An ex-Domer Forever: What on Earthside was I thinking?

It’s the end of the spring term (finally) at my university in Kyoto, which means I’ll be getting ready for my yearlong sabbatical in Montreal soon. From September I’ll be back at a North American university for the first time since 1997.

Ah, Notre Dame. Mixed lapsed Catholic-cum-agnostic memories. Continue reading

The extrasolar immigrants are/have been/will be here

Though discovered nearly four years ago, an asteroid in orbit near Jupiter ( BZ509, or just “bee-zee” for short) is now said to be originally from outside our solar system. The aliens are here (have been here…). Continue reading

In his house at R’yleh…

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

In his house at R’yleh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming…

…because of course his ancestral DNA was brought to Earth aboard an asteroid, as part of an ancient bombardment that seeded life…

Well, maybe not. It’s a controversial idea only in the sense that octopi are not aliens and no DNA can possibly have survived an asteroid bombardment hundreds of millions (or even billions) of years ago.

Still, asteroids seeding the universe is a fun idea for fiction writers. Which is the germ of my novel in progress…

https://qz.com/1281064/a-controversial-study-has-a-new-spin-on-the-otherworldliness-of-the-octopus/

Half-finished, half-destroyed, hybrid? Syncretic culture

During the first week of May my family and I had a chance to explore ancient Greece.

Well, OK, modern Greece. With some ruins thrown in.

In addition to the museums of Byzantine culture, early Christian churches, old Turkish baths, reconstructed tombs of Phillip II of Macedon and all that, we also wandered around downtown Thessaloniki (Thessalonika) quite a bit. I was struck by the prevalence of half-destroyed, half-rebuilt buildings in various states of disrepair/renewal/disusage/usage. Continue reading

Why I’m leaving Facebook (and why you should, too)

facebookAbout ten days ago, I started a countdown on my Facebook “wall.”

Some of my “friends” asked if I was going to send something into space.

When I “commented” that I was leaving Facebook as of May 1st, they begged me not to.

The system will police itself, they argued. User complaints and the #deletefacebook movement/backlash would force Zuckerberg & Co. to change their policies.

Hardly. Instead, they’re doubling down.

In fact, Facebook has been terrified for years that its users would eventually find out that  it’s nothing more than an online marketing tool for greedy companies – and that Facebook has sold them out.

It took me a while, but finally I decided enough was enough.

I’m leaving Facebook. Here are a few reasons why I hope you will, as well.

Continue reading

Brand me? Brand *this*

On a lark, I signed up for a “BrandYourself” account a few weeks ago.

I’d read about it via a Quartz link and was curious. I’ve been living outside the US Culture Bubble for about two decades now, so I’ve largely missed the “OMG my employer is checking my SNS posts” terror that (apparently) has been sweeping the nation.

My first BrandYourself warning: You have 738 Risk Factors!

OMG. What were they? Was I really putting myself at risk? Continue reading

Starving the smartphone addiction

It’s been six weeks since I decided to take a break from Facebook. Back in mid-January I took a screenshot to show students how to figure out which apps they used the most (Line, by far, in case you’re wondering, followed by YouTube… not surprisingly, since my students are all Japanese).

It was a little shocking to see that I was spending over 8 hours a week on FB on my iPhone. My train commute is about an hour and a half each way, and I go to campus four days a week. So basically I spent 2/3 of my train time looking at FB posts.

Yuck. What a waste of reading time. Continue reading