Links and Notes for the Week of March 11, 2018

A short list this week. I’ve been out enjoying the beautiful weather with my beautiful partner.

* Exactly what it says in the title: (Almost) every Science Fiction and Fantasy and Comic Book Adaptation in the Works.

* I’ve been following the Grand Rapids Whitewater project for several years, and it looks like I might live to see rapids reappear in the middle of Grand Rapids. And I might even be young enough to enjoy them.

* More whacky news from a leader who seems sprung from the same DNA as emasculated president Donald Trump.

* A brief, beautifully done, and heartbreaking documentary on Vietnamese immigrants to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Links and Notes for the Week of March 4, 2018

* I have just become aware of Big Echo, an online journal of “critical sf”. I am still scratching the surface but there is some seriously interesting thought going on here.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews Lupita Nyong’o and Chadwick Boseman about Black Panther and the cultural importance and impact of the movie.

* Donald Trump–who is undoubtedly the most destructive American president since Jefferson Davis–displays the typical Republican trait of caving to monied interests and completely missing the point of school shootings. Violent video games don’t cause school shootings. A sick and sadistic and cowardly culture of gun worship and the fetishizing of violence, perpetuated by the terrorist NRA, is the cause of school shootings. There is no interpretation of NRA rhetoric which does not directly translate to the advocacy of the murder of children. Emasculated president Donald Trump (and by extension, all Republicans) stands in unconditional support of this NRA message.

* Since the federal government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the big banks, cities are beginning to explore opening their own banks to fund local and regional investment, without local interests being at the mercy of the whims of parasitic speculators and parasitic shareholders.

* As of the posting of this list, I have 1,317 books entered into LibraryThing. I still have a dozen or so cookbooks to catalog, but for all intents and purposes I am completely caught up.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 25, 2018

* An interesting, fun, and very strange article and comment thread, courtesy of Charles Stross. From the intro: “I am working (for reasons of my own) towards a comprehensive list of plausible techno-thriller plots from 2010 where the MacGuffin is named Satoshi Nakamoto.”

* Homecoming: How Afrofuturism Bridges the Past and the Present is an excellent article.

* Once upon a time I was a fan of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books. Then he starting carrying water for Ayn Rand, and the decent-but-not-great quality of his interesting-but-not-innovative stories declined sharply. Now he has distinguished himself as a jackass by publicly insulting the cover artist of his latest book. The internet, of course, is having none of this and is doing an excellent job of roasting Mr. Goodkind. It appears his behavior has cost him spots at a couple of conventions, and will likely make future business with the publishing industry more difficult for him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

* Since students are protesting their presidentially (45) approved murder at the hands of NRA-backed second-amendment fetishists and other terrorists, members of the mainstream conservative fascist and fascist-adjacent community are sending them death threats and accusing them of being crisis actors, etc. This has not stopped the students from protesting, and indeed seems to be reinforcing their will and message. To that point it is important that students (and enforcers of student-affecting rules) know which rights are in play. The ACLU has helpfully published a page which clarifies students’ rights.

* Voyages in Sentence Space is a wonderfully strange tool which “bridges” the space between two arbitrary sentences with additional sentences along a “gradient” of meaning. From the example:

  1. I went looking for adventure.
  2. I went out on a mission.
  3. I shouted awkwardly.
  4. I stared incredulously.
  5. I feel desperate.
  6. I never returned.
  7. I never returned.

Sentences 1 and 7 are user input. Sentences 2 through 6 are generated to “fill the space” between 1 and 7. Here is an example I generated:

  1. His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god.
  2. His features seized his mistressmaker, and then.
  3. True Bailey leaped through little branches at them.
  4. Send Clayton taking off his shot.
  5. No more pictures stood in things.
  6. It has returned close to none.
  7. And none returned alive, save I.

Interesting and fun in an absurdist, surrealist way. The full article details the thought and technology behind the experiment.

* At the time of the publishing of this post, I have 1,091 books cataloged at LibraryThing.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 18, 2018

* Here’s an interesting idea: Sustainable kelp farming. The kelp is both crop and micro-environment where the farmers can raise oysters and other immobile shellfish. The kelp and other plants provides cover for fish and the combination of multiple plant and animal species helps to restore the larger environment.

* After 45 was elected I significantly ramped up my charitable giving to organizations which work against the kind of oligarchy and fascism which is the party line of the GOP today. These organizations are the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Innocence Project, Doctors Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders, and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

* The Global Risks and Risks-Trends Interconnections Map for 2018 has just been posted. The biggest risks are those associated with large-scale involuntary migration–both the causes of (societal instability, climate change, economic collapse, etc) and the results (interstate conflict, food crises, housing, etc.)

* This is a very strange but interesting take on the current state of the world, involving time travel, the many-worlds theory, and something very much like the digital equivalent of Cthulhu.

* Fear of a Black Universe – Black Panther, modern American culture, and Afrofuturism.

* Some words: vocation, avocation, invocation, convocation, evocation, devocation

* And speaking of the SPLC, they have just added “Male Supremacy” to their list of extremist ideologies. This is a good move, and long overdue. In the linked article they point out the strong crossover between Male Supremacy and White Supremacy. This is the mindset which brought us the presidency of Donald Trump, NRA-backed school shootings, mainstream Christian groups like the KKK, and scores of other sub-ideologies which represent the frantic flailings of dying moments of history. I look forward to the day when every white supremacist and every proponent of toxic masculinity is in the ground. And overwhelmingly those will be the same people.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 11, 2018

* My partner and I have been spending our Sunday afternoons studying, writing and watching The Mind of a Chef, which is all kinds of distracting and wonderful and a purveyor of the worst kind of wanderlust. Anthony Bourdain is the executive producer and narrator of each episode. Like all of his shows, he makes even the most exotic and high-concept meals accessible (in concept, if not financially) to even the most casual non-foodie viewers.

* I spend a lot of time reading news of the literary world. To keep things organized, I use Feedly, which I picked up after Google shut down its Reader service. This is a partial list of the lit news resources I read: Book Riot, NPR Books, Brain Pickings, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, Locus Online, Publisher’s Lunch, The Millions, New York Review of Books,, Words Without Borders, Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.

* Some words: suppose, oppose, impose, depose, compose, transpose

* Metafilter has posted a good catch-all thread discussing a recently published study from the Southern Poverty Law Center: The Alt-Right is Killing People. The post, and many of the comments, provide additional links to stories which add context and nuance to the points discussed. As always with Metafilter, the comments are worth reading.

* I’ve been following The Edge for oh, about fifteen years now. It looks like they may be closing up shop, as they just asked their last question: “What is the last question?” The link goes to the (hundreds of) answers.

* The squealing cowards who oppose gun control have the blood of 32 more people on their hands. The NRA is a terrorist organization and they pull the strings of their lickspittles in the GOP. The emasculated orange coward-in-chief has, of course, done what all Republicans do and is blaming the victims. For a continually up-to-date score of the Republican-sanctioned violence in this country, see the Gun Violence Archive.

* As of the date of publishing this post, I have 631 books catalogued in LibraryThing.

Links and Notes for the Week of February 4, 2018

* This is how you give an acceptance speech: Ursula Vernon, upon receiving the 2017 Hugo Award for best novelette.

* Some words:
** “gigil” (Tagalog) – the trembling or gritting of the teeth in response to a situation that overwhelms your self-control. The powerful urge to bite or squeeze something cute.
** “Kummerspeck” (German) – lit. “Sorrow fat” or “Sorrow bacon” – the weight gained through stress eating.

* Over at Metafilter (user name: JohnFromGR) there is an excellent catch-all post covering the latest bullshit from the alt-right/neo-nazi contingent of genre fiction and fandom (Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Happy Frogs, GamerGaters, MRAs, etc.).

* Though I have been aware of it for quite some time, I have never used Patreon. That all changed after I attended ConFusion and spoke with a number of writers who fund their writing through Patreon. Since then I have added my support to the efforts and good works of Kameron Hurley (on Patreon) and Apex Publishing (on Patreon). I really like this mode of providing support. It is a good balance to the per-project model of Kickstarter and similar services. Another way to look at it might be to say that it has the same highs and lows as Kickstarter, just smoothed out over a much larger time frame. In any event, a few dollars a month to support great writing in return for the opportunity to read that great writing, is money well spent.

* I have been following the Calvert Journal for a while now. Back in 2016 they ran an article about teens in Transnistria, which introduced me to the concept of states which are minimally recognized as such by other countries. Transnistria has been one such since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They, along with Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Artsakh, created the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations (Twitter feed). I find places like this interesting because they exist on the edges and in the interstices of power, and thus may be fertile ground for new ideas of politics, sovereignty, autonomy and empire. If they survive.

* In your copious free time, you can amuse yourself with Monster Breeder. Capture monsters. Breed them. Make new monsters!

Links and Notes for the Week of January 28, 2018

* Some words: Dialogue. Monologue. Analog. Dialect. Lecture. Lector.

* After some years of using GoodReads, I am trying out LibraryThing as a way to catalog all of my books. I can’t say I prefer one to the other, but at first use the LibraryThing UI is easier for viewing large volumes of data. Thus I don’t need to build a custom app to do this for me. Plus plus, the LibraryThing Android App can scan barcodes, which VASTLY simplifies the cataloging process.

* [UPDATE] After a week of using LibraryThing, I can say this: LT is very good as a cataloging system. It lacks some of the “friendliness” of GoodReads, but that is not a criticism. LT also makes sorting, filtering, and categorizing extremely easy. I think I will end up using both in parallel – GoodReads for the more public-facing view of all things literary in my life, and LibraryThing for the catalog of my personal library. LT will also be useful for outputting data for any custom apps I might build down the road.

* I’ve been studying up on Baba Yaga and Russian history for a writing project. One of the odd bits of trivia I have uncovered is that there is a community of Old Believers in a tiny town in northern Minnesota. Old Believers — staroveri (старове́ры), formerly called raskolniki (раскольники), which has interesting connotations vis a vis Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment — have communities all over the world, with the primary U.S. populations being in Alaska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Funny, the way the pieces of a story come together.

Links and Notes for the Week of January 21, 2018

* I have personal connections to New Orleans. My dad lived and worked there for many years, from the early 1980s until his passing in 2009. I attended Mardi Gras exactly once in all that time, in 2007. Unfortunately I did not get to experience the Krewe of Barkus, who are all Good Dogs.

* Since some people disagree that they are all Good Dog—and who has time or patience for that malarkey—it is sometimes necessary to clean house on Twitter. I have only recently begun to use Twitter as my primary social media outlet, as, though they are both objectively terrible, Facebook is worse. Barry Ritholtz, who I have been following for about a decade, has recently posted his strategy for dealing with trolls on Twitter. Time will tell if it is effective.

* Though I have subscribed to the RSS feed for a couple of years now, and I have been aware of its existence for somewhat longer, I have just now began listening to the Writing Excuses podcast, starting at Episode 1.1. My plan is to go through all of them in order and get caught up to present by the end of the year.

* Over in the day job, as I study up on React.js (which is actually kind of fun, now that I have played around a bit) I am keeping things interesting by using CSS Grids for structure and layout. In particular the Grid by Example website, created by Rachel Andrew, is a tremendous resource. While writing this post I realized that I met Rachel back in June of 2017 when I attended the O’Reilly Fluent conference in San Jose, California.

* Great googly moogly! Ben Firshman has built an NES emulator in Javascript, including my all-time favorite, Bubble Bobble! So much for productivity until Spring.

Links and Notes for the Week of January 14, 2018

* Back in September of 2016 I took the Amtrak from Grand Rapids to Vancouver via the Empire Builder route. It was a wonderful, contemplative, transcendent experience (blog posts pending). Based on that, and based on this article in the Calvert Journal, I now want to experience the Trans-Siberian Railway. It will also give me an excuse to dust off my Russian skills.

* And speaking of that trip, while in transit, while not watching America roll by, I read Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano. It is an absolutely beautiful book, recalling all of love and beauty and intimacy and trust and heartache and the million tiny moments that bind people together and pull them apart. I just came across a wonderful review by Lauren Goldberg in Music & Literature which does justice to the most compelling book I have read in years. On a related note, I think I will now buy a subscription to Music & Literature.

* And speaking of Russian stuff, the Speak Russian Like Russians blog is both useful and fun.

* In the world of fandom and literature, author Jim C. Hines (may his beard grow ever longer) has put together an excellent post detailing the long history of Jon del Arroz’s trolling and harassing behavior toward authors, fans and organizations in the larger community. The comments on the article are mostly erudite and informative, though a JdA supporter/GamerGater pulls an impressive amount of sea-lioning to no significant effect.

* The 2018 State of the World conversation over at The Well has wrapped up. It, as well as the many previous conversations in the series, are well worth perusing over the upcoming weeks and months. A hearty thank you to Bruce Sterling, Jon Lebkowsky and all the other participants for opening this to the general public.

Dean Allen, creator of the content management/blogging system Textpattern, has passed away. Allen was one of the biggest influences in my early career as a web developer. I took his thoughts on design and typography to heart, though I was never a designer. His photo blog featuring his Weimaraner Oliver made me want to move to rural France. Allen, along with Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman, were huge influences as I began my career in web development.

Links and Notes for the Week of January 7, 2018

* Interesting thought experiment: Roko’s Basilisk. To wit, “The premise is that an all-powerful artificial intelligence from the future could retroactively punish those who did not help bring about its existence, including those who merely knew about the possible development of such a being.” See also: America in 2017.

* For the record, this is what happens when toxic masculinity, white privilege and tech-bro douchebaggery combine to create the perfect American asshole. James Damore is a waste of space, skin, time, attention and oxygen.

* Something wonderful: A large (100+!) collection of writers in their writing spaces.

* I follow a few foreign (to me here in the USA) news and cultural feeds. The Calvert Journal recently ran this wonderful overview of pop music from Yugoslavia, circa 1960 – 1990. The Calvert Journal is a wonderful resource. In particular, their New East 100 is worth a few hours of browsing.

* The always-entertaining John Scalzi’s take on Trump’s ongoing racism.

* For the record, here is my stance on Donald Trump: Trump is a racist. Trump is racist. This has been apparent to the entire rational world for decades. If you want to argue this point, I don’t need to provide you with examples of his racist behavior. The simple fact that you want to argue this point demonstrates that you have nothing useful to say.