Tuesday various

Monday various

  • Today is the first day of the online raffle in support of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series. There are lot of excellent prizes, from signed first drafts and story critiques to used keyboards (Neil Gaiman’s) and Tuckerizations galore, all for the cost of $1 each. I’ve not yet actually made it to a KGB reading myself — they’ve either conflicted with my schedule or I’ve been a little intimidated about going to one by myself — but I understand they put together a really great series. The raffle runs until October 25.
  • Today is also Columbus Day. (In America. Some people insist on claiming it’s Thanksgiving elsewhere.) After reading this article about the real Columbus, you may be wishing it wasn’t.
  • You know, there may very well be lots of edible mushrooms in NYC, but I think I’ll pass.
  • I was sure this was an Onion headline when I first saw it: Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic. But no, not in the least:

    The self-driving car initiative is an example of Google’s willingness to gamble on technology that may not pay off for years, Dr. Thrun said. Even the most optimistic predictions put the deployment of the technology more than eight years away. [via]

  • And finally, I find the final word in today’s Writer’s Almanac just a little odd:

    It was on this day in 1975 that Saturday Night Live premiered….There was a fake advertisement for triple-blade razors, a product obviously considered ridiculous by comedians in 1975, just after the two-blade razor came out—the faux commercial ended, “Because you’ll believe anything.” These days, there are many more blades on razors—in 2006, Schickette announced plans for a nine-bladed razor—and Saturday Night Live is now in its 35th season.

Wednesday various

Monday various

  • Rats. Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame will be teaching a one-day comedy writing seminar in Manhattan next month. Noted Python biographer Kim “Howard” Johnson will also be on hand to interview him. But it’s the day after my sister’s wedding, and I of course already have plans. I did get to see Michael Palin several years ago, but this sounded like an interesting (if considerably more expensive) event. Even if I must admit I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Mr. Jones’ solo work. [via]
  • On the lie that is CSI: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics:

    Forensic science was not developed by scientists. It was mostly created by cops, who were guided by little more than common sense. And as hundreds of criminal cases begin to unravel, many established forensic practices are coming under fire.

    Eye-opening and more than a little frightening. [via]

  • Vogue model Liskula Cohen wins right to unmask offensive blogger. I have to agree with Bookninja that his sets a potentially troubling precedent — not least of all because the defamation seems to have been relatively very minor. I don’t know the exact particulars of the offending blog, but…well, obviously nobody wants to be called a skank, and it is offensive, but for someone in the public eye, it would seem to come with the territory. Perhaps the vitriol aimed at Cohen went beyond that, but there is a significant difference between name-calling and character assassination, between being mean to someone and spreading lies that defame their character and impede their livelihood. And Cohen apparently isn’t even going to bring a defamation suit against the unmasked blogger. Now that she knows who it is, she’s perfectly willing to let bygones be bygones. Which I guess is big of her, but why couldn’t she have done that when it was just anonymous dickhead making fun of her? Why couldn’t she have sued (or, better, just politely asked) Google to remove the offending material? And, unless I’m missing something, can’t you easily sign up for Blogger anonymously? It’s a free service, so if you give Google a fake name and contact information, what good does unmasking do?
  • Or maybe not. Ever wonder What the Internet Knows About You? [via]
  • And finally, Mark Evanier on health care:

    I have nothing against corporate profits. The heart of this nation’s economy depends on businesses being able to amass moola. But when human lives are concerned, couldn’t that be close to an equal consideration? It doesn’t even have to be more vital than making sure some corporations have their best year ever. Couldn’t it just be, you know, almost as important?