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Tag Archives: guest post
I was one of the very few kids who were able to graduate early from high school. Very few high schools in Minnesota had been doing this during my last year of school. My school, a fairly large school in … Continue reading
A bit of a preamble. I often say things which are completely true, only to be confronted by people who flat out claim that I’m only making it up. That I *must* be making it up. There’s no way the … Continue reading
Everyone says that indie publishing is the wave of the future. Avoiding gatekeepers, who are often prejudiced against particular ideas or demographics, and putting your work out there to see if it will sink or swim on its own, puts … Continue reading
I remember being in middle school and how easy it was to for me to keep my writing organized. I had this blue and white composition notebook which I wrote in every night. Middle school me filled that whole notebook … Continue reading
It’s difficult being someone my age who says she writes. Especially when I explain to people what kind of stories I like to write. Then, when I try to advertise my work that I post online, I always get the … Continue reading
Guest Post: Eric Schwitzgebel Gives One-Point-Five Cheers for a Hugo Award for a TV Show about Ethicists’ Moral Expertise
When The Good Place episode “The Trolley Problem” [won one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo, in the category of best dramatic presentation, short form, I celebrated. I celebrated not because I loved the episode (in fact, I had so far only seen a couple of The Good Place’s earlier episodes) but because, as a philosophy professor aiming to build bridges between academic philosophy and popular science fiction, the awarding of a Hugo to a show starring a professor of philosophy discussing a famous philosophical problem seemed to confirm that science fiction fans see some of the same synergies I see between science fiction and philosophy.
I do think the synergies are there and that the fans see and value them – as also revealed by the enduring popularity of The Matrix, and by West World, and Her, and Black Mirror, among others – but “The Trolley Problem”, considered as a free-standing episode, fumbles the job. (Below, I will suggest a twist by which The Good Place could redeem itself in later episodes.)
Yeah, I’m going to be fussy when maybe I should just cheer and praise. And I’m going to take the episode more philosophically seriously than maybe I should, treating it as not just light humor. But taking good science fiction philosophically seriously is important to me – and that means engaging critically. So here we go.
Look, I love to write about terrible food. Life contains so much more of it than good food, or at least my life does. (I have limited funds and poor judgement for risk.) But more than the realism, I’m drawn to bad food because it infuses a scene with context, with a messy pathos. Someone failed before this dish was even served. Continue reading
I sat at a desk that I shared with two other people as a piece of paper was handed to me from my boss. I was nineteen years old, my boss was my dad, and the paper was an estimate … Continue reading
Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) is one of my favorite paintings. There’s something uniquely inspirational in the drama and mystery of strangers gathered at a late-night diner. I also like it because it’s stylistically uncluttered, focused, and full of Mad Men era nostalgia. Recently, I had to pick up some friends from the airport at 5:30 am. Because I like to be painfully early, whether to catch a flight, or to pick people up, I left at 3:00 am. Naturally, I had some time to kill, so I dropped into a nearby Waffle House to see what it might have been like to be one of Hopper’s nighthawks. And also for breakfast.
After a few minutes on the interstate, I took an offramp and made a right turn onto an empty road. The darkness was occasionally punctuated by hotel marquees, stop lights, and an unmistakeable bright, yellow-blocked Waffle House sign. I pulled into the empty parking lot and backed my Jetta under the amber glow of the lone street lamp. At least someone might see me if I got mugged.
Through the windows, I saw a man behind the bar, most likely the cook, and a young lady seated at the end of the counter reading a book. Great, I wasn’t the only nighthawk. And someone should definitely see if I get mugged. I grabbed my trusty notebook from my book-bag and headed in.
In my backyard, I have a tree whose fruit is colored bottles, and it serves a useful purpose. The bottles trap and kill evil spirits. During the night, evil spirits wander into the bottles, and they can’t find their way out—basically like a lobster trap for spirits. Then, when the morning sunlight hits the bottles, the evil spirits, which don’t like sunlight, are burned away. Poof!
Skeptical? Where’s your sense of mystery? The bottle tree legend is believed to have originated in Africa and been brought to the states with African slaves, which is why you’re more likely to see one in the South. Being a transplanted Yankee, I’d never seen a bottle tree until I experienced one years ago at The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas. It was a thing of beauty, and a sign nearby explained the legend. I thought the idea was so cool that I wanted to have one, but I needed the right structure. Some people use welded metal rods, but I wanted something more organic. So, when our Majestic Indian Hawthorn tree died last year, I saw an opportunity to have a bottle tree although I knew it would take some work.