Archive for July, 2012

Building Tomorrow

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The last two novels I’ve read dealt with the issue of how to transition from an economy of scarcity to one of abundance. It was enough of a coincidence that I asked God if she was sneaking messages into my unconscious. She said she does that all the time but that the messages have nothing to do with economics.

To be fair, one of the books really only brought up the issue at the end, and didn’t so much address it as point out that it was something that that fictional world was going to have to address in its very near future. I’d tell you what the book is, but since I’ve already given out that spoiler, I probably shouldn’t. And the second, which is called “Manna: Two Visions of Humanity’s Future,” is actually a political monograph presented in sort-of-novel form. I say “sort of” because it doesn’t concern itself with things like character growth, or antagonists and protagonists, just with presenting a possible future.

The problem with learning much of anything from either of these books is that they both bring about the state of abundance through a kind of magic. In one it’s done by invoking “the far future” and assuming that we do an impressive job in developing nanotech. This is a pretty easy bet to make, given a long enough timeframe, but it really doesn’t help address the issue of what can we do now to both bring about an abundant future and to make sure that we transition to it without having to resort to guillotines. And in “Manna,” where the author is expressly trying to show two likely futures that can come from our technological development, what he’s really trying to show is how one path could lead to abundance and another to dystopia, so he’s not so much interested in how we actually deal with the transition to abundance as with that we make the transition happen. So again we resort to magic, there’s some handwaving and some mumbled incantations about products being completely recycled with no waste but he doesn’t really talk about how that is possible.

Still, with enough effort and with incentives and goals other than just profit, it’s a possible future. The trick is just steering it from possible to plausible and then from plausible to probable. And to do all that without any smoke or mirrors.

Well, God says maybe a mirror’s okay.

Detachable Envy

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Perseus famously encountered three old women who had one eye that they shared, trading it amongst themselves so that they all had use of it at least part of the time. While not as common as stories of captured princesses or of shapeshifters up to no good, the idea of trading body parts comes up in human literature from time to time.

God commented on this the other day and he wanted to know if I had any insights to offer. Is it simply due to our fears of losing body parts in injuries, or is their some other dynamic going on? Maybe these are just morality tales intended to teach us that we should always be willing to share with those less fortunate than ourselves.

We bandied about some serious ideas for awhile, things like the notion that trading eyeballs is the fantasy equivalent of bionics, then we went for the more frivolous by suggesting artificial legs and arms are just the first steps on the slippery slope to Star Trek’s Borg. Finally I turned to song. I played two songs from my collection for God to listen to.

The first song, “Detachable Penis” by King Missile talks about how handy it is to have a detachable penis, but also complains that sometimes it gets lost and the singer feels like less of a man until he can find it again. The second song, “Penis Envy” by Uncle Bonsai is a woman’s tale of all the things she would do if she had a penis. She sings about how pants would seem tighter, how she’d have something to play with when alone, how she could stuff it into a whole host of unlikely places.

If we could just get these two musical acts together, think what a glorious new myth could come out of it!


Friday, July 13th, 2012

I love and hate surprises. While God says that the sort of cognitive dissonance that it sounds like I’m talking about here is one of the things that she loves (and hates) about us humans, she also insists that I explain a little more of what I mean.

One of the things that can be comfortable about getting old, while at the same time being annoying, is getting “set in our ways.” We (and by “we” I mean “me” but almost certainly a lot of other people too) develop habits so that we can get through life without too much bother. Part of developing habits is good. I’ve already done the experimentation to find out that I’m really fond of my brand of mayonnaise and that the competing “whip” has nothing miraculous about it, so I’ve made it a habit to buy the right brand. Part of developing habits that is, well, maybe not bad, but at least annoying, is that a lot of the joy of discovering and figuring things out is gone.

So how does this relate to “surprises?”

It’s pretty simple. Surprises interrupt our routines. Now I don’t mind it when the surprise is something that’s really nice and when the routine interrupted is not particularly important, but as I’ve established more and more what I like and what I don’t, the odds that the surprise is something better than the things I’ve already made a part of my routine, get smaller and smaller. So less and less I look forward to being surprised in my everyday life, but I know that there’s still plenty of awesome surprises waiting for me, and I wouldn’t give up the chance to get those if given the choice, not even if I knew that I could have the perfect day but that to get it I would have to have that same perfect day every day for the rest of my existence. So for me, yeah, surprises are better than perfection. But could we maybe schedule them so that they don’t interrupt my routine?

Good and Hard

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Life is hard.

Well, not my life, but other people’s. I’ve actually done a lot of things to streamline my life and keep it, for me, easy. Of course there’re little complications here and there, things that I could get rid of to make my life even easier, but somewhere in there you have to strike a balance between easy and interesting. I suppose, in that way, I try to keep my life at about the difficulty of a kid’s book, and well short of something for young adults.

For instance, Unscriptured itself is something I don’t really need, but having something that I’m supposed to produce for a weekly deadline is, I suppose, enriching. Enriching in the same way that hiding snacks around an animal’s enclosure at the zoo is enriching for them. So here I get to complain about all the little things that God and I notice in the world that make life hard, but I can’t complain too much, because, in reality I’ve got it pretty good. I’ve got a job that is interesting and pays well. I’ve got no boyfriend, but really that’s at least as much a blessing as a curse. And I’ve got good friends to spend time with.

So for me, what’s hardest about life is just that there’s not enough time for everything that I want to do. There’s piles of books unread, there’s piles of movies unseen, there’s tons of projects that I’ve only barely outlined and a few that are further along but still not there yet.

So this week I’d just like to take a moment and say this: Life is good, and when it comes down to it, that’s enough.