Monday, June 30, 2003

BLAIR HORNSTINE INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE: The Blair Hornstine project. Via Joanne Jacobs. And here's Moorestown grad Jonathan Last in the Weekly Standard. I'm a Moorestown grad myself but I just can't get worked up about this; it was a neat little scandal for a couple weeks but at no point did I have any particular insight into it. I asked my mom if she had any gossip and she said that Judge Hornstine's wife was very nice. My dad thinks the Judge--so humiliated at being salutorian in his high school--burned for revenge for the rest of his life and made sure his children would never suffer the humiliation of being second. The Judge, in my opinion, has done way too much for li'l Blair--one of the BH Project links has a story about him delivering food to shelter's on Blair's perhaps--proving that in parenting and everywhere else that evenhandedness is a virtue. There you go--the word from the Moorestown STREET.
AND ANOTHER THING: Why did the Kings trade their pick? They really should've gotten Luke Walton out of the Lakers' hands.
DRAFT ANALYSIS V: Lacy Banks in the Sun-Times. That's the second A+ I've seen Detroit given. That had to be Joe Dumars drafting all foreigners--there's no way Larry Brown would get that creative draft-wise. He's a great coach--the greatest ever at taking a team from mediocre to good--but looking at the Sixers now there's no way you want him making personnel decisions.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

JACKIE STILES WATCH: The NCAA's all-time number one scorer is sitting at home unemployed. Via Women's Hoops. Did you know despite all those points she's never won a championship? Not even when averaging 46.4 points a game in high school? Jeebus. Mama warned me to stay away from great players on bad teams--the oft-mentioned Juwan Howard type--and maybe Jackie is the greatest Great Player On A Bad Team of all time.

Friday, June 27, 2003

END OF ANOTHER BASKETBALL DEBACLE, OR AT LEAST SOME CLOSURE: Joe Smith, with Anthony Peeler, traded for Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson. Not a lot of fanfare to end one of the more famous NBA scandals. And they hardly tried playing Sam and Gary Payton together. Dang.
DRAFT ANALYSIS IV: From Sportsline. Mike Kahn: Round One . Tony Mejia: Round Two. Mike and Tony got their own little Stern and Granik thing going on, apparently.
THANK YOU, JOHN HOLLINGER: For serving up the Dickie V. HATE!:

Worst Comment: Dick Vitale
There's a backlash coming against all these international guys. Yep, any second now. I think I know where it's coming from: college basketball analysts who haven't seen any of them play. Yo, Dickie V, you want a real backlash? How about one against college seniors? Check out the five taken in the top 20 last year: Melvin Ely, Fred Jones, Juan Dixon, Curtis Borchardt and Ryan Humphrey. Did any of those guys even get 10 points in a game last year? Combined?

John concurs with my Lampe-love:

Best Pick: Maciej Lampe, Knicks
Other teams ran away from him like he had the plague because there might be some issues with his contract. But for goodness sakes, the guy is only 18 years old. Even if he can't come to the U.S. for three years, he'll only be 21 when he's liberated from his team in Spain and joins the NBA. And with his size and shooting ability, he's worth the wait. I can't imagine why teams passed this up for college mediocrities like Josh Howard and Jones.

And gives us one more reason to despise Donald Sterling:

Worst Pick: Chris Kaman, L.A. Clippers
Take a look at the centers that have been picked between No. 5 and No. 15 in the last 10-15 years or so. The best one is Bryant Reeves. Otherwise it's a minefield of Felton Spencers, Rich Kings, DeSagana Diops and Olden Polynices. Centers who can play go in the top three; later on they just get picked by teams that are desperate. Kaman, who doesn't leap well and has unusually short arms, should be joining the ranks of the busts.
DRAFT ANALYSIS III: Marty Burns. Here he is on the Mavs:

They didn’t even try to address their issues in the frontcourt. Nor did they get a top-notch prospect with upside for the future. Howard might be a decent player, but it’s hard to see where he’s going to get much time with ironman Michael Finley around. Why not take Maciej Lampe and wait on him?

He gave them a 'D'. Yeah, why didn't they, of all teams, take Lampe? They had to have known about him. Maybe Lampe isn't the drizzling shits.
"BARK, SWOFFORD! BARK, TRANGHESE!": Jeff Jacobs' hate letter to the University of Miami. And everybody else.
DRAFT ANALYSIS II: Mike Huguenin in the Orlando Sentinel.
MEANWHILE: The hyper-tabloid New York Post is all over Lampe. Thank god for sensationalist journalism.
MIKE LUPICA MUST'VE LEFT AFTER THE FIRST ROUND: No Lampe here. And here's the Daily News' sports writer yammering on about Mike Sweetney. We know what Sweetney can do. Where's the Lampe intrigue and speculation? Where's the fun? And when he says "The Knicks applied a time-tested formula to last night's NBA draft. They selected the best big man available from Georgetown" he means a time-tested formula for mediocrity, right?
DRAFT ANALYSIS: Check out Chad Ford's.
WOTTA DRAFT: I'm really hyped for the NBA season now; the only basketball that can hold me over now is the occasional Storm or Sparks game (I saw them play each other a few nights ago, and now I'm convinced they're the only two watchable teams in the WNBA. Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are doubly watchable, if you get my drift. HAH!) But you had all the hype for the three prospects who went 1-2-3 as planned, then you had the inexplicable turn against unproven European players--what, one Tskitishvili and you give up? And you had Lampe going first in the second round to the roars of the hometown crowd. What fun. Some thoughts:

--Yes, my two most hated teams, the Knicks and the Lakers, seemed to make out like bandits. The Lakers get the Big Ten player of the year and the billionaire's Mark Madsen, Luke Walton, who you know is going to make two or three crucial plays in the playoffs, if Sports Guy is to be believed. And the Knicks get Maciej Lampe in the second round because they went safe-yet-dumb and picked Georgetown's Mike Sweetney in the first round. He was supposed to be a lottery pick. The NBA invited him because he was supposed to be a lottery pick. And he had to sweat it out and almost started crying waiting there. Thank god he was the one the Knicks fans really wanted. Maybe Layden will be able to have his cake (Sweetney, the kind of guy the Knicks have like twelve of) and eat it too (Lampe, who could bust like Frederic Weis but could also be the Next Great European.) Everyone's rooting for Lampe now, including me--this is about the only way I could start liking the Knicks again.

--Tom Tolbert was busting on the Warriors for taking Mickael Pietrus and not getting a point guard. Apparently he missed the whole "Earl Boykins has arrived" saga, one of the better sub-plots from last season.

--At no point did Dick Vitale not convince me he wasn't protecting his little Dickie V. college basketball cottage industry with his constant--and I mean constant--harping on why this-and-that team was going to regret not taking whatever college great Dick had first sighted in 8th grade or whatever. I mean, just naked self-interest.

--I was thinking to myself, for no reason, "The Bulls are the blackest team in the NBA. They're taking a black guy." And sure enough, they took Kirk Hinrich over T.J. Ford. Diversity NOW! Or something.

--Just a fun draft that we're not going to learn the ramifications of for a while. I think LeBron and Darko are unproven, so we won't know how the Cavs and Pistons made out for a while. I think the Nuggets did well, the Lakers and Knicks did as well as they could and everybody else is wait-and-see. Looking forward to Lampemania hitting the streets of New York and Warsaw. That's it.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

BUSY DAY FOR THE SUPREMES: The Slate usual suspects wrap it up for you. There's O'Connor intrigue and Scalia-mocking.
AS THE DEBACLE TURNS: Bob Ryan tells you what you need to know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

THE SELFISH MACHINE: Say, has anyone noticed that The Matrix is like the perfect metaphor for the Dawkinsite view of biology? You know: machines need humans to survive, don't give a whit about human culture and society but allow humans to go on thinking human culture and society is important, we humans can rise up and beat the machines in some nebulous way if we're properly informed (the last chapter of The Selfish Gene.) I think there's something to this, if only proving yet again that the borders between science, culture and religion are pretty badly drawn.
DEBACLE WATCH: Some good stuff in the Palm Beach Post today:

No way this is what Miami wants.

No way this is what Miami wanted, or expected, back at the very beginning of the Atlantic Coast Conference-Big East swordfight that's going to end bloody, or at least with enough bad blood to fill South Beach.

Never mind. That's what the Hurricanes have to be thinking right about now. Really, just never mind.

Because this is a mess.


It appears as though Miami is going to have to choose between staying put in the Big East or making a migratory flight in switching its nest to the ACC not with Syracuse and/or Boston College, but with Virginia Tech.

If anyone in the UM family had known months ago what they know now, it's more than a pretty good guess the 'Canes would have told the ACC not to bother.

There was yet another conference call Tuesday night among ACC presidents after which nothing was announced.

What's abundantly clear, though, after the calls and a lawsuit and political involvements is that the ACC moved too fast too soon and the Big East got too angry too quickly and the Hurricanes got too confident too immediately.

Meanwhile the Miami Herald continues to stink at their debacle coverage, probably because--like all newspapers covering their local sports scene--they can't burn their bridges with the Hurricanes. But--I mean--this is not what the University of Miami wanted, but you're not going to read that in the Herald.

Jeff Jacobs in the Hartford Courant reports on one of the more interesting debacle characters, Donna Shalala:

Shalala, the Miami president, can't move her tiny feet fast enough to escape the Big East. League commissioner Mike Tranghese and Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, have broad-sided her integrity, exposed her duplicity and she is furious.

Miami has been called out for falsely assuring Big East schools it isn't leaving, watching schools spend untold millions and bolting anyway.

The Palm Beach Post even quoted one of the school's board of trustees as saying Shalala vowed to never allow the Hurricanes to play at Rentschler Field. Hey, Donna, if Miami picks up the $91 million tab on the new place, we'll call it even. Otherwise, see you in court.

By the way, I'm still waiting for someone to tell me how this makes a huge amount of sense for Miami. The upgrade is mainly Florida State over Virginia Tech (if Tech doesn't leave) which isn't a huge upgrade. The rest of the ACC stinks on ice in football like the rest of the Big East stinks on ice in football. You switch Rutgers jokes for Duke jokes. The hey? The only advantage I can see in the original plan is long-term destabilization of the Big East and the subsequent recruting advantages this would give the ACC, but their braintrust has not proven themselves capable of foresight throughout the Debacle.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

ARE YOU ROGER CLEMENS?: Take the quiz.
GOOD PLACES TO TRACK THE BIG EAST/ACC DEBACLE: Various sports pages who are giving a crap about this:

The Louisville Courier-Journal: Louisville being the school most mentioned as a replacement for the defectors.

The Hartford Courant: Has probably devoted the most coverage, due to the fact that the UConn football team would be getting the biggest shaft of all if the Big East collapses, since they just went Division I and built a new stadium and everything.

The Boston Globe: Has some stuff some times, but clearly isn't all that concerned. I think the Breakers gets as much press as the Eagles.

The Charlotte Observer: Has had the ear of somebody in the ACC a couple times during all this.

That's where I've been going. Curiously, the Miami Herald has not appeared to care at all about this issue. I mean, almost nothing; no interview with Donna Shalala, just a couple of Rutgers jokes. One gets the impression that the Hurricanes are more of a national brand than anything the citizens of Miami could care about.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

RANDOM CRAP YOU HEAR LISTENING TO NPR ALL DAY: A television executive for Pax TV drives an Alfa Romeo? This Pax TV? You're shitting me. No wonder he's picking up illegal immigrants to work on his house at a street corner in Pasadena--the subject of the NPR story. I mean, Pax TV? Lowest of low-rent broadcast networks? The network the WUSA has to pay to be on? Alfa Romeo? Sigh.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

OH, KICKASS: World Cup coming to Philadelphia. As well as RFK, Foxboro, Crew Stadium, PGE Park in Portland (which I've never heard of before this) and the Home Depot Center. Which--as I said on Sportsfilter--is sort of ridiculous. You go from 70,000-plus seat stadiums for the opening rounds to the brand-new but tiny Home Depot Center (where the non-Frankfurt Galaxy play) for the finale--when the Rose Bowl is right there. I guess they're betting on the US not making the finale, which would mean a smaller crowd in the final.

Monday, June 09, 2003

CRIKEY, NOW YOU CAN SPEND ALL YOUR LIFE'S SAVINGS IN ONE PLACE: Defunct sports league t-shirts for sale. Via SPORTSbyBROOKS. Look--old Boston Breakers!
THIS IS SO GREAT: Michael Jordan vs. D.C. Freelance Writer, for the heart of a lady. Well, probably not. Via Dan Lewis.
SHILL ALERT: Check out my auctions. Lots of good, useless crap this week. You know you need the long out-of-print Peter Milligan Shade, The Changing Man.
SAY, DID YOU CATCH THAT GREAT WOMEN'S SOCCER GAME YESTERDAY?: Of course you didn't, nobody watches the WUSA. But this was a really great game, the best I've seen for pure aggressiveness in the WUSA. The Breakers constantly--constantly--overran the Freedom on simple clears and possessions and just wanted the game more. Abby Wambach--the Shaq of the WUSA--got about fifty fouls on her from a combination of players diving all around her and her just being bigger than everybody else. An amazing amount of pushing and shoving. There was this one sequence where Angela Hucles pushed past Skylar Little and that was like the last straw so Little grabbed her around the midsection, so Hucles got her in a headlock and bulldogged her into the turf. Mia Hamm had to restrain Siri Mullinix from killing the ref when time expired. The Breakers stole first place at RFK. Just a great game.

Friday, June 06, 2003

THANK YOU, BOB RYAN, YOU WHO ARE MERELY THE MOST FAMOUS JOUMANA KIDD HATER: I mean, he said he wanted to smack her--fine, whatever. But who isn't annoyed by Joumana Kidd? By someone who drags their kid to every single freaking playoff game so she can get more camera time? And I love the Nets and Jason Kidd but she's got to be the most oppressive NBA wife. At least Doug Christie's wife stays off camera.

Anyway, here--via Sportsfilter--is Ryan on why Boston College is stupid for leaving the Big East. The points he makes are pretty strong (it makes no sense, BC has nothing in common with the ACC, it'll destroy the non-revenue sports, it makes no sense) so read the whole thing if you're interested. Why does BC have a football program, anyhow? One Doug Flutie magic moment and you gotta play football the rest of your existence? Yikes.
BATTLE OF THE X'S: I blabber about The Matrix so much, you might not get the impression that I actually think X2 is the best movie of the summer thus far. And it is; despite being about a divergent human species it's completely grounded in human relationships--not the Wachowskis' strong suit by a country mile. Jean loves Scott but is attracted to Logan but can never break Scott's trust because he sticks by her. Logan knows he can never have Jean but pursues her anyway. Rogue and Bobby are in the throes of young love, barely able to control themselves and in Rogue's case this is actually dangerous. Striker regards his son as so abhorrent he cannot regard him as anything but a genetic machine any more, and so all of mutantkind become "its" to him, not men or women. Mystique gets off on the thrill of being what other people want her to be. Mystique wants the same Constitutional rights as everybody else. And on and on. X2 is so rich in characterization--everyone has a plausible reason for being alive in that movie. The only sour note is James Marsden emoting at Patrick Stewart behind the visor: "JEAN! Don't do this...." Which reaches "Luke Skywalker when Darth tells him he's Luke's father" levels of not-credible overemoting that makes you--the viewer--uncomfortable at the time but gives you something to laugh about later.

But it's one off-note in a symphony that's only in its second act. The rest is completely solid and well-conceived American industrial moviemaking.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST ANIMATRIX REVIEWS: I watched The Animatrix last night in a choppy, fast-forwarding way (I was taping the Bollywood marathon too) and--BOY!--I feel like I've been kicked in the stomach. There's this "Second Renaissance" featurette in there that is about as depressing a cartoon as I have ever watched. And since all it is is backstory, there's no nuances or anything so it ends up being nothing but depressing; it's the grim, grim tale of the horrors humans perpetrated on machines and then machines on humans, full of sadness at the fallen state of humanity within the Matrix's depiction of the future. And to some people this is really great:

The Second Renaissance, Parts I & II
The next two shorts, directed by Mahiro Maeda and written by the Wachowski brothers, are the shining gems of The Animatrix and should not be missed by anyone interested in science-fiction, anime, cyberpunk or merely decent storytelling. These two shorts tell the story about what happened to humanity before the events of the first Matrix film, detailing how we became a power source for our captors. The narrative is told by a soothing electronic female voice, and the visuals are lush and captivating. The writing is absolute genius, told with a chilling yet compassionate clarity, gifting the narrator with a kind of programmed sympathy. The images on screen are shocking at times, to say the least. These are, far and away, the most violent and disturbing of the shorts included on the disc. They will no doubt have an impact on the viewer. Here is where the Wachowski’s amazingly deep storyline is given a chance to truly shine. While the concept isn’t entirely original (nothing is; the Wachowskis themselves have admitted to The Matrix being mostly a love letter to their myriad influences, such as Phillip K. Dick, Willam Gibson, and anime itself), it’s presented in such a unique, beautiful, effective and captivating fashion that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. If you purchase The Animatrix, do it for these two shorts. The images contained herein are pure storytelling magic.

And to others, it isn't:

Others, like "The Second Renaissance," though gorgeously rendered, do little more than fill in the backstory for the films. (Here, as writers, the Wachowskis stumble; their bleak vision of the future is predicated on a pretty absurd course of human action. Think of the ending of the original "Planet of the Apes," but with less logic.)

And--thinking about it--I have to side with the latter reviewer (in the Austin-American Statesman; the other one was in Anime News Network, which is one of the many alt news sources Google News searches for you.) You want to give the Wachowskis some leeway in their creation of an all-encompassing future but any future that results in a single human culture--something that has never ever happened--has a loooot of explaining to do, which isn't really done in "Second Renaissance." The central conceit of The Matrix--machines need humans as an energy source--isn't getting any more plausible, either. Hopefully things will be tied up in the third movie--the narration speaks of the machines being imbued with "the spirit of man" and the Reloaded programs seem like they have aesthetic sense and a kind of emotions, so maybe the human race isn't being imprisoned for the entirely material reasons Fishburne said they were.

Well, whatever. The Anime News guy was right, the "Second Renaissance" was shocking and full of impact, but upon further review it was a cartoon in a bad way: a simplification of reality, a caricature, where details are inevitably left out. But in this case emphasizing the uglier side of humanity--human history where the only important events were genocidal ones. Absurd, like the guy said.

And once again humanity's leadership and soldiers are overwhelmingly white people. Progress!

The most intriguing short is the Peter Chung entry "Matriculated." The Anime News guy hated on it:

Like him or hate him, enough production companies seem to love Aeon Flux auteur Peter Chung enough to give him work until the end of time. Thus, we are ‘treated’ to Matriculated, Chung’s hat in the Animatrix ring. Most people claim to absolutely despise Chung’s character designs; Reign: The Obsession of Alexander was not and will never be a fan favorite, so why did the Wachowskis elect him to direct his own sequence? Regardless, the result is a hideous, nonsensical mishmash that makes less sense at the end than it did at the beginning. A group of rogue humans seem to have devised a way to send a robot into its own Matrix, creating a virtual world for the robot to exist in. Why did they do this? What’s the purpose? It’s never explained. We simply watch Chung’s hideous new character designs writhe around and eventually get killed, their disgusting sinewy limbs ripped apart.

But he obviously has an axe to grind. "Matriculated" is about this reverse-Matrix in which captured Machines are not exactly reprogrammed--they are 1. removed from the control of whatever The Matrix is when it isn't a virtual world--they take a bug out of a Machine that's like the bug they took out of Keanu in the first movie, 2. shown the vibrancy of human experience in this really trippy sequence; one reviewer commented "containing the best filmed acid trip since 2001's, which, unlike that celebrated sequence, is dramatically integral to a narrative"--and I couldn't agree more, and--and this is important-- 3. given the choice to side with the humans, now that they've intimately experienced what it feels like to be one. Important because they're giving the machines a choice, treating them like fellow sentient life. That's my interpretation, anyway. And just like most humans will choose the empty, materially satisfied world of The Matrix but a few will not and rebel, a few machines are smart enough to live in a human world and point the way forward to a reconciliation between Man and Machine and some glorious new era. Or something like that. I mean, hopefully; the Wachowskis seem like they're too smart for any simple Man=Good, Machine=Evil Oppressor thing, which was the story of Matrix I but seems to be breaking down in Reloaded.

The only nerdy defect about "Matriculated" is that it doesn't seem to fit anywhere in The Matrix Earth we have grown to know and love, but that's all right. The Wachowkis' story is pretty oppressive sometimes; it's good that they let in a few things to let us know that while everybody is affected by the Man/Machine War, not everybody is fighting it in exactly the same way. Their burnt-sky Earth needed a few cracks of light.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

MY OWN PRIVATE JAYSON BLAIR: Blair Hornstine, plagiarist. Via Hit & Run.
OH WOW: New DVDVR Top 500 Wrestlers list. Check out the discussion too.
EVERYTHING YOU NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT OUR PRESIDENT: Is here: "The president, fresh from a two-day mission aimed at bringing peace to the Middle East, emphasized the improvements the war brought to Iraq. He mentioned the word 'freedom' repeatedly and spent little time on the weapons issue."

I mean--this "staying on message" crap is the most annoying Presidential tactic in my lifetime. I can't think of anything that's going to convince me that "You are right" less than a bunch of people (the "You") saying exaaaaactly the same thing. It's like a facial tic or something, you're trying to pay attention to what they're saying but you just keep staring at that tic. And I'm a single-issue voter; as I regard all Presidential candidates as being equally unworthy it all boils down to: Are you an ass? Or not? In light of that question, Candidate Not Bush is looking better and better in 2004..... I don't even think I have that big a problem with Bush himself, but his cronies have got to go.
JOHN C. WRIGHT, CRAVEN CAPITALIST: More Googling revealed this review/interview. If you read The Golden Age and found it really jarring that it just ended in the middle of everything--well, here's your answer:

The whole manuscript was composed, written and sold as one unbroken story; the publisher estimated (and I think, wisely) that more people would buy two $25 dollar hardcovers from an unknown author than would buy one telephone-book- sized $40 or $50 dollar book.

Likewise, after the first volume was published, it had received more favorable reviews than are common for a novice author, and the publisher calculated that he and I could double our revenues if we divided the second volume. My children, my beloved wife, and my patient creditors can certainly use the money.

My only regret is that this decision came after the first volume was printed: so that warning I put at the end of volume one (over my editor's objection) that the story was to be concluded in the next volume, now turns out to be false; it will be continued, not concluded. I do not mind rising the price to my readers, if it turns out that I underestimated the market value of my craft; but I do mind misleading the readers, and I hope not to loose their goodwill: I need their money more than they need my books.

It's weird: SF authors write trilogies for commercial reasons (outlined above) but usually they know they're writing trilogies--so the individual books are written to be self-contained. Wright's trilogy clearly isn't; the divisions between books are the natural divisions of the story but it's all the same story; this isn't like when Nancy Kress reshuffles characters in her trilogies (Beggars and Probability) and you end up with separate novels. Even though you end up reading the whole trilogy anyway so you can see how far the story goes. So, I mean, it's like Wright's work is being both more and less compromised by economic concerns: more because in order to sell more books his one book gets split into three, and less because--hey--he didn't have to change anything and write three separate novels and have to explain what had gone before and everything. You have to admire a guy just coming out and saying, "I'm selling it this way because I can make more money this way, so if you like what I write, please buy the whole thing. If I destroy my marketplace value by coming off like a complete capitalist ass who's taking advantage of my readers, well then, so be it, Jedi." Because it's not like he's doing anything different from any other trilogy-writer. He's just being pretty up-front about it.

But anyway, if you're going to read Wright, go in knowing you have to read the whole thing. Hopefully marketplace pressures will reverse themselves and we'll get a giant collected edition one of these days. In fact, that would be an additional book for people to buy, so it'll probably be out sooner rather than later.
SCIENCE FICTION FOR LIBERTARIANS: I'm rereading The Golden Age before I check out Phoenix Exultant, so I'm looking for reviews of the latter and I run across this interview with John Wright, the author, which is goofy in parts (it's an e-mail interview which allows Wright to write the way I imagine Dr. Smith from Lost In Space would) and I see this:

You have also missed the most important reference in my novel: I am writing in imitation of, and as a rebuke to, Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. My subtitle "Romance of the Far Future" was meant to echo his subtitle, which (if memory serves me) was "A Romance of the Near and Far Future".

As much as I admire him, Mr. Stapledon and I are philosophical foes. At the zenith of his human evolution, his Eighteenth Human Race on Neptune has a communist utopia with no private property; at the zenith of my human evolution, my Seventh Mental Structure is a libertarian utopia with no public property. His Neptunians are wiped out when the sun increases radiation output; my Helion re-engineers the internal plasma structure of the sun to control the radiation output.

It's a really cool book, reminding me of Bester in its density of ideas--though in that interview Wright says he has no debt to Bester but instead to Jack Vance, who I've never read. There's a certain artificiality to it, but hey, we live in artificial times, as do the characters in the book. But to the nth degree, this being science fiction (where you can carry ideas to the nth degree). And he's not an axe-grinder either; this isn't like if Bob Heinlein turned libertarian or something. (What was he, anyway? Did he ever say? I've always heard the terms "fascist" and "crypto-fascist" in relation to him, but I could be listening to the wrong people.) But check it out if you've got the libertarian leanings and you're a science fiction fan. If you're not an SF fan, you'll just be baffled.

I dug this part from the interview (and, again, to enjoy this interview you have to forgive Wright his over-the-top erudition--not in this part, but in the interview generally) where he was answering something about why all his characters were named for myths:

Greek myths are heroic, noble and tragic; but the American Dream is heroic, comical, and uplifting. Americans are a people in whom overweening ambition is rewarded, not punished. The Wright Brothers did not have their wings melt when they flew too high. Perhaps their wings were more soundly built than those of Icarus. I am certainly writing for those who believe in the American Dream.
SET YOUR VCRS: Nine hours of Bollywood on Turner Classic Movies tonight, and all Thursdays in June.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

NBA FINALS TONIGHT AT 8:30 EST, BAY-BEE: Your media rundown looks like this:

Bill Simmons: Nets in six.
Lang Whitaker: Spurs in six
David Dupree: Spurs in six
Mitch Lawrence: Spurs in a number between 3 and 8.
John Hollinger: Spurs in six.

I'd tell you what Tim Kraus thinks, but the office AI has banned all blogspot addresses (but not Blogger itself, curiously), including my own--so I'm blogging blind over here.

My pick? I'm going to be rooting for the Nets though I have no problem with the Spurs (kind of like my relationship with the Devils and the Ducks in the Cup finals). I think the Nets can win and they've certainly been playing like they want to win. And, when in doubt, go with the guy whose enthusiasm made me a better NBA fan. Nets in six.
L'AFFAIRE D'MART: Pennsauken Mart gets another year at least. And they can maybe stay around that same location. Take that, Eminent Domain! I just hope if they rebuild it they don't, like, add actual storefronts or muzak or widen up the shopping lanes or anything--the world doesn't need another mall. The world needs more marts.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003


Sunday, June 01, 2003

TALK ABOUT GETTING IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR: Read the story of the Silva brothers, former ABA owners who will be getting paid by the NBA for the rest of their lives. See, they signed a deal when they folded their franchise during the merger (the Spirits of St. Louis) that they'd the combined television revenues of the four ABA teams in perpetuity--which of course amounts to millions today. And so: "In other words, the Silna brothers will make more money than the vast majority of NBA teams every year -- without expenses, overhead or headaches. Of course, had they kept their franchise, it probably would have appreciated to more than the $100 million they have made since 1976."