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  • 29 August, 2008

    Today…

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 10:14 am permalink

    …is my thriteith birthday. I’ve heard that the thirties kick ass. I’m looking forward to how this next decade will turn out. If I reach forty without losing any hair, buying an expensive car, wearing ties on a regular basis, or growing a paunch, I think I’ll have done okay.

  • 28 August, 2008

    New SF/F cover Review

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:48 pm permalink

    Over on Tor.com: Soon I Will Be Invincible

    And on The New Sleekness: More hand-waving.

  • 27 August, 2008

    McSweeny’s fodder, or: waving hands and hoping you don’t notice I haven’t really updated this blog in a bit…

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:57 am permalink

    From McSweeney’s: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave as Explained by Popeye to Bluto:

    POPEYE: I’m gonna explain ta yer that we’s is either dumb or not so dumb, accordin’ ta how ya figger out this allergorter. See, there’s fellers livin’ in a cave and they canst sees nobody or nothin’. They’s been there since they were little infinks and they’s got their arms and legs all locked up. An’ they canst move their necks, neither. So all they can sees is some shadders of gentlesmen what’s comin’ from a fire behind their backs. Garshk, it’s like bein’ in a puppet-show circus.

    BLUTO: Argerghirrnama!

  • 25 August, 2008

    Richard Dawkins Reads his Hate Mail

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 12:10 pm permalink

    Via boingboing, the title says it all:

  • 18 August, 2008

    I Met the Walrus

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 12:16 pm permalink

    Here’s a wonderful animation based on the audio track from a recorded interview with John Lennon. Enjoy:

  • 13 August, 2008

    Mark Harris Nails the State of Network TV for Wired.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:55 pm permalink

    He just nails it. Below are a few gems, but do yourself a favour and read the whole piece. On content:

    Discussions at the networks about what’s depleting their viewership tend to focus on familiar culprits: YouTube. The internet. Xbox. The iPod. Too many options. (Capitalism can be so unfair!) This leads to brainstorming sessions about making TV more like the internet,
    resulting in a lot of overexcited press releases announcing how one-minute “minisodes” of your favorite shows will be exclusively available on a network website, or Twittered to you line by line as they’re being written, or beamed directly into your cerebral cortex via Bluetooth.

    Enough already. Competition from other media is real, but it’s also a convenient excuse to not focus on programming. You don’t hear American Idol‘s producers whining about how the internet is draining their audience, because they know that their audience is on the internet. Viewers go there to talk, read, kvetch, and gossip—about American Idol.

    On being douches when it comes to niche, critically acclaimed, or shows with a small but devoted fan-following:

    Broadcast networks routinely spend three months promoting a show that they then cancel after two airings. Or they get a few million viewers hooked on a serialized drama and then drop it midway through a season, leaving fans hanging. This simply never happens on cable, where if a
    series gets a 13-episode order, those 13 episodes are damn well going to air, even if it’s just because there’s nothing else to take their place. Every time the networks reshuffle their grid in a spasm of quick-fix panic, they disenchant more viewers.

  • 12 August, 2008

    Papercraft Camerahead from Little Brother print

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 1:44 pm permalink

    My inbox overfloweth with WIN today. Christopher Beaumont, one of the recipients of the Little Brother print I made (inspired by the eponymous book by one Cory Doctorow) created this kickass papercraft model of Camerahead, one of the characters in the print. He will be posting has posted a downloadable printout on his site, Cubeecraft.com, later on today, so that you can make your own.

    Go check out Cubeecraft, they’ve got a busload of cool papercraft figures for your crafting pleasure. My favourite (aside from this one, of course)? Why, Rusty Venture, hands down.

  • 8 August, 2008

    Simple, Yet Effective: a Good Book Trailer.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:05 am permalink

    This is NOT for the squeamish (but do check it out if you can stomach it). The book trailer for The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson:


    Burning flesh. Yum. Regardless of how you may feel about the contents, this is a very good book trialer. It’s not too heavy on visuals (which can be tricky to pull off), it’s engaging, and it certainly gets me thinking about the book in question.
  • 6 August, 2008

    Stupid, Stupid TSA Creatures (with apologies to Jeff Smith)

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:47 pm permalink

    Those luminaries at the TSA strike again:

    Late Monday, the Transportation Security Administration had announced that a laptop containing data on about 33,000 travelers who had applied for a national airport security fast-pass card was believed to have been stolen from a locked office at the San Francisco Airport in late July.
    Early Tuesday, however, the computer was found in the same company office from which it was supposedly stolen. . . .

    As a person who has never, ever, in my nearly thirty years on this planet, misplaced so much as his wallet or house keys, let alone his laptop, let me say this:
    You fucking idiots. You total, complete, ridiculously inept retards.
    (Now, watch me lose my wallet, my keys, and my laptop in a perfect trifecta of hubris-inspired Murphy’s Law chicanery)

    But wait, it gets better. When asked about the contents of the laptop, a Senior VP for the private contractor hired by the government to do its job for them run the screening program says:

    “Yes, it was sensitive privacy information, but not the stuff that was most sensitive,”

    Ooooh, ok. So it was just the reuglur seekrit stuffs, not the sooper dooper double seekrit stuffs. I shall sleep better tonight. Oh yes.

  • 5 August, 2008

    From the Void: A Bit of Speculation.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:56 pm permalink

    Jo Walton has a fantastic breakdown of possible solutions for life on other planets, based on different takes on the Fermi Paradox by various SF luminaries over on Tor.com. This reminded me of this post which I’d begun to write a little while ago, but languished in the obscurity of my ‘pending drafts’ queue for some reason or another. Regardless, here it is:

    Scientists in Australia have determined that some of the organic compounds found on a meteor they’ve been studying were created in space and survived the meteorite’s entry and impact on Earth. From the paper’s abstract:

    Carbon-rich meteorites, carbonaceous chondrites, contain many biologically relevant organic molecules and delivered prebiotic material to the young Earth. We present compound-specific carbon isotope data indicating that measured purine and pyrimidine compounds are indigenous components of the Murchison meteorite.

    The big news is that some of those molecules are basic components of amino acids, the building blocks of life. So, what does this mean, exactly? Phil Plait has a great post on his site, Bad Astronomy, where he clearly explains the discovery, outlines the possible implications, an debunks all the “Iz I teh alienz?” chatter that’s been making the rounds through the internet since this discovery was announced.

    In short, it is possible that some of the elements that created life on this planet may have come from space, but it’s also equally possible that they developed here on a young Earth, since any conditions that would enable the compounds to survive after impact would also be conditions primed to host the development of these compounds independently.

    Regardless, it’s big news, and brain-candy for those of us with a science-fictional bent, who like to extrapolate from these scientific discoveries. This discovery, while not necessarily implying that life on Earth has its origins elsewhere in the universe, does seem to indicate that the elements required for the development of carbon-based life exist outside of our planet, and could have found a hospitable environment in which to develop and flourish into life on some other planet. This opens up the possibility for many interesting scenarios.

    There could be very distant genetic cousins to humans living on a hospitable planet somewhere out there. Given the right conditions, such as those on Earth, they could have developed into as wide a range of flora and fauna as we find on Earth, and even developed sentient life forms. Unfortunately for xenophiles, cross-breeding would probably be out of the question (assuming we are still tethered to our meatspace bodies by the time we discover our cousins).

    There could also be sentient life just now crawling out of their primordial ooze as we speak, giving us a chance to observe, sometime in the future (when our technology is sufficiently capable to observe direct, on-the-ground action in faraway places), the initial stirrings of evolved life. Could we also, at that point in our technological development, have access to tools that enable us to edit and alter that genetic evolutionary process? This is very likely, and opens up the door to some ethical debate as to whether our involvement would be appropriate. This could turn into the hot-button, abortion-like issue in the political world of the 24th century. Trekkies will bust out copies of the Prime Directive as reference. Furious debate will ensue regarding the age-old question: When does life begin?

    In short, a bit of news that helps to place humans as a species, and humanity as a civilization, into perspective. Every new discovery like this helps us realize that more than even global citizens, we’re denizens of the universe, which serves to reinforce the need for us to explore the stars, and start working towards taking our place among them.