Friday, May 21, 2004
Just one more dead sailor, washed up on shore
A closer look at a by-the-wind sailor
One of thousands of beached blue jellyfish that followed me down the Oregon and California coastline
Confession time: I loathed Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, and so, too, did John Clute, who, unlike me, actually made it to the end of the book, and then composed this review, which surely ranks as one of the best bad reviews of all time. Note how accurately Clute nails MA's trademark "priggish atonal drawl," and O&C's confusion of the Internet with, inexplicably, cable television.
M. John Harrison, rock climber and SF/fantasy novelist, one of the best I know. Harrison's latest, Light, is marked by its lyricism, dark humor, and its characters' casual brutality. Harrison began his writing career in the early 1970s as the (often uncredited) literary editor for the influential, now-defunct UK SF magazine New Worlds; a page on his website contains links to some more recent reviews, including a few for the Guardian.
Detailed survey on the state of North American used bookselling. The creators of this report are 14 karat deadbeats, but the report itself is useful. Last year, the Siegels sent me complementary email, asking me to complete a fairly lengthy on-line description of the shop, and promising that the results would be made available on the web site. Bait and switch! Come to check the results, and you learn that:

1. You have to pay for online access;

2. The site access fee is best described as, "Stick 'em up";

3. The printed guides the Siegels sell, which largely consist of the free, unthinking labor of others, are also hugely expensive.

Unsurprisingly, the Siegels want money for their survey results. I wouldn't pay the $25 they're asking in a million years -- given their track record of spinning money out of the straw of other dealers' honesty and helpfulness, I wouldn't hand them a quarter if I passed them on the street -- but I have no problem recommending their free survey summary.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Minehunter, starring the Gambian Giant Pouched Rat, courtesy the New York Times.

"Most important, the pouched rat (so named because it stores food, hamster-style, in its cheeks) buries what it does not immediately eat and sports a nose honed to bloodhound status by eons of searching for buried food stashes. Persuading him to hunt for land mines, therefore, is as simple as convincing him that TNT is just another tasty treat waiting a few inches underground."
Monday, May 17, 2004
Stories not to send us, thanks anyway
Salt Point State Park, Northern California, where I spent a windy night among a forest of silvery weathered dead trees, trying unsuccessfully to light the stove and to tie every last flapping bit of the tent down.
The California Coastal Records Project, a deeply strange photographic survey that would be unthinkable without the Web. Check out the details of the Barbra Streisand lawsuit while you're there.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
An interview with Seymour M. Hersh, whose revelations, particularly those concerning an airlift out of a certain combat zone, I've not seen reported elsewhere. Gee, wonder why?
Seymour Hersh gets the goods on American abuse of Iraqi POWs, pt.3
Wild California orchid, one of thousands currently in bloom along the Sonoma coast

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