Putting the life back in science fiction


The anarchist lich cult of intergenerational wealth
June 6, 2019, 11:55 pm
Filed under: American politics, book, economics, Legacy Systems, Speculation, Uncategorized

Time to use the blog to take a break from real life.  With our overheating hot local economy, there are numerous and problematic developments going through.  Since I work on conservation issues for an NGO, I’ve my energy the last three months dealing with all these projects, writing letters and testifying.  It’s basically something new every week.  I won’t get a serious break until the next recession, looks like.  Or until I write a blog entry.

Anyway, I haven’t been completely busy, and I have had time to read.  This isn’t a book review, more of an impressionistic rant based on some of the stuff I’ve been reading.  In part as opposition research, in part as research for how to write a wealthy villain, in part because it sounded cool in a radio interview, a few months ago I read (and recommend) Brooke Harrington’s Capital without Borders.  It’s a sociological study of wealth managers, the profession that helps the super-rich hide their money through offshore financial centers.  Prof. Harrington did a really neat study: she embedded herself in the community by taking (and passing) the wealth management training and certification course, interviewing as she went.  She was quite open about what she was doing, but because she has exquisite people skills and put in her time in the trenches studying with the rest of the students, passing the tests and getting credentialed, she got wealth managers to open up to her and to talk about their world and the clients they serve.  Her book is a very lucid exploration of an industry that prides itself on discretion and secrecy.  This book necessarily is about the nuts and bolts of how things work.  Anecdotes are used to illustrate more than titillate, and all of the identifying details are stripped off. Continue reading

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Vegetation on a Red Dwarf world

I’ve been running a blog post on Antipope while the owner is otherwise occupied.  Part of that posting was a short riff on what it would be like to colonize an earth-like world that orbits a red dwarf star Rather than bore that (largely techie) crowd over there to tears with an extended botanical geek-out, I figured I’d post it for the smaller, more discerning group here.

Here’s the question du jour: what would plants look like on a red dwarf world? Continue reading



The hole-y multiverse theory

Hi, I’m avoiding writing yet another response to yet another badly conceived development.  So I’m wasting time writing a blog post.  This here dubious speculation is something I cooked up over on Antipope a little while ago, and just to make it easier to find the idea and mock it (or whatever), I figured I’d write it up here.  This is my two-bit, I’m-not-even-good-at-physics-let-alone-a-cosmologist take on multiverse formation.  Read it in that spirit.

As background, I’ve come to the conclusion that a rational society, especially an interstellar society, could do worse than to revere black holes.  After all, without SgrA*, the giant black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way wouldn’t exist and neither would we, so that’s our creator, at least in the local sense.  Since it appears that our ruling demon sultan SgrA* may be surrounded by a swarm of lesser black holes, I sometimes wonder if we should rename SgrA* “Azathoth.”  Especially if it turns out that those lesser black holes are emitting either drum-like beats of gravitational waves and/or monotonous, radio-frequency fluting whines.  Unfortunately, calling our creator and ultimate doom “Azathoth” would enshrine a rather nasty bit of islamophobia that Lovecraft emitted.  But none of that’s the point here.

Continue reading



Beavering away at geoengineering

Two down, now three (four?) EIRs to go.  Oy.  And one of the ones I commented on planned, perhaps, to install a meter-wide water line in the same busy intersection as another group is currently going to install a 240 KW electrical transmission line.  Shocking, possibly explosive.  I can only hope that the engineers already knew of the juxtaposition, even if the environmental consultants did not.

So, I want to talk about something else: peat.  And beavers.  And some really silly ideas about geoengineering.

Continue reading



A Bright and Shiny Future. With Mirrorshades

More avoidance.  I was going to write about the IEA’s 2017 World Energy Outlook (Vox article).  Or I could write about The Grauniad’s seven megatrends that could beat global warming” article.  Or I could write about the bright and shiny, 100% electrified future that seems to be the major global bankwagon that people like the IEA are now jumping on.  But that would be avoiding the real work.  Continue reading



Orality, Literacy, and Enchantment as a Survival Skill
November 15, 2017, 2:30 am
Filed under: climate change, disasters, futurism, Speculation | Tags: ,

Since I’m avoiding reading two EIRs right now (I commented on a third last week), I figure I might as well play with some ideas that floated up since the previous post, about our modern conceptions of magic being the residue of previous methods for storing and propagating information in an oral culture.  Right now, my bedtime reading is Walter J Ong’s 1982 opus Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.  I wanted to highlight a point that Ong makes in great detail, echoed by others (like Joshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein): people process data differently depending on whether they know how to read and how to write or not. Continue reading



The re-enchantment of the future, collapse style

Sad that I missed posting in September.  My only defense is that there’s a lot going on in the real world.  Not writing for profit, sadly, but dealing with development, environmental impact reports, and policy.  And pulling weeds.  I’d rather write about something totally different: the idea that civilization collapses and magic comes back.  It’s not new, of course.  It’s the premise of, oh, the whole Shannara series, a bunch of stories by Fred Saberhagen, even the Dying Earth if you stretch the metaphor until it breaks.  You can probably name another dozen stories in a similar vein.

I think I found a different angle, one that might make practical enchantment work in the real world.  With, yes, wands, staves, amulets, fetishes, and all sorts of enchanted items and rituals. Continue reading