Aug 31 2006
I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.
I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, in the peace of the submerged forest, in the excitements of the deserted holiday beach, in the elegance of automobile graveyards, in the mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels.
Excerpted from “What I Believe”, by J.G. Ballard, first published in Interzone #8, 1984
Via Ballardian.com, which is currently featuring an extensive interview with one of my favourite writers, Iain Sinclair:
“What was the genesis of the London Orbital project?
I felt quite strongly that with the kind of complicated dense fictions that I’d been writing, there was no place for them in the market. Lights Out for the Territory, which was centred on walks and explorations within London, had been much more successful. I needed to do another book which appeared to be a documentary but went off in other directions. One day when I was out walking up the River Lea to the point where it hit the M25 at Waltham Abbey, I thought this is it. This is the future England. London itself, by being completely enclosed in a motorway, has become a kind of concrete island. The obvious space to explore is this, with this pilgrim journey. It’s a book you can describe in a single sentence “a walk around the M25″ so everything clicked into place. Once I’d taken that decision, the book was there waiting to be written. ”
The article also reveals that Sinclair is planning ‘Beijing Orbital’.
Aug 24 2006
The Best Of Technology Writing 2006 will include a version of my essay “Sex, Fame, and PC Baangs“.
“The Best of Technology Writing 2006″ features first-rate work from an unusually diverse array of writers: best-selling authors, noted academics, and indie journalists and bloggers. The culmination of an open, on-line nominating process, “The Best of Technology Writing 2006″ covers topics ranging from the awkwardness of virtual romance, to the future of the book, to the meaning of life in the information age. By turns epic and quirky, serious and light-hearted, but always innovative and fresh, “The Best of Technology Writing 2006″ captures the vitality, importance, and complexity of technology today.
Aug 24 2006
Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers. The work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates. Tea not only rehydrates as well as water does, but it can also protect against heart disease and some cancers, UK nutritionists found.
Experts believe flavonoids are the key ingredient in tea that promote health.
She said it was an urban myth that tea is dehydrating.
“Studies on caffeine have found very high doses dehydrate and everyone assumes that caffeine-containing beverages dehydrate. But even if you had a really, really strong cup of tea or coffee, which is quite hard to make, you would still have a net gain of fluid.
Flavonoids! Also: Dave McCarthy of the Triforce was the person who told me that tea was dehydrating, and he was wrong. I shall never believe anything he says, ever again, no matter how plausible it might sound.
Soon scientists will prove that Guinness is good for you, and the circle of life will be complete.
Aug 23 2006
Bliss Island (18mb trial version on the far side of that click) is rather amusing. Clever arcade-juggler with bomb-physics, starring fruit, block invaders, slugs, and a cute alien thing rescued from Jim Henson’s puppet shredder. It’s also going to be on Sony PSP, for the mobile gentleman (who doesn’t own a DS).
Aug 17 2006
PC Format’s James Carey is an poet-engineer and a scholar. He’s made his own guitar-pad for PC Guitar Hero-imitator Frets On Fire using a toy guitar, a gamepad and a soldering iron. More over on PCF Blog.
Aug 17 2006
Chinese scientists test a newly-invented female robot in a laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Aug. 4, 2006. The unnamed robot’s inventers claim she is equipped with cutting-edge technology in human-robot interaction and can respond to human voices. Costing 300,000 Yuan (US$ 37,500) to develop, the robot has been programmed to speak the Sichuan dialect because she will be sent to the Sichuan Science Museum to act as a receptionist and tour guide. The designers hope to sell the robots next year to customers such as hotels and entertainment outlets, according to the Xinhua news agency. [AP]
She has subsequently been named ‘Rong Cheng’.
Aug 17 2006
Consider an apocalyptic statement: nothing is true everything is permitted. Hasaan I Sabah, the old man in the mountain. Not to be interpreted as an invitation to all manner of unrestrained and destructive behavior, that would a minor episode, which would run its course. Everything is permitted because nothing is true. It is all make-believe . . . illusion . . . dream . . . art. When art leaves the frame and the written word leaves the page, not merely the physical frame and page, but the frames and pages that assign the categories.
A basic disruption of reality itself occurs. The literal realization of art. Success will write apocalypse across the sky. The artist aims for a miracle. The painter wills his pictures to move off the canvas with a separate life. movement outside of the picture and one rip in the fabric is all it takes for pandemonium to break through.
Wikipedia entry on Hassan I Saban, ‘the old man of the mountain’ and leader of the assassins:
Not much is known about Hassan, but legends abound as to the tactics used to induct members into his quasi-religious political organization. A future assassin was subjected to rites very similar to those of other mystery cults in which the subject was made to believe that he was in imminent danger of death. But the twist of the assassins was that they drugged the person to simulate a “dying” to later have them awaken in a garden flowing with wine and served a sumptuous feast by virgins. The supplicant was then convinced he was in Heaven and that Sabbah was a representative of the divinity and that all of his orders should be followed, even to death. This legend derives from Marco Polo, who visited Alamut just after it fell to the Mongols in the thirteenth century.
Other accounts of the indoctrination attest that the future assassins were brought to Alamut at a young age and, while they matured, inhabited the aforementioned paradisial gardens and were kept drugged with hashish; as in the previous version, Hassan occupied this garden as a divine emissary. At a certain point (when their initiation could be said to have begun) the drug was withdrawn from them, and they were removed from the gardens and flung into a dungeon. There they were informed that, if they wished to return to the paradise they had so recently enjoyed it would be at Sabbah’s discretion, and that they must therefore follow his directions exactly, up to and including murder and self-sacrifice.