Al-Qaeda is dead

On the 7th anniversary of 9-11, Juan Cole conducts the autopsy on Al-Qaeda. His argument is essentially that Al-Qaeda no longer exists in a meaningful sense, that Muslim terrorism, as such, exists when it does for other reasons, and that by extension, the War on Terror has formally passed its expiry date, even on its own terms. It is well worth reading, and possibly spreading. (For those unfamiliar with Cole, his blog, Informed Comment, is one of the best middle east focused sites around.)

review: stonedogs (and some vague musings on NZ lit)

Got Craig Marriner’s Stonedogs out of the library, and suprised myself by burning through it the day before it was due. So it’s easy to read.

While fairly fun and a reasonable read, I’m pretty amazed it won the Montana/whatever it is book awards for Best NZ novel of the year. What else was published that year? Definitely seems like they were making a point, expanding the literary canon, or something. Not that I pay shit all attention to such things, so this opinion is uninformed. Chur.

I guess I’m glad it exists, from that point of view. This “voice”, which goes so far against my ill-educated sense of what NZ lit “is”, is now “sanctioned”.

Of course, now the kiwi-stoner-munter, acid-taking, intelligent-bitter-underclass, dumbass-violence, drug-deal-gone-bloodily-wrong novel has been written, and we don’t need another one for a while. It felt a lot like a movie, rather than a novel, and did seem to wear its cinematic influences on its sleeve (and I’m surprised we haven’t seen a movie adaptation yet); I guess as I was reading it there was the sense of, “oh, so it’s this story”, though the odd surprise unfolds. A few years back I would have appreciated the political ranting more. (Which makes me think I’ll shudder next time I reread Eidolon :P) The protagonist was probably supposed to be funnier or cleverer than he seemed to me, but he was also a smart arse dick appropriate to his age…

Oh, and a few months back I read Plumb by Maurice Gee, which was really good (like in an international comparative sense good) mature, thoughtful, and so on. Easily the best NZ novel I’ve read, probably. So my vague quest to read more NZ books is underway. Also read the start of The Book of Fame by Lloyd Jones, which I was enjoying, but busy-ness and the due date prevailed. Though I figure someday I’ll buy it for my Dad, since it is enough all about rugby that he will probably read it. Struck by the apositeness of the subject matter, too – the Invincibles tour is the start of a prime national myth.

More recommendations welcome.

the musics

The moose now has a primitive home recording studio, and half a clue how to use it. \m/

Because what the world really needs is another singer songwriter churning out stuff in their bedroom. Yes. (I, of course, am churning stuff out in my studio room. Yes.)

(Many thanks to soundmoose, Christopher, and the universe for providing useful Stuff and Things.)


Brian Jonestown Massacre tonight! Whee! Luckily I bought a ticket months ago, back when I had any disposable income. Actually liking the music, I hope they play an awesome set, rather than spontaneously combust.

in my language

This is really quite extraordinary. Please do watch it. A video from an autistic woman, communicating first in her own terms, in her own language, then explaining where she is coming from in english.

The first part is in my “native language,” and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.

Yeah. Amazing.

casting about

I blame Allyn for this, but I have been doing the hundred pushups challenge. The idea is after six weeks to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups. I’m about to start week 4 of it. And if I can handle this, anyone can.

The place an old email address is hosted is about to disappear into the ether. Strange the impermanence of our media nowadays. But anyway. Have been trawling through four or five years of assorted stuff. Some intense times in there. People come and gone. A bollockload of mindlessness and trivia, too.

The following, however, are just WTF enough to post:

What was happening in Romania, February 2004?

Haunted by “strigoi” – the undead – villagers on the slopes of the Carpathian mountains exhume a corpse from the graveyard and drive a stake through its heart to banish the evil spirit.

They burn the remains of the heart, mix the ashes with water from the local well and drink it, to complete the macabre ritual.

“If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others”

Easily the most mindblowingly detailed, self-exposing, and intimate talk or essay from Philip K. Dick I’ve ever encountered. If you have any interest in this guy, you need to read this. Basically talking to a SF conference a few months after the experiences which led to the writing of VALIS.

Stupendous stuff. Will mess with your sense of reality. Or at least Dick’s.

Quantum Computer Works Best When Switched Off

February 2006, New Scientist.

Even for the crazy world of quantum mechanics, this one is twisted. A quantum computer program has produced an answer without actually running.

The idea behind the feat, first proposed in 1998, is to put a quantum computer into a “superposition”, a state in which it is both running and not running. It is as if you asked Schrödinger’s cat to hit “Run”.

Which speaks for itself.

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