And, from the kitchen this weekend we have for you a lovely Link Salad, with leaves of history and science, garnished with a healthy dose of whimsy.
But first, I begin with a special treat for my free-wheeling brewer friends. Beer has always been a problem in space -- not because of drunk piloting, but because weightlessness does weird things to the sense of taste. There's also the question of what the bubbles will do to the body, and how drinkable beer will be in zero G anyway. Fortunately, someone is officially working on these problems so that we can take into space with us the drink that made civilization possible in the first place: Click here for Space Beer!
Now, on to the main courses:
As part of the Book Retailer wars, Sears will double your Christmas shopping budget by effectively giving away free books.
Can't afford a Harvard education, but have the drive and desire to get one? Well then, today's your lucky day. Harvard has started offering some classes online for free
Bet you, like most people born after WW2, thought Color Photography didn't really get going until the late 1930s, right? Well, think again. Here's some gorgeous Color Photos from the great depression in Colorado and some even more amazing Color photos from Imperial Russia (the Ukraine and Uzbekistan, near as I can make out).
If you live with a writer, or are dating a writer, or think writers are sexy (we are), there are a few things you should know.
Here's some advice I should pay more attention to: How to write magnetic headlines
An attempt to make an IMDB for Speculative Fiction books and audio: SpecFicDB
For those of you looking to get press for your new indie book, or those of you looking to sample something that's not just published slush, here's an Aggregate list of indie book reviewers
Jordan Summers has a series of reports from the Novelists Inc. conference on piracy, some low-down contractual moves by publishers as they panic in the new marketplace, and more. A must read for any writer.
Fair Warning: These next couple writing-related links feature me. First, my post on The Creative Penn's blog about How To Survive the Ebook Apocalypse
And then, there's an hour of me talking turkey and story with Mark Jeffrey on his video podcast This Week in Books The goofy looking guy is me.
The man who gave us The Thumbprint of God, Benoit Mandlebrot, died this week. Check out his glorious TED talk here. If you don't know who Mandlebrot was, or how he and a few of his friends fundamentally changed the game in ever sphere of life, check out This BBC Documentary
Over in Climate-change land, the fight has broken into four camps: The alarmists, for whom we are all doomed and deserve it as punishment for our technological/capitalistic sins; The Warners, who think we'd better do something so we don't royally screw ourselves; the Skeptics, who are cautiously doubtful of policy prescriptions but also cautiously accepting of a preponderance of evidence; and the Deniers, who think it's all a left-wing anti-business plot (this taxonomy stolen shamelessly from Stuart Brand). Sometimes, there's an interesting dataset that allows the skeptics and Warners to make common cause, despite any underlying differences, because they share the same respect for good science. Here's one such instance, very intelligible to laypeople: a climate history that takes into account all known natural climate cycles AND anthropogenic effects.
If you ever lost a pet as a child, chances are you heard some version of the "Doggie Heaven" story. The one I heard was that Heaven will be happy, and if I want my dog when I'm there, she'll be there waiting for me. Of course, as we get older we realize that this is a lie told to us by well-meaning parents who, regardless of whether they believe in human heaven or not, don't really believe in doggie heaven. After all, dogs don't have a spirituality, do they? Well, according to new neurological research, if humans have anything that can be called "spiritual awareness," then so do dogs, and most other higher animals.
Social Scientists have a lot to say about educational policy,economics, politics, family values, and culture, so sometimes it's important to step back and take a long hard look at what they do and do not actually know at this point in history. (This is an excellent article)
And, finally, from the philosophy of ethics department, a paper that argues lucidly that you can't be good without Science Fiction.
More Reprobates and the final Balticon Adventure next week!
And don't forget to buy the new Clarke Lantham mystery And Then She Was Gone next Friday!