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The Toronto Hackerspace Adventure Tour, 16 June

The Toronto Hackerspace Adventure Tour, 16 June

A while back, I gave a talk at the BorderTown Design Jam. It was held at ThingTank Lab, but most of the Border Town seminars I participated in last year were held at Site 3 CoLaboratory. The first evening of the jam, Alex Leitch (founder of Site 3) and I got to talking about all the labs and hackspaces across town, and how it would be awesome if you could get some sort of passport stamped for each one you’d…

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Moneyball is the most pro-science film you will see all year.

Moneyball is the most pro-science film you will see all year.

I watched Moneyball on a flight between Toronto and Vancouver. I’d had no sleep the night before, and I was in the mood for a story about winning against severe odds. Moneyball is actually a story about winning because of extreme odds. It’s about the triumph of science over tradition, and in that respect it is more progressive than most science fiction films of its year.

Welcome to the Institute

Welcome to the Institute

Real life is always stranger than fiction. Always. Evidence: One of the twins admiringly touches my head. Before coming to wardrobe, I’d stopped in hair and makeup. My nape and temples are now shaved clean in an approximation of an old hairstyle called a half-box. All to help me blend in on the set. Only, from here on, I can no longer call it that. According to a glossary of forbidden terms posted right in front of me on the…

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Happy birthday, Mom.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Today is my mother’s birthday. October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. She is a breast cancer survivor. In that spirit, I link to this post, which critiques the “narrative” surrounding breast cancer — namely, that early detection always saves lives. I suggest that everyone read it, because it highlights some interesting truths about diagnosis and treatment. Example: …mammography is an inefficient method for detecting breast cancer. It’s much better at finding the indolent cancers that would have never caused…

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The things that didn’t make it in:

The things that didn’t make it in:

This week, after a nightmare of last-minute changes and formatting errors, I finally turned in the print copy of my thesis to the good folks at OCAD U. It’s a design thesis for the Strategic Foresight and Innovation program, and it’s called “Loss Prevention: Customer Service as Border Security.” It’s just shy of a hundred pages long, and four of those are the bibliography. However, in any piece of writing there are always bits of information you discover at the…

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How we workshop fiction

How we workshop fiction

While I was in Seattle recently (scroll down for photos in the navbar to your right), my friend Jerry took me to lunch at the Wild Wheat Bakery Café & Restaurant in the south end. (I ate a delightful salmon tostada salad, then walked out with a squishably soft loaf of garlic rosemary bread and a tiny gift-sized creme brulee.) While there, Jerry’s friend Kascha asked me how my workshop works. She, like many writers, has had nasty experiences with…

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Hard at work deep in the reality mines

Hard at work deep in the reality mines

Those who read my story “Ishin” in The Shine Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction might be interested in this piece by Noah Schachtman over at the Wired Danger Room blog. What I like about this piece is that it exposes how important research framing is to actual research — you have to decide what kind of metrics you’d like to read before even conducting the experiment. It’s also outlines how DARPA projects get funding, and how little DARPA can actually…

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Review: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Review: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

Last night, I attended the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s performance of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a one-man monologue written and performed by Mike Daisey. Go see this show. It’s like watching Lewis Black narrate the adventures of Michael Moore in the setting of a Cory Doctorow novel. It’s a comedy. It’s a call to action. It’s a firestorm.

If you can smell a zombie, you can be a zombie.

If you can smell a zombie, you can be a zombie.

Lan-Caihe is real, or so Will Sargent told me via Twitter, this evening while Squid and I were doing our best impersonations of Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole at a bar near my workplace. Will was, of course, referencing this story, in which a disease called Lan-Caihe (named for an eccentric Chinese deity whose sole defining characteristic seemed to be unpredictability and capriciousness) ravages the techno-factories of Shenzhen. Snip: Lan-Caihe is a degenerative brain disorder that, like Alzheimer’s, erodes the…

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My SFContario schedule

My SFContario schedule

This November you can find me at SFContario, where I’ll be on a bunch of panels as both a participant and moderator. Here’s my schedule: Friday 10 PM – Ballroom A Cyborgs AI and Androids in Anime Japan leads the world in developing humanoid robots and anime productions address the question of what it means to be human if the human body is increasingly mechanized. Conversely when does a self aware system become worthy of being regarded as equal or…

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