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.
It’s the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it’s had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it’s also true that the decoding patents expired last year, […]
Freddy deBoer writes that he’s been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley’s only product, which might be universalized as “At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!” But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will […]
Alex Wood is an addict but won’t give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: “I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]