Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Quick reminder to self: write about the contrast between Canadian and American mining safety protocols.

And make it funny.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Plant Techno - a taste of Google Video

Google Video is really starting to fascinate me - although I wonder why .gvi is necessary.

Mid-future biotech security systems? Alien ecology? Friendly warning from the planet? Nice, but the music sucked.


South Pole Detector Could Yield Signs of Extra Dimensions

Newswise — Researchers at Northeastern University and the University of California, Irvine say that scientists might soon have evidence for extra dimensions and other exotic predictions of string theory. Early results from a neutrino detector at the South Pole, called AMANDA, show that ghostlike particles from space could serve as probes to a world beyond our familiar three dimensions, the research team says.

You've got to be f***ing kidding me.

Both ganked from Posthuman Blues
Happy Birthday to Me. Google should have changed their logo.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dr. McNinja Medusaheaded.

A Ninja Doctor?! Why the hell wasn't I told about this?
Superbugs abound in soil

Survey of bacteria reveals an array of antibiotic-resistance

Bacteria that live in soil have been found to harbour an astonishing armoury of natural weapons to fight off antibiotics. The discovery could help researchers anticipate the next wave of drug-resistant 'superbugs'.

... Many of the bacterial strains were immune to antibiotics that they have probably never been exposed to before. And the crafty creatures used some previously unknown ways to detoxify some drugs, such as adding a sugar molecule on to the drug telithromycin, which prevents it from crippling a cell.

If the little bastards are so smart, isn't it time we recruited them?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


WB and UPN networks to merge into a single monoentity
Huh. If this is a symptom of things to come, then it's high time we got serious about direct-to-DVD and narrowcasting.


7-year-old shot at day-care center ...
... by eight-year-old boy. Get 'em while they're young, folks.

At least she didn't die. That's something.

DNA analysis shows chimps evolving faster than humans
Not if we wipe them out first, they're not.


Carbon nanotube joined with organic molecule to create new transistor
I just might live long enough to get my cyberbrain after all.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Humanity tends towards a hivemind.

What every scifi writer since the dawn of time has missed is quite simple: The most consistently improved technology in the human ambit has been communications. From Frank Herbert drastically underestimating Moore's Law:

" ... I sometimes think the ancients with their thinking machines had the right idea."

"They were toys compared to me," Piter snarled. "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines."

to the classic "Where's My Flying Car?" question. Everyone from Roddenberry to Gibson missed laptops and cellphones (if someone didn't, I haven't encountered their work yet).

Long and short:

Humanity tends towards a hivemind.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Effect of Drugs on a Web-based Lifestyle

Hmm, the one on mescaline seems to have developed OCD. Is there a human parallel?

Greetings Children, Sequential Art!

Daughters of the Dragon #1:

Colors = Udon-style, only better. Art = Khari Evans errs on the side of sexy, in the equation of "sexy but deadly" (or is that "sexy _yet_ deadly"). Other than that, a superlative performance, reminiscent of Wildcats 3.0 #19, very fluid, very kinetic.

Writing = Angels minus Charlie minus Farah. I'm not as deep in Marvel history as I am in DC so the bush-league villains in the main plot thread are completely lost on me. And that guy at the end? Ugh. _I_ could kick his ass, let alone Coleen Wing. As to the first nine pages, argh. Look, everyone know Rhino is a C-lister but come on! Power-wise, he's too big for the takedown method used here. I can think of several ways two hypercompetent non-superhumans could have done it but this wasn't it.

Am I wrong to have enjoyed the Deadly Hands special from last month so much more?

That said, I think this was supposed to be comedic so I'll tolerate it for now.

Ares #1:

- Beautiful cover undone by everything that followed it.

- Marvel Greek gods are assholes. And I thought their DC variants were bad.

- Hades and the forces of his demesne attack Olympus. The gods, transcendent mortals and Hercules all combine to stalemate him. Hercules suggests they call Ares to the disapproval and derision of everyone else ... which proves they are morons to start with.

- I imagine the writer is making some kind of point about the terrible yet necessary nature of war. Whatever. He fails. In any case, Ares comes in, lives up to his name and the other high-schoolers shun him anyway.

- So in response, he leaves Olympus and has a kid on earth. Predictably, things go wrong leading to the ugliest final splash-page in recent memory.


Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke were both flawless here. That's all I'm saying on the subject.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Tearing down the Information Superhighway in My Ferrari ...

Broadband!! Woohoo!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Ran Prieur, I just spent about two hours burning through your site, assimilating your memes and I've got to say:

I'm very f**king disappointed with your story, Apocalypsopolis.

You see, you started out so well, with your green-anarchy and techno-primitive ideals. You have a hell of a lot of good points, particularly on the medical system (God knows my immune system is definitely not as powerful as it was in Nigeria). You even illustrated your worldview in the form of fiction, something I tend to respect. So far so good.

But why then did you chicken out halfway through the story? Consider: you hit earth with an moderate, concatenated apocalypse. Good. You have characters that survive, adapt and even thrive amid the ruins of western urbanity. Good.

So why throw in the psychic-magic Terrimothy McKleary wankery? You undermined your whole point: survival skills, cooperation, learning to act only in ways that matter, whose results are tangible to you (growing your own food rather than making rivets in a factory) and finding a better more benign humanity therein.

And you almost had me too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dangerous* Ideas - pfft.

A coupla weeks back, EDGE did a whole thing where they asked Scientists to sound off on what they consider the most dangerous ideas of our day. Ignoring the obvious questions (dangerous to whom for one), the resutlts were predictable: specialists will specialize as they are wont to do, regardless of how relevant their field actually is to anything that affects anyone. Long and short, their ideas just weren't that dangerous.**

Browsing Google Blog Search, I stumbled onto the webpage of a certain Ran Prieur and, thenceforth (), a true Dangerous Idea:

"The Singularity" is the biggest idea in techno-utopianism. The word is derived from black hole science -- it's the point at the core where matter has contracted to zero volume and infinite density, beyond the laws of time and space, with gravity so strong that not even light can escape. The line of no return is called the event horizon, and the word "singularity," in techno-utopianism, is meant to imply that "progress" will take us to a place we can neither predict, nor understand, nor return from.

The mechanism of this change is the "acceleration." Techies invoke "Moore's Law," which says that computer power is increasing exponentially -- in fact it's now increasing faster than exponentially. But Moore himself never called this a law, because it isn't -- it's a behavior of the present system, and it's anyone's guess how long it will continue.

But they imagine that it is somehow built into history, or even metaphysics. They trace the acceleration back into the Paleolithic, or farther, and trace it speculatively forward to computers that are more complex than the human brain, that are more aware and smarter and faster than us, that keep improving until they replace humans or even biological life itself ...

A question they never answer is: why? They seem to believe it's self-justifying, that density/speed of information processing is valuable as density/speed of information processing. They might argue that just as the biosphere is better than the universe by being more densely complex, so a computer chip is better than the biosphere.

Dangerous to whom, you ask?. Me, of course.

More seriously, the guy's premise (as detailed in other essays) is that western civilization as we know it is a accretionary cancer on the biosphere in particular and humans themselves in general. Nothing new there I know, but he not only talks a very good game, he apparently lives it too.

Much respect for that - even if he's failed to convince me the Singularity isn't a valid future. I will address that now. We agree on many things

Evolution is a biological process in which the totality of life grows more diverse and complex, and then apparently gets cut down by some catastrophe every 60 million years, and then rebuilds itself, maybe better than the time before, maybe not. Evolution is not about one life form pushing out another, or we wouldn't still have algae and bacteria and 350,000 known species of beetles. It's not about "survival of the fittest" unless fitness is defined as the ability to add to the harmonious diversity and abundance of the whole.

e.g. that evolution tends toward cooperation - or at least, interaction through complexity. I'll ignore the idea that evolution is a solely biological phenomenon. However, Ran Prieur fails on four points:

1) he's not thinking big enough

2) with one exception, he lumps all singularitarians and transhumanists together.

3) he completely ignores the possibility (and possibilities) of superintelligence

4) left to conventional natural selection, human nature will not change quickly enough not to end up right here again.

What do I mean by 1)? Find out in the sequel.


*And "Dangerous" is crap. Interesting, yes. Food for thought, sure. Unsettling ... maybe, at best.

**well, with the exception of Richard Dawkins, Thomas Metzinger, Geoffrey Miller and maybe two or three others

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sago Mine Kerfluffle ...

... and the countdown to the made-for-TV movie starts ... now. Given the Law of Accelerating Entertainment (compare Eminem's career trajectory to 50 Cent's), no more than eighteen months from now.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Welcome to the second half of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Storms, dying soldiers and much presidential pooch-screwing - sounds a whole lot like '04, no? In any case, if you were expecting reminiscence over '05, you thought wrong. I'm running helter-skelter into the next year and I ain't looking back for nothing ...

... except the things I found entertaining of course.

Best things that came out of 2005: Batman Begins, Serenity, Sin City, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Mos Def in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy do it for movies.

In books, Elizabeth Bear's Canada Triumphant trilogy (so the first book was '04. Bite me), Hannibal Tabu's The Crown: Ascension, Accelerando(duh), Lady of Mazes

Videogamewise, there could be only one: God of War.

For comics, the whole Boy Blue vs. The Adversary arc in Fables, Desolation Jones #2, Grant Morrison's run on JLA Classified,

This was arguably TV's finest year this century: Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Prison Break, House, Desperate Housewives, Over There, Lost, not to mention the return of Family Guy.

Miscellaneous - among other things, there was that Russian cow that beat the crap out of three dogs, there was this weirdness and oh yeah, they invented carbon nanotubes, bitch!

Honorable Mention: This of course. Duh.

Worst thing: You mean aside from Katrina et al? Those PSP commercials. "It's like a nut ... you can play with outside" As spoken by that Zoloft dude. Christ.


Cat Calls 911 To Help Ill Owner ...

... aaaaand we're off to a weird start.