Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 14-20, 2018

As we head into the home stretch for the weekend, take some time to get your mental corn popping 🙂

Gloria Galloway reports on the vast region of the Northwest Territories declared an Indigenous protected area. The Globe and Mail

Andi Murphy explains how the Navajo nation is reclaiming its native food culture. Eater

Ephrat Livni: there’s a problem at the heart of #metoo—here’s how we solve it. Quartz

David Freeman: an Antarctic ice shelf is singing, and it sounds like an eerie sci-fi soundtrack. NBC News

Andrew Freedman says, scientists still have hope that climate change can be mitigated. Click through to the UN report if you want to have nightmares, but really, it’s a call to arms. We can still take action to prevent the absolute worst from happening. Axios

SciShow Space reveals how space exploration could be done efficiently through the interplanetary superhighway.

 

Leslie Gonzales shares some lesser-known facts about the Vikings. History 101

Saga Vanacek pulled a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake. The Guardian

Bernhard Warner warns (ha!) of the dangers of building a better bee—frankenbee! The Guardian

The Pet Collective shares some trampoline fun!

 

Bubble time with raccoons. Viral Hog

 

And … that was thoughty Thursday for another week.

Until next Tipsday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

thoughtythursday2016

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Sept 10-16, 2017

Time to get your mental corn popping.

Sarah Knapton: depression could be a physical illness that could be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. The Telegraph

Zoe Plait (Phil’s daughter) recommends counting your passions if you live with depression. Miss Misery

Adam Beach explains why casting others in Native American roles is so harmful. Deadline Hollywood

Mayim Bialik – Minority from day one

 

Kristen Dold: the silent majority (or why we have to stop silencing victims). Women’s Health

The Tracey Ullman Show – What were you wearing?

 

Eliot Stein introduces us to the last surviving sea silk seamstress. BBC

Kristina Killgrove reports on the DNA confirmation of the first female Viking warrior. Forbes

Then, Holly Norton explains how the female Viking warrior was written out of history. The Guardian

Mike McRae: Vikings really could have used “sunstones” to navigate dark seas. Science Alert

Zaria Gorvett reports on the mystery of the lost Roman herb. BBC

On the eve of Cassini’s demise, Phil Plait shares a gallery of the best images it’s sent us. SyFy

George Dvorsky reports: we finally know why birds are so freakishly smart. Gizmodo

I just really like the Wonder Woman reference 🙂 Beck – Up all night

 

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Series discoveries: Highlights

Last week I said I’d do a series discoveries post, and here, as promised, it is 🙂

I watch entirely too much television. It’s true. But I enjoy it. I also get a lot of writerly goodness out of watching television series because I never just watch passively. I discuss what I watch with Phil, try to predict what might happen, plot-wise, and think about the story structure of the episodes and the seasons or series overall.

If I tried to say even a few words about all the shows I’ve watched since I last posted a series discoveries … I’d be writing a book (!) I’d rather save all those words for my novels.

Here are some of the year’s highlights.

Stranger Things

Of course this would be on my list. Isn’t it on everyone’s?

A lovely cast of young geeks and social misfits, Dungeons & Dragons, a mysterious series of disappearances, enough 80’s nostalgia to make me feel warm and fuzzy, Winona Ryder in her first solid role in … like forever, Mathew Modine as the villain, the awesome Eleven, and The Upside Down.

Assholes saw the error of their ways. Friendship triumphed over fear. The crazy lady was proven right (and not crazy).

And the storytelling was top notch. ST was a master class in foreshadowing and revelation. It wasn’t backstory heavy. The pacing was just right.

Travelers

Of the three new time travel series, I enjoyed this Showcase/Netflix collaboration the most. Both Timeless and Time After Time got tangled up in paradox (in my opinion). And not in a good way.

The means of time travel in Travelers was the transference of consciousness of the members of a future team of specialists into people in the past at the moments of their deaths. It’s a little hand-wavy, but it’s a clever way of trying to circumvent paradox.

Like many of the more enjoyable time travel tales, it doesn’t attempt to explain how the transfer of consciousness works. It’s not the story. It’s simply the vehicle for the story.

In the future, the world is in terrible shape. Teams of specialists, known as travelers, volunteer to have their consciousnesses transferred into people of the past in order to complete a series of missions in an attempt to avoid the catastrophic future. There are many teams, but no one knows any other travelers outside their team. They can’t. That’s half of the attraction of the show. The audience learns about the story world as the characters do.

Everything is organized by The Director and nobody knows who that is, either.

I found it fascinating because the travelers had to infiltrate the lives of the people they take over. These “normal” lives were the main complication for each of the travelers.

It was very well done.

The Crown

This was another well done series. It looks at the life of the young Elizabeth from before her marriage to Phillip and the death of her father through the first year of her reign as Queen Elizabeth II.

The acting was fabulous—John Lithgow as Winston Churchill was a-MA-zing! And Matt Smith isn’t half bad either 😉

Though I know the events of Elizabeth’s life have been dramatized for the series, it felt true. The characters were all human, all flawed, and all struggling.

It was a great character study.

Vikings

SPOILER ALERT!

Ragnar died. I have no idea where things are headed next season.

I still love the show. And Lagertha.

That is all 🙂

The Last Kingdom

This adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories continues to be compelling, despite a short second season.

It’s set a generation after Vikings when Alfred is king of Wessex (he’s a child in Vikings). Uhtred, the main character, was captured by the Vikings as a child and his uncle usurped his father’s lands. While it shares several of the same themes as Vikings, it’s a very different take on the historical era and its political intrigues.

It’s all about Uhtred’s survival and eventual rise. His ultimate goal is to retake Bebbanburg castle in Northumbia from his uncle.

I, Zombie

When Shomi closed up shop last year, Phil and I were disappointed. It was the only place we could watch I, Zombie.

Admittedly, the show struggled a bit this year with several characters switching sides, and then switching back, turning into zombies, getting cured, and then becoming zombies again. It was all very make-up-your-minds-already!

It retained its light feeling and comic book inspiration. It was still clever, but now that the zombie cat is out of the bag, I’m not sure about the future of the series.

13 Reasons Why

I am loving this series based on Jay Asher’s book. I think suicide is an important, if uncomfortable, topic to address, and I think the series has done it brilliantly.

The tapes are an effective (and analog) MacGuffin, and I wanted to hear the next one (or not) as much as Clay.

It’s a revealing look at the hell that is high school.

I honestly don’t know if I’d have survived high school if social media had been such a powerful force back then.

Sense8

Phil and I LURVED season 1 and were distressed when there was talk of not renewing the Straczinski-Wachowski series. We rejoiced when the Christmas special promised season 2 in May.

If anything, season 2 was even better than the first.

And then Netflix cancelled it.

It’s a beautiful show about difference and bonding, and how we can all bring the best out in one another, if we choose to. And, yes, psychics.

Like the time travel in Travelers, the sensorium (the bonded group of psychics) is merely the vehicle for a wonderful and uplifting story.

I really hope Netflix reconsiders.

Game of Thrones

GoT redeemed itself last season with some of the best episodes I’ve seen in years.

I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s season premiere.

Outlander

I’ve been a fan of Gabaldon’s novels for ages and what Stars has done with the series is excellent. I know a novel has to be reconceived for television. It’s a different medium and requires different writing. Unlike GoT, which has been hit or miss over the life of the series, the Outlander cast and crew have consistently made all the right decisions.

As I said to a friend after I saw the first season, it’s like Gabaldon had the chance to rewrite the novel given her current level of craft and experience. The series has been that true to the spirit of the books.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next season.

And that’s all I’m going to write for tonight.

Next week will be my last weekend post before I’m off on my grand adventure 🙂

Series Discoveries

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 12-18, 2017

Just a little thoughty for you this week.

Grace Bains likes doing things alone and thinks people should stop worrying about it. ScoopWhoop

Ozymandias statue found in the mud. The Guardian

Phil Plait reports about astronomers who found a black hole “eating” a white dwarf. Blastr

Robert Lang, the origami master and physicist. Great Big Story

 

Is the future of AI chatbots that speak in their own language? Cade Metz for Wired.

Clive Thompson: how being bored out of your gourd makes you creative. Wired

Holly Riordan: Anxiety makes you look like an asshole. Thought Catalog

Jenna Birch reports on the German research that has found the cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Teen Vogue

Laurie Stras shares radical motets from a 16th century nunnery. The Guardian

March 17th is also St. Gertrude’s Day. She’s the patron saint of cats. Mel Campbell for Junkee.

How the Norse described their history. Oxford University Press

 

I hope that got your mental corn popping.

See you on the weekend for more WorldCon 2016 reportage.

Until then, stay well.

Hugs.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 12-18, 2017

Time to warm the ole brain pan. There’s mental corn that needs popping.

Arnie Seipel shares the dark origins of Valentine’s Day. NPR

Daniele Cybuskie relates three fairy tale romances in honour of Valentine’s Day. Medievalists.net

Henry Rollins: what side of history do you want to be on? LA Weekly

Mario Livio reports on the discovery of Winston Churchill’s lost essay on alien life. Nature

Tom Hale shares these stunning aquatic vistas by finalists of the underwater photograph of the year competition. IFLS

Cats sailed with the Vikings to conquer the world. Bec Crew for Science Alert.

Katy Evans reports on how dogs and monkeys judge you on how you treat others. IFLS

Do crows have funerals? You betcha. Ask a Mortician

 

Tom Hale encourages you to observe the evidence of evolution in your own body. IFLS

Lesley Alderman: the year of conquering negative thinking. The New York Times

Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reports on the people who never forget and what they’re teaching us about memory. The Guardian

Sarah Knapton: our seas have become a plastic graveyard, but can technology turn the tide? The Telegraph

Google’s “DeepMind” AI understands the benefits of betrayal. Robin Andrews for IFLS.

I admit it. I was #furiouslyhappy to find this list of more than 150 learning resources compiled by Janet Alexandersson for Medium.

Here’s hoping creative connections are being made.

See you on Saturday for more WorldCon 2016 reportage.

Stay strong, be kind, and be well!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 11-17, 2016

If your brain’s already gone on holiday, have some thoughty fun with these offerings 🙂

Saw last week that Alan Thicke has passed away, too. It’s been such a sad year for performers and artists 😦 And political unrest. And Syria . . . Take heart. Here are 99 reasons 2016 was a great year. Medium

Christopher Dickey shares the tale of angels of the resistance (and one serial killer) in Nazi-occupied Paris. The Daily Beast

UN Women takes a stand against gender-based violence.

 

Eugene Soltes explores the psychology of white-collar criminals. The Atlantic

Matt Blitz tells the real story behind the myth of Area 51. Popular Mechanics

Annalee Newitz investigates the lost city of Cahokia under the St. Louis suburbs. Ars Technica

Amanda Gefter interviews Donald D. Hoffman: the case against reality. One of my favourite bits: “… we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion …” The Atlantic

Peter Dockrill: cellular reprogramming has been used to reverse the aging process in animals. Science Alert

Simon Oxenham explains why bees could be the secret to superhuman intelligence. BBC

Peter Brannen examines a possible break in one of evolution’s biggest mysteries. The Atlantic

Chris Jones reports on Sara Seager, the woman who might find us another Earth. The New York Times Magazine

Watch this cool BBC video about how one woman with Parkinson’s regained the ability to write and draw.

 

Robby Berman reports on filmmaker Adam Rosenberg’s hilarious video in which he shares some of his nocturnal musings. It’s called Somniloquist and you have to watch it. Nearly peed myself laughing. Slate

Olga Khazan explains how magic mushrooms help patients with severe anxiety and depression. The Atlantic

Lauren Vinopal lists the 18 best houseplants for cleaning the air, according to NASA. Fatherly

Julia Shaw: I’m a scientist, and I don’t believe in facts. Scientific American

George Dvorsky reports on what the brightest supernova ever seen really was. Gizmodo

Natalie Wolchover: quantum gravity research could reveal the true nature of time. Wired

‘Tis the season, so here’s sommat from Grimfrost on Vikings, Santa, and Christmas 🙂

 

Honest to Paws introduces us to the Akhal-Teke, the most beautiful horse in the world.

Hope your mental corn’s a-poppin’ fit to see you through the holiday frenzy 🙂

Have a good one, everyone!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Oct 2-8, 2016

Thoughty Thursday’s all over the map!

The Vintage News reports that Amelia Earhart’s remains may have been found on an island.

Gabriel Samuels reports on a piece of engraved wood that suggests a Persian taught math in Japan 1,000 years ago. The Independent

Medievalists.net compiled this comprehensive list of online resources for researching the Black Death.

Medievalists.net shared this entertaining piece on Viking nicknames. My favourite? Eystein Foul-Fart 🙂

And, for the hat trick, Medievalists.net explains why cats were hated in medieval Europe.

An oldie from Barbara G. Walker of Church and State (2008!): local wise women who carried on ancient traditions were exterminated by Christianity.

Margaret Rhodes invites us to obsess over this infographic about the history of alternative music. Wired

Jonathan Jones looks at the legacy of painter Artemesia Gentileschi. The Guardian

Azeen Ghorayshi reports that transgender children as young as three are getting the help they need. Buzzfeed

Katrina Schwartz wonders why we’re so obsessed with teaching kids cursive handwriting. Mind/Shift

America is obsessed with happiness and it’s making everyone miserable. Ruth Whippman for Vox.

What it’s like to have “high-functioning” anxiety. The Mighty

 

Baby Boomers may be more susceptible to treatment-resistant depression. Anna Gorman for CNN.

Myke Cole writes about PTSD. This is from a few years ago (2013) but it’s still relevant.

Dominik Parisien shares his experience with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Uncanny

Justin Gammill lists ten things to keep in mind when loving a highly creative person. I heart intelligence

Paul Stamits talks about how fantastic fungi can save the world.

 

Bees are demonstrating problem-solving and transmission of knowledge. Daily Science

Scientists declare the dawn of the human-influenced epoch. Damian Carrington for The Guardian.

AI and deep machine learning are changing your life. Roger Parloff for Fortune.

What Emma Thompson learned from spending a week in the arctic. Time

Beware of dog, indeed. Upshout

Adieu until Saturday.

Be well until then 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Muse-Inks: Honouring my reality and mid-season follies

This week’s DIYMFA question has to do with honouring your reality. The prompt is this: Tell a story about a time when you had to honour your reality. Rather than focus on one time, I’ll address the topic generally, with specific examples.

There are times when you simply have too much going on in your life or are too worn down by circumstances to stick to your writing practice.

It can happen when you’re overloaded at the day job and have nothing left when you return home. Exhaustion can leave you empty. This happened to me last year when I was training out of town for two and a half weeks. Previously, and since, I’ve been able to write while travelling, but, on this occasion, I was flat out of juice.

Burnout, creative or otherwise, can leave you in the same situation. Doing too much can drain your creative well and leave you ‘blocked.’

It can happen when you or a loved one feels ill. Wellness comes first. Still, I have been known to write even when I’m sick.

When my dad was struck with the illness that landed him first in the hospital, and from there into an alternate level of care facility, and then a nursing home, I have to say that my writing practice wasn’t consistent, but I did write.

Even when I was sitting vigil, when Dad suffered the attack of acute congestive heart failure that would eventually take his life, I brought my lap top and notebook with me.

It may sound callous, or selfish, but writing is how I process the events of my life.

It’s not like I sat there writing obsessively while my father died, either. Though he was unconscious for most of his final journey, there was a lot of hand holding, many quiet, one-way conversations, visitors to comfort, and support measures to attend to.

But when I had a moment, I pulled out my journal and committed a few of my swirling thoughts to paper, or opened up the lap top and typed a few lines.

The only time I’ve not written for extended periods was when I’d lost touch with my passion for writing, following my MA. It was something I had to learn to understand before I could overcome it. It involved depression and therapy and meds and a lot of what I call ‘self-work.’

I tried, and failed, to achieve a consistent writing practice for years before I finally found my way to it. Since then, though, writing has been my companion.

The take-away from all this is that dry spells happen, for whatever reason. Every writer, without exception, has them, whether they admit to it or not. Be kind to yourself. This, too, shall pass.

If you’ve been away from your practice for a few days, or a few weeks, or even for a few years, start slow and build slowly on your successes. Forgive yourself for the times you falter. And always, approach the blank page with love in your heart and fire in your soul.

Muse-inks

Mid-season follies

First, a quick and ecstatic anime/animation note: Netflix has added Legend of Korra to its Canadian service. Just the first two seasons, but I’m all a-squee 🙂 Watching now. Giddy.

The mid-season isn’t quite over at this point, with Game of Thrones about to resume this weekend, but I probably won’t have a chance to share my further thoughts until later in the year.

The Expanse

This adaptation of the James S.A. Corey series of novels was gritty and realistic. It had a real noir feel to it and enough twists and turns to keep viewers tuned in week after week.

It was good storytelling, though dark.

I’ll leave it there, because this is a series I think y’all should really watch.

Childhood’s End

I wouldn’t recommend this adaptation. It was okay. I know decisions have to be made to present a written work on television, but I didn’t appreciate the decisions made in this mini-series.

‘Nuff said.

The Magicians

Love, love, lurved this series. C.S. Lewis, grown up, turned on its head, and painted black.

I know there were significant variances from Lev Grossman’s novels, from which this series was adapted, but these choices are, well, choice.

Another one I want everyone to watch.

Very well done.

Magical, even 😉

Bitten

This was the final season of Bitten, and warnings were issued that the writers were going ‘off-book’ with this one.

It was ok. They got back to centring the story on the pack and wolf dynamics.

The Russian pack have made themselves comfortable and so Jeremy, fearing a hostile takeover of the worst kind, sends Elena, Clay, and Nick to gather the lone werewolves and bring them into the pack.

A strange wolf and his family shows up and turns out to be Elena’s father.

There’s a lot of what I saw as unnecessary killing in this season, and the pack is decimated, even after Elena becomes Alpha.

The red-eyed wolf was truly terrifying, but when push came to shove, his take-down was unspectacular.

So like I say, ok. I wasn’t even too concerned about getting spoilery.

Marvel’s Agent Carter

I enjoyed it, though I hear that it wasn’t as well-received as the first season. The relocation to LA was a bit contrived, but the story arc was interesting and tied into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and some of the other Marvel properties.

I appreciated Peggy’s relationships with the various men in her life, particularly Jarvis, and I liked that there were women characters who could hold their own beside our hero.

I wasn’t as taken with Whitney, though I believe the writers did the best they could to create a complex villain in as few brush strokes as possible.

We’re supposed to hear in May whether the series will be back for a third season or not.

You, Me, and the Apocalypse

This was funny! And quirky (and I loves me some good quirk)! Rob Lowe as a Cardinal? That made it for me, right there. The evil twin schtick didn’t feel tired in this series, either.

This is another story told, like How to get away with murder and Quantico, from two ends. One story line follows the lives of several people as they learn that an asteroid is heading on a collision course with Earth, and the other frames the chronological narrative from the perspective of the protagonist (we think—spoiler!) as he sits in a bunker, waiting for the impact.

As the episodes progress, viewer learns how all of the apparently disparate characters are connected. It was very well done.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Rory Pond gets to be a time master 😉 Yup. This one is another positive-ish DC show that features a number of the supporting characters from The Flash and Arrow, teaming up with time master Michael “Rip” Hunter to defeat Vandal Savage before he destroys the future.

It’s a bit repetitive as Rip and his team travel from time to time hunting Savage, or run from time to time trying to evade the other time masters Rip defied when he went on this crazy quest, but there have been some entertaining episodes.

The series may have a limited time (pun intended).

Vikings

I’m not as happy with this season as I have been with past ones. Ragnar is pretty pathetic this season, but other characters, like his son, Bjorn, and ex-wife Lagertha, are coming into their own.

Rollo has become a Frankish Duke and is actually defending the French against his brother Ragnar.

The intrigues of the courts of Wessex, Mercea, and Northumbria are interesting, but something is definitely lacking since Floki murdered Athelstan last year.

Can I just come back to Ragnar for a moment? Thought to be mortally wounded after the last attack on Paris, he recovers (somewhat), befriends a Chinese slave, becomes addicted, and essentially loses it. He redeems himself by coming up with a crazy idea to portage the Viking fleet past Rollo’s defences, but I’m thinking this may be it for the clever Ragnar I admired.

The season’s not over yet, though.

Orphan Black

This series has only just returned. I’m enjoying the ride, so far, though. Going back to the beginning and delving into the original mysteries around Neolution is a good way to reorient the show.

I’m not so sure I’m keen on Felix’s one-eighty, though. Searching for one’s birth family doesn’t mean you turn your back on the family that you have and get all broody. I suspect there’s more to it than what’s been confessed at first blush, though.

Outlander

We’re only a couple of episodes in, so I don’t have much to report. If the cast, crew, writers, and costume designers keep up with last season, however, I’ll be well-pleased.

The Good Witch

This sweet Harlequin production just returned this past Thursday.

Despite featuring a protagonist who is a witch, this series is really a Christian romance in pagan trappings.

I can’t explain it. My tastes generally run darker and more twisted, but I kind of like The Good Witch.

And . . . just so you know, I don’t watch all of the television that comes out. I can only watch so much without cutting into my writing time. I have to be picky. And there are some shows I just don’t get into. Or they don’t hook me at all.

So there you have it.

The only series I didn’t get to were the Netflix/Shomi series we watch. I may have to recap those in the fall before I dive into the new fall season shows.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be at Ad Astra next weekend. Unless a miracle occurs, I won’t be blogging. The weekend of May 7, I’ll be serving up my April next chapter update, and then I’ll be getting on with the convention reportage, such as it is.

I’ll be back with more Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday for you in the meantime.

Smiles, everyone, smiles! (Don’t ask me where that came from. Seriously, don’t.)

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 14-20, 2016

Feeling light headed again this week.

Anna Lovind: When will you be enough?

The opposite of rape culture is nurturance culture. Dating tips for the feminist man.

This revolutionary cancer therapy yields extraordinary results in human trials. When are some of these therapies going to make it to the public? IFLS.

Irish Archaeology shares photos of Ireland in the 1930s.

Vikings didn’t dress the way we thought. With the return of the History series Vikings, this past week, this article caught my attention. EurekAlert!

Hunting with wolves helped humans outsmart Neanderthals. The Guardian.

The BBC presents striking images of our solar system.

Rosetta’s comet is ‘fluffy.’ Phil Plait for Slate.

And that is your teeny tiny thoughty Thursday.

See you Saturday, for realsies, this time.

Thoughty Thursday