Monday, December 24, 2007
When the darkness seems deepest, and the nights are longest and coldest, there is hope, symbolized by a Yule log, or candles, or simple gifts to each other. Then the year tips, and the nights grow shorter and the sun returns, bringing hope and warmth and new crops.
That the story of the birth of a child in Bethlehem has inspired generation after generation of people to try to be kinder, truer human beings. That we're reminded each year at this time to love one another as we love ourselves. To be kind to our neighbors. That miracles happen in simple, humble ways and places, but extraordinary all the same.
That we all, at heart, look towards light and hope and being better people.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm humbled by your continued presence here, and I'm honored to know you even in small ways.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
December 2007 Volume One Issue Five
StoriesThe Ladies is a subtle story, marked with Bear's deft word-smithing and wry sense of humor.
Realms of Fantasy, in 1998, slightly edited.
This may be my favorite issue so far. These are some really terrific stories, and I'm awfully happy to announce that the 'zine will go monthly, as of Volume 2.1 - scheduled to go live January 15th, 2008.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Christmas Campaign:
"Why a Christmas Campaign?
"In recent years some media pundits and 'culture warriors' have waged a vocal campaign against a so-called 'War on Christmas.' Targeting department stores, local governments and school systems for replacing Christmas with 'Happy Holidays' or 'Seasons Greetings,' Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson of Fox News have led the charge against what they call a 'secular progressive agenda' determined to drive religion out of the public square. William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights warns of 'cultural fascists' bent on destroying Christmas.
"The real assault on Christmas, however, is an excessive consumer culture that has turned a holy season into a celebration of commercialism and materialism. By focusing our attention on shopping malls and the consumerism that accompanies Christmas, this misguided campaign further distracts us from the real message of the holiday..."
Dismaying news from Terry Pratchett:
I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom 'stroke'. . ."
The History of LOLCats
"Historian Ben Burrns brings us through this history of LOLCats. Did you know that 26% of all emails contain a LOLcat photo?"
The Poet who could smell vowels:
"'In French we write the same vowel four different ways in terrain, plein, matin, chien. Now when this vowel is written ain, I see it in pale yellow like an incompletely baked brick; when it is written ein, it strikes me as a network of purplish veins; when it is written in, I no longer know at all what colour sensation it evokes in my mind, and am inclined to believe that it evokes none.'
"When Saussure associates ain with an incompletely baked brick, it is hard not to think of the prototypical baked good, and one of the two most common French words to contain ain. Although pain (bread) is not mentioned, it too is a pale yellow when incompletely baked. When ein strikes him as a network of veins, this time the word used to identify the visual association is present – veines – though while the letters ein are there, in this word they are not pronounced with the vowel he is discussing. If in evokes nothing, could that have to do with in- being a negative prefix? Or with in being the stressed vowel of his given name, Mongin, which he never used?
"'So it does not seem to be the vowel as such – as it exists for the ear, that is – that calls forth a certain corresponding visual sensation. On the other hand, neither is it seeing a certain letter or group of letters that calls forth this sensation. Rather it is the vowel as it is contained in this written expression, it is the imaginary being formed by this first association of ideas which, through another association, appears to me as endowed with a certain consistency and a certain colour, sometimes also a certain shape and a certain smell.'"
Arctic summers ice-free 'by 2013'
"Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.
Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years."
It's a strange, frightening, and marvelous world we live in, and these are interesting times.