Let’s start with that, shall we? FROZEN DREAMS is my first novel (also available as an audiobook): it’s a post-apocalyptic urban high fantasy pulp detective novel, complete with wizards, fantasy races, and at least one wisecracking private eye. It’s set in the far-future and remarkably-retro Cin City, capital of the Kingdom of New California – where life may not be cheap, but it ain’t exactly solidly made, either. Now, some might say that all of this is just an excuse for me to make all sorts of pop culture references in a fantasy story – but I couldn’t possibly comment.
The hero of this story is Tom Vargas, a Shamus pledged to Clear the tough Cases, no matter what. And there’s a lot of ‘whats.’ Evil mage ambassadors. Commie demonologists. Ken barbarians. And as many flying monkeys as my editor could force me to put in.
Five Republican US senators have asked Netflix to reconsider its plans to adapt the bestselling Chinese author Liu Cixin’s book The Three-Body Problem, citing Liu’s comments in support of the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
In a letter to Netflix, the senators said they had “significant concerns with Netflix’s decision to do business with an individual who is parroting dangerous CCP propaganda”. The letter cites Liu’s interview with the New Yorker last year, in which the Chinese novelist was asked about the mass internment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
“Would you rather that they be hacking away at bodies at train stations and schools in terrorist attacks? If anything, the government is helping their economy and trying to lift them out of poverty,” Liu said, adding: “If you were to loosen up the country a bit, the consequences would be terrifying.”
The Guardian, “Netflix faces call to rethink Liu Cixin adaptation after his Uighur comments”
The question of separating the art from the artist doesn’t have an easy answer. Usually, I can – for example, Orson Scott Card’s political views are at odds with mine, but I am still able to enjoy Ender’s Game. However, Dan Simmons went completely overboard back in April 2006 to an unforgivable degree and rendering Hyperion completely unreadable to me. The above, from Liu, is equivalent in my view and arguably worse as he is glibly parroting CCP propaganda and justifying religious and cultural genocide.
I just finished saying that I try to avoid politics on this blog, but the simple fact is that science fiction is about the human condition. When writers of other genres offend me, it doesn’t sting. And at least with Card I can see where he’s coming from (I disagree profoundly, but I get it). Liu and Simmons made it personal.
I don’t begrudge him his Hugo but I sincerely hope that Netflix doesn’t reward Chinese propaganda with a TV deal. If they do, then I will not be watching.
I consider respect to be the first and foremost responsibility of anyone engaging someone else. If you don’t respect someone, then don’t concern yourself with what they do or think or especially, post on the Internet. This is common sense and civility.
This blog is my geekblog; it’s where I write about stuff I like that makes me happy. Politics is about what makes you mad, it seems, and I have avoided it here. Overall there isn’t that much politics in the otakusphere, and that’s why it’s great.
Unfortunately we are living through a pandemic and a recession and an election and all that on top of the usual bevy of dangerous planet stuff and foreign entanglements and whatnot. So I cant fault some of my otalu brethren for letting some of that hang out a bit.
However there are a couple cases where it’s become… blatant. And I don’t feel a need to point fingers, but today I did remove a link or two from my blogroll because I realized that their owners weren’t just otaku anymore but have decided to also become pundits. And that’s fine – not any of my business how anyone else runs their blog – but it’s not what I’m looking for here, so I’m choosing to filter that out.
I try not to express opinions (at this blog) that might make a reader think, hey, “he’s talking about me!” I think that there is an erosion of civility happening in real time. If someone agrees and their first thought is to assign blame, then they are part of the problem. The correct response is not to find out who to attack but to try and be part of the solution.
Lets talk about geeky stuff. Let’s be otaku, in the otakusphere. I like being happy more than being angry.
This is a short story by Jonathan Edelstein. It’s set in the same literary universe as his published works, “First Do No Harm” (Strange Horizons, 2015), “The Starsmith” (Escape Pod, 2016), “Iya-Iya” (Kaleidotrope, 2019) and “The Stranger in the Tower” (Andromeda Spaceways, 2019) . Here’s a brief backgrounder on the Mutanda-verse. I am grateful to Jonathan for sharing this new entry with the public and encourage everyone to read the rest!
This post is several months late. I am basically catching up to my 50to50 list all at once, but for aesthetic reasons prefer to break them out into separate posts and backdate them. So, for the record, month 48 should have been posted on February 14th, 2020 but was actually posted on April 14.
Spiritual health is just as important as physical health and mental health. I am fortunate to have a rich religious tradition whose entire existence is devoted to my spiritual health. Generally, I take this for granted.
The base minimum requirements of my faith boil down to a few specific pillars of orthoproxy (assuming orthodoxy as an axiom). Fasting in Ramadan, praying 5 days a week, etc. There is a vast space beyond these pillars, a rich tapestry of supplication and discipline. For example, there are beautiful prayers called dua that beseech the Creator to intercede on our behalf. The point of these dua – in my opinion – is to broaden awareness beyond our daily existence. These are not mandatory in my faith, but like money lying on the ground, have immense value that I have been ignoring rather than seizing.
Therefore, I resolve to recite more dua. There are duas for the morning, which ask for health and hapiness of friends and family. There are duas after every prayer, which praise the stewardship of the Fatimi Imams and their regents, the Duat Mutlaqin, of whom my own Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS, is the current office holder. And there are other duas that are poetic and powerful, some beyond my ability to really understand.
This is official concept art created for the earlier version that would have been directed by Colin Trevorrow. Images have leaked online via https://twitter.com/DRMovieNews1/, which provides the following descriptions:
Force Ghost Luke blocking Kylo Ren’s saber with his hand
C3PO comforting a damaged R2
Rey being trained by Luke
Kylo Ren fighting Vader
Rey (with double bladed saber) fighting Kylo Ren
Rey taking out Stormtroopers
Hux commits suicide with a lightsaber after Coruscant falls to the Resistance
Leia delivering a message to BB-8 (callback to A New Hope)
C3PO & R2 exploring the Coruscant ruins
The Falcon lands on a new planet
The First Order resuming control over Coruscant (pre-defeat)
Finn yelling “REY!” during a battle scene
The Final Battle on Coruscant
The script itself was leaked and discussed by Robert Meyer Burnett in the following video:
Trevorrow was fired by Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, who also was behind the director change for the Solo movie for similar reasons of “different vision.”
This post is several months late. I am basically catching up to my 50to50 list all at once, but for aesthetic reasons prefer to break them out into separate posts and backdate them 🙂 So, for the record, month 49 should have been posted on January 14th, 2020 but was actually posted on March 25.
These are my 2019 biking statistics from Strava:
48 hours, 39 minutes
This was the result of intermittent effort, with me still really exploring and being tentative about how far I could go. The above does include some mountain biking, but mostly road. My wife bought me a brand new mountain bike (a 2019 Trek Roscoe) for our anniversary in 2018, and I am still making do with my old 2011 Trek 7.3 hybrid for road rides. I’ve upgraded to clips, a better helmet, safety gear like a helmet mirror and electric lights, and learned how to change a tire.
This year, i am determined to break the 1000 mile mark. Assuming I miss a month for Ramadan and another month for Ashara and other various events or reasons, and rounding down a bit to allow for laziness here and there, i’m assuming I have 40 weekends available. Therefore I resolve to ride at least 25 miles a week to hit my goal. Unlike last month’s resolution, this one has data – via a Garmin Instinct watch connected to my Strava account. So I can monitor my progress – and so can anyone else 🙂 Follow me on Strava and keep me honest! (and give me the occasional kudos, too. It helps!)
Spoilers below the fold. My thoughts on the movie to follow later, and it’s not a spoiler to say I personally loved it. Also, the image on this post has nothing to do with the contents. It’s just bad-ass, so I’m including it.
I drink too much caffeine. In college, I was notorious for drinking multiple cans of coke a day. In grad school, I made the switch to Diet and lost 10 pounds in a month. That was my peak Chipotle phase, too, clocking in around 175.
In the past few years, since moving to California, I’ve drastically reduced my caffeine intake from Coke (having made the switch to Coke Zero, which my crude palette likes as much if not better than original Coke, and miles better than Diet). I basically order it when we eat out, which is a few times a month, and on weekends once in a while. I estimate that I currently drink 5-10 cans a month.
However, I inhale coffee. I have at least two (large) cups in the morning (one on waking up either at home or at Starbucks, another on reaching work) and another in the afternoon (usually to stave off hunger from intermittent fasting). I also will make a cup in the evening if I need to stay up, and on weekends I typically have a few cups too. I estimate that I drink about 75 cups of coffee a month.
I can’t give up on coffee. I’m not really an aficionado of the taste – I can tell great coffee from terrible, but good vs bad coffee is not always clear. Low standards indeed, because for me it is purely functional. I did go nuts over Pumpkin Spice for a while but I’m well and truly over that now. My go-to drink at Starbucks is a flat white with sugar free hazelnut and vanilla, just enough flavor to keep me interested but not attentive. The bottom line is, I don’t get enough sleep, so I drink coffee.
Caffeine consumed 0, 3, and 6 hours before bedtime significantly reduced total sleep time. Even caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour.
Caffeine consumed at all three points diminished sleep quality. Caffeine taken 3 and 6 hours before bedtime, as well as caffeine consumed at bedtime, significantly increased the amount of time spent awake during the night.
Disruptions to sleep as a result of caffeine were perceived by volunteers (as recorded in sleep diaries) for caffeine consumed at bedtime and 3 hours before bed, but were not reported for caffeine taken 6 hours before bed. However, sleep monitors measuring total sleep time and sleep efficiency (time spent sleeping relative to total time spent in bed) showed that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bedtime had significant detrimental effects to both.
That third point is the most surprising. It means that even if you don’t perceive an impact on your sleep, there still may be one. I haven’t tried to replicate the study on myself because I don’t have/want a sleep tracker, but the point is compelling.
This makes it easy to resolve to stop drinking caffeine after 2pm and limit myself to two cups of coffee a day. I’ll just switch to water (which I drink a lot more of since buying myself a cool hydroflask with a Joshua Tree design).