Black Beret

by wjw on February 16, 2019

Motored up to Santa Fe last night to see the (seemingly) immortal Richard Thompson, OBE, and his current four-person trio.  I donned a black beret in tribute.

Pardon the amateur quality of the video (not by me), but it has the virtue of showcasing Thompson’s phenomenal guitar skills in a song that is a tribute to his guitar heroes.  Here he plays like Django, Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Hank Marvin, and (now and again) Richard Thompson.

Also, check out the phenomenal drummer Michael Jerome, who follows Thompson through every shift in style.

 

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Abandoned Carcass

by wjw on February 12, 2019

Shoshana Zuboff takes aim at surveillance capitalism.

. . . the digitization of everything was giving technology firms immense social power. From the modest beachheads inside our browsers, they conquered, Blitzkrieg-style, our homes, cars, toasters, and even mattresses. Toothbrushes, sneakers, vacuum cleaners: our formerly dumb household subordinates were becoming our “smart” bosses. Their business models turned data into gold, favoring further expansion.

Google and Facebook were restructuring the world, not just solving its problems. The general public, seduced by the tech world’s youthful, hoodie-wearing ambassadors and lobotomized by TED Talks, was clueless. Zuboff saw a logic to this digital mess; tech firms were following rational—and terrifying—imperatives. To attack them for privacy violations was to miss the scale of the transformation—a tragic miscalculation that has plagued much of the current activism against Big Tech . . . 

“Forget the cliché that if it’s free, ‘You are the product,’” she exhorts. “You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The ‘product’ derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.” The worst, though, is still to come, she argues, as tech giants shift from predicting behavior to engineering it. “It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us,” she warns; “the goal now is to automate us.”

Abandoned carcasses unite!  You have nothing to lose but the illusion that you are a living, breathing being possessed of free will!

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Collegiality

by wjw on February 8, 2019

Presenting a video in which I and about a dozen other writers discuss the collaborative project that is Wild Cards.

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Sympathique

by wjw on February 8, 2019

I’ve been trying to work hard and mostly failing, so I might as well listen to Pink Martini and surrender to the mood.

The chorus is a riff off the French composer Poulenc, and translates as follows:

I don’t want to work

I don’t want to lunch

All I want is to forget

And I want to smoke

Except that I like lunch and don’t care for tobacco, that pretty much describes my present.  In my current mood, I’ll settle for 50%.

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Sea Smoke

by wjw on February 4, 2019

My home town of Duluth was hammered last week by the Polar Vortex, and so of course there were various photos of frozen eyelashes and stalled cars and people bundled up like the Michelin Man.  (Fortunately it didn’t last.  In a single day the temperature went from -31 to +31.  That’s Fahrenheit, of course, since if we were talking Celsius that would be far more alarming.)

There’s another weather phenomenon that I find fascinating, and that’s sea smoke, seen here in this video from Sky Candy Studios, which also features the dramatic entrance of the ore carrier Edgar B. Speer under the Aerial Lift Bridge and into the frozen harbor.

The Speer can also be viewed here in more clement weather conditions.  And there are also some amazing photos of sea smoke online.

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Cover Reveal

February 1, 2019

Here’s the cover  for Quillifer the Knight, which I am reliably informed will be released in October 2019. Unfortunately Greg Manchess wasn’t available for the new cover, but the excellent Alejandro Colucci stepped in and did a splendid job.

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Now Hear This!

January 29, 2019

Friend of the blog Allen informs me that the audio book of Metropolitan is now available, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. I’m sure City on Fire was recorded at the same time, so probably by the time you finish listening to this one, the sequel will be available.  So there’s no reason to hesitate! Find it on […]

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Cavorting

January 29, 2019

I would like to report further on my trip to Los Cabos, but there isn’t a great deal to report on.  I wrote every day, but other than that, I relaxed.  I spent a lot of time sitting under umbrellas, reading or watching the whales cavort just offshore.  In addition, I spent a certain amount of […]

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Hasta la Vista

January 26, 2019

Last night in Cabo.  My friends have been terrific, the hospitality was wonderful, the drinks pretty great.  (Never had a tequila that tasted like pecan praline before.  You’d think that would be bad, but you’d be wrong.) I’ll be returning to the world tomorrow, but in the meantime I’ll be enjoying the last of my […]

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Have a Flight!

January 24, 2019

And pour an extra one for yourself, Etaoin Shrdlu, because you’ve won the contest!  I am in fact in Cabo San Lucas, a guest of my longtime friend Terry Boren, whose relations own a timeshare. It’s not exactly a vacation, because I’ve been writing every day, but normally my week is full of all sorts of […]

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