More scenes from a book tour: SECURE DOCUMENTS!
More scenes from a book tour: SECURE DOCUMENTS!
Remember the potential weirdo sex-dungeon in Houston's Hotel ZaZa? A reader with inside knowledge writes,
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That "two-way mirror" in 322 hangs on the bathroom wet wall for the more spacious suite 321 next door. So in the "secret voyeur room" case, you'd be standing in the bathroom next door and looking through a piping chase full of sanitary and domestic water lines. The bricks are a veneer that they decided to stop at the frame of the mirror. It doesn't seem like this room was specially built for secret sex shows or whatnot. At least, no more than any other hotel room with potential for pinhole cameras and so on.
I think it really is just an awkwardly placed and sized room, dictated by adjacent suite and service elevator lobby/shaft requirements. (See attached snippet from floor plans.) The associated balcony sits in a corner, so it is in fact larger than the balconies in the adjacent conventional rooms, as the ZaZa rep claims. I have no explanation for why some owner, architect and/or interior designer thought this would be a good theme for a room, though.
In March 1970, the ARPANET reached the East Coast of the United States, when an IMP at BBN in Cambridge, Massachusetts was connected to the network. Thereafter, the ARPANET grew: 9 IMPs by June 1970 and 13 IMPs by December 1970, then 18 by September 1971 (when the network included 23 university and government hosts); 29 IMPs by August 1972, and 40 by September 1973. By June 1974, there were 46 IMPs, and in July 1975, the network numbered 57 IMPs. By 1981, the number was 213 host computers, with another host connecting approximately every twenty days.
In 1973 a transatlantic satellite link connected the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) to the ARPANET, making Norway the first country outside the US to be connected to the network. At about the same time a terrestrial circuit added a London IMP.
A redditor called joelikesmusic reported that a friend of his had been checked into a weird, narrow dungeon-like theme room at the Hotel Zaza in Houston (it's got lots of theme suites -- I once stayed in their awesome space-themed one with my family, on the way to my honeymoon). When he complained, the front desk apparently told him that it was a mistake -- no one was supposed to use that room.
The ZaZa's management told the press that it was a "prison" themed room, and that there was no mystery, but intrepid redditors have been examining the pictures (especially the portrait of Jay Comeaux, a banking exec from the disgraced Stanford Banking Executive, and have been spinning out theories about secret societies and rituals in the comments.
However, one commenter called lejefferson makes a plausible case that the room is a sex-dungeon with a one-way voyeur's mirror, used by rich weirdos:
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What person that you know keeps a creepy picture of a guy over their television. This is obviously a secret room either personal or for a small group of people for sexual liasons/ S&M prostitution or worse. The mirror and small space of the room also indicates there is a good chance that the mirror is two way and that people could pay to come watch the sexual/S&M events occuring. The photo of a Stanford Banking Executive, (Jay Comeaux), on the wall further indicates that this is a high society sex room. The fact that the clerk said, "This room isn't supposed to be rented out" indicates that there was a big mistake and they didn't want anyone to find out about the room.
I've known that Leonard Richardson was a good writer for half a decade, since he was my student at Viable Paradise.
I just finished Leonard's debut novel, Constellation Games and I'm literally trembling with excitement. Because Constellation Games IS AN AMAZING BOOK.
Here's the plot: Ariel Blum is an Austin-based game-developer with a crappy job making Pony franchise collectible content games for the ten-year-old Brazilian girl market. Then aliens invade the Earth. The Constellation is a coalition of many alien species who have travelled unimaginable distances to invite the Earth to join their loose-knit, non-coercive, freewheeling anarcho-syndicalist collective civilization, which has more than 100 million years' worth of history.
Ariel send the aliens an email. He has a snarky game-review blog where he writes entertainingly about crummy games. Do the aliens have any crappy games they can send him? Turns out they do. From the Constellation space-station (built out of nanocomputers and moon-dust), an alien called Curic drop-ships Ariel a bunch of alien video-games, wrapped in re-entry foam. The aliens are sending stuff like this to a lot of people, and in America, the new Bureau of Extraterrestrial Affairs (made up of ambitious jerks from the DHS) are scrambling to get it all under control.
Ariel has access to the Constellation Database of Games of a Certain Complexity, which contains user-rankings for every game invented by every alien species in the Constellation, including ones that (ominously) are now extinct. He starts mining it for interesting games to download, play and review. Read the rest
Facecord is a chest of drawers disguised as a woodpile, with hidden drawers:
the vision of a stockpile of wooden logs, brings forth visions of fueling the fire and keeping warm by the hearth on cold winter's night.american artist mark moskovitz translates this into 'facecord', a chest of drawers using the irregularities and haphazard geometry of cordwood,and the accidental poetry of its stacking to camouflage the storage furniture's actual function. the work is included in new york's museum of arts & design exhibition against the grain which features projects that examine the age-old medium of wood, and how it can be transformed intoa contemporary object.
Someone using the City of Melbourne's IP block has been introducing biased edits to the Wikipedia page for Occupy Melbourne, attempting to erase the record of council's resolve to remove Occupy, and trying to smear the Occupy protest by removing the adjective "peaceful" from the page. The edits were made anonymously, but Wikipedia publishes IP addresses for anonymous contributors, and the IP address in question, 126.96.36.199, is registered to the city.
Proof of attacks on Occupy Melbourne Wikipedia page, attempts to change history and evidence in on-going federal court cases. More importantly the edits were made during the last week of MCC’s 2012 elections. A quick tidy up of MCC’s image just before the election. Anyone who didn’t think Melbourne City Council (MCC) was (and still is) opposed to Occupy Melbourne either has their head in the sand, is plainly lying or delusional.
The smoking gun, proof Melbourne City Council is behind the IP address 188.8.131.52 editing Occupy Melbourne Wikipedia page. The timing of this edit is far from coincidental. 21st October, the one year anniversary of the brutal city square eviction and just days before the 2012 Melbourne city council elections, where Robert Doyle sought and gained re-election.
USA USA USA Read the rest
A Long Time Ago, Gib Van Ert's memoir about growing up with Star Wars became news last Christmas, when it disappeared from Amazon following a bogus trademark question. It's been back for months now, and has been in my to-read pile for much longer, and I've finally had the pure pleasure of reading it.
A Long Time Ago is a thoughtful, funny, and beautifully written story of the role that Star Wars played in Van Ert's life, shaping his destiny as he was raised by a USMC-deserting draft dodger and a runaway Texas beauty queen in small town British Colombia. Like me, Van Ert saw the first movie as a small boy, and thereafter principally experienced it through toys, records and merchandising tie-ins. His critiques of the Kenner action figures are both scathingly hilarious and bang on, and that's pretty much a microcosm for the whole book.
By Van Ert's own admission, he's not the biggest Star Wars fan that ever lived. But Star Wars was a gateway into other nerdy pastimes -- comic collecting, Atari home systems, coin-op video games, Dungeons and Dragons -- and he does an excellent job of tracing the curious ways that the specific nerdiness of his (and my generation) shaped his intellectual and personal pursuits.
He explains how he fell away from Star Wars fandom after the third movie, forgot about it until the "special editions," and experienced his first rumblings of anxiety about the destiny of his nearly forgotten but warmly remembered passion. Read the rest
While wandering the NYC offices of my publisher Tor, I happened upon these beautiful 2010 omnibus reissues of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld books. These are some of my favorite books of all time, and these editions are fab. Here's the setup, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The story of Riverworld begins when almost the whole of humanity, from the time of the first homo sapiens through to the early 21st century, is simultaneously resurrected along the banks of the river. The number of people is given as "thirty-six billion, six million, nine thousand, six hundred and thirty-seven" (36,006,009,637). Of these, at least 20% are from the 20th century, due to the high levels of population in later centuries compared to earlier ones. There is also a cut-off point, as no one from the 21st century or later is resurrected. Originally the specific cut-off year was given as 1983 (which was still a speculative date when the novels were first published) but this was later updated to 2008. The ostensible reason for the cut-off was that it indicated the point at which most of the human race had been purposefully annihilated during a catastrophic first contact with aliens visiting Earth. The protagonists later find out this is a creative fiction, produced by the masterminds behind the resurrection, so the spies among the resurrectees could identify each other.
Sara from the British Humanist Association sez,
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The British Humanist Association is selling the original Atheist Bus Campaign signs. The controversial campaign was launched in October 2008 and by January 2009 had been the subject of 326 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, including a complaint from Stephen Green of Christian Voice(UK) who said "It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules." Hanne Stinson of the BHA argued that if the ASA rule on this complaint, then the ASA will be ruling on whether God exists.
Each sign is in two parts and these things are pretty large (3.96 metres x 0.5 metres) â€“ they came straight off the side of one of the original Atheist Buses in London. One has already been promised to the Museum of London, but the others are up for grabs to go on your bedroom wall (if it fits), your roof, on your bus (if you have one), or your really long car!
You can own one of these unique pieces of atheist and humanist history by bidding here now. You can bid from anywhere in the world but remember that you will have to pay for the postage and shipping on top of your bid! The money raised will all go towards the BHA's work for a secular state, promoting learning about humanism in schools, and the various other BHA campaigns which can be found on our website.
Scott Edelman sez, "I was surprised to spot Isaac Asimov's head bouncing around this morning in an ad for Pimsleur Approach. I don't recall him ever writing anything on that subject, or hearing him pontificate on it, and a Google search only turns up a single reference that connects the two -- and that's for people who are equally as pissed off at seeing a great man misused by it as I am! A photo of Isaac Asimov is not a stock image that can be used to imply endorsement. I've written both companies to ask WTF is going on, and will let you know what I find out."