Alternative reward: 35,000 words about seasickness.

August 1st, 2015

A Kickstarter for your consideration: Maciej Ceglowski is soliciting donations to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Ice Shelf, Bay of Whales and subantarctic islands, and write it up real good.

I propose to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February, 2016 and write a series of articles about the journey. For the past 13 years, I have written a popular-ish weblog at, and I know some of you have read and enjoyed my posts. Don't try to deny it.

In the past I have traveled to, and written about: Yemen, Argentina, China, Poland, Iceland, Australia, Romania, Transnistria(!) and the mysterious land we know only as "Canada". I've done so on my own dime, and writing about it has been part of the fun of traveling for me.

This trip is a little different, in that visiting Antarctica costs a small fortune. So I am here, hat in hand, asking for help to make the journey in return for a promise to write some really interesting and engaging prose about it in return.

The trip I have in mind is a 36-day organized sea cruise on a Russian icebreaker to the Ross Ice Shelf and Bay of Whales, with stops along the way at Australian and American bases (including McMurdo sound) and numerous subantarctic islands. A detailed itinerary appears below.

Most Antarctic tourism is limited to voyages along the Antarctic Penninsula lasting just a few days. Only about 350 tourists a year visit the Ross Sea, an area of immense historical and natural interest reachable only from New Zealand.

I've written extensively about Antarctica before (a serious example at, a funny example at If those posts appeal to you, I think you'll be in for a treat if I manage to actually see the place firsthand.

In particular, I'd like to write about the Ross Ice Shelf (in connection with climate change), the curious German and Italian bases on our route, penguins and migratory birds (who doesn't love penguins?), whatever secrets I glean from the 25-member Russian crew, Polynesian history in the godforsaken cold sub-antarctic islands, the fight to eradicate rats and rabbits from these places before they can eat all the birds, and probably (if past Antarctic writing is any indicator) 49,000 words about ice.

In concrete terms, I pledge to write at least seven substantive articles, totalling at least 35,000 words, by May of 2016. People who pony up at least $11 will get this in a nicely formatted downloadable form, along with a podcast version (mp3 files) for listening to on the go. […]

Comments Off on Alternative reward: 35,000 words about seasickness.

Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

July 30th, 2015

A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki:

So many fantastic stories, so little time to get round to watching them all again…

Comments Off on Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

Making it so for M. Picard

July 28th, 2015

I was sure I'd posted about this theory about Star Trek before, but apparently not:

patio11 529 days ago

A heretical thought I have had about Star Trek: the Federation has no need for Star Fleet. They're fantastically wealthy and cannot meaningfully gain from trade in physical items. They're not just singularity-esque wealthy relative to the present-day US, they're equally more secure. Nobody kills mass numbers of Federation citizens. That occasionally happens on poor planets elsewhere. Sucks but hey poverty sucks.

So why have a Star Fleet? Because Jean Luc Picard is a Federation citizen, and he wouldn't be happy as other than a starship captain. It's a galaxy-spanning Potempkin village to make him happy. Why would they do that? You're thinking like a poor person. Think like an unfathomably rich person. They do it because they can afford to. He might have had a cheaper hobby, like say watching classic TV shows, but the Federation is so wealthy that Starfleet and a TV set both round to zero.

This makes Star Fleet officers into in-universe Trekkies: a peculiar subculture of the Federation who are tolerated because despite their quirky hobbies and dress they're mostly harmless. Of course if you're immersed in the subculture, Picard looks like something of a big shot. We get that impression only because the camera is in the subculture, not in the wider Federation, which cares about the Final Frontier in the same way that the United States cares about the monarch butterfly: "We probably have somebody working on that, right? Bright postdoc somewhere? Good, good."

[Via @m1k3y]

Comments Off on Making it so for M. Picard


July 25th, 2015

Robbie – A Short Film By Neil Harvey.

Set 6000 years the future, Robbie charts the existential reflections of an aging robot drifting alone through space on the last of his battery life.

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

Comments Off on Robbie

The Fourth Wall

July 22nd, 2015

Photographer Klaus Frahm has assembled a series of photographs of European theatres as seen from the rear of the stage:

Isn't that an auditorium over there?

I find the way that from this angle the auditorium seems like such an afterthought – a mere add-on to the real functionality of the building – fascinating.

[Via swissmiss]

Comments Off on The Fourth Wall

'Googling StackOverflow', surely?

July 21st, 2015

Computer Programming To Be Officially Renamed "Googling Stackoverflow":

Washington DC – The IEEE have produced a report today where they strongly recommend that from now on, the discipline of Computer Programming should be officially renamed to "Googling Stackoverflow". […]

[Via @AlecMuffett]

Comments Off on 'Googling StackOverflow', surely?

Rudeness to robots

July 18th, 2015

Ben Hammersley, on sharing a house with AIs with differing personalities:

It's a little wrinkle in what is really a miraculous device, but it's a serious thing: The Amazon Echo differs from Siri in that it's a communally available service. Interactions with Alexa are available to, and obvious to, everyone in the house, and my inability to be polite with her has a knock-on effect. My daughter is too young to speak yet, but she does see and hear all of our interactions with Alexa. I worry what sort of precedent we are setting for her, in terms of her own future interactions with bots and AIs as well as with people, if she hears me being forced into impolite conversations because of the limitations of her household AI's interface. It's the computing equivalent of being rude to waitresses. We shouldn't allow it, and certainly not by lack of design. Worries about toddler screen time are nothing, compared to future worries about not inadvertently teaching your child to be rude to robots.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

Comments Off on Rudeness to robots

Doesn't everyone do this?

July 18th, 2015

Comments Off on Doesn't everyone do this?

One-Minute Time Machine

July 10th, 2015

One-Minute Time Machine doesn't outstay its' welcome:

[Via MetaFilter]

Comments Off on One-Minute Time Machine


July 8th, 2015

The other week I made a note to myself to watch out for a recent science fiction film called Advantageous, an expansion of a previous short of the same name.1 This morning I came across a copy of the original short film on YouTube, and it's really very good:

Now I'm definitely going to watch out for the feature length version.

  1. I found out about the film via a Mike D'Angelo review at The Dissolve. Sad news today that The Dissolve has ceased publishing. Dammit, not only did they have a host of excellent reviewers who produced readable, insightful reviews and a range of essays and news stories that catered for a wide range of interests, but they also put out a pretty decent podcast. At least as importantly, in the space of not quite two years they'd attracted the second-best community of commenters of any site I visit regularly, second only to the folks who make MetaFilter so good.

Comments Off on Advantageous

Page 3 of 73612345...102030...Last »