Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Precarity of Utopia: The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer

Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota continues to be a series that is obviously brilliant whether I understand it or not (and I often don't). How could I not love this third book in the series, where the reader is enlisted into a dialogue with Thomas Hobbes in the 25th century?

Monday, January 20, 2020

MLK Day 2020: Labor, Love, and Community

The MLK Day March in Chattanooga near the MLK mural (Jan. 20, 2020)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States. I’ve written before about why MLK Day is my favorite holiday, King’s relation to science fiction, the idea of a moral arc, moving beyond "MLK-Lite," and my visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis
For 2020, I thought I’d discuss the labor movement, partly because I finally got around to participating in my local MLK Day March with fellow members of my union, United Campus Workers! (More pictures here and below). 
Of the many things people seem to forget in the midst of the Disneyification of Martin Luther King, Jr. is that he was a big proponent of the labor movement. He was murdered in Memphis while supporting a sanitation workers’ strike. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 
You can read more about King’s connections with the labor movement here and here and here.  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Are We All Obnoxious Know-It-Alls?: Know-It-All Society by Michael Patrick Lynch

As a person on the internet I have come to dread the fact that everybody seems to have become an insufferable know-it-all, at least in their online interactions (I am not entirely immune to this tendency myself). In Know-It-All Society: Truth and Arrogance in Political Culture, Michael Patrick Lynch does a great job diagnosing the problem and some of its causes. Like Lynch, I find this problem to be pervasive on both the political right and left. Although it takes different forms at opposing ends of the political spectrum, the phenomenon is annoying in both forms (although I think far more dangerous on the right these days).

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Phantasmagoric American Myth: The Stand by Stephen King

A phantasmagoric fable, an American myth, a Christian allegory, apocalyptic science fiction, fantasy, horror, a cautionary tale about technology, a sociological and political thought experiment, a dramatization of the battle between the dualities of human nature: reason and magic, good and evil, selfishness and selflessness, fear and hope, cowardice and bravery, love and hate... The Stand is all of these things and more.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Some Things I Learned in the 2010s

Baby Yoda

Before I begin, let's get this out of the way. There's pretty good reason to think the current decade doesn't actually end until December 31, 2020. About 20 years ago I was one of those people who insisted that the new millennium didn't begin until Jan. 1, 2001. But I'm less insistent about decades. Maybe it's because ending the 2010s a year early doesn't seem so bad, given everything that's happened in the last half of the decade.

Whatever the case, here are just some of the many things I've learned in the 2010s.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Rise of Skywalker: Non-Spoilery Questions

I have now seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker twice. But it’s way too early to post a proper review. In the past I’ve posted non-spoilery thoughts on the new trilogy (see here and here) and then spoilery posts later: see herehere, and here. But this time I had the idea to do a non-spoilery review consisting of questions that I was asking before, during, and after the movie. Some of these questions are answered in the movie. Some of them were prompted by the movie. Many are meta-questions about fandom’s relationship with the movie. There are even a few philosophical bits! I'm not sure how it will go, but I've got a good feeling about this.