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Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Thursday, June 30, 2005
Short Fiction by Maureen McHugh
"Oversite"-- Short Fiction With Commentary from Author Maureen McHugh

See my last post too.

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China Mountain Zhang
I just finished a novel and I can't remember the last novel I read and this one was a work of speculative (science) fiction and the last SF I read was probably Gibson's second to the last work.

The book I finished is China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh (who has a lovely web site here and a blog about her recovery from lymphoma here). Copyright is 1992. This is McHugh's first novel.

The story is somewhat near future (22nd century?), in a world where China has become the dominant world power and the United States has gone through a revolution of the proletariat. That's all a backdrop to the stories of relationships of the various characters, loosely tied together by a main plot that follows the protagonist, Engineer China Mountain Zhang. Other characters include a couple of Martian settlers, a very ugly girl who becomes pretty, and a kite flier.

It is a very gentle book. It explores the insides of the character's heads, always returning to the story of Zhang. Friends (and Mary, the wife) who I would not expect to like the SF genre, like this book.

So read it.

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Monday, June 27, 2005
Technical Difficulties on the Blog
If you happened to drop by over the weekend, you saw the slight mess my blog was in. The first post's title was at the top of the window but the body of the post was pushed way down the screen, past the right navigation area. Bummer (and a waste of my time on Sunday attempting to fix it).

Blogger finally got back to my help request to say "sorry," had some problems, fixed soon. I had emailed the exact source of the problem. It was a clear: both CSS directive that somehow appeared within one of their template variables and that could not be deleted by mere mortals. Bummer again.

Today I found the Blogger Forum and a search pulled up a discussion of the clear: both glitch and a fix. Just add .Post div { clear: none !important; } to your template CSS. I added it right below the '.Post' listing. The '!important' lets this one override the glitch. Cool.

All is well on the PF Hyper blog.

Why didn't Blogger Tech Support tell me this? I pointed out exactly where the problem was so they would know I have an understanding of CSS.

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Famous Scream
The Wilhelm Scream has been heard around the world several times in movies and on tv. Hear the scream and read about it's history here. (Be forewarned: scream will play when you arrive at the site.)

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Sunday, June 26, 2005
Recent Films
I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura) is an Italian film. Michele (boy, nine-years-old) discovers Filippo (also nine), who is chained to the ground at the bottom of a hole. The film is a true child's perspective of extrememly unsettling events in the world of adults. Excellent cinematography. Directed by Gabriele Salvatores.

This is definitely a film not to miss.

Spoiler: The film has a happy ending but is very disturbing during the journey to arrive there.

Closer is Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law and Clive Owen as contemporary and sophisticated denizens of London who rotate partners a couple times around. Natalie (Alice) is a stripper; Julia (Anna) is a photographer of the rich and famous plus a portrait artist; Jude (Dan) is an obit writer and novelist; and Clive (Larry) is a doctor. As with many films of this type, the men seem to be the ones in control. Larry makes sure Alice understands this: "You women don't understand the territory, because you are the territory"

A depressing film with no one living happily ever after or even close. I would pass unless you enjoy lots of descriptive sexual language with little nudity.

Owen and Portman both got nominated for supporting Oscars. Ack. Maybe they felt sorry for Natalie's tenure as Queen Amidala.

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Open Access to Elements of Style
The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White is a famous American English writing guide. (Wikipedia has a nice article with historical information.)

The original version (1918), by Strunk alone, is here. The fourth (and latest) edition text, is here, and includes a foreword by White's stepson Roger Angell.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005
Don't Click!
An experimental interface where the visitor doesn't click. It's fascinating and well done. Make sure to check out the Mousecamp where you are trained in the art of not clicking and navigating with the mouse.

Thanks Google Blogoscoped

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Saturday, June 18, 2005
Microsoft and Freedom of Speech in China
The Microsoft blog space in China will help the Chinese government block forbidden words like "democracy" and "human rights."

Dan Gillmor's blog is a good place to start as he links to an article, to Scoble defending his employer (Microsoft), and to Rebecca MacKinnon's take on the situation.

So in an effort to conserve some links, go here.

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Star Wars Discontinuity
Op-ed piece at the New York Times by Neal Stephenson about the new Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith. He poses a trivia question that relates to the start of the film where two jedis are battling their way through a starship. Who owns the ship?

I thought I knew: General Grievous. But I was wrong. It's really the New Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. No way to know that from watching the film (or any of the other films in the saga). Stephenson says:
...very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?
Read the whole piece here.

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The Serendipitous Web
n : good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries
I searched Technorati on "pfhyper" and found a link to the US Film and Society Blog. He quoted a post from Weblogg-ed which mentioned my pfhyper account at

Now Will Richardson, the man behind the curtain at Weblogg-ed, doesn't know me. He stumbled, serendipitously, upon my account when looking at the socialsoftware tag at But I know him and subscribe to his blog. He's rather famous in the educational blogging arena.

(Richardson works at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, NJ. He blogs about the K-12, social software realm.)

So there is a circle being completed via this post that even extends itself globally as the US Film blog's blog guy is in Graz, Austria (the blog is for a class of the blog's name).

Friday, June 17, 2005
I want to see Moolaadé and Kontroll. [Update: here's a longer review of Kontroll.]

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Thursday, June 16, 2005
Short Films
Two short films by Virgil Widrich. In Copyshop, he films, photocopies frames, then animates the photocopies.

In Fast Film, Widrich reuses old Hollywood films, again by photocopying them.

Thanks to Roy for sending me the links.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005
Book Blogging
A book I want to read. Reviewed in The New York Times Book Review for Feb. 13, 2005.

In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran by Christopher de Bellaigue. Reviewed by Pico Iyer. De Bellaigue writes for The Economist. This is his debut book. It pitches
us into the very heart and streets of the Iranian revolution today, its troubled consciences, and giving us so jolting a sense of ordinary lives and human losses that we can no longer see the country in simplistic, public-policy terms of "conservatives versus reformists."

...Among other things, the scenes of history made vital recall to us that many in the Islamic world think in terms of centuries, even millenniums; their enemies in Washington often can scarcely remember what happened last week.

...De Bellaigue is a defiantly literary writer, and he gives us a sense of Tehran today so immediate and insistent that we can hear and feel the unending anxieties of those who, if we attack them, will, alas, become nothing but statistics.

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Sunday, June 05, 2005
Ukelele Performance
Via Google Blogoscoped, a ukelele version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps (.mov video file) by Jake Shimabukuro.

Very, very well done.

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Read the Book
On my list of books to read soon:

Small Pieces Loosely Joined by David Weinberger
Web site here with a bunch of reviews (including a very negative one at the bottom of the page).

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Friday, June 03, 2005
Open Source
Not that Open Source; this is the new radio show hosted by Chris Lydon.

The shows are webcast plus they had planned on podcasting but bandwidth problems are holding up the podcasts. (The mp3s were in place but download times ranged in the multiple hours. Dave Winer's attempted download went for five hours with no success.)

Mr. Winer did manage to obtain the first show (he was interviewed) and has made it available to us all. Thanks, Dave.

Thursday, June 02, 2005
My Movie Life
Three films in the queue: Hotel Rwanda, Crash, and In Good Company.

First, I'll get In Good Company out of the way. It had a wonderful beginning looking at modern business and the nature of acquisition. The main business in question is a sports magazine so using a bastion of the print world was interesting. Internet is mentioned as where the ad money is going instead of to the magazine. There's an old ad manager who is demoted and a new hotshot ad manager (Topher Grace) who is going to increase the sales percentage by an impossible amount.

Middle of the movie, hotshot Carter (Topher's role) falls in love with old manager's daughter and then she seduces him (doesn't compute given her background). I lost faith at this point. I despaired.

The ending pulled me back, just barely.

It's OK. A throw-away comedy, if you have the time.

It could have been much, much better.

Movie 2: Hotel Rwanda

Don Cheadle is wonderful, astounding, and amazing playing the part of the hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina.

One million Hutu died in Rwanda and the world (including the US) didn't do much to stop it. This movie gives us an aspect to consider and is based on a true story - the Rusesabagina character saved a thousand Hutu. It is very intense even though there is not a lot of outright violence.

It's happening again today in Darfur in Sudan. And we are not doing very little again.

Movie 3: Crash

Another intense movie about a day in the life of Los Angeles. Starts with a car accident and seemingly unconnected characters are connected as the film proceeds. There is happiness, hope, and despair. It really makes you think about the nature of racism. The interaction between Thandie Newman's character Christine and Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) was the most moving for me from a cold revulsion to an understanding of what kind of man Ryan was.

See this one with friends and plan to discuss it afterwards.

Oh. Don Cheadle has a major part and he's as good as he was in Rwanda.

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