react to the presence of heroes among them. Would they be grateful for their saviours or would they fear and resent them?
Ask yourself how the free people of the West think about the American military that shields them - particularly since the barbarism of 9/11 - and the question answers itself. It is a shame Moore's attitude reflects the fear and resentment he warned against decades ago. Given the fate of comic book writers in the Dark Ages barbarism on offer as an alternative to what we have got, Moore's anti-Americanism creates an unfortunate subtext to all his work.
Not so for Zack Snyder's Watchmen (small spoiler here). The twin towers of the WTC still dominate New York's skyline in Moore's alternative 1980s. They are not an accident. They are a visual counter-argument to lazy criticism of American civilization; a visual rebuke of the idea it is the best of all possible worlds or nothing.
"This is a huge year for Wolverine as he proves why he's arguably one of the most popular characters in the world," explained Joe Quesada, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief. "He's not just popular with fans but also with artists, as evidenced by how many of today's top comic artists jockey for a chance to draw him. This got us thinking: what if Wolverine had been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years? What great, classic artists would want a crack at drawing a Wolverine cover?"
Vincent van Gogh, C.M. Coolidge, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte and Edward Gorey takes may be found here. I quite like Salvador Dali's effort pictured above.
In an attempt to work out how many editions of The King in Yellow are to be found between the 1895 first edition and my copy published in 1902, I stumbled across a controversy as to quite which edition is the first (I gather there were three 1895 printings). There is a strong case to be made for the Salamander edition, apparently.
There are those who feel that the Neely's Prismatic Library was the first edition (Salamander) and others who feel that the similar edition with the butterfly on the back is the actual first edition.
What is probably the most compelling evidence for which is which is the change in text between the two versions. This text change makes the Salamander version stand alone from the Butterfly version despite the fact that the Butterfly version has thicker, better paper and the feel of a cut paper edition.
Follow the link for details. More about my 1902 edition once I have sorted out the identity of its original owner to my satisfaction...
Mayan carvings of cosmic monsters, hidden in the jungle for 2,000 years
Mud People. Wood People. Then the gods made Flesh People and you know the rest. Or at least so much as can be contained in a gelatinous colloidal suspension, garnered by a limited meat-based sensory apparatus and synthesized by an ideology of children's fairy tales laughingly dressed up as science.
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
Third-placed Alyona Kirsanova, 22, posted photos of herself in a black bikini against a backdrop of giant cooling towers. The women, dubbed “Russia’s nuclear bombshells”, were competing for the prize of an all-expenses-paid holiday in Cuba. The winner was Ekaterina Bulgakova, 25.
Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.
Clay Shirky addresses all too thinkable technological change as newspapers meet the internet and go splat. The underlying logic of the problem - or rather, the underlying logic of denying the problem - is applicable to so much more than paper and ink.
Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.
When reality is labeled unthinkable, it creates a kind of sickness in an industry.
Substitute "country" for "industry" and you have Canada's body politic. And much of the West, for that matter.
Japan joins a growing international fleet of the clueless off the coast of Somalia. The mission: anti-piracy. Which I gather has something to do with providing pirates with directions back to their home ports.
The two destroyers are due to set sail Saturday for the Gulf of Aden from a western Japanese port, the defence ministry said. The ships are expected to arrive in waters near the Suez canal in about three weeks.
I will trade you one flotilla from any navy of the 1920s - armed with 1920s technology - for the entire United Nations task force. This is not an engineering problem. Our grandfathers knew how to deal with pirates.
Let's say you're a defense-company marketing executive. And you want to make a splash at the Indian defense ministry's annual air show. Do you: (a) buy expensive gifts for New Delhi's generals; (b) treat the press to Kingfishers and samosas; (c) produce a Bollywood-esque video featuring bare-midriff girls, flower-draped missiles, and the catch phrase "dinga dinga dee?"
Nelson: “Order the signal, Hardy.”
Hardy: “Aye, aye sir.”
Nelson: “Hold on, that’s not what I dictated to Flags. What’s the meaning of this?”
Hardy: “Sorry sir?”
Nelson (reading aloud): “‘England expects every person to do his or her duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability.’ - What gobbledegook is this?”
Hardy: “Admiralty policy, I’m afraid, sir. We’re an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil’s own job getting ‘England’ past the censors, lest it be considered racist.”
SF Gospel argues there are at least four Alan Moore stories slightly more deserving of praise than Watchmen. The best argument is for "Watchmaker", i.e. Watchmen issue #4.
If I have one complaint about Watchmen, it's this: it doesn't live up to the promise of this, its single best chapter and possibly the best single issue of a comic ever created. The rhythm of Dr. Manhattan's melancholy origin story is simply perfect, and in his time-detached reminiscences we get a glimpse inside the mind of a god. Here is a part that's greater than its sum.
In summary: reading is more trouble than it's worth, and lying about reading is even more pointless. Far better to glance at the cover and skip to the end every time. In fact, if you'd done that with this article, you could've got on with your day a bit quicker without listening to me burble on. Sorry about that. Now go away.
Williamson said police studies of TV surveillance footage had documented how two masked Real IRA men armed with assault rifles waited in bushes across the road as off-duty, unarmed soldiers walked out of their fort to collect pizzas from two Domino's Pizza couriers. He said the attackers fired more than 60 bullets in about 30 seconds, closing quickly on foot to fire rounds point-blank at the prone victims.
In its statement of responsibility the Real IRA said it deliberately shot the Domino's workers because they were British "collaborators" providing food to the enemy.
Step 1 - Acquire Star Trek cologne.
Step 2 - Vaseline on the camera lens.
Step 3 - ???
Step 4 - Profit!
Genki Wear, known for its licensed science fiction jewelry and perfumes, has produced what might be the most unusual Star Trek product ever: Star Trek colognes and perfume based on the original 1960s television show. ...
There are three fragrances planned for 2009 with the monikers "Tiberius" "Red Shirt" and "Ponn Farr."
The USN is selling Sea Shadow and its floating dock. One caveat: A marine museum is "a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole..."
It's big, black and looks like a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. It was made to escape detection on the open sea. The other is known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Mining Barge. It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites.
The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy -- as it was 35 years ago -- for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine.
Quite a bit more there about the barge than the Batmobile which is probably as it should be.
NASA wants your opinion in naming the International Space Station’s Node 3 – a connecting module and its cupola – before the two segments travel to space and are installed on the orbiting laboratory. The name should reflect the spirit of exploration and cooperation embodied by the space station, and follow in the tradition set by Node 1- Unity- and Node 2- Harmony.
The Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration
Re-reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire*, I found myself considering that classic fan question: If wizards can use magic, how is it the Weasley's are poor? Megan McArdle hits most of the obvious economic highlights/plotholes of the J.K. Rowlings' oeuvre, dismisses the "I am expecting too much from a children's book" defence (quite right, too) and throws in some class war smears for good measure.
McArdle is not alone. Ilias Yocaris has considered the anarcho-capitalism of the wizarding world; worth the read a self-parodying Le Monde editorial. Daniel Levy and Avichai Snir, by contrast, have put together a less than edifying sounding round up of the political economy of Harry Potter (perhaps the full text of "Popular Perceptions and Political Economy in the Contrived World of Harry Potter " is a better read).
An intractable problem? Far from it. Rowling, perhaps conscious of fan concerns, provides an answer. Stephen Morris explains in reply to a discussion of Harry Potter and monetary policy**.
In her article, Ms McArdle asked a question that has puzzled many of us: "Why are the Weasleys poor?" Well, now we know. It's because of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration. In addition, some of the other apparently irrational behaviour that upset Ms McArdle has become more explicable now we know the real motivations of the actors. We can't blame Ms McArdle for not knowing all this. After all, the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration weren't revealed (or invented?) until the final book. However, it does serve to illustrate the danger of believing that our set of assumptions is complete. It is sometimes said that, if someone from medieval times were to suddenly find themselves in the modern world, it would appear to them to be magical. Looking at our electric lighting and heating, our medieval time traveller might be tempted to ask the question: "Why is anyone in this magical world cold or sitting in the dark?" Once again, our medieval friend's assumption set is not complete. He or she would not know about the Law of Conservation of Energy, that the magical electricity must be transformed from other kinds of energy.
"There's just something incredibly creepy about it," Proyas said. "Look, I think the whole concept in the story is this parallel universe that exists on the other side of a mirror. I think that's really quite fascinating. I know there have been quite a few stories done about that and a lot of films done with that concept, but it's something that I'm really excited to explore, just this universe that exists in the looking glass."
This exclusive full interview with real life Lara Croft - 23-year-old gymnast Alison Carroll - is strangely mesmerizing. I notice the channel is advertising "How To Talk To Women" alongside Tomb Raider: Underworld.
Now composing my own note: "Dear Alison, The name is 'Lara' not 'Laura'. Best, The Flea".
Remember these words if asked: Alison Carroll makes a great Lara Croft because of her "gutsy attitude". Both of them. And she has "SAS training", apparently.
The following is presented for the edification of Flea readers - and stray Jawas - concerned by potential costume and equipment inaccuracies.