Monday, October 29, 2007

Linebarger in China

I recently commented to Kate Elliot that Paul Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith) was a college classmate of L. Ron Hubbard. I decided to dig up my source for this tidbit, a review of a Hubbard biography, Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller, that appeared in issue #2 of NYRSF back in 1988. Here's an excerpt from the review, written by Alan C. Elms, about Hubbard's college years:

"Hubbard had earlier engaged in modest embellishments of his personal history, but the exaggerations flowered luxuriantly during his second year at GWU. Only then did he begin to claim those years of independent travel and mystical studies in the Orient -- claims based in reality upon two brief tourist excursions with his parents to several cities in Japan and China, plus a year's residence in Guam when his father was stationed at the U.S. naval base there. No explanation is given for Hubbard's sudden explosion of autobiographical creativity at this time; one might assume he was merely trying to offset his poor academic performance. But another factor was involved, not mentioned by Miller and probably unknown to him.

"The editor of the literary supplement during Hubbard's final semester at GWU was Paul Linebarger, two years younger but a year ahead of him in school. Another member of the literary supplement's staff has told me that Hubbard and Linebarger soon became intensely competitive toward each other. Linebarger made good grades, wrote as fluently as Hubbard, and was equally ambitious. Linebarger held a major advantage in their bragging sessions: he really had traveled extensively by himself, not only in China but in Russia; he really had studied the classics of Oriental wisdom and sat at the feet of Chinese sages, including the great Sun Yat-sen. Linebarger had also conducted a passionate romance in Peking with an exiled White Russian woman several years his senior, had narrowly survived a suicide pact with her, and had participated directly in high-level secret negotiations between the U.S. and Chinese governments -- all before he was 18. Further, Linebarger was not above adding a bit of embroidery to these genuine experiences, to make them even more colorful. Is it any wonder that Ron Hubbard might thereupon dramatically expand the scope and drama of his own exaggerations, simply in order to stay competitive? And is it any wonder that when such exaggerations appeared to gain acceptance, Hubbard would try more of the same in the future?"

Doesn't a biography of Linebarger sound like something you'd want to read?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More sculpture; videos.

Following up on Ted's robot post:

Terri posted this great video of Theo Jansen's sculptures over at the Endicott Studio blog.

In the comments, seeming like spam, there was a link to a Youtube piece, "The Wind"—which is completely different but lots of fun. Marcel Marceau, anyone? (and that's good? how odd).

Joining the two, Mr. Hurricane and the robot (and of course more), this video from Gwenda.

Friday, July 13, 2007

toys for cyborgs

After Readercon I visited the MIT Museum, and for me the coolest exhibit by far was the collection of Arthur Ganson's kinetic sculptures. Photos can't do them justice, and even videos don't capture the experience of seeing them in person, but these will give you an idea: here's Machine with Wishbone, and here's Child Watching Ball.

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Appalling" doesn't cover it

It takes a lot to penetrate my outrage fatigue these days, but here's a news item that did it: remember the four Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah in 2004? Now Blackwater is suing their families for $10 million. Apparently they figure this is the best way to to stop the families from seeking information about the circumstances surrounding the contractors' deaths.

There's a defense fund that accepts PayPal. Send a donation.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Feudalism in Modern Times

For everyone who thought feudalism was dead, I give you the Island of Sark. The LA Times has an article on the political controversy.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The folding alone took 40 hours

Here's an origami dragon made from a single sheet of square paper, two meters on a side. Look at those scales. According to this article, it would take 40 hours just to fold the thing, assuming you knew how; imagine the effort required to design something like that.

In the final minute of this video, you can see a little bit of the creator, Satoshi Kamiya, folding the dragon. This one provides a pretty good overview of him folding a phoenix. (It looks like the phoenix takes a mere ten hours to fold.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Artform no. 1

I saw this sculpture on a magazine cover recently, and was in awe. Information about the artist and how he came to make it despite having no background in sculpture is here. If I had $39,000 in my art budget, I'd definitely buy one.