Friday, March 29
This can't go on much longer, but I'll give it the ol' lesbo communist try. "Are any aspects of the two books particularly Mormon?"
"Not really, except in the sense that they're written by me and I'm a committed, believing Mormon. There are Mormons who think I'm the devil because they're unable to tell the difference between Mormon doctrine and right-wing conservative views. And I find it extremely discomfiting that, really to a shocking degree, love of money has pervaded Mormon society. It's something that as a people we have great cause to repent of. I think it will lead to our condemnation in the eyes of God. When I talk that way, there are some people who are extremely troubled because they think I'm saying that they're wicked. And they're correct -- I am."
Card laughs. "Well, let's put it this way. Most of the program of both the left and the right is so unbelievably stupid it's hard to wish to identify myself with either. But on economic matters, I'm a committed communitarian. I regard the Soviet Union as simply state monopoly capitalism. It was run the way the United States would be if Microsoft owned everything. Real communism has never been tried! I would like to see government controls expanded, laws that allow capitalism to not reward the most rapacious, exploitative behavior. I believe government has a strong role to protect us from capitalism. I'm ashamed of our society for how it treats the poor. One of the deep problems in Mormon society is that really for the last 75 years Mormons have embraced capitalism to a shocking degree."
We had heard somewhere that Tom Clancy had made like $17 million in a year. So we thought, 'Let's give this a try.' The whole idea was that 'Stephen Bury' would be a successful thriller writer and subsidize my pathetic career under the name Neal Stephenson. It ended up going the other way. I would guess most of the people who have bought the Stephen Bury books have done so because they know I've written them. It just goes to show there's no point in trying to plan your career
''In Cryptonomicon, some of the characters have been going along and they've discovered a little crack in the sidewalk, it splits wide open, they fall through it, and they're in this whole universe that they didn't imagine. It happens for them in different ways. The clearest case is Bobby Shaftoe, who is minding his own business having a career in the Marine Corps and suddenly everything becomes very, very strange for him. It takes him a long time to figure out what's going on, and he never totally gets the whole story
Q: How does the writing process work for you?
A: A good deal of the work that I do takes place in the background, which is a computer-ese way of putting it. It is a process that runs quietly at an unconscious level while I am doing other things and that goes on 24 hours a day.
The actual putting of words on paper might come out to 2-3 hours a day. I’ve found that from long experience that the best way to facilitate that process is to do that 2-3 hours of putting words on paper then stop and do something as completely different from writing as I possibly can. Specifically, to get it off my conscious mind. That can be just about anything. For me, what works is doing something of a practical nature. Playing around with technology is a convenient choice because I know how to do it and I can get the stuff I need pretty easily. Anything to get the hands busy and take the mind off the actual work in progress
I came straight home from The Dazzle, Richard Greenberg’s three-character play about the Collyer Brothers (at the Gramercy Theater through May 12) and threw out all the plastic shopping bags that had been mounting up in the pantry closet. Then I went at the piles of newspapers waiting to be gone through–two in the kitchen and three or four on the hallway bookcase. I was heading for another mound, on the living room futon, but got distracted by the laundry cart and sorted some socks instead. Such is the transforming power of art.
Thursday, March 28
iMac already looking old. Steve Jobs in Japan, its kind of like Tarzan in the city. The iMac looks so hopelessly out of fashion compared to Japanese industrial design, especially towards techno gadgets like cell phones. That's really the main problem of being fashionable, somewhere someone else is much more fabulous than you are. The retro design doesn't help much either, it just reinforces the past-my-prime look and having Steve stand next to it doesn't help the situation much either. I want to own something high-tech and futuristic on the outside as well as the inside. Steve, ditch your uber cool design nerds and get cracking on something I can hang from the ceiling, submerge in a fish tank, or hide behind the drywall
Sloboda found another striking similarity among the "musical" children. They all had parents who were unusually invested in their musical education. It wasn't necessarily the case that the parents were themselves musicians or musically inclined. It was simply that they wanted their children to be that way. "The parents of the high achievers did things that most parents just don't do," he said. "They didn' t simply drop their child at the door of the teacher. They went into the practice room. They took notes on what the teacher said, and when they got home they would say, Remember when your teacher said do this and that. There was a huge amount of time and motivational investment by the parents."
"People have this idea that there are those who learn better than others, can get further on less effort,"Sloboda says. "On average, our data refuted that. Whether you're a dropout or at the best school, where you end up can be predicted by how much you practice."
I was blogging a session on wireless technology, and wrote something about SkyPilot, one of the presenting companies. Duncan Davidson, SkyPilot's CEO, finished his presentation and sat on the podium, reading on his laptop, while other people talked.
Then, in the Q&A, he corrected something I'd written in the blog. In other words, he'd caught this in near-real time and had better information (he should). I immediately posted another paragraph, which began, "I've been corrected...."
Whoa. I'm still not entirely sure what happened. But I do know this. My journey in journalism hit a pivot in that moment. Maybe journalism itself hit a pivot point, as pretentious as that sounds.
I don't think I knew what I was doing in this year. I was a graduate student, taking courses, but I can't remember much from this period, except a general feeling of directionlessness and depression that permeated everything.
Question: So you don't like what you see in this photo and document?
Answer: I remember what it felt like, and it seems like a sad time, a cul de sac. There was no apparent way to move my life forward. Something had to change, and soon. But at this moment the future was almost completely obscure.
No power in the world can stop you from remembering”, Carmille told the students, “that you are the heirs of Cartesian thought, of the mysticism and mathematics of Pascal, of the clarity of the writers of the sixteenth century…All this is written in your soul, and no-one can control your soul, because your soul belongs only to God.” Think about Carmille’s words. For there are technologies at work in the twenty first century world which make Thomas Watson’s Hollerith business look like child’s play - and there has never been a greater need for real thinking.
Information technology is the very symbol of twenty first century civilization. It is also the technology which, more than any other, symbolises what Martin Heidegger called the ‘enframing’ of human beings: their reduction to statistical units in vast labor and marketing processes; to the status of “utter availability and sheer manipulability”5 IBM under Thomas Watson embodied and enacted the massive use of information for social manipulation and control. It was, as Edwin Black remarks, “gripped by a special, amoral corporate mantra: if it can be done, it should be done.” The direct consequence was Hitler’s automated genocide and the blitz in his krieg.
For the activists of today’s infowars against ‘massively organised information’ there is even a counter narrative to be told. The most astonishing hero to emerge from this history is a military technocrat by the name of Rene Carmille. A punchcard enthusiast and an originator of the Personal Identification Number (PIN code) he undertook the effort of conducting the French census by IBM punchcard on behalf of Nazi Germany. Oddly, his data was never used and Black shows how efforts to round up Jews in France relying on a traditional paper population census yielded poor results. Compared to neighbouring Holland where the punchcard data harvested a bumper crop of Jews, only a fraction of the French Jewry were ever deported to the camps. With the liberation of France it became clear that Carmille had in fact used the census results to organise and mobilise the French resistance, having gathered details of every worker, gunsmith, farmer and mechanic. Indeed he had never even collected the relevant ethnicity data - in record after record that part of the punchcard was left unpunched. Although Rene Carmille was arrested, sent to the concentration camps and died for his treason, he probably saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives by withholding and redeploying data in the service of the resistance. In telling his story Edwin Black has uncovered an Oskar Schindler for the hacker generation to claim as their own. If for his inspiration alone, read this book, then open your
Wednesday, March 27
"There's no point going after some cardiac surgeon who needs some speed to keep him sharp," Hutchinson said. "That's not what the law was intended to prevent. But the more destructive drug users—the addict who spends his welfare money on crack, the guy in Harlem who smokes marijuana—that is something that we as a society must not tolerate."
According to Drug Czar John P. Walters, the legislation should have a beneficial effect on the health of the American people.
"As a result of this new law, we expect use of addictive, harmful drugs like heroin and crack—those statistically more likely to be linked to unemployment—to drop," Walters said. "Meanwhile, decent people with good jobs can continue their responsible use of milder drugs like E and cocaine in peace."
IBM constantly updated its machinery and applications for the Nazis. For example, one series of punch cards was designed to record religion, national origin, and mother tongue, but by creating special columns and rows for Jew, Polish language, Polish nationality, the fur trade as an occupation, and then Berlin, Nazis could quickly cross-tabulate, at the rate of 25,000 cards per hour, exactly how many Berlin furriers were Jews of Polish extraction. Railroad cars, which could take two weeks to locate and route, could be swiftly dispatched in just 48 hours by means of a vast network of punch-card machines. Indeed, IBM services coursed through the entire German infrastructure in Europe.
I had my own revelation about Eisner's argument. I think I can boil it down to its essence. It goes something like this. We remember the days, not long ago, when our users were stupid. They thought they were giving money to the artists. We want them to be stupid again
The Germans have a special interest in Saddam's intentions. German industry is well represented in the ranks of foreign companies that have aided Saddam's nonconventional-weapons programs, and the German government has been publicly regretful. Hanning told me that his agency had taken the lead in exposing the companies that helped Iraq build a poison-gas factory at Samarra. The Germans also feel, for the most obvious reasons, a special responsibility to Israel's security, and this, too, motivates their desire to expose Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. Hanning is tall, thin, and almost translucently white. He is sparing with words, but he does not equivocate. "It is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years," he said.
Chemical weapons had been dropped on Halabja by the Iraqi Air Force, which understood that any underground shelter would become a gas chamber. "My uncle said we should go outside," Nasreen said. "We knew there were chemicals in the air. We were getting red eyes, and some of us had liquid coming out of them. We decided to run." Nasreen and her relatives stepped outside gingerly. "Our cow was lying on its side," she recalled. "It was breathing very fast, as if it had been running. The leaves were falling off the trees, even though it was spring. The partridge was dead. There were smoke clouds around, clinging to the ground. The gas was heavier than the air, and it was finding the wells and going down the wells."
A Controlled Environment
Star Wars Galaxies: a meticulously crafted environment in a galaxy far far away...
Everyone at the conference was intimately familiar with the Disneyland analogy: the school of thought that says a massively multiplayer, online world should be just like Disneyland, a "controlled environment," built for the entertainment of guests and with all unsavory elements removed. Others referred to this as "a fascist state," and not always in jest.
Tuesday, March 26
Speaking of pop-glitch, the new Notwist album (Neon Golden) is pretty good. Unfortunately, after repeated listens, I tend to ultimately find almost all of that stuff (Dntel included), pretty flat.
posted by Marquis at 1:11 PM PST on March 18
Sapphireblue: Here's Halou's website if you don't have it already. They're on Nettwerk these days. I have't heard their new album, only We Only Love You but it's beautiful. I've heard a ton of good things about the new album though.
posted by sigma7 at 1:45 PM PST on March 18
Someone gimme a list of the first five albums I should listen to.
I suggest Amon Tobin's Supermodified and Talvin Singh's OK. Also, Ninja Tune's Xen Cuts is a great 3 cd compilation of some of the label's stuff from over the years.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:17 PM PST on March 18
What about us poor pathetic unhip middle-aged losers who only know electronica through mitsubishi commercials? Someone gimme a list of the first five albums I should listen to.
a good place to start might be with the albums and artists listed in Grooves magazine IDM 2001 Year End Poll. Of course, these are all from last year, and electronic music tends to be pretty vital -- artists tend to revisit their sound from album to album. (Autechre is a pretty good example of this.) but it's a good start. there's also a small archive of web reviews there, and i'd also recommend picking up the magazine itself, which is really pretty good (except for it's gear reviews, grrr).
i'd make more assertions about the state of IDM/experimental/fuckall music but i don't spend an excessive amount of time trainspotting or well, reading the mailing lists, or all that and whatnot, and so i'm rather likely to be yelled at by a miffed nitpicker: "What? That's not glitchcore brokenbeat! That's coreglitch beatbroken!" also i'm just not that damn knowledgable, although occasionally i like to fake it. i will say this: it's got a nice beat, and you can dance to it.
posted by fishfucker at 2:29 PM PST on March 18
Someone gimme a list of the first five albums I should listen to
this is more techno / house than idm / electronica, but:
5 artists - 5 albums / 5 mix cds
Derrick May - Innovator / Mix-up vol 5 (aka Mayday mix)
Jeff Mills - The Other Day / Mix-up vol 2 (aka Liquid rooms)
Surgeon - Force and Form / Counterbalance Collection
Green Velvet (aka Cajmere) - Green Velvet / Techno Funk
Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) - Sheet One / Decks, EFX & 909
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:44 PM PST on March 18
Aargh! The server ate my post. Oh well, take two.
Here's my sugeestion for a couple:
Warp Records - Routine
- compilation with Autechre, Boards of Canada, lots of other 'popular' IDM style artists
Ninja Tune Records - Xen Cuts
- great comp, more hiphop influenced
Thievery Corporation - Mirror Conspiracy
- not really electronica, but again a great intro into downtempo/acid-jazz
I also really like Tobin's IDM/jazz and Singh's tabla-infused electronica, mentioned above.
posted by sauril at 2:49 PM PST on March 18
I second The Notwist, which is only electronica to the degree that Console adds noises to the sounds of a three-piece band, but the results are enthralling, at least for a few listens. Even the reknowed Die Zeit likes them.
For laid-back mellowness, may I suggest the Gotan Project's "Revancha del Tango," which pleasantly combines classic tangos with beats. Air's "Moon Safari" is also nice in a background sort of way.
There's also a thriving sub-sub-culture of live techno jam bands, including Sound Tribe Sector 9, Disco Biscuits, Lake Trout, DJ Logic, and the New Deal.
Caveat: I have no idea if any of this stuff constitutes hip. Just thought I'd contribute some names worth plugging into Grokster.
posted by muckster at 4:43 PM PST on March 18
i like "telefon tel aviv" lots.
posted by juv3nal at 8:23 PM PST on March 18
Console's great stuff. A friend of mine played me 14 Zero Zero and I've been hooked ever since.
posted by sigma7 at 8:20 AM PST on March 19
Demonstrating that odd attachment to the machine, one of its most influential fans, Naritomo Mizutani, has created an entire site about the underside -- that's right, the bottom -- of the machine.
It was Mizutani's contention that the 2400 was more beautiful because its entire case had been carefully designed, not just the parts that most people see. To prove his point, he created a Web page with pictures of the underside of the 2400, which he compared to the undersides of about 100 other laptops, in particular Windows machines.
Tuesday, March 19
Anything invented before you were born is NORMAL.
Anything invented between the ages of 15 to 35 is cutting edge and very cool.
Anything invented after the age of 35 "just aint right"
Monday, March 18
The team of German scientists says people's use of anti-ageing creams may be causing the problem.
They also say preservatives in people's food may be helping to preserve their corpses.
Saturday, March 16
I got that feeling again this afternoon. For the last few months,
in amongst my official duties, I have been reading the literature on
apocalytic social movements. I was originally inspired in this by David
Noble's book "The Religion of Technology". Noble observes, for example,
that many of the important early engineers, particularly in the United
States, were Masons, and he describes the development of a particular
kind of millennialism -- or at least a secularized form of religious
utopianism -- among engineers that became secularized and formed the
outlines of technical movements such as artificial intelligence and --
he might as well have added -- cyberspace.
Just this year, the world of cheap pens was revolutionized by disposable liquid-ink pens. As someone who spends hours a day writing on actual paper, I can't tell you what an improvement they are. The reason is simple: it's liquid ink, not that nasty viscous stuff that's always clotting up, and so it flows much more smoothly onto the page. They're also more entertaining than regular pens, since they include a window onto the ink reservoir. While I was travelling, I went to art supply stores in several countries looking for them, and the best was the Reynolds model, which I could only find in a single art supply store in Nice, France. (Reynolds makes a lot of other, more garden-variety pens, which are distributed more widely. Forget them.) I did find some other pens that are almost as good. The most widely distributed is the Uni-Ball Eye (called Vision in the United States), which has the advantage of coming in a range of slighly unusual saturated colors. Another good model is the Pilot V-Ball, although its barrel is a little too skinny to be comfortable. You can get a disposable fountain pen, too, the Pilot Varsity, but much like regular fountain pens it's way too much trouble.
One afternoon during the data entry phase, Ball found one of his co-workers Net surfing. She was building a bookmark file in the database of Internet links to online photographs of the dead. He was dismayed.
"Stop. Don't look," Ball told her.
"She was useless for the next two days," he recalled. "All she could do was cry.
A 'Hacktivist' Who Thinks in Code
Ball, 36, is a "hacktivist," employing his programming skills in the service of human rights. A sociologist by training, he has been writing computer software since high school.
"I think in code," he said.
He worked his way through graduate school at the University of Michigan by writing computer databases. His passion for dBase, Fox and Paradox code was more than matched by a sense of political outrage. He wrote his dissertation on human rights movements in Ethiopia, Pakistan and El Salvador.
When Ball found himself in El Salvador as that country's civil war was ending in 1991, he heard that a local human rights group "needed someone who could hack a database."
For three years, Ball traveled back and forth to Kosovo, systematically culling data on civilian deaths from refugee reports, exhumations and witness accounts. Building on that evidence, he and his colleagues compiled a database documenting the ebb and flow of "ethnic cleansing" of ethnic Albanians during the spring of 1999 in Kosovo, a province of Serbia, Yugoslavia's main republic. The statistical portrait of the displaced, missing and killed reveals the timing and ferocity of fatal blows that fell across an entire province. This numerical pattern of death and panic exonerates some people; it points toward others.
Now, the statistics that Ball calculated on a Boston white board have become evidence in a war crimes trial. On Wednesday, in an international courtroom in The Hague, Ball confronted the man he believes is responsible for the deaths--former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Friday, March 15
"And you would have gotten ripped off." I say with a smirk.
Another shrug. "So? It's not worth the trouble."
Like hell it's not, my slightly ruffled mind retorts.
There are so many things I like about this site, which is still in beta test. For all the web logs and pictures from family vacations that one might throw on a web page, this thing actually DOES something, and it does something that is useful for more than 20 million people. Think of it as a business. Aolhistory.com needs no updating, no refreshing, it just sits there -- probably with a little banner ad -- generating revenue for Bruce Forkush for years to come. I think the guy is brilliant. I also happen to know he isn't much of a programmer. And that is where we get back to the beauty of the Internet for collaboration.
Thursday, March 14
The security guards continued to require that he turn his machine on and off and put it through the X-ray machine while also tugging on his wires and electrodes, he said. Still not satisfied, the guards took him to a private room for a strip-search in which, he said, the electrodes were torn from his skin, causing bleeding, and several pieces of equipment were strewn about the room.
Sterling: "[Napster is] a kind of profoundly undemocratic technical fait accompli. 'Look at this neat gizmo that we geeks built while you weren't working. We geeks accidentally ate your industry.' [This is a] techno-imperative market argument which I don't think really makes all that much sense in a stagnant monopoly ... where is the steamroller going, I don't see it going anywhere particular, it's just abolishing other people's money. Does Napster give anybody money for a reelection campaign? Do they have a friendly judge? Is there somebody to sue?"
"OK," I said. "We'll leave." I then mumbled something about the last time I checked, this was still the United States of America -- even if we were just five miles away from where it ends. They escorted me and the few remaining souls out of the building. The brave lady who was the owner of the independent bookstore and who was there selling my book, leaned over and whispered to me, "I am willing to go to jail for this if you want me to." Ya gotta hand it to the independent bookstores -- they've been through hell lately, so much so that they are now ready to be led away in handcuffs!
Wednesday, March 13
Gibson: Well, E.M. Forster once said that if a novelist was in control of plot and character, he really wasn't doing his job. And I took that very much to heart. So for me the hardest part about writing is getting to the place where I completely give up and surrender, and admit that I can't do it. And that's when it starts to happen, and all I can do is watch it.
The US has been secretly sending prisoners suspected of al-Qaida connections to countries where torture during interrogation is legal, according to US diplomatic and intelligence sources. Prisoners moved to such countries as Egypt and Jordan can be subjected to torture and threats to their families to extract information sought by the US in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
The normal extradition procedures have been bypassed in the transportation of dozens of prisoners suspected of terrorist connections, according to a report in the Washington Post. The suspects have been taken to countries where the CIA has close ties with the local intelligence services and where torture is permitted.
Team picks white man mascot to make point
Story By Julio Ochoa
Posted on Sunday, March 10 @ 04:11:47 EST (30155 reads)
An intramural basketball team at the University of Northern Colorado called “The Fighting Whities” is turning the tables on the Eaton mascot issue.
Led by Solomon Little Owl, director of Native American Student Services at UNC, the team chose a white man as its mascot to raise awareness and understanding of stereotypes that some cultures endure.
“The message is, let’s do something that will let people see the other side of what it’s like to be a mascot,” Little Owl said. “I am really offended by this mascot issue, and I hope the people that support the Eaton mascot will get offended by this.”
The players, made up of a mixture of American Indian, Hispanic and caucasian students, wear white jerseys with the picture of a white man in a suit on the front and the slogan “Every thang’s gonna be all white!” printed beneath.
Tuesday, March 12
Cool cell phone cam!
Friday, March 8
And now one of these downloaders for hire (at about $12 an hour), Numair Faraz, has stepped forward to say that Mr. Greene's claim that three students downloaded 6,000 files from easily accessible Web sites isn't even true. For starters, Mr. Faraz, 17, isn't a student: he left school to start his own technology business. But more to the point, he says that the group didn't spend two days downloading music; they spent three. And most revealing, he says that most of the music wasn't even downloaded from publicly accessible Web sites.
Speaking about Mr. Greene, Mr. Faraz said, "He said it took two days to do all the stuff, and we did it for three days from 9 to 6 and left the computers on all night long, except we'd come back and the computers would be frozen."
Thursday, March 7
Wednesday, March 6
Tuesday, March 5
Hacktivism is finding ways to speak truth to power using technology in this way. It's technology or hacking in the service of human rights, or civil liberties, or the environment.
When the truth commission in Guatemala was able to conclude that we find that more than 200,000 were killed during the armed internal conflict, more than 93% were people killed by the government. The army of Guatemala can no longer deny that this occurred, because the basis on which we made this claim was defensible on scientific grounds.
Several of the major cable and phone companies that provide high- speed wired connections to the Internet say customers are violating their service agreements — and perhaps breaking the law — by letting others outside a given household piggyback using 802.11.
"Anyone who is using it that way would basically be stealing," a spokesman for Time Warner Cable said of those who patch into its Road Runner cable modem service. "It's the same thing as cable theft."
11. I am most happy when:
I've gotten up early, done Tai Chi in a nearby park, come home and written 500 words on a novel, blogged 10-20 items, eaten some granola, watched a TiVoed South Park, gone to work, accomplished good stuff, gone to a movie and topped it off with a good dinner with great conversation
This is the voice of a person with no children.
Saturday, March 2
New scholarship on the origins of the Koran claims that the Koran has been misread and mistranslated for centuries. For example, Islamic martyrs are not rewarded in paradise with "virgins," that's a mistranslation. Oops. (NYT member: metafi, password: metafi)
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM PST (15 comments total)
So they're really rewarded with vegans? Must be hell!
posted by HTuttle at 9:37 PM PST on March 1
Friday, March 1
Back in the Neolithic dawn of the Internet, you see, the academics who built it used to beat the living crap out of a businessman the very moment they saw him. One peep of commercial spam on their stainless not-for-profit network, and the net-gods would reach right into your router and just throttle you, like an egg-sucking dog. Businessmen would take one look at that impossible Internet code, and they'd pick up their gray flannels and flee headlong to CompuServe and Prodigy. You young folks these days, you probably don't even remember "CompuServe." They croaked from being way too compu-servile.
Of course, if that's the case, why doesn't every Google search land the searcher on a blog? That question underscores a crucial point about weblogs and Google: weblogs are the voters in this political system. In other words, weblogs don't get elected by Google... but the sites they voted for do.
So even if you never visit a blog, you're being influenced by them. The collective votes of the weblog community are determing what sites you see on Google, the world's largest search engine.