(3) Sat Mar 01 2008 19:02:
Went with Kevan to the Duchamp/Ray/Picabia exhibit at the Tate Modern. I was mainly interested in Duchamp of course, because the website promised a wide variety of pieces I'd never seen. I think I've now seen all his major works except Tu m' (apparently at Yale!) and the original Etant donnes.
Sumana read an earlier draft of this entry and asked for an introduction to Duchamp for those who don't know anything about his work. This is problematic because as far as I know all such introductions are based on a very old but apparently incorrect narrative about Duchamp. They all talk about his proto-dadaist use of chance in the creation of art, and his technique of selecting a particular mass-produced object from its brothers and designating it as a 'readymade' work of art. A typical introduction is Wikipedia's.
Voici la chose: Shearer's and (to a lesser extent) Gould's work on the topic show pretty convincingly that this narrative is wrong. (See 1 2).
Duchamp seems to have been engaged in an experiment to see how far he could go outside this narrative about himself and still convince the art world of its validity. Because the narrative is so old, because so many other artists' work builds on the Duchamp narrative, and because any new narrative would have to be a meta-narrative where Duchamp's greatest work was an elaborate prank designed to misrepresent posterity as to the nature of his art, I don't know what the new narrative would be!
Museums don't seem to know either, because they stick to the old narrative. What's the deal, art museums? You know the guy doctored photos. The Tate put up an original 'readymade' photo of a blank book, noting that the pages were blank. Right next to it they showed how Duchamp doctored the photo to make it look like a geometry book--and referred to it as a 'readymade' geometry book! Is it such an easy narrative to use that you don't notice it doesn't hold up? Or are you in on the joke?
Things of lesser importance: I don't generally think it's really important to look at the originals of paintings instead of pictures of them, but maybe I'm changing my mind. I saw some Edward Hoppers at the Whitney and the colors were very different from any reproduction I'd ever seen. I kind of thought Edward Hopper was a hack but those colors changed my mind. And until I saw the original Nude Descending a Staircase today I always thought it was a spiral staircase. See it in person and it's obviously a regular staircase.
In addition to being in thrall, the museum descriptions were somewhat fanciful. NDaS caused scandal at the Armory show "partly because no one had previously thought of a 'nude' doing something as prosaic as coming down stairs." Gimme a break. Nudes are always lounging around doing nothing, which is more prosaic still.
Much more later.
(5) Mon Mar 03 2008 21:14 English Pub Names:
By me and Rachel. Presented free of charge.
- The Damned Spot
- The Ethelred the Unready
- The Edward the Confessor
- The Elephant's Tusk
- The Queen Boadicea
There were a bunch more that I don't remember; maybe Rachel does. Searching reveals two of these to be actual pub names.
Wed Mar 05 2008 21:44:
Sorry for no posting; I'm busy and ill. Perhaps I can keep you at bay with critiques of Lovecraft's stories? No? Back, damned thing, et cetera.
More on Duchamp and something about Gary Gygax soon. There's actually a vague connection in my mind between the design of D&D and Duchamp's readymades. Let's see if I can express it as a real idea or if it's doomed to remain a vague connection the rest of my days.
(2) Wed Mar 05 2008 23:29 It's A Faaaaake:
Shearer alludes to this but I want to explicitly get it out on the Internet because I did original research and dammit I'm going to get a weblog entry out of it. Like most of Duchamp's alleged readymades, the original of "Fountain" (the urinal) is conveniently lost. The ones you see in museums nowadays are replicas made in 1964 or in the 1950s (?). But they're not replicas.
Here's the best picture I could find of the 1917 version. Note that there's one hole at the 'top' and six holes in a triangle shape at the 'bottom'.
Here's the one at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It's got five holes in the middle in a cross shape. Here's the version at the Tate. It's got the triangle at the bottom, and a line of four holes at the top. That's identical to the one at SFMOMA, and it's the one in Duchamp's 1964 blueprint.
Here's the scale model from Boîte-en-valise. It's got some kind of raised area in the middle that has 11 holes in it, in a kind of arrow pattern. Finally, here's a shot of one that seems to have a line of three holes at the top, though it's barely possible the angle of the photo is obscuring a fourth hole.
This isn't rocket art history. All these replicas were made with a certain amount of care. They're all the same shape and the signature looks the same on all of them. But the pattern of the holes, the single most obvious thing about "Fountain" once you get past the fact that some bozo is exhibiting a urinal and calling it art, shows up in four or five permutations between the thing that Duchamp supposedly bought off the shelf at 118 Fifth Avenue and the various exact replicas and scale models made of it over the years.
Still unexplained is why Duchamp would do this. Some artists and critics are skeptical of Shearer's work because they don't see a motive. For instance, Arturo Schwarz, who made the 1964 replicas under Duchamp's guidance.
"Indeed if Shearer's theories were found to be true, then all the aesthetic that lies behind the creation of the readymade will collapse... But the truth is that most of Shearer's conclusions are wrong; why would Duchamp have had to deceive the entire world?"
One of the pieces [replicated in 1964] was Hatrack, a coat hanger that was originally lost by Duchamp. But the object produced by Schwarz has six hooks of equal length, whereas in Duchamp's photos and drawings the original had five hooks of different lengths. "The truth is that I too did a model with unequal hooks but Duchamp told me that the photos were wrong, I had to change it at my own expense," explains Schwarz.
"The photos are wrong"! Well, in point of fact the photos are wrong; the question is what to make of that fact.
There's a lot of space for theorizing, and I'm still exploring that space, but if I were Duchamp around 1950 I'd be a little disappointed by the rapid acceptance of the readymade concept. I'd want to set something up that would have on a sophisticated audience of artists the same effect as "Fountain" or "Nude Descending" had on the general public. Maybe that means doctoring old photos, maybe it means making fake replicas. All in a day's work for the guy who doctors photos all the time and whose mission is to destroy the concept of art.
(2) Fri Mar 07 2008 19:54:
Sumana brought home a copy of MAD Kids, a dumbed-down version of MAD. Seriously. In my day we had MAD Kids and it was called MAD. If you didn't get a joke it meant you'd gotten a glimpse of a mysterious adult world and you had something to ruminate over.
I flipped through it. It had a "Spy vs. Spy Jr." where Black Spy Jr. concocts a needlessly complex plot to hit White Spy Jr. in the face with a pie. Just throw the pie! Actually now that I think of it the comic is written from the wrong POV. Many SvS comics involve a needlessly complex plot, but you're not in on the plot from the beginning--it's the other spy's doing and it's revealed in the last couple panels--so it's funny. Like I said, dumbed down.
(2) Sat Mar 08 2008 13:36 Estate:
Okay, here's a tip: don't die. And if you must die, make sure you've got somebody else on the title for your car and house when you do. I was on my mother's mortgage but around 2005 she refinanced and my name got taken off. Big mistake.
If someone else's name is on the title, then after you die they have to go around and show people the death certificate and fill out some paperwork. If not, they have to go through probate. My mother had a simple and uncontested will, but to get the title to the house we had to go to court to prove that the will was valid and said what it said it said.
This took approximately forever. Meanwhile we were paying the mortgage on a house nobody was living in, watching buyer after buyer bail on us while the court and the lawyers dragged their feet. Eventually we were also watching the housing market collapse and hoping we'd be able to sell the house for enough to pay off our expenses.
Fortunately, the story has a happy ending, in the sense that a fiasco is happier than a catastrophe. We finally got the title, we finally sold the house, and though we sold it for a price that's really disappointing given the amount of work my mother put into her house, it was enough to pay our expenses and give us each a small inheritance. I deposited the check today, so now I feel I can write about this.
Please, I'm asking you to keep this in mind. Talk to your parents or spouse or children or whoever and make sure this doesn't happen to your family. Maybe it doesn't apply to you now but it will someday. Also, don't mail things you inherited through the doubly-damned US Postal Service.
Mon Mar 10 2008 18:46 Dada Ripoff:
One of the pieces shown at the Tate was a silent movie called Entr'acte. We saw a still from the movie in an early room of the exhibit, and were promised thrills, spills, and a scene where Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray are playing chess on a balcony when the chess board is swept away by a sudden jet of water. Classic gag! I looked forward to seeing this movie.
Well, they did screen the movie at the exhibit, and fortunately, Entr'acte predates Steamboat Willie, so you can download it and watch it yourself. Lots of art films on that site, actually. Like all art films it goes on way too long, but it's got some fun stop-motion and visual jokes, and an ending you'd expect from a Warner Brothers cartoon. But the water scene is disappointing.
The scene, let's say, starts at 4:30. There they are, playing chess. Now they're arguing. Perfect moment to squirt them with water! But no! First the jet of water is shown in a separate shot, totally telegraphing the joke, then we cut back to Duchamp and Ray arguing, then back to the water. Around 5:01 the gag, tattered as it is by now, is executed. The water hits the chessboard but Duchamp and Ray aren't in the shot! They didn't want to get their suits wet or something. C'mon guys! Comedy is not when a chessboard falls and breaks its leg! Also, to say that the chessboard is "swept away" is a gross exaggeration.
(1) Tue Mar 11 2008 09:49:
After almost a year, The Future: A Retrospective is over! Some said the book would end in fire, but actually 'twas ice, with Freezing Humans.
I'd like to know your favorite TF:AR entries so I can do a best-of at the top of the page. I've got my own favorites in mind but I don't want to taint the opinion pool.
Tue Mar 11 2008 09:51:
Earlier today I was a parrot.
"Rrawk! I'm a parrot! Parrots are awesome!"
"Rrawk! The neutrality of this parrot has been disputed! Rrawk!"
(1) Wed Mar 12 2008 22:09 'the so-called “software” industry':
From clickolinko a Time article from 1965 about the computer industry; not about cybernetics as the you might think from the name. Basically you're going to be disappointed if you expect cybernetics from anything that only has the string 'cyber' in the title, with no 'netic'.
(1) Thu Mar 13 2008 17:59 Joseph Weizenbaum:
Everybody on the net wrote about Gary Gygax's death but almost nobody wrote about Joseph Weizenbaum. The NYT has an obituary that covers the highlights: ELIZA and Computer Power and Human Reason. John McCarthy points out (Update: should probably be "pointed out", since he did it before I was born) that CP&HR contains a bunch of Leon Kass-esque "things man was not meant to know" stuff. This is true but
the main thing I got out of the book is a warning about the ELIZA effect which I think is really insightful.
Throughout society we create rule-based systems and install them where there used to be people making decisions. If the rules are complex, maybe we put a person in charge of matching incoming events against the ruleset and carrying out responses. When dealing with the system we mentally fill in the blanks and it looks like there's volition there. But all the decisions were made up front and any people involved are just following a script.
This isn't a Chinese Room argument that no rule-based system can approach human intelligence. It's a pragmatic argument that says people will defer to and credit with intelligence systems that are actually really stupid. This is a serious problem because reactionary elements in society thrive on deference.
What's more, once we start crediting these stupid systems with intelligence we start modelling each other as stupid rule-based systems. After all, that's how the systems model us. We start thinking of each other (and ourselves) as less complex than we actually are. And thanks to the ELIZA effect, it works! We're happy! But our models are very wrong.
Here are some more contemporaneous reviews of CP&HR. Also see: Sherry Turkle's Edge Question Center thing.
Sat Mar 15 2008 07:48 More Battles:
Space edition. Google Sky versus Microsoft's not-yet-released World Wide Telescope. Who will win?
I really wish something like Celestia were practical for the whole universe.
(8) Sun Mar 16 2008 11:01 Shoes:
Often I complain to Evan (and anyone who will listen, which mostly means Evan) about my childhood growing up in the middle of a grape field. There's no point dwelling on the past like this, but I do it anyway. Here's the approximate rundown: I was just ordinarily unhappy until in early 1994 I got a copy of The New Hacker's Dictionary at the Cal Poly SLO college bookstore. I was a middling BASIC programmer, and suddenly I wanted to be a terrible C programmer who made an ass of himself on Usenet. This, I felt, was the future. But this future required connections and money and knowledge I didn't have. Frustration!
Now I can see things I could have done back then, but I'm fifteen years older and I've achieved the dream of being a terrible C programmer who makes an ass of himself. So I'm kind of nonplussed when I see people like famous science fiction author David Brin wax about the 80s and early 90s as a golden age of kids' programming education. BASIC, be it GW or Q, is lame, and to paraphrase a common saying about SF, the golden age of programming education is whatever age you are when you get Internet access.
These days the problem is that there is a plethora of programming environments, fragmenting the market for supplementary educational material. The one I most wish I'd had in 1994 is definitely Shoes, _why's Ruby toolkit that lets you do GUI programming with web-programming-like layout instead of the dominant widget-packing layout paradigm which is pretty insane. Of course in 1994 it would have been ANSI art windows or something, but you get my point, which is: Shoes is awesome.
My blurb for Shoes is: "Super-Hypercard". And rather than do a big boring document for Shoes like I did with Beautiful Soup, _why did the Shoes documentation as
a fun little book. The dude is classy.
(1) Sun Mar 16 2008 16:30 Dwarf Fortress Variant:
Yesterday I thought of a new mode for Dwarf Fortress. In this mode you play an individual dwarf, as in the Roguelike mode, but instead of exploring ruins solo you're part of a running fortress. So this could be something you could drop into and out of in fortress mode; possess one of your dwarves and then jump back into planning the economy when neccessary.
Unfortunately I don't remember why I thought this mode would be fun. The only thing I remember deciding is that it was important your character be someone who'd created an artifact, but this was for story reasons. The other dwarves are willing put up with an artiste artifact-creator type wandering around doing random stuff instead of working.
(1) Tue Mar 18 2008 23:13:
Sorry, I got nothing. Sometimes I post these big synthesizing entries but other times I look at the primary sources and nothing happens.
Oh, when I was pitting Google Sky against Microsoft Visual Telescope 2008 or whatever it's called, I forgot the much older indie competitor, WikiSky (still not a drink).
Thu Mar 20 2008 22:50:
Sumana had me listen to this This American Life where you hear sausage being made at The Onion. It was heartening to hear that the younger Onion writers are tired of the "Area Man Not Very Interesting" schtick the older writers have been riding for the past twenty years.
Fri Mar 21 2008 23:23:
Went to MoMA with Sumana, Zack, and Pam to see the "Design & the Elastic Mind" exhibit, which was like the Wired Nextfest except cool and with a crowd instead of a line. While I was there I reacquainted myself with the Three Standard Stoppages. Once you know the secret it is indeed pretty obvious, though they don't let you see the verso sides.
I keep having to go through Shearer's papers and my own researches to look up the alleged problems with the readymades. I did verify that the windows in Fresh Widow open in the wrong direction. MoMA had a replica of In Advance of the Broken Arm and I couldn't see the problem, but it turns out there's nothing wrong with the replica. Shearer claims there's something wrong with the original, but as often happens I can't find a high-res copy of the original photo to decide for myself. I should make a convenient web page that lists the allegations.
Oh, they also had Tu m' borrowed from Yale and stuck into an exhibit on color, so I've now caught the proverbial all.
Sun Mar 23 2008 11:09 Pocket Wisherman 2.0:
I keep getting frantic emails from Amazon about how they're going to shut off their ECS 3.0 service and I need to rewrite my software to use the ECS 4.0 service. So this weekend I rewrote The Pocket Wisherman. Your Amazon wish lists can still be exported to handy PDF cards. But then I realized that the emails are probably actually about my sales rank tracker script, so I gotta rewrite that too.
I struggled and couldn't get PyAWS to work right, so I punted and wrote a cheap client with Beautiful Soup. The upside is that the PW tarball is much smaller because I'm no longer including a big third-party library.
The genre classification rules are also a lot simpler now. Previously I tried to partition books into the smallest possible number of genres, which meant waiting until you'd gathered all the books before deciding on a genre for any one book. It also meant that sometimes the genres didn't correspond to the sections you'd find in the bookstore.
The new system works from the fact that Amazon files a book under a huge number of categories, all of which are subcategories of a few general categories that you'd see in a bookstore. One of the books on my wishlist is under "Philosophy->Aesthetics", "Philosophy->Movements->Existentialism", "Philosophy->Eastern->Japanese", "Philosophy->Ontology", and "Arts & Photography->History & Criticism->Regional->Asian". Obviously it should go under "Philosophy" and not "Arts & Photography", because it's under "Philosophy" four times.
This reminds me that there's still something I need to do: handle situations where a book has a tie between general categories. In that situation I'll probably go through afterwards and assign each book to the most populous category.
Update: OK, that worked well. The once-huge "Unclassified" section now only contains books that Amazon didn't classify. I've still got the longstanding problem that the "History" section is too big and contains lots of things not filed under "History" in bookstores, but my attempts to compensate (eg. by counting "History" less than other genres) didn't lead to anything, partially because there's no standard place in bookstores where such books are filed.
Sun Mar 23 2008 13:19:
Interesting fact found by trawling IMDB: then-governor Ronald Reagan appeared on the Dean Martin Show in 1973 as part of an attempt to revive DMS's ratings with celebrity roasts. I thought that would be interesting to see, so I checked out a video of Don Rickles applying the roast. Rickles spends most of his venom on the audience, uttering the archetypal Don Rickles joke: "I hate a dumb guy!". And Ronald Reagan and Dean Martin look almost indistinguishable. Not really recommended, but historically interesting.
Sun Mar 23 2008 22:02:
Sales rank tracker rewritten in very little time because 1) it's less complicated than the Pocket Wisherman, 2) the amazon-ecs gem is more sensibly designed than pyaws. Hopefully now the tormenting emails from Amazon will cease. Villains! Dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!
PS: Four years ago today, one of my favorite NYCB entries.
(2) Tue Mar 25 2008 22:46:
Sumana and I watched Blazing Saddles the other day; I hadn't seen it since 2000. It was still really funny but also kind of disappointing. I'm going to just throw this out and not defend it, but I think Mel Brooks's two big flaws as a filmmaker are 1) the "puerile" tail of his Bell-curve sense of humor, and 2) he's downright sentimental about movies and Hollywood in general as well as the particular tropes he's exploiting. I found the second really annoying in Blazing Saddles (the first you can just fast-forward past) and I think this is why I never thought Gene Wilder was funny; the first place I saw him was this cheesy subplot where he's the feel-good straight-man sidekick.
On the other hand if Mel Brooks didn't have that underlying sentimentality, he might have ended up like those sub-Zucker and Zucker guys who put out an anthology parody movie every year and then run for cover.
Wed Mar 26 2008 22:15 Leonard's Miscellany:
- Scott Rosenberg posted yesterday about attempts to make publicly available a political campaign's daily conference calls: information that's not proprietary but is only related to journalists, for no good reason. This reminded me of my personal political-records hobby-horse: the daily schedules of the President and of presidental candidates. I'm pretty sure they still send these out every day, and that you can get a presidential daily schedule by filing a FOIA request, but if you search the web for them you get, eg., this sample schedule for Gerald Ford. Hell, when I was on the Clark campaign I couldn't get a copy of the candidate's daily schedule, not that it affected me at all. It's just not organized for openness.
Recently there was a bit of a splash when Hillary Clinton released her daily schedules from back when she was First Lady, which I'd use as a news hook for this item if I cared about news hooks. Obviously this is quite low on the list of presidency-related things that would improve the world, but like I said it's my hobby-horse.
- Sometimes I see something that's so cool I want to learn a foreign language so I can understand it. My mental list of languages to learn keeps growing over time, and it's surely an act of wild-eyed optimism to keep it because my prime language-learning days are behind me and I've got very little to show for it. Anyway, I'm pretty sure Japanese was already on the list, but it just moved higher because of Game Center CX.
- As is traditional, there was a third item that I forgot.
(2) Wed Mar 26 2008 22:23:
"Sometimes it in buyer's requirement that "Beautiful Soup" should be used in the Python spider". Who are these mysterious "buyer"s? Contract one-off scraping jobs arranged through developer-for-hire sites?
(4) Fri Mar 28 2008 10:10:
Doing taxes is like playing a really unrewarding computer RPG. You go to fill out one form and it turns out to have been hewed into three forms in ancient times, and you have to run around collecting all the pieces. Then to get one piece there's a mini-boss in the form of a hideous worksheet. I guess what I'm saying is, bah.
(2) Sat Mar 29 2008 22:51 Intertextuality in Games:
I love it when a game references another game. What was the first time
I saw this? Maybe in an Infocom game; those all had references to
Zork, but I didn't actually play Zork until pretty late, so it was
lost on me.
I dunno where to draw the line because a lot of games are flat-out
clones of other games. If your game doesn't bring something new to the
world of games it's less "intertextuality" and more "plagiarism." Also
I'm not as interested in the way later games in a series reference
earlier games in terms of plot or graphics or music, or when one game
includes a related game as a minigame or Easter egg. In a very 80s
move I borrowed the Wii Zelda game from Steve Minutillo (thanks,
Steve!) and I'm about halfway through. Its mechanics are very
different from any other Zelda game I've played (ie. the first three)
but there are lots of references to the old games; for instance
the old musical themes are now used as accentuating
stings. Unfortunately they haven't reused the awesome death theme from
the original Zelda (stay tuned for my mashup of the Zelda death theme,
"Stairway to Heaven", and the one song from Earthbound [Update 2008-06-01: the Winters song]). And also all
of this is just callbacks to earlier Zelda canon.
Of course, if one game references a totally different game,
that's more interesting. I think almost all the Infocom games, even
the mysteries, have some reference to Zork. I liked how Jeff Lait tied You Only Live Once into POWDER in a
really obscure way. But this is still the same as when a
book/painting/song references another book/painting/song. Games are
capable of a totally different kind of reference, because they can
steal gameplay elements from other games.
In Game Roundups past I've mentioned a couple games with full-on
ludic intertextuality: Tong
and The Bub's
Brothers. Tong is a straight-up hybrid of Tetris and Pong. TBB is
a Bubble Bobble clone but it's got powerups that, eg. turn Bubble
Bobble into Breakout. Game ideas like Tetris and Breakout are so
well-cloned that it's not difficult to imagine sticking them into some
There's also parody. Kingdom of Loathing incorporates a huge number
of other games, not just in the playable sub-games like the text
adventure but by adapting other games' mechanics to the KoL schema. My
own Guess the Verb! did something
similar with text adventures, focusing on treasure collection and
magic words for the cave crawl, on NPC interaction for the college
game, etc. Super Smash Bros. is a parody game, which is why I'm
interested in it even though I hate that kind of game. Ditto with
Parodius, as the name implies. Also the GameCenter
CX game for the DS (which will probably never be released in
English), which parodies the whole culture of late-1980s console
Super Smash Bros. and Parodius get away with intertextuality by
being made by the same company that owns the source material. The
other games I mentioned get away with it by referencing generic games
like Pong and Breakout or open source games like Nethack. Or, most
often, they just file the serial numbers off the source material. But
a new kind of game is starting to show up. This kind of game achieves
intertextuality the same way contemporary art does: copyright
Games like Mega Mario have done this
for years, but without really thinking it through. The earliest
example I can think of was a couple games I
found in 2006 where you play various non-Mega-Man platformers as
Mega Man. Now, let me point you to I Wanna Be the Guy: The Movie:
The Game. Due to its extreme difficulty I recommend experiencing
IWBTG:TM:TG solely through the medium of speed-run
videos, making it IWBTG:TM:TG:TM. Apart from having a satisfying
number of original dirty tricks up its sleeve, this game is notable
for ripping off graphics, sound, and gameplay elements from most of
the well-known 8-bit games and several 16-bit ones. And it often
combines them in ways that create new gameplay elements. I look
forward to seeing more of this sort of game, hopefully ones that I can
Update: If you like this entry, you might like my just-published science fiction story "Mallory".
(2) Sun Mar 30 2008 15:28:
Jeremy Penner reminded me of more heavily intertextual games: ROM CHECK FAIL and Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden. Neither works in WINE so I can't play them, but they're exactly the kind of game my hyper-ludic-literate self likes to see.
Another thing I forgot to mention is that this new kind of game is inevitably what they call an "indie game", because you can't sell a game that rips off Pac-Man's sprites or makes unauthorized use of sports star likenesses. All you can do is hope nobody sues you, and game designers aren't covered by the same social mores that protect artists. You can always file the serial numbers off afterwards (the way some authors turn their fanfic into "original" universe novels), but part of the fun is the thrill of the remix.
Sun Mar 30 2008 17:24:
Oh, one more thing about GameCenter CX: It's Mystery Science Theater 3000. Right down to the jumpsuit.
(1) Sun Mar 30 2008 20:21 The Future: A Retrospective: A Retrospective:
Wow, I've still got the original "The Future: A Retrospective" in my browser's form field autocomplete mechanism. Anyway. Everyone knows that people surfing the web love lists, but a lesser-known fact is that they love short lists. Like, shorter than 275 entries, which is how long the completed TF:AR is. Maybe ten entries (the "David Letterman" standard), or five (the "Digg bait" standard). I await the inevitable reduction to a degenerate list of one entry, which will free us from the tyranny of lists altogether.
In the meantime, I made a best-of list for TF:AR. Evan was the only person who responded to my request for peoples' favorite entries, and both of his proposals (Vending Machine French Fries and Car Video Navigation System) were ones I was going to include anyway, so I just picked my favorites. It may be pushing your attention span, but I think there's enough good stuff in TF:AR to justify a best-of list of twenty entries. I know, twenty, it's like the freaking Metropolitan Museum of Art here.
Mon Mar 31 2008 08:54 Oh, The Pain:
Trolled by The Onion. (see)
In other futurism news, I recently remembered this 2000 Slashdot article from David Brin. "[T]hink about Global Warming, the Supreme Court and the Internet. You'll hold your nose and vote for Gore."
(3) Mon Mar 31 2008 22:29 How To Make Webcomics:
I got my copy of Kris's 1/4-masterpiece How To Make Webcomics delivered today, and it's got the best inscription ever! But the inscription needs some backstory.
When we were in college Kris and I drew cartoons for each other. Our best collaborative work was this tightly-plotted Captain Planet parody, but that was just the most elaborate of the hundreds of drawings that filled our notebooks. The only downside was that I couldn't actually draw. No worries. I developed a style that Kris recently described (in a forum topic about xkcd) as:
[A]bstracted heads floating on the page that were laid out like a comic strip (logically) but had no backgrounds, no props, no bodies, no nothing. Everything was built from this symbology... it conveys an image the way an engineer would want to convey it: with as few lines and as much clarity as possible.
Ascribing clarity to my drawings is pretty generous, but you get the idea. To show you, I've uploaded a couple computer-industry-themed ones I did for an aborted 1998 Crummy project: a decent one with RMS, and one about the Netscape source release (10 years ago today!) that has excellent awkward pacing. Plus here's one scanned right from my sketchbooks, the only one I have handy that shows how I drew Kris (in baseball cap with Starfleet pin).
For as long as I've known him Kris has been really good at adopting other peoples' styles and it was a thrill to see him adopt my own. Thanks, Kris!
Uh, the thing in the lower left corner is a Karnaugh map, boring bane of our undergraduate existence. I'm not sure about the reference to the bee, but I vaguely remember a comic where a bee got into Bill Gates' office. Oh, the book, you say? Haven't read it yet. Probably awesome.
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