Guns and fog

A friend in America sent me a link to follow up the post from last week about a man who tried to change a tyre on his car using a shotgun to loosen the nuts

This time we have a couple of guys were looking to get tattoos of a magnum, so they were tracing around a real one which was, of course, loaded. Hand and arm wounds later, there are two 22 year-olds who now have a permanent reminder of how cool guns really are. (Slightly more info here.)

Those guys were American, but just to show that stupidity with guns is not only a US policy, a referee at a football (soccer) match in Kuala Lumpur was mobbed after showing a red-card to a player. He was a policeman, so he then went to his car, got his gun, and fired shots in the air to calm the mob. Personally a referee with a gun would not make me feel any more calm, but that’s just my perspective on this. Perhaps gunshots are considered calming over there; it’s one of those cultural things… Or perhaps not. The man was arrested, although it wasn’t stated whether the charges were ‘being a bloody idiot’. (Link)

Two more quick interesting/cheerful links:

Fog machines are now being used as anti-burglary devices, filling a pharmacy with thick clouds in seconds and preventing theft because no-one can find anything. How very cool. More here.

A wedding dress shop owner held onto a dress from a cancelled wedding for fifteen years and then the original purchaser eventually wore it down the aisle. “I knew you’d be back for it,” said the owner. Aww.

DiCarlo had stuffed the bow and the sleeves with paper so they would hold their shape, and wrapped the gown in plastic. She left it hanging in a corner of her basement storeroom.

Now that’s just a bit creepy… But sweet. Possibly. I have a horrible vision of the room filled with shaped wedding dresses, like some kind of uber-Miss Haversham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Scare yourself here.

Who would win in a fight between Neil Gaiman and William Gibson (with extra credit for Neal Stephenson)

A few months ago I had the honour of meeting William Gibson who signed my thesis during a book tour.

William Gibson signing Mata's thesis
(Many thanks to Chris, AKA Head First Only for the superb photo capturing the moment.)

During a talk he was giving in London, one of the questions asked was about who would win in a fight between himself and Neil Gaiman. Gibson replied that because Gaiman wears a lot of leather jackets he was probably the tougher of the two, so Gaiman would probably win.

Fortunately, Gaiman was giving a talk in the same location a few months later, and the same group of people attended and asked the same question. Gaiman reports his answer in his blog:

I was asked tonight who’d win in a fight — probably a no holds barred cage match, I suspect — between me and Bill Gibson. I said me, but my daughter Holly, who was there, just laughed at me afterwards and said she couldn’t imagine me fighting anyone. Holly says that Me vs Bill Gibson would be like a fight between a baby bunny and a duckling, and she is probably right.

So there you have it. Gaiman thinks he could take down the Gibson. Searching around, I found that Neal Stephenson has also been asked who would win in a fight against William Gibson, but his answer was considerably more wordy:

You don’t have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson’s Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson’s arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building’s roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling’s professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers’ conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments.

(Source: Slashdot interview with Neal Stephenson.)

I think that really only leaves one question: who would win in a fight between William Gibson and Richard Morgan? (I think we’d probably allow Gibson to tag team with Gaiman if they wanted to.)

How to change a tyre using a shotgun

Apparently it’s not a good idea to try to dislodge a stubborn wheel-nut on a car’s tyre using a shot gun:

Shooting at the wheel from arm’s length with his 12-gauge shotgun, he was peppered with buckshot and debris.

Sadly, the article doesn’t mention if it worked or not. Enquiring minds need to know!

Link spent $4million on a book of fairy tales

Who could command such high prices as US$4,000,000 for a hand written book? Is it an original by the Brothers Grimm, written in their own blood? Or perhaps it is a lost Shakespeare, where he decided to write a book for his kids instead of all those violent plays?

Nope, it’s J.K. Rowling. Of course it is. Silly me; however, it was a charity auction, so the high price is all tax deductable… I mean, it’s all going to a good cause.

Fancy a look? Here it is. It looks quite nice. I’d quite like a copy to flick through it myself, but her handwriting isn’t great so on second thoughts, I’ll just wait for the movie.

Mod scene hits the PS3 with Unreal Tournament 3

I’ve always been intrigued by the modding scene, where players of games go into the code and make their own levels, or sometimes entirely new games using the existing technology, but I’ve never really had a PC that could run them. I tried to get loads of mods (modifications) working on Quake, many years ago, but they never seemed to run for some reason.

I’m very happy to see that this is now going to be possible on the PS3, so clever amateurs can make whatever they want, and it will work on my console without me having to pay the world to get a good PC to run it all. Hurrah!

Essentially, you’ll make the mod, or download someone else’s, save it onto a portable RAM stick-drive (the type that seems to be everywhere and are getting very cheap these days), plug it into your PS3 with Unreal Tournament 3 running and you’re away…

Well, that’s what it says over here. Very cool stuff, a big win for console owners, and an even bigger one for Sony (this doesn’t work yet on the Xbox 360, although I’m sure it will come eventually).

Monkeys kill deputy mayor


The deputy mayor of the Indian capital Delhi has died a day after being attacked by a horde of wild monkeys. […] The city has long struggled to counter its plague of monkeys, which invade government complexes and temples.

This was back in October, so either the killer monkeys have been calmed, or they have destroyed all humanity in their path, allowing none to pass forward the message of the coming tide of monkey death!

In a particularly strange move, the government has decided to fight fire with fire:

One approach has been to train bands of larger, more ferocious langur monkeys to go after the smaller groups of Rhesus macaques.

Remember, all monkeys are both equal, but some are more equal than others.

“In the Second Coming, Jesus will have dreadlocks and a nose ring”

Since there’s been a lot of coverage of very fanatical Muslims in the press recently, I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of balance by highlighting a completely insane Christian’s rant from 1993.

My favourite bit has got to be near the bottom, where we are told about “Pastor” Alamo’s booklet entitled ‘Messiah’, which apparently informs us of the 333 prophecies of Messiah in the Old Testament, and give the superb example of #219: “In the Second Coming, Jesus will have dreadlocks and a nose ring.”

You’ve got to giggle a bit at where, mid-rant about something else, he mentions tax evasion with the rapid follow-up “which I am not guilty of.” He was prosecuted for tax evasion the year after writing this article and spent six years in jail.

Truly, the idea that this man is still preaching hateful messages (and has access to guns) and is happily tolerated by legislators is very scary indeed. I’m not anti-Christian, I’m anti-‘complete nutters who will use anything to justify their own screwed up view of the world’. Really, this kind of person terrifies me.

But still, dreadlocks and a nose ring? That’s a funky Jesus, and he’s a-coming to judge us all (apparently).

Woo hoo! Masks!

What does mad doctor do when he’s not creating life out of the scrap bins from the back of Iceland Superstore? He makes masks for a masquerade ball that my partner and I were going to, of course.

Medieval-style mask

Medieval-style and harlequin masks

I think they’re pretty neat. That may also be the first time I have used ‘neat’ in that context. Hurrah!

If you’re interested, there’s more info on how I made them here.

Oldest living creature discovered… Briefly

While dredging the oceans off the coast of Iceland, scientists found the oldest living animal ever discovered. The ocean quahog clam was found to be 405 years old after scientists counted the rings on its shell, which makes the clam a youngster back when Shakespeare was writing his plays. A bit like trees, clams’ shells create rings with the seasonal changes, recording the environmental conditions.

There is a slight problem. To count the rings, they had to kill it. Go team science. Apparently they named the clam Ming, after the Ming Dynasty, and not because it was intent on destroying the earth with alien weapons. I think it’s more common to name creatures when they’re alive, otherwise abattoirs would be very strange places indeed.

More here.

Speaking of Shakespeare, have you been reading my webcomic? I’ve been writing a mash-up of Romeo & Juliet and Star Trek. It’s probably best to start reading here.

Ecletic interesting links and articles collected by a painter, teacher, writer, and ex-PhD student