just in case you get lost

Hello, readers.
 

Things. Here are some. 

Thing one.

Everything is where the internet was. Well. Not everything. Two things. The BlockChain and quantum computing.

The Blockchain Will Do to Banks and Law Firms What the Internet Did to Media by Joichi Ito, Neha Narula, and Robleh Ali.

The “killer app” for the early internet was email; it’s what drove adoption and strengthened the network. Bitcoin is the killer app for the blockchain. Bitcoin drives adoption of its underlying blockchain, and its strong technical community and robust code review process make it the most secure and reliable of the various blockchains. Like email, it’s likely that some form of Bitcoin will persist. But the blockchain will also support a variety of other applications, including smart contracts, asset registries, and many new types of transactions that will go beyond financial and legal uses.

Quantum leaps1

… The “killer app” for the early internet was email; it’s what drove adoption and strengthened the network. Bitcoin is the killer app for the blockchain. Bitcoin drives adoption of its underlying blockchain, and its strong technical community and robust code review process make it the most secure and reliable of the various blockchains. Like email, it’s likely that some form of Bitcoin will persist. But the blockchain will also support a variety of other applications, including smart contracts, asset registries, and many new types of transactions that will go beyond financial and legal uses.

 

Thing two.

There’s a new Nintendo. And on this new Nintendo, a new Zelda. Here is a review of the new Zelda in the New Yorker.

Yes, I know.

 

Thing three.

The Times has this thing called “25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going”

You should probably read it. Not for its prognosticative abilities, but because music is good for the soul, and, somewhere in here, I imagine there’s at least one song strung with the right words, or rhythms, to set your spirit alight.

 

Thing four.

Elon Musk offered to fix Australia’s power network.

In other news, Jeff Bezos offered to fix the world’s moon delivery services2.

 

Thing five.

A map of the universe. Just in case you get lost out there.

 

Happy weekend, readers. 

See you in the future.

 

 

ttfn. 

 

  1. I remember when Sam went back to Vietnam and maybe for the first time thinking and talking with Dad about what it was like when he was in Vietnam. According to that link, this particular episode aired at the end of 1990. Which means I was all of nine-years-old.
  2. By which, of course, I mean the delivery of things to the moon. It is, as of the writing of this blog post, still impossible to deliver the moon to you–however much George Bailey might argue otherwise.

if there’s one story

Hello, readers.

Things continue to happen. Here is a selection of said things. 

Thing one.

John Oliver, about halfway through this video, sits down with the Dalai Lama. I’m not sure there’s a laugh better in this world than that of the Dalai Lama. Seriously. Just listen.

My favorite part might be the part where the Dalai Lama confers his demonic status onto an understandably reluctant John Oliver.

Thing two

There’s a book I want to read. This is almost always a thing. Currently the thing that is this thing is a book by Angie Thomas called The Hate U Give. All the people are talking about it. Including the people named John Green. Whose blurb adorns the front cover and who also mentioned it in this installment of Vlogbrothers as destined to become a classic.

Thing three

There’s a new Storyological episode out in the world: THAT DANIELA ROMO MOMENT. It includes the longest conversation that we’ve yet had concerning the merits of Soviet architecture. It also marks the first time we’ve ever talked about a piece of non-fiction. What is truth? I don’t know. If it exists, it probably exists only probabilistically speaking.

We discussed these two stories:

“Love” by Yuri Olesha, originally published in 1928, and readable here. It is remarkably entertaining.

“The Boy Who Never Cried for Me” by Juliana Delgado Lopera, a funny sad bursting brilliant story published in a brilliant magazine (Midnight Breakfast)

Thing four

There’s this thing where people, at parties or shows or other such events, forfeit their smartphones to the confines of a smartphone-locking pouch from a company called Yondr.

I’m not really sure when we began, as a species, to deliberately misspell words as a basis for identity and meaning, but I’m pretty sure the practice has increased exponentially in the last twenty years. Much like wealth inequality. Related? Probably not.

Thing five

Abigail Nussbaum has published her picks for the Short Fiction categories on the Hugo Ballot. A lot of wonderful things to read here. Particularly, “The Venus Effect” by Joseph Allen Hill. We discussed how amazing it amazes in this one episode of Storyological. Here’s what Abigail said:

It’s not an exaggeration to say that stories like this one are why I keep doing this, rooting through hundreds of short stories on the off chance of happening on one, by an author I’ve never heard of, that completely blows me away. I don’t want to say too much about “The Venus Effect”‘s plot, both because it’s a surprise worth preserving, and because to describe the story is to make it sound like so much less than what it is–too academic, too gimmicky, too preachy. This is a story about stories, and about who gets to be the hero in the core stories of our genre. It shouldn’t work–the tack Hill chooses should come off as glib, and the structure he comes up with should devolve into repetition–and yet, amazingly, it does. If there’s one story on this list that I’d like you to read, “The Venus Effect” is it.

 

So, there you go. Go read it, already.

Happy Tuesday, readers.

 

 

ttfn.

on pizza, existential angst, and listening

Hello, readers.

Here are some things for the beginning of your March. This being the only March you will ever experience in 20171.

 

Thing one.

I’ve started using this relatively new bit of transcripting software called Trint. It would never have occurred to me to think about transcripting software until E.G. and me started Storyological. And then someone we love told us that they have trouble with listening to recorded voices. And then I thought. Oh. Right. Of course. Lot’s of people have trouble listening to things. So, I googled. I found these people. You upload audio. It creates a transcript more or less accurate with some understandable misses of words not in the dictionary such as, you know, Storyological. The cool thing is that it’s easy to listen to the audio and correct the transcript as you go. The audio and text are in sync. And you can play the audio in slo-motion if that helps.

Here’s a screenshot from the transcript-in-progress2  for Storyological 2×02.

Pizza. Existential angst. Friendship. That’s good listening, Trint.

Here’s a link to the latest Storyological transcript for Storyological 2×01 – The Importance of Celine Dion in which we discussed stories from Amal El-Mohtar and Su-Yee Lin.

 

Thing two.

This amazing bit of journalism in the New Yorker profiling unaccompanied child refugees by Lauren Collins.

Europe’s Child-Refugee Crisis

 

Thing three.

Tomorrow, I will be seeing Julia Jacklin in concert. Here is a video for her song, Don’t Let the Kids Win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8-sRdRHU3o

  

Thing four.

President Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress last night, and, speaking of transcripts, here’s an amazing annotated version of the President’s speech from NPR.

 

Thing five.

Oh, I don’t know. But it’s always best to have five things. Otherwise things might get out of control. Maybe I should change the name of this blog to something thing related. Maybe not. Too many puns. I hope you have enjoyed this fifth thing, readers.

 Happy March.

 

ttfn.

 

  1. Or, well, the year 12017, if you are so inclined.
  2. I attempted using Trint in Safari but they didn’t like each other. So, I used Chrome. They got on better.

overcome by compassion, among other things

 Hello, readers.

On this day, the last day of February, a few things.

Thing one.

Storyological, that one podcast I host along with E.G. Cosh in which we discuss the very best in short stories which we have chosen to discuss, has returned for a second season. We recently put out an episode–THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS, OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND GET BEHIND THE FEMINIST LOCOMOTIVE–which is one of our best, if I do say so myself. 

Which I do. 

Whoever it is that I am1, that is.
 

Thing two.

Speaking of Storyological. If you know what the Hugo’s are, and you are registered to vote in the Hugo’s, and you are reading this blog right now, then you might be interested to know that Storyological is eligible for the Best Fancast Award.

Jonah Sutton-Morse, host of Cabbages and Kings, said a lovely thing about our podcast:

Storyological is the best genre podcast out there. The short story discussions are excellent, Chris and E. G. have great banter while staying close the the topic & getting in and out quickly. I love it.2

 

Thing three.

Jon Stewart appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, as he is wont to do. It was funny.

 

Thing four.

Jeanette Winterson, one-time preacher and continuing purveyor of sharp, heart-struck prose, wrote this piece on Oscar Wilde for the Guardian in 2013 called, “Why we need fairytales.” It includes such lovely arrangements of words as follows:

Fairytales always involve reversals of fortune. This works in both directions: beggars become kings, palaces collapse into hovels, the spoilt son eats thistles. Wilde’s own reversal of fortune from fame and money to destitution and exile shares the same rapid drama. Fairytales are also and always about transformation of various kinds – frogs into princes, coal into gold – and if they are not excessively moralistic, there is usually a happy ending. Wilde’s fairytale transformations turn on loss. Even “The Star-Child”, in which meanness and vanity are overcome by compassion, ends with a kingdom that lasts only three years.

You should probably read it. Or, at least, read “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde. It is a story, I see, that Mr. Wilde intendeded to be read to children. If you don’t have any of those handy, I recommend reading it to yourself. After all, you were once a child, and I imagine some part of you remembers what that was like.

Happy February, readers. Enjoy it while it lasts.

 

ttfn. 

 

  1. Love me some Crash Course Philosophy.
  2. http://yellingatmybookshelf.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/2017-hugo-nominations-rough-cut.html

by any other name

 

Kelly J. Baker in the New York Times:

They want to convince the media that they are a “new form” of white nationalism that we’ve never seen before: clean-cut, intellectual, far removed from the unpolished white supremacists of the past. But the alt-right is not as new as we might think. In fact, efforts to dress up white supremacy in ideas and middle-class respectability have been around since the first organized movements emerged in the late 19th century — and once again, people are falling for it.

Olivia Nuzzi in the Washington Post:

Burying racist and anti-Semitic ideas in fancy language is nothing new, of course. David Duke, the former KKK grand wizard, shed his Klan robe for a suit and now calls himself a “human rights activist .” This is clearly about presenting a more salable front for the persuadable public. But if it salutes like a Nazi, you can safely call it one.

 

 

the more the merrier

 

Juliet Eilperin, writing in The Washington Post of the Obama’s administration reasoning on pushing through regulations in the final months:

 

While Republicans are already warning that they will reverse some of the rules Obama will issue during the last months of his presidency, White House officials are determined to move ahead, reasoning that having more rules in place will force the new administration to choose which ones are worth the time and effort of reversal.

 

Hilarious and kind of sad.

 

trump speaks with taiwan’s leader, an affront to china:

Mark Landler and David E. Sanger, in NYT:

The president-elect has shown little heed for the nuances of international diplomacy, holding a series of unscripted phone calls to foreign leaders that have roiled sensitive relationships with Britain, India and Pakistan. On Thursday, the White House urged Mr. Trump to use experts from the State Department to prepare him for these exchanges.

[…]

Newspapers in Taiwan reported last month that a Trump Organization representative had visited the country, expressing interest in perhaps developing a hotel project adjacent to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, which is undergoing a major expansion. The mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan, was quoted as confirming that visit.


[…]

Lawmakers expressed alarm at the implications of Mr. Trump’s freewheeling approach.“What has happened in the last 48 hours is not a shift. These are major pivots in foreign policy w/out any plan. That’s how wars start,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote on Twitter. “It’s probably time we get a Secretary of State nominee on board. Preferably w experience. Like, really really soon.”

donald trump has not changed

 

Jenna Johnson and John Wagner, from The Washington Post:

Somewhere amid the insults, grievances and brags, Trump promised to heal this divided country.

“I’ve always brought people together. I know you find that hard to believe,” Trump said Thursday night as he kicked off the “Donald J. Trump USA Thank You Tour 2016” of states he won. “We are going to bring our country together, all of our country. We’re going to find common ground, and we will get the job done properly.”

 

 

russia’s fixer-in-chief

 
David Filipov, writing in The Washington Post about Russia’s fixer-in-chief:

On any given nightly news broadcast, Vladi­mir Putin, face devoid of expression, voice quiet but martial, interrogates a cabinet minister or a director of a state-run factory or a utilities chief. If the economic news is good, the subordinate is off the hook and the next segment comes on.

But if prices have spiked, or salaries are low, or costs have gone way over budget, then ­Putin lays into the unfortunate bureaucrat — “What’s wrong with your head?” “Are you ­crazy?” “What are you saying?”— as the cameras roll and the Russian president’s quarry stammers and squirms.

It’s populist political theater that makes for really, really awkward television. But it helps explain the riddle of the enduring popularity of a ruler who has no checks on his power, no serious opposition, and who presides over a country mired in an economic slowdown.

Even as Putin plays the role of grand inquisitor, he has also positioned himself as the one person in the country to whom citizens can turn at a time when faith in government institutions is low.

 
George Will, writing back in October

… “the underlying goal” of Putin’s domestic disinformation is less to persuade than “to engender cynicism”: “When people stop trusting any institutions or having any firmly held values, they can easily accept a conspiratorial vision of the world.” Putin’s Kremlin is weaving a web of incongruous but useful strands.

In many worrisome ways, the 1930s are being reprised. In Europe, Russia is playing the role of Germany in fomenting anti-democratic factions. In inward-turning, distracted America, the role of Charles Lindbergh is played by a presidential candidate smitten by Putin and too ignorant to know the pedigree of his slogan “America First.”

 
 

trump cheered for carrier deal even as other jobs are trimmed

 
From NYT:

The president-elect warned Gregory Hayes, the chief executive of Carrier’s parent, United Technologies, that he had to find a way to save a substantial share of the jobs it had vowed to move to Mexico, or he would face the wrath of the incoming administration.

“The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” Mr. Pence added, as Mr. Trump interjected, “Every time, every time.”

 
Also. From The Wall Street Journal (paywall) .

Some economists called Mr. Trump’s actions, including an earlier agreement with Ford Motor Co. to keep some production at a Kentucky plant, an unsustainable intervention in the economy.

“If this is what the Trump team thinks macroeconomic policy is, then they don’t understand the scale of the economy,” said Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan.

The economy currently loses nearly 7 million jobs a quarter through the churn of companies failing, closing or leaving the U.S., Mr. Wolfers said, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Firms contracting or leaving a market is the natural state of business.”

The more pressing issue for the incoming administration would be to find ways to encourage more private job creation, rather than trying to intervene to prevent individual firms from leaving or shutting down.

“Deal-making is not macroeconomic policy,” Mr. Wolfers said. “We should understand it’s politics, not economics.”

 
And. An interview with Mike Pence.

His comments […] suggest that a Trump White House would eschew many of the free-market principles that have guided prior Republican administrations, including injecting itself into the personnel and long-term operating decisions of individual companies.