Category Archives: Society

Our Existence (part 1)

I’m not quite halfway through Existence, by David Brin, but I’m enjoying it so much I have to start talking about it now. For one thing, it’s such a change from the Last Chronicles, which was a hard slog with a disappointing ending. (Still worth the journey, though.)

The novel is a standalone, not part of his Uplift Universe, but it apparently can be viewed as a kind of prequel to that reality. However: so far no alien contact, humanity is still on Earth, and computers are not conscious (but AI is very, very good). The year, as far as I can tell, seems to be in the 2040s or 2050s.

At heart, the novel’s theme is the Fermi Paradox; it examines many of the potential Great Filters that might end an intelligent species. But now an alien artifact has been found, a kind of message in a bottle that appears to contain a crowd of alien minds…

Continue reading


Liars and Cheaters

So very, very disappointing.

The headlines of articles I have no desire or intent to read proclaim that Lori Loughlin believes she did what any mother would have done for her child. I’m not all agog over actors, and barely recognized her name, but my impression of her persona involved a lot more of a moral center.

Recently, regarding our cultural calculus, I wrote, “Our greatest peril lies in disconnecting ourselves from truth,” because, “Life is hard enough these days without turning truth into a commodity.” Our social equation depends on us representing ourselves honestly, on not cheating.

Civilization demands that we play the game of life fairly.

Continue reading


Social Calculus

Soon to be boiled frog!I just don’t get the calculus behind the choices being made by people like AG Barr and so many others in politics and government today. Do they not understand that their legacy is likely to cast them as great Villains in American history? Could they be so stupid, so arrogant and vain, that they don’t care about history when the moment promises fame, wealth, and power?

Or do they think they can actually win, that they can remake the world in their image? That we have so lost our way morally and culturally, that they can run roughshod over us and seize the world for their own gain and purpose?

The former possibility is scary enough, but the latter is terrifying.

Continue reading


Misogyny and Bullying

This is a followup to the previous post, Year of the Woman? That one ran long, and there were some things I didn’t get to. There was also, from my point of view, an egregious memory lapse considering the nature of the post: I didn’t mention the new The Doctor. (Maybe because I’m planning a separate post about her, so she didn’t need to be in the more general one.)

There was a key aspect I meant to talk about with regard to sexual harassment, but my note for it was on a different piece of paper than my main notes. I just didn’t see it while writing the first post (it was in another room).

So now a long post gets even longer!

Continue reading


2018: Year of the Woman?

RIP Penny Marshall

Some called last year the Year of the Woman. There are good justifications for the phrase, the recent election, what’s happened in the #MeToo movement, but Christine Blasey Ford might have an opinion on how far we have to go.

With President Obama, we were confronted with the reality that, despite progress, racism is very much alive in our culture. The past year or two has spotlighted an identical dichotomy with regard to gender. Politically, socially, and personally, we seem to become ever more divided in ever more ways.

As a white male I can speak on the core of sexism or racism only from the outside, but as a member of a group perceived to be a key source of the problems in the first place, raising my voice in support seems crucial.

Continue reading


Fans: Not A Fan

Star Trek wasn’t hugely popular right off the bat, or even for a long time. The first series, after all, lasted only three years and had to fight for survival for most of that time. But it did catch on hugely with us fans; many of us fell in love right away.

From an early point even within the fan community, let alone to mundanes, some of us were careful to identify as Trekkers rather than Trekkies. As I used to put it, “Trekkers are grown ups who love science fiction. Trekkies own a pair of Spock ears.”

Then, because of a little movie, named Star Wars, science fiction went mainstream. And so did the divide between two rather different kinds of fans…

Continue reading


I’m Offended!

I am offended by people who are offended! It’s like how I am intolerant of people who are intolerant. It’s a challenge. Somehow I have to ignore the self-referential self loathing, but life is paradoxical and ironical, and I’ve always embraced both (and chaos) as personal philosophies.

Irony and paradox aside the whole idea of being offended has become an aspect of society today. We’ve turned it into a cottage industry, and both sides of politics have heavy weaponized it into a WMD.

The problem is often the legitimacy of being offended. When is it right to take offense, and when might the real issue be our own perceptions (and we should just STFU).

Continue reading


Texting Subtext

Recent politics makes us, perhaps, overly aware of just how differently from us people can see the world. Recent politics also makes us very aware of how fraught it can be interacting with people who see the world differently. (Although it isn’t the differences that divide us so much as our tribalism.)

Setting politics aside for a moment, I recently stumbled over a difference that I found both bemusing and enlightening. It explains something that’s puzzled me (and caused a degree of head-shaking) for quite a while. What’s cool is how it switches my worldview, because now I understand it’s not a mistake or laziness, but a valid choice.

I’m talking about periods and lower case in text messages!

Continue reading


Breaking Wrong

For years friends have been urging me towards the TV show Breaking Bad. They tell me about how the writing is so good, and the drama so engaging. The problem I have is that it stars, not just a meth dealer, but a meth maker. For me that’s a deal breaker that no writing is good enough to overcome. Nothing is worth inviting a meth maker into my life on a regular basis.

I see a parallel in how people accept Trump even when they do see him for the idiot and creep that he is. In this case, it’s certainly not good writing (or good governing) they seek, it’s getting their way that makes them support an ignorant, incompetent, greedy, narcissistic racist.

I gotta ask: Have we gotten too willing to embrace human failure?

Continue reading


Edge of the Knife

The universe may not be connected in the Dirk Gently sense (or perhaps it is, wouldn’t that be fun?), but I can’t help but be bemused by those occasional moments of synchronicity. Just striking coincidences — almost certainly — and just a product of one’s own mind connecting personal dots, but still.

When a moment of such synchronicity involves favorite TV shows, South Park, NCIS, and Doctor Who, plus the Mandelbrot Set, it covers a lot of bases and adds an extra special element of cosmic delight. (Not to mention all the options for the lead image! (Except not really. Gotta be the new The Doctor!))

Fundamentally, it’s all another riff on an old standard: Yin-Yang.

Continue reading