Let a Million Topics Bloom

Lots of cool items, in this miscellany-post.  But first a brief lament and a couple of media notes:

* Harry Harrison – Grand Master of science fiction – passed away this August in his nineties. He was one of my favorite authors during the 1960s and certainly one of the most rambunctious and unabashed individuals I ever met. We got to know each other well, when I lived in London, during the 1980s.  He was a good friend and generous to a fault. His passion for a better, more peaceful world was expressed in his fiction and the way he lived his memorable life. And he was a perfectly grand storyteller.

A fascinating 90 minutes: Science and technology are converging to change the global game; and nowhere is that change more clear than in the words of scientist and futurist David Brin and Paul Rosenbloom, a lead researcher on artificial intelligence. From Isaac Asimov to Brin’s new novel, “Existence,” science fiction has often looked at whether AI will outpace the human brain and lead us into a brave new world, or has it already?

So, intrigued yet? Have a look at the  premiere edition of a great podcast/broadcast series produced by KPCC radio (NPR), “NEXT: People | Science | Tomorrow.“ Brin and Rosenbloom join host Mat Kaplan in the Crawford Family Forum to talk about our cyber future. Will humanity survive and even thrive when the Singularity arrives?

And an example of tech teething pains, striking the Hugo Awards!  How copyright enforcement robots shut down the broadcast of the Hugo Awards ceremony from the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, despite having permissions from every studio and author and publisher.

== A Veritable Trove of Contrarian Insights! ==

I’ve been using ScoopIt to compile accumulations of my more popular articles, essays (and some outright rants!) under topic headings, where people might skim and pick from whatever interests them.

The latest?  A ScoopIt collection of articles and speculations by David Brin about Taxes, economics and markets… 

Here are some others.

An accumulation of interviews on many topics with David Brin

Articles and speculations by Brin about transparency, freedom and technology    

… About Science: Better than Fiction!

Forward-looking Technology

… the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)

Speculations about Science Fiction 

Pop Culture: Star Wars to Tolkien to The Matrix 

All about Existence

Using Science Fiction to teach Science

 Teaching Science Fiction

Politics for the 21st century

*  Oh, for you tech geniuses… here’s a small web-brin side perplexity… Not sure why Bing’s biography of David Brin comes up with a description of a band named “!!!”

== Misc cool items ==

Dang crazy humans.  Here we dolphins come charging onto a beach in order to roll around in the sand for a bit, and all these tourists come hurrying down and dragging us back out to sea!  Well, in fact it probably is just what it looks like.  Satiated-generous humans becoming great pals of nature and improving our reputation with sea-folk.  Still, it might have another explanation.  Watch it and be (tentatively ) proud of us. We’re getting better.  Truly.

* See the trailer for 2001 a space Odyssey… as it would be done garishly today

*Naked woman sculpture legacy for coal mining tailings…

* An epic black & white tale about a race that discovers the ability to question old ways and to invent progress.  I would have slightly altered three frames just before the very moving end.  Guess which changes?  How?

* The 2012 Bulwer-Lytton Awards for hilariously bad writing. There are some ‘good’ ones this year …   Examples:

“Bishop threw back the shot of bourbon and reflected on his career as a private dick, a profession he always thought of as perfect for a man named Richard who kept to himself and was often unkind to others.”

“Truly, twas Gimoneus the wise, grand sorcerer of Elantorfan, keeper of the ancient rune of Turgochit, came nearest to slaying the mighty dragon of Ralmorgantorg; for he was old and sinewy, and the wretched beast near choked to death on his femur.”

“Primum non nocere, from the Latin for “first, do no harm,” one of the principal tenets of the Hippocratic oath taken by physicians, was far from David’s mind (as he strode, sling in hand, to face Goliath) in part because Hippocrates was born about 100 years after David, in part because David wasn’t even a physician, but mainly because David wanted to kill the sucker. “

And finally this one by Rebecca Oas which is actually rather good! “Ronald left this world as he entered it: on a frigid winter night, amid frantic screams and blood-soaked linens, while relatives stood nearby and muttered furious promises to find and punish the man responsible.”

* Best Marriage Proposal EVER.

The essence of the X Files:  Monster of the Week comic

Tokyo’s “levitating girl” is just plain cool.

== And finally… sci fi notes == 

StarShipSofa launched its very own genre fiction audio network called District of Wonders:  www.districtofwonders.com  There are four podcasts that now come under the DoW banner all produced and edited by Tony C Smith. For horror fans there’s Tales to Terrify hosted by Larry Santoro, for your crime fan we have the excellent Crime City Central, hosted by Jack Calverley, and for anyone gripped by excitement and adventure there’s Protecting Project Pulp hosted by Dave Robison, as well as Science Fiction stories on StarShipSofa hosted by Tony C Smith.

* The hub of sci fi these days — io9 — lately speculated on what it would take to revive yet another terrific version of Star Trek for the new, episodic medium that television is rapidly becoming.   I especially like suggestion #6… more scripts by real life sci fi writers.

In fact I have written Trek… a graphic novel! See: Forgiveness (illustrated by the great Scott Hampton).

Cracked has started getting more interesting than when I was a kid. For example, take this essay suggesting that six classic SciFi notions, from spacesuits to ray guns to airlocks, were first portrayed not in a great classic — like War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, but in a rather schlocky “sequel” to the Wells masterpiece, a quickie ripoff called Edison’s Conquest of Mars which, despite all that, seems to have been quite the font of SFnal ideas.

And moving on to the sublime… for tech esthetics junkies. Watch Professor Greg Parker perform an amazing calculation with two turns of the fabulous, and beautiful) Curta calculator.


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