neal stephenson

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Stilgherrian’s links for 21 November 2008 through 22 November 2008, after being tickled with a feather duster:

  • Danger Room Debrief: How to do Defense, When the Money’s Gone | Danger Room from Wired.com: “The current global economic and financial meltdown may yet become something worse: a protracted global depression. As with the last century’s Depression, which spawned fascism and WWII, it could recast the world at a fundamental level. As such, it may soon represent our biggest security challenge in over 50 years.”
  • The Power of Nightmares | YouTube: The 2.5-minute introduction to The Power of Nightmares, to give you a flavour of the full 3-hour documentary series.
  • The Power Of Nightmares (DVD) | Internet Archive: This film explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today: “Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives] were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret organized evil that threatens the world, a fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.” The full DVD image is free to download.
  • Irrelevant Al Qaeda | Jon Taplin’s Blog: Is it time to declare Al Qaeda irrelevant and downgrade the War on Terror a police action that’s just mopping up the stragglers?
  • Mother Earth Mother Board | Wired 4.12: A massive 1993 feature article in which Neal Stephenson toured six countries following the roll-out of fibre optic cables. It introduced me to his writing and it remains an excellent read today.
  • The End | Flickr: A collection of classic “The End” title cards from a wide variety of films.
  • Fiscal Conservative vs. Tax & Spend Liberal | Be the signal: Another variation of an infographic pointing out that the Republicans don’t have the best track record for the US economy.
  • Opinion graph | Junk Charts: On average, the US stock market does much better under Democrat Presidents than Republicans, as this graph shows.
  • How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign | Advertising Age: A groundswell of opinion on Twitter caused Johnson & Johnson to pull an adverting campaign.
  • Thesis Theme for WordPress | DIY Themes: A high-quality but not-free theme framework for WordPress. While I currently use the free Tarski theme for my website maybe this is worth a look at some point.
  • NSW Parliamentary Research: Mandatory ISP filtering is not what it seems | Internet Industry Association: Research by the NSW Parliamentary Library shows that Senator Conroy’s claims about other nations’ compulsory Internet censorship regimes are wrong.
  • Kerr's curse | ABC Unleashed: If nothing else, I love this essay for the phrase “cardboard cutout think tanks”. But there are many other reasons to like it.
  • Internet Censorship and the Irukandji Jellyfish | First Dog on the Moon: Only First Dog on the Moon could successfully combine Senator Conroy’s Internet censorship plan and jellyfish in one cartoon.
  • PG Nation | ABC Unleashed: An interesting essay about the neo-wowserism of the Rudd government.
  • Europa Film Treasures: An archive of European cinematographic treasures. It looks like there’s a lot of material here.
  • The Trojan Horse | Business Spectator: “The current government policy of forcing ISPs to offer their customers a so-called ‘clean feed’ has the overt intention of helping parents to protect their kids while surfing the Internet. It is, we are told, all about child protection. However, the use of content filtering to make the Internet ‘safer’ for kids is already available, to the extent that any statistically significant real demand exists to solve it.”
  • Failing hard drive sounds | Datacent: A collection of the sounds made by dying hard disc drives. Yes, they can be used in music provided you contact these guys first.
  • 19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv | NewTeeVee: Abraham K Biggs committed suicide on Wednesday while broadcasting himself on video site Justin.tv. Apparently the 19yo Floridian was egged on by commenters on Justin.tv and forum users on bodybuilding.com. The article canvasses some of the legal and ethical issues.

Image of Marcus Westbury from Not Quite Art

I can’t be “objective” about Marcus Westbury and his truly awesome TV series Not Quite Art. Marcus, I am totally envious and I want to have your babies!

OK, failing that (for various biological and logistical reasons) I’ll simply demand that everyone — and I do mean everyone — watch Not Quite Art when series two is squeezed like a threatening pimple from ABC1′s transmitters across Australia tonight at 10pm. Or ABC2 at 7pm Sunday. Or streamed from ABC iView. Or downloaded illegally from the torrents.

Quite frankly, if you reckon you’re interested in “art” and “culture” and how it’s evolving, then you must consider Marcus’ worldview. If you fail to watch this program, you’re missing out on a delightful, witty and above all intelligent journey.

Now I suppose I’ll have to explain why this series is so important…

Read the rest of this entry »

Of all the current corporate buzzwords, “space” shits me the most. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but web pioneer Marc Andreessen got there first:

There is no such thing as a “space”.

There is such a thing as a market — that’s a group of people who will directly or indirectly pay money for something.

There is such a thing as a product — that’s an offering of a new kind of good or service that is brought to a market.

There is such a thing as a company — that’s an organized business entity that brings a product to a market.

Marc’s article goes on to explain why there’s no such thing as “Web 2.0″ either — in fact that’s its main thrust. It’s worth reading.

Hell, his entire blog is worth reading.

On the other hand, William Shakespeare is worth reading too.

So are P J O’Rourke, Daniel Petre, George Orwell, David Marr, John Birmingham, James Burke, George Lakoff, Brian Eno, Lao Tsu, Sherry Turkle, Steven Levy, Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco, Richard Watts, Paul Graham, Bruce Schneier, Father Bob Maguire, Matt Ridley, Daniel Dennett, Zern Liew, Steven Levitt… but you’ve just got to draw the line somewhere!