November 12th, 2008

computer - ENIAC

gay rights and how anti-gay types wreck civilization

In this essay, Mike Selinker strikes a sad note in England's history, when they killed national hero and genius Alan Turing, thereby relegating themselves to the dustbin of history. It's a must-read.

One can see this tragedy as an opportunity for an alternate-history story. Has anyone written this: What if England hadn't forced Alan Turing into an intolerable situation? What if he had gone on to establish a British computer industry in the 1950s? What if computer science had flourished twenty years sooner than it did?

Questions that elicit answers that make Turing's death even more tragic.

mouse regret-nothing

What's your super-power?

I have a super-power. Mine isn't the sort of thing you think of when you hear the term. It's not flying or invisibility or the ability to rearrange subatomic particles. My super-power can't be boiled down to a single word or a simple phrase. Nothing quite so grand, though I would like to believe it has saved many of my friends and family from pain and suffering.

My super-power is the ability to find bones, stones, fragments of metal, shards of glass, chunks of plastic, and so forth in my food.

"Sounds more like a super-weakness," you say. Well, consider it from this point of view: People who go out to eat with me have a much lower chance of finding said junk in their food. I figure that, although it could be seen as a super-weakness from my point of view, if I instead view this as a service super-power, I'm helping save the teeth of people everywhere.

Those of you who have dined with me know what I'm talking about. Some have argued that I find so much stuff in my food only because I chew so thoroughly and bite down rather more firmly than most gourmands. Granted. But how many of you have bitten down on part of a blender in your McDonald's soft-serve ice cream? Or a half-inch piece of a steel measuring cup in your gumbo? Or what appears to be a cube of tempered glass from a shattered windshield in your pasta? Or pea-sized stones in your salad? Seriously, I find something that doesn't belong in my meals - especially in restaurants - almost every time I dine out with people. I am not exaggerating.

I'm posting this now because I just found... an unidentifiable thing in my pasta. It would not give under great biting pressure. Looks like a pebble.

So: What's your super-power? (Super-weaknesses accepted.)

EDIT: Ooh, and what's your superhero name?


"Objects and Subjects, circa 1960 (A Note on Philip K. Dick)" lecture tomorrow at KU

Tomorrow, Bill Brown, Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of English, Department of Visual Arts, Committee on the History of Culture, University of Chicago, will present his talk:

"Objects and Subjects, circa 1960 (A Note on Philip K. Dick)"

As part of the Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture (James Gunn's brother) here at KU. Details:

Date: November 13, 2008
Time: 7:30PM
Location: University of Kansas, Kansas Union, Alderson Auditorium
Ticket Cost: Free

Click the image to see info on Brown's most recent book.

Hope to see you there!

monkey love

powerful comment on love

Going from the ridiculous (my super-powers post) to the sublime.

A few days ago, I shared an essay that moved me to my core. Today I'm sharing a video by Keith Olbermann about Californians voting against human rights. This made me cry for the beauty of his words and the beauty of hope and love; it made me cry for the alone-ness we all feel in a universe where we all live in isolation from one another, misunderstanding and fearing and hating. The truth behind Olbermann's words is what drove me to write a novel, Transcendence (which I hope to see on the shelves next year - but I can't talk about that just yet!). What Olbermann talks about here is perhaps the central theme in my work. Hearing Olbermann express part of that truth about love and separation touched me to my core of my being.

Below I've transcribed a few lines from his special comment on love and marriage. Powerful stuff. To those who voted for California's Prop 8, which rescinded the right of gays to marry:

What is this to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you as human beings have to embrace that love? The world is barren enough. It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and very precious emotions that enable us - all of us - to go forward.

With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against each other, for no good reason; this is what your religion tells you what to do? With your experience of life and this world, and all its sadnesses; this is what your conscience tells you to do? With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field in which we all live in favor of unhappiness and hate, this is what your heart tells you to do?

You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe He represents, then spread happiness, this tiny, symbolic, symantical grain of happiness. Share it with all those who seek it.

All you need to do is stand and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don't have to help it, you don't have to applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out, just don't extinguish it.

The video: