Friday, 23 November 2012

Mindset Cafe: 2012-11-23

Mindset Cafe: 2012-11-23

On the menu this week, humans are getting dumber, the medieval arms race, HP Lovecraft, HP Lovecraft and some more HP Lovecraft, typewriters, bad news about Ebola, carbon emissions and the first of the Christmas idiocy.

Stories for stories

This is absolutely not a new story in terms of fiction, but it points to the truth behind the stories. IO9 asks, "Are humans getting dumber?"   A Milanese cathedral is putting gargoyles up for adoption. If you could adopt one, what would you name it and where would you keep it? If you're into medieval fantasy, here's an item on swords and armour that should be of some interest. One of the lovely old uncanny mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle got dusted off and hauled out. Anyone for an interdimensional gateway to another reality? Somehow my mind turns to a man going mad on a planet inhabited by sentient, squeaky plastic toys.

Reading and writing

The writing that I have been doing has taken a lot from my reading. I wake early to use the computer in pre-dawn silence. Come time for bed I don't have more than a few minutes in me. This week I really pushed myself to read a bit more than I have been, and made it through a couple of Lovecraft Ezines. A story, 'That Old Problem' by T.E. Grau, jumped out at me. That was in the March 2012 edition. I love words that dance. Take a look at issue 14 as well. It features at least one great story, 'Drive, She Said', by Tracie McBride.

From what I can gather / observe / postulate / thingy, respectable horror / spec-fiction writers earn their chops by publishing at least one Lovecraftian / Mythos story. I still have to get there. I was puttering around with one set in a calamari joint, but Terry Pratchett put a spanner in that works.

Thinking about HP Lovecraft, I think that his greatest strength is the density of the prose. With sentences like that, readers have to use their imaginations. I love the many different takes that writers bring to his mythos, but confess that I don't get any joy from his fantasy. For some reason, Clark Ashton Smith repels me, but I devour Robert E. Howard faster than a platter of farm salami.

Whatever. Lovecraft Ezine is 'good stuff'. And I've set out into the 'Mountains of Madness' once more.  Bring on the carniverous penguins!

Let's go mechanical at this point. If you are in your forties, you can probably remember the sound of writing from way back then, not the scratching of goose quills* on parchment that your children might believe it sounded like, but the klatta-takka-tattattatta-klatta-klatta-takka-takka-bing-zip of someone being industrious with a typewriter.

On that note, the last typewriter has been manufactured in the UK, so it's farewell to the carriage return, the fun rolly bit where the paper went, the inky, powdery, waxy smell of the ribbon and the ├╝bercool bing-zip bit. Goodbye, and it was great knowing you. Sincerely.

Mother Nature and other terrifying things

I blogged about diseases a while ago. Turns out I wasn't far off one of the marks. It's OK to panic, just please not too much. As far as global warming is concerned, we are buggered. Emissions are not coming down. The problem is that emission cuts are not politically and economically feasible. Renewables aren't advanced enough to provide the levels of power needed to sustain current productivity without pricing productivity out of the markets. The only break will come when the costs of Mother Nature's spite outweighs the benefits of productivity. Find a synthesis between optimism and cynicism: expect bad things to happen, but get ready for it.

And finally...

The Christmas idiocy is upon us again, and it's not just the decorations that are hanging early.

* We used an ostrich feather. There was lots of ink splatter, but it was fun.

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