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Apocalypse then

The science fiction writer Fredric Brown (1906-1972) retells a short horror story (attributed originally to Thomas Bailey Aldrich [1836-1907]). It goes as follows: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” That’s reputedly the shortest horror story ever written. It’s apocalyptic. It’s about the last human … Continue reading

Attending to the world

“Stand to attention!” The deputy head teacher would say this once a week to the ranks of sweaty kids assembled on the asphalted schoolyard — or was it a parade ground — in the arid Melbourne sun. Then we were called to “stand at ease.” To be at attention, to attend, is to be at the ready, to listen, receptive, alert. In the case of … Continue reading

The animal within

Are you fascinated by what differentiates you from other living things, in particular other mobile living beings that occupy similar spatial dimensions and habitats to us, i.e. other land animals? The bodily functions are similar, we ingest, defecate, reproduce, sleep, nurture, cooperate, hunt, and evade pursuit. I’ve been reading Giorgio Agamben who makes us aware of the animal in our own being. Some people think … Continue reading

Mood and movement (and dance)

Search on the web for something about spontaneous dance, and you eventually alight on the saying: “You’ve gotta’ dance like there’s nobody watching,” expanded, varied and attributed to several sources, but mostly the self-help author William W. Purkey. Then type “dance like nobody’s watching” into YouTube, which shows real or faked videos of people caught unawares, … Continue reading

Why cartoons have animals 2

Watching pet owners coach their pets to talk provides one of the more amusing diversions on YouTube. Apparently you can train a dog to say “hello” as a kind of vocalised yawn, or to growl out something like “sausages.” In a post in May 2012 I outlined 9 reasons why cartoons feature animals. Here’s a 10th reason: getting animals to talk. It’s obvious: animals (non-human) … Continue reading

Genius headgear

Fans rated Spock’s Brain the second worst of the original Star Trek episodes. The story involves the unlikely removal and theft of Mr Spock’s highly logical brain for use as central controller for the complex systems and services of a planet run by women. While waiting for the brain’s return Dr McCoy manages to install an apparatus on Spock’s head … Continue reading

The benefits of walking

“Walking cuts risk of stroke in men.” Scarcely a day passes without official confirmation of the health benefits of walking. ‘Why does one walk?’ we say; ‘that one may be healthy’; and in speaking thus we think we have given the cause. This is a direct quote from Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, Section 2. Interestingly, he … Continue reading

Feeling free in flight

As India’s Mangalyaan rocket sets its course for Mars, it’s worth reflecting on those deep seated reasons for aiming so high, and at such a cost. Not much further down the list from national pride, international competition, hothousing engineering and scientific talent and the slim probability of distant economic rewards come the symbolic and psychological associations of … Continue reading

What’s wrong with posthumanism

One of the benefits of strange encounters is that they cause us to reflect, to see the familiar as peculiar. When I’m in reflective mode, films about parasitic alien life forms and rogue humanoid robots help me ponder the human condition: my frailty and finitude, or that my life is much better than it could … Continue reading

Howling at the moon

Google have launched 15 m wide helium balloons into the stratosphere to extend the Internet to remote areas. It’s called “Project Loon.” According to Google engineer working on the project Cliffe Biffle, “Balloon-powered Internet sounds positively mad” (Youtube).  “Loon” is clever branding. The association with lunatic and the extra terrestrial is obvious. According to the OED lunatic … Continue reading

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