The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.
From a debate on whether we should read early chapters from George R.R. Martin's Winds of Winter to the usefulness of Asimov's three laws, to our wrap-up of Altered Carbon, this is an episode that should contain a lot of wisdom. Who knows? It might!
Read show notes here.
Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!
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Rainey from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, and Taskforce.is have teamed up to build a public domain tool that makes it easier for everyday people to contact Congress.
EFF wants to use it so that Internet users can effectively stop Congress from enacting laws that don't make sense for technology and advocate for laws that protect our rights. But once it's done, it will be free software that anybody will be able to use it and improve.
"There's already a functional prototype, but it's not quite finished: we need web developers to donate time to help us finish off creating individual files for each member of Congress.
Please pitch in for a few hours if you can, and help us make the voices of Internet users heard in the halls (or at least the inboxes) of Congress."
Dear Web Developers: EFF Needs Your Help
Artist Dan Hernandez painted a gorgeous series of frescoes depicting Space Invaders and other vintage game screengrabs as Renaissance and Byzantine art. They're hanging in a show called "Genesis" at the Kim Foster Gallery in NYC.
Read the rest
Our friends at Machine Project in Los Angeles have a fun workshop coming up on Saturday, May 31. It's called Neanderthalism:
Interested in making inexpensive art supplies using materials you gather in your backyard? Want to learn to heat water or cook in a solar oven that costs less than $10 to make? Like to learn about pigments and dyes native to the area? Then this workshop with artist and Neanderthal enthusiast Katie Herzog is for you!
You will be introduced to the messy joy of making egg tempera paint, drawing charcoal, and dyes from California native plants and kitchen scraps. This four hour workshop will serve as an introduction to a variety of fun and easy techniques you can continue to use at home. You will make and take home a car sunshade solar cooker, egg tempera paint, and a hand-dyed silk scarf. At then end, you will also be provided with a list of related books and resources available at the Los Angeles Public Library for continued education.
We will provide you with a list of kitchen scraps like coffee grounds and onion skins to bring if you would like to make dye from them, and you are welcome to bring colorful dirt or soft rocks to crush up and use as pigment.
Neanderthalism: Handmade Art Materials from your Backyard Workshop
One year ago today
The secret history of a hidden mural at a Los Angeles hotel: During the clearance sale, a puzzling discovery was made: a fifteen-foot mosaic mural commissioned by The Los Angeles Petroleum Club was found behind some old wood paneling.
Five years ago today
Our "Missing" Chromosomes: So here's the thing: We have 46 chromosomes. Our nearest great ape relatives have 48. On the surface, it looks like we must have lost two.
Ten years ago today
Final Transmet collection available: The final Transmetropolitan collection, "Transmetropolitan: One More Time," is available for pre-order on Amazon. It's the tenth book, collecting issues 55-60: there are nine other books collecting the earlier issues, and as good as those issues were, it's in this, the final volume of the most original and invigorating sf comic I've ever read, that Ellis outdoes himself, pulling together a finale to his five-year serial that's triumphant, sad and brave.
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is Boing Boing's podcast featuring artists, writers, filmmakers, and other creative people discussing their work, ideas, and the practical side of how they do what they do.
Nicole Georges is a cartoonist, writer, zinemaker, teacher, aerobics instructor (?), and pet portraitist. When she was a child, Georges’ mother and family told her that her father died when she was a baby. When she was 21, a palm reader told her that her biological dad was still alive. She called conservative talk show host Dr. Laura for some advice. She chronicles what happened next in her graphic memoir, Calling Dr. Laura.
Based in Portland, Georges has been making comics and zines including “Invincible Summer” for over a decade. She also teaches at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, which provides access to tools and resources for creating independently published media and artwork. Georges tells us about teaching Riot Grrl history and zinemaking to teenagers, and finding value and self-empowerment through self-expression. When we talked to Georges, she was in the middle of a 9-month fellowship at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT.
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Remember in school, when you had to do group projects, and there was always that one kid who showed up late, only worked on part of the project, half-assed what they did do and then demanded full credit that other people earned? Yeah, that's apparently Nightline
. — Maggie
I have been increasingly skeptical of the value of brain imaging studies and the scope of what they can actually tell us. This report from the University of Pennsylvania and the Hastings Center
is a nice counterpoint that's making me skeptical of my skepticism. — Maggie
It normally takes 8-10 years for a cherry tree grown from a seed to blossom. But some seeds that went to space aboard the ISS are producing trees that flower far, far earlier
. One in as little as two years. Nobody knows why, or whether the effect actually has anything to do with the time the seeds spent in orbit. — Maggie
A canoe found by the shores of Lake Minnetonka in 1934 is not 264 years old, as previously thought, but closer to 1000. It is in remarkably good condition and, until recently, sat in the corner of a hallway at the Western Hennepin County Pioneer Association museum.
A study released in January found that e-cigarette vapor can promote the development of cancer
in certain types of human cells — at least, when those cells are in a petri dish. These are early findings, and they don't yet undermine the idea that e-cigs are healthier to smoke than regular cigarettes. But they do prompt some questions about second-hand smoke and the health of people you smoke e-cigarettes around. — Maggie
My new Wikipedia list obsession: List of people who have mysteriously disappeared
. Some of the "mysteries" are not as mysterious as you might hope (some Romans and ancient Gauls who disappeared in the midst of war, for instance) but the list goes back to 71 BC and there's enough interesting entries to warrant some high-quality time suck. — Maggie