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Tuesday, July 29, 2003
SALAM IN TIKRIT
posted
10:53 PM
MY MAN SALAM

I'm a total fan. Tells it like he sees it, and sees it like I can't.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1008584,00.html


TOO IMAGINATIVE
posted
12:00 PM
ENDER'S FUTURES MARKET TERMINATED

"'My understanding is it's going to be terminated,' Wolfowitz told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He added that while the Defense Department was supposed to be imaginative, 'it sounds like maybe they got too imaginative' with the online futures market plan." (Reuters)

The last time DARPA got too imaginative, we wound up with the Internet.

Monday, July 28, 2003
IRAQ AS SIM CITY?
posted
4:50 PM
ENDER'S FUTURES MARKET?

If I'd made this up in a work of fiction, I'd expect to hear the suspension groaning, under your disbelief:

http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aFteJq2TUQoM&refer=us

DARPA. Those boys are *deep*...


Friday, July 25, 2003
SECRET LIFE OF A TYPO
posted
3:50 PM
THE SPRUCE CUTTER: SECRET LIFE OF A TYPO

Yesterday evening in Chapters (the Canadian equivalent, roughly, of Borders, or Barnes & Noble) I happened to notice a stack of paperbacked ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES displayed on a Staff Picks table. Pleased to see it there, I gave in to an uncharacteristic impulse to read a page or two, just to see how the opening would strike me.

"Yamazaki sees that the thing is a model of some kind, a robot or military exoskeleton. It glitters in the sun-bright light, blue and red and silver. Small tools are spread on the tatami: a razor knife, a spruce cutter, curls of emery paper."

"Sprue," I began to mutter. "Sprue. Fucking *sprue* already..."

Here's a link to a sprue cutter:

http://www.greenwayproducts.com/buy_tool_sprue.htm

"Spruce cutter", aside from being precisely *not* that which I intended, also introduces a level of obvious ambiguity into the text, in that it might well mean a number of things:

"It disturbed her that her daughter was sleeping with a spruce cutter." (A lifelong Green, she was troubled by her daughter's liason with an ecologically incorrect lumberjack.)

"That's a mighty spruce cutter you have there, son." (The addressee's knife is natty indeed, perhaps a balisong with pink mother-of-pearl handles.)

"He decided he needed to buy a spruce cutter." (The one he'd previously used for pine was clearly not up to this new task.)

But my main point is that this error was likely produced without human intervention: this looks like a spell-check misunderstanding, a purely digital typo. Had I taken the time with the proofs of the paperback, I might have caught it, but in fact I think I assumed that the text of the hardcover, mightily labored over, would somehow be transfered intact to the paperback.

O well. As long as you, the reader, know that all digitized text is to some extent fluid, and that we labor as best we can to increase the signal while reducing the noise.





Tuesday, July 22, 2003
BURIED BOMBERS; CASH
posted
8:22 AM
UNDERGROUND BERLIN

http://thescotsman.co.uk/international.cfm?id=792292003

COLD, HARD CYBERCASH

There's a certain elegance to this...

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/21/technology/21PATE.html?hp




Friday, July 18, 2003
DANES AND CHAIRS
posted
11:41 PM
DANISH DESIGNER CHAIR OTAKU THRILLER

Danes take designer chairs very seriously. "What chairs did your parents have, when you were young?" seems to have approximately the same weight as "Where did you live, as a child?" The evening I first noticed this, I excused myself from from a long Copenhagen bar conversation about designer chairs to go to the men's room, only to discover a framed poster of all the great Danish designer chairs. As if there to consult should one tipsily forget who designed what.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/not_in_website/syndication/monitoring/media_reports/3079013.stm





Tuesday, July 15, 2003
SALAM PAX
posted
6:41 PM
I HAVE TO START KEEPING UP WITH SALAM PAX AGAIN...

I'd heard about the Guardian hiring him, but hadn't looked him up. I feel he's someone I got to know and like, and who I then had to assume might likely be dead. I wish he were really blogging again, though.

I've also heard he has a book contract with an American publisher.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,998227,00.html


ECOLOGY OF CREATIVITY
posted
7:59 AM
SOMEONE POSTS THAT NO STARBUCKS IN TOKYO ALLOWS SMOKING

Quite true. but the one in PR is "a...Starbucks clone". Not Starbucks but an almost exact copy. An actual place, opposite a branch of Parco, and they do allow smoking.

And with that I think I'm going to cease responding to posts about PR, as I've already ceased paying much attention to them. Which I think is both natural and a good thing. I need to allow PR to fade into the creative past, leaving room for whatever's next.

I don't, in the natural course of things, think about completed books much at all, and I never reread them. It's been so long since I've read COUNT ZERO and MLO that I'd have a hard time describing more than the general plot of each and a few favorite sections. Somehow that seems very much as it should be.


Monday, July 14, 2003
ANTIGRAV LIFTER
posted
11:26 PM
BUILD YOUR OWN HIGH-VOLTAGE ANTI-GRAVITY LIFTER USING STARBUCK'S WOODEN STIR-STICKS!

Actually I don't encourage anyone to do this; just looking at the pictures of what's inside your computer monitor is scary enough! Touch the wrong wire, there, and we're talking Crispy Critter. However, if you *were* going to build your own anti-gravity lifter, you *could* substitute Starbuck's stir-sticks, gluing them together with Elmer's white glue and a 1" overlap.

http://www.americanantigravity.com/lifterplans.html


STARBUCKS' STIR-STICKS
posted
11:23 AM
SOMEONE COMPLAINS THAT THOSE WOODEN STICKS AT STARBUCKS...

Don't really stir the sugar into your coffee.

True, but there's absolutely nothing better for mixing Humbrol model-builder's enamel, in those tiny little cans. They also do a great job as disposable glue-spreaders. And if you build dollhouses, they can be used for *flooring*.

After your 400th post here, you can build a model of the Empire State Building out of them!

They are arguably the only genuinely beautiful, commonly available "free" objects in the American retail universe. Though not the most useful. The wire coathanger is still the most useful.


Sunday, July 13, 2003
XBOX HACKERS
posted
8:49 PM
THE STREET FINDS ITS OWN USES FOR THE XBOX...


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/10/technology/circuits/10xbox.html


Saturday, July 12, 2003
S'PORE ROCKS OUT
posted
12:10 PM
OKAY, WIRED, I'M READY TO GO BACK

Someone needs to take the measure of these efforts at loosening things up in Singapore:

http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGAW0HQP1ID.html


Wednesday, July 09, 2003
THANKS; MORE JM TRIVIA; GUM IN S'PORE
posted
8:57 AM
THANKS

To everyone who's contributed to the proofing-the-paperback thread. It will help.

MORE SECRET TRIVIA FROM JOHNNY MNEMONIC

Up under the bridge, in LoTek Heaven, there's a forlorn Chris-Craft cabin-cruiser. Close study of its bow will reveal that it's been named after the screenwriter's wife.

SINGAPORE TO LEGALIZE MEDICINAL USE OF CHEWING-GUM!

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1057562228402&p=1012571727102





MORE JM TRIVIA; THANKS; GUM IN S'PORE
posted
8:21 AM
MORE SECRET TRIVIA FROM JOHNNY MNEMONIC

There's a forlorn cabin-cruiser wenched up under the bridge, in the film's version of LoTek Heaven, along with an Airstream trailer and a schoolbus. I think it's a Chris-Craft, which would go nicely with the Airstream.

If you freeze on a scene where the bow of the cruiser is in profile, check out the boat's name, in handsome Fifties cursive. Nilo let me name it.

I have a sort of secret museum of that set, in the form of several rolls of more or less blindly random snapshots I took of it when it was first completed. The pictures themselves aren't that great, but the texture of the set is wonderful. I might be able to stick them somewhere where they can be accessed.

THANKS

To everyone who's contributed to the proofing-for-the-paperback effort.

SINGAPORE TO LEGALIZE MEDICINAL USE OF CHEWING-GUM!

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1057562228402&p=1012571727102






Tuesday, July 08, 2003
SCREENWRITING; FUN WITH PROPS
posted
11:49 AM
SOMEONE POSTS THAT...

As an admirer of Ridley Scott's work, they don't see obsessive attention to sets and costuming as a shortcoming.

Ah. But Ridley Scott is a director, not a screenwriter.

Given that feature screenplays are around 130 pages long, and have lots of white space due to dialogue-spacing, it generally isn't seen to be in the story's interest for the writer to linger over the exact shade and texture of the verigris crusting the bronze zipper of the spacesuit that...well, you get the idea.

Screenplays need their wordcount mainly for dialogue and description of action. If either of those aren't happening, no amount of obsessive visualization of sets or costumes will help at all. And there are designers and costumers who come along later and earn their livings doing those really fun things.

The person I most envied, on the JOHNNY MNEMONIC set, was Nilo Rodis, the designer. He could draw something, then have that previously imaginary object in his hand an hour later.

Ultra-obscure JM design-factoid: When Jane whips out that weirdly flexible, blade-tipped weapon (which was actually an antique collapsible cleaning-rod for swabbing out shotgun-barrels, circa about 1910) in her introductory action-scene, there's a brief but extreme close-up of the blade itself. I made that blade myself, out of the blade from a Spyderco pocket-knife called "The Harpy". Stainless steel, so the trick is to de-temper it before you work on it. Actually I shouldn't say I made it, as I sent it to a skilled metal-worker to be de-tempered, and to have those butt-ugly serrations filed into it, but I did put the Harpy, which I happened to already have, in a vise, and tore it apart, and Fedexed the blade to the metal-worker. I did this because the prop blade in the original shot, for safety reasons, looked exactly like a tiny little putter, and just didn't, uh, cut it. Then I had it welded to a six-inch length of steel rod and Fedexed it to Toronto.

So there is that *one single shot* of JOHNNY MNEMONIC over which I can say I had *absolute control*, as there's nothing in it but that blade. And I have the actual blade somewhere as well, having always vaguely intended to frame it.

SOMEONE POSTS THAT...
posted
11:49 AM
As an admirer of Ridley Scott's work, they don't see obsessive attention to sets and costuming as a shortcoming.

Ah. But Ridley Scott is a director, not a screenwriter.

Given that feature screenplays are around 130 pages long, and have lots of white space due to dialogue-spacing, it generally isn't seen to be in the story's interest for the writer to linger over the exact shade and texture of the verigris crusting the bronze zipper of the spacesuit that...well, you get the idea.

Screenplays need their wordcount mainly for dialogue and description of action. If either of those aren't happening, no amount of obsessive visualization of sets or costumes will help at all. And there are designers and costumers who come along later and earn their livings doing those really fun things.

The person I most envied, on the JOHNNY MNEMONIC set, was Nilo Rodis, the designer. He could draw something, then have that previously imaginary object in his hand an hour later.

Ultra-obscure JM design-factoid: When Jane whips out that weird whip-like, blade-tipped weapon in her introductory action-scene, there's a brief but extreme close-up of the blade itself. I made that blade myself, out of the blade from a Spyderco pocket-knife called "The Harpy". Stainless steel, so the trick is to de-temper it before you work on it. Actually I shouldn't say I made it, as I sent it to a skilled metal-worker to be de-tempered, and to have those butt-ugly serrations filed into it, but I did put the Harpy, which I happened to already have, in a vise, and tore it apart, and Fedexed the blade to the metal-worker. I did this because the prop blade in the original shot, for safety reasons, looked exactly like a tiny little putter, and just didn't, uh, cut it. Then I had it welded to a six-inch length of steel rod and Fedexed it to Toronto.

So there is that *one single shot* of JOHNNY MNEMONIC over which I can say I had *absolute control*, as there's nothing in it but that blade. And I have the actual blade somewhere as well, having always vaguely intended to frame it.

Monday, July 07, 2003
NONE O' MINE; CHILEAN BLOB
posted
1:30 PM
NONE OF THE NEUROMANCER SCRIPTS ON THE NET...

Are by yours truly. Nor are any of them in the least likely ever to be made.

I bring this up because someone from MTV asked me this morning whether I'd written any of them. The idea that anyone familiar with my fiction could assume that I'd written those scripts produces a deep sense of chagrin.

As far as I know, the only script of mine to have made it to Internet pirating is ALIEN III, which for some reason is usually presented in a shortened 100-page version of the 130-page original (probably minus much obsessive description of sets and costumes, a serious screenwriting weakness of mine.)

SO THE CHILEAN BLOB...

Turns out to be a giant squid? I wonder then if the similar mass that washed up in Florida in the 1890's was a squid as well? There were thought to be samples of that one hidden away in the Smithsonian, or in that warehouse at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and there was once talk of a search, and DNA-testing, but nothing came of it. Something in me hates to see high strangeness absorbed by the quotidian.

Friday, July 04, 2003
MOBLOGGING LOVE HOTELS
posted
10:55 AM
THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL MOBLOGGING LOVE HOTEL CONFERENCE

Courtesy of Fuldog. Thanks.

http://www.tokyotidbits.com/lovehotel/


Wednesday, July 02, 2003
DIGITAL SHOPLIFTING; AUTHORS AS HUMANS; A CALL FOR CORRECTIONS
posted
8:26 AM
STREET CONTINUES TO FIND USES FOR CAMERA-PHONES

This is one of those things that so perfectly demonstrates how older media (fashion magazines, in this case) and their previously unexamined business models can dissolve on contact with new media. The unexamined aspect of the model, here, has been that you previously hadn't been able to show anyone an image in a magazine until you'd somehow physically acquired a copy of that magazine, and had left the retail environment with it.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3031716.stm

AUTHORS: ARE THEY HUMAN?

Perhaps not, "author" in current usage tending to mean something like "massively mediated writer". Your "author", then, being by definition somewhat of an idoru-construct.

Writers, however, are human. All too, in most cases, as becomes immediately evident on reading even a few literary biographies.

I think I was very fortunate, as a child, to love SF. SF was such a marginalized literature, in those days, that its writers enjoyed (if that's the word) very little mediation. There was not much mechanism in place to magnify and distort the image of the SF writer, so that by a very early age (thirteen or so, actually) I think I understood that "writers" were actually just other humans. Who somehow wrote, and were then published.

The exception to this, for me, for quite a while, was William Burroughs, a writer sufficiently ambivalent about being human that one could easily imagine he wasn't.

CALL FOR SUGGESTED CORRECTIONS

It turns out that I will have the opportunity to proof the paperback edition of PATTERN RECOGNITION.

I know that there've been threads citing various textual goofs, and I intend to go back and consult those, but it would also be very helpful if someone could start a thread called, say, "Proofing The Paperback". Then, if you've spotted something you think is amiss, please title your post "p. XX", using the number of the page in question in the hardcover, and let fly.

Mistakes of a purely factual nature are hardest to know what to do with. I've since heard, for instance, from perhaps the only reader of PR who actually drives a mini-Hummer, informing me that the mini-Hummer lacks the super-cool tire-inflation system I credit it with in the text.



Tuesday, July 01, 2003
ORWELL'S RULES REVISITED
posted
12:04 PM
ORWELL'S RULES

Bear makes the point that I don't much abide by those rules myself. This occurred to me also, shortly after I posted them.

I think that the one piece of newspeak that's struck me as most barbarous, in Orwell's sense, in my lifetime, has been "politically correct".

I can actually remember the very first time I heard it. In Seattle, as it happened. I assumed that the person who'd used it was (1) using it entirely ironically, and (2) having as I thought coined it just then, was far cleverer, and funnier, than I'd previously given him credit for. My horror, subsequently, at discovering that his usage was entirely irony-free, was...Orwellian.

I suppose in the meantime that those people capable of using it without irony have pretty much ceased to use it (though not, I'd guess, to think it).


ORWELL'S RULES REVISITED; ADVENT OF "PC"
posted
12:04 PM
ORWELL'S RULES

Bear makes the point that I don't much abide by those rules myself. This occurred to me also, shortly after I posted them.

I think the new usage that has struck me as most barbarous, in Orwell's sense, in my lifetime, has been the expression "politically correct".

I can actually remember the very first time I heard it. In Seattle, as it happened. I assumed that the person who'd used it was (1) using it entirely ironically, and (2) having as I thought coined it just then, was far cleverer, and funnier, than I'd previously given him credit for. My horror, subsequently, at discovering that his usage was entirely irony-free, was...Orwellian.

I suppose, in the meantime, that those people capable of using it without irony have pretty much ceased to use it (though not, I'd guess, to think it).

It bothered me more, even, than that more actively barbarous late 20th-century expression, "ethnic cleansing", probably because I've never met anyone who would admit to being in favor of...actually I don't like to use this phrase, because it seems so inherently, er, politically incorrect.

MEANWHILE, FASHIONPOLICE HAS STARTED A POLL...

Earliest experience of "PC". I'd guess late Eighties, for me.


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