The arc of history is long, but how do we bend it?

Ada Palmer -- novelist, singer, historian -- just dropped a 10,000 word essay on the nature of progress and historical change that has provided some of the most significant perspective on our own strange moment that I've yet to read -- and in so doing, has provided a set of mental tools for figuring out how to survive 2017 and beyond. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky's annual State of the World wrangle on The WELL

It's January, which means that Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have returned to the WELL for their annual State of the World wrangle, in which, as Sterling puts it, we see who's "gonna collapse first: us pundits, or the World?" Read the rest

RIP Tyrus Wong, unsung Chinese-American Disney legend who had to lie to come to America and save his life

Nagurski writes, "Tyrus Wong was a brilliant Chinese-American artist who designed the look of the landmark 'Bambi' cartoon for Disney. Due to racial attitudes and at the time, he received limited recognition for his contributions, but was belatedly named a Disney Legend in 2001. He also was an accomplished painter and made fantastic kites, which he flew on the Santa Monica beach, continuing to do so past the age of 100." Read the rest

Drive a nail through 2016 with Charlie "Black Mirror" Brooker's Screenwipe

Literally one of the most exciting moments I had in 2016 was the realization, well into the year, that Charlie Brooker -- creator of Black Mirror, Nathan Barley and TV Go Home -- was going to have to make sense of the entire annus horribilis in his annual Screenwipe special (previously). Read the rest

90 minutes of the year's best standup comedy albums

The end-of-year episode of Jesse Thorn's Bullseye podcast (MP3) highlights the funniest bits from 2016's best standup comedy albums, an hour and a half of seriously funny stuff that I've enjoyed more than any other podcast I've listened to this week. It's been a bleak 2016, and this is a tonic. Read the rest

George Michael, 1963-2016

English singer-songwriter George Michael died December 25 at his home in Oxfordshire, reports the BBC. His publicist said he died peacefully. Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, Michael rose to fame as part of the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley, and sold more than 100 million records worldwide, specializing in soulful mainstream pop.

Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42 GMT.

Police say they were treating the death as unexplained but there were no suspicious circumstances.

In a statement, the star's publicist said: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beloved son, brother and friend George passed away peacefully at home over the Christmas period.

"The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult and emotional time. There will be no further comment at this stage."

Read the rest

Report: Carrie Fisher suffers heart attack

Star Wars star Carrie Fisher suffered a "massive heart attack" Friday while traveling from London to LAX as part of a book tour, reports TMZ. There's no news yet of her condition. Fisher lately reprised her most famous role, Princess Leia Organa, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and in a striking cameo in Star Wars: Rogue One; her new book is The Princess Diarist. (Photo: Reuters)

Update: The L.A. Times reports that Fisher is in critical condition at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Just prior to arrival, a pilot told the control tower that passengers who were nurses were attending to another “unresponsive” passenger.”

“So they’re working on her right now,” the pilot said in a public recording of the conversation on liveatc.net.

According to the LAX Police Department, officers responded to Terminal 7 around 12:15 p.m., for a call of a female passenger in cardiac arrest. On arrival, they found paramedics performing CPR on the victim, according to Officer Alicia Hernandez.

Update 2: Fisher's brother tells the AP she in stable condition.

Todd Fisher, told The Associated Press that she was "out of emergency" and stabilized at a Los Angeles hospital Friday afternoon. He said he could not discuss any other details about what happened.

Read the rest

2016 sucked so much, it made "Anger Rooms" where you pay to smash things go viral

The first formal modern anger room was Donna Alexander's 2008 experiment on Chicago's south side, where customers paid $5 to smash things she'd found set out on neighborhood curbs on garbage days -- now Alexander runs a 1,000 square foot business called "Anger Room" in Dallas, and she's got competition. Read the rest