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Category 'Culture'

The Value of Dystopia

Image by Jonny Hughes/Flickr

In response to Michael Solana’s “Stop Writing Dystopian Sci-Fi—It’s Making Us All Fear Technology,” which had inspired “We Need Dystopias Now More Than Ever.”

Solana’s essential message is, “Technology is our salvation, so why do those pesky Luddites keep trying to challenge progress and scare us?” Science fiction, like life, has always contained both utopian and dystopian themes, optimism and pessimism. If dystopias are suddenly overrepresented — which I think is untrue — it’s probably worth asking why they’re so popular, and maybe even trying to learn from them.

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Thoughts on Taxidermy, Fashion & Bighorn Sheep

Seen on the G train: A bookish young hipster bringing home the taxidermied head of a bighorn ram. Continue reading

Good-Bye and Thank You, Mr. Bradbury

“Well, what do you make of it?”

A small boy, stunned by the circus-poster effect of the old man’s attire, blinked, in need of nudging. The old man nudged:

“My shirt, boy! What do you see!?” Continue reading

The Other Seasons

Even though winter isn’t yet over in Maine, spring has signaled its arrival. Evenings are brighter; sparrows are flocking; here and there a warm breeze surprises the cold. But before spring fully arrives comes a period of thaws and rain known locally, for self-evident reasons, as mud season. And then, after spring but before true summer, comes blackfly season, when the cost of a pleasant evening is a ring of itching bites at your sockline. Continue reading

Why the WikiLeaks Address Won’t Be Found Here

In calling on citizens to Tweet the digital address of WikiLeaks, civil liberties activist John Perry Barlow was right to declare that an infowar is on, and online citizens its soldiers. But the WikiLeaks army is not one I will join. Continue reading

An iPad Critique

Several days ago a friend asked what I thought of my iPad. I didn’t answer right away, as we were communicating via instant message, and typing more than a few words on said device is a miserable process; and more than a few words are needed. The iPad is a marvelous device — but that only makes its flaws more profound. It’s also a political object, an embodiment of two deep and opposed forces in Apple’s corporate soul: toolmaker and marketer. Continue reading

Fleabane

About two years ago, I started a list on Wordie of fine-sounding words. When I last went to add a word, however, the update function was disabled. I’d probably logged in so infrequently that a defunct-account subroutine kicked in, though I prefer to think of dust gathering on the computers, and a repairman’s sneeze sending words sparkling into the air like motes in a sunbeam. Continue reading

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Passenger Pigeon Eggs