"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
June 2, 2006

It seems like everywhere I go, they're ripping up the streets. Blocks of cracked concrete and asphalt, the air heavy with dust. The endless condemning sound of jackhammers. Everyone looking for something secret in the below.

Everywhere I go, new buildings are going up. Skeletal complexes slowly climbing into the above, eventually girdled with mortar and brick, steel and glass. Like those time-lapse videos of animals decomposing in reverse.

11:04 PM | Life
June 4, 2006

I'm almost done reading The Draco Tavern, by Larry Niven. It's a collection of short stories narrated by the proprieter of the bar the book is named for; it's the only place on Earth where visiting aliens can pony up to the oak plank and order... whatever it is that gets them off.

The stories are for the most part entertaining, though there are a few .. I'm not sure what to call them. King did it in Cell with his references to Sluggy Freelance and cyberpunk authors. In gaming or comics, it's called fanservice. I suppose the term applies just as well to science fiction.

Anyway, in one of the stories, an alien astrophysicist is on Earth trying to get people to wonder where all the missing mass is. He's convinced that the most advanced of the various races, the Chirps, is using "vacuum energy" (from the creation/destruction of virtual particles) to power their drives, because there's no mass, in their starships, for fuel.

So this alien is sitting in a bar, playing Grim Fandango, on a PowerBook.

If some other author, maybe Lethem (back when Lethem wrote quirky science-fictiony type books and wasn't trying so hard to be Don DeLillo), had written that, he could have pulled it off. But not Niven. It just felt sort of awkward, like the first time you hit on a girl. You're pretty sure you're fucking up badly, but it's far too late to pull stick and get the hell out. Or maybe when you're sitting in a train station and suddenly realize that for the last two minutes you've been humming along to Ashlee Simpson and everyone is staring at you, but no one is saying anything. (Except maybe in New York City, where you'd be berated appropriately by anybody in hearing distance, regardless of the person's age or race. Even Granny's would give you shit about it in New York.)

Or maybe it's just kind of creepy, like how Third Eye Blind has that song where he's all checking up on Suicide Girls forums. At first you're like "ha ha, that's pretty funny," and then you realize the guy is old, and it's just really kind of gross. Or like that Ben Folds song where he's singing about how it sucks to grow up and he doesn't want to grow up and goddamn dude, just like, go back to singing about abortions or angry dwarves and shit, please. I could get into that.

Though now that I think about it, being 26 and still watching anime and listening to music that kids with stupid haircuts are listening to... that's pretty fucking creepy, too. But I don't live in my parent's basement (they don't even have a basement, ha ha), so it's a couple orders of magnitude less creepy. Or so I've been telling myself every morning where I actually manage to crawl out of bed, mostly to stop the inconsolable weeping.

But yeah, overall. It's entertaining. The book, I mean. Except for the WTC story. That, again, was kind of awkward, though in a totally different way. Maybe like humming an entire Ashlee Simpson album, in church, or a high school boy's locker room. Hmm.

June 7, 2006

Social Engineering, the USB Way

You can always count on people's curiousity/stupidity/arrogance/greed. Didn't, like, Mitnick say that or something?

9:50 PM | Linkwhore
June 9, 2006
June 14, 2006

<kitten-> doot.
<bda> feh.
<kitten-> "On the banks of the windswept Columbia River [in Oregon], Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky...'
<bda> Yup.
<bda> SkyNet.
<kitten-> Heh.
<kitten-> I was thinking they're getting ready to run Vista.
<bda> Vista Supercomputer Totally Ultimate Awesome Edition?
<kitten-> Just the base install. :P
<bda> Ha.

11:20 AM | irk
June 15, 2006

X-Men 3 was poop. I'm not saying that because they broke "canon", because the first two movies didn't really follow existing conventions entirely either -- and I thought they were both good movies. This just wasn't a good movie. The dialogue was crap, the characters did a lot of really out-of-character things, and everytime the film tried to make you feel something (mostly by killing off a character), it was heavy-handed and failed completely.

(Actually, I do have a "breaks canon" complaint: I don't remember the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants being crewed by hookers.)

The two biggest examples of broken characterization are Magneto abandoning Mystique (also poorly implemented), and Storm writing Jean off without a second thought. Yeah. No.

Juggernaut actually yells "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" Evan, Maggie and I laughed uproariously at this for a couple minutes, while everyone else in the theater just stared. Yeah. You can tell who the Internet users are...

Also, Ben Foster, the guy who plays Angel, looked so much like a really buff, but just as gay, version of Andrew from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was distracted everytime he was on screen. In a "ew!" kind of way, while wondering why they weren't giving him any good lines, because Tom Lenk knows how to deliver the funny. But Tom Len != Ben Foster, so. Oh well.

The coolest thing about the movie was R. Lee Ermey doing a voice-over while the National Guard/Army/Generic Soldier Guys were getting their plastic cure weapons. I mean. Fuckin' R. Lee Ermey, yeah!

Oh. And Shadowcat is played by Ellen Page, who did as awesome job as Lilith Sandstrom in the first season of ReGenesis (Canadian sci-drama, really good; the second season just ended with a cliff-hanger -- fuckers!) and is starring in some ultra-creepy-looking movie called Hard Candy.

Evan insists the movie looked pretty, like when Jean is going all Akira, and random things around her start floating or destroying themselves. Maybe more Tetsuo than Akira, hey? The last bit on Alcatraz, where she starts dusting everyone and building some sort of ghetto throne while creating a wall of water around the island... yeah. That was pretty pretty. But it doesn't make up for a movie that went out of its way to be really mediocre in both characterization and plot.

Oh well; it got me out of the office for a couple hours.

8:08 AM | Movies
June 25, 2006

<@bda>[Ergo Proxy] is stretching even my ability to take bullshit from anime.
<@bda>It starts off as some weird post-apoc scifi thing with a hot goth girl detective trying to figure out what's killing people, with subplots of the city AIs having some strange agenda.
<@bda>And then it turns into some immigrant is actually a demigod.
<@bda>And he steals a hoversailboat.
<@bda>And goes on self-discovery adventures.
< mdxi>is there a catbus?
<@bda>No, but there's a little robot girl who spent the first six eps in bat/bunny pajamas.

9:52 PM | irk