• Terrorwar is a cyberpunk riff on the war on terror in our minds

    Author Saladin Ahmed was tapped last summer by Substack's new comic book platform. He had previously written the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, and later wrote several books for Marvel including Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel, and his new venture, The Copper Bottle, tells a variety of fantastical stories with help from a rotating group of artists.

    One of those stories — sort of the main feature of the publication right now — is Terrorwar, which is a delightful cyberpunk riff on terror in all its forms, with art by Dave Acosta. The story follows Muhammed Cho, a "terrorfighter," or sort of a freelance hitman in the literal war on terror. Except in this case, the Terrors are literal manifestations of our personal greatest fears, which threaten to come to life and kill us. Being that Ahmed is a Muslim-American, and that he has not shied away from exploring that identity in his previous work, I suspect there will be some interesting thematic subversions around the way we demonize certain groups (even if they are Literal Manifestations Of Our Fears).

    As of this writing, there are only 2 chapters of Terrorwar. But I was incredibly impressed with the worldbuilding that Ahmed and Acosta have been able to accomplish in a very small amount of space. With barely 20 pages done, they've still managed to introduce motifs and subvert them, all while establishing character motives and weird social rules in this sort of magical Blade Runner world where Fears come to life until they're zapped by Ghostbusters-esque pseudo-scientific gadgets. In other words: it's just a great fucking cyberpunk story, that delivers plenty of "aw hell yeah!" popcorn moments with just enough heart to carry it through.

    Here's the first chapter. I'm not sure about the publication schedule, but I know I'm looking forward to more.

  • A pop-punk montage of people going places in Star Wars

    The Auralnauts have made a delightful career out of making silly Star Wars songs on YouTube, but their latest bop is a whole new level: a generic-ass pop-punk anthem that celebrates every moment in the saga when someone gets ready to go somewhere.

    It fits the genre so perfectly. I love it, and I hate it.

  • The music scene from Garden State but it's Wesley Willis

    Remember that movie Garden State? With Zach Braff? And there's that now-iconic scene where Natalie Portman's character hands him a pair of headphones and says, "You gotta hear this one song, it'll change your life," and that's how The Shins got famous?

    Well, Alternative Tentacles, the record label owned by former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra, decided to update that moment with a song that will actually change your life:

    That tune, if you're not familiar, was "Suck A Caribou's Ass" by the late great Wesley Willis, a Chicago-based musician and artist who gained a cult following in the 90s for, well, songs like that. Willis grew up in an abusive household and struggled with schizophrenia; he was frequently unhoused, before passing away in 2003.

    When I was in middle school, I knew some older punk rock guys who played in a Wesley Willis tribute band. As a middle schooler, the idea of a "homeless schizophrenic with a Casio keyboard" was obviously too hilarious to pass up. As I've gotten older, I've realized that — as absurd as some of these songs may seem — Willis used his music and art as his primary form of therapy for the trauma he dealt with throughout his entire life. And I think that's pretty powerful. (Someday I want to write a Wesley Willis jukebox musical that seems ridiculous and then, by the end, flips it around to make the audience realize their complicity in making a mockery of genuine human suffering.)

    That gives a sort of meta-level gravitas to the clip above. Yes, it's absurd that Natalie Portman's "song that will change your life" is just a litany of sex acts involving crude names for animal orifices. But also: there's a lot you can learn about empathy and healing (and humor) from the life of Wesley Willis, if you let yourself. And that can be genuinely life-changing.

  • Custom sneakers based on VHS tapes

    I'm pretty basic when it comes to my sneakers. I tend to like the low-cut skate-style shoes, and I buy one pair that can pass as Business Casual and wear them til they're worn out. So I've never really understood the whole expensive fancy custom sneaker trend —

    — until I saw these Retrowave VHS Sneakers, which are dope as hell.

    Look familiar?

    New Retro sells a few different VHS-style shoes — including some Converse-like models that I may have to indulge in.

    New Retro 1988 VHS Retrowave Sneakers

  • New tarantula-killing worm named after Jeff Daniels

    A new scientific paper published in The Journal of Parasitology has christened a recently-discovered nematode in honor of the actor Jeff Daniels and his cultural contributions in the film Arachnophobia:

    Multiple tarantula deaths for a wholesale breeder were reported in 2018. The breeder noticed white discharge in the oral cavities of the tarantulas. Upon inspection, it was discovered that the white discharge was a large group of nematodes intertwined inside the tarantula's oral cavity. We examined the nematodes and propose a new species, Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi n. sp., in the currently monotypic genus Tarantobelus based on a combination of morphological and morphometrical data and unique nuclear rDNA 28S and 18S sequences. 

    Adler Dillman, a UC Riverside parasitologist and an author on the paper, explained the rationale beyond the roundworm's unique name saying that, "[Jeff Daniels'] character in the film [Arachnophobia] is a spider killer, which is exactly what these nematodes are."

    Upon learning the news, Daniels said:

    When I first heard a new species of nematode had been named after me, I thought, 'Why? Is there a resemblance?' Honestly, I was honored by their homage to me and Arachnophobia. Made me smile. And of course, in Hollywood, you haven't really made it until you've been recognized by those in the field of parasitology.

    Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi n. sp. (panagrolaimomorpha; panagrolaimidae), a nematode parasite of tarantulas [Jacob Schurkman; Kyle Anesko; Joaquín Abolafia; Irma Tandingan De Ley; Adler R. Dillman / The Journal of Parasitology]

    Scientists discover tarantula-killing worms: New parasite named after actor Jeff Daniels [Phys.org]

  • Cryptoland dead after failing to buy non-crypto real estate

    It was only November 2021 when the Fyre Island-esque NFT paradise known as Cryptoland had first announced itself to the world in a creepy CGI video featuring anthropomorphic Bitcoin; and it was just two weeks ago that their Twitter account made some even more creepy-ass comments about the age of sexual consent on the IRL NFT isle-to-be.

    But alas, the dream of the world's "first physical crypto island" is not to be — at least, not with the real-life real estate they had original planned on selling on the blockchain, anyway. As The Guardian reports:

    The real estate agent selling Nananu-i-cake, Rick Kermode, of New Zealand firm Bayleys, told Guardian Australia that the contract to sell it to Cryptoland's backers fell through this week and the island was back on the market.

    "We're telling people that it was under contract during the period of time that they had the contract but it has come back on the market," he said.

    Alas, poor Cryptoland, we hardly knew ye. Maybe next they can sell an NFT of a bridge in Brooklyn.

    Cryptoland runs aground as $12m bid to buy Fiji island for resort falls through [Ben Butler / The Guardian]

  • German musician releases new album on an N64 cartridge

    A German musical artist by the name of Remute has just announced his latest electro pop album, titled R64. But here's the catch, as the artist explains via BandCamp: it's being released on a Nintendo 64 Cartridge. And vinyl, too, if that's what you're into. But you can also pop the album into your Nintendo 64 (which I'm assuming you still own?) and play it that way. As the artist explains on BandCamp:

    No tricks – this is not an embedded MP3-player, terribly compressed WAV-files on a microSD-card or other cheating: as with all previous Remute cartridge albums the sound on this cartridge gets generated and played back in realtime and it's all happening within meager 8 Megabytes! With 'R64' the Nintendo 64 console is your very own synthesizer and happy to serve you every time you turn it on and press play! 93,75 MHz, baby! 

    For this wizardry Remute cooperated with genius Nintendo 64 dev Rasky, who is not only responsible for the sound engine and player-GUI, but also managed to put together an amazingly trippy 3D-experience accompanying Remute's music – you will…uhmmm… fly. 

    The cartridges are region-free and will fit and play flawlessly on all models of the Nintendo 64 console – no matter if NTSC-U, PAL or NTSC-J. 

    Pre-orders are available now via BandCamp, with the album dropping on March 25, 2022.

  • School brings in cops to teach during COVID-19 staffing shortage

    The town of Moore is the seventh-largest municipality in the state of Oklahoma, with a little under 60,000 residents. Like a lot of places in this pandemic nation, the town has been struggling with school staffing thanks to the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19.

    So naturally, they just sent some police officers into the classroom in place of substitute teachers.

    According to the city website, the Moore Police Department are required to have a high school diploma or GED.

    Still, I can't help but wonder what would happen if perhaps we provided better funding and resources to educators, instead of dropping inexperienced cops into classrooms? Is that really that preferable to remote learning?

    Police officers help Moore Public Schools amid teacher shortage [Koco News 5 ABC]

  • Entire country's internet service disrupted by a volcano

    On Tuesday, January 11, 2022, an underwater volcano erupted near the archipelago that comprises the small Polynesian nation of Tonga. This resulted in 50 foot tsunami waves that destroyed more than 100 homes, with many others coated in volcanic ash. To date, three people have died.

    But I only know about this because a jarring headline caught my eye: "Tonga volcanic eruption: Looks like worst-case scenario for islands' internet cable," from the New Zealand Herald. As the paper explains:

    The undersea eruption over the weekend did cause a break in the cable that connects Tonga to the outside world – and that it will likely take around two weeks or longer to repair.

    And that timeline could be stretched further because of the proximity of the break to the undersea volcano, and the danger of further eruptions.

    In the meantime, the dust cloud from the volcano means that even satellite phone and internet connections are intermittent.

    Because of that lack of internet access, it took the nation's government a week to release a public statement about the disaster:

    The climate is changing at an increasingly rapid pace, and natural disasters will continue getting larger and more frequent. Besides the immediate threat to human life, this is also a threat to infrastructure that will make recovery from such disasters even more difficult. Case in point: who would have thought that to consider the impact of underwater volcanoes on a line of fiber-optic cable that facilitates communications for a hundred-thousand people?

    Tonga volcanic eruption: Looks like worst-case scenario for islands' internet cable [Chris Keall / New Zealand Herald]

    Image: Taro Taylor / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

  • Read Joss Whedon's epic new supervillain origin

    Hanging on the wall of my living room is the original two-page pencil-and-ink artwork from Buffy Season 8 #1 of the Hellmouth crater in what once was Sunnydale, California. And in the middle of that craggy disaster — drawn by Georges Jeanty and inked by Andy Owens — is the autograph of Joss Whedon, who signed my artwork after I beat him in armwrestling.

    Why armwrestling? Because, like a lot of nerd-adjacent folks of a certain age, the work of Joss Whedon has been a major influence on my life as an artist, and as an individual. So when I had the chance to meet him and ask for an autograph, it was the first thing I blurted out. And hey, it's a good story. I have photographs!

    Unfortunately, I'm not feeling so good about displaying that particular piece of pop memorabilia in my home right now, particularly reading Whedon's spectacularly disastrous attempt to save face in New York Magazine. The last 5 or so years have seen a continuous trickle of Whedon-related disappointments, from revelations of predatory infidelity to accusations of racism to, well, Justice League. Apparently, Whedon thought it would be a good idea to set down with Lila Shapiro of Vulture and set the record straight. Which he does. Quite clearly. And somehow without putting his foot in his mouth. "I'm terrified of every word that comes out of my mouth," he tells the interviewer at one point — and he certainly justifies that fear.

    Case in point: this.

    He felt he "had" to sleep with the[se women], that he was "power less" to resist. I laughed. "I'm not actually joking," he said.

    Yikes.

    It's a long, detailed article, but it's worth reading, as it details the depths of his douchebaggery — and his apparent inability to take responsibility for any of it, beyond the occasional "I could have handled that better." It's disappointing, sure, but it's also an impressive feat just to watch the man hang himself by his own words. I always admired his work for the way he portrayed good people doing bad things for good reasons, and bad people doing good things for good reasons, but in the end, it turned out he was more Jayne than Mal. Or, perhaps accurately, he really was The Trio from Buffy season 6 all along.

    Also: if the article is not enough, you can watch the ten-hour YouTube movie above, created by one of the young women he horribly mistreated.

    The Undoing of Joss Whedon [Lila Shapiro / New York Magazine]

    Image: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

  • Scientists accidentally made Pac-man ghosts out of DNA Origami

    A group of scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering recently conducted an experiment in which they trained strands of DNA to assemble together Voltron-style to create intricate living structures based on certain instructions.

    I don't entirely understand what this means, but here's how they explained it in an upcoming scientific paper from the journal of Biology:

    Using a library of ~2000 strands [of DNA origami] that can be combinatorially assembled to yield any of ~1e48 distinct DNA origami slats, we realize five-gigadalton structures composed of >1000 uniquely addressable slats, and periodic structures incorporating >10,000 slats. Thus crisscross growth provides a generalizable route for prototyping and scalable production of devices integrating thousands of unique components that each are sophisticated and molecularly precise.

    Okay, so I still don't totally understand what that means. But I did see this tweet from the lead author on the paper:

    Which is very clearly one of the ghosts from Pac-man:

    Jokes aside, the fact that you can program DNA to form complex shapes is pretty incredible. They also trained the DNA to form hearts, which is kind of sweet.

    Multi-micron crisscross structures from combinatorially assembled DNA-origami slats [Christopher M. Wintersinger, Dionis Minev, Anastasia Ershova, Hiroshi M. Sasaki, Gokul Gowri, Jonathan F. Berengut, F. Eduardo Corea-Dilbert, Peng Yin, William M. Shih / bioRxiv]

  • The Lord of the Rings re-imagined as ancient China

    This gorgeous art comes from animator and visual designer Leia Ham, who was struck by the idea of: what if The Lord of the Rings had been modeled after Chinese art aesthetics, instead of European? As she wrote on her website:

    LOTR: Tale of the Middle Kingdom is a personal project that reimagines J.R.R. Tolkien's world of Middle Earth in a Chinese setting. China is called 中国 (Zhōngguó) – meaning ''The Middle Kingdom". Taking inspiration from the books, movies, ancient Chinese artefacts and paintings, this project is a love letter to my own Chinese heritage, seen through the lens of medieval fantasy and historical design.

    She gave a little more context in a series of tweets:

    I made this from a place of someone who lives in the west, but who also wants to see people like me be part of stories that I love, u know? I've had mostly lovely comments, and a couple here and there that were unkind at best and racist at worst.

    And the truth is maybe thats why I wanted to make it- who wouldn't predict that there would b some ppl who are pissed about the idea of a Chinese lotr? But I hope that we can all see that transformative work takes nothing away from the original-But there's space for all of us.

    You can click through to view the slideshow of artwork on her website, or check it out through the embedded Tweets below:

  • German police use COVID tracing app to find potential witnesses

    From The Washington Post:

    Police in the city of Mainz, near Frankfurt, successfully petitioned local health authorities to release data from an app called Luca when a man fell to his death after leaving a restaurant in November. They said they were seeking witnesses who had dined at the restaurant around the same time and reportedly found 21 people from the app data.

    The apparent misuse of the data has been criticized by privacy advocates, who fear that such sensitive information will be used for non-pandemic-control purposes. The incident is also likely to provide fodder for vaccine doubters, some of whom have taken on a broader anti-government stance, and those who believe coronavirus-related conspiracy theories.

    While I'm normally not one to give the benefit of the doubt the police, I am impressed that these authorities were actively trying to solve one specific crime, as opposed to broadly collecting more data than they could ever use just so they can assert some more control.

    Still, this reminds me the ol' Clickhole classic "Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point." Because cops abusing mobile phone location data is definitely bad!…But it's also not proof that the whole COVID-19 pandemic is actually a false flag something-or-other bullshit control scheme. Ugh.

    German police used a tracing app to scout crime witnesses. Some fear that's fuel for covid conspiracists. [Rachel Pannett / The Washington Post]

    Image: Public Domain via Pixabay

  • Elvis Costello explains how to play the guitar, philosophically

    I've been a huge Elvis Costello fan since a friend of mine bought me the ultimate edition of Armed Forces for my 16th birthday. I hadn't really listened to him before that; I was a punk/ska/hardcore kid, so the Ramones were really the only band from the 70s worth caring about. But this friend — who I knew from playing in punk bands! — knew that there was something in Costello's new wave marriage of pop sensibility and punk rock furor that would appeal to me.

    And he was right. I was hooked. Looking back, that album was a gateway into so much other music that wasn't just overdriven guitars trashed at blitzkrieg speeds.

    So naturally, I was excited when I heard about Elvis Costello's new Audible-exclusive audiobook How To Play The Guitar and Y, and fortunately, it did not disappoint. As the title promises, it's basically two hours of Costello teaching you how to play guitar, with delightfully erudite witticisms. Costello retraces the steps of his own early career with his typical self-deprecating humor. He reminisces on his days as a gangly teen in thick-rimmed glasses desperate to impress the girls by emulating John Lennon and Hank Williams, and fondly recalls how he realized just how unimpressive his guitar skills were and always have been.

    Costello offers some actual guitar lessons, too. Sort of. Or at least, he explains how to play the most basic chords, and dabbles at some of the finer points of music theory. He mostly uses this as an opportunity to riff philosophically on the nature of three chords and the truth. While Costello has a keen technical understanding of music composition, and has been fortunate to surround himself with some fantastic musical collaborators throughout his career, he's quick to point out how none of that really matters. Sure, it helped him to find success. But if you just want to express yourself through music, all you really need is a capo and the rudimentary skills to play the open G, C, and D chords.

    While music can get more complicated than that, Costello's audiobook is there to remind you that it doesn't have to. Everything you need to know, you probably already know, because you've internalized it all after years of hearing music. And that's the fun crux of the whole audiobook: that there's a lot to intellectualize about music, which is simultaneously fascinating and fucking ridiculous. Because the primal parts are what matter most.

    To be fair, Costello isn't breaking any new ground here, and the book is very much centered on his experience growing up in London in the 50s. While that gives it a nice nostalgic air, I also would have enjoyed hearing Costello lean into some of that progressive boundary breaking that first made him famous (and occasionally got him into trouble). However, I recognize that he's pushing 70, and might be at a point in his life where he's feeling more settled and wistful; he very recently retired one of my favorite of his songs because it contains one of his absolute most shameful moments of trying too hard to write something edgy. So in that context, there's also a part of me that appreciated the way that he plays it safe with How To Play The Guitar and Y.

    How To Play The Guitar and Y [Elvis Costello / Audible Words+Music]

    Image: tmmmb / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

  • Woman trapped with a blind date after Chinese COVID lockdown

    From The Straits Times:

    Over 100 virus cases have been reported in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou since last week, as China battles to contain multiple local outbreaks of the Delta and Omicron variants.

    Parts of the city were abruptly placed under lockdown last Wednesday (Jan 5) when a woman surnamed Wang was having dinner at her blind date's house.

    "Just after I arrived in Zhengzhou, there was an outbreak and his community was put under lockdown and I could not leave," Wang told Shanghai-based outlet The Paper on Tuesday (Jan 11), adding that she went there for a week-long trip to meet potential suitors.

    "I'm getting old now, my family introduced me to 10 matches… The fifth date wanted to show off his cooking skills and invited me over to his house for dinner."

    While this might sound like the setup to a rom-com, it sounds like their love may not last after all. Wang posted several videos on the Chinese social network Weibo, detailing the endless blind date, and said that although her date has been considerate enough to continue cooking meals for her, he's not a great cook, and he's not very talkative, either. Otherwise, at least the two get along for now.

    Chinese woman stuck in blind date's house after city lockdown [The Straits Times]

    Covid-19: Chinese woman stuck in lockdown with blind date [Kerry Allen / BBC]

    Woman's diary goes viral as lockdown in China forces her to stay with blind date [Vincent Ni / The Guardian]

    Image via YouTube

  • Offal meat spill shuts down Australian highway

    9News in Melbourne reports that a delivery truck carrying "animal entrails and meat waste" had an accidental spill on the M80 freeway, shutting down traffic for hours.

    As The AV Club pointed out, it was also 93 degrees out that day, meaning that meat went stank real fast. Oof.

    Fortunately, Victoria Traffic reports were there to bring the fun with the puns:

  • Academic paper on language colonization turns out to have stolen its language

    RetractionWatch reports that a recent published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies was retracted over questions of plagiarism. That sounds dry and bland on the surface, until you dig in: the paper, titled "Reconceptualising a Quandamooka Storyweave of language reclamation," was written by a group of indigenous language scholars led by Sandra Delaney. But it turns out, this little examination of appropriation and stolen land … was actually based on language that was stolen and appropriated from at least eight other academic sources. Oops.

    This article went through double blind review and received approving reviews. However, upon publication online, the editors were contacted by authors whose work had been copied:

    Chew KA (2016) Chikashshanompa' Ilanompohqli Biyyi'ka'chi [We Will Always Speak the Chickasaw Language]: Considering the Vitality and Efficacy of Chickasaw Language Reclamation, Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Arizona, USA.

    Leonard WY (2017) Producing language reclamation by decolonising 'language'. Language Documentation and Description 14: 15–36.

    Leonard WY (2018) Reflections on (de)colonialism in language documentation. In: McDonnell B, Berez-Kroeker AL and Holton G (eds) Reflections on Language Documentation 20 Years after Himmelmann 1998. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication 15. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, pp. 55–65.

    After further investigation, further instances of plagiarism were detected, including copying from the following:

    Brown HJ, McPherson G, Peterson R, Newman V and Cranmer B (2012) Our land, our language: Connecting dispossession and health equity in an Indigenous context. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research 44(2): 44–63.

    Sium A and Ritskes E (2013) Speaking truth to power: Indigenous storytelling as an act of living resistance. Decolonisation: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2(1): I–X.

    Thompson J (2012) Hedekeyeh Hots'ih K!hidi – Our Ancestors Are in Us: Strengthening Our Voices through Language Revitalisation from a Tahltan Worldview. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Victoria, Canada.

    Twance M (2019) Learning from land and water: Exploring mazinaaabikiniganan as indigenous epistemology. Environmental Education Research 25(9): 1319–1333.

    Young AE (2015) Indigenous Elders Pedagogy for Land-based Health Education Programs: Gee- zhee-kan'dug Cedar Pathways. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of British Columbia, Canada.

    Truly incredible work by all involved.

    RETRACTION NOTICE: Reconceptualising a Quandamooka Storyweave of language reclamation

    Image: Michael Coghlan / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

  • There's a new Substack for speculative fiction and it looks great

    Email newsletters are obviously the cool new thing, and there are a lot of great (and not-so-great) journalists and opinion writers making serious money through Substack. But I've wondering for a while now how a successful fiction outlet might work1.

    Fortunately, I don't have to wonder any more, because the Sunday Morning Transport now exists, with the goal of delivering one commute-sized short story to your inbox every Sunday2. Award-winning fantasy writer Fran Wilde (Riverland) serves as managing editor, with Serial Box / Realm.fm founder Julian Yap as the editor-in-chief — two people who absolutely know the ins-and-outs on every side of the sci-fi/fantasy fiction publishing community. So far, they have stories lined up by notable authors including Karen Lord, Kij Johnson, Kat Howard, Elsa Sjunnesson, Juan Martinez, E.C. Myers, Maureen McHugh, Tessa Gratton, Sarah Pinsker, Brian Slattery, and Malka Older.

    Sunday Morning Transport published its first story this past weekend: "To Make Unending," a fun twist on epic fantasy and parenting by the inimitable Max Gladstone, author of the Craft Sequence (basically a magical steampunk legal thriller series) and the upcoming Last Exit. Just sink your teeth into this delightful opening paragraph:

    In the twenty-second year of the Seventh Bale, six thousand years since the last High King of Men and Elves fell beneath the waves, and twelve thousand more since the wilting of the Rose, on a cold autumn day beneath the silvern trees in the Lady's Seat of Calberthrel, Celabrim Cindercloak returned from long ranging in shadow to find his son playing with a calculator.

    All stories on the Sunday Morning Transport will be free for the month of January; after that, free subscribers only get one story a month, while paid subscribers get a new one every week. If you subscribe between now and January 31, you'll also get 20% off — so it's $56 a year, or $4.67 a month, which is a little more than a buck per short story. Which is a pretty damn good deal! Plus, we need more paying speculative fiction markets in general. So I've subscribed, and so should you.

    The Sunday Morning Transport

    Image: James Vaughan / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

    1The existing speculative fiction magazines — Asimov's, Lightspeed, Uncanny, Clarke's World, and so on — all have their own subscription models, of course, and they're typically even cheaper than the Sunday Morning Transport, usually between $25 and $40 for a year's worth of fantastic fiction.

    Still, a physical magazine, or even an ePub or PDF, is different from just getting something in your inbox. Could you get enough people to pay $5 a month for that? With a little more than 300 subscribes, you could arguably sustain about 5000 words a week paid at SFWA professional rates. That doesn't sound too implausible; however, I also have overcommitment issues along with extreme executive dysfunction, so I've been hesitant to attempt something like that myself. On the bright side, I no longer have to think about myself, because now there's new market out there!

    2I, for one, am particularly intrigued by the idea of sending stories out on Sundays, when people might be more likely to commit some time to reading, and which can also help to set a tone for the week that could build a robust online community.

  • Fossilized "Sea Dragon" found in England is the largest one ever

    From the BBC:

    "I rang up the county council and I said I think I've found a dinosaur," explained Joe Davis, who works at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.

    During landscaping work at the reserve's reservoir in February 2021, he had spotted something odd poking out of the mud.

    […]

    They concluded it was an ichthyosaur – a type of warm-blooded, air-breathing sea predator not unlike dolphins. They could grow up to 25 metres long and lived between 250 million and 90 million years ago.

    Dr Dean Lomax, a palaeontologist from Manchester University, was brought in to lead the excavation effort. He called the discovery "truly unprecedented" and – due to its size and completeness – "one of the greatest finds in British palaeontological history".

    I'm mildly disappointed that it's not an actual dragon … but holy shit, that is a very large creature.

    Ichthyosaur: Huge fossilised 'sea dragon' found in Rutland reservoir [Jonah Fisher / BBC News]