Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Nanotech, the technology of amazingly small devices, is one of the fastest growing areas of research in the world. Combine that with nanotech's near limitless potential and with the truly limitless imagination of Scifi authors and you get one of the premier topics of current Scifi (I've even written a short story myself centered around nanotech, unpublished of course.)

One of the books that thrust nanotech into the light of science fiction's radiant lamp was "Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. Here is a typical review,

"Snow Crash drew its manic energy from the cyberpunkish conceit that anything is possible in virtual reality; in The Diamond Age the wonders of cyberspace pale before the even more dazzling powers of nanotechnology." The New York Times Book Review

I write this tonight because earlier today I saw "Diamond Age" on my ipod. I bought the book originally, but couldn't slog my way through it. Spurred on by the continuous praise for the book, I purchased it through, and found that I couldn't even listen to it all the way to the end. Don't get my wrong, I like Stephenson's books. I devoured "Snow Crash" and
"Cryptonomicon", but I found "Diamond Age" dreadfully slow and tedious. That's just me however, and this shouldn't stop you from reading the book, but I imagine you've already read it.

Interested in nanotech? To catch up on the latest go to


TV Ruminations

Try this expirement. Sit in front of your television, put it on the channel that annoys you most (MTV, MSNBC, Fox, etc...), and then turn it off. Now, sit there for five to ten minutes in silence. I'll wager that some of you cannot handle the silence or lack of stimulation. If you do manage to sit there quietly, then what thoughts go through your mind?

I immediately began to wonder why this black box takes up so much of our lives. It sits there dark and empty. When it comes to life, I'm not the one putting images on the screen, that job belongs to other people, people I neither know nor trust. Yet, I give them access to my brain for countless hours a day, week, or year. Then my thoughts go deeper, much of what we 'know' about life comes from the 'idiot box'. Quick, imagine a gunfight between the cops and a suspect. What did you see? It was some version of a television or movie gunfight wasn't it? That is your only reference to such an experience. And this type of television as life scenario is not limited to the extraordinary, like gunfights, but to all facets of life, we just don't realize it. The television, unless you do not watch, invades our brains. Have you ever met people that couldn't distinguish things they remembered from real life or television? I think this goes on in everyone's mind, but it occurs with such frequency and such subtlety that we don't know it. Little facts about life that you 'know', you actually learned from television. Why? Because you haven't exprerienced everything in life and your brain takes all input and processes it as knowledge, of one sort or another.

Do you want to experience life through somebody else's eyes and interactions? I don't. Maybe I'll turn off my television for a while, but probably not.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Writing Life

I like to write, and if I keep plugging away then I may earn enough from my writing to buy a nice breakfast (that's a rip from a 1980s sitcom. Name the sitcom and its star and I'll give you a star.)

Here is a link to the blog of Charles Stross, science fiction author of Singularity Sky and Accelerando. The entry talks about the 'writing life'.


Television, Internet, and Me

I don't watch as much TV as I once did. Gone are the days of crashing in front of the boob tube for hours on end, watching whatever the program directors decided. When I was younger I could watch Grease, Roadhouse, Pointbreak, or any thing starring Jimmy Stewart, no matter how many times I'd seen them already. I didn't follow any weekly sitcoms or dramas. Occasionally, my friends and I would visit Blockbuster in our pajamas, rent all the Star Wars movies or all the Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and then visit the grocery for pound bags of MMs to eat with our delivered Pizza. I took pride in my movie trivia acumen.

Those days are long gone. Now, I feel like I'm wasting time if I sit still for one entire movie. My TV attention span stretches one hour, unless there is an election in progress. MMs and pizza? Only if I want to guilt myself into two hours on the treadmill the next day.

But, I can waste hours on the internet without the guilt. Why? Well, I don't feel compelled to nibble when surfing the net (it doesn't feel as natural), thus no food guilt. Also, I can convince myself that I'm stimulating my brain and learning something, that my pointless browsing on the internet is 'research.' Alas, these are only fictions I tell myself.

What is the point of this entry? None, and that is the beauty of a weblog. See you later

Monday, January 29, 2007

Scifi Podcast

The universe of the Podcast has grown in leaps and bounds. One of my favorites is the science fiction podcast, Escape Pod. This podcast is provides weekly science fiction and/or fantasy short stories. They have featured authors as well known as Robert Silverburg and Robert J. Sawyer. The host, Steve Eley, offers an informative and intersting commentary prior to and just after the story. Escape Pod has been around since May of 2005, so if you haven't listened then there are eighty plus stories back logged for you.

One of my favorites is "I Look Forward to Remembering You" by Mur Lafferty, a sweet story of time travel and true love. I also enjoyed listening to "Squonk the Dragon" by Pete Butler. I listened to this with my kids, and my nine year old daughter loved.

It isn't new or news, but if you haven't listened then check it out.

Pan's Labyrinth

I'll begin this blog with a review of the movie, "Pan's Labyrinth." Here are some blurbs from the official website.

"Beautiful and exhilarating, a fairy tale for grown-ups." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"An adult fairy tale and an outstanding work of art... On the same altar of high fantasy as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy~It's that worthy." Lisa Scwharzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

They forgot to mention terribly depressing, and overtly violent. After the movie my only thought was that I would never get those two hours back. This was a very bleak movie with a little fantasy tossed in to try to make it seem less fatalistic.

The story revolves around the little girl, Ofelia, and her mother. The mother has married a sadistic Captain in Franco's late World War II Spain. She is pregnant with his son, and is brought to a lodge in the mountains where the Captain is in the process of killing a small group of rebels. Meanwhile, Ofelia learns that she is really a princess from an underground fantasy land, and to claim her birthright she must complete three tasks given to her by a faun. Ofelia's story, while portrayed as the main story, is actually a side story to the violence of the Captain and those he subjects to his outbursts.

The characters were all flat and unbelievable. A problem I have with these characters is they do not act in their own best interests, or with any intelligence. This brings the bile of unbelievability into my throat more than fairies and fauns. This movie strikes me as stereotypical of the loss of subtlety and skill in modern movie making. Shocking images can be useful, but only when used properly, something the director did not do, in my opinion. I did not even find the fantasy elements to be that well done, and this was the calling card for the film. I'm sure many people, as evinced by the blurbs, will consider this a wonderful piece of film making. Me? I went to the bathroom twice, went to the lobby to check the price of a bottle of water, and exited once to play with my phone, any excuse to escape this movie.

The last five minutes of the movie are by far the best, but this doesn't redeem the movie. Where a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good movie, a good ending cannot resurrect two hours of dreariness.