Keep your scythe, the real green future is high-tech, democratic, and radical

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"Radical ecology" has come to mean a kind of left-wing back-to-the-landism that throws off consumer culture and mass production for a pastoral low-tech lifestyle. But as the brilliant science journalist and Marxist Leigh Phillips writes in Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff, if the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress.

Chelsea Manning reviews book of Aaron Swartz's writing

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Today is the third anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death, and it was marked by the publication of an anthology of Aaron's writing, The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz with an introduction by Lawrence Lessig (I wrote an introduction to one of the sections). Read the rest

The Entrepreneurial State: how the "free market" stalls without government-funded innovation

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Mariana Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State uses empirical research to demolish the capitalist orthodoxy that holds the state to be a feckless, harmful distorter of markets.

Slideways: if Connect 4 was as sneaky as Go

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Slideways is a tic-tac-toe variant that lets players occupy squares, change their opponents' squares, or move where the squares are relative to one another. It's a strategy game with more sneaky ways to win -- and lose -- than seems possible, at first.

After years of skiing half-blind, I've finally found the answer

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I'm not a hardcore skiier, but growing up in Canada I did learn, and my family and I go skiing about once a year. Read the rest

Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection: 20 hours' worth of rarities, 12 books' worth of history

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The Legacy Collection plunders the deepest depths of the Disney sound archive to collect, with unprecedented completeness, the audio histories of 11 classic animated films from each era of the Disney Studios, from Lady and the Tramp and Aristocats to Little Mermaid and the Lion King to Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph, with one more CD devoted just to Disneyland. Each disc contains the full score of a film from opening to closing credits, unreleased rarities, and bonus material. Then there's the books.

Concrete Park: apocalyptic, afrofuturistic graphic novel of greatness

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I learned about Concrete Park from Calvin Reid, the pioneering comics critic/reviewer who chaired a panel with Scott McCloud and me at the Miami Book Fair last month; Calvin called it the best new afrofuturistic comic he'd read, and I rushed out to get my own copy.

Krampus trashes the horror potential of traditional mythology in a film that's neither funny nor scary

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In German-speaking Alpine lands, as Americans are increasingly aware, St. Nicholas is accompanied on his gift-giving rounds by the devilish Krampus, who’s said to punish naughty children with stinging blows from birch switches, by stuffing them in a sack and carrying them off to hell, throwing them in a lake, or even eating them -- punishments that all seem infinitely more pleasant than sitting through Michael Dougherty’s horror-comedy Krampus due in theaters December 4.

I am not a film critic. I was invited to a preview screening because of my involvement in co-producing Krampus events in Los Angeles since 2013. Over the course of these events and in writing a book on the subject, I’ve had conversations with dozens of Europeans who don the suits annually. I’ve talked to mask-carvers, and Austrian cultural anthropologists, and gotten close enough to Alpine Krampuses to smell their animal pelts and steamy, schnappsy breath. I know the Krampus pretty well, well enough to say this film has almost nothing to do with that old devil.

Even from the trailers I already knew we weren’t exploring authentic traditions. I expected some creativity with the tradition and wanted to be entertained. I was there as a horror fan. I’ve been one all my life. By the age 10, I could tell you the release date, directors, lead players and usually the make-up artist behind any of Universal’s classic horror films. But sitting in the Carl Laemmle building watching this, I could hear the old man cursing the very first pfennig he dropped in a nickelodeon. Read the rest

Urban Transport Without the Hot Air: confusing the issue with relevant facts!

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Steven Melia's Urban Transport Without the Hot Air joins Drugs Without the Hot Air, Sustainable Materials With Both Eyes Open and Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air as a highly readable, evidence-based look at a contentious and politicised area that offers a refreshing dose of facts in a debate dominated by ideology.

Never Goodnight: a Swedish punk Peanuts

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In 1982, Coco Moodysson was a 12 year old punk in Sweden, along with her best friend and her best friend's sister. They gave themselves spiky haircuts, started a band called Off to the Alps, wrote a song called "Ecco Shoes" and demanded that the adults in their lives take them seriously.

The Paradox: a secret history of magical London worthy of Tim Powers

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In The Oversight, Charlie Fletcher introduced us to a secret history of London and the ancient order that defended it from the creatures of the dark. Now, with The Paradox, a sequel, Fletcher plunges the bedraggled heroes of the Oversight into danger that they may not be able to best.

Randall "XCKD" Munroe's Thing Explainer: delightful exploded diagrams labelled with simple words

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Randall "XKCD" Munroe's Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words arrives in stores today: it combines technical diagrams and wordplay in pure display of everything that makes XKCD brilliant and wonderful in every way.

Blankets: New edition of Craig Thompson's graphic masterpiece

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Craig Thompson's second graphic novel, the 582-page mammoth Blankets, swept the field's awards, taking three Harveys, two Eisners, and two Ignatzes. More than a decade later, and buoyed by his later successes (such as 2011's seminal Habibi), Drawn and Quarterly has produced a beautiful new edition.

The Qwerkywriter: a delightful Bluetooth keyboard based on a manual typewriter

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I blogged the announcement of the Qwerkywriter more than a year ago, when the company was retooling from its successful kickstarter to full retail production. I've had one of the production models in my office for a couple of months now and I've been very impressed! (I wrote this review on it). Read the rest

The final Pratchett: The Shepherd's Crown

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I really tried to make this book last. It's the last Discworld novel, written by Terry Pratchett in the last days of his life, as his death from a tragic, unfair, ghastly early onset Alzheimer's stole up on him. But I couldn't help myself. I read it, read it all. I wept. Then I read it again.

At least Turkey's tragic politics gives material to comics artists

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Today, Firstsecond publishes Ozge Samanci's Dare to Disappoint, a graphic novel memoir of growing up in Turkey. Ms Samanci has favored us with an essay describing the tumultuous relationship between Turkey's authoritarian, thin-skinned president and her fellow cartoonists.

Made to Kill: 1960s killer-robot noir detective novel

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In Made to Kill, Adam Christopher presents us with a mashup of Raymond Chandler and Philip K Dick: the world's last robot (all the others were destroyed after they stole everyone's jobs) and his boss, a building-sized computer, who operate a private detective agency that's a front for an assassination business. And business is good.

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