Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for Jan 5 2017 – Resolving For Joy

In this show, I start with a song by Neutral Milk Hotel; I talk about judging art less by what it means or what I think about it and more by how I feel; without making resolutions I want to make changes in my life; science fiction today is better written and less joyful than the Golden Age stuff; I am founding the Anti-Joseph Campbell League; I do much better with routines than no routines; I am still trying to figure out how to use Facebook for Mad at Dad.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, Jan 5 2017

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for August 17, 2013 – “My Life In Fandom #15”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, August 17, 2013.

The fandom series continues with me discussing my love of cyberpunk, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and JG Ballard.

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Talk Geek with Cheap Truth

I got an email from the host of the Talk Geek to Me podcast. He’s doing an interesting sub-project on his main show, periodically doing some episodes that are an audiobook style reading of the seminal Bruce “Vincent Omniaveritas” Sterling edited cyberpunk zines Cheap Truth. I downloaded and listened to this episode and really liked it. His plan as I understand it is to record all of these eventually and put them together as an audiobook. I find that a fine goal and will be looking forward to listening to them. It’s fun to listen to these nearly 30 year old missives from Cousin Brucie and hear the snarky commentator that we’ve all gotten to know so well the last few years getting formed.

Continuing Coverage of the Death of Journalism

I find the current state of the news industry a fascinating thing to watch. In that way, it’s much like a 12 car pile-up or a dumpster fire.

Here are a few items on the subject that I have found highly interesting.

  • Dan Conover wrote a piece called The Newspaper Suicide Pact a few weeks ago, and it really seems to have gotten a lot of traction. It was even Boing Boinged a few weeks ago. I’ve wanted to talk to Dan about his experiences looking at the future of newspapers for the Charleston Post and Courier and then having all recommendations ignored. What I really like about this piece is that he points out a fact I think is really important. In all these pro-newspaper articles they are really arguing the positives for a newspaper industry that hasn’t existed for a long time. There are very few plucky rumpled beat reporters wearing out the shoe leather doing investigative reporting so if your argument for newspapers involves this sort of romantic self-image, it ain’t reality.
  • My AmigoFish recommendation feed dropped in this episode of the show Dave Winer and Jay Rosen do together called Rebooting the News. In it, Rosen discusses his “Church of the Savvy” analysis and I found it brilliant. I hope he writes it up soon so I can point to it. He points out that many current practitioners of journalism place their highest value on their own savviness, their own ability to be insiders and to understand the game. It really explains the mechanism for phenomena like the lousy process heavy horse race campaign reporting we get. The reporters don’t want to test the campaign claims against reality, they want to talk about “whether or not they will play with public” and whether they will “move the needle.” I thank Jay Rosen for giving me a cognitive framework for my disgust with the state of reporting. It doesn’t make it better, but it explains why it is this way.
  • Bruce Sterling blogs about this article in the New York TImes that covers the shocking news – shocking I say – that some blogs are started and then abandoned. The subtext is unmissable – “Look at these blogs that don’t even keep going! How can you even compare us to them?” When not giving itself a romanticized self-fluffing, the newspaper industry spends its time finding things to point to as being worse than it. Stay classy, New York Times! As much as people revere that paper, it means absolutely nothing to me in my life. I could care less if it stays afloat or sinks.

New Reality Break Episode is Live: Bruce Sterling!

It is belated, but Reality Break #5 with Bruce Sterling is up and live. In order to make up ground and repay listener patience, I’m going to accelerate the timetable for the next few episodes. I aim to put up the interview with Mur Lafferty this weekend and the one with Tobias Buckell the weekend after, following which I’ll return to an every other weekend schedule. The month of August really took it out of me in many ways, but things are back in the groove. It was great to go to Dragon*Con and sit down to do some interviews in person. I always prefer looking at people’s faces and body language when I talk to them, so doing interviews at conventions where I can talk to several people in person is my best case.

Please, link to the Reality Break stuff, tell your friends, spread the love! Suggest people you want to hear interviewed and generally participate. After all, I’m here for you so feel the love.

Our Ballardian Present

Cousin Brucie blogs about JG Ballard getting recognized as a visionary for his novels of global disaster. When I started getting into science fiction, it was at the beginning of cyberpunk, with which I was smitten including that of Cousin Brucie. At the same time, I really was getting into the “new wave” SF which at that point was distinctly No Longer New. I loved the works of Michael Moorcock but particularly JG Ballard.

I know Ballard was reacting to a specific literary trope, that of the British disaster novel where the heroes stave off large scale defeat by being plucky and British. There was something fascinating to me about these stories of non-plucky Brits facing global catastrophe and almost always failing to avert it. In the best case, they learn to live their lives in the catastrophe. I think of things like The Drowned World where the protagonist learns to love the post-catastrophe world so much that the “happy ending” is his undoing of the fixes to London by the plucky British engineers.

As much as I love those books, I never wanted to live in one. As time goes by, it is becoming clear that those futures are going to come true to a greater or lesser extent. I’m really hoping for lesser, but if you want a moral and emotional preview of what life might be like when the seas rise and wash away most of what we hold dear, try reading some Ballard. To quote Peter Gabriel:

Lord, here comes the flood
We’ll say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
in any still alive
It’ll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry.

Cyberpunk Rumblings

I’ve been thinking a lot about cyberpunk lately. No matter what its current fate in the literary fashion sweepstakes, I always had a great affinity for the genre and always will. No matter that its original young turks are now all too old and respectable to wield the crowbar with proper leverage. Sadly, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the fate of all punks to mellow or die, and they tend to do some of each.

William Gibson will be in my little town tomorrow accepting an honorary doctorate. It makes sense as he was born in this town. I’ve heard smatterings of outrage because apparently he speaks unkindly of Conway SC. He’ll be getting a “Doctor of Humane Letters” which leaves me wondering of they’ve actually read his books. His work has many wonderful virtues but humane is not at the top of the list. They may not have the option to give a “Doctor of Inhumane Letters.” I have Spook Country but haven’t read it yet. I’ve fallen off the Gibson pace in recent years but I still count him as equal influence with JG Ballard and William S. Burroughs in shattering my patterns of thinking and leading me somewhere new.

Bruce Sterling posted a link to a bit wondering if “cyberpunk is dead.” He has some analysis that I love and find applicable in our ongoing food fights as to whether “podcasting is dead” or “vlogging is dead.”

Just for the record, nothing can be “dead” when people have to anxiously declare it “dead.” Once it’s REALLY dead, nobody publicly frets about its deadness. Broadway theater’s been dying for about a century, “belle lettres” has been dying for, gosh, maybe 250 years now. You have to get used to that.

Right on, brother Brucie! Rather than getting pissed off, I’ll just treat the declarations of things I care about as “dead” as a sign of their vitality. From henceforth, such things will be considered self-contradictory just by existing. That was easy. Staples easy button easy, in fact.

Rudy Rucker is so far from a young turk that he’s retired now, which gives him more free time to post weird shit on his blog and blow my mind. He seems like a true case of someone with no off switch. I’m still subscribed to his audio feed and get whatever he chooses to post on it.

And just now I noticed something in common with all three of these guys: all grew up in the south and no longer live there. Gibson: South Carolina and Virgina and now in Vancouver BC. Sterling: Texas and now in Beograde. Rucker: Kentucky and now in California. If only the south made more people weird like these guys, we’d really have something!

EGC Clambake for March 20, 2007 – “Hippies and Punks”

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for March 20, 2007.

This is a particularly foulmouthed episode, including an F-Bomb explosion that came from some sort of anger repository I had not realized I was tapping. Be warned.

I play a song from Conconquidore Truidore; I talk about internet radio and the CARP decision and Doc Searls; I play a little clip from Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac; I discuss Bruce Sterling’s talk at SXSW; I talk about listening to Steve Blush on the Small World Podcast and from there launch into my theory about the similarities between hippies and punks; I briefly mention seeing Public Enemy; I play a song by the Brothers Falloon and lurch out of the room.

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PlayPlay

Bruce Sterling on the Internet of Things

I had previously blogged about and quoted bits of the Bruce Sterling “Internet of things” talk as it was edited and aired on O’Reilly’s Distributing the Future. Yesterday I heard the full talk from IT Conversations which I found superior. It’s a really good talk, and it made me feel better about the occasional contentiousness amongst the denizens on the new media frontiers. “It’s a clash of sensibilities that really need to clash” indeed.

As an aside, I don’t know what to make of Distributing the Future. It is highly produced, which I think is my problem with it. It’s well edited and has all the stuff going on, but that actually puts me off. The highly compressed voices, the zippy editing and such leave me cold, especially compared to the similar or same material on IT Conversations where it isn’t so highly treated. I’ve actually unsusbcribed and resubscribed to DTF several times. When I hear the arguments about how “no one will listen unless the production standards are as good as NPR” I think about this show, one that I’d like better if they didn’t produce it so much and instead gave it more room to breathe.

EGC Clambake For April 6, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for April 6, 2006.

On this show, I digress into interesting dates and times; I present some audio feedback from Milton Phillip; I play a song by Jason Lowenstein; I play a clip of Josh Kinberg on Distributing the Future; I play a bit of Le Show; I play two clips of Bruce Sterling, one from Minnesota Stories and one from Distributing the Future; I play a song by Ad Astra Per Aspera; I play a bit from the Onion podcast; I mention the upcoming show by Diana Obscura and Damon Young opening for Robert Rich; I play a song by the Changelings; bye.

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This episode is sponsored in part by AmigoFish. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media.

Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5.

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GSD

I’ve been listening to the various “Web 2.0” criticisms for a while now, both of the term and of the idea. I mentioned in my last podcast how I’m getting weary of people criticizing in situations where they could actually do the thing itself with not much more effort than complaining, exposing themselves for being lazy and all talk. These ideas are kind of coming together.

If you break it down to it’s heart, “Web 2.0” is about getting more things built faster for less money and that in turn allows us to actually do more better work. Is getting work done hype? How can it be? It’s about doing rather than talking, which explains why some pundits are turning against it. I’m guessing that the degree to which a pundit backlashes is inversely proportional to the rolled up height of their sleeves. I’ve never heard Jon Udell backlash at all, and his sleeves are rolled up to his neck.

Today I listened to the excerpt of the Bruce Sterling talk from eTech. In it, he said “If no one is accusing you of being all hype, you aren’t talking loud enough.” I like that outlook. I’ll add my corollary – “The best way to stick it to those who accuse you of being all hype is to make yourself indispensable in their lives. That’ll show them.”

From here forward, whenever I used to use “Web 2.0”, I’m going to use my own term: GSD. In analogy to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, this stand for “Getting Shit Done.” [Substitute “Stuff” if your gentle constitution requires it.] That’s where my head is at lately. Last fall I decided that rather than spend any more time criticizing the way podcast directories work, I built one that works according to my value system. Living well is the best revenge, and building something better is the best criticism. Less tongue in the air, more ass in the chair.

Those in the Pee Dee section of South Carolina, come join me Saturday for an afternoon of asses in chairs, and we can GSD.