July 19th, 2006 | Work
July 19th, 2006 | researchmaterial
The innovative map shows a world with large areas of population loss in parts of Eastern Europe and Asia, but significant gains elsewhere.
The map indicates that the greatest increases in population density through 2025 are likely to occur in areas of developing countries that are already quite densely populated. In addition, the number of people living within 60 miles of a coastline is expected to increase by 35 percent over 1995 population levels, exposing 2.75 billion people worldwide to the effects of sea level rise and other coastal threats posed by global warming.
The map also projects that much of southern and Eastern Europe and Japan will experience significant and wide-spread population decline. Surprisingly, the map further suggests small areas of projected population decline for many regions in which they might be least expected: sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, the Philippines, Nepal, Turkey, Cambodia, Burma and Indonesia â€” areas that have to date been experiencing rapid-to-modest national population growth…
July 18th, 2006 | people I know
Tits, blood, Tuesday morning, I’m going down the pub.
July 18th, 2006 | researchmaterial
A proposed amendment to the criminal law would have punished anyone convicted of involvement in sex-selective abortions with a three-year prison sentence. Supporters of the measure are concerned about the disproportionate number of baby boys born in China â€“ 119 per 100 girls â€“ while opponents argue that women have a right to know the sex of a fetus. Earlier this month, the province of Hebei closed more than 200 clinics that officials said identified and aborted female fetuses…
July 18th, 2006 | researchmaterial
With no equal in terms of its combination of size, memory capacity and data access speed, the tiny chip could be stuck on or embedded in almost any object and make available information and content now found mostly on electronic devices or the Internet.
Some of the potential applications include storing medical records on a hospital patientâ€™s wristband; providing audio-visual supplements to postcards and photos; helping fight counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical industry; adding security to identity cards and passports; and supplying additional information for printed documents.
The experimental chip, developed by the â€œMemory Spotâ€ research team at HP Labs, is a memory device based on CMOS (a widely used, low-power integrated circuit design) and about the size of a grain of rice or smaller (2 mm to 4 mm square), with a built-in antenna. The chips could be embedded in a sheet of paper or stuck to any surface, and could eventually be available in a booklet as self-adhesive dots.
â€œThe Memory Spot chip frees digital content from the electronic world of the PC and the Internet and arranges it all around us in our physical world,â€ said Ed McDonnell, Memory Spot project manager, HP Labs.
The chip has a 10 megabits-per-second data transfer rate â€“ 10 times faster than Bluetooth wireless technology and comparable to Wi-Fi speeds â€“ effectively giving users instant retrieval of information in audio, video, photo or document form. With a storage capacity ranging from 256 kilobits to 4 megabits in working prototypes, it could store a very short video clip, several images or dozens of pages of text. Future versions could have larger capacities…
July 18th, 2006 | Uncategorized
July 18th, 2006 | researchmaterial
Speaking at the inauguration of the northern railway line at Ondangwa on Saturday, the Nujoma said economic freedom of the African continent was the major challenge faced by its nations after political independence was achieved. “We must prove to the whole of mankind that we can do better,” Nujoma emphasised.
“We have uranium here (in Namibia) and we train our own scientists and engineers and if they (external forces) create nonsense we can make our own atomic bombs,” Nujoma declared, speaking off the cuff.
July 18th, 2006 | researchmaterial
The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.2, struck off the town of Pangandaran at 1519 local time (0819 GMT), causing a two-metre-high wave… at least 2,000 people are also thought to have been displaced from the area…
July 18th, 2006 | Work
My muse on this project has been my friend Magdalene Veen, singer and bellydancer with the band Abney Park. In her work with the band, and in various of her other secret identities, she has a uniquely retro vision of science fiction. It was her look that gave me the visual hook for IGNITION CITY. The flight helmet.
(Our mutual friend Zoetica Ebb rocks a flight helmet too, as seen in her Mercury Vagabond shoot with Vladimir Perlovich, but the end result has a forbidding chill that I decided to avoid. Too knowingly 21C. Also, Zoe is unmistakably Russian, and I knew I wanted an American girl as a lead. Also also, I didn’t want anyone to have anything in common with the Russian character I already have in the settlement, poor old Yuri.)
There’s a perfect fusion about Magdalene’s look here — antiquitous yet timeless. There’s 18th and 19th centuries in there, and also the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. An ideal figure for a story that mixes and matches times and fictions (IC opens in a 1959 Berlin that looks like Lang’s METROPOLIS, but also contains the concrete modernism of Tegel Airport).
She even named the protagonist’s beautiful lost rocketship, The Perpetual Teatime. Which has just the right surrealist storybook quality for me.
Magdalene sends me one-line non-sequitur Onoesque notes every day, about being an asteroid gypsy, a Kuiper Bedouin.
The flight helmet speaks to American pulp sf, evokes the beautiful lost word “aviatrix”, summons early Russian film (in his short ode to Russian sf, THE HEART OF THE WORLD, Guy Maddin has his scientist heroine wear a flight helmet, because it simply had to be done)…it was the key to Mary Raven, the protagonist.
(Mary was the most popular name for baby girls in 1930s America.)
And so we meet Mary Raven in 1959 Berlin, talking to Lionel Crabb in the bar of the Explorer’s Club — and I need the German term for “The Explorer’s Club,” please — when a telegram from New York City arrives for her…
July 17th, 2006 | brainjuice
I’ll be obtaining my copy of the new episode of DEADWOOD in the morning, but you Americans with HBO should feel free to warm up for tonight’s episode of possibly the best TV show to have come out of your benighted colony.
(Oh, shut up. Let me have my fun.)
Milch has to start bringing the show in line with history again soon. Lucretia Marchbanks was probably the last of the real untruths he could pull off (she wasn’t, to say the least, Hearst’s cook, although I love the character we have). Very soon now, Wyatt Earp has to turn up — I suspect they’re going to spin it as Hearst bringing him in — to fulfil his historical attempt to supplant Bullock as sheriff. History tells us, in fact, that the two meet while Earp is apprehending a horse thief called Crazy Steve…
You know something sad? Sol Star never married.
Also, Mark Twain should come through either at the end of this season or in the first of the two-hour telefilms. I can’t believe Milch would pass that opportunity up. I mean, Jesus, if he can dig John Langrishe up…
Anyway. Anyone here watching DEADWOOD?
(No “cocksucker” lines to prove your love, please.)
July 16th, 2006 | Work
So I was sitting in front of the computer sometime in September 2005 watching an episode of DEADWOOD and thinking about how Alan Moore lucked into all those lovely postmodern ideas like assembling disparate adventurers of the 19th Century into the 20th Century model of a superhero team and remembering how much fun it was to write MINISTRY OF SPACE when my computer told me it’d finally downloaded a piece of public domain film I’d started torrenting four hours earlier. In a rare moment of nostalgia, I’d decided to download an episode of one of the old FLASH GORDON serials. Buster Crabbe running around, with his peroxide hair that he was so embarrassed about that he used to keep his hat on all the time while in public, unconscionable rudeness in 1930 America. Total nostalgia trip for me, because all of those things — the FLASH GORDON serials, the old BUCK ROGERS serial, KING OF THE ROCKETMEN and all that — were shown on British tv when I was a kid. “Steam-powered STAR WARS,” my dad used to call them.
And I’m watching DEADWOOD, the American cable tv series that eviscerates the Western genre, mixing history with fiction in its imagining of the last days of the Wild West. And it suddenly occurs to me. Where did the space heroes go when they weren’t in space anymore? I found myself looking at the clapboard and pine of the Deadwood camp and seeing it made out of bits of abandoned 1930s sci-fi rocketship, and a fifty-year-old Flash Gordon calling people “cocksucker.”
So I noted it down and put it in the Loose Ideas folder on my computer desktop. I told myself that I didn’t particularly want to do another “retro” book. God knows there were and are enough shallow retakes of old genres and materials around, ironic or straight.
But the fucking thing nagged at me.
I decided this year, 2006, that I wanted to do a fairly dense longform serial in the 22-page unit. I spent most of June trying to develop up a new book. Tossed three or four ideas. Because this thing, this concept, kept rearing up in my field of vision.
Looking through my Loose Ideas folder, I found a concept I developed back in the 90s, that’d had a few false starts due to artists bailing and the like. It was a setting in search of a story that deserved it, to be honest. The only thing about it that worked was the setting — Ignition City, earth’s spaceport, a circular island on the equator, fringed by launchpads. It was hot and dry during the day due to all the space launches — Ray Bradbury’s “Rocket Summer” — but at night the weather took its revenge, and it rained and blew, and all the propellant propulsion expressed out of the clouds in the rain…
I started pulling up maps of islands, and through a misclick found myself looking at Iceland (which is spelled Island in the Icelandic), a country I’ve visited a few times over the years. Iceland has a forbidding “interior”, the moonlike centre of the country. NASA in fact trained Apollo astronauts in the interior as preparation for the moon. The country is so raw that some travel guides still refer to Icelandic towns as “settlements.”
And there it was. Where did the space heroes go to die? To the settlement in the interior of earth’s only spaceport, Ignition City.
I swore kind of a lot. I didn’t want to do another retro book, but the bastard thing was writing itself right in front of me.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing professionally, it’s that you need to go with the flow. I’d be a fool to ignore a story that was writing itself.
I made one attempt to distract myself. I’d been thinking about writing something about explorers, and did some investigatory Google work, hoping that it’d lead me to something interesting that’d become a useful story hook. I ended up at the biography of a man called Lionel Crabb, a British diver and explorer who disappeared in unusual circumstances in the 1950s. Crabb’s nickname was Buster.
I gave up and dropped a publisher a note to tell them I had a new serial for them. I mean, you can’t argue with that. Someone was trying to tell me something.
July 15th, 2006 | Uncategorized
July 15th, 2006 | comics talk
Someone asked me for some general pointers on making comics, so I’m posting them here too in case anyone needs tips. It’s easy to get hung up on “the basics” when you’re trying to get started. I know I spent seemingly years worrying about what kind of paper to use, what kind of brushes Jeff Smith would want me to use, how much biographical information to write down for each character, etc. So here’s my basic advice…
In noting that a proposed comics adaptation of Burrough’s PRINCESS OF MARS appears to have been taken behind the stables and shot, Heidi Mac makes an aside I was unaware of. Apparently, that book is public domain.
However, the other books in the sequence clearly aren’t. And Heidi suggests that trademarks may also apply.
Is this a case where a work being public domain essentially means nothing at all? Does anyone with expertise in the field actually know?
(That’s as opposed to, “I know absolutely nothing about any of this, but my opinion is…”)