I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain. Robinson wrote Pacific Edge
, the most inspiring utopian novel I've ever read (and one which never fails to reduce me to happy tears in the last chapter) and the Red Mars
, Blue Mars
and Green Mars
trilogy -- the most breathtakingly ambitious science fiction books I've ever read.
Forty Signs of Rain is a fast, even breezy read, which I tore through in just a couple sittings. Its best feature is its characters, who are Science Heroes: scientists who are really into science, in the way that one of Neal Stephenson's hacker characters is into hacking. They see everything they do -- fixing broken sea-walls, climbing cliffs, navigating traffic, pushing for global warming remdiation, chairing meetings, even nursing babies -- in terms of scientific theory, experiment and action.
The thing that all of Robinson's Science Heroes have in common is their concern with global warming, which has reached an all-too-believable tipping point in Forty Signs of Rain. As the world reaches and then passes the brink of catastrophic flooding, Robinson's characters argue, act and think about how to bring us back from the brink. They are not only charming as they do so -- they're inspiring. Faced with a world that may soon be broken forever, they swuare their shoulders and apply themselves. They despair, but they master their despair. Pacific Edge is a book I return to again and again when I am down. This will surely be another.
Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into “GuyFi” stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of “stress relief.” Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named “Hot Octopus”… The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day […]
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
Remember back to the time when people thought java was just a hip way to talk about coffee? Or you vaguely remembered from geography class that it’s an island in the South Pacific? We’ve come a long way since then and now that we’ve rocket blasted into the tech future, you’re going to need to […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]