Sailing the Atlantic


The other night I was discussing the idea of goals with my friend LaVon. I wasn't prepared to actually set any goals, but did contemplate some; they are all related to creative expression in one way or another. One of the things I had been thinking of was doing more writing. At various points in my life I'd thought of writing prose fiction (haven't tried my hand at that much since college), op-ed type pieces, pop-culture criticism, and, of course, comics of various types.

Recently I've been reading essay collections, of the David Sedaris/Jenny Lawson/Michael Chabon sort (I heartily recommend Manhood for Amateurs). That seems like a good format to explore, and one for which a blog like this is well-suited (but I will need to do some serious housecleaning and repair around this site). Certainly with all that I've been contending with in the last couple of years, there's plenty of material to draw from (2015 is not a year that will make the highlight reels for me).

But I'm not ready to crank out an essay like that just yet, so tonight I will simply type out some stray thoughts about the November issue of The Atlantic.

The Atlantic is a tremendous publication that I quite enjoy when I actually make the time to read it. My subscription copies have a tendency to pile up, unread or partly-read as next month’s issue arrives in the mailbox, but whenever I do sit down to read one I chastise myself for letting them sit there. There's always something worthwhile in any given issue, and the current edition has more than the regular share of really interesting stuff. To wit:

  • Did you know Al Gore had founded an investment firm that focuses exclusively on sustainable businesses that are environmentally and socially conscious, and that it has been wildly successful? I know, right? Unfortunately, one can only invest with Generation if one has $3 million, but as I am learning more about finances and wealth management in may capacity as a Trustee, I find this curiously refreshing.
  • Bill Gates discusses the need for “an energy miracle,” correctly noting that even the most ambitious proposals made by major governments today come nowhere near what's necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. He also has some confidence that we will innovate and invent enough to keep from killing everyone on the planet.
  • A reporter pays a visit to the NSA's new Utah Data Center and realizes that you're not really paranoid if you are actually being watched at every moment. Scary.
  • My old Astronomy professor, Dr. Chris Impey, is quoted in the article on near-future speculations, including the idea of colonizing Mars. “Impy” was a highlight of my time at the University of Arizona. I only had him for one intro-level course, but he's one of those instructors that makes an impression and I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed seeing him cited as one of the tech experts in this piece.
  •  Peanuts comic strip puts me in mind of my own stalled cartooning efforts; in looking at the history of Charlie Brown and company (did you know Charlie Hebdo in France was named for Charlie Brown? Neither did I!) it's shown how the strip evolved and characters converged/developed over the years.
  • Finally, the back page asks what the most valuable science-fiction gadget would be in today's society. Three of the eleven respondents cited instant transport, in the form of the Enterprise's transporter, The Doctor's TARDIS, or simply “teleportation,” and medical devices from Star Trek (diagnostic scanner, dermal regenerator) are also given support. But given the language of the question — most valuable in today's society — I suggest either of these two Treknological inventions instead: The replicator (Star Trek invented 3D printers decades ago) would effectively do away with hunger and poverty, provided there was a way to power them for the masses; or the phaser, which would revolutionize policing and prevent all of the senseless police killings that seem to occur with astonishing regularity. If a police force's standard weapon was the defensive hand phaser locked to stun instead of a deadly Glock pistol, we'd all be better off.

There will be more writing to come. It's not quite a goal, but it's not nothing, either.


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