Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Eternals

Art from The Eternals by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr (art). (Colors by Matt Hollingsworth.) Now that's a beautiful comic book.

The story is pretty good too. It's Neil Gaiman trying to capture the crazy energy of Jack Kirby, which he does as good as anybody has done yet. I like the book for it's bigger-than-life feel, the beautiful art, the beautiful colors, the beautiful women, and the beautiful giant robot space gods. There are some really amazing designs here.

The Beauty of Math

1 x 8 + 1 = 9

12 x 8 + 2 = 98

123 x 8 + 3 = 987

1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876

12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765

123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654

1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543

12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432

123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11

12 x 9 + 3 = 111

123 x 9 + 4 = 1111

1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111

12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111

123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111

1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111

12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111

123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88

98 x 9 + 6 = 888

987 x 9 + 5 = 8888

9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888

98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888

987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888

9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888

98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

1 x 1 = 1

11 x 11 = 121

111 x 111 = 12321

1111 x 1111 = 1234321

11111 x 11111 = 123454321

111111 x 111111 = 12345654321

1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321

11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321

111111111 x 111111111=12345678987654321


Final Identity added:

In this sequence ...

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

... they left out the first one

0 x 9 + 1 = 1


Manuscript format for fiction

Manuscript format for fiction. PDF article.


(Funny how I seem to get into a blogging fury on Fridays sometimes. Maybe it's joy of relief of the weekdays' grueling 3-hour workdays being over for me.)

Gigapan gigapixels camera device. (Why are so many web videos right now not compatible with Safari? It's just embarrassing.) Here's a sample. Remarkable.
Technically you can do the same thing manually and then use some good stiching software, but when you get above like ten pictures, it becomes pretty tricky to keep track of what exactly you have already covered, here's where the robot comes in.

Alicia Witt

Another actress I find totally irresistible.

Friday, May 16, 2008


"If you saw two groups of children arguing over which of them could play in some waste grounds, would you choose sides?" - Neil Gaiman, The Eternals


I don't get the indirectness in this world. Like, when two people meet in a club, probably what's on both their minds is whether they'll have sex, but sex is the last thing they're able to talk about.

It's not just that; I hear that when American businessmen do business with the Japanese, there's often trouble, because the Japanese will never say "no" directly. And of course the typical American has to be hit with a lead pipe before he'll understand a "no", so...

Today I talked to a guy, and he saw my tee-shirt saying: "Six foot four, handsome, and money too," and he told me about a tee he wore last night in town saying "masturbation is not a crime", and all the reactions that got.

How the market works

[Thanks to Dr. P.]

How It Works

Once upon a time a man told a small village, "I will buy monkeys for $10 each."

Since there were many monkeys in the forest, the villagers caught them and sold them to the man.

As the supply of monkeys diminished, the villagers' efforts slowed, so the man offered them $20 each.

They renewed their efforts but the supply of monkeys diminished further, so he increased his price to $25.

Soon no one could even find a monkey in the forest.

The man increased his price to $50, but announced, "Since I must go to the city on business, I authorize my assistant to buy monkeys on my behalf."

As soon as his boss was gone, the assistant told the villagers, "My boss has collected lots of monkeys. I'll sell them to you for $35 and then, when he returns, you can sell them to him for $50."

The villagers rounded up all the money they could and bought as many monkeys as possible. Then they had monkeys everywhere...

... but they never saw the man or his assistant again.

And now you understand the workings of the stock market!

Sanders McNew

Thanks to Mike Johnston for recommending Sanders McNew's nudes.

A highly unusual combination of nudes which don't hide the body, and yet are not meant to be erotica, but portraits. And even more unusually, he is not afraid of smiles and happiness. Many of the portraits have the most wonderful, warm smiles. And are beautiful B/W photos on top of it.

Bert said:
I oft wonder if it is the models or the photographers who have a problem with smiles. It just feels so important for me to have at least one (genuine!) smile in a photo shoot. A shot like the one shown here reveals so much on the model that it should be mandatory in a portrait session!

I suspect it's a reaction against all the fake and forced and gratuitous smiles in amateur photography. I mean real amateur: people who only take family snapshots and always tell the kids to Smile.

Also there's a general perception that if something is pleasant, it can't be serious art. You won't find a humorous novel winning a literature prize. You won't find a pretty painting in a censored art exhibition.
Also from Mike: This is why pictures in glossy mags seem too good to be true. Scary stuff. Like I said recently: people love fake. Many prefer it.

Weather reports

The two main weather reports services in these parts, BBC and AccuWeather (which Apple uses for its widget) are regularly like five degrees apart in their report of both predicted and current temperature! What's one supposed to do with that?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Old/new post

How frigging irritating: when you start a post on Blogger and save it for later, when you finally do post it, it's posted under the time/date that you started it, not published it. So people don't see it because it's not at the top and may be below posts they have already seen.
I just posted this one on D.E.B.S.

Canon hacks

Some Canon compact cameras can be hacked and get capabilities normally reserved for big cameras.
If the cameras really are capable of all that, it seems idiotic to hide it away. Surely the reasons are fear of complexity for the normal user, and fear of the compacts cannibalizing the markets for bigger cameras, but still.

Everybody survived

On one island in the middle of the devastating 2006 tsunami, everybody survived. The Moken people knew the signs from old tales, though they kids took some convincing to flee.

The Moken people are interesting. They have no words for "nude", "when", "want", or "worry".

Doonesbury too

Inspired by my liking for the latest collection of Doonesbury, I decided to load up on collections from the early decades of the strip. Or to be honest, everything I didn't already have. Or rather, hadn't kept. I think I've read pretty much every strip of the 35 years so far.

Sadly the seventies collections are these tiny things the size of a small crime novel and half as thick. While it's nice they fit in a back pocket, they don't feel satisfactory, and I can't believe everything is in them. And only one strip per page. So I decided to go for the "anthology" or "omnibus" collections, which have at least two years each, and are big books with four strips per page. A lot of reading in one of those, I like it.

Beyond ten years back they are out of print, so I had to find them via Abebooks. And they are all in pretty worn condition. But while it would be nice to get mint condition books (I've suggested to Garry Trudeau that the strip be brought out in a format like The Complete Peanuts), I find that is has advantages that they're worn. I relax more while reading them since I don't have to fear creasing a page or getting a coffee spot on it.

Many years ago I was in a cafe which had topped all the tabletops with laminated pages from Doonesbury collections. Lovely idea.

Here's a photo of the collections which so far has arrived from my splurge a few days ago:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


D.E.B.S. the movie is a wonderful oddity. At first glance it is like Charlie's Angels, only less intellectual...

But then, like an optical illusion, you change viewpoint slightly, and suddenly it's a surreal comedy. Teenagers in schoolgirl uniforms who are deadly superspies, indeed!

Proof that it isn't your ordinary Hollywood big-canvas thriller:
1) It has a lesbian lovestory at its center!
2) And one of the main characters smoke!!

A couple of examples of the wonderfully satiric touches: the supervillain, Lucy Diamond (!), played by the gorgeous Gordana Brewster above, has to flee rapidly in a big convention center, and she stops to consult a diagram of the building...
And the same supervillain needs to find the girl she has the hots for, Amy, in an big building, so she pulls out a palm sized device, and on the screen magically appears a 3D wire diagram of the building. But not only that, rotating the diagram, red spots appears, the first two are labelled "not Amy", and the third one is labbeled "Amy". That's just a wonderful parody of the trappings of the spy thriller genre.

Sadly, to enjoy it you have to suffer the sight of pretty young women running around in very short skirts. Alas, everything good has a price.

By the way, what explains how it's untypical of a feature film is that it originated from a ten-minute film, which originated from a little comic book, and all done by the same woman, Angela Robinson. Even the feature film was done for $3.5M, which is ridiculous for any film and not the least a spy thriller, and it looks surprisingly good for it, in fact it looks good for a film of any budget.

Another of the actresses is Devon Aoki, a gorgeous girl who has the shortest skirt of the four DEBS. ("Mommy, why does he keep talking about skirts?" - "Shh, I think he's gay.") I suspect that she was actually the bread crumb trail I followed to this film, I think she has a part in Eureka [update: I was wrong]. In DEBS she affects a hilarious French accent and addictions to both nicotine and sex. Update: it turns out she's a supermodel, but I'm not ashamed of not knowing that, since neither was the director. Also, Devon herself came up with that great accent.

Update: don't miss the commentaries. The director is real film geek, and the girls are cute and funny. The actresses' comments vary between insightful/funny and "OMG, I love how your hair looks in this scene," so many times that they themselves start making fun of it.

Part 1009 in my "it's a prude, prude world" series: in a scene where the camera follows the girls going up a staircase, they had to add digital shadows so you couldn't see their panties... Come on!

Preinstalling software

Oddly I don't find it on their web site yet, but I just got this email from Apple, telling me how I can buy a new Mac with extra Apple software pre-installed. (iWork, Final Cut, etc.)

I think this is a very inspired move by Apple, particularly since they sell lots of computers to folks like me who really prefer it if we don't have to get our hands dirty with the nitty gritty of how the machine works.

I've no doubt that the added sales they will get from this will very much outweigh the cost of the people installing it. (Preinstalled is the same price as if you buy and install the software yourself.)

People Like Us

If you enjoy a good mockumentary, I warmly recommend People Like Us. It is hilarious, perhaps second only to Spinal Tap itself.

One of the brilliant things is the narration. On the surface it sounds just like the typical BBC narration, but if you really listen to it, it is chock-full of the most hilarious manglings of the language.

Madonna, Hard Candy and Ray of Light

I bought the DeLuxe version of Madonna, Hard Candy, on iTunes.
If you know it, what do you think? I don't think it's all that great, so far.

Perhaps I'm stuck on Ray Of Light. I feel about Ray of Light about the same way I feel about Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns: a monumental performance, which the same artist has not equalled before or since.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman chats and reads from his wonderful short story collection Fragile Things.

Update: even if you don't care to hear the story he reads early on, I recommend the video anyway for anybody who appreciates intelligent and humorous talk about writing and fantasy and film making. Neil is always a delight to listen to.

Update: this is funny, check out the comments on this video. It seems that Neil is a real babe magnet.
Tori Amos on Neil.

Uncle Ron commented:
I never heard of Neil Gaiman until this morning... the interveiw with him is hilarious...What a wit!
I look forward to reading as much of his work that I can get my hands on.
Thank you for introducing him to one of your avid blog readers.

His wit in his work is perhaps usually of a more subtle kind than in his interviews/talks, but it's there.
I recommend American Gods and Coraline.
Oh, and Good Omens which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett is without equal. One of the funniest and most imaginative books you'll ever read, fantasy or not.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Family values

Alex said:
Though I used to think court and bedchamber were separate, I now wonder? A persons behaviour, if they are honest to themselves, should be uniform in all matters.

A public servant may be able to honour their commitments to the state, and the people they represent, while still making mistakes in their personal life.

So what does divorce say?

1) Changing loyalties
2) Indicative of commitment before fully understanding situation
3) Failure to communicate
4) Failure to resolve issues
5) Victim of coercion
6) Willing to renounce legal or religious vows.

a) Ability to fix issues, and retreat from bad situations
b) Strength to assert own right.
c) Modern thinking in matters of personal liberty.

This is what the divorces imply about the divorcees in general.

As for family values. As a parent, the commitment you make is to provide the best for your children, your partner and yourself in that order.

An abusive partnership will be a bad environment for the kids, more so than a stable separation of parental units.

Of course an abusive separation will be detrimental to the kids too, possibly more so, with abandonment and resentment coming into it.

I don't know how to classify "bored of relationship" in terms of damage to the kids.
I think the point to be taken from the cartoon is not so much about the actual behavior, which does indeed fall inside the realm of private lives, but rather about stones and glass houses. And double standards.

Terry Pratchett

Below, Terry Pratchett on his newest book Making Money, which I quite liked. (It's not a financial self help book, it's a satirical fantasy novel about a mint.)
(His books sell 2.5 million copies per year! Holy mama.)

In it is one of the best lines I've ever seen quoted:

"Ingenuity gets you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no ingenuity." - Terry Pratchett

(Beth informs me it is derived from "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope." — Freewheelin' Franklin of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Although I suspect that may have come from something even earlier.)

It's quite interesting to me (as exemplified in this other Pratchett interview) that while Science Fiction and Fantasy now have the best selling films and books everywhere, the genre is still marginalized by the broad public. How does this work exactly? Very weird.
By the way, isn't the play head on the YouTube videos awful? It's got "play" in it like a loose steering wheel, and you can't control it exactly in case you miss a few words or such. Is it the Mac or is it like that on Windoze too?


UnixObjects by TTL.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What does Paris do?

I've been reading Doonesbury collections for thirty years now. That strip rocks. I shudder to think how much it would mean to me if I were an American baby-boomer university graduate.

The strip below got banned by many, many newspapers because it used the word "masturbation". I'm still astounded at how little it takes to offend some people. Trudeau was interviewed about the incident.