ElectroliteA weblog, copyright 2000 by Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
(For archival purposes only. Not to be taken internally. Click here for the current incarnation of this weblog.)
Having become one of those annoying people who constantly emails his friends URLs I think they might find interesting, I'm going to try to reform by putting them on this page instead. We'll see if anyone actually finds it useful.
These links come from all over the collective electronic unconscious, but special mention should be made of other weblogs I regularly find rewarding: Arts & Letters Daily, Raphael Carter's Honeyguide, Avram Grumer's Pigs and Fishes, Jorn Barger's Robot Wisdom, and Slashdot.
I'm full of good intentions about updating this page every few days, but ha ha ha.
July 7, 2000
Haven't we heard over the years about several different German companies that were all going to revive the age of the zeppelin? Nonetheless, for those of us who live in hope, this one is no more implausible-sounding than any of the others. (Thanks to Lucy Huntzinger for pointing it out.)
A project to build a pair of twelve-story Tesla coils, "capable of producing electrical discharges up to 300 feet in length, filling an area the size of a football field between the towers with a continuous display of high power lightning discharges." As always with proposals of this sort, the promoters justify their pitch for donations by citing various implausible high-minded purposes. One suspects it might be more effective to simply say "Help us build this so we can make 300-foot lightning bolts on command. What? You need a reason?"
Sometimes Barney Starts Playing Peekaboo on His Own. Next, sometimes Barney executes a VBS script to send copies of himself to all your child's friends.
Good Salon piece on the state of anti-Einstein kookery. Although I really wanted to read more about truly inspired kooks like Archimedes Plutonium. Remember, there are no kooks better than Usenet kooks--ask for them by name!
"I ask the Minister whether, no pun intended, it's appropriate in this case for a woman's body parts to be inserted into a sheep when that's normally been the domain of Tory males?" (New Zealand MP Grant Gillon, in a debate on transgenic sheep containing female human DNA. From The Null Device.)
July 5, 2000
The Motives and Psychology of the Black-Hat Community. "Black-Hat" as in "the people who make a hobby of breaking into our computers", two of whom are tracked here while they do precisely that. Kevin Maroney, who drew my attention to this piece, points out that the transcripts of online conversation between the two hackerz being tracked are "breathtaking...like five layers of parody removed from reality."
I once remarked that if Usenet had a coat of arms, the motto on the scroll below would read "So There." I now observe further that if the Internet as a whole had a comparable motto, it would be whatever is the Latin for "For Every Pot, A Lid." In evidence, I offer the Nude Overclocking Page and a fan page about the Red Army. WebTV friendly!
Ostrogoth! Pithecanthropus! Bashi-bazouk! If invective like that rings a bell, you may wish to visit both this site and this one. Blistering barnacles!
Those cranky Europeans suspect our high-tech Echelon communications-intercept system might have been used to tilt lucrative contracts to American firms. Now how could they suspect a thing like that? (I particularly like the last paragraph of this BBC story, where we explain that we did not and besides, everybody does it. Personally, I think it's time for our nap.)
July 3, 2000
Violent Media is Good for Kids, from, of all places, Mother Jones. "At 13 I was alone and afraid. Taught by my well-meaning, progressive, English-teacher parents that violence was wrong, that rage was something to be overcome and cooperation was always better than conflict, I suffocated my deepest fears and desires under a nice-boy persona. Placed in a small, experimental school that was wrong for me, afraid to join my peers in their bumptious rush into adolescent boyhood, I withdrew into passivity and loneliness. My parents, not trusting the violent world of the late 1960s, built a wall between me and the crudest elements of American pop culture. Then the Incredible Hulk smashed through it..."
Very amusing roundup on the Coen brothers, occasioned by the imminent release of the "director's cut" of Blood Simple. Which, we're somehow unsurprised to discover, will be five minutes shorter than the original.
Department of Insidious Global Memes: Varieties of the Balloon Hat Experience.
American liberals under the vague impression that Tony Blair's "New Labour" is centrist-but-benign need to read up on New Labour's "RIP" proposals, a legislative initiative that surpasses anything Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan would have dared propose. This information center, run by opponents of the bill, is a good place to start.
Longtime members of science fiction fandom will perhaps be fantasted to learn that the young lady who runs this page is Charles Burbee's great-granddaughter.
Interesting Salon piece about Martin Amis, made a bit more interesting by being by Graham Joyce, author of several very fine contemporary fantasy novels including Requiem and The Tooth Fairy.
Be an intrepid scientific investigator from your desktop! Run (it was inevitable) YetiAtHome.
No, really: Anglicans being what can only be called fannish about Anglicanism.
A wire-service piece suggesting that lions and other big carniverous beasts that attack humans may do so because of dental problems that keep them from feeding on their normal prey. Raphael Carter comments: "I'm Depraved Because I'm Decayed."
Jon Carroll achieves a bracing moral froth about the death penalty in America today: "It is no longer possible to have exquisite abstract discussions about the death penalty. It is no longer possible to debate the problem of evil far into the night, or the nature of vengeance, or to use the phrase `false compassion' in a sentence. Those dorm-room bull sessions belong to an alternative universe. They are like discussions about whether the king of England should submit to the will of the pope, or whether elephants can be useful in battle. Perhaps those discussions were relevant once, but that time has passed. The question is not: Should the state be allowed to put to death people guilty of crimes it finds particularly heinous? That's an interesting question, but it's fantasy. The question now is: Should the state be allowed to kill innocent people because it's afraid to admit error?" Would that more of us spoke and wrote as clearly.