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  • 3 December, 2008

    Prop 8, the Musical

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 10:09 pm permalink

    Featuring Jack Black as Jesus, a cast of lots, and the ever awesome Dr. Horrible himself, Neil Patrick Harris:

    See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

    Pure win.

  • 4 September, 2008

    Metallica Watch Part Next.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 6:58 pm permalink

    Well, it seems Metallica really is playing a different tune these days. According to the BBC:

    Speaking on San Francisco radio station Live 105, Lars Ulrich said: “If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days.”

    “It’s 2008 and it’s part of how it is these days,” the musician added

    Interesting. Lovely. So a quick check of Xtorrent and–yep, there it is. I wonder if it really is the oh-so-awaited return to form that’s worth buying?

    [EDIT: Well, it's good on first listen! Back to form. Yes indeed.]

  • 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.

  • 20 July, 2008

    It’s go-live time for Tor.com

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 12:12 pm permalink

    The not-so-super-seekrit project that’s been sucking down so much of everyone’s time over at Tor Books finally goes live today. Tor.com is a new science-fiction and fantasy themed community site, where a whole lot of luminaries from the SF/F fandom community will be contributing content about ‘Science Fiction. Fantasy. The Universe. And Related Subjects.’, as the tagline says.

    Tor.com started as a glimmer in the eyes of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Irene Gallo, and Fritz Foy, over a year ago. With the design direction of regular badass Jamie Stafford-Hill, they’ve been working tirelessly, quietly, and sometimes not-so-quietly on it since. Tor.com will feature original content from some of SF/F’s most talented voices, such as John Scalzi, Charles Stross, and Cory Doctorow; as well as blogging from both genre authors and genre fans (including yours truly). It also features a kickass gallery of SF/F artists, with work from cover artists, game designers, conceptual artists for film and TV, you name it. Additionally, the site is a social network, so you can create a profile and connect with artists, writers, and fellow fans.

    As launch date loomed closer, and it came time to recruit bloggers and beta testers, pnh and Irene approached me to see if I would be interested in contributing, to which I replied “Yeah!”. Once they realized that launch date would be the same week as Comic Con San Diego, and that they’d need people there to cover what is probably one of the largest fandom events of the year, Irene popped into my office and asked me if I wanted to go to Comic Con, to which I replied “Fuck yeah!”.

    So I’ll be going to and blogging from Comic Con San Diego this week. Don’t hate me too much.

    Aside from reportage, I’ll also be posting about other SF/F-related stuff on Tor.com, including a regular column which was originally planned for this site. A while ago, the crew in the art department at Tor realized that there really was no SF/F-specific book cover review blog out there, and we felt there should be. After all, SF/F book design is a very particular thing: we are much more illustration heavy than other genres, we have a particular visual language and ideosyncracies that may be beyond (or beside) the scope of traditional book cover reviews. I shot off an email to my co-workers proposing to start something up, and it became incredibly obvious that the perfect home for a feature like that would be Tor.com. So there you go. Here’s a link to the initial post for that, outlining all the ins-and-outs of how it’s gonna work.

  • 5 May, 2008

    Little Brother, for download.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:32 am permalink

    Cory Doctorow has released his fantastic new YA novel, Little Brother as a free, Creative Commons-licensed download. Go, go get it now. Read it, enjoy it, and share it, especially with the younger ones. I can’t stress this enough. This book is generating a whole lot of buzz, and for all the right reasons.

  • 22 April, 2008

    Watchmen ad creation contest.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 1:02 pm permalink

    Zak Snyder has announced a contest for people to submit fake ads and other, Veidt Enterprises-related promotional material, here. The winning entries will be used as in-story content in the upcoming Watchmen movie. I’m split three ways about this:

    The fanboy in me is incredibly excited to see this film. Snyder outdid himself on 300. Watchmen, from what I’ve seen so far, looks to be of the same caliber and fidelity to the original comic. 

    The web-denizen in me is very interested to see a motion picture from a major studio integrate crowdsourcing into its production. 

    However, the creative professional in me balks at the idea that this is, in effect, a muti-national conglomerate (and member of the MPAA, no less) soliciting spec work from the masses, to be used in a profit-generating film. I have absolutely no doubt that some of the entries will be of professional caliber, and the thought of some hapless fanboy giving away his hard work for mere geek-cred just rubs me the wrong way. While, upon reading the fine print, one does find that there are cash prizes to be won,the legalese seems a bit sketchy to me. I’m inclined to speculate, but I am not a lawyer, and I have trouble parsing legalese, so I’ll keep my mouth shut. Anyone else have any thoughts?

  • 21 March, 2008

    Oh my gawd it’s SABOTAGE!!!

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 11:55 am permalink

    This is hilarious:

     Science blogger PZ Myers, a sharp critic of creationism, was blocked from attending the premiere of Expelled, a creationist propaganda film. The ban apparently came from the producer, who personally instructed the police to keep Myers out; however, Myers’s family and guest were allowed to attend.The irony? Myers’s guest was Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion. 

     I’m still laughing.  Link, via Boing Boing: 

  • 7 March, 2008

    The Contact High That Came Down Through the Ages..

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:10 am permalink

    From The Guardian:

    In the philosophy journal Time and Mind, Benny Shanon states that key events of the Old Testament are actually records of visions by ancient Israelites high on hallucinogens.  

    So, Moses was high as a kite when he had his close encounters with yahweh. Trippin’ balls. Stoned out of his mind. No wonder he heard disembodied voices and saw funny lights. I mean, who hasn’t, right? Anyway, my point here is simply: this is news? Just because the only people who like to get high in order to reach god nowadays are Rastafarians and the pseudo-mystical psychedelic Latin American shamans trying to separate aging hippies from their money, doesn’t mean that this wasn’t the modus operandi back in the day. All these old-school mystics and clerics used mind-altering substances: the oracle at Delphi, the Druids, etc. To suppose that the forebears of the Judeo-Christian tradition are any different simply because our modern-day popular moral code vilifies any and all type of substance abuse is self-serving delusion, at best.