Green/white - hard to categorize, fun to look around
25/3/00 | 18:26 GMT
 
 
 

My resolve to register my own domain is getting greater than ever. This stems from the fact that my current host, Freeserve, does not allow FTP access from other non-Freeserve IPs. Seeing as I use BT Internet all the time now, this is not helpful (although admittedly understandable). I can't use Blogger to update my weblog if my host doesn't allow foreign IPs.

So - you're probably thinking - why don't you go and move shop to your BT Internet webspace or those Pitas/Weblog weblogs spaces you so selfishly reserved?

Well. I don't want to keep on moving all my stuff around all the time or else you guys won't be able to keep track of the URL. Registering a domain, such as www.greenwhite.co.uk would allow people to remember my domain, and I could move the actual pages about as much as I want to since I can just do automatic redirecting.

At the moment I'm considering using www.gradwell.com to register the domain (About £25 for registration and web/mail forwarding, which is reasonable). Any other suggestions?

Anyway. I also need to find someone to write the 'green' section of the weblog. Preferably, this person would be a complete opposite to myself (well, OK, not completely opposite, that'd just be silly) - i.e. she would not be interested in space the slightest bit, or science fiction, or computer/techie things. She'd hopefully have a good net connection to do at least daily updates, and if she lived near where I do (so unlikely it's impossible) that'd be great.

Anyway.

I don't want to bore you with this talk of some putative address change or rehashed weblog. I'm hoping to get a lot of work done on Occupational Hazards tonight - I have a lot of interesting ideas floating around. I'm going to scan in a couple of photos that were taken of me at the Leaders of Tomorrow awards dinner. I've ordered Watchmen and A Fire in the Deep - expect reviews of both of them late next week.

I'm getting a little worried about my playing of The Sims. It's getting ridiculous. I don't know why the idea of taking care of a virtual family is fun, but it shouldn't be. It shouldn't take up several hours of my life every day, and it shouldn't involve me this much. It'll have to go the same way as Alpha Centauri and Civilization 2 - into the bin (don't get me wrong - they're great games. The problem is, they're too great).

Some fun links:

Bizarre, but fun - The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite

Funny, but true - A joke which was forwarded to me, but AFAIK, hasn't done the rounds yet

Funny, yet not - A friend's webpage that has, among other things, photos of me

Very complimentary - Jim Wright's Delta Blues website says next to a link to my page 'Hard to categorize, but good fun to look around'.

In fact, I like that so much I'll take it as the subtitle for Green/White.

 

 


 
Hazardous
23/3/00 | 23:05 GMT
 
 
 

I know that I've been updating this weblog a little infrequently recently, but I've been kept pretty busy by performing at concerts with my orchestra and various house play rehearsals. Excuses, excuses, eh?

To everyone who knows me, and all of those who don't:

Adrian's Guide to 'Should I send you this email?'

Do NOT send me email if one or more of the following statements are true:

1. You didn't write this email
2. It involves the phrase 'I know this sounds crazy, but it's true.'
3. It says 'Pass this along to all your friends as quickly as possible!'
4. It says 'I'm a professional lawyer/accountant/programmer for Microsoft/AOL/ICQ/Time Warner, and...'
5. You are planning to tab on the phrase 'Sorry for this, but you never know....'
6. It's being sent over 10 people, at least half of whom I don't know
7. It involves large amounts of money being made with little or no effort whatsoever.

Spam email is a crime against humanity. And what's more, it wastes my time.

To be frank, I'm getting a little fed up with all this Mars Polar Lander business. They made a mistake. Life goes on. The person(s) who made the mistake are most likely feeling like shit at the moment, and are unlikely to make the same mistake again.

NASA is not omniscient. No-one is.

I know I keep on saying that I'll write such-and-such an essay, and such-and-such a book review, but there's a short-story/essay I particularly want to write: Occupational Hazards - A study on Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Ah, OCD... where would I be without you?

Flowers for Algernon is a great story - it's not even science fiction, strictly. Your local library will have a copy - so go and borrow it.

It's pretty funny to read the Books Received [awaiting reviewing] section at Infinity Plus. After all, you wonder why such excellent titles as X-Files novels have been awaiting review for almost 3 years, yet novels by second-rate authors like Paul McAuley, Philip K Dick, Arthur C Clarke and Joe Haldeman are snapped up like there's no tomorrow. What isn't said is often more interesting (and amusing) than what is said. Maybe that explains why I find watching the reactions and interactions of others so interesting.

Of course, it might be just because I'm weird.

 

 


 
Cultured
21/3/00 | 21:11 GMT
 
 
 

Hot off the presses, here's some details about Iain M Banks' new Culture novel, Look to Windward. The details on the page aren't particularly clear, but it seems to have a refreshingly new storyline. The cover is archetypical Banks style, of course.

And I note that it's coming out in August - so if you want to buy me a birthday present, this'll be it. Although chances are that I'll have already bought it anyway.

On the same page is a piece of news announcing that Time, by Stephen Baxter, among other novels, has been nominated for this year's Arthur C. Clarke Award. Have these guys actually read the book? Aside from reviewers in newspapers and magazines, I have not met a single person who liked this book one bit.

I have a moderate automatic preference towards whites, according to this test created by the University of Washington and Yale University. I was suitably stunned - I like to think myself as having no racial bias at all, having grown up in a relatively multicultural society, and the small fact that I'm chinese. I'm definitely going to take the other tests there one of these days.

 

 


 
Alchemy
20/3/00 | 22:30 GMT
 
 
 

In the absence of money to buy books, I've been re-reading my bookshelf. At the moment, I'm going back through Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars which I've once again realised is an amazingly good book. I'm still picking up stuff that I hadn't noticed before.

Inspired by KSR's novel, I've come up with a great idea for a new site. Entitled 'green/white' or 'Alchemy', it would be written by two different people. One would be the archetypical scientist - the white, and the other would be the archetypical mystic - the green. This would present some excellent opportunities for dialogue, and it'd never get boring. The writers would be able to swap around, or even write a joint weblog as the alchemist, a mixture of the green and the white.

I'm never impressed by the other collaborative efforts I read on the web (mind you, there ain't much that impresses me these days, hardened cynic that I am) - they're too often written by likeminded people. You might as well just write the whole thing yourself. No, the beauty of the web is not just in bringing together people of like minds, but people who are polar opposites.

Unfortunately, this happens far too little. It's too easy for me to descend into a series of mailing lists that are only concerned with science fiction and Mars; I could go weeks without meeting someone who differed with my views seriously. Of course, this is an exaggeration; even on the most strictly on-topic lists you'll find a wide spectrum of people. You wouldn't imagine the debates I've been in on those stable issues of gun control and abortion.

Yet I never really meet many people who are fervently 'green' or anti-science. Because I don't want to, I never have to. The web offers us the opportunity to contact anyone in the world, and it's wonderful to talk to people who have the same interests as you. Sometimes, though, you'll get more done by talking to people who completely disagree with you - people who force to you think about the very foundations of what you believe in.

After all, if you can't defend your position with rational arguments, can you even claim to have a position at all?

When I received an email that ripped my materialistic and technocentric weblog to pieces, I was pretty stunned - I cannot recall ever having been sent an email like that for years. Of course, I wasn't pleased, but while I was writing the reply, I began to wonder about what this guy had talked about.

So. I think it would be a very interesting experiment to create this 'alchemy' weblog. I would probably like to have it separate to my weblog here (since I don't want to have to do a complete redesign of this site) but I wonder whether that would be the best thing; I don't want to have to run two weblogs simultaneously, and the whole point is that I'm supposed to listen to this mystic, not just hide. Maybe I'd put it on Pitas or Editthispage, I don't know.

Of course, I'd have to go and do a complete redesign of the weblog (not my site - so it's marginally easier) to pull it off either way, and find an archetypical mystic, but I say: Pah! Easy stuff compared to life these days, thank you very much.

A few minutes later:

I feel a little guilty now. I just registered greenwhite.pitas.com, greenwhite.weblogs.com and alchemy.weblogs.com (and adrian.weblogs.com, just for the sake of it). Seeing as I'm only likely to use one of them, I really shouldn't have registered all of them; I got a little annoyed that alchemy.pitas.com was taken by someone who wasn't actually using it actively, then I realised - hey - I'm doing exactly the same thing with at least three!

So I'm going to make an effort to 'put them back on the market' so to speak, once I've decided on the one I want.

Praise be! BT finally got around to installing the second line, so I've been taking full advantage of the unmetered BT Internet offer and staying online for as long as possible, doing as little as possible, as often as possible. Whenever the 'normal' phone rings though, I still find myself flinching - it's almost sacrilege to be on the Internet and talking to someone at the same time.

 

 


 
In your face
19/3/00 | 19:50 GMT
 
 
 

Oh, and add The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester to my Must Read Books List.

Quotes of the day, taken from the Futurewar programme on BBC2 here in the UK.

"Whoever controls space, controls the infosphere. Whoever controls the infosphere, generally speaking, will ultimately win the war."

- Air Force Colonel (or someone very high up, I don't know)

"In your face, from outer space."

- Motto of US Space Command

"...the datasphere..."

- Another Air Force Colonel

Infosphere? Datasphere? Beats the hell out of me.

 

 


 
No Time
18/3/00 | 13:36 GMT
 
 
 

Still no second phone line, but I'm told that the BT van is going to arrive any minute to go and attach the line to the pole outside. Which got me thinking - if I was in charge, wouldn't it make sense to keep some kind of central database holding all possible relevant information about phone installations, including the fact that the telephone pole where I live isn't safe to climb? It'd save a lot of time on their part, that's for sure.

The review of Vacuum Diagrams is still going apace, but it's taking horribly long. It's already over 1300 words long, and I doubt I'll get it finished before 2000 words have gone, either - this ain't no normal review, I'm reviewing every single short story in it.

So you can see that I'm not slacking off, I've put up a copy of what I've already done.

Books on my Must Read list:

Watchmen by Alan Moore
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
The Sky Road by Ken Macleod

 

 


 
Legless
17/3/00 | 22:35 GMT
 
 
 

Arghh... I just got back from my science fair at school, having stood up continuously for 14 hours. I feel as if my legs are about to drop off. It's an even chance as to whether I'd be able to notice, though.

Apologies for the lack of updates - I was kept pretty busy yesterday due to various events (most of which were unfortunately not nice).

However. Some links to keep you happy (I haven't looked at any of them yet, so you'll have to bear with me)

Who should own Mars? - you have to scroll down a bit on the page though (keep in mind that this is a publication by Ayn Rand followers, aka Randroids)

Teaching chimps to read, write and count

It's a sad day for Mars exploration advocates... But I'll be damned if I see the space programme slow down one bit, even if it means I have to go and push the damn rockets into space with my own hands.

 

 


 
Codswallop
15/3/00 | 18:00 GMT
 
 
 

My God, there's a whole load of crap on the Internet bearing my name. Sure, most of it was written by me, but it's truly amazing the sort of stuff a search on Google will unearth. I for one did not know about Europress' press release about my CD, or the link to my site from a weblog 5 months ago praising my quote.

Which was, incidentally, pretty good (although not by me):

"Man shall never reach the moon, for such a quantity of gunpowder would be needed as to gravely injure the crew." -- Children's Encyclopedia, 1926

The link was from Judy Watt's weblog, the Logjam. It's never too late to reciprocate a good word, is what I say.

I just got today's issue of Nature, and what do I find but a short story by the man, David Brin? Much as the rest of the journal is interesting (and completely incomprehensible), the Futures section always has some excellent science fiction in it.

I have actually started writing the review of Vacuum Diagrams, but it's a long thing - probably the longest review yet, since there's a total of 22 short stories in the book. Should be finished and uploaded tonight.

 

 


 
Next on...
14/3/00 | 19:14 GMT
 
 
 

My next book review will be Stephen Baxter's short story collection, Vacuum Diagrams.

Things I need to do:

1. Start writing some content for the Thinkquest site I'm supposed to be doing
2. Start chasing people up about the competition I'm organising
3. Finish my statistics coursework
4. Finish the never-ending stream of Chemistry past-papers I have to do
5. Get some more sleep
6. Stop worrying about when certain people are going to call me, and what they're going to say
7. Read more books
8. Pass my A-Levels
9. Write more content for my site
10. Stop procrastinating

Here's one film that I'll be very eager to see, if they manage to pull it off properly: Hardwired. It's about a murder investigation, except all the suspects are artificial intelligences of varying intelligence. Very neat.

Looks like the UK has taken delivery of some seriously ass-kicking weaponry, the WAH-64 Westland Apache.

I finally got hold of Moby's new album, Play. It's not bad (pretty good praise, coming from me).

If I don't post tomorrow, it's because I killed myself by trying to go out running at 6AM. Don't ask me why I do this.

I just thought of an absolutely wonderful short-story to write, combining the dual topics of my unimaginably unimaginable Statistics lessons at school, and the physics of telepathy. If I manage to write it properly, it'll turn out pretty good. I'm calling it 'Significiant Bias' at the moment.

I have to confess that I found this anti-evolutionary essay to be very convincing, as much as I hate to admit it. Unlike most anti-evolutionaries, the book described and the reviewer both present reasonable and thought-out arguments, with remarkably no agit-prop whatsoever. I may even go and buy the book mentioned, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, by Michael Behe. I will definitely check out the rest of the Origins website when I have time.

 

 


 
Gaffe
14/3/00 | 19:14 GMT
 
 
 

I have to make a public apology here - my link about Monkeys proving the existence of God was written before I actually read the article. Now that I have read it, I have to admit that it is not in fact madness, but pretty interesting stuff. I still don't agree with it though.

Books I want: Vernor Vinge's 'A Fire in the Deep' series. There's been a lot of talk about this, and it sounds like something I'd like. Here's an interesting piece he wrote about the future of 'uploaded' humans and artificial intelligence. Serious stuff - it might seem like science fiction to most of you, but I can say with some confidence that it'll probably occur in some form or other before the century is out.

Contrary to popular opinion, I do not hate all green views out there. This site, Viridian, supported by Bruce Sterling, is a most reasonable green site. Read their manifesto.

 

 


 
Transient
13/3/00 | 23:00 GMT
 
 
 

Out of the hundreds of books and stories I've read, there's always been one that's stuck with me. If you know me already, you've probably already heard it before.

In a land far, far away, there was a good King. And one day, he called his wise men to men, and asked them a question.

"Can you make a thing that will make me happy when I am sad, and sad when I am happy?"

His wise men listened, and went away to deliberate amongst themselves for some time. Eventually, they returned with a ring. They told their King that whenever he was happy or sad, he should read the writing inscribed on the ring.

"This Too Will Pass."

A wise thing to remember, and I think it's quite an old story as well. Almost always, things get better or worse. Nothing ever stays in the same; in the universe that we live in, perhaps you might think that there are unchangeable constants.

There aren't. People change, friends change, the world changes, and you change. Even the universe itself will change, as it plunges towards a heat death of timelike infinity. We should remember this.

And we should have hope that whenever we are sad, there will come a time when we will be happy again. When we are happy, we should remember that soon, we will be sad. It all passes, in time. I wonder if this might be any use to people I know, or people who read this site. I don't know.

 

 


 
Ten Things I hate about you
13/3/00 | 19:17 GMT
 
 
 

Well, OK, just one. My ongoing tirade about some blogs has another target now: unclear links. Post that say something like:

Does this make you feel good?

and have no further elaboration are just, IMHO, a waste of space. Whatever happened to the words 'user-friendly'? It's almost as bad as those sites that are filled with Flash, and are really 'arty' but give you no clue whatsoever as to what lies beneath those pretty animated buttons (text labels? Heaven forbid!). As for helping users find what they're looking for, well, that's simply out of the question.

Monkeys proving the existence of God? Madness, I tell you, madness!

More on the crackpot <cough>, I mean, alternative view, of Creationism.

At last, a reasonable view speaking out against the anti-GM brigade of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

What the bollocks? Giving students money to go to school? Damned ingrates...

 

 


 
Tear
12/3/00 | 21:22 GMT
 
 
 

A new image I've just done - nothing special. It's based loosely around a book I want to write this summer, called Scattered Tears. It should be pretty good; I'm hoping to go back to the good old-fashioned science fiction stable, and avoid as much data-dumping hard science as possible.

Science fiction books should be fun to read, but they should also stimulate thought. That's what I'm going to try to do with Scattered Tears. I'm going to try and make people think about what being human really means - it's not our appearance, or our race, or even our genes. It's who we are, and how we act.

 

 


 
A Dark Day
12/3/00 | 18:02 GMT
 
 
 

It's truly been a dark day for a lot of people today. First off, the Sea Launch rocket fails. The fact that the rocket they were carrying a satellite made by a UK based company only makes it harder to accept.

And then I get a spot of bad news myself.

But, on the bright side, the Pope apologised for past sins of the Church, including the Inquisition, and their attitudes towards women. A good step forward.

What's more is that I've found doing my Statistics coursework on Excel to be ludicrously, if not disgustingly, easy.

Of course, there's also the fact that my brother will be renting loads of DVDs from Movietrak when he gets back from Cambridge next week. Top that all off with the imminent arrival of a second phone line, and unmetered off-peak access, and I should be in a good mood.

All the same, I'm not.

BTW, it appears that my email form has a cut-off point of a few hundred words (not exactly sure how many), so if you're sending me any long messages, please just email them to adrian@gen-mars.freeserve.co.uk or else bits might get missed off.