"To Boldly Go With The Force", Mindy Clegg's essay on the politics of popular sci-fi

Mindy Clegg has posted a wonderful essay covering the "social and political conflicts over fandom", and how even though such discussions are appearing in the modern communities surrounding recent films such as Captain Marvel and The Joker (previously), the reality is that such political and social issues have surrounded both the discussion of, and indeed the very core beliefs of some of our most well-known Sci-Fi franchises for decades:

Roddenberry consciously created a multiracial crew on the Starship Enterprise. The show sought to promote the concept of racial tolerance among its viewers by showing a peaceful and egalitarian multiracial crew of humans. Many saw it as doing just that. Actor Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhuru, the accomplished and talented communications officer, was told by Dr. Martin Luther King at an NAACP meeting that her depiction of Uhuru was making a difference in the lives of young black women. This was a time when black women rarely had prominent roles on TV, much less in such powerful positions. When she told him that she was planning on leaving the show due to ingrained racism and sexism on the set, he told her that she couldn’t do that, given the positive role model she was for young black women. She even inspired the first black woman to go into space, Mae Jemison. Jemison would later go full circle, and appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. George Takai, who portrayed Lt. Hikaru Sulu, eventually also parlayed his acting work into activism.
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Kickstarter outlines the ambitious plans of Andrea James' Transphobia project

Kickstarter has a lengthy piece on Medium discussing frequent BB contributor Andrea James's Transphobia project (previously). and the broader issues surrounding transgender reporting, the bias within it, and the lack of transgender representation (and outright exclusion) from reporters on the subject.

James has three foundational goals for The Transphobia Project: “More trans journalists employed full-time at media outlets; coverage of trans issues to include input from trans editors and fact-checkers; and more non-trans journalists to be aware of how to avoid bias in trans coverage. I hope my project will help editors and publishers identify those with a history of fair and accurate coverage on trans topics, [and] those who don’t have that history. Finally, I hope it will help media consumers see when trans coverage contains bias, both pro- and anti-trans.”

At a time when LGBTQ+ tolerance is actually decreasing among youth, holding media to account for both how, and by whom the public receives unbiased reporting on these topics may be even more important than in the past, to stave off what USA Today reports as a "looming social crisis in discrimination." I'm a supporter of her project on Kickstarter, and I hope you will be, too. Read the rest

It's time to stop asking users for periodic password changes

Image: Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ars Technica outlines the case for a policy that might sound counter-intuitive at first: not forcing password rotation. Read the rest

Why you definitely want to be on Star Trek: The Cruise IV

I've just returned home from Star Trek: The Cruise, a truly extraordinary fan event for lovers of Science, Science Fiction, and the future.

You really want to be on the next one.

Longtime Boing Boing friend Wil Wheaton headlined the third annual cruise, which this year featured stars from every series of Star Trek from The Next Generation onwards. They, along with thousands of die-hard Star Trek fans took over an entire cruise ship for a week (flying the flag of the United Federated of Planets no less), Taking part in everything from photo and autograph sessions, Science Lectures from experts in the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Game Shows, Q&A sessions, and even a narrated performance of the Scopes Monkey Trial transcript.

But the real reason you should go isn't one of those events.

There's a unique culture behind Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of a utopian future attracts a certain type of fan, and there's something special about putting thousands of like-minded people and the actors who portrayed their most beloved Star Trek characters on a ship for a week. Wil Wheaton put it best in his initial address during our sendoff:

"I have been a fan of Star Trek my entire life. [...] I learned everything that was important to me from the values that Star Trek taught me: I learned to be honest, I learned to be honourable, I learned to be kind. My whole life I've wanted to live in that world that we imagined when we worked on Next Generation, and that I loved to watch when I was a little boy.
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Canada's Prime Minister mandates examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons

Justin Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister, has released a wide-ranging mandate letter asking Canada's Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, Bill Blair, to "[L]ead an examination of a full ban on handguns and assault weapons in Canada, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms by Canadians."

This work would be in support of Canada's upcoming Firearms bill, Bill C-71, and is supported by the city councils of two of Canada's largest cities: Toronto and Montreal, who have recently both passed resolutions asking for an outright ban on handguns.

As Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, your goals are to ensure that our borders remain secure and to lead cross-government efforts to reduce organized crime. You will work to ensure Canada’s borders are managed to promote legitimate travel and trade while keeping Canadians safe and treating everyone fairly, in accordance with our laws. You will also play a leading role in our efforts to reduce gun violence. You will lead the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, and are the Minister responsible for our strategy to manage the challenge of irregular migration.

Image: Kencf0618 [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons Read the rest

Apple releases firmware fix for heat-related throttling issue with newest MacBook Pros

As reported here earlier this week, Apple's newest MacBook Pro laptops had been reported to be having issues with heat throttling with the highest end i9 processors installed. Read the rest

Get the awesome Babylon 5 encyclopedia print edition before it sells out

Last year, the team behind B5 Books put together a The Babylon 5 Encyclopedia a thoroughly researched, lovingly crafted set of volumes on the universe of the 90's Sci-Fi series Babylon 5.

I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this edition when it came out, and have referred to it repeatedly when rewatching the series recently. It's an amazing one-of-a-kind resource for fans of the show.

WHAT ARE THE SPECS OF THE 2-VOLUME HARDCOVER COLOR EDITION? Trim Size: 8 x 10 inches. These books weigh about 3.5 pounds each (1.58kg), and this was the best size to keep the weight evenly distributed for extended reading. 832 pages total Hand-signed by J. Michael Straczynski Premium 90gsm paper All pages full, four-color printing Custom Slipcase with foil stamping Two Ribbon Bookmarks: one purple, one green. The advantage of two is that you can mark were you left off reading and you can mark the last entry you cross-referenced. Even better, couples can each have their own color.

Less than 100 copies are remaining, however, and the B5 Books team is letting the resource go out of print to focus on B5s 25th anniversary. If you're a B5 fan, this is your last chance to own the definitive resource on all things Babylonian.

Also, Amazon has Announced that the entire series will be available to stream come June 1st, so if you haven't delved into the story of our last, best hope for peace, now's the time! Read the rest

Babylon 5 now available to stream for free in the US

Babylon 5, even during its original run, was never particularly easy to watch when it first aired. The changing TV landscape of the time, as well as the failure of B5's original network PTEN and subsequent re-emergence on the TNT network, meant that timeslots and airdates shifted several times during the show's original five-year run.

Show creator Joe Michael Sraczynski's "B5 books" site is reporting that Go90.com now has the entire show available to stream for free for the first time, along with several other recent series.

I've always believed that B5 represented one of the better Sci-Fi "space opera" TV shows in history, and one that many people were never able to watch during its run on television. The story and effects hold up extremely well for a show that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Now's your chance to see it in its entirety, for free, on your own terms.

Unfortunately, the site is US-only. Read the rest

Youtube artist SamuraiGuitarist does music from Final Fantasy VII

I've been a huge fan of Steve Onotera, a Canadian Youtube vlogger and musician, since David posted his earlier video last year.

I decided to support him on Patreon, and as one of the perks of my support, I got to choose a song for him to do a version of. Of course, I chose Final Fantasy, specifically the Bombing Mission theme from Final Fantasy VII. Not only did he do an awesome bluegrass rendition for me, he presented it complete with in-game combat visuals!

Patreon has been a great way to support independent artists across a huge spectrum of genres, and a great way to discover and support musicians, authors, artists, and makers.

See more of SamuraiGuitarist's work on Patreon, or his Youtube channel for more of his videos.

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Listen to some amazing high school kids perform excerpts from the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack

It's no secret for anyone who knows me that I happen to be a long-time MMORPG player, but no game has grabbed my attention as completely as Guild Wars 2 has, due in no small part to the beautiful visuals and the incredible soundtrack. I'm a huge fan of video game music, having been to my share of Zelda and Final Fantasy concerts when they've been in the area.

Today, the ArenaNet folks have shared this amazing performance of excerpts from their Heart of Thorns expansion, performed by the Evergreen Philharmonic, in Issaquah, WA.

What makes this performance extra special is the composition of the orchestra itself: It's composed primarily of high-school students from the Issaquah area.

The Evergreen Philharmonic has been active since 1988 and has been an audition-only orchestra since 1991. Evergreen Philharmonic functions as an honors youth orchestra within the Issaquah School District, and has students from all three Issaquah High Schools.

Evergreen has performed in a variety of venues, such as the Washington State Ferries, the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, Disneyland, and the University of Southern California. The orchestra has also travelled to perform in Paris, London, Quebec and Boston. In May of 2011 Evergreen Philharmonic played at Carnegie Hall, New York.

Read more about the Orchestra, this performance, or Heart of Thorns. Long live high school music programs!

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All of IT development summed up in one image

This picture grid brilliantly sums up the attitudes in nearly every IT office I've ever worked in. This is the oldest reference to it I can find. Read the rest

Help Wikimedia set up a new datacenter in the US!

As you may have heard, in addition to my duties manning the engine room here at Boing Boing, I've recently begun a stint as Wikimedia's Director of Tech Ops.

We're in the process of choosing an additional datacenter partner and location, and as you would expect, we are trying to make the process as transparent as possible. We have a Request for Proposals posted, and we'd be happy to take on any bids that meet our criteria.

If you (or someone you know) is involved in the datacenter business, here's a great opportunity to help an awesome non-profit change the world, and support our mission of bringing the sum of all knowledge to every human being.

 

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