Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crunchy Dragon!

Few people realize that inducing fear and symbolizing Greed and Satan - or selling t-shirts at Loscon, for that matter - are NOT a dragon's main purposes in Life. No, it's something else. Something far more important.


Dragon flying in the movie show,
Crunchy dragon. Crunchy dragon.

Got a big house and a stereo,
Crunchy dragon. Crunchy dragon.

Got long, long legs, big chest too.
Drumsticks, wishbone, white meat, stew.
Can up and freeze what I can't use.
Crunchy dragon. Crunchy dragon.

A-K-4-7 the dragon. YUMMM.

(Thank you, Eddie Murphy, as always.)

The Left Evolves, the Right Declines, Average US Intelligence Holds Steady

According to the latest Pew Research poll, acceptance* of the Theory of Evolution in the US has remained steady overall for the last four years. However, it has declined among Republicans, from 54% to 43%.

Now, a 60% acceptance rate for a fact of nature is nothing to brag about - it shows that epic levels of denialism and scientific illiteracy abound in our country. That being said, I am encouraged by one thing: If the overall level holds steady, but denialism increased among the GOP, that means that the rest of us are getting smarter. Finally.

*I say "acceptance," not "belief," because belief implies that evolution is an article of faith. It isn't. Instead, it is by far the best explanation for a staggeringly, definitively enormous collection of natural evidence. One "believes" in evolution in pretty much the same way one would "believe" in gravity.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Jesus and Satan Build Statues in Oklahoma

For anyone who believes in religious freedom and the separation of Church and State - I do! I do!  - this is a glorious way to fight the battle. (The Oklahoma legislature allowed a Ten Commandments statue - which is explicitly religious - to be erected on government grounds. And Satanists have argued that they deserve time for their religion too, so they've petitioned to place a Satanic display right next to it.)

I would say this is at least as effective - and a LOT faster - than suing for the removal of religious icons from public grounds.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Swords for Higher Education!

In the US, all you get for your PhD is a tassel and a parchment. But in Finland, you get a HAT...and a SWORD.

Totes doing my doctorate in Helsinki.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why It Pays to Pay People to Watch TV Shows Like "Almost Human"

Last post, I panned Almost Human for a couple of reasons - mostly because it uses expired story lines and doesn't consider the implications of the technology it's pushing (in this case, androids and new drugs).

But Rob Bricken over at io9.com, who is paid to watch this stuff, was much more thorough, and much more outraged, in his dissection of AH. I recommend his post.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Almost Human...And Now I've Changed My Mind

Just saw my second episode of Almost Human, and I was able to spot the episode's Big Bad as soon as he showed up. Of course it's always hard to do a "mystery villain" in a single episode on a series, because the odds are that any new character who shows up with a lot of power and respectability will be the bad guy.

That said, the twist-that-was-too-obvious-to-be-a-twist highlights a major failing of the show: The two episodes that I've seen both featured recycled cop/action story lines we've seen dozens of times before. It's as though the showrunners think that all they need to make these stories fresh is to sprinkle a little sci-fi on them.

This episode, for instance, features a new street drug, "the bends," that looks a bit like anti-freeze. Its properties? It's hard to make and super-addictive. Nothing else. (So why the concern? We already have drugs that are super-addictive and easy to make, no?) And the robots? They're just like people, except that they're stronger and you can order them around and treat them like crap. Hell, even the visuals are recycled - check out the umbrellas with the glowing central tubes, straight out of Bladerunner.

It's not too late for the show - if it shows us how society has changed thanks to new technologies. (What have "synthetics" done to prostitution and human trafficking? What about fraud? Identity theft? New forms of surveillance?) But as long as the future is treated as just the present, but with shinier toys, Almost Human will disappoint.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One of My Short Stories Just Came Out

It's called The Saturday Dance, and it appears in the November 2013 issue of Lore magazine.

Buy it today, you little F/SF monsters!