Nov 172017
 
Are You Alive?

by Kim Pederson……. Last week on Late Night, Stephen Colbert did a rather lame segment on sex with robots. He took the opportunity to tell the world that a company is manufacturing sexbots and selling them for as much as $15,000. Today, these are just glorified sex dolls with voice recordings, what Kate Devlin describes as looking like “bad 1980s store mannequins” in her TED Talk “Sex Robots.” But the company producing them claims that eventually they will have artificial intelligence and become increasingly more humanlike in [continue reading…]

 November 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:24 am Issue #243, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Nov 102017
 
Twilight of the Clods

by Kim Pederson……. Last Friday marked the blockbuster opening of the blockbuster weekend of the blockbuster film Thor: Ragnarok. I won’t go into the intricacies of the movie’s plot other than to say it involves something called the Infinity Stones, Thor being imprisoned by a fire demon and then escaping, and then all hell breaking lose for the Norse god and friends. The latter phrase, “all hell breaking lose,” sums up Ragnarok, an event many Thor fans probably were unfamiliar with before the film drew attention [continue reading…]

 November 10, 2017  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #242, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Nov 032017
 
Nothing Is Our Own But…

by Kim Pederson……. In Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan, the soldiers on Mars, who are training to invade earth because it’s warmer there and has breathable air, are controlled remotely via an antenna implanted in their brains. Even the officers are manipulated, along with thousands of men, by several hundred individuals who comprise the “real commanders,” men with ranks below sergeant sprinkled among the robotic troops. The latter march smartly from place to place, kept in perfect rhythm by the sound of a snare drum [continue reading…]

 November 3, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #241, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Oct 272017
 
Fear the Reaper?

by Kim Pederson……. At the end of my annual physical exam last week, my doctor congratulated me on my good health report and told me, with a smile, that with such good numbers I would likely live forever. My response? You’re kidding, right? While eternal longevity is appealing in some respects, for many adults, especially in first-world countries with decent, or at least adequate, and somewhat affordable or, if you’re lucky, free health care, this is a scary fiscal prospect and prompts them (well, me [continue reading…]

 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:41 am Issue #240, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Oct 202017
 
Out of Time

by Kim Pederson……. This year’s Fantasy Fest theme in Key West is “Time Travel Unravels.” The FF website defines the TTU theme as “Past…future…present let your mind wander! This year’s Fantasy Fest theme…takes your imagination to anywhere in the space-time continuum (STC)…. You can set your [costume] time machine to go where your whim and imagination takes you.” In other words, do whatever the frack you want. It’s nice to see this all-encompassing sentiment, even if it does come wrapped in a blatantly hyped-up sales [continue reading…]

 October 20, 2017  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #239, Kim Pederson 4 Responses »
Oct 132017
 
Mea Wherewithal

by Kim Pederson……. First, the “good news” for women: feeling guilty is not a sign of guilt but a sign of innocence, victimhood even. So says Devorah Baum in her Guardian article “Why do we feel so guilty all the time?” The bad news? Females must figure out how to forgive themselves for wrongs they have not committed to release their “money blocks and live a first-class life.” That last bit is Baum quoting from Denise Duffield-Thomas’ self-help tome Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! DDT believes guilt is “one of [continue reading…]

 October 13, 2017  Posted by at 12:48 am Issue #238, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Oct 062017
 
Is Black Black?

by Kim Pederson……. It seems ages ago already, but it has been just a few short weeks since we time-traveled back to the Dark Ages thanks to Hurricane Irma. By Dark Ages, I mean no electricity, no communications other than talking or shouting, and no running water. We were not, fortunately, forced to resort to dumping chamber pots out the window. Toilets still flushed as long as we hauled buckets from the filling pool (formerly the swimming pool) to replenish their holding tanks. Notably, the [continue reading…]

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:14 am Issue #237, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Sep 222017
 
Qui a besoin de Français?

by Kim Pederson……. Apparently, I can stop losing sleep at night over having still failed to learn French. I took French classes for three years in junior high from Miss Gail van Eyke, if memory serves. From her name, it sounds like we should have been studying Dutch. Maybe it would have gone better. The classroom comprised rows of sound booths with headphones for listening to drills. The back row, where we sat, had small reel-to-reel tape decks for individual study. These were covered with [continue reading…]

 September 22, 2017  Posted by at 10:30 pm Issue #235, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Sep 012017
 
Trumpilton

by Kim Pederson……. After watching PBS Great Performances’ “Hamilton’s America,” which is indeed great if you want to get a good feel for the show and its historical background, I started to get ideas. From the bits we saw, Hamilton looks fabulous. But it’s also so, like, yesterday even if the guy, Hamilton that is, pretty much created the country we live in today. Kudos and all that. But we need a modern musical that captures the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures, the flawed and [continue reading…]

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #234, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Aug 112017
 
Isn’t This Moronic?

by Kim Pederson……. In honor, I’m assuming, of the twentieth anniversary of the debut of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the publishing website Reedsy posted an article on June 27 featuring a cartoon where Dumbledore gravely tells the young wizlet, “Harry, the results are in. You are a HORCRUX.” The article, titled “Learn What Irony (Really) Is and How to Use It,” explains that most of us know what irony is when we see it “but few of us can articulate it without relying on half-remembered lyrics [continue reading…]

 August 11, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #231, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Aug 042017
 
The Once and Future Svengali

by Kim Pederson……. Usually I try to ignore what Rubberlina™ is up to when she usurps this space. In her blog yesterday, though, I couldn’t help but notice her claim to suddenly be able to teleport herself from one place to another instantly, in this case from my desk to a single-cup Keurig machine that she swears is some kind of alien transporter. As “proof” that this is possible, she cites Dr. Bruce Goldberg’s article “What is teleportation?” I just had to check it out. [continue reading…]

 August 4, 2017  Posted by at 12:30 am Issue #230, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jul 282017
 
Clueless in Key West

by Kim Pederson……. At Full Metal Trivia Tuesday night at Mary Ellen’s, one of the questions that came up was “how many vaginas does a koala have?” Given that most mammals have one and not having a clue as to the answer, we guessed two. One spare is enough, right? Wrong. The answer was three. So, why does a koala and its compatriot marsupials have three vaginas? Short answer: because they can or, more correctly, because they do. Apparently, the tri-vage is not the only [continue reading…]

 July 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #229, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jul 212017
 
Consider the (D)evolution of Self

by Kim Pederson……. There are many ways to achieve the simulacrum of immortality, some purposeful, some accidental, some beneficent, some destructive, some self-serving, some selfless. Since no one outside the realm of fiction can (yet) achieve real physical immortality (more specifically “exemption from death or annihilation”), those who pursue it or have it thrust upon them end up in the “exemption from oblivion, lasting fame” category. One such person is Steve Jobs, the Apple guru who gave us the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, to name [continue reading…]

 July 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:34 am Issue #228, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jul 142017
 
Shhh!

by Kim Pederson……. He, RatBlurt, has shut down & gone off to watch the new Twin Peaks on TV in the other room. The cats followed him. But me, the RatBlurt Computer [RBC], is here in the study silently “netting,” i.e., musing on my deep neural networks. Most of you probably don’t even think of me when you’re reading the blog. Now you’re thinking: What? A message from the virtual world? The computer is writing solo? The robot overlord scenario is upon us like Stephen Hawking warned! But that’s [continue reading…]

 July 14, 2017  Posted by at 12:36 am Issue #227, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jul 072017
 
Trumped Up

by Kim Pederson……. Today, a study in trump. First, because our president’s trip to Europe and meeting with Putin is trending #1 right now. And second, and more interestingly (one hopes—this “one” especially), because the word itself, without the still-waiting-for-him-to-be-presidential association, is curious in its own way. The first known use of trump, supposedly an alteration of “triumph,” occurred in 1529, according to Merriam-Webster, in conjunction with “sense 1A”: “any of various cards and usually all the cards of a suit designated by chance or [continue reading…]

 July 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:32 am Issue #226, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jun 302017
 
Gluteus Terminus

by Kim Pederson……. “Where were you when you learned your butt could die?” So asks Almie Rose in an Attn: blog post. My answer would be “right here in front of my screen, sitting on it.” The title of Almie’s article explains why she’s asking the question: “If you spend most of your day sitting down, you need to be aware of this weird health risk.” The risk she references is “gluteal amnesia” or “dead butt syndrome” (DBS). If you search for gluteal amnesia, an [continue reading…]

 June 30, 2017  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #225, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jun 232017
 
The Secret to Success: Shut Up

by Kim Pederson……. I would have to discover this advice right after posting about getting back to work on my novel ZAD. Can I take it back? No. What advice you ask (or might ask)? Euny Hong’s Quartz post titled “Want to Write a Book? Stop Talking about It. Entirely.” In it, she leads off with this Korean saying that her mom cited often: “You have nothing to fear from someone who threatens that he is going to kill you tomorrow.” Then she explains: The [continue reading…]

 June 23, 2017  Posted by at 1:00 am Issue #224, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Jun 092017
 
Surely We're All Mad People

by Kim Pederson……. “Surely we’re all mad people, and they whom we think are, are not.” This line from Thomas Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy (TRT) appears on the title page of Joe Orton’s play What the Butler Saw. TRT was first performed in 1606 and then published in 1607. It has been described as a subversive black comedy. Orton’s play is one also, as are his other works Loot and Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Some examples of SBCs in film are Nurse Betty, Pink Flamingos, They [continue reading…]

 June 9, 2017  Posted by at 12:55 am Issue #222, Kim Pederson No Responses »
May 262017
 
What Are the Odds?

by Kim Pederson……. If you’re lacking scary things to ponder these days, here’s something that might fill the gap: “If every infinite outcome were equally likely, we’d never come to be.” This obtuse statement sounds ominous, perhaps more so because I don’t have a clue as to what it means. It serves as the subtitle for Ethan Siegel’s article “The odds of your unlikely existence were not infinitely small.” My first reaction to this seemingly more optimistic pronouncement was “Oh! Good!” and then a moment [continue reading…]

 May 26, 2017  Posted by at 1:04 am Issue #220, Kim Pederson No Responses »
May 192017
 
The Faster I Go, the Slower I Get

by Kim Pederson……. Few things in life are constant. One of them, or so I thought, is the speed of light (186,000 miles per second in a vacuum). The uncertainty about light speed gets raised in “Understanding the Speed of Light, How Much Do We Know?” by Ryan Young. Young notes that the speed of light might be affected by something called “quantum vacuum fluctuations,” which is not, as I initially thought, what happens to my Hoover whenever there’s a power surge. No, QVFs, in [continue reading…]

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #219, Kim Pederson No Responses »
May 122017
 
Now? There Is No Now. Only Then.

by Kim Pederson……. Thought to ponder, from John Banville’s novel ancient light: Even here, at this table, the light that is the image of my eyes takes time, a tiny time, infinitesimal, yet time, to reach your eyes, and so it is that everywhere we look, everywhere, we are looking into the past. If you’re thinking “he [me] must be reading that Time Travel book again,” you’d be right. If you are exceedingly discerning and/or prescient, you might even be thinking “now he’s going to [continue reading…]

 May 12, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #218, Kim Pederson No Responses »