More Neal Stephenson: Mother Earth, Mother Board

Another article that a friend sent me by Neal Stephenson: Mother Earth, Mother Board. It’s about the FLAG, a fiber-optic cable being built from England to Japan. It “is a skinny little cuss (about an inch in diameter), but it is 28,000 kilometers long”. It touches on the history of laying submarine cables and is (as usual) an excellently written, well-researched document that is worthy of reading.

Integral Trees

On the way back from the USA, I read the Integral Trees, by Larry Niven. Niven is a well-respected SF writer who’s written a stack of other acclaimed books. The Mote in God’s Eye and Footfall are books he’s co-authored with Jerry Pournelle, both of which are awesome reading.

Integral Trees is a pretty short novel; its basically a story of evolved humans that live in primitive societies without gravity in a gas cloud around a neutron star. Its a pretty cool world; very different from the normal fare about invasions on Earth. Its weird having to remind yourself that the story is set in a predominantly zero-g environment, which has been meticulously detailed by Niven.

Its a pretty short read, so therefore: a short review. But definitely something that’s worth picking up if you’re into SF for something differnet.

Poor little smashed car

Well, I was in my first ever proper accident today – I was sitting at the lights, minding my own business, when BAM! I was smacked from behind by a lady in a Camry. One minute I’m sitting there, gazing idly out the window at a red light, and the next second there’s this enourmous noise, there’s shit flying everywhere around the inside of my car, I’m looking around going “huh?”. There was a second pause, as my car was knocked forward by the impact, then another big crash as her momentum carried her again into my car.

So, needless to say, my car is somewhat a playground of twisted metal and plastic at the moment. Hopefully she’s insured properly, and more hopefully the car is written off so I can buy a new uber one.

I felt tremendously sorry for the poor lady, she felt so bad and was really shaken up; I was freaked out after I got out of the car for a minute, then realised that it was a better excuse to be late for work than the one I was planning on using anyway.

RE Session, Part.. uh.. Large number

Another session at the RE. Nova’s birthday this time, like we needed an excuse to go there. Another one of the “get slightly too drunk before having to go to work and get miserable sessions” this time; there’s too many of them happening. I’ve been sick for the last 3 days straight though, so it was great to finally get the hell out of the house. Caught up with some people I haven’t seen in a while, so I guess it was worth it (yeh, I’m trying to justify being this drunk – damn you b2 for making me drink all that cursed rum).

Looking forward to work tomorrow. Bed time.

Scream 3

Wasn’t two enough? Actually, wasn’t one enough? The first movie in this trilogy I really enjoyed, but I think the later two were fairly simple attempts to cash in on the success of the first. There was no real flow between them all; it just seemed like the plots were tacked together.

Anyway, Neve Campbell is back as the luckless Sidney, once again being chased all around by a dude in a black cloak and white mask with a giant knife. The other guys are back, Dewey the goofy (ex)cop, and Gale the reporter, plus a stack of new people who, invariably, turn out to be nothing more than stab-ees.

Typical story, they run around for a while with people dying at the hands of the murderer and noone knows who it is. However, there IS a cool cameo. Unlike the other Screams, which amusingly take the piss out of themselves with respect to the stupid things that people do in horror movies, this one.. doesn’t. It makes a passing comment about how in the final in a trilogy, all bets are off, as if this gives it a license to stupidity.

Everyone is fairly boring. Neve walks around with tears in her eyes, and there’s this totally ironic scene. Because I don’t want to ruin it for you in case you (‘re lucky enough to) haven’t seen this movie yet, I’ll give you three clues: Courtney Cox-ARQUETTE, David ARQUETTE, and a wedding ring. IT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY WITH SURPRISE.

There are no interesting special effects in this movie. The makeup and costumes are also boring – unless you like long, flowing black robes, in which case you might be pleasantly surprised. Courtney Cox obviously got shafted in this movie with a trailer with no mirror, otherwise she might have noticed how horrible her hair looked. David Arquette featured, again, a mustache that looked like a small furry worm had crawled out of his nose and was lodging there. The other characters sported several other defects, which were too boring for me to remember.

For the guys – this movie has a shower scene, a towel dropping scene, miscellaneous cleavage scenes, but that is about it. Oh yeh, that’s right – its a family movie. That means NO TITS (not that I really care). However, we can stab, maim, shoot, bleed and swear all over the joint, because this movie is designed for kiddies.

Verdict: See this movie if you are, like I was, sick and bored and there was nothing else at the video shop that you haven’t seen 1200 times already. I’m glad I missed this on the big screen. Get Scream instead again. Forget this exists.

Why didn’t Sidney just move to Australia, or some other country where the killer would never, ever find her? Why is it so hard to NOT get killed in American movies?

Romeo Must Die

Ahh, kung fu. It didn’t have Jackie Chan, but after seeing Jet Li being a total badass in Lethal Weapon 4, I thought I’d give it a go. This is going to be a short review, because it was a pretty simple movie. Some basic racist/gang war overtones on a simple story of family vengeance.

Jet Li plays a mildly boring dude that escapes (easily, because he’s a ninja) from a Hong Kong prison to avenge the death of his brother. He gets mixed up in a gang war between a bunch of people who are trying to do something involving NFL, in a plot that is loosely tied together with gunfire and some weird kung fu stuff.

I’m by no means a martial arts afficionado – I enjoy it heaps, but haven’t spent a lot of time watching it. However, there was a somewhat excessive use of wire fighting in this, which had Jet Li and others pulling off what, in my humble opinion, were just stupid-looking moves. There were some nice choreographed scenes, but overall.. yawn.

Verdict: yawn. A nice no-brainer if you’re up for it, but stick with Lethal Weapon 4 if all you’re after is Jet Li.


I’d been meaning to see this movie for quite some time. A big Michael Crichton fan, I was actually quite terrified whilst reading Sphere; typically Crichton it was well written with interesting characters and a detailed plot.

The movie annoyed me right at the outset, with an overly theatrical introduction piece before actually getting to anything. Blah, bad impression. Anyway, after it started, things started to pick up. Unfortunately, this movie was at a disadvantage by default, because it was trying to make something out of a book. I’m always disappointed when this happens – there’s just too much stuff that happens in books to fit in a 2 hour movie.

The actors that were chosen to play the relevant book characters were pretty decent. Samuel L. Jackson in particular was good in his role as the arrogant mathematician Harry. The development of the characters was pretty hurried, but you still got a pretty decent idea of why they were all there.

The movie was an interesting combination of “made for TV” and pretending to be a book, divided into several “chapters”. This didn’t really do anything great for it, but didn’t detract too much, so I sorta just accepted it, and moved on. A few nice underwater special effects – I was annoyed, however, at the lack of a giant squid.

To cut a long, boring story somewhat short… overall, the movie was average. It was watchable, preferably if you hadn’t read the book first. However, it did do a pretty good job of trying to cram in all the things that happened in the book. It left off the sneaky (aka, typically female) Beth bit at the end though, dammit.

Verdict: see it, if you’re bored. If you’re not that bored, get out Abyss instead, its got Michael Biehn and more guns and aliens and stuff.

Melbourne Trip

Just got back from my road trip to Melbourne. One of my good friends was moving back there, and me being a crazy person decided that I didn’t want her to have to drive back the whole way by herself, so I offered to go with her. Driving 20 hours non-stop, it was a pretty slawful journey, but we somehow managed to make it. Interesting things that happened along the way were:

  • It rained all through the night, making driving an extreme pain in the ass
  • The highbeams stopped working properly, at one point taking out all the nights together – in the middle of night, while it was pissing with rain.
  • Watching the awesome highways twisting and turning to provide the least straight route possible (the addition of a bunch of 90 degree turns in the road was also awesome)
  • Accidentally driving 70km out of the way, and having to backtrack
  • Being in a car so stuffed with stuff that the seats couldn’t be put back and made comfortable

Aside from that, it was actually a decent trip. However, the 2 hour flight back seemed, for some reason, to be a lot more bearable. Probably more so for Sandie, who didn’t have to listen to me bitch the whole time about it, hah.

I now have new respect for truck drivers and their ilk – we passed literally hundreds of trucks delivering goods up and down the east coast, presumably providing the things that we buy in shops every day. Driving those sort of distances on a regular basis would not be my idea of a stress-free job.

Neal Stephenson’s ‘In the Beginning…’

Here’s a great short piece of work by Neal Stephenson, author of some of my favourite books. The piece is called In the Beginning was the Command Line, and is a great read in Stephenson’s awesome writing style about today’s operating systems and their evolution.

If you’ve never read a Stephenson book – go and do it, now. Snow Crash will rock you world, and his latest one, Cryptonomicon, is one of the best things I’ve ever read – awesome story, excellent settings – even the cover rocks.