Some Things I’m Reading Lately – 8-5-2017

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Men Will Lose the Most Jobs to Robots, and That’s OK by Laurie Penny, writing for WIRED.

I’ve been a fan of Laurie Penny’s writing for a number of years, having first discovered her through a link on warrenellis.com. I opened up this month’s issue of Wired and found a short opinion piece about the looming threat of automation and joblessness – a topic I follow enthusiastically – and was pleasantly surprised to spot her byline. As I said, it’s a short piece, and worth the five minutes of your time.


 

In other news, I know I’ve been absent and neglectful. It’s been a busy summer. I’ll be around more soon.

Some Things I’m Reading Lately – 5-18-17

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I read constantly. If I go 24 hours without sitting in my recliner with a paperback, my Kindle, or at least a magazine – real or tablet edition – I become cranky. It’s better to just leave me be and let me read, honestly.

From time to time, I like to share some of the things I’ve been reading lately… Here goes.

Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift is a long read, and a hell of a long read for the internet. The TLDR summary: everything you know about Captain James T. Kirk is probably bullshit, even if you’ve seen every TOS episode. This essay is fantastic. Erin Horáková knows her Trek, and her love for the source material is clear in this lengthy argument concerning collective memory and gender politics. It is absolutely worth the read. And, for me, it struck a wonderful note right from the start. Horáková’s opening anecdote rang some bells for me, as I have most definitely been to a party with That Guy. (My own That Guy tale involves an award winning author, a college girl, and a bar tab.)

God in the Machine: my strange journey into transhumanism is much shorter. And, honestly, the central premise fails to shock with any originality or true insight. Perhaps, however, that only serves to bolster Meghan O’Gieblyn’s argument. At any rate, it’s worth a read-through if you’re curious about transhumanism and the Singularity.

Google is doomed. Read the latest news from the Future! here in This is How Google Will Collapsein which Daniel Colin James sends us dispatches from the post-Google future.


And just in case anyone wondered how I do my reading, here’s a quick précis:

Fiction I either read on my Kindle (a slate-gray 5th gen model, which I refuse to upgrade until either the Voyage goes down in price or they bring back physical page turn buttons for other models) or in paperback. I frequent McKay Used Books in Knoxville, which was one of the Four Things I Missed About Tennessee while I didn’t live here.

Internet essays and articles I typically find via laptop or phone browsing. They are saved for later consumption using Pocket, and read either on my phone or on my Kindle Fire tablet.

Lucid Dreaming with Awful Beer

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A few nights ago I had a dream. It unfolded in the typical way of dreams, disjointed events unfolding without conscious direction. At one point I was given a beer. I looked down at the bottle and saw it was a Miller Lite, at which point I rejected the narrative of the dream and went hunting for a better beer.

Now, I don’t think of myself as a beer snob. Sure, I know a good bit about beer. I’ve been a bartender. I’ve been a drinker. In case you’re wondering, my current favorite is Gotta Get Up to Get Down, a coffee milk stout from Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis, Tennessee.

I tend toward dark beers, and I’ve downed my share (or more than) of pints of Guinness, Newcastle, and Smithwicks. There’s this excellent South American beer, Xingu, that a friend of mine swears tastes like Coca-Cola (it doesn’t.)

I don’t always drink dark beers. The bartenders at Madam’s Organ in DC used to keep a twelve pack of Dos Equis just for me. I am at this very moment drinking a bottle of Miller High Life, with a pinch of salt dropped in.

But, and I mean this from the bottom of my stomach, if you hand me a Miller Lite you can fuck right off.

It’s a matter of taste, and I speak only for my own taste and imply no judgement on anyone else’s, but Miller Lite is the single worst beer on the market. It is the reason people who don’t drink beer don’t drink beer.

Miller Lite is so bad that, when confronted with one in a nightmare I literally hijacked my unconscious and took (momentary) control of my dream.

I’ve never been able to lucid dream.

Let me break that down a bit. Lucid dreaming, technically, is simply being aware that you are in a dream while it is happening. That happens all the time (for me, anyway), though usually right at the end of the dream. But when people say “lucid dreaming,” they’re just about always referring to the next step: controlling your dream.

I always end up thinking about Vanilla Sky when that comes up. And if I let my mind wander, I’ll end up thinking about Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks (in which certain cultures have developed VR Heavens and Hells, their governments deciding to which any particular deceased may be uploaded).

But, yeah, Vanilla Sky. Poor Tom Cruise is stuck in a lucid dream in which he has lost control. That’s what my lucid dreams are like. Not that they’re psychosexual nightmares involving Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. (Usually) I mean only that, aware of the dream or not, I lack control. I lack agency. I am reduced to the status of NPC in my own unconscious.

I’ve always wanted to be able to direct my own dreams. Who wouldn’t?

As it turns out, the key – for me, at least – was the worst beer in the Universe.