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Cartoon

This made me giggle (click through to read the whole thing).

There are only a few posts up at the site right now, but they’re all fairly amusing.

(via Efeitos Secundários)

Posted in Humor November 16th, 2009 by Chip
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Top Ten Ways to Destroy the Earth

Just in case you need a project this weekend, Live Science has done a roundup of ten ways to obliterate the planet. Each method includes a handy inventory of the supplies you need, so you can make up your shopping list.

Gobbled up by strangelets

You will need: a stable strangelet

Method: Hijack control of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York. Use the RHIC to create and maintain a stable strangelet. Keep it stable for as long as it takes to absorb the entire Earth into a mass of strange quarks. Keeping the strangelet stable is incredibly difficult once it has absorbed the stabilizing machinery, but creative solutions may be possible.

A while back, there was some media hoo-hah about the possibility of this actually happening at the RHIC, but in actuality the chances of a stable strangelet forming are pretty much zero.

Earth’s final resting place: a huge glob of strange matter.

Easy!

Posted in Space November 13th, 2009 by Chip
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Review: Don’t Panic

Don't PanicIn the interests of full disclosure I’ll mention up front that the publisher sent me this book to review. That would not, however, prevent me from savaging it if I felt that was warranted. Fortunately for the publisher’s blood pressure, it is not; I quite liked it.

Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman isn’t precisely a biography of Douglas Adams but more an exploration of how The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came to be; however, the background for that happens to include a lot of biographical details.

Gaiman examines the various incarnations of the Guide (radio show, books, stage productions both well-received and decidedly not), discussing the obstacles and occasional bits of serendipity involved in the creation of each. Adams is depicted as succeeding almost in spite of himself, with the extremely positive reception of the first radio series and first book spurring sequels which he was not always comfortable writing. Flaws in the later books, for instance, can be attributed to his tendency to write them after he had blown through every possible deadline and was finally locked in a hotel room by his publishers to produce something–anything!–as quickly as possible.

Surprisingly (to me at least), there was quite a lot of drama surrounding the Guide in its various forms. Adams had a tendency–through (at least, as Gaiman portrays him) mild bewilderment rather than malice–to step on others’ toes, and more than one of them reacted with considerable acrimony. Far from building smoothly from one success to the next, work on various Guide incarnations lurched along and was nearly derailed more than once.

Gaiman writes in a chatty, engaging style that is peppered (albeit sometimes consciously so) with Adams-isms. His coverage of the Guide’s history is thorough and includes lots of quotes from people associated with its creation, detailing their memories of Adams and his project. There are lots of interesting tidbits sprinkled into the narrative–I was amused, for instance, to learn who played the Dish of the Day in the TV series–and the book does a good job of exploring how dramatically the story changes from one medium to another: Minor details in the radio series might become major plot points in the books, while other important subplots might disappear entirely. (An appendix summarizes the “variant texts” of the Guide through various media, which is helpful for figuring out the chief differences.) Also explored is the significant influence Doctor Who–on which Adams worked as a script editor–and the Guide had on each other; The third Guide novel, for instance, began life as a script treatment called “Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen.”

Don’t Panic was originally published in 1988, but this new edition has been expanded to cover the Guide’s movie version, additional novels, and Adams’ unexpected death and its aftermath. It ends with a short piece about Eoin Coifer’s sequel (planned but not yet released when Gaiman went to print).

My only real quibble about the book is minor and has to do with its layout: It includes quite a lot of sidebar-type stuff, such as material cut from the radio series, but some of it is interspersed with the text in such a way that it’s difficult to tell at a glance if it’s part of the narrative. I frequently had to pause for a moment to figure out where I should be reading next and it interrupted the flow of the story somewhat.

This book is a highly entertaining peek behind the scenes at the creation of the Guide, and is a recommended read even if you only have a casual acquaintance with Adams and his work. Fun! Educational! Go check it out!

Posted in Books & Authors November 12th, 2009 by Chip
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Their Souls Make His Tummy Happy

Li’l Cthulhu is “a child-friendly way to introduce your little one to the traditions of the Old Cult.”

Meet little Cthulhu, who lives in the magic city of R’lyeh with all his friends, as you and your child embark on a fun and educational journey through the world of the Great Old Ones, meeting all kinds of new buddies from the Necronomicon along the way, from Azathoth to Yog-Sothoth! This series has won multiple awards and has been enthusiastically approved by the department of child-developmental psychology at Miskatonic University.

This needs to be a feature-length film immediately. Somebody call Disney.

(Hat tip to Kitten Herder, who finds the most ridiculously awesome stuff.)

Cross-posted at The Art of Darkness

Posted in Humor November 11th, 2009 by Chip
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This is Either Awesome News…

…or an enormous scam. Deciding which is left as an exercise for the reader.

Claiming a huge injection of funds (like, $3 billion) from an anonymous benefactor, a Barcelona-based company called Galactic Suite, Ltd. is touting their plan to have a functioning space hotel in orbit by 2012. A three-night stay will cost $4.4 million), but that does include an 8-week training course on a tropical island.

The space resort will begin as a single orbiting pod which will hold four guests and two pilots. There will be no staff. Activities will include watching the sun rise 15 times and crawling around the pod in velcro suits.

Why, that sounds delightful.

Link

Posted in News, Space November 10th, 2009 by Chip
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Klingon Propaganda

Probably viral marketing, but we don’t care.

(via wilw)

Posted in Humor November 9th, 2009 by Chip
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Not Dead Yet

Monty PythonThe Crotchety Old Fan, fed up with yet another article predicting the imminent demise of SF, has created a helpful template to let writers quickly scratch their prognosticatory itch and get on with other things.

The (success) (failure) of (genre) (mainstream) (fantasy) (horror) (science fiction) (speculative fiction) is due to

[] mainstream authors failure to admit that they are writing genre fiction
[] the traitorous behavior of some award winning mainstream authors who embrace genre
[] academics failure to take the genre seriously
[] academics (grudging) (new found) (long time) acceptance of genre fiction
[] mainstream reviewers to take the genre seriously
[] mainstream literary awards failure to take the genre seriously
[] genre awards traitorous acceptance of (bad) (mainstream) (out of genre) (pop) (watered down) works
[] a (un)natural evolution of genre

I got silly and automated it, which should save even more time! Post your auto-rant today!

Posted in Ephemera November 6th, 2009 by Chip
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Strange Moments in Spaceflight

MSNBC.com has an amusing roundup of space mission oddities such as launch delays caused by alligators and bats stowing away on the shuttle.

Link (via Quarkscrew)

Posted in Space November 5th, 2009 by Chip
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The Periodic Table of Science Fiction

This is kind of awesome. Author Michael Swanwick, apparently in some kind of partnership with SciFi.com, is posting his mini-vignettes from The Periodic Table of Science Fiction over on Blogspot.

2
He
Helium
4.0026
Jane Carter of Mars

Imagine having Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, for your great-grandmother! Her likeness, carved in marble, balloon breasts and all, is everywhere in that fabled city. Small wonder Jane Carter became a punk.

Neat.

Link

Posted in Books & Authors November 4th, 2009 by Chip
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Symphony of Science

John Boswell followed up his wonderful Autotuned Sagan/Hawking A Glorious Dawn video with “We Are All Connected,” featuring Richard Feynman, Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Carl Sagan.

He’s also created a site devoted to these efforts, where you can view the videos, download the MP3s, and read the lyrics. Similar projects are probably forthcoming, so keep an eye on the site for future updates.

(via Live Granades)

Posted in Computers & Internet, Science November 3rd, 2009 by Chip
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