I have a great love for Vernor Vinge's sprawling scifi novel A Fire Upon the Deep. It's kind of a mess, mixing in so many different plots and concepts that it's more like three novels. But it's full of good space opera and flows well. And like the other early Vinge work True Names it benefits from a deep well of brilliant ideas: the singularity, ASCII Usenet as interstellar communications medium, telepathic doggy group minds, ... I liked that book so much that every time Vinge publishes a new one I buy it right away and read it.

Alas, his new novel Rainbow's End is as disappointing to me as Deepness in the Sky was. It just never quite gets off the ground. The protagonist is an old man rejuvenated by sci-fi miracle medicine, having to adjust to modern technology by socializing with young teenagers. The premise holds promise but the resulting character interactions are wooden and devoid of feeling. The main plot is a mess, something about warring factions and espionage and the menacing but terribly named YGBM technology. But unlike Fire Upon the Deep this mess doesn't ever turn into anything compelling. There are a few clever scifi concepts tossed in but they stick out and are not integrated well. "Hey! Look! I'm talking about Trusted Computing on this page!". I managed to finish the book, but it felt like a duty.

I don't normally write reviews of things I don't like; what's the point? But after reading Cory's gushing praise over on BoingBoing I had to offer my own disappointment. That, and I hold out the hope that someone will point out to me that the book is actually brilliant and I'm an idiot.

  2006-06-29 15:33 Z
You're not allowed to complain about press coverage of your illegal and invasive spying on American citizens' communications and financial transactions. You bypass all legislative and judicial review, you refuse to obey the laws you sign. The only choice left to the people is for them to take the risk of talking publically about your abuse of presidential power. Please stop hurting our democracy.

Thank you,

  2006-06-27 16:37 Z
I'm not much of a sports fan. But I've watched a couple of World Cup games in the past few days and find it makes for compelling television. Why? Because they play uninterrupted. 45 minutes of game, 15 minutes halftime, 45 minutes of game. No delays for substitutions, no TV timeouts, even an injury only delays play for about 60 seconds. So you get a constant flow of sport rather than 3 minutes of play punctuated by 3 minutes of filler and commercials. Much more enjoyable than American football or basketball.
  2006-06-20 17:54 Z
The new Nintendo DS Lite was released Sunday. It doesn't really do anything new, just has a brighter screen and is smaller and nicer than the old NDS. Nevertheless, it's not possible to buy one in San Francisco today; they are sold out everywhere. Which is a shame, because I really wanted to buy one for a gift.
  2006-06-12 22:15 Z
One of my favourite nigiri sushi is unagi. I learned yesterday the French word for eel is "une anguille". Which sounds pretty close to "unagi". Did Japanese borrow the word from French? I'd have assumed the word would be older than that in both languages.
  2006-06-09 17:18 Z
I've gone through considerable effort and modest expense to prevent junk calls from coming to my house. Unlisted number, mandatory caller ID, do not call lists, etc. But all these techniques exempt political parties because political ads are highly protected speech. My phone's been ringing off the hook today because of the damn California primary.
  2006-06-04 00:06 Z