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Food From Outer Space

Now that we are vegetarian, Sophia invents some interesting dishes just for fun. This alien platter is a weird masterpiece!   A bizzare bitter melon, with a texture like an alien lizard, is holl

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Exposing the Dirty Wars

Sophia and her new pals, Amy Goodman and Jeremy Scahill Great book launch at the Harvard Science Center yesterday, featuring Jeremy Scahill on his new book, Dirty Wars.  After his excellent wo

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The warm stream conquers the cold

Харийс Брантс (Harris Brants) illustration for Picnic on Paradise in Издательский дом Дейч — Коллекция «Фантастика» Аркадий и Борис Стругацкие 2008 Reading “The Second Marxian Invasion“ about the Strugatski Brothers by Stephen W. Potts. Apparently this was Potts’ thesis at UC Berkeley and it is fascinating reading indeed. Tracing the utopian, socialist, and totalitarian themes in Russian fantastika literature from it’s earliest origins in the late 18th Century, the author describes how various Russian writers reacted to events such as the failed revolution in 1905, and the victory of the communists in 1917. For every utopian vision of the early Russian SF, there were dystopias, horrors, and complexities. Zamaytin’s _We_, published in 1921, is considered the classic tale of dystopia under totalitarianism, but according to Potts, it was not a counter-revolutionary work so much as a complaint that the Bolshevik utopia had not gone far enough towards the total liberation and union of personal and political interests. The modernist craze of the Leninist years eventually was constricted by Stalin’s paranoia, resulting in a number of science fiction authors vanishing to the gulags. Only writers like Belyaev, who could “reduce their technological miracles to the level of fairy tales, and inject their work with starkly ideological plots” were able to survive. When the “thaw” finally took place in 1956, the subsequent launch of Sputnik propelled Soviet SF into a new hard science phase that eventually was characterized as “cold stream” SF. This cold stream was one in which SF was narrowly conceived of as optimistic, science-oriented, and upbeat; similar to our sense-of-wonder space opera days, but one emerging from the constraints of Stalinist censorship and therefore self-consciously regulating itself and focused on a sort of vanguard of hard science futurism. The Strugatsky brothers, whose themes were more diffuse, more challenging, and informed by anthropology, psychology and the “soft” sciences, as well as the nascent New Wave, were seen as “warm stream” writers. In the 60s there was an ideological battle between the cold stream and warm stream, which was conceptually decided when the warm stream became more popular and when important critics advocated for science fiction with a purpose that transcended mere prediction and imagining of future technological advances. Here Potts quotes some criticism from 1968 about SF, but which raises some interesting thoughts about the purpose of writing in general: …we take as a criterion in assessing the value of a work everything that promotes the development of the human personality, extends its horizon, inspires it with lofty ideals, ennobles it morally and intellectually, improves its aesthetic preception [sic] of the environment, helps to gain an insight into the good and evil of this world, and to respond to them more keenly — in short, it is everything that promotes the truly human in man. ** (E. Brandis, V. Dmitrevsky, “In the Land of SF,” Soviet Literature (no. 5, 1968): 148) This strikes me as just a brilliant way to write anything!

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Jung on Freud

  I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between Jung and Freud, especially from the perspective of Jung, as related in Memories, Dreams, Reflections.  There are certainly plenty o

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teotwawki

In the light of recent tragedies and difficult times, let us get on with healing ourselves. Go ahead and let that nasty world of vampires and lunatics disappear! Time to patch together a new reality

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Youre No Good

The streets of Toronto in 1965 provide the backdrop for this punk / delinquent short film (28min), featuring a 25 year old Michael Sarrazin as a bored, alienated youth.    Filmed as a strai

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Happy Halloween, Strange Universe!

After the blasting winds and rain of Sandy, the streets are wet and plastered with green, orange and brown leaves. On all hallow’s eve, the kids came tromping along — one was dressed as a slic

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The Republican Party as Flying Saucer Cult

Watching the Republicans flail around in psychotic convulsions at the CPAC finally seemed to have convinced some Americans of what I have observed for most of my life, namely that the GOP is the party of the criminally insane.  The recent bile-spewings of Rush Limbaugh and Alan Keyes, are nothing new.  It is rather sick to watch, though, as if we are viewing the inside workings of a really lunatic fringe cult, played out live on national t.v. There are more than a few sociological parallels to the cult that figures in the book I just finished, _Imaginary Friends_ (1967), by Alison Lurie.

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Honkfest 2012, the opening parlay

Honk 2011 (c) Benjamin Greenberg Not everyone enjoys the brassy-assed freak-out of Honkfest, but if you ask me, a pack of nutty anarchists marching around the streets jamming on trumpets, d