Category Archives: Uncategorized

RIP Max 256, 2008-2012

This blog is now dead. It has passed on. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker.

It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. Its metabolic processes are now history. It’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

This is an ex-blog.

But I’m still writing, of course. Go follow this page instead, it looks nicer, and it is guaranteed to be (almost) entirely free of 1950s movie reviews.


AntiJihad Norge – de siste innleggene

Mens jeg akkurat satt og skrev om dem forsvant de siste restene av AntiJihad Norges blogginnlegg i sommer fra nettet. Så jeg har lagt ut en kopi. Det mest interessant er “Når er begeret fullt?” fra 18. juli:

Både i Norge og andre vestlige land har anti-islamske bevegelser og organisasjoner lagt vekt på å opptre lovlig og bare med ikke-voldelige midler. Det er vanskelig å kritisere dem for det, det tilsvarer på sett og vis om noen hadde forsøkt ikke-voldelig motstand mot den tyske okkupasjonen. Det ville selvfølgelig ikke vært noe galt i det, problemet er bare det at hadde all motstand mot nazismen vært ikke-voldelig ville Hitlers etterfølgere ha regjert Europa i dag, og for all sin djevelskap er nazismen bare som blåbær å regne mot islam.

På hvilket tidspunkt desinformasjonen, som denne saken fra Bergensbanen er et godt eksempel på, har pågått så lenge og så intenst at myndighetene ikke lenger er å anse som lovlige og legitime, og at væpnet motstand og opprør blir en rett, for ikke å si en plikt, vil i siste instans være opp til den enkelte å avgjøre i forhold til sin egen samvittighet. De som måtte si, og mene, at nå er begeret fullt må selvsagt regne med å bli dømt, av illegitime domstoler etter illegitime lover, slik de over 20 norske motstandsfolkene som ble henrettet etter Majavatn ble dømt, av illegitime domstoler og etter illegitime lover. Historien har imidlertid gitt dem en annen dom.

Her er resten.

..and that human rights do not apply to the yellow race?

The French media and intelligentsia have an annual petition ritual. It’s the fashionable thing for Paris’s literati to sign a text condemning the death penalty – in the United States. However abhorrent the practice may be, the fact is that the death sentence is not given frequently in America. It exists because of a democratic consensus and an independent judiciary. I, too, belong to the band of signatories. Over the years, I have tried hard to get the text to condemn China as well. So far, I have been unsuccessful.

Why China? they ask me. Perhaps all those who are shot down and dismembered really were guilty, they think; capital punishment, unacceptable in the United States, might be good for the Chinese; the death sentence could act as a deterrent to stem China’s widespread violence. Does this mean that the Chinese government is legitimate in killing its subjects, whereas the Americans are not? Are we suggesting that a Chinese life is not worth an American life and that human rights do not apply to the yellow race? That is not the real issue, say some. We would do better to respect the cultural characteristics of the Chinese than to impose our ideas on them – even though the Chinese constitution does refer to human rights now. Between the sinophiles on the one hand and the America-bashers on the other, good sense has been throw to the winds.

- Guy Sorman, The Empire of Lies (2006)

..I should not publish that if I were you, Tennyson

For Osbert, Edith and Sachie Sitwell, as for Virginia Woolf and friends in the so-called Bloomsbury set, having the idea of oneself as an artist was an illusion which friends were perilously good at fostering and encouraging. That is the peril, for an artist, of ‘sets’. When Tennyson read some of Maud aloud in Benjamin Jowett’s drawing room at Oxford, the Master of Balliol said, in his high squeaky voice: ‘I should not publish that if I were you, Tennyson.’ No such voice in the early decades of the twentieth century was ever heard in the Sitwell’s drawing-room, nor over the other side of London in Bloomsbury. ..

Of course, as soon as Facade appeared on a public stage it was lampooned and condemned by all the critics. The Sitwells took this as evidence of the philistinism of the bourgeoisie. The British tradition had been firmly established, of talentless ‘arty’ people convincing themselves that exhibitionism was a substitute for talent. It could be said that this had been going on in the nineteenth century to some extent, but in the twentieth century, there came a parting of the ways in England, especially in London, between good popular books, art and music, and ‘highbrow’ versions which only the initiated could appreciate. Within this veiled holy of holies, the initiates could learn to mouth the names of composers and artists they were supposed to admire, without actually possessing any discernment at all.

- A. N. Wilson, After the Victorians (2005)

.. in which we rediscover radio drama

In the late 1980′s, radio was probably my second most important source of entertainment, after books.  Norwegian television at the time was a horrible state (near-)monopoly.  So was radio, but it was better somehow, and the highlight of the week were the Saturday drama shows: Mystery, comedy, and a children’s hour.  I think they’re all still on the air today, but they probably haven’t gotten any new listeners since 1990.

It was watching the 1951 movie Five that reminded me that I miss those radio plays.  Five was written by Arch Oboler, who I discovered was best known as a scriptwriter for radio in the 1930′s and 40′s.  He made the horror series Lights Out.  Here’s a sample episode, a nice Lovecraftian little thing.

And then I found some more episodes, and some more shows – and suddenly I’d been pulled into a world of old radio I hadn’t know existed. These aren’t the shows I listened to, decades later, but it’s more or less the same thing.

I don’t know that radio drama is better than other kinds, but it’s certainly different, and if you really want to bring out the things that make it different, listen to it in the dark.  The quality of the writing is surprisingly high in some of these shows, and darkness brings it all to life.

For a good start, try the SF show X Minus One, for instance the episode The Parade, or The Green Hills of Earth.

And yes: Lights out. Literally.

10 year blog anniversary

I just realized – I started my first blog 10 years ago, in February 2001.  Woo!

Actually, including pre-blogs, my full online writing history looks like this:

1995-1997..8: Heated, enlightening discussions on BBS’s, (a non-internet modem-based forum technology)

1997-2000: Rare and increasingly pointless discussions on Usenet, (large, unmoderated anonymous forums – yikes!)

November 2000 – February 2001: A bloggish diary and a few articles at Kuro5hin, a writing collective. Here’s a typical post.

February 2001 – July 2001: First blog, Threepwood ‘01, which had a profile somewhat like this one. Some culture, some opinion. Here’s a post on why games are fun.

September 2001 – 2007: The war blog, inspired by the September 11 attacks, morphing gradually into an essay blog. Here are my favorite posts.

2008: An unblog in static HTML. Here’s an essay on historical mythologies, one of my all-time favorites.

2008 – present: Max 256, the antidote to my bloggers block.  (Occasional essays sold separately.)

March 2010 – present: Twitter, hyperactivity for the rest of us.

If blogs are now “dead”, at least I’m no worse off than when I started. They’re certainly as free as they always were. I’m free to think. Free to experiment, and invent new rules for new games.

Strange as it may seem, all my blog experiments have represented what I found most relevant to focus on at the time.  At the moment, I do not simply not write about current events – I find it entirely irrelevant to do so.  That may change.  Everything changes.  But whatever happens, I will keep searching for some way to express it.

Cut adrift in a sea of pointless entertainments

“The myth-maker points to the past but speaks in the voice of future history; it is the collective voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, giving us a sense of continuity and destiny; it makes connections between those who have preceeded us, and those who will follow us. Absent those myths, we are cut adrift in a sea of pointless entertainments intended primarily to divert us from our own lives.

It is not the task or responsibility of television to teach your children, or babysit them, or take the place of conversation, or reinforce societal mores, or make you feel good about your neighborhood or your job or your prejudices or your sexual orientation or your odds for hair restoration.

When television took center stage in the world of collective and mass story storytelling, it took on the responsibilities of providing new myths, fictions that point the way toward tomorrow, that remind us that there will be a tomorrow, a better one or a poorer one depending on what we do right now, and that we can’t ever afford to lose sight of that. In short…to rekindle in hearts of millions a sense of wonder, about the world, the future and our place in that future.”

- J. Michael Straczynski, Approaching Babylon, (a 1995 essay about why he created Babylon 5)

What’s a PC?

So what’s a PC any more, anyway?  I just realized that I have seven personal computers that I actively use for their own specialized tasks.

- The desktop PC, a quiet computer which runs constantly, and I mostly use for watching movies.

- The personal laptop, a tiny, slow netbook that I use for writing.

- The work laptop, a powerful machine I write code on.

- The gaming PC, which has a decent setup, but I only use rarely.

- The mobile, an HTC / Android which I use to communicate with people, (by phone if necessary).

- The mp3 player, a 160gb iPod I use clever iTunes playlists to fill.

- The tablet, an iPad, which so far seems to be good for at least three things: Reading newspapers, reading Twitter, and as an iTunes remote control.

All of them fill a niche.  I could do with fewer, but I don’t want to.  Four of them are actual PC’s, but they probably don’t all have to be.  And what I notice is that the more specialized these computers become, the less it feels like I’m using a computer.  Rather it feels like they’re part of the environment.  One might expect that having seven personal computers that you actively use would be more stressful than having one or two.  But to me it’s far less.  Every new computer seems to reduce the cognitive load.

I wonder how many more there are room for.

When the app store is your newsstand, you’re in competition with everyone

If the iPad successfully convinces people to start paying for digital news, on tablet devices and smart phones, that actually introduces a new challenge for the news media:

When the Apple App Store or the Android Market is your newsstand, you’re in competition with everyone.

You can no longer rely on it being harder for readers to get hold of newspapers from outside the area or country they live in.  They’re all there, right next to each other: Almost every newspaper in the world.  Local news still hold the advantage of being more relevant, and there’s still a language barrier, but for readers who are interested in non-local news, there are a lot more sources to choose from.  Good sources.  The best.

Didn’t the web already do this?  Yes and no.  The web places everyone in competition with everyone, but it never replaced the newspaper habit.  It introduced a new habit of its own, a new and more casual way of reading news.  It replaced some of the time people spent on reading newspapers, but not the habit itself, the daily ritual of “sitting down to read today’s newspapers”.  Which is what the news media now hopes to do through apps.

And if they succeed, the world’s newspaper editors had better hope they’re all making a really fine newspaper, a newspaper people genuinely want to read, and that they haven’t survived this far merely on inertia, prestige, and state subsidies.  Most of Norway’s newspapers, at least, start with a handicap in this respect.