Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Thursday July 15, 2004. Mail: Notice from ARC that they'll be making a donations pickup in my neighborhood Monday morning.

***Writing: Nothing done today, unless you count wondering whether anyone's yet written
"Dirty Harry Potter". Instead, after running some errands I caught up on my sleep.
There's a multi-LiveJournal discussion about where and what the boundaries (if any) between science fiction and fantasy are. On yhlee's LiveJournal (which doesn't currently exist; hope it gets undeleted), she quoted someone saying: "I always think of sci-fi as more now-oriented than future oriented, because so much of it is extrapolation of present day problems. In part, people laud sci-fi for being good social commentary, and isn't that by definition very firmly in the present day?"

On which I commented:
Actually, sf is more likely to be about the past than about the present. In the 1950s, Brits wrote about a future in which England was still a major power on Earth and had become a major power in space. England was no longer a major power by then. In the late 1980s, Americans wrote about a future in which the Soviet Union and the US were the two superpowers.

If I want to read fiction about today's problems, I don't read sf -- I read historical novels.

That aside: Even when science fiction is about extrapolation from the present, it's not always about problems. It can be about the coming utopian society, for example.

And science fiction can be about: What people living in other conditions would be like -- for example, if they lived several hundred years or if most people were sane. (SF writers have come up with some rather odd descriptions of sanity.) Neat gadgets. The economics of time travel. How our time will look to people of the future. The nature of reality. How history might have turned out differently if, for example, Hitler had been female. How to get away with murder when the police can read your mind, or literally watch every moment of your life. Very much et cetera.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 15-Jul-2004
Society for Conservation Biology Annual Meeting 2004
Symposium to tackle questions of genetic engineering and biodiversity
The potential benefits and harm from using genetically engineered organisms to restore habitats will be examined at a symposium during the 18th annual Society for Conservation Biology meeting at Columbia University July 30-Aug. 2.
US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey

Public Release: 15-Jul-2004
Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2004
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory include power to Saturn, archeological radiation and semiconducting polymers.

"The spacecraft's instruments are powered by generators that convert heat from plutonium-238 fuel into electricity."

Public Release: 15-Jul-2004
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Cinnamon oil kills mosquitoes more effectively than DEET
Cinnamon oil shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide, with the ability to kill mosquito larvae more effectively than DEET, according to a new study. The researchers also expect that cinnamon oil could be a good mosquito repellant, though they have not yet tested it against adult mosquitoes.
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