The Best-Yet List of Bird Names (not mine)

A bevy of quail
A bouquet of pheasants [when flushed]
A brood of hens
A building of rooks
A cast of hawks [or falcons]
A charm of finches
A colony of penguins
A company of parrots
A congregation of plovers
A cover of coots...
[Link to Baltimore Bird Club]

Writing and the World of Tomorrow

Before we had any idea how dangerous it was to bolt human beings to exploding tubes and launch them into space, when inventions like the lightbulb and airplane and telephone were warping the planet at a ferocious pace and escaping the earth’s gravity well suddenly seemed possible —we imagined that exploring the Universe would be a lot like the famous expeditions we had seen before.

READING TONIGHT

From Dzanc Books

Reading from my novel INDIAN MADE FOREIGN LIQUOR tonight at 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar

STUXNET question

James McGirk: How much damage did the STUXNET virus really do to Iran’s nuclear program?

Answer: James, it’s hard to know for sure, but reports out of Iran admitted to fairly extensive damage to the uranium gas centrifuges, especially at Natanz. Furthermore, it seems that the STUXNET virus replicated and spread itself elsewhere and also was followed by other, similarly damaging cyberwar viruses…

The Godling of Greater Kailash in “Manhattan” magazine

This issue’s Fictionist features a short story by James McGirk, a writer who moved to India in the early days of Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms. The Godling of Greater Kailash is an intriguing story, loosely based on McGirk’s experience as a photographer’s assistant during a particularly long and hot Indian summer, when New Delhi’s expatriate community was flooded with Burmese refugees.

 

A Universal History of Online Iniquity

“BREAKING: Confirmed flooding on NYSE. The trading floor is flooded under more than 3 feet of water.” It was a horrid thought, but Shashank Tripathi’s (i.e. Comfortablysmug’s) infamous Hurricane Sandy tweet had panache. Tripathi mimicked the style of a breaking news tweet perfectly. The image of water sluicing into the New York Stock Exchange was too good to be true. An irresistible nugget of news distilling the potent emotions stirred by the storm: Sorrow for afflicted New Yorkers, fear for the future, the thrill of seeing history unspool in real time, and a dose of snickering glee at the idea of cuff-linked financiers wading through filthy water.

 

The Conspiracy against Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura

Most retired governors use their connections to assume quiet but well-paid positions in the private sector, or loud but well-paid positions as commentators on cable news networks. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura lately, though, has been prowling obscure government facilities, confronting squirming civil servants, and demanding “the truth” while hosting a reality television show on truTV called Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura.

Dave Hickey, Art World Apostate

Dave Hickey had a hell of a month. He announced his retirement from the art world to The Observer: “What can I tell you?” he said. “It’s nasty and it’s stupid. I’m an intellectual and I don’t care if I’m not invited to the party. I quit.”

Roscoe update

Happy to report that Roscoe, the junkyard dog discussed in September’s column, was rescued from the local dog fighting ring. The alleged dognapper has been arrested.

Privatizing Paradise in the Murder Capital of the World

WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE for a corporation to not only run an entire city, but to have built that city from scratch, to its own specifications, according to a planned, privatized model of everyday life?