Outsource our minds? What a good idea!

pre-internet boredom xkcdThe times, they are a-changin’.

Old news. But these days our technology transforms our environment, both external and internal, at an ever-accelerating rate. And we aren’t always conscious of how much or how fast we ourselves are changing in response to this.

Here’s just one example. More and more, people are consulting smartphones and tablets in mid-conversation. Only half attending to whatever any given speaker is on about, they’re digitally retrieving bits of information they think might add value to … Read more

How I quit smoking: And what climate-change deniers can learn from this

 quit smoking

My fix

I’m lucky to be alive. For one thing, I began smoking cigarettes at the age of nine. By the age of 12, I was smoking at least half a pack a day and, by the time I left home at the age of 15, I had a 40-50 a day habit. By the time I was 16 going on 17, I’d smoke another pack if I spent an evening in a tavern. I eventually stopped after 28 years … Read more

Mai pen rai (after all, mere humans could never change the climate)

Are you a Bangkok Old Hand?

bkk old hand coverTry this selection from the quiz, first published in 1993:

In which of the following situations would it be appropriate to use the common Thai expression mai pen rai (“never mind; no problem”)?

(a) A guest spills a little water on your coffee table.

(b) A waiter accidently dumps your beer into your lap.

(c) You go downstairs one morning in the rainy season and find that those of your possessions that float are

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Homo app

app (n.) 1. originally from computer software app*lication; 2 (n.)  bio smartphone and tablet app*endages, most commonly specimens of Homo sapiens.

When extraterrestrials finally arrived on Earth circa 2021 for a look around, they discovered that the dominant life forms were evolved digital communications devices. Subsequent investigation suggested that these creatures had only recently emerged on the scene, and at first the aliens couldn’t see what had given rise to them.

But then one team noticed tiny bio … Read more

McStuff and the triumph of democratic mediacratization

The Peak Experience.

In a recent post, I reflected on the strange compulsion to record every iota of our individual and collective experience and then share it with everyone else, each of whom is trying to do the same. How can anyone enjoy an unmediated experience of night-time Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, for example? (“Colonialized: The Peak Experience”)

There I stood at the rail on the viewing platform, getting a many-elbowed massage from others who had mounted … Read more

Colonialized: The Peak Experience

vic peak sara enhBelow us lies a massive growth of porous luminosity, its cellular steel and glass exoskeleton inhabited by various species of soft light. A colossal marine organism has emerged to colonize the harborside. Brighter creatures enjoy mutualistic relations with the colonial host. Some of them, Logo spp., are neural parasites that prey on humans.

Sara and I stand atop the Peak Tower with a bunch of other creatures, not yet colonial but through the wonders of digital technology fast evolving … Read more

Japanieces & tilefish & things

What have tilefish and superyacht owners got in common?

Collin posed this question at the end of his last post, “Pharaonic fish and flash fatcats.” And now he has invited me, Jack Shackaway, who remains unbound by considerations of political correctness, to explain.

The following passages are from a novel in progress starring yours truly — even written by yours truly though Collin will no doubt try to claim otherwise. The book is a work of … Read more

Peas in a pod: Pharaonic fish and flash fatcats

According to  the people who filmed these tilefish back in 2003, this species had till then remained undescribed by scientists. Once again I’ve been too slow off the mark, because I described this fish in 2001. I can’t find the original video with the associated claim, but here’s some excellent footage of tilefish and their mounds.

I’ve been known to brag about having already been there and done that, years ahead of my time way back when (e.g. see “… Read more

Saving the world: Sea squirts to the rescue

Save the whales; save the gibbons. Yeah, yeah. But here’s how to help save the whole world. Be the first on your block to start ranching sea squirts. It seems these leathery wee bags with two openings and way-kinky social lives might be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to clean energy.

 

Back in 1995, at the request of White Lotus Press, I collaborated with photographer Ashley J. Boyd on a natural history of Thailand’s coral reefs, … Read more

What’s lurking beneath *your* garden?

 

Rude revision to one’s life plans: Florida man disappears with bedroom into sinkhole.

The news these days is enough to have us all hiding under our beds. Not that this strategem is foolproof, it seems.

 

Other network-newsworthy causes for alarm:

Near miss: asteroid.

Near miss: meteorite shower over Russia (largely spares pop. centers).

Near miss: fiscal cliff; sequester still plunging through atmosphere inspiring panic in many quarters.

Etc.

How many other near misses go unnoticed and unremarked? There’s … Read more