Showing posts from December, 2007

Flushing Remonstrance anniversary

Today is the 350th anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance, an important document in the history of religious tolerance and a part of local Queens history (as the existence of a modern Queens neighborhood of the same name suggests). Here is a New York Times op-ed about the document.

The meta-post for the second Carl Sagan blog-a-thon

(NOTE: I will be updating this list periodically throughout the day, as I find new posts.) Well, today's the day. On the eleventh anniversary of Carl Sagan's passing, fans from all over the world are posting about Sagan, and this post is the portal to them. I'll keep my remarks to a minimum, since I've said most of what needs to be said already in the announcement post and last year's original meta-post . So without further ado, the list of participating posts (organized alphabetically by URL): Look out, it’s evil!: "Carl Sagan (1934-1996), In Memoriam" Allyn Gibson: "On Carl Sagan" A New Anglican's Journey: "Carl Sagan, 1934-1996" Ann Druyan at The Observatory: "20 December 2007" Astroprof's Page: "Where is today’s Cosmos?" Noch ein Blog Atheism Central: "Second Annual Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon Meta-post" Author of Confusion: "Carl Sagan" Bad Astronomy: "Sagan blogathon" L

utopia in New Jersey

Today's issue of the Newark Star-Ledger has a news story about various utopian communities that have been in the state of New Jersey, including the anarchist Stelton Ferrer colony, Upton Sinclair's Helicon Hall, and the single-tax colony Free Acres: "Utopia, N.J.: Trying to create a better world in the Garden State" by Vicki Hyman. (Hyman contacted me due to my post on Stelton .) The article is based on a new book of the same name which examines the above and several other utopias, Utopia, New Jersey: Travels in the Nearest Eden by Perdita Buchan, published by Rutgers University Press . The article touches on the range of leftist ideologies behind the colonies, and about what remains of them (Free Acres is the only one that still exists, with "a lush, wooded feel and cooperative air"; remnants of some of the others survive, for example here is some information about the buildings that still remain from Stelton). UPDATE: I found an online article by

new science fiction on Project Gutenberg: Stanley G. Weinbaum's A Martian Odyssey

I'm proud to announce that the science fiction short story "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum (1934, following the version in the 1949 collection A Martian Odyssey and Others ) is now available at Project Gutenberg. It's revered as the first in a number of stories by Weinbaum that appeared in 1934-5 (followed by "Valley of Dreams", "Flight on Titan", "Parasite Planet", "The Lotus Eaters", and "The Mad Moon") that marked a milestone in the realistic depiction of alien creatures. He overcame the problem of making aliens seem like disguised humans, or being monstrous just to be scary; the aliens were meticulously logical (which was often extended to entire ecological systems), yet strange. (On the other hand, I find most of Weinbaum's non-alien stories to be decidedly lesser, and far more gimmicky and cheesy; aliens were as necessary for Weinbaum's fiction to shine as water was for Esther Williams.)

Wish Arthur C. Clarke a happy 90th birthday!

We have science-fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke providing cogent and brilliant summaries in nonfictional form of many aspects of science and society. — Carl Sagan, "Science Fiction — A Personal View", in Broca's Brain The revered science fiction writer (and science popularizer/futurist, and inventor, and humanist) Arthur C. Clarke — author of 2001 ( book and movie ), Childhood's End , Rendezvous with Rama , "The Sentinel", "The Nine Billion Names of God", "The Star" and many others — will be turning 90 this month. To mark the occasion, Thilina Heenatigala , a friend of Clarke's and the General Secretary of the Clarke-cofounded Sri Lanka Astronomical Association has started a blog to celebrate Clarke's 90th birthday . He is sending an open invitation to all Clarke fans to post birthday wishes as blog comments for. December 16th is the special date! Heenatigala is also a big Sagan fan: he organized

new science fiction on Project Gutenberg: Frank Belknap Long's The Mississippi Saucer

The science fiction short story "The Mississippi Saucer" by Frank Belknap Long (from Weird Tales , 1951) is now available at Project Gutenberg. As the title implies, an early take on the flying-saucer idea, it is brief enough (ten pages) that I'll avoid spoiling it by saying more about it ... so, read and enjoy!