Dec 292017
For Those Who Need More Holidays

by Kim Pederson……. The other night at Full Metal Trivia at Mary Ellen’s, several of the questions were about Festivus, including on what date does Festivus occur? We didn’t know the date, or any of the other answers for that matter. As it turns out, Festivus is today, December 23. The holiday, or perhaps anti-holiday is a better term, is a secular one created by the father of a Seinfeld writer as “an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season.” If you celebrate [continue reading…]

 December 29, 2017  Posted by at 12:24 am Issue #249, Kim Pederson 1 Response »
Dec 222017
Down for the Count

by Kim Pederson……. Last night, as I was shaking out fiber capsules from a plastic bottle, about to take them as part of my seemingly endless pursuit of regularity, I looked at my palm and saw five caps resting there preingestate. Yes, I thought, five capsules is the amount I want. But then I thought, how do I know there are five and how do I even know what five is? The obvious answer is that someone taught me how to count and to recognize [continue reading…]

 December 22, 2017  Posted by at 12:34 am Issue #248, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Dec 152017
Getting a Head of Ourselves

by Kim Pederson……. In his story “Second Person, Present Tense” (published in the November Clarkesworld), Daryl Gregory starts with two quotations. One of these is from standup comic Emo Phillips: “I used to think the brain was the most important organ in the body, until I realized who was telling me that.” Its presence there becomes clear as you read on in the text. Briefly, narrator Terry was a girl named Therese who overdosed on Zen, a drug described as “a kind of arty, designer escape [continue reading…]

 December 15, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #247, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Dec 082017
A M**D Case of Brain Splatter

by Kim Pederson……. Punctuation marks. What’s their story? In the endless search (mine anyway) for the strange and wonderful, they certainly qualify. Sure, we know the period, the comma, the question mark, and the exclamation mark. But what about the guillemet, the solidus, the octothorpe, and the obelus? Each one has its own specific role in our language and its own history. Today, for no discernible reason, I’ve focused my less-than-laser-like attention on the asterisk, or, as it is better known, the *. The asterisk, [continue reading…]

 December 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:22 am issue #246, Kim Pederson No Responses »
Nov 242017
As If Things Aren’t Bad Enough

by Kim Pederson……. I read recently that the Totten Glacier (TG) in Antarctica may not be long for this world. Described in a Verge article by Alessandra Potenza as “a sort of canary in the coal mine,” the TG, located in East Antarctica, “contains so much ice it could raise sea levels by at least 11 feet if it all melted—and research now shows the ice is retreating because of warmer-than-usual waters brought by strong winds.” (If you need a climate-change chill, these animated maps from The New York Times demonstrate [continue reading…]

 November 24, 2017  Posted by at 12:18 am Issue #244, Kim Pederson No Responses »
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

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 »