messier object

dragon innit


hello, i’m a robot!

Not only is Hello, I’m a Robot! an adorable, adorable title for an East-Bloc children’s book, the drawings themselves are excellent.  The first one, the robo-duck, and the walking foot all especially remind me of the illustrations for Stanisław Lem’s Cyberiad (supposedly, according to Amazon, by Daniel Mruz, on whom I can find no other information except that he has an entry in a comics encyclopedia somewhere) or Theo Ellsworth’s brilliant Sleeper Car.  And what’s more, it’s (it seems) supposed to be a serious book about how robots work for kids.  Poor Soviet kids, thinking robots have abacuses in their brains and terrifying metal claws to cuddle with.

the evolution of the brain, according to "hello, i'm a robot!"

(via the excellent journey round my skull)

gilmore, je t’aime
2009, December 29, 1:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

gilmore, roscoe turner's flyin' lion

(click through to youtube)

reblogged from NASM AirSpace.

avatar, as told by my friend in one line:

“it is basically an animated Yes album cover”

“aloha, mars!”

Fun facts from the Futurama complete set’s complete commentaries: not only is “Fear of a Bot Planet” (s1e05) based on a Stanisław Lem short story about an astronaut who crash-lands on a planet of robots where, as it turns out, all the robots are actually just other astronauts who’ve disguised themselves, they wanted to make another episode based on Karel Čapek’s War with the Newts.

whoa there, wsj
2009, December 25, 2:34 pm
Filed under: history | Tags: , ,

But what if the whole notion of global imbalances is a myth, and that policies to reverse them only make things worse?

The blunt fact is that at no point in the past century has there been anything resembling a global economic equilibrium.

Consider the heyday of the “American century” after World War II, when Western European nations were ravaged by war, and the Soviet Union and its new satellites slowly rebuilding. In 1945, the U.S. accounted for more than 40% of global GDP and the preponderance of global manufacturing. The country was so dominant it was able to spend the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars to regenerate the economies of Western Europe via the Marshall Plan, and also of Japan during a seven year military occupation. By the late 1950s, 43 of the world’s 50 largest companies were American.

Not that picking on the Wall Street Journal opinions page is exactly difficult, but lately I think they’ve been getting even nuttier than usual.  (Is it because nobody likes fruitcake any more?)  This editorial piece from Monday is supposed to be about the history, I guess, of economies, but… aside from the fact that I think it’s straw-manning and side-stepping the point about extractive economic setups and the history of colonialism the notion that 1945 or 6 or 7 or 8 can be pointed to as an even vaguely typical economic year is just mad – of course in 1945 the United States had about 40% of the world GDP and manufacturing; every other industrialized country had just been razed to a plain.  By contrast, the next example (why skip 20 years ahead?  What about the ’60s or early ’70s?) – the global economic shittiness of the ’70s – is actually an example of everything being equally awful everywhere, but… wait, why am I still writing, even?  They’re not gonna see this and retract anything, and all my points about people predicting the future are just moot because this is an ideological strawman.  Fuck.

I’m gonna go eat some Christmas ham.  Merry economy, world.

turn down your lights (where applicable)

For y’all, the inexplicable science-fictioning of Christmas, with more jokes about Pia Zadora than ever!  Well, unless they put in more jokes in the Cinematic Titanic version.  I still haven’t seen that one yet.

I think there’s a Christmas movie for every subgenre, or just about – this, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2, Silent Night, Deadly Night 3, Silent Night, Deadly Night 4, Silent Night, Deadly Night 5, Jeremy Isbell’s nanobudget Silent Night (those reviews are for another movie).  I just can’t think of a sword-and-sorcery one.  Maybe Christmas magic is too close to the stuff already – every other genre just riffs on the differences between Santa and their own tropes.  Santa’s not gonna have a rocket sled this year, no.

Oh, and here’s the start of the other Christmas MST3K.  This one’s probably Christmassier, but it doesn’t have the new classic “(Let’s Have) A Patrick Swayze Christmas.”

Turn down your lights, folks – I’ve got to go be subjected to the Jimmy Buffet Christmas album until I want to put a letter opener in my ears.

i was not ready, no, no.
2009, December 25, 1:41 am
Filed under: music | Tags: , , ,

This is I suppose a bit out of the ordinary for what this blog is supposed to be, but.

vic chesnutt, 1964-2009

Athens (GA) great Vic Chesnutt has died is comatose?.

I had a chance to see him play last month and turned it down because I was feeling under the weather.  Damn, am I going to miss his music.  The first time I heard of him was while I was super-obsessed with Christine Fellows (not that I’m still not or anything but) and I found out the haunting secret track on her 2 Little Birds was actually off Chesnutt’s Is the Actor Happy? and sought out everything I could find by him at the time.  Some great and, yeah, pretty dark stuff.  It’s really gonna be hard to get through “Flirted With You All My Life” now.

If you haven’t heard him:

the seminal West of Rome.

live at the 40 Watt Christmas Party, 2005.

on Fresh Air three weeks ago.


I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  Rest in final peace, guy.

(updated: Friday, 10:34:53)

google recommended this as a christmas present:

Merry Christmas Eve, internet!

The Fringe Files: 1×02, “The Same Old Story”
2009, December 21, 10:40 am
Filed under: teevee, the fringe files | Tags: , , ,

And, indeed, that it is.  Because this episode, the second of the series, is a calque of the second episode of The X-Files, “Squeeze.”  For real.

No, seriously, for real.  Well, he steals pituitary glands instead of livers.  But for pretty much the same reason, in a similar pattern, barring some of the gimmick of Tooms’ special ability.  The only real conceptual change here from “Squeeze” is that the embittered old cop who couldn’t get him before is Olivia.

At this point, I think, the show was still trying to force us into thinking specific things about the characters: that Walter Is Crazy, that Olivia Is A Badass, that Peter Is Gonna Bang Olivia, that Astrid Is Insignificant, and so forth.  So everything, in these early episodes, gets turned up to eleven: Walter sleeps inside a closet and needs someone to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to him so he can sleep, is obsessed with seat warmers, and is borderline-catatonic when he’s thinking; Olivia is tormented by her failures with John and with the case in the past – and her “I told her you were gonna give me a raise” line didn’t help; Peter is much more vocally skeptical about everything that happens; Peter is tormented by Walter for not having an imagination and banging Olivia.  But, then, I think pretty much every show goes through this sort of tuning – certainly, it’s a lot more natural by the end of the first season, although I can’t name a specific turning point like “Beyond the Sea” was for The X-Files.

That being said, this episode introduces a whole lot of interesting concepts that are pretty crucial:

  • The Pattern is mentioned for the first time – and in this season they’re still trying to tie everything to it, something which appears to have been jettisoned for the time being.
  • Fringe’s version of the Syndicate (henceforth “the Fringedicate”): the shadowy organization that Nina and Broyles lead to still unknown conclusions.
  • The notion that Walter is at the root of the Pattern, and that the Fringedicate knows it.
  • Plus – and this has yet to be brought back – Something Happened to the predecessors to the Team.

Oh, and Olivia has this weird dream where she gets pregnant with John Scott’s fast-growing baby that’s sort of shocking but, I mean, it’s not like much comes of it.  And the Peter Revelation comes up for the first time, which is a bit menacing, but, again, not much comes of it.  But like all good things, it would get better as it goes.