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Essays Opinion

The Book of Koli Review

As a work of science fiction, worldbuilding is the most significant element and the most enjoyable in The Book of Koli. M.R. Carey’s The Book of Koli is marvelous, one of those science fiction books which did not feel like there was an author, only the character. You are so completely immersed in the world, you become as a part of it as any of the characters which populate the book. You stand among them. The themes explored technology, power, and coming of age in a post-apocalyptic world where the tree is carnivorous.

But it’s not so much about the Trees as Koli’s life in his village or the Trees, it’s how society has formed and adapted around their knowledge. Ramparts are the military and police force of the village where you are ‘chosen’ by a piece of old technology.

Koli’s realization of the truth of his world and his place in it make you want to read more and more. After reading the first one, I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one of this trilogy.

See Clare McCullough’s short story, “The Treasure Notebook”

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Essays Opinion

“In infinite dimensions, all things are possible”

Ava’s story begins like most of our lives begin, at a low-paying job. Finna by Nino Cipri joins the ranks of trailblazing gender representation in contemporary science fiction.

It addresses the mental illness and depression of an underpaid service employee. Ava and her fellow works are asked to do too much and out of their job description, asked for endless service to capitalism. It reviews the injuries caused by the relentless allowance of capitalism’s oppression of the worker.  The morphing and changing scenery around them is representative of the author’s fear of conformity and Ava’s realization of identity. Until she imagines the infinite possibilities available for her future, does the main character fully realize hope.

It has an almost anti-romantic arc in that the main characters have fallen out of love. They are trying to make their way into friendship. The most outstanding impression I got from this book was not from the main character, but of the love interest, Jules who is only referred to as they/them.

The biggest strength of this book is its razor sharp-wit and the pure fun it was to read. It was touching and had qualities of exuberance and righteousness.

It challenges us to rethink the traditional and patriarchal approaches toward science, capitalism, and gender. Examining attitudes that span across generations and multiverses. All knowledge is fundamentally gendered, being construction of possibility and more oftentimes than we’d like to admit, a self-fulling prophecy.

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Essays Opinion

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks Review

My first thought after reading The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks was ‘What a fascinating muddied depraved book’. It is set on a Scottish island, bare save for Frank, their father, and the housekeeper. I am still not sure if this science fiction book that is definitely a science fiction book is even in fact science fiction at all. I suppose it is. I am forced to believe it, because Banks creates one of the most immersive settings – turning a dreary island into an alien planet, million miles away and Frank- it’s alien. It is definitely an absurd gore thriller. The Wasp Factory doesn’t follow any standard traditional way- bending genre. 

Frank, the psychotic serial killer doesn’t let you out of their sight or save you their brutality. All actions calculated and thought through. Although his brother, Eric, recently escaped from the insane asylum, always seems to call Frank’s house the few times when he is off guard and the absolute craziness that ensues is pure dark comedic gold.

When not resenting his father for being vegetarian and for smelling Frank’s farts and then for commenting on the fragrance; Frank spends his time building dams, maintaining a litany of arms including a flamethrower. Frank reveals the details of his killing with matter-of-factness. Though it is mostly animals that he murders (Banks spares no details) he also includes all of the children that he had killed. 

The Wasp Factory is not for the faint of heart. If you have loved ones, may you stay away from this book forever. That being said I am glad to have read it. I am interested in other works by Banks. As Banks dunks you into his misogynistic nightmare where wasps are used in divination rituals and gruesome violence is the currency; you are glad that you do not have to live in Iain Bank’s head.

Picture of Iain Banks
Picture of Iain Banks

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Essays Opinion Uncategorised

Stuffed & Ready by Cherry Glazerr

Cherry Glazerr’s 2019 album Stuffed & Ready was an altogether turn into unintelligible with few diamonds. Throughout the songs in the album, the brooding guitar was strong and suited the singer’s voice and it’s effect.

Their song Stupid Fish is definitely the best on the album. Its rhythm was soothing. The guitar together with the drumming kept the sense that the music was moving around you as if you were in a warm aquarium. Listening to the music I felt compelled to raise my fists and wiggle like a stupid fish. The sense of melody was well being incarnate

Those facts in mind, I wish that I had gotten more of a sense of what the message of most of their songs were. At times the song got monotonous like in Daddi. I am a big fan of their song Ten Dollars but I fear that I am no longer their audience.

Overall, Stupid Fish is worth mentioning but Cherry Glazerr failed to deliver on their usual slick style on all the over tracks.

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Essays Short Story

Accepting Madness

We are all submersed! The dueting one-liners peering down at us with a clown-like grin. Assuring us of our unity of the new empire of. (pause) people (look out at the crowd.) where many a memory will be made. A tower of dust in the storm of the interwebs That is we. The legion. Internet, constant connectivity, almost everyone’s engaged. The single most important invention of our age. 

They call some of us zoomers, and we, (ahem) the millennials. We have learned more about the world in a shorter time span Than every person before. Progress has never come without a cost. People are winding up, this tension is breaking like twigs and I just want to be on the right side when the storm hits. Us, All of us, all we have ever wanted was to be good. Paint ourselves in gold stars please put away the stormy clouds, dear. Don’t let yourself drown in fear. We fear fear fear fear for no reason. Just brush off the sinking feelings of fatigue. Acid seems to be wasting away, dripping out of my cochlea and pooling beneath my ear. Maintaining coherent thoughts is difficult when there is so much to process. Saggy mattress blues makes it hard to really get comfortable.

It’s a real trainwreck let me tell you. Makes me feel sleepy but I’m too sleepy to care that I’m not comfortable. I have motivation for nothing but poetry. And I only write poetry when I am sad and that thought makes me depressed.

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Essays

We, the Mindless Masses

There has been a large increase in zombie-related media, video games, movies, TV shows; these reanimated corpses have made countless debuts on society’s stage. Such as the popular T.V show, The Walking Dead which portrays the post-apocalyptic world after the outbreak of zombies. In this world, you either become a zombie or you live in constant fear as a survivor. Zombies have become a giant in pop-culture. Pop-culture, because of it’s commonality and of course, popularity, reflects people’s everyday lives. Society unknowingly choses symbols in order to express its underlying thoughts and attitudes; everything in culture carries connotations that express our identity, unconscious or conscious. And this growth in zombie-based entertainment is a metaphor for the angst of contemporary society.

The definition of angst is according to dictionary.com, “A feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish,” The uncertainties of the future would create this societal angst, our decay of our individualism  This growth in zombie-based entertainment shows that society is (metaphorically of course) embracing and morphing into what zombies are and everything that zombies represent.What most consumers don’t understand when they go to the stores and shop, is that everything they buy becomes an extension of the self. It becomes a part of our identity once we decide that we like it, that this thing, is ours. 

And this ties in with society’s fascination with zombies, it reveals our underlying psyche, because whatever we yearn for and connect with and therefore attach a part of our identity to, we buy. Zombies, being the unconscious, animate bag of death that it is, are the very embodiment of mindless consumption. They shuffle around, slowly heading toward things that they wish to consume, to become a part of themselves. Zombies are slave to their wants and needs, and in reality, they are like us, only they consume brain: we consume apple products. And society realizes that, either subconsciously or consciously.

Zombies also show how powerless we feel in face of the future. Zombies have no freedom,and they are subject only to their hunger, we see this and we subconsciously connect with them. We connect to zombies through our greed, hunger, and fear- we are hungry for all sorts of things and we consume products to fill the ever growing hole that exists inside all humans. Zombies portray our angst ridden fears, our fear of responsibility, of being alone, and our fear of freedom, by not being conscious, these zombies give us that out that we need. Whether we identify with the zombies or the people who survive them. Zombies, being mindless meat sacks, have no responsibilities but to consume, they are never ever alone, and they are no longer free to make their own choices like humans are. And surviving the zombie apocalypse frees us from the responsibilities that we have currently. If people in this society can’t make their own choices, than they can’t be held accountable for them. And they now have legitimate excuses for making the wrong choices and they don’t have to face the consequences.

Zombies play into the feeling of inauthenticity and loss of individuality that society feels today. Zombies are just mindless mobs, a face in the crowd, we never really hear about the individuals behind the rotting flesh- what they once were. This portrays the underlying thoughts that we are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, or even in the human scheme of things. We are just another number in the mass of a faceless mediocrity. But the fact is, we gravitate toward these games because we are so afraid of our individuality because that means we are alone in the world, we are born alone, and we live alone, and we die alone. But not as zombies, as zombies; we are a collective whole, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. But really we are simply running away from who we actually are and our problems. 

Through Zombies we hide from existentialism, the basic idea from this philosophy is that the independent person is the only one that can determine the course of their own life. Sartre’s phrase  “Man is condemned to be free.” really sums up the existentialist philosophy. We did not choose to be born, the moment that we are, we are responsible for anything that we do. This is why we conscious beings want to identify with these zombies, we reject that we are conscious beings- capable of making our own decisions and then dealing the with the consequences of those decisions. We refuse to take responsibility for our actions, or rather inactions. And this undercurrent of thought shows in what we buy, in this case, zombie-related media.

The symbols in media show what in essence society’s hopes and thoughts are. Who we see ourselves as, because companies need to sell products and in order to do that they need to connect to their audience. And a big way to do that is to show them who they think they are and what they want. Our angst from our inauthenticity, insignificance, and fear of responsibility and future is shown through the zombie-related media surge.

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Essays Opinion

Review of “Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?”

“Is it wrong to pick girls up in a dungeon” is a substandard anime. Grading it a D+ only seems fair by the virtue of the animation itself being almost okay and tending toward the simplistic. That being said, I see the main failure of this anime as failing in character development and plot. Any character development. Any plot. Why should I care?? I don’t know. There is no good vs. evil to compel us. Besides, of course, the evils of lazy writing. This anime relies on outdated tropes and is lacking totally in originality.

This is what I’ve gathered from the first two episodes. I had to force myself to watch the second one. (I wish I had my 20 minutes back) It is about a basic young man, who for some reason lives with Hestia, the Greek Goddess herself who is childlike both in reason and in temperament. Anyway, the boy decides that he wants to be an adventurer. When adventuring, he meets a girl in a dungeon. He is almost about to die; when who is to save his life than the beautiful girl. After these events unfolded, he walks away realizing that he has fallen in love. However, this girl is unattainable as she is apparently is a super badass elite fighter who is waaay out of basic boy’s league. During his quest to prove himself as an adventurer to a girl who is unattainable, and she is therefore not given many lines. All the rest of the women characters are given their roles. To be sexualized. Every single one of the supporting characters is a big-breasted individual who falls flat because their basic function and trait are fawning over the main character.

All in all, “Is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon?”. I would say that it is a waste of the viewer’s time because of lazy writing and disrespect toward feminine people. Plot-wise it’s not exciting. The reason for this is because when your plot relies on characters’ development, none of the women characters are allowed to develop and deepen.

I challenge the poser that wrote this anime/manga/whatever to write an original script for once.

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Essays

United States’ Communications Competition with China

Our global economy is becoming increasingly connected. Society has seen massive changes in the past decade alone due to wireless technology. On an international scale, China’s unprecedented economic rise has been a major upset in the Liberal world order, couple that with the 2008 great recession and the global stagnation of the economy we see an increasingly bipolar world illustrated in a technology race.

See the case of Huawei, the largest telecommunications company in the entire world. According to the National Interest, Huawei is also the second-largest manufacturers of smartphones and has become a market leader across Asia, Europe, and beyond. This Chinese firm is a single example of China’s rise that has made the United State very nervous in terms of the security of our telecommunications in a time of much instability. Huawei has been eclipsing what used to be the center of technological research and development, the US.

Regime-type differences between the democratic United States and the totalitarian People’s Republic of China seems to be an exacerbating factor when considering national security issues. There have been many historic rifts between the relationship of the countries when approaching privacy and freedom of speech issues. Due to the Chinese Communist Party’s stringent control over the economic sector, Huawei does not operate as a privately-owned entity. The trade war is rising Sino-U.S. tensions in an increasingly bi-polar and globalized world economy. Huawei has a history of fraud. In winter 2018, according to the NY Times, Ms. Meng, an top executive and part of Huawei’s elite was seized in Canada and extradited to the US,  because “between 2009 and 2014, Huawei used a Hong Kong company, Skycom Tech, to make transactions in Iran and do business with telecom companies there, in violation of American sanctions.”

With the creation of 5G technology, comes promises of record-shattering internet speeds and with it, massive economic growth.  According to (National Interest) 5G “next generation of wireless networks that promises to be 100 times faster and more reliable than current technology. It is a market that will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, as 5G will require compatible new phones and communications equipment. “That primary factor that has made Huawei be seen as a national security threat. Another reason that Huawei is seen as a national security threat is that intellectual property theft has revealed all of the strengths and weaknesses of our technology. This complete disassembly and reassembly gives the Chinese Communist Party an understanding as to how better get around or enforce firewalls.

China and United States are threatening each other and waging an economic war of attrition. The reason for that being that technology and access to information are key to the world economy. As China has been edging the West out of the telecommunications industry, the United States has tightened China’s access to chips, hardware that Chinese firms desperately need and one of the few footholds that the West still has a monopoly over. The bi-polar world economy in which America is losing it’s ironclad hold on the state of affairs that they have acquired since 1991. Today, the state of affairs happens on the internet. The sale of telecom networks and smartphones that have American software has allowed Chinese technology companies to mass reproduce and become the third-largest purchaser of chips. China has made massive strides in artificial intelligence, providing massive subsidies in that sector due to the promises that 5G provides, according to the Brookings Institute “[5G] will enable a vast array of applications, including driverless cars and machine-to-machine communications”

There are claims that if American companies continue to do business with Huawei, they will be at risk. According to the NY Times, “Huawei, which sells global telecom equipment that American officials fear will give Beijing new channels for control and surveillance. Huawei says that its networks are secure and that it does not spy for the Chinese government.” American democracy and technology are fragile constructions. United States citizens in the past year have watched as their democratic elections were meddled in by Russia. Our president has seen to it that an increasingly massive division within the country has resulted in President Trump calling the Freedom of the Press as the “enemy of the people.”. Americans have had their data leaked by Equifax and their personal beliefs exploited and fed misinformation through the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica disaster. The landscape of technology in our democracy is under threat from American companies and foreign firms. I do not believe that I am speaking out of term when I saw that the United States is slipping from the position of hegemonic power. The Trump administration’s trade war is a manifestation of a falling and increasingly nationalist power.

All in all, the trade war and the movement of ban Huawei stems from the very valid fear of intellectual property theft, the regime type differences, the domestic issues stemming from freedom of speech, and right to privacy. Technology has radically changed how we navigate the world, opening up new opportunities to hijack our computers and our phones.

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Essays Short Story

Follow the Rabbit

It’s across the street. The roots of an old oak sprout like hair which are holding my purse and my shoes aloft. Somehow, I knew without a doubt without ever really knowing the details that they- They had stolen them from me as I walked FROM my school past the adult entertainment center and finally PAST the broken-down bubblers on Wisconsin Ave and mind your own fucking business boulevard. My phone- my portal into a different planet – starts to leak corn juice and VPN sauce. OH my GOD – The sun is burning down, and so I crack a raw egg over my face.

3 minutes on one side

Flip-

easy over does it

2 minutes on the other so that the

Whites are set.

The broken yellow yolk dries in my eyebrows – which raise as – A small rabbit with cowboy boots runs across my field of vision. I can hear his whistling the same tune that my mother used to hum to me when I was only 6 pounds old.

“Inquiring”

I mused to myself mumbling a list of justifications that would permit me the higher legal and moral ground so as to proceed. Whereas the rabbit, nearly mindless in its animal intent continues the travel its journey in a way that placed it in shady overgrown crops on the city street. There are taller taller grasses and there are smaller smaller rabbits. The leaves of the long grasses whip and bring unwelcome caresses and my hands get cut when I try to pull them out from the roots and I strain my albeit- underworked – biceps and place all of my stress on my lower back. I feel a twinge. I curse the ground and the dust for making me tired and making me do all of these things on such a HOT day.

But that okay that’s something that can be fixed with pseudo-science-based rejuvenating facials and masks and creams and gels that will make a person’s problems disappear just like their body’s pores. Whittling themselves so they can fit behind a single sheet of computer paper or a lamppost or something like that. – but the bulletproof monk once said and I’m paraphrasing- a fish cannot survive in water that is completely pure.

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Essays Opinion

Velveteen Echo’s Nuclear family

Velveteen Echo has come out with a new music video to celebrate their sophomore album golden ring. Authoritative drumlines and dreamy climbs of the guitar make the background. Lauren Massa looks out at the water. When the first organism crawled out of the sea and made its home in the dark soil it was the beginning of everything, but more accurately, it was the beginning of Velveteen Echo’s Nuclear family. A shedding of inhibitions like the way that you take off your clothes. Nuclear family is an embrace of the more animal sides of humanity. Through its lingering guitar riffs and an otherworldly female vocalist, it transforms what was once a standard person. Examining what it means to separate ourselves from nature, from ourselves, how far we have come from the joyful play of our evolutionary ancestors.

Velveteen Echo’s first music video, “Do You” was written and directed by Lauren’s sister, Kristin Massa. Like the bright and shiny music video called Nuclear family it has to do with non-humans taking on human wants and needs and humans developing more animal inclinations. Velveteen Echo Lauren’s concern is with the line or liminal space between being, and existing as a human being with all of the caveats and challenges. There are so many emotions that humans experience. There is so much to be gained when we cast off our human garments and go play a while. When asked about what excited her most about being in this newly formed group was the fact that “it’s the first time I’ve ever played amplified with an electric guitar and performed as a frontwoman. It’s incredibly fun and empowering.” It’s this power that she channels into her sophomore album, Golden Ring and sustains her plans for a Texas tour in December 2019.

Tossing normally held conventions and flipping it all upside down on top of the head. A celebration of senses and pack mentality. Velveteen Echo sets itself apart from others through its high quality and acknowledgment of the divinity of nature. How if we can be more like nature and follow the seasons just as the animals do things would be simpler. Being a part of something, rather than being separate. The warmth of the drumline and the guitar cradling us, making the listener whole. A yearning for the fulfillment of promises rather than the breaking of truths. Being together, a community of animals that we are, all worshiping the things that take care of us, such as the dog in the music video. We are left with an animal howl and a yearning to be a part of Velveteen Echo’s soft ambient soundscape.