Comet Fragments

One of my favorite progressions during this pandemic has been a set of ads on government TV. At first, early days, we were told to exercise. It was a thing we could do to stay fit and maintain our mental health while we stayed inside. Now, the ads are about exercising quietly. Not thumping around on the floor at all hours of the night. Helping to build a quiet a environment for your neighbors. It’s just such a clear example of adaptation in progress and the new problems created by yesterday’s solutions. You can just so clearly see what has gone wrong. Everyone staying sane is making everyone crazy. Shit happens, I guess.

Things from Albin Ljunghusen on Vimeo.

Anyway . . .

Degraded, And Not In The Fun Way: Just a short thing about the lack of decent exploitation or B-Movies, the spaces that created these things, and, what’s worse, the co-option of these movies by corporate America.

What’s not fine is the insidious effort to fill this vacuum by the very forces that cleared it out. The major studios, having funneled all of Earth’s money into their coffers through an annual handful of multi-hundred-million-dollar franchise-related paydays and/or the boardroom jockeying of venture capital, now want only for critical respect and the street cred of coolness. As the fanbases of superheroes and their ilk try their darndest to demand these markers of validity, raising an uproar every time a tentpole dips below the Certified Fresh line on Rotten Tomatoes and tweet-swarming those with the temerity to diverge from this enforced consensus, the films themselves have begun to meet them halfway. A troubling trend has taken shape, in which conglomerate output affects the appearance of exploitation and its adjacent traditions, without any of the underlying motivations or aesthetic daring that might threaten mass marketability. 

Rust (City) Never Sleeps: A short science fiction story by Paul Graham Raven written in the style of an ethnographic report. I liked this story. Aside from the content, part of the reason is, I tried to write a story in this style a few years ago –stepping back from a frustrating novel to attempt this approach– and did not meet with much success. It’s good to see someone make it work. Not an easy trick to pull off and it’s well executed here.

A Black Market for Rare Succulents Is Emerging Across the Globe: Succulents are being poached and sold on scales that imperil the species and biodiversity. I mean, you’d think that growing a succulent, some of the most inoffensive plants around would be a pretty benign thing. Doesn’t seem to be evil. Just growing a sedum or whatever. But you might be surprised. You might not. People have gotten carried away. Everything is so fucked up. Like, when there’s black markets in plants that don’t even induce The Creeping Bleak or send you into a conference call with the mechanical elves, things are fucked up.

What Does The Return Of The Unnecessary Belt Say About The State Of The World?: I don’t know exactly. It reminds me of Odo. Remember when he brought his belt back? But apparently the return of the unnecessary belt isn’t just to impress Major Kira. Instead

According to Dr. Carolyn Mair, a cognitive psychologist who specializes in fashion, we’re currently experiencing a similar zeitgeist to the early aughts, which was marked by fear of unknown advances in tech, global economic and political problems, and terrorism. Those fears remain present today, but with the added stressors of a pandemic. 

As a result of a sort of over-practical reaction in Year Zero of The Worm, people are now getting a little more frivolous. A little more fun and free. As for me, while I can’t see myself wrapping a belt around my waist if I don’t need it (but, these days, who knows, YOLO?, I guess) I’ve never understood the big attraction to strictly utilitarian items used in strictly utilitarian ways. That concept always reminds me of that weird sort of sub-theme in a lot of science fiction of a certain type and era, where no one wears ties because ties are pointless and people in the future are rational. And they’re all like: Ties? What mad superstition!

But could be something to it. Satan help me, there have been days lately, where I have seriously considered throwing a tie on over my t-shirt like I’m 17 again. So if ladies or whomever want to start wearing belts over naked bellies, not like I give a fuck.

Most of the power sector’s emissions come from a small minority of plants: Here’s a thing I find frustrating. Every problem we have feels so totally unmanageable and yet:

The study finds that many countries have many power plants that emit carbon dioxide at rates well above either the national or global average. Shutting down the worst 5 percent of this list would immediately wipe out about 75 percent of the carbon emissions produced by electricity generation.

Like, obviously more needs to be done to correct climate change, but fixing these plants just seems like such a relatively simple, straightforward, and impactful thing to do. A decent place to start, at least. It doesn’t seem like mission impossible. But, instead, we get straight-faced bullshit proposals like moving industry into outer-space. I mean, fix these plants, plant a shitload of trees, and move off coal and oil. These “solutions” reminds me of an addict with their increasing baroque convolutions to explain why they’re doing the thing at 10AM.

The WHO is right to call a temporary halt to COVID vaccine boosters: I would hope that we could find some way to have both boosters and stop hoarding vaccines. But, in the meantime, the important thing is that the wealthy nations stop hoarding vaccines, to distribute them to countries that need them, and ease up on the copyrights.

Choosing an unknown but potentially incremental benefit for a person in a wealthy country over a massive, life-saving one for a person elsewhere in the world is a losing strategy, because new variants will inevitably arise in places where the spread of COVID-19 continues unabated.

This whole mess requires some sort of global response. The necessity of a coordinated global response when dealing with infectious diseases is pretty much the whole reason the WHO exists in the first place. Nationalism is utter shit.

PSA

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