Pot Planet by Brian Preston: ‘…Preston is part journalist, part missionary and all viper. He likes to get “baked” on pot. He also enjoys the vagabond life. So, one day, perhaps while under the influence, what should pop into his head but an idea for a book: travel around the world, check out the marijuana scene in different countries (getting baked whenever possible), then write it all up and get it published. Dude! Such notions often float past while the bong bubbles, but in Preston’s case he actually grabbed on, stayed with it and cranked out Pot Planet: Adventures in Global Marijuana Culture. ‘ Salon review

Noah’s Flood Hypothesis May Not Hold Water:

“In 1996, marine geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman published a scientifically popular hypothesis, titled Noah’s Flood Hypothesis. The researchers presented evidence of a bursting flood about 7,500 years ago in what is now the Black Sea. This, some say, supports the biblical story of Noah and the flood.

But, such a forceful flood could not have taken place, says Jun Abrajano, professor of earth and environmental sciences at Rensselaer. He is part of an international team of scientists who refute the so-called Noah’s Flood Hypothesis.

Abrajano cites evidence of a much more gradual rising of the Black Sea that began to occur 10,000 years ago and continued for 2,000 years.”

Happy Bloomsday!

“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.

Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o’er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the ends of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand? Crush, crack, crick, crick. Wild sea money. Dominie Deasy kens them a’.

Won’t you come to Sandymount,

Madeline the mare?

Rhythm begins, you see. I hear. Acatalectic tetrameter of iambs marching. No, agallop: deline the mare.

Open your eyes now. I will. One moment. Has all vanished since? If I open and am for ever in the black adiaphane. Basta! I will see if I can see.

See now. There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world without end.”

from ‘Proteus’ (Ulysses, chapter 3)

Qaeda’s New Links Increase Threats From Global Sites: “A group of midlevel operatives has assumed a more prominent role in Al Qaeda and is working in tandem with Middle Eastern extremists across the Islamic world, senior government officials say. They say the alliance, which extends from North Africa to Southeast Asia, now poses the most serious terrorist threat to the United States.” NY Times

Dogs: A Startling New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution

There are dog lovers, and then there are dog lovers. Behavioral scientists Raymond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger have raised hundreds of dogs of various breeds, raced sled teams, and published professional and popular works on canine behavior. Dogs is their manifesto of canine evolution and treatment by humans, and it offers deep insight, provocative theories, and controversial ideas regarding our relationship with them. Though some of the material is most appropriate for readers with some zoological background, much of it is written for a general audience–one that cares about dogs not just for what they offer humans, but for their own sake.

Arguing that much of current thinking about dogs’ evolutionary history is misguided, the authors share their own complex story of wolflike animals coevolving with permanent human settlements and only recently being subject to directed breeding and artificial selection. This is interesting enough, but they go on to take issue with the use and treatment of dogs, some of which they claim is bad for dog and human alike. Pure breeding, making companion animals of inappropriate breeds, and even some uses of disability assistance are assailed for neglecting genetic and other hardwired aspects of canine life. Surprisingly little is known for sure about dogs’ lives and behavior, so the Coppingers’ contribution is a welcome, if occasionally unsettling, eye-opener. –Rob Lightner amazon.com

long pity poem 3-16-01

I'm borken
So I guess I'm lucky
strangers will fix me.
First my heart
then my coc k
someday my eyes.
Maybe they can make me taller wiser
without drugs.
Rub my brain
soak it all night rusty bathtup boken sink
extra special chemicals.
Ah, throw the whole fuckin mess out!
I'm becoming a 1987 Volvo station wagon
one thing fixed another breaks.
Everyone is so helpful
their parents grandparents great-grandparents
had what I'm having
like breakfast at Denny's.

— John Tyson (Milwaukee, WI)

The end of the revolution

‘It is a sad story, in the end, this “taming of the Net.” In Ruling the Root, (Milton L.) Mueller, with all the precision and economy of a masterful prosecuting attorney, demolishes the techno-libertarian myth of the Internet as a new space for human interaction that is uncontrollable and inherently independent. Despite the widespread belief that the Net is so decentralized and distributed as to be able to elude governments and even nuclear devastation, there is a central point of control — the so-called “root.” ‘ Salon (via Walker)

McAfee Manufactures Virus Threat: Backlash by thoughtful people against the (thoughtless) news I propagated here, that we should be afraid of .jpegs bearing viruses. Little more than fearmongering by the “group of 20 or so companies whose profits are directly linked to creating fear in their customers, who have to keep discovering new sources of fear to improve their bottom line – or in the absence of new discoveries, keep inventing new sources of fear” — the anti-virus companies?

Now, if you know much about computing, you may be a little suspicious of this. JPEGs are compressed image files that only contain data representing an image to be displayed, not code to be executed. A modification of that data might screw up the picture of your cat dangling from the edge of the kitchen table you like so much, but it won’t turn the image into a potential virus transmitter, because the programs that display JPEGs don’t read them with an eye toward executing the code. An image file is just data to be displayed. The line between “data” and “code” is a little bit fuzzy – often particular characters or a particular file can be both data and code, depending on the context of how other code handles it. Or a particular file can include both data and code separately, like a Microsoft Word file that includes data (your text) and code (some macro designed to be executed by Word when the document is opened).

But for JPEGs there’s a well-designed standard, and it doesn’t include executing code of any sort. If a JPEG-handling program doesn’t like the data it sees, it should just stop trying to display the image, not decide to start executing code from the image. JPEGs are mostly harmless. Slashdot

Thanks to Walker for pointing me to this. Barr alleges defamation in lawsuit against Clinton, Carville and Flynt

Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., is suing former President Clinton, Democratic analyst James Carville and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, contending they harmed his reputation and caused him emotional distress during the Clinton impeachment.

Barr, a vigorous Clinton critic who called for the president to resign, is seeking at least $30 million, along with attorney’s fees and other costs.

He filed the lawsuit March 7 in U.S. District Court. Flynt, who says he was notified last week, made it public this week.

“It’s ridiculous,” Flynt said Thursday in a phone interview from his Los Angeles home. “He’s been out of the limelight for a while so maybe he’s looking for some attention.”

The lawsuit, filed along with various news articles and television transcripts, alleges the three defendants took part in a “common scheme and ongoing conspiracy to attempt to intimidate, impede and/or retaliate” against Barr and other House impeachment managers.

Specifically, it accuses Carville of providing Flynt with FBI files and other classified information on Barr’s private life for use in a smear campaign. It alleges Clinton approved of the actions.

“I don’t know if it’s more silly or more frivolous,” Carville said. “It’s just a political stunt. I think the best thing to do is let the courts handle it.” Yahoo! News

Rafe Coburn, in rc3, points out that “the news of the case was released at the same time Barr’s House committee is holding hearings on a bill that would put limits on ‘frivolous lawsuits,’ by putting a cap on damages awarded for pain and suffering.”

Jenny Turner:

Aberdeen rocks: review of 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess by Stewart Home.

…I really don’t think anyone who is at all interested in the study of literature has any business not knowing the work of Stewart Home. No one and nothing, least of all the work itself, is saying you have to like it: if Home wanted his work to be likeable, he could just set about copying Nick Hornby, same as everybody else. But Home is using writing for a different purpose. Writing is power, ideology, an instrument of domination; it’s a huge, filthy, stinking machine. Yes, it’s possible – and can be rewarding in all sorts of ways – to use this machine for writing amiable, authentic, sincere-seeming prose. But that is only a tiny part of what writing is about, whether or not one chooses to acknowledge the power relation head on.

In his work, Home avoids all the nice bits of writing to focus in tightly on what is difficult, ugly, ambivalent about the process. So pulp gets in, and pornography, and violence; philosophy is allowed, so long as it is not being consoling; and political theory is fundamentally what the whole thing is about – Home sometimes calls his method ‘proletarian Postmodernism’, and he doesn’t mean that entirely as a joke. Much of Home’s work is extremely funny, if you are comfortable enough with the tradition it comes out of to be able to see the humour. But it isn’t warm, it isn’t compassionate, it doesn’t make you feel good as you read it. The irony is almost total. It’s satire, unsweetened and unadorned.

London Review of Books

3am Interview: A Cunning Linguist – 69 Things To Do With Stewart Home

“It’s not a problem in the States for people to understand that there is more than one style of English language writing that can be worked at, but here it’s a problem. The critics think that if you’re not making these failed attempts at metaphor then you’re not trying. They appear incapable of imagining that I choose to write as I do. The critics here seem to think I can’t control my writing. But actually writing in a stripped-down way is a discipline, because you’ve got to make sure it’s not baggy and you’ re not repeating yourself too much within a sentence. And with every sentence you’re paring it down. You’re thinking – I want 20 to 30 word sentences. So there’s a certain discipline in there. With this Dead Princess it’s like Come Before Christ and Murder Love, it hasn’t got that pulp narrative and basically it’s written from the perspective of a disintegrating personality” 3am Magazine

Stewart Home Society

“The Stewart Home Society exists to promote the works of Stewart Home and document the many aspects of his work. Also the Stewart Home Society will make preparations for Stewart Home’s death on which it will step into the role of defending the great man’s works and reputation against bourgeois / imperialist / revisionist slander and distortion.”

Another nail in counterculture’s coffin?

Rolling Stone, Struggling for Readers, Names Briton as Editor: “Rolling Stone, a magazine that all but defined the American countercultural epoch, yesterday named a British managing editor schooled in the racy ways of contemporary English men’s magazines. The appointment signals the end of Rolling Stone‘s history as a publisher of epic narratives and literary journalism, in part because the owner, Jann Wenner, believes that today’s young reader has little patience for long articles.” NY Times [thanks, Spike Report]

Missed Opportunity:

I was looking forward both to the intriguing premise of this war movie and to seeing John Woo’s direction. From Slate‘s “Summary Judgment”:

Windtalkers (MGM). Critics are disappointed by action maestro John Woo’s first war movie. The film is based on the United States’ use of the Navajo language as a code during World War II. It’s fascinating history, but “the filmmakers have buried it beneath battlefield clichés, while centering the story on a white character played by Nicolas Cage” (Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-Times). The combat scenes are “as kinetic (and as splattery) as any ever filmed” (David Edelstein, Slate), but they may not serve the movie: [Windtalkers‘] style keeps getting in the way of the action and the emotion” (Stephen Hunter, the Washington Post).