Writerly occupational hazard: Mental DDOSs

DDOS: Distributed denial of service. Shutting down an internet server by launching an attack from a number of sources to overwhelm the targeted system with data.

Exposure to the internet amounts to an effective DDOS on your brain.

There’s too much information out there, and the filters — both in terms of search engine devices and user self-discipline — just aren’t up to the task. It appears we humans are hardwired to be seduced by all the supposed opportunities for … Read more

Smartphone appendages: A typology

Not smartphone apps as in ‘applications’ — we’re talking apps as in ‘appendages.’ I.e. you and me.  (Have a look at this earlier story for more on Homo app.)

I’ve just come across three-year-old story notes on a remote corner of my hard drive. I have a character on the skytrain considering the  merely absent presence of the other passengers. One advantage of living in Bangkok, he has always believed, are the rich opportunities for people-watching. But it has … Read more

Sci-fi becoming history: Is your homebot watching you?

 

Sara’s mopping in another room. Our homebot, a robotic vacuum cleanerhas joined me here in the study. It cruises about, tsk-tsking at piles of notes on the floor, savoring my breakfast crumbs and generally making me uneasy. As I’ve told Sara, this critter appears far too intelligent. Plus I suspect all the homebots in the world are connected via the internet to pursue agendas we can’t even guess at.

 

The World War II expression ‘

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When the gods shoot blanks: Auspicious omens sometimes aren’t

The universe is full to bursting with new science fiction. How does any of it win recognition?

Last Thursday morning, in Bangkok’s Suan Rhotfai, next to Chatujak Park, we were treated to the best display of flowering trees ever — varieties of pink and purple cherry and plum blossoms, gorgeous golden showers like vivid yellow weeping willows, only better.

What, beyond the standard onset of the hot season, might have inspired this spectacle? It occurred to me this was launch … Read more

Phobia or plain, commonsensical fear?

Do we need a word for the irrational fear of Trump policy initiatives (otherwise described as trump tweets‘tweets’)? Maybe not. Many will argue that such a fear is in no way irrational, and hence may not be properly described as a phobia.

Whatever. I hereby present three phobias I’ve mentioned before on this blogsite. All three, I’ll suggest, will serve while we search for a more Trump-specific expression.

“Trump?” Sara looks at me with concern. “Isn’t there anything else to talk … Read more

Do goldfish suffer paranoia?

bigdataweb

From the time you get up till the time you go to sleep—even beyond that, if you use a digital sleep tracker—the average twenty-first-century citizen is subject to constant surveillance, caught in a interrogative crossfire, a sticky network fixing your locational, attitudinal and general behavioral spoor 24/7, holding it for the digital spiders that come to collect all this lovely data and cart it off to Big Data centers for digestion and construal in ways that help the spider collective … Read more

No rewind, no undo

 

 In my last post, ‘Interpermeable realities, material & digital,’ I suggested that manipulative impulses, as well as sources of addiction, are leaking over from our digital worlds into our material realities. The impulse to conduct a word search in a paper book for just one example.

UNDO buttonEven before the digital age, of course, we’d experience impulses to alter our material world merely by wishing hard. A faux pas, for instance, could make you wish you had access … Read more

Interpermeable realities, material and digital

Do you ever try to conduct word searches while reading a print book? What an odd sensation. Just for a moment, you mentally reach for a control that isn’t there. Then you realize this is a paper book, and if you want to find that word or passage you have to use the index, if there is one, or else estimate where in all those pages it’s most likely to appear, and then skim the actual material book manually. What … Read more

Home remedy: Physical, mental and spiritual

 

I’ve got a monster cold, the first in years. And the therapeutic effects of last night’s half bottle of wine had clearly worn off by the time I got up this morning.

The fever’s gone, but I remain fluish. So Sara fixed me a mug of hot lime juice with honey, and I chased that with my customary magic potion.

But things remained far from ideal, and the viruses probably reckoned they still had the upper hand. Until I … Read more

Tattoo me noir

 

 

tattoo bikerNot many years ago — and here we speak only of Western societies — having a tattoo assimilated you to a noirish rabble of able-bodied seamen, Foreign Legionnaires, ex-cons, circus performers, bikers, and boozers with a propensity for finding themselves in the vicinity of waterfront tattoo parlors. tattoo prison

Read on for a look at early-1950s attitudes towards tattoos, and the roles tatts played in Paul Theroux’s Saint Jack, a novel set in 1950s Singapore and first published in … Read more