8 August 2009

My trip to the UK [long]

It’s July 23. I’m in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. It’s a relatively small airport, rarely crowded, and with an open and airy feeling. The queue to get to security screening was short, as usual. I gave my best performance of Security Theater; my liquids and gels were pre-packaged in a ziplock bag, which I dumped into a plastic tray along with my shoes. I’ve made a habit of removing all metal from my person before I even get to the airport. ... Read more

22 July 2009

Who took my Gatorade?

I went to buy a drink, because I was thirsty. Normally I’d grab a Gatorade and that would be the end of it. However, Gatorade have completely reworked their branding and split the product into a whole bunch of varieties: G, G2, something called “BR ING IT”, and several others with stupid names that either weren’t in that particular store or I didn’t notice them. So I was suddenly faced with a conscious choice I hadn’t previously faced. ... Read more

18 July 2009

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree

Another day, another round of bad media coverage for the Amazon Kindle. The story as originally reported: Publisher changes mind about having an e-book edition of George Orwell’s books. Amazon remotely deletes them and refunds the purchase price. What actually happened: A third party illegally published editions of George Orwell’s books, which they did not have the right to publish. Amazon remotely deleted those illegal copies and refunded the purchase price. ... Read more

17 July 2009

Camcorder nostalgia

The first video camera I ever used was the Sony HVC-2000P, with its “outstanding” 6X zoom lens. It weighed a “lightweight” 2.5kg, so you had to brace it on your shoulder and peer into the monochrome viewfinder. That was just the camera. To actually record something, you needed the SL-3000 portable Betamax VCR. That was the size of a small suitcase, and weighed an additional 9.1kg. You wore it on a shoulder strap, on the shoulder that wasn’t supporting the camera. ... Read more

8 July 2009

Ender’s Game

A few weeks ago I read “Ender’s Game”. I think Orson Scott Card is a pretty loathesome individual, but it’s one of those SF novels everyone references, so I thought I ought to read it. To my surprise, I discovered that the novel is full of homoerotic subtexts. Well, actually, sometimes they’re surface texts: The horrible alien creatures menacing earth are called “buggers”; the young boys trained to fight them sleep naked together in group dormitories; there’s a soaped-up wrestling match in the showers; and in one particularly touching scene, one boy gives another boy a forbidden kiss. Oh, and the teenage boys show practically no interest in girls. Given that Card is infamously homophobic and against same-sex marriage, I’m going to guess that it’s all unintentional, and that in his case homophobia indicates what it usually does: repressed same-sex desire. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for him–but not quite. As to the literary merits of the novel, I wish they had been more evident. The dialog is simply absurd. He tries to head off the criticism in the introduction, but I’m not buying it. No child speaks like the kids in “Ender’s Game”; not even a child prodigy. [Spoilers follow] ... Read more

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