Permanence is Karl's second novel, and it's brilliant -- at its core is a massive, hard-sf conceit: that because tool-use expends more energy than adaptation (i.e., when confronted with a marsh, it's easier to be a marsh-bird than to figure out how to drain it), that over time, all the races of the universe will use genetic engineering to adapt themselves to their habitats and so become nonsentient. Layered on top of that are braided adventure stories, religious cults, and a kind of intellectual property imperialism driven by smart dust and twisted by lightspeed lags. This is the kind of book that changes you, and he deserved the hell out of this award.
All other factors being equal, each extra degree of sprawl meant extra weight, less walking, and a little more high blood pressure, he concluded. Someone living in the most sprawling county - Geauga County outside Cleveland - would weigh 6.3 pounds more than if that same person lived in the most compact area, Manhattan.Link Discuss (via Futurismic)
The Myth: Iraqis, prior to occupation, lived in little beige tents set up on the sides of little dirt roads all over Baghdad. The men and boys would ride to school on their camels, donkeys and goats. These schools were larger versions of the home units and for every 100 students, there was one turban-wearing teacher who taught the boys rudimentary math (to count the flock) and reading. Girls and women sat at home, in black burkas, making bread and taking care of 10-12 children.Link Discuss (via William Gibson)
"There is not a chance in the world that (these types of devices) will do anything but lighten your wallet," said John Moulder, a professor of radiation oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who said he's seen a slew of products that claim to do the same thing, including radio-frequency-proof lingerie.Link Discuss
Harezi first developed the Teslar chip in 1986 to help people with extreme sensitivity to electricity, from televisions to vacuum cleaners. She said the "environmentally handicapped" people who wore the watch were able to resume their lives.
Logically - indeed, free-software geeks are the most logical hippies in the whole wide world - the revolution is at hand. Why should anybody pay for software? What do you get for your money besides shrink-wrap licenses, potential lawsuits, DRM cuffs around both wrists, and a cloud of viruses? "Property relations" are blocking social and technical progress. Secure computing and digital rights management are coercive regimes that would make George Orwell blush. The free market is a tissue of political fiction as brittle as an Eastern European regime. With open source code on tap, the software trade will collapse under its own weight.Link Discuss
My party, the Guns and Dope Party, invites extremists of both right and left to unite behind our shared goals of:I haven't been this excited about politics since RU Sirius ran for President! Link Discuss
1. Get those pointy-headed Washington bureaucrats off our backs and off our fronts too!
2. Guns for everybody who wants them; no guns for those who don't want them
3. Drugs for everybody who wants them; no drugs for those who don't want them
4. Freedom of choice, free love,free speech, free Internet and free beer
5. California secession -- Keep the anti-gun and anti-dope fanatics on the Eastern side of the Rockies
6. Lotsa wild parties every night by gun-toting dopers
7. Animal protection -- Support your right to keep and arm bears
More position papers will follow; we know at least 69 good positions.
Trish gathered her staff in the board room and wrote the following in glowing letters on the wall with her fingertip, leaving the text in her expressive schoolmarm's handwriting rather than converting it to some sterile font: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."Link Discuss
Her staff, all five of them, chuckled softly. "Recognize it?" she asked, looking round at them.
"Pee-Wee Herman?" said the grassroots guy, who was so young it ached to look at him, but who could fire a cannonload of email into any congressional office on 12 hours' notice. He never stopped joking.
The lawyer cocked an eyebrow at him and stroked her moustache, a distinctive gesture that you could see in any number of courtv archives of famous civil-rights battles, typically just before she unloaded both barrels at the jury-box and set one or another of her many precedents. "It's Martin Luther King, right?"
"Close," Trish said.
"Geronimo," guessed the paralegal, who probably wasn't going to work out after all, being something of a giant flake who spent more time on the phone to her girlfriend than filing papers and looking up precedents.
"Nope," Trish said, looking at the other two staffers -- the office manager and the media guy -- who shrugged and shook their heads. "It's Gandhi," she said.
They all went, "Ohhhh," except the grassroots guy, who crossed to the wall and used his fingertip to add, "And then they assassinate you."
"I'm too tough to die," the lawyer said. "And you're all too young. So I think we're safe."
The BBC, in theory, shouldn't care how many times you share a copy of, say, Dixon of Dock Green. On the contrary, it should thank you. You're taking the hard work - and cost - out of distributing the works you have already paid for with your licence fee. So not only does the BBC not need to care about Napster and other file-sharing systems - it can actively take advantage of them. Distributing content in this way does not reduce the BBC's income, but it can reduce its costs. Copy protection devices and clampdowns on internet copying just get in the way of the BBC's mission.Link Discuss
Of course, simply allowing anyone to download and copy the BBC's output has its problems. While broadcasts are free, the BBC makes money selling DVDs and tapes of its work, and reselling to other countries. Not a great deal of money - less than 5% of the £3bn it receives in licence fees - but some.
Fair & Balanced is a scathing satirical attack on Fox News Channel and its claim of ownership to the words "fair and balanced." Playwright Brian Flemming, who co-wrote the Off-Broadway smash hit Bat Boy: The Musical, penned this dark one-act comedy in which "Fair" and "Balanced" are characters—they are prisoners held in an underground dungeon, and every night at 8 p.m. a foul character named "Bill O'Reilly" comes down into the dungeon to torture them.Link Discuss (Thanks, Brian!)
Eisner has expressed interest in reanimating Disney's classic 2-D features in 3-D.Link Discuss (Thanks, Greg!)
A computerized Pinocchio, anyone? (In fact, much of the 3-D character animation for Walt Disney World's upcoming Mickey's PhilharMagic was so bad—in particular Ariel from The Little Mermaid—it had to be reanimated by 2-D animators, then transferred into the computer.) The tens of millions of dollars lost on Treasure Planet are fresh on Disney's mind—and executives are bracing for the worst with next spring's Home on the Range.
God began our conversation by clearing something up. Some of George W. Bush's friends say that Bush believes God called him to be president during these times of trial. But God told me that He/She/It had actually chosen Al Gore by making sure that Gore won the popular vote and, God thought, the Electoral College. "THAT WORKED FOR EVERYONE ELSE," God said.Link Discuss
"What about Tilden?" I asked, referring to the 1876 debacle.
"QUIET!" God snapped. God was angry.
God said that after 9/11, George W. Bush squandered a unique moment of national unity. That instead of rallying the country around a program of mutual purpose and sacrifice, Bush cynically used the tragedy to solidify his political power and pursue an agenda that panders to his base and serves the interests of his corporate backers.
Update: Numerous BoingBoing readers have e-mailed to ask why John Perry Barlow's head was selected to represent "A Bad Trip" (shown at left) That is not John Perry Barlow's head. That is Chuck Norris' head.
I don't really write sequels. More than half the point of writing sf is thinking up new worlds, and sequels involve revisiting places I've left behind.
But this is different. A couple years ago, right after I sold the novel, I wrote a short-story set in the same world as the book, but a century or more later. It's a parable about Napster, and it's called Truncat, and today, Salon has published it. And you can read it for free.
First, Adrian got on the subway, opting to go deadhead for a faster load-time. He stepped into the sparkling cryochamber at the Downsview Station, conjured a helmet-mounted display (HUD) against his field of vision, and granted permission to be frozen. The next thing he knew, he was thawing out on the Union Station platform, pressed belly-to-butt with a couple thousand other commuters who'd opted for the same treatment. In India, where this kind of convenience-freezing was even more prevalent, Mohan had observed that the reason their generation was small for their age was that they spent so much of it in cold-sleep, conserving space in transit. Adrian might've been 18, but he figured that he'd spent at least one cumulative year frozen.Link Discuss
Adrian shuffled through the crowd and up the stairs to the steady-temp surface, peeling off the routing sticker that the cryo had stuck to his shoulder. His tummy was still rumbling, so he popped the sticker in his mouth and chewed until it had dissolved, savoring the steaky flavor and the burst of calories. The guy who'd figured out edible routing tags had Whuffie to spare: Adrian's mom knew someone who knew someone who knew him, and she said that he had an entire subaquatic palace to rattle around in.
A clamor of swallowing noises filled his ears, as the crowd subvocalized, carrying on conversations with distant friends. Adrian basked in the warm, simulated sunlight emanating from the dome overhead. He was going outside of the dome in a matter of minutes, and he had a sneaking suspicion that he was going to be plenty cold soon enough. He patted his little rucksack and made sure he had his cowl with him.
Interfaces and Services: Sherlock, Watson, and Dashboard; micro-content viewers and RSS; laptop, palmtop, hiptop, and cellphone interfaces; web services.Link Discuss
Social Software Software: for describing and exploring social connections, FOAF (friend-of-a-friend networks), Flash Mobs, MeetUp, and related applications.
Untethered: WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks; Rendezvous, SMS, and ad hoc networking; Symbian and J2ME mobile development environments.
Location: GPS/GIS technologies and devices, location based services, navigational devices, geospacial annotation tools, and visualization software.
Hardware Hardware: hacks and mobile devices, sensor arrays, RFID tags, TinyOS, and sub-micro computing.
Business Models: Who is putting a stake in the ground and attempting to build the new applications, network, and online culture -- and how are they doing it?
Lam Vi Quoc negotiates his scooter through Ho Chi Minh City's relentless stream of pedal traffic and hangs a right down a crowded alley. He climbs the steep wooden stairs of the tiny house he shares with nine family members, passing by his mother, who is stooped on the floor of the second level preparing lunch. He ascends another set of even steeper steps to the third level and settles on a stool at a small desk, pushing aside the rolled-up mat he sleeps on with one of his brothers. To the smell of a chicken roasting on a grill in the alley and the clang of the next-door neighbor's metalworking operation, Lam turns on his Pentium 4 PC, and soon the screen displays Lecture 2 of Laboratory in Software Engineering, a course taught each semester on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Here," he says, pointing at the screen. "This is where I got the idea to use decoupling as a way of integrating two programs."Link Discuss
CAPPS II testing has been restarted.Link Discuss
The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration continues in its attempts to set up defacto internal border controls at our nation's airports.
In response to the collaboration of Galileo, a subsidiary of Cendant, Inc. in this test of the CAPPS II system, a disinvestment campaign has been launched.
My memories of "Cheaper by the Dozen" remained happy over the years, but it was with a measure of apprehension that I opened the book recently. The books of one's childhood rarely age well into one's late adulthood, no matter how affectionate (and dim) one's memories may be. Yes, I love C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels as much now as I did when I was a boy, but those are the rare exceptions; mostly the literary pleasures of childhood and adolescence are best left undisturbed in later years.Link Discuss (Thanks, Paul!)
So it is a joy to report that "Cheaper by the Dozen" still reads remarkably well. It is not a work of literature and no claims will be made for it as such. It is about American family life at a time (the 1910s and 1920s) now so impossibly distant that today's teenage reader may be unable to connect with it. Yet families are families, then as now, and I like to think that young readers would respond to the Gilbreth family's joys and sorrows just as I and millions of other, older readers have.
The prose in "Cheaper by the Dozen" is unadorned and matter of fact, and its organizational structure is a bit difficult to detect, but what matters most is that it is a touching family portrait that also happens to be very, very funny. Paterfamilias Gilbreth is, to paraphrase the Reader's Digest, one of the most unforgettable characters you'll ever meet. His wife was by any standards a remarkable woman, but in the book her role is mainly that of mother and helpmeet. Yes, at a time when a female college graduate was still something of a rarity, she accumulated a bunch of degrees -- when she and Frank married one newspaper wrote, "Although a graduate of the University of California, the bride is nonetheless an extremely attractive young woman" -- but in these pages the limelight only occasionally falls on her.
"The important thing about Burning Man is that it is the most experiential phenomenon I can think of," says [Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow, who has been making the yearly pilgrimage since 1997]. "It can't be turned into data in any useful way. You can't informatize it by blogging it, filming it or taking pictures of it, because so much of it can't be translated into information."Link, Discuss
Burning Man volunteer Jim Graham isn't fazed when he hears the event derided by some as "Girls Gone Wild" with extra helpings of sand and drugs. "Any time someone makes that kind of generalization, I say 'Yeah! It's exactly like that,' and smile. In the beginning, I came for the spectacle. Now, I come back for the opportunity to interact with so many people who possess such mind-boggling creativity."
Sometimes first-time attendees get a little too mind-boggled. "One crew from Israel last year wanted to do a 24-hour falafel camp," Graham recalls. "I said, 'Guys, maybe you should just do it around dinnertime.' They became such a hit, they were all wiped out by the third day. It's still a temporary city of 30,000 in the middle of nowhere, so there are practical considerations. Bikes get stolen, people get in fights over how loud the trance music is, someone still has to coordinate port-a-potties. But it's like nothing else."
For the most part, Snow Crash turned out to be a failed prediction. People have shown limited interest in immersive 3-D technology, so I think it worked better as a novel than as a prognostication. But it provided a reasonable, coherent picture of a particular kind of entertainment technology. That sort of vision is valuable to engineers. Because of the way institutions work, an engineer ends up working on one part of a system but doesn't get to stand back and see the big picture. When engineering types speak highly of some science fiction writer, usually it's not because that person predicted the future. Rather, it's because he or she put together disparate ideas into a coherent vision that could be used as a road map by the people who are actually deploying such a technology.Link Discuss