Space race

I’ve been reading and watching a great deal of science fiction recently. It’s an important genre, rarely accorded the respect it deserves. Octavia Butler’s thoughts are a helpful primer:

So, then, I write science fiction and fantasy for a living. As far as I know I’m still the only Black woman who does this. When I began to do a little public speaking, one of the questions I heard most often was, “What good is science fiction to Black people?” I was usually asked this by a Black person. I gave bits and pieces of answers that didn’t satisfy me and that probably didn’t satisfy my questioners. I resented the question. Why should I have to justify my profession to anyone?

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Indian Old Rope Trick

None is needed, but if any were, Thomas Friedman’s latest thoughts on Indian voting patterns provides yet more evidence that he’s less a journalist, more a transcriber of the opinion of powerful friends. Read his insights here. Below, my letter to the editor of the New York Times, which won’t get published because it’s late, ornery, and not quite elegant enough.

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Fighting Patrick Moore

At least one reader of this blog will remember that I once had a fight with Johnny Ball. For those who didn’t grow up in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Ball was a BBC children’s television presenter with a fondness for mathematics. He fostered a generation of geeks while their parents were out at work, and it widely considered a coup that the Balliol College Mathematics Society was able to invite him to be their keynote speaker one christmas. Mr Ball’s thoughts were, sadly, not all I’d hoped them to be. He’d been correctly fingered as “a man of science trusted by the British people” by British Nuclear Fuels Plc, who had recently retained him as one of their key spokespeople. Ball – Johnny, he’ll always be Johnny to me – decided to use the occassion to sing a song about prime numbers, to ecsatic applause, and then hymn the virtues of nuclear power. I took exception to this, and rather drunkenly and loudly told him so. This is why Johnny’s inclusion in this who is mistakenly enrolled in list of heroes of the revolution is entirely undeserved.

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Frustrating

Ah, the pain of it. Several good jokes and insights into the goings on at the Bio 2004 conference have just been blown away by a dysfunctional computer. Guess I’ll be spending some time on the phone to Toshiba, but not before heading out to support the comrades at Reclaim the Commons. More from that protest over at the Turtle, later today.

On the streets again

The technology gods have decreed that I am to sacrifice blogging today in order to spend time kicking malfunctioning networking equipment. But not before I direct folk to the SF Indymedia site . The protest against the war yesterday was smaller than it ought to have been. The people of colour contingent, “Strength in Unity”, was spirited, but the tenor was a little more resigned than I’ve seen at the protest. Many banners depicted the hooded, wired prisoner at Abu Ghraib. The disgust over prisoner abuse renders joyless the “another white, lesbian, biker, Berkeley mother for peace”-style placard.

Blogging

Call it the jouissance of initial self-discovery, liken it to the first happy fumblings after we’ve discovered how to masturbate, understand it by showing that this is the self-conscious exploration of the boundaries of new media, but the blogging community seems particularly fond of talking about, er, blogging. I don’t mind it – I enjoy the thoughtful, reflective moments at fine members of the blogroll (column right) and, yes, I know, I am right now shuffling a self-referential handful into the pot.

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Killed to Impress America

Have the US government’s policies in the Middle East condoned an open season on brown men? You bet. The Macedonian right killed seven ‘mujahedeen’ to show they were just as serious as anyone else in the war on terror. It’s the limit case of the kinds of barbarism we’ve seen following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The New York Times had this note on the affair last month:

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