Sunday Spectacle: Trappist-1 or Bust!

THE MAGICAL WAR HEATS UP: Witch spells vs. Christian prayer. Buzzfeed continues its efforts to become a legitimate news source by reporting on the magical conflict outside Trump Tower Friday night/Saturday morning.

Binding spells will be cast with every new moon. Find out more here.

Witchery, I’m happy to say, has seen a bit of a resurgence lately. A Brief History Of The Tumblr Witch

“‘Tumblr Witch’ is not an identity, but the Tumblr witch is concerned with identities. Unlike the Wicca bloggers, the Tumblr witch is unlikely to define herself seriously as a witch. But undeniably the concept of the Tumblr witch is tied up in intersectional feminism, in a desire to reclaim power, and to laugh as she does so.”

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FUTURE WATCH: MIT Technology Review predicts technology advances we’ll see this year. They see major advances in paralysis reversal, the trucking industry’s embrace of self-driving trucks, and major leaps in quantum computing, among others.

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TRAPPIST-1 OR BUST!: Dictionary.com, of all places, has a nice summary of the NASA announcement about finding a cluster of exoplanets around Trappist-1.

“Seven worlds orbit the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, a mere 40 light-years away. In May 2016 astronomers using the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) announced the discovery of three planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Just announced, additional confirmations and discoveries by the Spitzer Space Telescope and supporting ESO ground-based telescopes have increased the number of known planets to seven. The TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely all rocky and similar in size to Earth, the largest treasure trove of terrestrial planets ever detected around a single star. Because they orbit very close to their faint, tiny star they could also have regions where surface temperatures allow for the presence of liquid water, a key ingredient for life.”

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BOT EXPLAINER: O’Reilly has a provides a brief introduction to our bot-filled future. And, by future, I mean present.

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SPEAKING OF BOTS: The release date of the new MST3K has been announced. In the not-too-distant-future, next April 14 AD, the bots and a new cast will launch on Netflix.

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READING IRAN: Some Iranian authors worth checking out.

“Things We Left Unsaid is set in Abadan—a city built around a major old refinery—in the early 1960s during the era of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Pirzad, who was born and raised in Abadan, writes with great precision and detail about a woman’s everyday experiences and emotions. Her style is casual, natural, and subtle, which was new for Iranian novels. The narrator, Clarice Ayvzaian, is an unfulfilled Armenian housewife whose life changes when Emile and her family move next door. Clarice slowly finds herself falling in love with Emile as the families’ lives get entangled. She also gets involved with the women’s movement. Although the book does provide a sense of the place, and references to social events such as women’s suffrage and the Armenian genocide, it is not a political or social realist novel.”

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READING HORROR: Nominees for Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker awards are announced.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Hand, Elizabeth – Hard Light: A Cass Neary Crime Novel (Minotaur Books)
Jones, Stephen Graham – Mongrels (William Morrow)
Langan, John – The Fisherman (Word Horde)
MacLeod, Bracken – Stranded: A Novel (Tor Books)
Tremblay, Paul – Disappearance at Devil’s Rock (William Morrow)

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FREE MONEY: The NYT looks at an effort to provide a Universal Basic Income to villagers in Kenya. The Future of Not Working.

“GiveDirectly wants to show the world that a basic income is a cheap, scalable way to aid the poorest people on the planet. “We have the resources to eliminate extreme poverty this year,” Michael Faye, a founder of GiveDirectly, told me. But these resources are often misallocated or wasted. His nonprofit wants to upend incumbent charities, offering major donors a platform to push money to the world’s neediest immediately and practically without cost.”

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SK8: Girls in India take up skateboarding.

“In 2013, Atita and her friends built a skate park in Bengaluru with the help of the HolyStoked Collective, and began teaching skateboarding to underprivileged children. She eventually launched Girl Skate India — an initiative to teach girls how to skate, promote gender equality in skating and highlight up-and-coming female skaters in India. Girl Skate India works with Holystoked to host classes for young girls and aims to make skate parks open to skaters of all genders.”

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SATAN:

Sunday Spectacle: The Big Here and the Long Now (19Feb2017)

BE big HERE long NOW: The onslaught is meant to induce exhaustion. Exhaustion leads to capitulation. Lift your eyes. Get outside. Put the screen away. Cultivate your garden. The title of this week’s Sunday Spectacle comes from a Brian Eno essay. In this essay Eno muses on different cultural attitudes about neighborhood. Those constrained to just their apartment or condo or house live in the ‘small here.’ Those who walk around their neighborhood and use its parks and walk or bike to the local pub or grocery store, live in a larger here. Similarly, the short now is today, tomorrow, this week. The long now is this century, this millennium. Don’t forget to step away from the small here and short now and into the big here and long now occasionally. You might even want to set a timer to remind yourself. What do you know about where you are? Take this quiz to find out.

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PRETTY PICTURES: I love my screen saver. Every time I see an image I like I copy it into a folder and those images rotate randomly as my screen saver. I’m going to be pulling a lot off the Metropolitan Museum of Art since they just dropped 375,000 of their public domain works onto the internet. You can search their collection with this link.

Figure in Hammock, Florida by John Singer Sargent

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STORY: My story is moving along. I haven’t fallen behind yet, but I also haven’t been editing as much as I need to. I don’t know if learning how to tell stories the Pixar way will influence what I’m working on right now, but it won’t hurt to hear what they have to say. I’ll at least look through the storytelling segment.

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MOON: I’ve been pretty good in my ongoing effort to be more in tune with the moon. I grab images of the moon when I’m out and it’s visible. But, nothing I can do compares to these playful images by Laurent Laveder.

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A POEM: That’s it for this week. Not much, and nothing in my head that prompts an editorial, so I’ll close with this from Matthew Arnold.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Sunday Spectacle: We’re Going Feral

FERAL FEMINISM: I’m a sucker for manifestos, so finding “The Poltergeist Manifesto” at Feral Feminisms was like finding a missing jigsaw puzzle piece for my brain.

“Feral Feminisms takes the feral as a provocative call to untaming, queering, and radicalizing feminist thought and practice today.”

While I’m on-board conceptually with resisting the domestication of feminism and queer theory, there’s a lot of language that’s unfamiliar to me. Nonetheless, I love it!

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FLIP YOUR FEED: I mentioned last week I read the conservative press and that in Twitter you can create lists without actually following the accounts. Since then I’ve added FlipFeed from MIT Media Lab researchers.

“FlipFeed is a Google Chrome Extension that enables Twitter users to replace their own feed with that of another real Twitter user. Powered by deep learning and social network analysis, feeds are selected based on inferred political ideology (“left” or “right”) and served to users of the extension. For example, a right-leaning user who uses FlipFeed may load and navigate a left-leaning user’s feed, observing the news stories, commentary, and other content they consume. The user can then decide to flip back to their own feed or repeat the process with another feed.”

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THERE’S A LAW FOR THAT: Newsletters are a thing again. I started adding some to my email feed about six months ago. Laws of the Universe by Chris Spurgeon is one I can happily recommend.

“The universe is unimaginably vast and mysterious — unfathomably unfathomable. For millennia we humans have been trying to make sense of it all. But every once in a while — very rarely in the grand scheme of things — someone figures out how a tiny, tiny bit of the universe works. Through this newsletter I celebrate these discoveries, and the people they’re named after.”

Here’s an example of the type of content in the newsletter – Maillard reaction. And the archive for more examples.

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PERIODICALLY: The American Society of Magazine Editors announced their best-of-the-year finalists here. Categories include best feature writing, best reporting, best websites, best photography, best design, as well as general excellence. The winners are here. Congratulations to Mother Jones for winning Magazine of the Year!

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GOOD NEWS FOR YERTLE?: A Florida Everglades full of giant pythons is the new reality. At this point it is unlikely the invasive species can be removed. However, that may mean a resurgence of turtles.

“Where pythons prevailed, the nests were less-disturbed, as would be expected in the near-absence of egg-loving raccoons and opossums. This suggests a possibly turtle-rich future for the Everglades, and is also emblematic of the indirect, cascading consequences of the pythons’ rise.”

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OUR CREEPY PRESENT: Should we grow human organs inside pigs?

“Still, the scientists call the work a first step toward “human organ generation” in barnyard animals. Tens of thousands of people die each year awaiting organ transplants.”

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WORD OF THE DAY: Algocracy — Rule by algorithm. See The Threat of Algocracy: Reality, Resistance and Accommodation by John Danaher and Technologically Coded Authority: The Post-Industrial Decline in Bureaucratic Hierarchies by Aneesh Aneesh.

via Danaher: “…we may be on the cusp of creating a governance system which severely constrains and limits the opportunities for human engagement, without any readily available solution.”

This substantive PEW Research Center report (Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age) paints a grim future scenario of a world governed by algorithms. It’s already here, it’s just not widely distributed. But, the pace is accelerating. Grab the .pdf of the whole report here.

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KILLER APP: Of course, algorithms aren’t all bad. They may help catch serial killers.

“What Hargrove has managed to do goes a few orders of magnitude beyond that. His innovation was to teach a computer to spot trends in unsolved murders, using publicly available information that no one, including anyone in law enforcement, had used before.”

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KIND WOMEN: I love this meditation on the difference between ‘nice girls’ and ‘kind women’. Nice Girls vs. Kind Women

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THE ELUSIVE ABBIE: Abbie the dog hates having her picture taken. Here’s a rare candid shot.

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MOLLY: No editorial today, instead this from Molly Ivins.

“So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

Sunday Spectacle: This Machine Reads Your Mind Edition (5Feb2017)

Here’s all the non-political that caught my attention last week. The political round-up will be posted Wednesday.

STORY UPDATE: I reached my goal of 3,000 words this week. The sentences still need a lot of help, and I don’t quite have the voice yet, but by yesterday I was starting to hear it better. Today I’m editing the sections I wrote this past week. Writing during the week is going to a challenge, but I anticipated that, which means weekend writing will become even more important. The outline is working great so far and making it easy to meet my word count.

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FEWER GARDENS, MORE SHIPWRECKS: Since I moved to Florida humanity’s relationship to seas, oceans, and rivers has become much more meaningful. Geoff Manaugh points out that for most of human history we have been a maritime culture, but this has been omitted from our myths and religions.

“But what strange, aquatic world of gods and monsters might we still be in thrall of today had these pre-Edenic myths been preserved—as if, before the Bible, there had been some sprawling Lovecraftian world of coral reefs, lost ships, and distant archipelagoes, from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia?

“Seen this way, even if only for the purpose of a thought experiment, human history becomes a story of the storm, the wreck, the crash—the distant island, the unseen reef, the undertow—not the farm or even the garden, which would come to resemble merely a temporary domestic twist in this much more ancient human engagement with the sea.”

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HUMOR: You should probably be reading Reductress.

Sexy Outfits That Will Tell Your Boyfriend, ‘I’m Tired of Going to Breweries’

“So you’re in a relationship with a man. Good for you! But every relationship comes with its own set of problems, and for you it’s that your boyfriend is dragging you to breweries every weekend. You could tell him directly that breweries are only fun sometimes and you’d rather do something a little more fun and fanciful, but why not show him instead? Here are five of the sexiest, most seductive outfits that will communicate, ‘I’m overdressing for this occasion because I’d rather be somewhere else.'”

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CANCER APP: An app for detecting skin cancer may be closer than you think.

“Although this algorithm currently exists on a computer, the team would like to make it smartphone compatible in the near future, bringing reliable skin cancer diagnoses to our fingertips.”

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UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY 3D PRINTABLE DRONES: You can 3D print your own underwater drone. The design was developed for archaeologists, but anyone who needs a roving camera underwater will soon be able to get their own.

“One of the most pertinent features of the ArcheoRov is that the design is open source, so anyone with a 3D printer and a love for things under the sea is able to access it and build their own ArcheoRov.”

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MOON DAYDREAM: Speaking of drones, in my fantasy world there are thousands of remote-control robots on the moon that anyone with an internet connection can remote control. Tune in and drive the robot around the moon and look through its eyes and pick up rocks with its little arms. Play moon games with the other remote controlled robots.

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MY WIFE THE HATER: A new dating app launching this week matches people based on hating the same stuff.

The app—which officially launches February 8—presents users with 2,000 topics that they can say they love, hate, like, dislike, or feel totally neutral on, then matches people up by grouping them by their mutual dislikes.

They point to work by “some psychologists” to support their idea that this will work. One of the psychologists is Dr. Jennifer Bosson who is sitting beside me now. (Interpersonal chemistry through negativity:Bonding by sharing negative attitudes about others.)

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ELECTRONIC TELEPATHY: Great news for people with locked-in syndrome, a way to communicate. Wait, computers read minds now? Reached Via a Mind-Reading Device, Deeply Paralyzed Patients Say They Want to Live

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HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD: Great interview with Mark Russell, the creator of the re-booted Flintstones. In the course of the interview he mentions that he will also be rebooting Snagglepuss as a “gay Southern Gothic playwright.”

“I envision him like a tragic Tennessee Williams figure; Huckleberry Hound is sort of a William Faulkner guy, they’re in New York in the 1950s, Marlon Brando shows up, Dorothy Parker, these socialites of New York from that era come and go.”

Sunday Spectacle: What Caught My Attention Last Week (29Jan2017)

THE WRITING PROJECT: Yesterday was a new moon and the beginning of the writing part of my writing project. Yay! I met my quota this weekend, so… so-far-so-good. I still don’t have a title, but the working title is Death in a New Age. Meh.

I’ll keep a running tally of words in the right-hand column.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!: Saturday was the lunar New Year and we begin the Year of the Rooster (more accurately the Year of the Barnyard Fowl, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring).

I’m not sure what we should expect from a Year of the Rooster, but Wikipedia tells me the rooster (along with the ox and snake) is “hard-working, modest, industrious, loyal, philosophical, patient, good-hearted and morally upright, but can also be self-righteous, egotistical, vain, judgmental, narrow-minded or petty.”

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IN THE GROOVE: It looks like this blog is settling into a groove of weekly updates. I’m sure there will occasionally be other posts, but probably not so many. So, if you want to subscribe to receive these posts by email (in the right-hand column), I suspect you’ll only get one (and sometimes two or three) emails a week.

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LOCAL POLS DO GOOD: On the home front my state Representative and some of her colleagues walked out of a presentation on immigration when the Florida House Republicans trotted in an anti-immigrant bigot in an attempt to “hear every side.” Do we really need to hear the side of hate, cowardice, and bigotry? (The answer is No.)

Here’s the letter she sent to the Speaker of the House.

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AMERICA FIRST: This isn’t the first time there’s been a party promoting America First.

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THE MOON: Moon Express gets permission to send rocket to the Moon and gets funding.

Moon Express is a Florida company.

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THE THRILL OF FASCISM: Wired has posted some text excerpts from Geek’s Guide to the Universe podcast interview with Bruce Sterling. I read Pirate Utopia at the end of 2016. I thought it was terrific, but I think most things Sterling writes are terrific.

“If you’re under fascist occupation, there’s very little question that you’re suffering a lot and that they’re really bad. Even though they’ll propagandize you and so forth, their contempt for you—their racial contempt for you and their cultural contempt for you—is so overwhelming that you never believe that. But if you’re inside the fascist tent, it’s all about patriotism, and the allure of self-sacrifice, and how we’re bringing civilization to other people, and we’re resolving age-old conflicts in our own society by uniting around our great leader, the Duce or the Führer, and it’s actually exciting, it’s thrilling. You go out into the square and there’s like a hundred thousand people all around you, they’re shouting for the same thing, they’re making the same arm gestures. There’s tremendous light shows, fantastic music. The women are excited, even the five-year-old child thinks it’s great, your grandparents are overwhelmed by the pageantry. You really feel like your civilization has gotten up on its feet and achieved something fantastic.”

Here’s a review of the book if you want to know more.

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WORLD’S BEST SUGARY WINES: Eric Idle posts The Australian Wine Sketch.

Of the sparkling wines, the most famous is Perth Pink.
This is a bottle with a message in and the message is “Beware.”
This is not a wine for drinking. This is a wine for laying down and avoiding.
Another good fighting wine is Melbourne Old and Yellow, which is particularly heavy and should be used only for hand-to-hand combat.

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MONSTER BRAINS: For more than a decade Aeron Alfrey has been curating an amazing collection of illustrators who deal with the monstrous and macabre. Definitely the kind of independent project you should donate money to.


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EDITORIAL: It’s not enough to oust Trump. Being polarized helps the Trumpistas more than it hurts them. Along with the outrage we need real solutions to the problems, real or perceived, that brought Trump to power. So, while we need to dedicate energy to the #resistance, we also need a vision of what a brighter future looks like and a clear defensible plan for creating that future.

Not every supporter of The Donald is the enemy. HRC mentioned the basket of deplorables, but the other basket, forgotten by the media for the sake of a soundbite, are those…

“…who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

So, to that end, one of the challenges I’ll set for myself for this blog is to be more solution-oriented and maybe try to keep the freaking out to a minimum (at least on this webpage).

Seriously, take care of yourself.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Sunday Spectacle: What Caught My Attention Last Week (22Jan2017)

The inauguration, and then the Women’s March, soaked up most of my attention the last couple of days. I’m not sure if my liver can stand four years of Trump.

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What are you marching for?: I’ve seen some befuddled souls on the right asking “what do they want?” Here is the Guiding Vision and Definition of Principles released by the organizers of the Women’s March.

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Blueprint of Pain: Given the contradictory statements from the current administration it’s difficult to predict the future. However, there is a high probability that this Heritage Foundation document is guiding many of the decisions we’ll see over the next few months. Blueprint for Balance. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing check out the summary on page 159.

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The News: Nonprofit news organizations are more important than ever and ProPublica is one of the best. Here’s what they’re covering moving forward and the reporters on the beat. Commercial news is like sugar; it’s everywhere, it’s easy to consume, but it’s not healthy, and can make you sick if you consume too much.

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Surreality: The world could use more guerrilla street signs.

Surreal Street Sign

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Resistance Tips: Celeste Ng offers some tips at Teen Vogue. 20 Small Acts of Resistance to Make Your Voice Heard Over the Next 4 Years

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Cartoon: Decluttering is healthy. Even in post-apocalyptic world.

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Movies: 366 Weird Movies. They have a little over two hundred so far. I’m happy to say I’ve seen about half. The rest have been added to my to-watch list for 2017.

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Concept New-To-Me: How it that I’ve never heard of Luxury Communism before now?

“Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.”

“Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.”

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Art: The image below is Alex Gross, from his upcoming show Antisocial Network.

Artwork Image: Alex Gross

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Twitter Weirdness:

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Editorial: My New Year’s resolution was to become more in tune with the moon. I downloaded the app Luna Solaria to my phone and check it every day. That helps. I still want to do more, so I think I’m going to start grabbing an image of the moon every day. Well, maybe not EVERY day until I get in the habit (or if it’s cloudy), but I’ll probably start tweeting a daily moon shot. I also added moon cycle information to my Google calendar (both private and the one I use at work) and my wall calendar shows the moon cycle.

I’m also using the moon cycle as a cue for when to initiate new projects. I’ve already posted one story on the first full moon of the year, and today I’m editing the story that will go up during the next full moon. Next weekend is the new moon, and that’s also the start date of writing this year’s novel. (BTW, the prep work went really well yesterday, and I feel I’m in a good place for starting next Saturday. More about that next weekend.)

To the overarching goal of being more mindful and less mediated I’m also considering screen-free Saturday, a screen-free hour at work, and regular patio sunsets. We’ll see…

For now, it’s back to the word mines.

Sunday Spectacle: What Caught My Attention Last Week

I’ll see if I can make this a weekly feature.

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STORY: The biggest thing for me this week was posting “The Conscience Switch” on Thursday. Check it out and let me know what you think. (And share the link if you like it!)

The seed for this story came as I lay in a hypnagogic state, partially napping before attending a Friday happy hour. It is an attempt at the Troutian/Vonnegutian morality tale. I read biographies of both Tesla and Alexander Graham Bell to add some verisimilitude. Bell really did make raspberry vinegar, and it’s completely possible they could have crossed paths in Colorado during the time indicated.

“All morning he watched reports of soldiers abandoning their posts, drone operators walking away from their consoles, billionaires donating substantial sums to charity, pundits recanting their hate speech, criminals turning themselves into the police, high-level politicians resigning their positions, priests and rabbis and pastors and imams admitting they didn’t believe in God. Every moment, someone was clearing their conscience.”

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TROLLS & COURAGE: Lauren Duca, editor at Teen Vogue, is a complete badass. Unfortunately, that comes with a steep price. In her essay “To Trolls, With Love” she reflects on the desire to kick against the pricks, and to withdraw because of the avalanche of hateful abuse. If you read it, or follow her, send her some love and solidarity. @laurenduca

“I’m a warrior goddess, who can weather the worst of the misogynistic treasure trove, calling out explicit sexism, and slicing open stealthier versions, usually with a witty aside about your poor use of grammar. (Do they not teach contractions anymore, or… ?) I’m also human. I don’t know if this means I’m a “triggered snowflake,” but I’m not embarrassed that mean things make me feel bad. Burying pain under a too-thick layer of irreverence can only dull the feeling for so long. I can take it, and I will continue to take it, in part because a presence online is part of my job. That doesn’t mean it’s OK.”

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PHOTO MANIPULATION: This Is Colossal points to these great photo manipulations by Antoine Geiger.

Antoine Geiger photography

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MOON: There is now more confidence in the age of the moon. It’s about four-and-one-half billion years old.

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FAIRY TALES: Mari Ness starts a new column about fairy tales over at Tor.com with a look at the woman who coined the term, Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy, aka Madame d’Aulnoy.

“Along with others, Madame d’Aulnoy took distinct advantage of these possibilities, using her tales to comment obliquely on court life in Versailles and (as far as we can tell) her own experiences, specifically focusing on the intrigues and dangers of court life.”

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OUR CREEPY PRESENT: Ambrosia is back in the news. Creepiest pseudo-science ever.

“Just off a winding highway along the Pacific coast in Monterey, California, is a private clinic where people can pay $8,000 to have their veins pumped with blood plasma from teenagers and young adults.”

I first heard about Ambrosia last August when Vanity Fair linked them to Peter Thiel.

“Given Thiel’s obsession with warding off death, it comes as no surprise that the Silicon Valley billionaire is interested in at least one radical way of doing it: injecting himself with a young person’s blood. On Monday, Jeff Bercovici of Inc. magazine published part of a year-old interview with Thiel, in which the venture-capitalist explains that he’s interested in parabiosis, which includes the practice of getting transfusions of blood from a younger person, as a means of improving health and potentially reversing aging.”

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JOKES: I made up a joke! — Sign in my post office says they will start accepting the ruble as a form of payment on January 20.

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SPIRITS: It’s not really absurdly complete, but there’s some interesting information about how environment and barrels affect the taste of whiskey. An Absurdly Complete Guide to Understanding Whiskey

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POETRY: @Limericking tweeted the following —

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ART: This underwater exhibit by Jason deCaires Taylor came through one of my feeds this week. I first saw these images a couple of years ago, but am completely enamored with the concept. They iinspired one of the stories I’ll be posting later this year.

Jason deCaires Taylor exhibit

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WORDS: Carrie Frye at Black Cardigan asked her readers for their favorite words of 2016. Here’s what I sent her:

ABDERITIC

Abderitic is a neologism coined by Immanuel Kant in his essay “Is the human race constantly progressing?

He argues there are three potential futures for humanity.

“The human race exists either in continual retrogression toward wickedness, or in perpetual progression toward improvement in its moral destination, or in eternal stagnation in its present stage of moral worth among creatures.”

“The first we can call moral terrorism, and the second eudaemonism …, but the third we can term abderitism because, since a true stagnation in matters of morality is not possible, a perpetually changing upward tendency and an equally frequent and profound relapse (an eternal oscillation, as it were) amounts to nothing more than if the subject had remained in the same place, standing still.” — David D.

David D. also pointed to gynepunk, as his “new to me” word and “microbenevolence” as one he coined himself this year.

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STATE OF THE WORLD: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky on the State of the World 2017.

Back again for another twenty-first century edition of the WELL
State of the World! Who’s gonna collapse first: us pundits, or
“the World”?

On the face of it, this is the worst condition the SOTW’s world has
ever yet been found in. I do hesitate to bluntly state that,
because whenever you tell Americans a harsh truth nowadays, instead
of pragmatically taking some hands-on action to cash in (as was once
their wont) nowadays they tend to empty a bottle of Oxycontin and
float out on a paisley tide of weltschmertz.

I don’t intend to mince a lot of words here, as that is not our
tradition, but I would start by strongly urging you prize your
existence in 2017. Life is precious and shouid be valued, for it’s
easy not to have it. Besides, despair is an act of intellectual
arrogance. Despair implies that you’ve got it all figured out,
while the only sure thing about 2017 is a forthcoming boatload of
unheard-of surprises.

Although everybody expressed shock and surprise at world events
during 2016, I saw little evidence that anybody actually changed
their mind much yet. Scarcely anybody broke a filter-bubble;
positions simply hardened all around.

You’d think that having your 2015 weltanschaaung reduced to 2016’s
gonzo cartoon-status would cause everybody to undergo some healthy
reassessment of ground-state reality. But, no. Nowadays, that
sends confirmation-bias into overdrive.

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EDITORIAL: I’m as confounded as anyone over what to do next or how to deal with what looks to be a weird and disturbing near future. But, if I was compelled to offer a little advice, here’s something I did in 2016 that is working for me.

Around spring or summer of 2016 I took a closer look at what I was reading. I sort of assumed I did a reasonable job of reading women and people of color, but when I took a closer look at the authors I unthinkingly gravitated toward I realized they were almost always white males. White males that typically shared my lefty/inclusive sensibilities, but white and male nonetheless. I decided to make a conscious effort to read more women and people of color. Instead of picking up Charlie Stross I picked up Nalo Hopkinson. Instead of reading China Mieville I read Carmen Maria Machado. I looked at my twitter feed and culled out a lot of white males I didn’t know and started paying attention to anyone who wasn’t a white, able, and male. I deliberately added diversity to my information diet.

It’s not much, I know, but it is something. I want to be a better listener, and to be a better question-asker. I want more knowledge about the world that isn’t my world.

It isn’t always easy. Those authors, my ‘favorite’ authors, are a comfort zone. It’s a cocoon I’m familiar with. In this new environment I find myself confronted with critiques I don’t fully understand. It takes time and effort to dig deeper and figure what those critiques mean instead of dismissing them and moving on to my next bon-bon of entertainment. Inside my own head I have to tell myself to shut up and listen. When I don’t understand something someone who doesn’t look like me is saying, I force myself to slow down and and take the criticism seriously. I read and research and think.

And, it’s working. Not quickly. Not completely. But I’m better now that I was this time last year. I still don’t have any answers, but I think I understand the questions, concerns, and critiques better than I did.

This year I’ll continue to do the same, and maybe be a little better for it.

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ZORRO: And to conclude – Here’s Zorro!