Desert island lists

(in progress)

Desert island. Ten of some thing. You get the picture.


1. Rivest, et al., Algorithms
2. Alberts, Bray, et al. Molecular Biology of The Cell
3. Jim Gray, Transaction Processing
4. Melville, Moby Dick
5. Abelson and Sussman, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
6. Knuth Vol. 4
7. Gene Wolfe, Shadow and Claw and Sword and Citadel (yes, it’s cheating)
8. Either a bible, a copy of the Koran, or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
9. A copy of the complete works of Walt Kelly (you thought I was going to say “Shakespear,” didn’t you?). Pogo lives!
10. Something really trashy and long (or maybe just Gravity’s Rainbow)

Same place, working DVD player (on an island? Don’t get picky).

1. Alien (director’s cut). I just don’t get tired of this one.
2. Das Boot (director’s cut, subtitled). Ditto.
3. Full Metal Jacket
4. TBD
5. TBD
6. TBD
7. TBD
8. TBD
9. TBD
10. TBD


1. Rickie Lee Jones, The Magazine
2. Second disc (of three) of Lol Creme and Kevin Godley’s concept album Consequences (only issued on vinyl, pretty obscure)
3. XTC, Nonsuch
4. TBD
5. TBD
6. TBD
7. TBD
8. TBD
9. TBD
10. TBD

Ten books I wish I’d never read

1. Battlefield Earth
2. Battlefield Earth
3. Battlefield Earth
4. Battlefield Earth
5. Battlefield Earth
6. Battlefield Earth
7. Battlefield Earth (<== new entries go up from here ^^^)
8. E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Subspace Explorers
9. Some book I read when I was ten that featured killer space-bees on the moon. I completely forget. How awful. (No, I don’t know how they flew in a vacuum).
10. Books 3+ of The Treadmill of Time

Ten movies I wish I’d never seen

1. The unmentionable movie we saw in D.C. after seeing Serial (my friends know)
2. Stand by Me
3. Nightflyers (the short story was good, the film adaptation sucked)
4. Millenium (John Varley’s pretty good short story ==> okay novella ==> movie starring Cheryl Ladd. OMFG bad).
5. TBD
6. TBD
7. TBD
8. TBD
9. TBD
10. Battlefield Earth (to be fair, I whipped through this on fast-forward)

Ten albums I wish I’d never listened to

1. Anything by the group Starfuckers
2. Enya, The Memory of Trees
3. TBD
4. TBD
5. TBD
6. TBD
7. TBD
8. TBD
9. TBD
10. TBD


A blow-by-blow of XM Radio’s third satellite launch (starts from the bottom).

It’s launched by Sea Launch, from a platform that has its home port in Long Beach, CA. In this instance it was towed to the equator –

“After the first day or so you forget about being on a boat. It just becomes work without the commute . . . We work most of the time but every once in a while we had the chance to do some fishing. We caught maybe 30 or 40 fish before we stopped counting.”

Data integrity

Measured in bit-years of durability, the most robust storage medium that we’ve come up with is probably the clay tablet. Every couple dozen generations you have to have someone translate ’em for you, but that beats finding the software you need to print out the documents on those centuries-old shiny disks…

(All right, the most dense, most durable storage today is probably the fuse-link blowable PROM, which you can probably embed in clay or something and reasonably expect to get decent kilobit-centuries out of).

“doc” lives?!

To someone not familiar with E. E. “Doc” Smith’s work, the newest reprinting of the Lensman series might be slightly confusing. Triplanetary, the first book, has a little blurb in it about the next volume, “due out in July 2005,” as if it were being penned at this very moment. (Of course, the copyright date is something like 1934).

I really wonder what he’d be writing about today.

Enterprise farewell decisions

Of course! The answer is to ________________________________.
 A) reverse polarity of the matrix (again)
 B) demultiplex the injector ports (again)
 C) align the stupid dilithium crystals (again)
 D) have vulcan sex (off camera) (again)

This week’s forehead will be ________________.
 A) corrugated
 B) flattened, with fins
 C) cone-shaped
 D) sort of bulgy and breathy

During the space battle, ________________.
 A) The warp drive will go off line (again).
 B) Hull plating will be down to five percent (again).
 C) A bunch of empty cabins on what’s left of C deck will get clobbered (again).
 D) The hostilities will turn out to be an embarrassing misunderstanding (“Sorry!” “No, we’re sorry!”)

The show’s final secret that will be revealed: ________________.
 A) Porthos the beagle is really an alien who has been controlling things all along.
 B) Captain Archer is gay (and no one will care).
 C) It’s all been an elaborate simulation, thank you for playing, please exit via the doors to your right.
 D) The entire cast will apologize for the collossal waste of everyone’s time.

Dry year for books

Looking ahead to the SF & F being published this year, things look pretty dry. There’s a lot of icky-looking fantasy and more than the usual number of bug-crushers with ominous tags like “Part I of the Frobzingangian Cycle” on their covers, but precious little in the way of good, toothy stuff. With the exception of Neil Gaiman’s The Anansi Boys, a couple books by Charles Stross, and maybe a juvenile by John Varley, there’s not a bunch to look forward to.

Is video gaming the answer? All of my cow-orkers are hooked on World of Warcraft. It’s cheaper than buying even one hardback book a month, huh. Or, pick something neat to really dig into that’s not computer related (like that book on cellular molecular biology I picked up a couple years ago). Murp.

With spring and summer and our wonderful high-lattitudes long light coming, maybe just lots of walks with my son in the evenings is enough. God knows I need the exercise 🙂

Fire banned from air travel

We can all breath a huge sigh of relief as lighters will finally be banned from airline flights in the US. Well, in mid-April. (This makes us safer than banning them in March).

You’ll still be able to carry up to four books of matches. Not five — that would make you a terrorist. It’s unclear whether the four books you’re permitted must be standard size, or if you can get away with like a pound’s worth of those massive books that contain 500 matches each.

Flint and steel don’t seem to be banned, nor are magnifying glasses (though bows-and-arrows do seem to be on the “take ’em in back and interrogate ’em” list). That, and a little tinder, and you’re on your way.

The cool thing about this ruling is: That expensive gold-plated lighter that belonged to Grandpa? Yeah . . . the US postal service won’t mail it back to you, it’s hazardous.

Next: The TSA bans pocket change and cash, because it can be used to anonymously fund evil bad guys. Hand it over. You wanna be like safe, right, bub?