Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Writers Wanted: Fifth Estate magazine

The next edition of Fifth Estate will continue as an Anarchist Review of Books. The issue will also include essays, fiction, and poetry. If you're interested in contributing, Fifth Estate's deadline for submissions is July 1 with a publication date of August 1. Review their Writer’s Guidelines and consider submitting something!

Quotes of Note: "The Murray Leinster Megapack" by Murray Leinster

Quotes of note from The Murray Leinster Megapack by Murray Leinster:

(I'm reading this collection of short stories on my Kindle, so page numbers are suspect.)

"Only a man attempting to advance in the scale of civilization tries to explain everything that he sees." (6 percent)

"[E]ducation is simply training in thought, in efficient and effective thinking." (7 percent)

"Even in the high civilization of ages before, few men had really used their brains. The great majority of people had depended upon machines and their leaders to think for them." (7 percent)

"What was near was important, and what was distant could be ignored. Only the imminent required attention... ." (7 percent)

"[M]ost strange things meant danger." (7 percent)

"[T]he advancement of a people from a state of savagery and continual warfare to civilization and continual peace is not made by the elimination of the causes of strife, but by the addition of new objects and ideals, in defense of which people will offer battle." (11 percent)

"Always, to a savage, the unexplained is dangerous." (13 percent)

Book Review: "Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin" by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Deadly Assassin by Terrance Dicks (Target, 1977)

This 1977 Target book is a novelization of the four-episode Doctor Who serial “The Deadly Assassin,” which originally aired Oct. 30 to Nov. 20, 1976. I just love these slim little volumes. At about 120 pages, they’re perfect for reading in one or two evenings, and I recommend reading them after you see the original episodes, if you’re able to read and watch in close proximity. I read this one evening seeking inspiration for a drabble (a 100-word fan fiction story) I wrote and submitted for an online challenge; I have not yet seen the television serial.

As a novelization, I’d presume it’s the expected linear retelling of the original teleplay by Robert Holmes. (I haven’t seen the episodes yet, but the Target adaptations don’t tend to ever stray too far from the source material.) The storyline occurs following “The Hand of Fear,” at the end of which, the fourth Doctor takes his companion Sarah Jane Smith back home. In fact, that makes the serial notable. Reportedly, “The Deadly Assassin” is the only original Doctor Who story not to include a companion. Tom Baker thought he could carry the show on his own, and this was a pilot of sorts for a solo Doctor. In the end, producers determined that companions were necessary. Regardless, the story works well without one.

At the end of “The Hand of Fear,” the Doctor is summoned back to Gallifrey. There, he has visions of the assassination of the President on Resignation Day, and he sets out to ensure that that does not occur. However, despite his assistance during the Omega crisis, law enforcement still considers him a criminal and tries to stop his interference—taking him for an assassin himself! The book explores the assassination plot, political intrigue among the Time Lords and one of the Doctor’s most formidable opponents, and the resolution of the crime investigation.

It’s a fun read, shades of The Manchurian Candidate and The Dead Zone. Dicks works in some useful Time Lords back story, including a description of their social hierarchy; a reference to another Target book, The Three Doctors; details of the biological nature of the Time Lords’ telepathy; brief technical details for the Matrix; and a description of what happened after the Master died. That might not be as much additional exposition as readers received in Glen A. Larson and Roger Hill’s Knight Rider novelization, but the additional detail is welcome and helpful.

Perhaps worth reading after you watch the serial. It’s best not to know what’s going to happen—or how—and I have high hopes for the visualization of the Master. The cover art suggests an approach akin to the Phantom of the Opera.

Daily Headlines for May 18, 2022

Cluttercore: What’s really behind Gen Z’s revolt against minimalism?
Blame the Victorians.

The Untold Story of the White House’s Weirdly Hip Record Collection
Jimmy Carter’s grandson is unlocking its mysteries

A neuroscientist on the shifts in our media use and the effect on our brains A psychiatrist and Harvard Medical faculty member on the gradual erosion of human connection to our digital lives.

How ad-supported streaming will be used to track you The boom in streaming TV ads presents new opportunities for data mining, even as other platforms crack down.

Why the Texas social media law just became a big headache for Big Tech Short of ‘going nuclear’ and shutting off service to Texans, Big Social may soon be fighting off scores of lawsuits enabled by HB 20 in Texas.

Indy Record Label EMPIRE Taps In-Game Ads To Promote Babyface Ray’s New Album

Inside the race for a car battery that charges fast — and won’t catch fire Amid rising gas prices and climate change, car giants are in a fierce contest to perfect the solid-state battery, long viewed as a ‘holy grail’ for electric vehicles

Why the heck does big tech think human-level AI will emerge from binary systems? It must suck to be a classical intelligence in a quantum universe

3 ways to manage the stress of being ‘results oriented’ Focusing on outcomes is great but being too “results-oriented” can just as easily get in the way of our work.

3 ‘creator’ soft skills that can get you hired Creators have tapped into a key skillset that is increasingly transcending social media platforms.

5 mistakes companies make when they rush to hire Companies are under pressure to address the talent crisis. But rushing to hire can be problematic.

How to write a script for a job interview that feels authentic If you’re interviewing, you need a script—but you also need to deliver it without sounding phony. Here’s how.

TechScape: How Musk and crypto bros get away with it In this week’s newsletter: Just like Donald Trump’s political rise, Tesla’s CEO and firms like Tether win by simply not playing by the same rules as everyone else

The workplace, redefined by women of color

I’m a Black entrepreneur. Here’s how I advocate for inclusion at work The founder and CEO of Culture With Us explains the simple principles she’s built into her business.

Without local expertise, Big Tech will keep failing the Global South Tech giants cast a long shadow

Future of Work: ‘The office as we know it is over,’ Airbnb CEO says Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky believes the future of work may mean the death of the office in its current form

Is there hope for digital health startups post-Roe?

5 construction tech investors analyze 2022 trends and opportunities

Apple Pauses Plans to Go From Two Days to Three Days a Week in the Office
The iPhone maker had been gradually increasing the number of days in the office as it rolled out its hybrid work plans

Netflix cancels a slew of animated projects amid attempts to save money Netflix appears to be trying to save money, but it says these decisions are creative, not financial.

Domino’s and ‘Stranger Things’ want you to order pizza with telekinetic powers It’s not supernatural, but the pizza chain is using face recognition and eye-tracking tech to make customers feel like they have mind control.

Social maps app Zenly rolls out its own maps

Glean aims to help employees surface info across sprawling enterprise systems

Prolonged grief disorder: Helpful diagnosis or harmful stigma?A newly added diagnosis in the manual of mental disorders has stirred a debate over what it means to grieve, and what tools we need to cope with loss.

‘Fossil fuels are a dead end’: UN Secretary-General outlines how to avoid climate disaster
To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoiding the worst climate impacts, the world needs to transform global energy systems now.

The crypto collapse is a good thing for the climate
Is crypto's loss climates gain?

Crypto crash unlikely to reduce its climate impact, expert says
Enormous energy consumption has barely reduced despite $1tn being wiped off the sector

This company crushes old roads—and rebuilds them to store carbon
For stabilizing roads, Carbon Crusher ditches bitumen, a byproduct of crude oil, for lignin, sourced from trees.

A rocket scientist designed a solution for your moldy strawberries
A California-based startup is pioneering a new solution to sad greens: a thermodynamic sticker that captures condensation inside your produce box.

For All Mankind sets its alternate timeline sights on Mars in S3 trailer
"There is a primal urge in all of us to explore."

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Quotes of Note: H. Beam Piper, "Little Fuzzy" II

Quotes of note from Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper:

(Page numbers gleaned from the 1983 eighth printing of the Ace mass-market paperback.)

"Anything that talks and builds a fire is a sapient being, yes. That's the law. But that doesn't mean that anything that doesn't isn't." (p. 36) 

"The less he had to do with the government, the better... ." (p. 71) 

Book Review: "Dark Sojourns" by Beth H. Adams

Dark Sojourns by Beth H. Adams (Secret Pleasures, 2002)

This 2002 Dark Shadows gen novella published by Secret Pleasures Press “is intended for entertainment of the fans of Dark Shadows, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights and trademarks held by others.” I believe I ordered it from Agent with Style about a decade ago. Agent with Style—once a wonderful source for hard copies of fan fiction—seems to have stopped operating in 2015 (their domain name expired in 2020). Regardless, I finally got around to reading Adams’s 138-page novella, which is well written, well printed, and spiral bound with a couple of pieces of photo collage artwork. As fan fiction goes, it’s relatively clean reading—well edited—and I only remember a couple typographical errors.

Barnabas Collins and Willie Loomis have left Collinsport, Maine, moving down the east coast eventually to Augusta, Georgia, where they meet their neighbor, a friendly single mother who works as a plastic surgeon. The novella is largely a love story, perhaps presaging that of Twilight, with Collins and Loomis becoming fond of the mother and her 5-year-old daughter. (Collins finally expresses his appreciation for Loomis’s caretaking and service.) Collins and the mother eventually fall in love. But Collins is torn: between his need for human blood and love for a woman, and between Anjelique’s witch curse and the hope that if he commits “an act of selfless love,” Josette will be returned to him.

On one level, the premise of the novella seems to be that the only bad thing about Dark Shadows is that Collins is a vampire. What if he weren’t? I’m not sure he’d even be interesting were that the case. Moreso, however, it’s the story of a love reclaimed and reunited. The idea of a reincarnated Josette, of Collins finally being able to find love after 400 years are very human desires and tensions worth exploring, even if their resolution effectively ends what turned out to be the best part of the television program. After all, Dan Curtis’s creation admittedly plagues the writer still.

Adams populates the story with several other interesting characters, including a coworker named Ty and his grandmother, Mignon, who practices “a bit of voodoo.” There are also several notable scenes. In one, Collins saves his new love from an attacker in a parking lot. In another, she confronts him about slaking his thirst on young prostitutes even though he’d promised not to do so. Most husbands aren’t guilty of such a severe betrayal, but its parallel to spousal infidelity resonated. And the surgeon channels her inner Victor Frankenstein as she tries to save Collins from himself and his dark desires, too.

A fun read—and better than most fan fiction I’ve encountered online.

Daily Headlines for May 17, 2022

If Roe v. Wade falls, personal data could be used against people seeking abortions
If abortion becomes illegal, digital surveillance could take an even darker turn

The ‘E-Pimps’ of OnlyFans
Clever marketers have figured out how easy it is to simulate online intimacy at scale, ventriloquizing alluring models with cheap, offshore labor.

nWay soft launches Power Rangers: Morphin Legends

How fears of electromagnetic radiation spawned a snake-oil industry
The products target people who think they have electromagnetic hypersensitivity

A creator-led internet, built on blockchain

Introducing the 2022 State of Crypto Report

Exactly how to think about every skill you’ve ever built and showcase it in a job search
Transferable skills come from life and career experiences, but they can become part of your personal brand with a little bit of framing.

Considering professional development? Maybe prioritize this instead
Getting that next promotion may be a matter of focusing on personal development over professional.

Ditch the annual review and do this for your employees instead
The CEO of Shiftsmart finds that this process frees up manager time, empowers employees, and identifies successes and growth opportunities in real-time.

Don’t force your employees back to the office. Do this instead
A Gartner survey of over 3,500 knowledge workers offers some interesting insights about what employees see as meaningful work.

We’re in the age of hybrid working: How to make it work for your team
How can businesses find the right mix between office and home?

Why the 9-to-5 schedule has lost its place in the workplace
The idea of a causal relationship between time and output is feeling increasingly outdated.

5 pieces of advice to help early stage founders navigate the months ahead
If you haven’t prioritized building trust with your investors, now is a good time to start.

Exclusive: John Deere closes in on fully autonomous farming with its latest AI acquisition
Some driverless vehicles work harder than others

China’s video game market is projected to grow despite government restrictions

Hopper CEO on Super-App Ambitions and Becoming an Everything Startup

New filing reveals the full story behind Musk’s bid to buy Twitter

‘It was designed to piss us off’: Goop’s fake luxury diaper aimed to turn rage into tax awareness
Created by ad agency Mother LA, the stunt was orchestrated to gain attention to advocacy organization Baby2Baby and the diaper tax issue.

Pushing Buttons: What the EA-Fifa split means for fans
In this week’s newsletter: Predictably, this breakup of a thirty-year deal isn’t about fans at all - it’s just about money

The Walking Dead creator Skybound Entertainment raises funding for expansion

Today’s top design innovators have it all wrong. Here’s how to think bigger
If we’re serious about tackling the world’s thorniest problems, we won’t just need good design. We need to expand the very way we think.

The 10,000 hour rule won’t make you a coding expert, but it’s a good start
It's time to get typing

How many preventable COVID deaths happened in your state? This map will tell you
A new interactive dashboard from Brown University quantifies a depressing failure of public policy, messaging, logistics, and individual behavior.

There’s a hidden, huge source of emissions companies are ignoring: their banking
Companies haven’t been focused on their financial footprints, but a new report highlights how their cash and investments fund fossil fuels, adding to their total emissions.

See the cutting-edge tech turning government buildings into lean, green machines
The federal government has 300,000 buildings, and they’re massive energy hogs. New tech being piloted could slash their carbon footprint.

How classical music can save your life—or at least be a meaningful part of it
At the height of her career, WQXR’s creative director, Clemency Burton-Hill, suffered a traumatic brain injury. She credits music with bringing her back to life.

Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney is joining Doctor Who as ‘another Rose’
Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary is going to be very interesting

Chris Hemsworth runs an unsettling futuristic prison in Spiderhead’s first trailer
The film hits Netflix in June

The Boys’ first season 3 trailer has Homelander doing damage control
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a murderous psychopath

Apple TV+’s ‘For All Mankind’ season three trailer drops, teasing a space race to Mars

For All Mankind season 3 is set in the ’90s but seems focused on a very 2020s space race
What if billionaires joined the space race a few decades early

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers is the sound of Disney laughing at its own met humor
The film stars John Mulaney and Andy Samberg

DeviantArt is expanding its system for flagging stolen NFT art
It’s offering access to non-DeviantArt artists

DeviantArt can now notify anyone whose art’s been used in NFTs without permission
You can upload 10 images for free

Monday, May 16, 2022

Quotes of Note: H. Beam Piper, "Little Fuzzy" I

Quotes of note from Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper:

(Page numbers gleaned from the 1983 eighth printing of the Ace mass-market paperback.)

"Was a time, not so long ago, when he took his abilities for granted. Now he was getting old enough to have to verify them." (p. 7) 

"If you don't like the facts, you ignore them, and if you need facts, dream up some you do like... ." (p. 15) 

"Take a drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a drink, and then two good drinks get together and that calls for drinks all around." (p. 28)

Daily Headlines for May 16, 2022

13 people were shot and 10 died when an attacker went on a rampage at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

What do military strategists and landscape designers have in common? More than you might think.

In the increasingly lifelike worlds of VR, users are experiencing hate speech and sexual harassment. How should these lawless spaces be governed?

A number of websites include keyloggers that covertly snag your keyboard inputs.

As big platforms field criticism for mental health and safety problems, teens are opting for simpler social media. But parents should still be on guard.

Forget your water-cooled PC — this one runs on pond scum

Thank god, the super rich can soon travel by AirYacht

Apple is no longer the most valuable company, Meta took a $230bn hit, Amazon reported its first loss since 2015, but a slump ‘is a big question mark’

The rules of the game are changing for venture-backed startups.

Federal judge finds U.S. sanctions laws apply to $10 million in Bitcoin sent by American citizen to a country blacklisted by Washington

'I have a bad feeling about this' are actually words to live by

Companies requiring in-person work are facing pushback. Those with looser policies find that flexibility makes recruitment easier. ‘I will find somewhere else to work.’

Tech giants signal a changing approach to adding workers after years of rapid growth

A strict set of rules is not an ideal launching point for a cohesive relationship.

Most managers have no clue what their employees really think of them. So how do you find out if you are accidentally being a bad boss? And how can you improve? We find out on this week’s episode of ‘The New Way We Work.’

Investors are not yet won over by the metaverse, but if Zuckerberg succeeds in selling his dream it could revive the company

Some House and Senate candidates in states from Arizona to Wisconsin have begun selling NFTs; ‘It was a bit of an experiment’

Insurance is one of the major barriers to abortion care in the U.S. That’s intentional
Abortion advocates say insurance is being used as a tool to block abortion access for millions of Americans, and they’re calling on companies and states to do more.

Medication abortion is a critical healthcare tool, but providers already face challenges with increasing restrictions, and patients have to contend with high cost and logistical hurdles.

Planning a trip to the Andromeda Galaxy? Not so fast.

After scouring the internet for free content sites, I found that all roads lead to one spot. Bring your library card.

The new series will be even more ‘cinematic in scope’

The third season will premiere on June 10, four days after WWDC kicks off.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

This Week's Watching: Doctor Who, "The Mind Robber" III

This afternoon, I finished watching Doctor Who, "The Mind Robber," while eating lunch and folding laundry. It is available in full on Dailymotion, as well as on DVD.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Book Review: "The Shadow" by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

The Shadow by James Patterson and Brian Sitts (Arrow, 2021)

I was slow to learn about Conde Nast’s plans to revive and revitalize the classic pulp and old-time radio hero, the Shadow, and when I learned that James Patterson had been tapped to pen the new titles—this is the first of an intended series—I was perplexed and skeptical. Patterson’s an extremely prolific writer and best-selling author who now mostly plots thrillers and young adult books, primarily working with co-writers. Despite his potential sales appeal to readers, he would not have been on my short list of authors to put pen to paper in place of Walter B. Gibson writing as Maxwell Grant. Maybe Andrew Vachss, Max Allan Collins (who had a hand in several Dick Tracy books), or Paul Di Filippo. Perhaps even the recently departed Mike Resnick. But Patterson?

My skepticism was well placed. There’s very little of the original Shadow in this book, at least very little of Gibson’s tenor and tone, pulp stylism, or the characteristics that made the supernatural vigilante hero so popular originally. Much of that has been jettisoned to reassert the Shadow for a new, modern audience, particularly a young adult readership. In fact, the Shadow is largely eclipsed by a distant teenage relative, Maddy Gomes, who is developing supernatural powers of her own. This might very well be a YA novel.

The opening of the book is as close as we come to the original pulps and radio show. It’s set in 1937 New York City, and Lamont Cranston is about to propose to Margo Lane. They are poisoned, and Cranston rushes the two to a hidden laboratory for treatment. Fast forward to 2087 and a dystopian police state of a city, a global government, and the still-alive Shiwan Khan as world president, oppressing the populace and planning a new, ever cruel approach to world domination.

Most of the book involves Cranston’s revival, rediscovery of his powers, search for Lane, and assessment of the threat posed by Khan. In parallel, we learn more about the state of the world, the lives of teenage Gomes and her grandmother, and their lineage. Not only does Gomes discover and develop her own powers, similar to Cranston’s, but he develops new powers that were never addressed in the original stories. 

Those are occasionally referred to, with commentary on Gomes’s appreciation for the old magazines and radio program. ”Inspired by me, obviously,” Cranston says. “But I never dressed like that. Never even owned a hat. Never carried that ridiculous gun. I guess they had to jazz things up to goose their sales.” That was humorous at first but soon became irritating, as though Patterson was trying to disavow himself of—and distance himself from—the original. 

In a May 2021 Forces of Geek review, Steven Thompson wrote, “[I]f you absolutely felt the need to use the Shadow, why go out of your way to change him so much that he really isn’t recognizable as the Shadow any longer? Only a few of the names are the same by the end of the book. Change those and you have all new characters.” Ain’t that the truth! Not only is this more a Maddy Gomes book than a Shadow book—a teenage heroine for a teenage readership—the Shadow we do get is largely divergent and almost unrecognizable from the original. That might meet the perceived needs of new, younger readers and retain copyright, but it doesn’t serve older, long-time fans.

Conde Nast hopes for additional titles in the series, and for films to spring from the books, as well. Additionally, Patterson has been tapped for a Doc Savage novel expected by the end of the year, with a sequel already scheduled for next year. Unfortunately, if this novel is any indication, my hopes for those are low. Will I still read them? At least the first Doc Savage. To be honest, we’re better off returning to the paperback reprints and pulp reprints, such as those published by Sanctum Books.

Daily Headlines for May 13, 2022

Taking his advice was like ‘chewing broken glass’: the short life of dating guru Kevin Samuels
The self-styled expert was quick to criticize Black women in the relationship sphere – and sympathy over his death was in short supply

Musk doesn’t own Twitter yet, but conservatives are racking up followers
Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr. and Republican lawmakers are seeing their follower counts spike, while Democrats’ are on the decline

US secretly issued subpoena to access Guardian reporter’s phone records
Newspaper decries ‘egregious’ move by DoJ to obtain details of Stephanie Kirchgaessner as part of investigation into media leaks

The Nintendo Switch has now outsold the PS4 in the US
And Elden Ring is the best-selling game in the last 12 months

Sea Change
Google and Meta’s new subsea cables mark a tectonic shift in how the internet works, and who controls it.

Tech employees face another tough week of cross-stage layoffs

8 words you should never use to describe yourself in an interview (and what to say instead)
Stuffing your résumé and LinkedIn profile with generic buzzwords can be off-putting to potential employers, but it’s far worse when you recite them during an interview.

5 recruiting mistakes that may be adding to resignations
When there is a talent shortage, you have to be extra careful in your approach to hiring.

One key way to prevent employee burnout? Addressing toxic clients
The root cause may stem from the intensity of this type of demand.

Most DEI programs are missing out on large part of the population
DEI programs can not focus on just the 4.5% of the world’s population that lives within U.S. borders. This is how to globalize your company’s efforts.

Conservative parents take aim at library apps meant to expand access to books
Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.

How free school meals can lead to lower grocery bills and healthier food purchases at home
When families save money by spending less on groceries, the savings may result in changes to the quality of their households’ diet.

Millions of plastic COVID-19 tests end up in landfills. This biodegradable test could be a game-changer
No more plastic waste. No more nose swabs.

The next frontier of psychedelic therapy could be your couch
Ketamine therapy pioneer Field Trip is partnering with telehealth company Nue Life to bring psychedelic treatments into the home.

Check out the hilarious new teaser for Apple TV+ animated adventure 'Luck'
Apple TV+ has shared a new teaser for a fun animated adventure movie called Luck.

Nick Cave is all he has to give
Nick Cave’s new survey at Chicago’s MCA offers the public his literal corpus of work.