When the Yogurt Took Over: A Short Story: “When the yogurt took over, we all made the same jokes – ‘Finally, our rulers will have culture,’ ‘Our society has curdled,’ ‘Our government is now the cream of the crop,’ and so on. But when we weren’t laughing about the absurdity of it all, we looked into each others’ eyes with the same unasked question – how did we ever get to the point where we were, in fact, ruled by a dairy product?”
Read the rest of this hilarious short story. And if you like that little bit of Scalzi, I can highly recommend his other books. Old Man’s War series (violent and gritty but with tons of heart), Agent to the Stars (hilarious send up of Hollywood actors and agents), and Fuzzy Nation (a great re-write of a previous book). I’m starting the new “Redshirts” one this weekend (a book written from the POV of, you guessed it, the doomed Redshirt guys). Scalzi is a great intro to science fiction if you’ve never read any. Recommended!
Neal Stephenson is kinda my hero for this.
Just got back from the final concert of the 2011-2012 Conspirare season. They sang Handel’s wonderful Dixit Dominus and Arvo Pärt’s incredible, sublime Berliner Messe. I am undone.
At the end of the Pärt, Hella-Johnson cut off the choir and 40 piece string orchestra and let the silence speak for nearly 30 seconds before dropping his hands. It was one of those you-had-to-be-there moments that I won’t ever forget.
Conspirare reminds me of what Chamber Singers would be with 30-40 year old voices and several years of singing together. And if you know me, you know how much I love Chamber Singers. So I’m not foolin’ around with the compliment. Conspirare is exquisite.
So, I have this weird theory about modern photography. Back when I was growing up we took pictures on celluloid film. As the pictures and prints and negatives age they turn different colors. It’s technically called “reciprocity failure” as the chemicals used to make the images break down over time. The upshot is that old pictures look… old. You can tell a really old picture because it’s yellow sepia-toned. Pics from the early part of last century are black and white, and even images from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s have begun to take on a purplish cast. I can looks back on photos from my childhood and the fact that they *look* old gives the image a sense of temporal distance; a connection to me as the subject but also a disconnection from me in time. A definite sense of history.
Not so with modern digital pictures. That photo of your children taken today will always remain *exactly* as clean, crisp, and “new” looking as the day it was laid down in ones and zeros. In fifty years it will still look as brand new and fresh as if it was taken this morning. This is why I looked at pictures of today’s college students taken when they were kids and get a very strange sensation of “who is that? It looks like you, but it can’t be!” I fall for the ongoing deception of the digital image.
Nothing wrong with any of this, of course. But it is fascinating to me that one of the subconscious measuring rods that we have as a culture of determining the emotional impact of images has been so dramatically changed in the past decade. Doubtless the grainy images of Viet Nam, President Lincoln, Aldrin on the moon, etc, would gain something if we could suddenly see them in 10 gigapixel super high definition. But I can’t help but think that we would also *lose* something important if those ancient imperfections were removed. Old photos give us a sense of history passed just because we can see the process of aging. Digital images are youthful forever.
In the future this means that we will never again have that sense of time passing as we move on and the images from our history slowly fade away. Digital technology means that our past is now. Forever exactly, perfectly present.
Eleven years ago when we moved to Austin I thought it might be informative/interesting to keep a record of all the books that I read. So I started a simple spreadsheet that keeps track of book titles, author names, number of pages, date completed, and whether a book was from my personal library or the public library. The personal library books are in one column and the public library books are in a second column. At the bottom of each column I add up the total pages from each category. This way I can keep a rough estimate of how many books I’ve read and where they’re from (home or the library).
It’s not really intended for anything other than just information so that I can see if I’m maintaining a roughly equivalent reading pace from year to year. It also uncovers some interesting tidbits like longest/shortest books (the longest is Crytonomicon at 1152 and the shortest is a book on ship modeling at 56 pages). I can also see how many books I’m reading per year, average pages, etc.
The coincidence is this: I just finished a library book and entered the data in the “library” column. When I looked down at the page totals I noticed that, since April 1, 2001 when I started keeping track, I’ve read 61,903 pages from library books (172 library books). Looking across at the “my library” column, I’ve read 201 books and a total of…. 61,903 pages. In eleven years’ time I’ve read exactly the same number of pages from the public library as from my personal collection. It’s a meaningless coincidence but I thought it was kind of cool.