Tag Archives: science fiction

Restless. Nothing to read. Waiting.

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Restless. Can’t find a book to delve into since Among Others, which I really enjoyed. I like the concept that the longer you have a thing, the more magical connection it has with you. I’ve been thinking about that for days.

I keep looking through my dwindling supply of library books and my own old collection, reading a bit here and there, and I keep searching for Kindle library books; but nothing is doing it for me right now. And every day I check to see if the new Fantasy and Science Fiction is out on the Kindle. (It looks like the new issue is out in its usual form, but there’s no word on how long the wait is for the Kindle version. And oddly, I posted a message on the Fantasy and Science Fiction Facebook page, only to have it removed almost immediately. I figure they must get too many people asking about subscriptions, and don’t want to clutter up the page, but it still seems a bit strange.) However, I’ve been buying this magazine for 15 years or so, and have had a subscription for good portions of that time—and it’s always been a little sporadic as to when the issue is going to come in the mail, or whether or not it’s available in a local store—so I’ll just have to chill out and wait. It will come along soon enough, I’ll read all the stories in a couple of days, and then have to wait 2 more months anyway.

In the meantime, what am I going to read?! Suggestions?

Holding one in my hand is not the same as holding another, even though the words of the story are the same

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I’ve been reading Fantasy and Science Fiction mag on the Kindle and enjoying it almost as much as when I used to get the hard copy. I do miss being able to flip through and pick a story that looks about the right length for the reading time I have—I can see the word count on the Kindle, but it’s not the same. Also, when I finish a story, the next one begins on the same page, which is distracting. I can get out of this screen by clicking back to the menu, but I wish I didn’t have to. I also miss being able to page through the mag from beginning to end. Plus I feel bummed that I don’t have the hard copy for my collection, even though it is just a collection and I never go back and read any of them.

And, there’s something intangible that is hard to describe. Things have a different feel, a unique impression, an aura maybe, depending on their association with other things in my mind, according to their color, their heft., their texture. Holding one in my hand is not the same as holding another, even though the words of the story are the same.

Am I trying to say that the medium is the message?

Sleep wanted, plus return of Fantasy and Sci Fi mag

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Argh! I can’t get caught up on my sleep. This is getting annoying. It’s not insomnia—I’m just not able to get to bed early enough for super early morning meetings, plus I’m not really caught up from last week and my Portland weekend.

I’m going to go try to read a bit of the latest issue (Kindle version) of my old favorite mag, Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’ve gotten the print version off and on (mostly on) for years. But I let my subscription lapse over the last year or so—looks like I’m missing the last four bi-monthly issues. Cool that they finally offer a digital version through Amazon.com, although if I could, I’d continue to get the print one as well for my collection. Alas, the cover artwork is not quite the same in black and white. And the print edition is a nice compact, lightweight size that is easy to throw in a bag or read in the bath. But who knows, I might prefer reading it this way.

Reading: The Windup Girl

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I’m reading an interesting SciFi book called The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. I think I originally saw it at Powell’s a few weeks ago, and then grabbed it at the library when I got back. I’ve been so busy that I’m not getting through it very quickly, but it’s a refreshing change from everything else I’ve been reading lately. The feel of the characters and setting reminds me of George Alec Effinger’s Marid, and the Budayeen.

Does this make me a Wheaton-esque geek?

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Magic Arrest Enchantment AuraMy hubby’s been teaching me Magic and we’ve been playing together for about a week. My brain hurts, but I just kicked his ass twice in a row in spite of his three Arrest Enchantments, so I think I’m kind of liking it. And the artwork is pretty cool.

I’d say this officially makes me a Wheaton-esque geek, but I’m sure others would say I’ve been there for a while. Should I mention how much I wish we were at Emerald City Comicon right now? We had so much fun with the crazies a few years ago. And we actually met Mr. Wheaton himself, which was great—he seemed like such a genuinely nice guy, taking the time to really engage with each person who stood in line to meet him.

Another highlight: meeting Angus Oblong (in very scary clown makeup), creator of The Oblongs among many other twisted things. I still have the Wicked Woman shirt I got there. Somewhere in the world there is a photo of me in that shirt with Angus.

“Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals” a review

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Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat; Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals, by Hal Herzog

The troubled middle: An exploration of our ethical obligations to animals in Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, by Hal Herzog.

Website for the book: http://halherzog.com

Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat is a thoughtful and approachable summary of research into anthrozoology, the science of human-animal relations. With a self-deprecating humor and a humble approach, Hal not only shares his research with us, but thinks out loud about the implications for his own life and for our understanding of human nature as it relates to our ideas about and actions towards animals. I recommend this book to anyone interested in challenging their own assumptions about how and why we relate to the animals in our world.

I must say that I don’t agree with everything mentioned in the book. There are some facts and figures given about ex-vegetarians, and vegetarianism and eating disorders, that seem a little correlative rather than causative. And I can’t find any reference at all for the ex-vegetarian studies in the Notes (see my comment below on the Notes section). I can’t speak to the actual research, but I wish he had spoken with some knowledgeable vegan dietitians for an alternate perspective and case studies. Also, as several other reviewers have pointed out, he uses the case of a woman who considered herself a vegetarian while eating fish, and then after deciding to eat all meat again, as a case of a person who is now an ex-vegetarian. Obviously, she never was a vegetarian to begin with, so cannot now be an ex-vegetarian.

After many years of developing a successful research program around animal behavior studies, Hal Herzog made a shift from studying animal behavior to studying animal people:

I found myself thinking more about the paradoxes associated with our relationships with animals and less about my animal behavior studies. … there were only a handful of researchers trying to understand the often wacky ways that people relate to other species. … Since shifting from studying animal behavior to studying animal people, my research has largely focused on individuals who love animals but who confront moral quandaries in their relationships with them.

I have attended animal rights protests, serpent-handling church services, and clandestine rooster fights. I have interviewed laboratory animal technicians, big-time professional dog-show handlers, and small-time circus animal trainers. I’ve watched high school kids dissect their first fetal pigs and helped a farm crew slaughter cattle. I analyzed several thousand Internet messages between biomedical researchers and animal rights activists as they tried—and ultimately failed—to find common ground. My students have studied women hunters, dog rescuers, ex-vegetarians, and people who love pet rats. We have surveyed thousands of people about their attitudes toward rodeos, factory farming, and animal research. We have even pored over hundreds of back issues of sleazy supermarket tabloids for insight into our modern cultural myths about animals.

Hal is not vegan (or even vegetarian), but I like his considered and logical approach to examining these important issues. It is admittedly hard for me to understand how anyone could do this sort of research and have their eyes opened to so many animal abuses, and not become vegan, but I also understand that everyone is on their own journey and that not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions that I have. In the introduction, Hal states:

Like most people, I am conflicted about our ethical obligations to animals. The philosopher Strachan Donnelley calls this murky ethical territory “the troubled middle.” Those of us in the troubled middle live in a complex moral universe. I eat meat—but not as much as I used to, and not veal. I oppose testing the toxicity of oven cleaner and eye shadow on animals, but I would sacrifice a lot of mice to find a cure for cancer. And while I find some of the logic of animal liberation philosophers convincing, I also believe that our vastly greater capacity for symbolic language, culture, and ethical judgment puts humans on a different moral plane from that of other animals. We middlers see the world in shades of gray rather than in the clear blacks and whites of committed animal activists and their equally vociferous opponents. Some argue that we are fence-sitters, moral wimps. I believe, however, that the troubled middle makes perfect sense because moral quagmires are inevitable in a species with a huge brain and a big heart. They come with the territory.

Even though I clearly make different choices than Hal, I also see everything in my life in many shades of gray rather than in absolutes. In spite of not agreeing with all of the conclusion in this book, I believe that this is the kind of conversation that we should be having across disciplines and communities.

I will do several posts about this book in the coming days, so stay tuned.

(Be sure to check out the Notes section in the back for extra commentary. One thing that does bother me about the book is that the Notes are numbered but not broken down by chapter, nor are there footnotes within the chapters, which makes looking for a particular reference a bit maddening. Why make it hard to find a reference? For instance, in one section he references a CBS News survey, and yet for the life of me I can’t find a reference for it in the Notes. At first I thought it was the result of some weird Kindle formatting, but no, it’s like that in the hard copy of the book as well.)

Taking the time to just be

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First, Goal progress: In bed by 1 a.m. Jan 10, Up at 9 a.m. Jan 11. Oops, will not beat myself up over this – just have to make it to bed soon so as to not repeat tomorrow.
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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 2

How can you simplify your life? How do you make it more difficult than it needs to be? How are you wasting time? What are you holding onto that is not serving you? Work with this concept during the next week to see what comes up for you. Meditate on simplicity.

In some ways, I find myself trying to add more things on this year, not less. I want this to be a year of saying yes more than I say no. There will be a balance there somewhere.

Some circumstances have simplified my life for me, though: for instance, work closed our local office, so now that my home office is my daily workspace, I no longer have to waste time or gas driving all the way across town. Because of this, I find myself running fewer errands, less often, because I consolidate them now. Why bother leaving the home office unless I have several destinations? Inertia is powerful.

I make my life more difficult than it needs to be by often filling my days with too much data. Some days I am overwhelmed with the information overload of the internet: all the blogs and bits and pieces of social media pointing me to a million interesting tidbits of knowledge. For the same reason, I’ll have 30 library books out at a time, because they all contain something I want to learn about; animal welfare, behavior, and cognition, activism, memory, social commentary, time management, twin studies, fictional worlds, science writing…

And I complicate my life when I try to over-engineer my day with too many lists and artificial deadlines. The more I cram into my day, the more I have a nagging feeling that something important is not getting done. Maybe that important something is taking the time to just be.