Archive for February 2011 | Monthly archive page

My book, American Catfight:  Political Wisdom for Women is being released in eBook for the Nook reader and the iPad for Women’s History Month which begins on Tuesday.   This edition is joining the paperback that came out last March and the Kindle edition.

Also, for the first time a Netflix edition of my film, Running in High Heels, is available on DVD for a very small price of $5.99.

Now back to some science fiction writing…

Cisco is currently showing its new hologram technology at expos around the globe.   There’s something about the front of the figure showing on both sides of the hologram that reminds me of those pictures of Jesus in which the eyes seemingly follow you no matter where you are.

Mark Mitchell at Front Porch Republic has a ton of questions about how this may change communications and human relations. My feeling is “not much” for a long while. Skype has already freed the public to connect pretty similarly in the visual sense without having to purchase direct access to satellite feeds. The issue is accessibility in that many do not have the means to Skype because they lack either the equipment to do so (computer with audio and video AND good lighting) or a fast and stable internet access.   Hologram tech requires no less.

But probably and most importantly, the real threshold test of popular technology is portability.   Video calling is sure to be coming to everyone’s cell phone fairly soon but if the hologram isn’t portable, it is severely limited.

Frankly, I like being able to make voice-only phone calls in my pajamas and no one on the other end is the wiser.

While I love science and techiness, I have to admit I somehow found IBM’s Watson beating up on the humans on Jeopardy depressing.   Then I came across this post on Andrew Sullivan’s site. Quoting Jonah Lehrer in Wired:

One of the most remarkable facts about the human brain is that it requires less energy (12 watts) than a light bulb. In other words, that loom of a trillion synapses, exchanging ions and neurotransmitter, costs less to run than a little incandescence. Or look at Deep Blue: when the machine was operating at full speed, it was a fire hazard, and required specialized heat-dissipating equipment to keep it cool.

OK, I feel better. For now.  But we’re always improving battery capacity and we’re developing nanotech computing and sooner or later we will tap solar and wind energy properly and that energy gap will close. (The sun shines 10,000x more power on the Earth in second than what we consume in all the forms of power we currently use.)

In the future, I plan to lay my hope on the one thing that separates humans from a lot of species: our opposable thumbs. Because at some point, we will have loaded enough data into a computer that it can figure out its energy supply all by itself but it won’t be able to get up and doing anything about it.

Or will it?

Radar can now track a single bee at 50km. The coolest thing is the idea as one interviewee reports that “We’re beginning to think about the air much like the ocean in that it’s a big, fluid, dynamic habitat.”

It’s a summer course called, “Running in High Heels: Sex and Power in American Politics” and deals with all the themes covered within my film as well as a whole lot more. When I made “Running in High Heels,” I never expected the very robust reception it would receive in the academic world and while I’m for the moment living a different life and working on a young adult science fiction title, I’m glad to see the film is still resonating. I’ll probably be behind the camera again someday. I hope the class receives a very robust enrollment.

Feb 18

Just for Fun

Love this Bill Hader-driven short and its new proof of how separated by a common language England and America are. I would love the translation of the bit in the middle where Bill says “Graham Norton” and “Gandhi.”

There is something I love about science and art and the genius of the people working at the cutting edge of both. Here we are working in “closed loops” trying to recreate the Earth. Pretty ridiculous and kind of magical. If we ever figure out how everything works, will we finally be able to live with it?

I’m going to have to look it up, but wouldn’t the hotel made of NaCl dissolve when it rains? They actually have a “no licking the walls” rule.

I can’t remember exactly what year it was I met Bill Hicks. ’89? ’90? I just remember he was very focused and hunched a bit at a table and staring at me, very quiet. He seemed like he was about 8 million years older than I was but he was only a half dozen or so. But he definitely had more going on in his head than most of us in our twenties at that time, something very bright and world-weary at the same time. I wish he was still on this ride with the rest of us.

I don’t know where my mind is today but I started considering if living with this man would be magical or super annoying. “Dear? Where are the sheets for the guest bedroom? …Oh. Not again!”

I was having lunch with a friend last week, talking in a round about way of love and ambivalence and the hesitancy to pursue new love that can set in over time. Well, this sweet Minnesotan couple in their late 70s has no ambivalence about it at all (which is good because if you hesitate at 80, other events could overtake you.)

Charlie and Dorothy, cute as buttons, recently married at the 125-year-old St. Paul Winter Carnival.

“Charlie [the bridegroom] used to be, might I say, a bit reserved in his affections,” said Beth Naughton, a longtime friend of the bride. “But now Charlie is just like an open book with his feelings and his emotions in a way that’s new to me.”

Sharon Hayes, the older daughter of the bride, said that she, too, sees a new side to her mother. “She has this permanent grin on her face that’s been years since I’ve seen,” she said.

And the bride says:

“You’re looking out of the same eyes as you did at 30,” she said, “and it’s still the same world, with trees and snow.”

It’s good to know that you can have new love no matter how old you are and no matter how old you are, the trees and the snow can look different.   And that’s coming from a Minnesotan who has seen a whole lotta snow.