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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Good copy choices make fun stories

T.X. Watson and I, for one of our last issues of the newspaper we ran together (I think it was the last one, I'm not entirely sure), got a story from one of our editors about plane crashes and human error.

We both listen to a podcast called Hello Internet, which is a podcast about, well, a lot of things by Youtubers CGP Grey (CGP Grey) and Brady Haran (Numberphile).

I sent a picture of Watson and me holding the paper to Brady, and he asked to share it!

Link here

Monday, April 20, 2015

If you're not a Solarpunk, you're missing out

Art of OC in a Solarpunk setting by T.X. Watson
Earth Day is this Wednesday, and it's more important than ever to pay attention to what's going on in our environment to ensure that humankind gets to live on -- and live on in an ethical and comfortable way. And what's a better way to celebrate Earth Day than acting like a punk?

No, seriously. Act like a punk -- a Solarpunk.

SF writing has seen a couple of different manifestations of punk, like Cyberpunk and Steampunk, but the new emerging form of punk, and the one most relevant to what is going on, is Solarpunk.

So, what's so cool about being punk?

Punk is rejecting oppressive systems, and punk is working to deconstruct and rebuild in unconventional but beneficial ways.

In the mainstream, punk is often represented as a bunch of angry white people breaking stuff (disclosure: I'm white), but that's not the type of punk I'm into or talking about.

Solarpunk is about is breaking stuff, but it's breaking down harmful institutions and ideology, not causing violence and harm for the sake of some privileged, temper-tantrum vogue. 

Solarpunk is also interesting because it's about rebuilding with materials that are already available -- turning waste and harm into beauty and art. It's a reaction to the damage perpetuated under late capitalism.

Solarpunk: Notes towards a manifesto by Adam Flynn is a good start if you're looking to learn about Solarpunk. It's still in development, the world-building is in its beginning stages, but everyone is very enthusiastic. I want to outline some points the almost-manifesto makes.

We’re solarpunks because the only other options are denial 
or despair. 

 Cyberpunk and Steampunk were in primarily dystopian settings-- there wasn't much room for hope, and it was more about survival the renewal. Solarpunk promises a future not present in the other major punks, and allows for a lot of freedom in the writing and world-building to imagine long-term solutions and future communities. Sustainable punk, if you will.

And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance.

This calls back to my point about rebuilding as a form of resistance. A friend, fellow blogger and Solarpunk, T.X. Watson, whose original Solarpunk artwork is shared in the photo attached to this post (they're actually the one who got me into Solarpunk), illustrated this idea well in a tumblr post:

I keep seeing people asking ‘is solarpunk really punk?’ because it’s too happy and optimistic and stuff 
and I’m picturing a perfect moment in a solarpunk community — the neighbourhood mayor standing with a shit-eating grin on her face when the cops come and cut them off from city power, and nothing turns off.

It's undermining the system by building your own, which is a beautiful thing.

To follow T.X. Watson's Solarpunk blog and find other Solarpunks, link here. I also contribute to this blog.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A critical look at romance defines romance as I'm just kidding, but I had you going there for a second, didn't I? 

I meant to write that beginning as a joke, but defining romance as "I'm just kidding, but I had you going there for a second there, didn't I" sounds weirdly accurate from a cynical perspective.

I've been thinking about the idea of romance a lot, lately, and it's come to my attention that it's a rather vague idea and word. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it.

I can understand "romance" as an artistic and literary movement, and I get "romanticization" as a problem with a blurred and fuzzy perception of more serious things -- but romance, as it equates to relationships? -- forget it.

I suppose I could spin some hasty poems about "her face glistening like a dew drop on a rose" or "his voice singing my name like a chorus of morning doves" or "their fingers caressing my skin like soft waves on warm summer sand" but none of those things mean anything without context. Romance is an idea, and it's an idea presently defined by societal and cultural norms and by capitalist shit-posting about what products to pile on those we love. (and I'm pretty certain at this point that capitalism is just shit-posting ads at my generation because they're not entirely sure what makes us all tick)

So if products and words don't necessarily make romance -- what does? Is it affection? Holding someone or touching someone or kissing someone? Is it chivalry? (no it's definitely not chivalry get that crap out of my face)

A lot of sites I've browsed describe romance as a feeling -- an elation and a change in usual cognitive function or a deep love, but I feel as though all of these changes can exist and be described in ways other than romance. You can be in love with someone without romance, and you can experience elation without romance just from affection and intimacy alone, which I don't think necessarily play into this idea of romance.

Romance to me seems more like an illusion, a stained-glass reflection of the reality of feeling, whether it be love or just infatuation. I could be wrong.

I'm stumped, kids, and I'm trying to figure it out. What in the hell is romance supposed to be?