Thursday, July 01, 2004
Just added A Short Rhetoric for Leaving the Family by Peter Dimock to my wish list [Literary Saloon]
2:35 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Nice long J G Ballard interview [American Samizdat]
Jeannette Baxter: The majority of your novels can be read as provocative celebrations of the transformative and transgressive powers of the imagination. In Millennium People, however, the imagination is spectacularly lacking. Your cosy phrase "the upholstered apocalypse" gestures, rather worryingly, towards an imaginative and critical impasse of sorts, doesn't it? Is this decay in the life of the mind a terminal state of affairs? Millennium People is still basically unpublished in the US, though the UK edition is available at the above link from amazon.
J G Ballard: Nothing is ever terminal, thank God. As we hesitate, the road unrolls itself, dividing and turning. But there is something deeply suffocating about life today in the prosperous west. Bourgeoisification, the suburbanisation of the soul, proceeds at an unnerving pace. Tyranny becomes docile and subservient, and a soft totalitarianism prevails, as obsequious as a wine waiter. Nothing is allowed to distress and unsettle us. The politics of the playgroup rules us all.
The chief role of the universities is to prolong adolescence into middle age, at which point early retirement ensures that we lack the means or the will to enforce significant change. When Markham (not JGB) uses the phrase "upholstered apocalypse" he reveals that he knows what is really going on in Chelsea Marina. That is why he is drawn to Gould, who offers a desperate escape.
My real fear is that boredom and inertia may lead people to follow a deranged leader with far fewer moral scruples than Richard Gould, that we will put on jackboots and black uniforms and the aspect of the killer simply to relieve the boredom. A vicious and genuinely mindless neo-fascism, a skilfully aestheticised racism, might be the first consequence of globalisation, when Classic Coke® and California merlot are the only drinks on the menu. At times I look around the executive housing estates of the Thames Valley and feel that it is already here, quietly waiting its day, and largely unknown to itself.
Spike Magazine's Ballard site.
12:00 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Abu Ghraib protester in Boston charged with crimes which could mean more jailtime than any soldier involved in the atrocities will get
11:45 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Email eavesdropping OK'd by Appeals Court
11:41 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Unique "national treasure" archaeological site in Utah finally revealed by Utah rancher
For more than 50 years, rancher Waldo Wilcox kept most outsiders off his land and the secret under wraps: a string of ancient settlements thousands of years old in near perfect condition.
Hidden deep inside eastern Utah's nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles along Range Creek, where Wilcox guarded hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, pit houses and rock shelters, some exposing mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants.
The sites were occupied for at least 3,000 years until they were abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished. The Fremont, a collection of hunter-gatherers and farmers, preceded more modern American Indian tribes on the Colorado Plateau.
What sets this ancient site apart from other, better-known ones in Utah, Arizona or Colorado is that it's been left virtually untouched, with arrowheads and pottery shards still covering the ground in places.
11:37 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Monday, June 28, 2004
"I never even called the wrong woman beautiful. And then this happened."
Officials and experts in Sicily still can't explain a plague of electrical foul-ups in Canneto di Caronia (they stopped after a complete re-wiring of the village) & keyless car remotes won't work in parts of Las Vegas [The Anomalist]
2:21 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
3000 held in secret network of jails worldwide in US "anti-terror" effort [MeFi]
Few escape the ghost network of detention facilities, which range from massive prison camps such as that at Guantanamo Bay to naval vessels in the Indian Ocean, so accounts of life inside the new gulag are rare.
One of the most harrowing stories concerns a Syrian-born Canadian, Maher Arar, who was arrested by US authorities in late 2002 during a stopover in New York, on suspicion of terrorist activities.
After several days of questioning, the 34-year-old IT specialist was flown to Jordan, where the CIA passed him on to local security officials. He was repeatedly assaulted in Jordan before being driven to Syria, where he was kept in solitary confinement in a 6ft by 3ft cell for several months and repeatedly beaten with cables. All charges were dropped on his release. Arar said last week that he was 'trying to rebuild [his] life'. 'I never did anything to make me a suspect. I could not believe they would send me back to Syria, but they did,' he said. 'They sent me back to be tortured.'
2:03 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
The Tapeworm Collective: sharing sound files to create collaborative mp3s [Metafilter]
1:58 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
The Observer's new 80 Bright Young Things (they did this 25 years ago; this is for the UK, BTW)
Shami Chakrabarti, 35 These are people of the moment, but I doubt we'll remember many of them in 25 years (even if you're English)...
Human rights advocate
Shami Chakrabarti sees herself, 'to some extent, as a recovering lawyer'. Since becoming director of Liberty 10 months ago, she has sought to communicate her belief that human rights are not merely the business of lawyers, but central to a healthy society's values and sense of self-identity. Trained at the LSE before being called to the Bar, Chakrabarti worked for five and a half years at the Home Office. She combines a commitment to human rights with an appreciation of the difficulty of the decisions sometimes faced by governments. 'It's too easy in this job to feel like a professional teenager, pointing out what's wrong, what I'm against,' she says. She cites 'being a mother' as one reason why she cares so much about human rights, and adds that motherhood has given her a greater confidence. 'I'm not sure I'd have put myself forward for this job if it hadn't been for that sense of empowerment.' Appalled by widespread beliefs (as seen, for example, in attitudes surrounding the Soham case) that human rights are somehow at odds with child protection - or indeed, counter terrorism - she is determined to persuade us that, on the contrary, they are vital to both. Beyond that, she says, she has 'no grand plan. But persuading people of that is an awesome task, and also a privilege'.
Dominic Cooper, 25
TV roles in Band of Brothers and Down to Earth got Dominic Cooper noticed, as did his Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Then Nicholas Hytner gave him major roles in two of the National Theatre's most important productions. Those who saw His Dark Materials, or Alan Bennett's History Boys, know this was no gamble - Cooper is one of our most talented young actors. The next Jude Law?
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 27
Chiwetel Ejiofor's versatility impresses almost as much as his talent. Electrifying on film, in Dirty Pretty Things and Love Actually , he's equally accomplished on the stage, TV and radio. Now heading for Hollywood to work on a science fiction script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Joss Whedon, Ejiofor's prospects are excellent - he's even been suggested as the first black James Bond.
Helen Walsh, 26
At 23, Helen Walsh wrote her first book, Brass, at the kitchen table of her mum's house while coming off antidepressants. The shocking, fearless honesty of the book, which drew on her experiences and studies of drug addiction and the sexual subcultures of Liverpool and Barcelona, saw Walsh compared to Irvine Welsh. An original and compelling writer.
Ejiofor was quite good in Dirty Pretty Things, the only one of the sampling above I've heard of.
Director Christopher Nolan made the list too, though the Insomnia re-make (I liked the Norwegian original with Stellan Skarsgård much better) and his apparent involvement in the Batman franchise are disappointing after the wollop of Memento, one of the best films of recent years.
1:38 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Learned about 2 new tools for sharing content: Furl and amplify.com
The former looks particularly interesting for bloggers, since you can store pages that might suffer "link rot". Though -- as Amy Gahran mentions on her Contentious blog -- it's in beta and may well be a subscriber service eventually.
6:55 PM - [Link] - Comments ()