Shared posts

08 Feb 17:37

Comic for 2023.02.08 - Yeah

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
08 Feb 16:58

A federal judge mocks the Supreme Court on abortion

by Ian Millhiser
Police stand guard between a group of anti-abortion protesters and a group of pro-choice protesters outside a clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas. | Greg Smith/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

A Democratic federal judge suggests that banning abortion violates the 13th Amendment’s prohibition on “involuntary servitude.”

Last June, the Supreme Court said in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.” Given that Dobbs tossed out a half-century of precedent, upended reproductive freedom in about half of the country, and effectively eliminated an entire constitutional right, you probably heard about this decision.

Nevertheless, on Monday, a federal judge in Washington, DC handed down a brief order suggesting that the Supreme Court may not have meant what it said in Dobbs. “The ‘issue’ before the Court in Dobbs was not whether any provision of the Constitution provided a right to abortion,” Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Clinton appointee, wrote. “Rather, the question before the Court in Dobbs was whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution provided such a right.”

And that leaves open the possibility that the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits “slavery” and “involuntary servitude,” does forbid laws banning abortion. Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order requires the parties to a criminal prosecution touching on abortion rights to brief whether the Thirteenth Amendment or “any other provision of the Constitution could confer a right to abortion.”

Unless the membership of the Supreme Court changes drastically, the Court is exceedingly unlikely to rule that any provision of the Constitution protects the right to an abortion. The Court’s GOP-appointed majority stridently opposes abortion rights. They didn’t just overrule Roe v. Wade. They established, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), that states can effectively immunize anti-abortion laws from judicial review by using bounty hunters to enforce those laws.

Simply put, these deeply committed opponents of abortion rights are not going to reverse course because a judge appointed by a Democratic president writes a clever opinion arguing that forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term is a form of involuntary servitude.

That said, the argument that the Thirteenth Amendment protects a right to an abortion is serious — or, at least, no less serious than much of the legal reasoning that comes out of this Supreme Court. As Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe has written, “a woman forced by law to submit to the pain and anxiety of carrying, delivering, and nurturing a child she does not wish to have is entitled to believe that more than a play on words links her forced labor with the concept of involuntary servitude.”

Moreover, while Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order is, at most, a very thoughtful effort to troll the Supreme Court, trolling is now common practice by lower court judges throughout the federal judiciary. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is dominated by right-wing trolls, who routinely hand down outlandishly reasoned decisions declaring entire federal agencies unconstitutional, ordering the Biden administration to change America’s foreign policy, or even permitting military personnel to defy orders that political conservatives do not like.

It would certainly be best if federal judges all engaged in good faith efforts to follow the law, including well-established legal precedents. But since we don’t live in that world, Kollar-Kotelly’s order raises an arresting question: Why should left-leaning judges unilaterally disarm? If Republican judges can play this game, why can’t judges who support abortion rights do the same?

The Thirteenth Amendment case against abortion bans, briefly explained

Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s order arises out of a case called United States v. Handy, a criminal prosecution of several individuals who allegedly worked together to block access to a reproductive health clinic in 2020, when Roe was still good law.

Among other things, these defendants are charged with violating a federal law that makes it a crime to conspire to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person . . . in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

Before Dobbs, this would have been a fairly straightforward case (assuming, of course, that the government can prove its factual allegations against these defendants beyond a reasonable doubt). Prior to Dobbs, cases like Roe established that there is a constitutional right to an abortion. So blocking an abortion clinic injured the right of that clinic’s patients to exercise a constitutional right.

After Dobbs, however, the case becomes more complicated. The government still has a strong argument that blocking an abortion clinic violates a federal statute that specifically prohibits using certain tactics to block access to an abortion clinic — and the government also charged these defendants with violating this statute. Nevertheless, the prosecution’s argument that these defendants violated the broader ban on injuring constitutional rights would be stronger if it could also argue that these defendants violated a constitutional right to an abortion.

Enter the Thirteenth Amendment. Kollar-Kotelly’s order cites two sources — a scholarly article by law professor Andrew Koppelman, which argues that this amendment “is violated by laws that prohibit abortion;” and a Tenth Circuit opinion that discusses a similar argument — to support the proposition that an abortion ban might qualify as “involuntary servitude.”

The argument that the Thirteenth Amendment protects a right to abortion is fairly straightforward. In Bailey v. Alabama (1911), the Supreme Court held that this amendment sought to abolish “that control by which the personal service of one [person] is disposed of or coerced for another’s benefit, which is the essence of involuntary servitude.”

As Koppelman writes, “forced pregnancy and childbirth” by its very nature, operates “by compelling the woman to serve the fetus.”

But wait, what about Dobbs’ statement that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion?”

Of course, one major problem with this Thirteenth Amendment argument is that Dobbs spoke in categorical terms about the right to an abortion — or, rather, the nonexistence of that right. Dobbs states outright that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”

To get around this problem, Kollar-Kotelly rests on a notoriously hard-to-pin-down distinction between a court decision’s “holding” and something known as “dicta.”

Briefly, the portions of an opinion that respond to the specific legal question before a court are considered the court’s “holding,” and are binding on lower courts that consider similar cases. By contrast, when a judge launches into a non-sequitur or otherwise opines on issues that are not relevant to the actual legal issue in the case, those portions of the judge’s opinion are considered “dicta” and are not binding.

As Kollar-Kotelly writes, quoting from the eminent federal Judge Henry Friendly, “a judge’s power to bind is limited to the issue that is before him; he cannot transmute dictum into decision by waving a wand and uttering the word ‘hold.’”

The specific issue that was before the Court in Dobbs, Kollar-Kotelly notes, was whether the Fourteenth Amendment protects a right to an abortion, not whether any other provision does so. “That is why neither the majority nor the dissent in Dobbs analyzed anything but the Fourteenth Amendment,” she writes. Thus, the Court’s broad pronouncement that the Constitution as a whole “does not confer a right to abortion” can plausibly be dismissed as dicta.

Realistically, this argument is unlikely to persuade anyone on the Supreme Court who joined the majority opinion in Dobbs. The distinction between holding and dicta is notoriously slippery. And even if five justices were convinced that Dobbs’s broad announcement about the entire constitution is dicta, those justices would still have the formal authority to simply reject the Thirteenth Amendment argument for abortion rights on the merits.

The Supreme Court can only blame itself for Kollar-Kotelly’s order

Again, unless two Republican appointees on the Supreme Court unexpectedly leave the Court and are replaced by Democrats, the justices are about as likely to rule that the Constitution protects a right to an abortion as they are to move the Supreme Court’s building to Mordor, Asgard, or the Unseelie Court.

And, again, in a better world, judges would behave as servants of the law — rather than trying to stretch that law to serve their particular agenda.

But here in the actual world, lower courts do not always operate as loyal followers of the Supreme Court’s precedent. They often act as think tanks for new legal ideas that haven’t gained support on the Supreme Court, but that could at some point in the future. The Fifth Circuit more or less operates as a generator and legitimizer of right-wing ideas that are often, but not always, rejected by this Supreme Court. So do several federal trial judges that have become favorites among right-wing advocates seeking to move the law hard to the right.

If this Supreme Court didn’t want lower court judges to act like partisan trolls, it could communicate that to those judges by hewing more closely to legal texts and to existing precedents. But, if anything, this Court has actively encouraged judges on the rightward extremes of the federal judiciary to play games with the law.

Kollar-Kotelly’s order cannot really be defended as a serious attempt to convince this Supreme Court to change the law. But, at worst, it is simply the center-left equivalent of the kind of judicial entrepreneurship that routinely goes on at the Fifth Circuit. The Supreme Court should not be surprised that, if it refuses to rein in egregious overreach by courts like the Fifth Circuit, Democratic judges will also start behaving like they have a free hand.

08 Feb 14:31

The Last Of Us producers reveal VFX needed to make Calgary look less post-apocalyptic

by Ian MacIntyre

CALGARY – Producers of HBO’s post apocalyptic series The Last Of Us recently revealed how shooting in Calgary forced them to use VFX to hide the city’s bleaker wasteland aspects. The series, which takes place 20 years after the world’s population has been decimated by a deadly fungal plague, was chosen to shoot in Alberta […]

The post The Last Of Us producers reveal VFX needed to make Calgary look less post-apocalyptic appeared first on The Beaverton.

08 Feb 12:46

The Jedi Academy Will No Longer Teach Anakin Skywalker’s Massacre of the Younglings

by Max Davison

“The new Republican governor of Arkansas, Sarah Sanders, said the move to ban critical race theory in public schools in her state was a preventative measure… ‘Our teachers absolutely need to teach our history,’ Sanders said, ‘but they shouldn’t teach our kids and our students ideas to hate this country and to give a false premise about who we are and what we’re about. And that is something that we have to make sure we protect our students from.’” – The Guardian

- - -

I sense a great disturbance in the Force. Cynical academics are attempting to corrupt our society with their inaccurate revisionist history. In order to protect our Padawans from being indoctrinated in the Dark Side’s ideology, the Council has decided to excise certain ugly chapters from the ancient Jedi texts.

The revised curriculum will not cover Order 66, the minor instance in which the Jedi Council misinterpreted a prophecy, chose the wrong chosen one, and allowed the Sith to infiltrate our ranks, which all culminated in Anakin Skywalker murdering the younglings in cold blood and then proceeding to enslave the entire galaxy. This isolated incident does not reflect who we are as a modern society and does not need to be taught to our youth.

We don’t deny that these events took place. Is Anakin Skywalker part of our shared history? Of course he is. Is he the defining element of our saga that continues to inform all of our subsequent actions? Hardly. “Skywalker” is not the only last name in our lore. Teaching Anakin’s failings would only cause the Padawans to question their leaders’ authority and worry that they, too, could be either corrupted or murdered. Which they won’t.

Despite what some have alleged, this is not an attempt at whitewashing our history. Instead, we are striking back against the propagandistic anti-Jedi agenda that permeates academia. These so-called “historians” are fixated on the one moment in history when we could not identify great evil, even when it was in front of our faces, leading to the mass slaughter of our ranks. But what exactly are modern Jedi supposed to learn from this? The days of intergalactic tyranny are long past. The Empire won’t rise again. The Death Star won’t be rebuilt. We’ve learned our lesson already. This critical theory only makes young Jedi feel shame for something they never did.

And this is precisely where the new Empire begins: in our classrooms. Our school systems are building the next generation of mindless Stormtroopers by exposing them to politicized counternarratives, causing them to question accepted history and rethink the infallibility of our great heroes. We need to fight against this totalitarian thought control by imposing our own limits on what ideas and concepts our students are allowed to believe.

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. So let’s prevent our Jedi younglings from encountering any negative portrayals of our history. The Jedi should not be seen as the group that allowed the Empire to rise but as the Rebels who rose to prevent the Empire from ever returning. For a period of time. Instead of highlighting his time as Darth Vader, we will only teach Anakin’s profound redemption, sacrificing himself to defeat Palpatine and prevent the Emperor from ever rising to power again. For a period of time, that is.

Instead of harping on about how the Jedi Knights are “an outdated patriarchal order of white men,” we spend an entire week teaching about Mace Windu, a proud Jedi person of color who proved that the Force does not discriminate. His purple lightsaber blazed a trail for other JPOC, who are always welcome in our world.

The Jedi Code instructs us to avoid attachment. And thanks to this, we are very good at ignoring the undesirable parts of our history. Supreme Leader Snoke. The Holdo Maneuver. Jar Jar Binks? Never existed. Luke becoming a hermit who turned his back on the fight after failing as a teacher? That’s an ugly mischaracterization of a great man. Everything involving Kylo Ren and Rey? Best forgotten. We don’t need these unfortunate outliers in our canon, poisoning our memories of the Golden Age with their moral relativism and realistic depictions of our founding heroes.

The goal of our academy is to forge great leaders, not to create activist, political progressives who tear down the Jedi Order from within. We should be training more students like Grogu. Grogu is quiet, is inoffensive, and doesn’t push us into dark introspective caves that cause us to rethink any of our preconceived notions. We need more Grogus in this world!

This revamped syllabus offers a new hope for the next generation of Jedi. It will inspire our students, protect our legacy, and reaffirm our childhood notions of good and evil. Together, we will write bold new chapters while also clinging to comforting old standards that are too precious to abandon, and we will lash out whenever any outsider attempts to alter our sacred dogma by even the slightest degree.

This is the way.

08 Feb 12:44

Transport Tycoon fan remake OpenTTD gets largest update in years

by Graham Smith

OpenTTD 13.0 been released, which is "one of the largest releases we've done in several years" according to the developers. If you don't know OpenTTD, it's an open source and free fan remake of Transport Tycoon which greatly expands, polishes and modernises the beloved business sim. This latest update improves the interface further, tweaks the world generation, and more.

Read more

08 Feb 05:12

Wedding Dress Codes Certain to Impress and Befuddle Your Guests

by Mary Sasson

Business Vulnerable

Beach Tragedy

Garden Party Murder Mystery

Fish Tank Chic

Mocktail Attire

Whimsical Police Auction

Semicolon Formal

Traffic Court Casual

Last Dinner as a Family Before You Announce Divorce at Dessert

Destination (Final)

Disney Adult

Eighth Grade Semi-Formal

Rae Dunn

White Tie-less

Woodstock ’99


Boho Christmas

New Coke

Come as You Are (As I Want You to Be) / (Nirvana)

08 Feb 05:10

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Trust


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

I don't even trust MYSELF to catch my wife, even if I'm intending to.

Today's News:
08 Feb 00:57

10 Classic Sci-Fi Novels That Need To Be Adapted Into Movies

by Chris Heasman

Science fiction movies have shared a close relationship with their literary counterparts for as long as they've existed. The first sci-fi film ever made, Georges Méliès' 1902 short "A Trip to the Moon," was inspired by two Jules Verne novels, "From the Earth to the Moon" and "Around the Moon," as well as H.G. Wells' serialized novel "The First Men in the Moon." From there, countless movies — including some of the greatest of all time — have been based on sci-fi novels, novellas, and short stories.

Let's put it this way: Without the vast cosmos of sci-fi literature to draw from, we would never have experienced "Metropolis," "Frankenstein," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "A Clockwork Orange," "Solaris," "Planet of the Apes," "Blade Runner," "Total Recall," "Starship Troopers," "The Thing," "Jurassic Park," "Minority Report," "Children of Men," "Arrival," "Annihilation," "Edge of Tomorrow," and a hell of a lot more.

Clearly, books have made an invaluable contribution to the world of cinema over the last 120 years, but there are still many worlds left to explore. Here are some classic sci-fi novels that, despite being ripe for adaptation, have yet to receive their moment on the silver screen.

The Left Hand Of Darkness — Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Left Hand of Darkness" is arguably the most famous of the 19 stories that make up Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle. Published in 1969, the novel is set in a future in which much of the known universe has banded together to form the Ekumen, a loose federation of worlds that provides trade, knowledge, and protection to its members. Genly Ai, a Terran envoy for the Ekumen, is sent to the planet Gethen — known to his people as "Winter" — to convince the native population to take their first steps into the wider universe.

Le Guin's book is particularly well-suited for film because it so deftly strikes so many different chords at once. In one sense, it's a political thriller, as Genly struggles to navigate Gethen's different factions and convince their leaders to join his cause. In another, it is a study of gender; the inhabitants of Gethen are ambisexual, only adopting "male" or "female" traits once a month, and Le Guin uses this quality to shine a light on our own attitudes towards masculinity and femininity. "The Left Hand of Darkness" also features a love story for the ages, as Genly and Estraven, an exiled politician, fall deep into a discordant and passionate romance. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the back end of the novel explodes into a gripping adventure story, forcing the two lovers to race against time across Winter's northern ice sheets.

A mission for peace; a strange alien civilization; a doomed romance; a stirring third-act escapade — and it's all combined with some of the finest world-building this side of J.R.R. Tolkien. It's a marvel that "The Left Hand of Darkness" hasn't been adapted a dozen times already.

The Blazing World - Margaret Cavendish

Mary Shelley is often (and rightly) considered to be the mother of science fiction, but the genre's foundations were laid long before "Frankenstein." In 1666, English writer Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, published "The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing-World." The story follows an unnamed "Lady" who, after journeying through a passageway near the North Pole, finds herself lost in a utopian world populated by anthropomorphic beasts. Crowned Empress of the Blazing World, the Lady launches a military invasion to rescue her homeland from an existential threat. Cavendish's groundbreaking novel was actually the very loose inspiration behind "The Blazing World," a 2021 thriller about the traumatic homecoming of an American college student. Still, that movie is sorely lacking in talking animals, arctic exploration, and naval warfare, so it's hard to argue that it's a real adaptation of the original story.

It's a real shame that we've never had a proper "Blazing World" film, too. While the book isn't exactly an easy read — it's very obvious that it was written in the mid-17th century — it is a staggeringly imaginative work, one that feels bold and fantastical even by today's standards. It's also surprisingly exciting: The middle of the novel gets a little bogged down in philosophical navel-gazing and meta commentary, but the second section, in which the Empress clothes herself in bejeweled robes and leads her golden submarines to the shores of Europe, is a genuine thrill. Give it to Guillermo Del Toro and watch the awards pile up.

The Sirens Of Titan — Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut's sophomore novel is considered by many (and by "many," I mean "me") to be the finest work of sci-fi comedy ever made. Released in 1959, "The Sirens of Titan" revolves around Malachi Constant, an ultra-wealthy and incredibly fortuitous businessman who is given a bizarre prophecy by an omniscient space explorer. During his fruitless attempt to flee his fate, Constant is caught up in a Martian invasion of Earth, the establishment of a global religion, and a final, devastating journey to Titan itself.

"The Sirens of Titan" tackles a number of heavy themes across its 300-or-so page count, from the nature of free will to the meaning of life itself, but what really strikes you is just how much fun it all is. Vonnegut's ability to balance the hilarious with the heartbreaking is beyond compare, and his uncanny knack for clever dialogue and absurdist humor could, in the hands of a capable screenwriter and director, make for a truly wonderful sci-fi movie.

It does bear mentioning that we've come tantalizingly close to a "Sirens of Titan" adaptation before. Back in 2017, Variety reported that "Community" and "Rick & Morty" creator Dan Harmon had been hired to develop a TV series based on Vonnegut's book. He was still writing scripts for the show during a GQ interview in 2018, but nothing has been said about it since then. For now, it seems, the adventures of Malachi Constant will remain confined to the page. What a shame.

We — Yevgeny Zamyatin

A number of dystopian sci-fi movies have come from books. The most famous, of course, is "Nineteen Eighty-Four," Michael Radford's adaptation of the George Orwell classic, but countless others exist too, including "The Road," "Children of Men," and the "Hunger Games" franchise. "We," the 1921 novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin, might not be as recognizable as some of those names, but the novel's influence on the genre is undeniable: Orwell himself believed that it inspired Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," and he lifted more than a few of its beats for his own story.

"We" is about D-503, a spacecraft engineer who lives in the One State, an authoritarian dystopia defined by mass surveillance, total subservience, and the worship of logic above all. When D-503 meets I-330, a charming rebel who claims to be part of an underground movement to overthrow the One State's dictator, he finds himself torn between his duty and his growing desire for freedom. If this all seems a little derivative, know that it's only because Zamyatin did it before anyone else — Kurt Vonnegut once said that, in writing his own dystopian novel, "Player Piano," that he "cheerfully ripped off the plot of 'Brave New World,' whose plot had been cheerfully ripped off from Yevgeny Zamyatin's 'We.'"

While we've seen many adaptations of the stories that "We" influenced, Hollywood has yet to breathe new life into the original. (A Russian version was supposed to release in 2021, but seemingly has yet to see the light of day.) As events in the real world become ever more, uh, interesting, works such as "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "Brave New World" are being brought closer to the fore of the cultural zeitgeist. Why not go back to where it all began?

Kindred — Octavia E. Butler

Thanks to the efforts of creators like Jordan Peele, Nia DaCosta, and Misha Green, Black-led horror movies and shows have experienced something of a boom in recent years. Aside from a few noteworthy projects, however — "Black Panther," maybe, or "Sorry to Bother You" — Black science fiction has yet to find much mainstream success at the movies. This is a particular shame, since Black authors have been producing fantastic sci-fi literature since the advent of the genre.

Take "Kindred," for example. Written by legendary sci-fi author Octavia E. Butler, "Kindred" is rooted firmly in the history of Black America. The story follows Dana, a young writer who begins to inexplicably flit between modern day Los Angeles and a Maryland plantation in the 1800s. Over time, Dana's trips to the past become longer, forcing her to reckon with the brutality of slavery and its impact on her ancestors.

By depicting slavery through the eyes of a contemporary protagonist, "Kindred" offers a unique take on a story that has rarely been done justice on the silver screen, and Butler's complex portrayal of slave communities is remarkable even today. It's fair to say that faithfully adapting Butler's novel into a feature would be difficult (Hulu made a disappointing attempt at a TV series in 2022), but, if someone succeeded, it would almost certainly be a stunning success — and could kick-start the golden age that Black sci-fi cinema deserves.

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe — Douglas Adams

In 2005, Garth Jennings directed an adaptation of Douglas Adams' iconic sci-fi novel, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Although many critics would disagree, I'm actually a big fan of the "Hitchhiker's Guide" movie — despite making a few key changes to the plot of the book, it's absolutely stuffed with heart and feels Adamsian to its core (probably because he co-wrote the screenplay prior to his death). Sadly, despite ending on a sequel hook, a second installment never materialized; in 2007, Martin Freeman told MTV that the first simply didn't do well enough to warrant another.

It's too bad, too, because "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" is just as funny and irreverent as "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." In the second installment in the five-book series, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android set out to meet the Ruler of the Universe, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect journey to prehistoric Earth, and the whole gang visits the eponymous restaurant, where diners are able to witness the destruction of the universe itself. It's all deeply weird — weirder even than "Hitchhiker's Guide," though not nearly as absurd as the subsequent books in the franchise.

Honestly, I'm not sure how well "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" would translate to the screen. Certain aspects were adapted into the superb "Hitchhiker's Guide" TV show from the early '80s and the radio series that preceded it, but in those cases the story acted more as a middle chapter in a larger narrative. Could anyone actually pull off a straight, standalone adaptation? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that the original 2005 movie absolutely deserves a sequel.

Downbelow Station — C.J. Cherryh

"Downbelow Station" is part of C.J. Cherryh's epic Alliance-Union universe, a series of 27 novels and seven short story anthologies that detail the conflict between a private corporation called the Earth Company, the trade confederacy known as the Alliance, and the Union, a rebel government based on the distant world of Cyteen. Published in 1981, the first novel in the saga depicts the final days of the war as experienced by the denizens of a space station orbiting Pell's World, which the residents call "Downbelow."

To say that Cherryh's universe is complex would be an understatement. Beneath the dense world-building and politicking that drives "Downbelow Station," however, you'll find a sprawling human drama played out by a compelling cast of characters. That's the novel's brilliance, really: The reality of this cosmic war always feels intimate, and the people affected by it — whether they're soldiers, refugees, or otherwise — are fully-realized and believable. Nevertheless, it all leads towards a spectacular climax filled with betrayal and destruction, one that justifies the slower first half and then some.

It's easy to imagine "Downbelow Station" as a kind of "Game of Thrones"-style streaming series, but it's arguably just as suited to the movies. A film adaptation could easily stand as a tense and claustrophobic one-off about the social trauma wrought by war, or it could play into the space opera angle, kick up the action, and spark a whole franchise. Either way, the best aspects of Cherry's novel would work marvelously in cinema.

The Drowned World — J.G. Ballard

Back in 2016, Ben Wheatley brought J.G. Ballard's most famous sci-fi book, "High Rise," to the big screen. Despite that movie being genuinely pretty great, I would argue that he chose the wrong story. The author's second novel, 1962's "The Drowned World," is a striking and strangely beautiful portrayal of an environmental post-apocalypse, one that might have as much of an impact on a 21st century audience as it would a 20th century reader.

Set in London in the 22nd century, "The Drowned World" takes place long after an array of solar storms have played havoc with the Earth's ionosphere, leading to rapid global warming and flooding most of the planet. Dr. Robert Kerans, a scientist tasked with studying the prehistoric creatures and plants that have emerged in the sunken city, begins to dream of ancient lagoons, giant beasts, and an ever-thrumming sun — and soon finds that his companions are experiencing the same visions. Kerans' regression into his biological roots only becomes more complicated by the arrival of Strangman, the terrifying leader of a band of pirates and, if you ask me, one of the genre's most underrated villains.

In "The Drowned World," Ballard weaves a vision of the future that feels so utterly oppressive that it's almost hypnotic, rife with abandoned skyscrapers and giant lizards; visually, it could give any sci-fi classic a run for its money. That's to say nothing of the story's focus on climate, too, which would no doubt resonate in a world that is, if not quite drowned, certainly getting there. Few literary adaptations would feel more timely.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

Published in 1966, Robert A. Heinlein's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" tells the tale of a revolutionary war waged against Earth by a lunar colony. Guided by a sentient supercomputer named Mike, the so-called "Loonies" declare independence from their masters after realizing that the wheat tributes they send to Earth will eventually lead to the collapse of their burgeoning civilization. The leaders of the uprising, Mannie, Wyoh, and Prof, subsequently find themselves in a world of intrigue and oppression.

Above all, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" is a careful examination of the politics of rebellion. Heinlein tackles many subjects in the novel, from gender relations to economics, and spends a good deal of time opining on each. This is not why it would make for such a good film, though — in fact, I would say any movie adaptation would do well to cut most of that out. No, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" earns its place on this list because the basic premise — moon-people build society, Earth oppresses them, war breaks out — holds so much potential. As such, it really doesn't need to be faithful to the original story; simply hire a bunch of A-listers, throw half the budget into pyrotechnics, and let the good times roll.

That said, this is also another book we can chalk up as a near-miss in Hollywood. Back in 2015, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Bryan Singer had been signed on to direct a movie adaptation of Heinlein's novel, titled "Uprising." Considering Singer's well-deserved fall from grace in recent years, though, this is probably another project that won't be arriving in theaters any time soon.

The Long Tomorrow — Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett was no stranger to Hollywood. Once described by Gizmodo as the "Queen of the Space Opera," Brackett's name is best known to cinephiles as an early contributor to the screenplay of "The Empire Strikes Back." She was an author first and foremost, however, and her 1955 novel "The Long Tomorrow" is one of her definitive sci-fi works.

"The Long Tomorrow" takes place in a world ravaged by nuclear war. In the aftermath, the few survivors have developed an innate hatred of technology, and the gap left by the absence of modernity has been filled by religious fundamentalism. The story follows two rebellious teenagers, Len and Esau, who set out to find Bartorstown, a distant community that is said to wield the power of old technology. Aside from the obvious science-versus-religion motif, there's a kind of post-apocalyptic Mark Twain vibe to "The Long Tomorrow," albeit with a healthy dash of "The Road" mixed in for good measure.

It's unlikely that a cinematic adaptation of Brackett's novel would become a smash-hit blockbuster, but the world of "The Long Tomorrow" is so captivating — and the themes so familiar even today — that the opportunity is simply too good to pass up.

Read this next: Sci-Fi Box Office Bombs That Deserve A Second Chance

The post 10 classic sci-fi novels that need to be adapted into movies appeared first on /Film.

07 Feb 19:12

Comic for 2023.02.07 - Blood Group

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
07 Feb 19:11

Common Mouse

by Reza
07 Feb 19:11

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Boethius


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Fact: Boethius wrote in modern English, with rhymes,

Today's News:
07 Feb 17:29

Sponsored: 18 More Days Until You’re Struck And Killed By Kia Sorento

CHICAGO—In a hit-and-run expected to leave your loved ones devastated, a new report released this week found that there were only 18 days left until you would be struck and killed by the all-new 2023 Kia Sorento. “The countdown to oblivion has begun, starting at only 2.9% APR,” read the report, which noted that the…


07 Feb 17:29

Police Stop Black Civilian For Fitting Description Of Giant Fire-Breathing Reptile Terrorizing Tokyo

LOS ANGELES—In an incident widely criticized as racial profiling, sources reported Thursday that L.A. police officers had stopped a local Black man who they claimed fit the description of a giant, fire-breathing reptile that was currently terrorizing Tokyo. “Right after we heard reports of a 400-foot kaiju knocking…


07 Feb 13:03

how do I reply to my coworker’s apology without saying her constant mistakes are OK, coworker calls me “mama,” and more

by Ask a Manager

This post, how do I reply to my coworker’s apology without saying her constant mistakes are OK, coworker calls me “mama,” and more , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker keeps causing more work for me, then apologizing — and I don’t want to tell her it’s OK

I’m in a weird situation right now. My coworker, who I’ll call Jane, made a big mistake over the weekend. Big enough that I was called and my boss had to cover for the mistake. In this instance, she didn’t do something I had specifically asked her to do during her working hours on a Friday. The Monday after this happened, it became a Big Deal, and we were both questioned separately on what happened.

This isn’t the first time Jane has made an error and other errors she has made have resulted in incorrect pay that I need to go and clean up after. I am getting tired of having to constantly clean up her mistakes. She apologizes and I’ve always said it’s fine, but at this point, it’s no longer fine. She’s been in the job for almost six months and keeps making the same mistakes.

How can I kindly accept her apology without blanketing over the fact that she continues to make these errors?

You don’t have to say it’s fine if it’s not fine. You shouldn’t be mean about it, of course, but when she apologizes, you could say, “I appreciate that, but is there something we can change to avoid it happening again?” or “I want to make sure we’re putting systems in place that will head this kind of thing off before it happens — is that something you could talk to (manager) about?”

It also sounds like things are at the point where you should talk to your boss about it, if you haven’t already, to point out the impact it’s having on your own work (as well as your weekend, in this case).

2. Coworker calls me “mama”

In a former position, a coworker used to call me “mama.” I am not a mom and she was older than me, but it was seen as a cultural thing, so no one else seemed to care. As I move forward in my career, I would like to nip such things in the bud without coming across as insensitive or aggressive. What’s will be the best approach to being firm enough to prevent this reoccurrence without being seen as too harsh?

“Oh, please just call me Jane — thanks!”

And then if it continues, be more direct: “I don’t like being called ‘mama.’ Just Jane, please!” Or, depending on your style, “I’m no one’s mama — just Jane, please” or “”Mama’ throws me way off — just Jane, please.”

There are indeed cultures where “mama” is a term of respect, but it’s okay to say you want to be called by your name.

3. Can I negotiate more time before I start my new job so I can help my old job replace me?

I’ve essentially been offered a job as long as my references check out (and I can’t imagine they won’t). I’d like to have a longer than standard two-weeks notice period so that my current employer can have enough time to find someone and have me somewhat train them. They’ve, unfortunately, put themselves in the position of having me do everything, and I’m not sure what they’ll do once I leave.

Is there a way to negotiate a longer notice period with the new employer? I’m not sure what to say to them to have this happen.

Please don’t do this! It would be one thing if you wanted to ask for an extra week to see through one crucial project, but you’re talking about asking for multiple extra weeks, even months. Giving your employer time to advertise the job, interview people, hire a replacement, and wait for that person start and then for you to spend time training them — you’re talking about at least a month, and in many jobs two months or more. That’s a major request of your new employer, and it’s something that people just don’t really do in this situation.

It would be different if you needed the time for other reasons — like if you had a vacation or surgery scheduled or just wanted a week or two off in between jobs. But you’d be proposing a major inconvenience to your new employer just to benefit your old employer.

The situation you and your current job are in is a really common one: Very often when someone resigns, it leaves a major gap for the old employer and the person leaving worries about what will happen. And yet … the business handles it. They figure it out and life goes on. It’s not your problem to solve for them, and definitely not at the expense of your new job. (Also, when people are in your situation, they tend to feel like their situation is an exception — that they’re unusually indispensable, that their leaving will cause an unusual amount of chaos and disaster, that their employer is particularly helpless — and it’s almost never the case. So many people feel that way, and rarely does the business collapse after they’re gone.)

Leave your projects thoroughly documented and that’s all you’re obligated to do. If you’re really feeling generous, you could offer to be available for a training call or two with the new person once they’re hired (for pay), but frankly I wouldn’t recommend that in most situations; it’s better to make a clean break and focus on your new job.

4. How much admin work should you do before your first day of a new job?

I just accepted a job offer from a new organization for the first time in seven years and am trying to figure out how much things have changed. While I’m very excited about the job and it’s not a deal breaker for me, they’ve sent a lot of stuff to completed that I’ve always done on my first day at my previous companies. I had to create an account through ADP, fill out all my tax forms, emergency contact info, and paycheck info, read and acknowledge the employee handbook, submit photos of my IDs, and they still want a high resolution photo for my security badge, all due on the last business day before I start.

Everywhere else I’ve worked had me do all that on the first day on their own systems, but it’s also a lot easier to complete this from a mobile app these days (though I’m not thrilled about uploading my passport photo, etc). Do I just need to go with the flow, or am I right to be kinda annoyed they’re requesting all this before I’m on the clock?

This does seem to be happening more often these days; employers seem not to see it as work that should wait for your first day, but more akin to something like signing an offer letter, even though it takes a lot more time.

The path of least resistance is to just go with it if it’s not a major hassle for you. But if it is, you could say, “My schedule before I start is really packed, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get to most of this until my first day. Can you tell me which tasks are essential for me do before then?” That gives them an opportunity to tell you, for example, that you should at least do the ID photos so you’re not prevented from navigating the building on your first day, or whatever the case might be.

5. How do I tell my new job I have a brain tumor?

I recently left a terrible job and started a new one that has been fantastic to me and very good in general. However, I’ve spent the last year having MRI’s and neurologist visits and found out a week after starting that I have a brain tumor.

I’m worried that sharing this with my new employers will cause me difficulty at work, but at the moment, it’s not having any effects on my work and I do want to be honest with them about it. I’m just a little reluctant to do so, because at my previous not great job, any mention of anything that required me to take time off (I had Covid and a bad mental health time) was not received well, and nor were the medical issues of the other staff. I’m sure the job I have now won’t be like that, but as a new employee, how do I bring up the topic that I have a brain tumor?

I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. You don’t need to — and probably shouldn’t — bring it up since it doesn’t sound like you want to request any accommodations right now.

As a general rule, it’s safest to only disclose a health condition at work when you need to ask for a specific accommodation connected with it, and that’s especially true at a new job. (That doesn’t mean you need to go out of your way to keep it a secret, but it sounds like you’re feeling that you need to share this with them and you don’t.) If there comes a time when there’s something specific you need to ask for, you can tackle that then — and even then, you don’t necessarily need to disclose specifics if you don’t want to — but for now you’re not under any obligation to share your health situation. (This post talks about this in the context of mental health issues, but a lot of the same principles apply.)

07 Feb 13:00

Electron Color

There's quark color, but that's not really color--it's just an admission by 20th century physicists that numbers are boring.
07 Feb 12:59

Modern Stoic Philosophy

by Corey Mohler

PERSON: "Amazing! I always knew Stoic Virtue is the way to live."

PERSON: "I'll show you how everyone is embracing your ideas 2000 years later!"

PERSON: "Great!"

PERSON: "Use the techniques of Stoicism to DOMINATE your business rivals!"

PERSON: "The advantage of Stoicism means you can ride the waves of the crytpo market without fear!"

PERSON: "It's a good thing i'm a master of stoicism, or this would be quite upsetting."
07 Feb 04:46

Lawmakers Propose Letting Prisoners Donate Organs For Reduced Sentences

Massachusetts Democrats have proposed a bill that would allow prisoners to donate their organs for reduced sentences, giving people up to a year off their prison sentence “on the condition that the incarcerated individual has donated bone marrow or organ(s).” What do you think?


07 Feb 04:45

a very good update: how to tell a former employee he can’t visit us weekly

by Ask a Manager

This post, a very good update: how to tell a former employee he can’t visit us weekly , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

Remember the letter-writer asking how to tell a former employee he couldn’t visit their office weekly (#3 at the link)? The update is one of my favorites ever (and I probably should have saved it for Valentine’s Day but you are getting it now because I love it too much to wait):

I have an update to a question you posted a few months ago about our retired worker, Frank, who kept dropping by weekly for hours long chats. A very big THANK YOU to the commenters who suggested volunteer work. I don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me since my aunt founded and ran a nonprofit near and dear to me (shout out to diaper banks, which are a huge unmet need in many communities where diapers aren’t covered by food assistance programs or food banks).

The next week when Frank came in, I saw two people run in the other direction and decided to address it. I invited Frank to lunch and unprompted he shared that he was really at loose ends and didn’t know how to spend his time. I brought up volunteering and he said he didn’t know how to find a place to volunteer, how do you even apply, and who would want his help (EVERYONE! everyone wants people who have unlimited daytime ability). I gave him my aunt’s number then and there and sent her a text to expect his call.

He called the next day and by the following week was a full-time fixture there. At Thanksgiving, I asked my aunt how Frank was doing and she gushed about his hard work pitching in wherever, his positivity, the ideas he was bringing to the table. She loved Frank.

New Year’s rolls around and we have another family get-together and who walks in but Frank! He and my aunt are in a relationship! They are looking at moving in together!!! They are both ehhh on marriage but “we’ll see”! The office has a break from Frank but now I might be getting more of him. I don’t know if AAM has been responsible for a love match before, but I’m crediting this one to you and the commenters for this kismet!

❤️    ❤️    ❤️

06 Feb 17:24

Business Plans for the rapture

by Mary Kelly

how to profit from the coming rapture book cover

How to profit from the coming rapture
Getting ahead when you are left behind

I was searching for something and came across this book. My first thought was this was a serious effort by some religious nuts. When I started reading and laughing, it was clear it was a spoof.

It was actually fun for about a half an hour. Then it was done, at least for me. Sometimes books like these tend to be too long. The joke just went on too long. What concerned me is the owning library had it classified in the 200s. I would have stuck this in the 800s with other humor books.

Catalogers out there, please weigh in!



back cover






The post Business Plans for the rapture appeared first on Awful Library Books.

06 Feb 17:23

my boss’s horrible kids are trying to destroy us because he disinherited them

by Ask a Manager

This post, my boss’s horrible kids are trying to destroy us because he disinherited them , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I work for a small towing and salvage company as the manager and dispatcher in a very rural area. My duties range from high-stress emergency tow dispatching to legal notice writing and basic administrative duties, as well as selling auto parts and salvage, inventory, writing store policies and negotiating contracts with motor clubs, payroll, and many other things. I am currently the only person handling these duties while the owner is in a semi retirement. I feel I do a great job and I get a lot of praise from the owner and customers.

I should mention that I love my work and for the most part am extremely happy with my job. I like everyone I work with. The job is fast-paced, fun, and different every day. I make very good money.

The issue I am having is that the owner, Ben, has a very toxic family that interferes with my work and the work of my colleagues. He and two of his adult children live on the property, and both of his kids have ongoing substance abuse and alcohol problems. Because of these problems, Ben does not want them involved in the business at all and has taken them out of his will.

They have been going to the work areas and picking irrational fights with my crew, spreading rumors about them, and being all around abusive and cruel. They have gone so far as to call social services on my crew, falsely accusing them of child abuse, screaming at them when they drive by, and attempting physical fights with the lead mechanic. This is all due to what I believe is jealousy and bitterness that they will not inherit the multimillion dollar company. The local police and even the school district know that they constantly make false claims and all of their accusations were proven to be false.

Ben is close to 80 years old and has been in the business over 50 years. He is a veteran and all around decent man who treats us all well outside of this issue. He is the type of man who wants to “die in his boots” and seems to be of sound mind, making solid business decisions, and is in relatively good health.

While I have talked with him about this on numerous occasions, he seems incapable of stopping the problem. I am instructed not to engage with the arguments, ignore them, and continue working because they are “just crazy” and “there’s nothing he can do” because he can’t throw his kids out on the streets. All of us (employees) care about and are loyal to Ben and none want to just quit, we want a solution. We have all worked for him for 10 or more years.

After the most recent attempt from the “kids” berating the crew, I instructed the full crew (six men) to come up to the office and stop all work until we talk to Ben, basically going on strike until he stopped the situation. I didn’t know what else to do.

Ben said he had threatened his kids with legal action, eviction, and criminal charges if they did not stop the harassment, and everyone accepted his apologies and promises and went back to work. I tried to advocate for the crew after they left the office and told Ben that he would lose his whole crew if he didn’t get this under control and that none of us deserved to work in that environment. He agreed and promised to find a way to fix it.

Everything calmed for a few weeks, and then I discovered that Ben’s daughter had been telling people that Ben and I had been having an affair for years and MY daughters had even heard about this at school.

Although he is my friend, and I am loyal to him as my boss, the thought of that turns my stomach! I am half his age! Not to mention the horrible effect it could have on my professional reputation in this small town and the fact I am happily married with children. I already deal with sexism in this traditionally male driven industry every day, and this degrades all of my hard work and abilities.

I know that I need to leave this situation, but I feel extremely sad for Ben and the rest of the people I work with. I am sad to leave a job I am good at and love, and also worry because there isn’t a lot of work in this field available in my area. I worry about my income, and I worry if I quit I won’t be able to file for unemployment. What should I do? Is there anything I can do that won’t hurt the owner but will also protect me while I am searching for something else?

It would take months to train someone to replace me, and at this point Ben does not know how to operate any of the programs or software that we use to dispatch and communicate with the state. He doesn’t know any of what’s in any of our contracts with the police or motorclubs. I feel like if I leave with the standard two weeks of notice, it would be a very low blow. Do I tell him I plan on leaving and put up with this a few more months while I train someone to replace me? Would it even be fair to expose someone new to this situation? And the petty side of me tells me not to quit as that means that his ungrateful and cruel children win and the rest of us lose.

I wrote back and asked, “Aside from the affair rumor, has the berating and harassing stopped since your last conversation with your boss about it?

For now it has, but I expect it will start again as soon they are bored. It has happened repeatedly over the years and they calm down for a while and then go from colleague to colleague trying to make their lives miserable. The rumors get worse each time.

I’m so sorry you, your coworkers, and Ben are all dealing with this. It sounds awful for everyone.

Would it be worth having one final conversation with Ben where you say that you are about to leave over this and so if he was serious about pursuing legal action against his kids, now is the time to do it if he wants you to be able to stay?

Or is it clear he’s not really going to follow through with that? Or, even if he does follow through with it, are you done with the situation and ready to leave regardless? (That would be more than reasonable! And even if Ben does pursue legal action against his kids, it’s not clear that it would stop them from harassing you and your coworkers. It might even make it worse.)

In theory you could talk with a lawyer yourself — some of what Ben’s kids are doing should be fightable on defamation grounds. But defamation lawsuits can be long and expensive, and by the time you’re suing your boss’s family for defamation, it’s probably time to go anyway. It’s possible that a lawyer might be able to stop some of this with some frightening cease-and-desists so you wouldn’t need to go all the way to a lawsuit … but this is all such a mess that I think your instinct to just get out is the better one. Still, though, a conversation with a lawyer about options could be worth having.

In any case, back to quitting. One option is to see if Ben would be open to laying you off. If he does that, you’d be eligible for unemployment. Or, is there an amount of money that would make it worth it to you to stay a few months longer to train someone to replace you? If so, you could propose that.

You’re right that the business will need to be up-front about the situation with whoever is hired … and Ben probably needs to be prepared to pay a premium to get someone willing to put up with that. (Also, any chance one of the employees already on staff, who knows what the kids are like, would want your job and be able to do it? That might be the easiest path if anyone’s qualified and willing to do it.)

However … you don’t need to solve these issues before you go. You can just quit with the standard two weeks notice if you just want to be done. I know you’re worried about the position that will put Ben in, but he has had plenty of warnings that you and others are deeply upset about his kids’ behavior and its impact on your lives, and he’s chosen not to take action to fix that. To be fair, I’m sure he’s in a very difficult situation because he loves his kids! But he’s got to be aware that their behavior means his employees may flee. And two weeks notice truly is standard, even in situations where it will leave the business in a bind.

But if you’re not at the “need to quit today” point, your best next step may be a conversation with Ben where you lay out where you’re at and some of the options you’re considering. See what he might be able to offer once he understands you’re ready to leave. And by that I don’t mean “let him convince you to stay” — but rather that because you’re open to a few different ways of proceeding, talking with him frankly might help you decide exactly what to do next.

06 Feb 17:18

Awkward Zombie - Hourly Comic Day Comics 2023


New comic!

Today's News:

Hello and welcome to last Wednesday!

Huge news for the failure-inclined: For the next month, Failure to Launch: a Tour of Ill-Fated Futures is crowdfunding on Backerkit! This is the latest Iron Circus comic anthology, featuring non-fiction stories about inventions and ideas that did not work out as their creators intended. 

It's a beautiful book with work from a bunch of super-talented cartoonists, and I am also in it! If you would like to learn more about such topics as floating utopias and hippo domestication, you have simply no choice but to back this project while you can.

06 Feb 15:25

The Super Company Announces It’s Not Renewing Sponsorship Contract With NFL Bowl Game

ATLANTA—The professional football world was reportedly rocked Monday when the Super Company issued a press release announcing that it would not renew its sponsorship contract with the NFL’s championship bowl game. “Following some underperformance in terms of our financial goals over the past several years, our company…


06 Feb 15:25

Books Ron DeSantis Has Banned In Florida

In response to new rules issued by the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, teachers are being ordered to remove all books from libraries and classrooms until they can be approved by a state-trained “certified media specialist.” The following books are currently banned from schools in Florida.


06 Feb 11:29

Houston-area Legacy health clinics get electronic records upgrade thanks to grant

by Ashley Brown
Under the current system, in order for patients and doctors to get access to medical records, the clinic has to fax paperwork between other medical facilities, which often delays treatment. 
06 Feb 11:27

Dream of a World with Junk Windows: Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s “Huts, Temples, Castles”

by Bucky Miller
Photo of young boys in a tree house

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, image from “Huts, Temples, Castles” (MACK, 2022). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

This is my favorite book of photographs published in 2022, and the fact that Ursula Schulz-Dornburg made the pictures between 1969 and ‘70 gives me only the slightest anxious flutter about my rapport with more contemporary photography. It is easy to worry that, under this reviewer’s costume that I’ve recently slipped into, there is a narcissistic goblin searching mostly for the conceits of his own artwork on other folks’ pages. Not finding it, the goblin eschews the present. That would be bad! But I know I self-catastrophize as much as I over-share, the latter of which I am doing right now in the name of reckless transparency and/or to fulfill some arbitrary, self-imposed word count. A digression; I like a lot of things just fine!

Truth is, I am drawn to Huts, Temples, Castles precisely because the work is, despite its historical nature, wildly relevant today. After spending some time with its pictures, the sleek loneliness of the present feels extra acute. Not that the good old days were actually any better, but the past can be mined for instructive anecdotes. I now beg my child-having friends: send your offspring into the woods to have fun with hammers.

Black and white image of a wood hut

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, image from “Huts, Temples, Castles” (MACK, 2022). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

As explained by Tom Wilkinson in a valuable complementary essay in the back of the book, Schulz-Dornburg went to photograph an isolated part of Amsterdam known as Jongensland, or Boysland. There she found a community of youths — ostensibly all boys, though the occasional girl shows up in her pictures — set to work constructing a diminutive utopia of junk. The depictions are relatively straightforward, and it is a wonder that this seemingly highly-organized, equally feral (though well-dressed) community of youths felt at ease with an adult photographer in their midst. This perceived level of ratty comfort speaks positively of both Schulz-Dornburg’s craft as (lacking a less objectionable word) documentarian, and the solid confidence that the Jongeslanders had in their efforts. 

The place was built from scrap wood, paper, and discarded windows. It appeared to be under constant construction, with a bicycle just as likely to be used for transportation as for a stepladder. The entire project was rife with a sort of causal, adolescent danger that feels somehow cathartic to observe, inspiring rather than worrisome. Small fires, lit from the same materials used to build, appear frequently and must have represented some critical though indeterminate part of the culture. Also, they had goats. 

Photo of children playing in a man made hut

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, image from “Huts, Temples, Castles” (MACK, 2022). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

The residents even developed a system for navigating the waterways that surrounded their town; one tremendous picture shows a child and a smaller child using dimensional lumber to paddle a boat through murky water. In the background a multi-story Frankenstein of a building exceeds, in terms of interest, most high-end waterfront design. It is to Schulz-Dornburg’s credit that she steps back and allows the architecture (if you can call it that; MACK, the publisher, did list this as an architecture book in their catalog) of Jongensland to exist without much embellishment or photographic elevation.

On the other hand, the pictures exclude the rest of Amsterdam. Schulz-Dornburg isolates Jorgensland so completely that it is easy to imagine this ramshackle nation of children stretching on forever, some apocalyptic/idyllic planet left to the kids. Framing is a subtle trick of pictures that adds a quiet, almost subterranean level of tonal nuance to this book.

Photo of two boys rowing a boat

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, image from “Huts, Temples, Castles” (MACK, 2022). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

Photo detail of cardboard and wood

Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, image from “Huts, Temples, Castles” (MACK, 2022). Courtesy of the artist and MACK.

I’m liable to figure that when some contemporary photographers invent their own little worlds in which to dwell—and tons of celebrated projects have debuted in the last decade that hinge on ideas of fictional towns, maps without territories, and other more medium-specific jaunts (like the wide-ranging fantasies of the brilliant Onorato and Krebs) — they are striving for the same types of freedoms that the denizens depicted in Huts, Temples, Castles once found in the real world, in garbage. Photography will always excel at slicing lived experience out of time and into malleable, manageable scraps. It’s what it does.

Maybe I’m being pessimistic when I wonder if so many recent projects twist those scraps toward fantasy out of longing, a search for life-affirming play that’s been sapped from an imperiled world wasted online. And probably I’m viewing Jongensland’s heyday through a rose-tinted lens (Schulz-Dornburg’s or my own, I can’t tell). But to be presented with such an affectionate depiction of what a gang of kids could do with some heaps of trash, that builds positive momentum.


Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s Huts, Temples, Castles is available through MACK.

The post Dream of a World with Junk Windows: Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s “Huts, Temples, Castles” appeared first on Glasstire.

06 Feb 11:16

The Perfect Memory of Water: Carlie Trosclair’s “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ”

by Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt
Sillicon sculpture of the architecture

Carlie Trosclair, “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ,” on view at Project Row Houses as part of “Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial.”

In her intimate, haunting contribution to Project Row House’s Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial, New Orleans artist Carlie Trosclair reimagines a home’s genealogy. Her multiple installations, collectively entitled Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ, consist of ethereal yet insistently material latex casts that evoke the aftermath of a natural disaster all too familiar to southern viewers: a flood.

Trosclair’s work occupies 2517 Holman Street, one of the white, single story houses converted to exhibition spaces by Project Row Houses in Houston’s historic Third Ward. Depending on where a visitor begins, Trosclair’s Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ serves as either introduction or punctuation mark to the Southern Survey Biennial

Sillicon impression of a chair lit from below

Carlie Trosclair, “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ,” on view at Project Row Houses as part of “Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial.”

In each space, southern artists explore themes of community, loss, and remaking. Kandy G. Lopez (Texas) fills a home with larger-than-life-sized portraits — crafted from yarn — of bold, confident people of color. Julien Hyvrard (Florida) recreates a transitional housing facility, inviting visitors to sit or lay in the space as they listen to the stories of those reintegrating into society. Victoria Ravelo (Florida) and Naomi Lemus (Texas) transform used clothing and accessories borrowed from working class communities of color in Houston into an intimate web. Likewise, Sedrick Huckaby (Texas) and Rehab El Sadek (Texas) each use discarded objects as materials for new, imaginative constructions. And Rashayla Marie Brown (Texas) pays tribute to those seeking justice for their ancestors.

At the end of the row, Trosclair’s installations conjure a space for holding — or perhaps releasing — all these bodies, stories, and objects. When we enter the front room of the row house, we are paradoxically invited to enter into it once again. Within|between is a suspended room-within-a-room, constructed from paper-thin, ochre-hued latex casts of the home’s own walls. As the title suggests, we can enter into the hanging room and stand within the skin-like walls, or we can walk in the gap between the cast and its original. 

Soft sillicon sculpture of a ceiling fan

Carlie Trosclair, “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ,” on view at Project Row Houses as part of “Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial.”

The doubled space is contingent and even porous. Empty picture frames, the lattice work of decorative sconces, and tears in fragile window panes perforate the ghostly walls, offering glimpses of the solid, permanent structure beyond. At the same time, wooden splinters and flakes of paint cling to the latex skin. The seemingly secure space of the home becomes permeable and vulnerable. 

Soft sillicon scultprue of a dresser

Carlie Trosclair, “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ,” on view at Project Row Houses as part of “Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial.”

This sentiment takes on a particular urgency in the context of Houston’s Third Ward, the historically African American neighborhood where Project Row Houses is located. By the late nineteenth century, the Third Ward was a dynamic center of Black businesses, churches, and schools, and it nurtured civil rights activism in the 1960s. However, burgeoning gentrification has left many residents wondering if they will be forced to leave their lifelong homes. Further, the confluence of climate change, aging infrastructure, and inequitable funding has left the Third Ward particularly at risk to catastrophic damage from natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the deep winter freeze in 2021. Trosclair’s within|between evokes the hovering anxiety of past or potential displacement and the loss of one’s beloved space.

The other small rooms of the row house are dotted with a collection of sculptural casts: Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ. Cast in latex and lit from within, a nightstand, fireplace mantle, chair, and ceiling fan seem to float at an invisible waterline. Each object is doubled, with the copy hanging upside-down like a watery reflection. The pooling, tattered doppelgangers are caked in mud from the Mississippi River. 

Here, Trosclair draws from her own experiences of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans to explore the relationship of presence, absence, and memory. In each installation, the object itself is absent. There is the shell of the nightstand, but no actual piece of furniture. But the memory of the object as it was, and the memory of the object after the flood are literally and inextricably tethered. Often, the flooded remnants transform into something else entirely. The inverted chair suggests an ominous carcass, while the drooping reflection of the ceiling fan evokes a faded, collapsed flower.  

A visitor in the space with soft sillicon sculptures of the architecture

Carlie Trosclair, “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ,” on view at Project Row Houses as part of “Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial.”

But Trosclair is not simply referencing literal floods. After all, the Third Ward has a lower risk of flooding than other areas in Houston. But ironically, the slight elevation that protects it from floods also makes it more attractive to developers looking to erect new, larger, and higher-priced homes that reshape the built environment and displace longtime residents and their social memory. 

It is this evacuation of the past that Trosclair wants us to pay attention to. Following the late poet and author Toni Morrison, she locates a haunting resonance between flooding and memory. In her essay “The Site of Memory,” Morrison describes floods as water’s remembrance of where it used to be. “All water has a perfect memory,” she writes, “and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” A flood is water’s reclamation.

Trosclair’s artistic practice is like water. It finds the gullies in our sense of self and place and rushes in, reminding us of what once was and what might still be.


Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲis on view through February 12, 2023 at Project Row Houses as part of Round 54: Southern Survey Biennial in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt is Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

The post The Perfect Memory of Water: Carlie Trosclair’s “Floodplain|uᴉɐldpoolℲ” appeared first on Glasstire.

06 Feb 11:16

I can’t afford to buy breakfast for my team, should you always ask about a gap on someone’s resume, and more

by Ask a Manager

This post, I can’t afford to buy breakfast for my team, should you always ask about a gap on someone’s resume, and more , was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I can’t afford to buy breakfast for my team every month

At my job, we have weekly meetings where my whole team gets together in the morning. At these meetings, one to three people present what they’ve been working on for the past month. We are an academic research lab in a university, and 15 members of the team attend these meetings. At these meetings, my boss requires that one person presenting bring breakfast of some kind for the whole team. This means most people bring breakfast about once every one to two months.

This has been irking me for a few reasons. I am the lowest paid member of our team (think sub-poverty level for our area) because I am still a student and I am expected to pay for breakfast for all the higher members of our team once a month (my boss makes, literally, 10 times what I make). Additionally, not everyone on our team performs a research role (i.e., support staff/admin staff) so some people are never required to bring breakfast (since they never present), despite also eating it every week. And finally, I rarely eat because I’m still Covid-conscious in small rooms and prefer to keep my mask on, so it’s not like I’m saving money on getting myself breakfast during these meetings (oftentimes I don’t even end up getting to eat any of what I brought).

I know it’s something my boss is really married to, and he has done this for many years if not decades. Financially, I can make it happen since it’s not terribly often, but with rising food prices and inflation, my budget gets tighter and tighter every month. Should I just grit and bear it to keep the peace? I know many people in our group look forward to eating during this meeting every week.

No, you should speak up. And really, they should have been exempting you all along. While I don’t love this kind of system for anyone, you’re a student! You should never have been asked to buy breakfast, not even once.

Say this: “As a student, I’m not in a position to buy breakfast for the team — I really can’t afford it. So I need to exempt myself from the rotation. If that means I should opt out of eating, I will.”

Don’t get into how some people are never required to bring breakfast; that’s not really the point. The point is that you can’t afford to do it, so you won’t be. Period. And notice that with this language, you’re not asking for the favor of being let off the hook; you are telling them you cannot afford it and thus cannot do it.

You could say this privately to your boss, although on some teams, it would be more effective if said in front of the whole team (you could raise it as a sort of housekeeping measure at the end of one of these meetings). Which will work better depends on your boss and your team.

But whenever you say it, say it forthrightly! Don’t be shy about it, or embarrassed. You’re a student, for F’s sake. They’ve all been there and they should all get it.

2. Should you always ask about a gap on someone’s resume?

Should you always ask about a gap on someone’s resume?

Not all gaps, no. People have gaps on their resumes for all sorts of unremarkable reasons — took some time out of the workforce after having a baby, dealing with a health issue, taking a few months off in between jobs, travel, and on and on. The existence of a gap on someone’s resume shouldn’t be a big deal in and of itself.

Ask about a gap if you’re genuinely trying to figure out someone’s career trajectory and there’s a glaring hole that’s genuinely getting in the way of that. Generally that should mean that gaps of only a few months won’t be relevant and gaps from years ago shouldn’t matter at all. (And gaps from during the pandemic shouldn’t surprise anyone.) Personally, I only ask if the gap is a current one (“what have you been doing since leaving X?” — and that’s not a gotcha, it’s genuine interest in knowing because there could be info that’s relevant professionally — like a job they left off not realizing it would be relevant or, for some positions, whether they’d done anything to keep their skills up-to-date during that time if the gap is a long one) or if there’s a pattern of multiple gaps (and then I want to understand what keeps driving them to leave jobs with nothing else lined up — not because that’s an inherently bad thing, but because it can be a bad thing depending on the reasons — like if they’re constantly getting fired, always walking off in a fit of rage, etc.).

3. Invitations to a retirement party that’s much bigger than anyone else’s

Our CEO’s admin assistant asked me to design retirement party invitations for one beloved coworker, who is liked by many any our organization and has been a big part of being involved in many company activities, as well as philanthropic work in her 30 years at the company.

Our company normally only hosts cake/punch in a large conference room, no matter how many years a person has worked here. However, this particular employee is having a big dinner party planned by the company at an off-site event venue with drink tickets, etc.

The admin asked me to somehow word the invitation so that it doesn’t insult others who don’t get this kind of retirement send off. How would you word an invitation in this circumstance?

That’s an impossible task, because of course others are going to notice the difference and be hurt or demoralized. It’s likely to be a major messaging issue, and asking you to come up with the messaging yourself without any direction is ridiculous.

You could try going back to the assistant and saying, “I’m struggling with how to word this in a way that doesn’t raise questions about why Jane’s event is so much more elaborate than other retirement parties have been. Can you explain to me what the messaging is supposed to be so I have something to work with?” My guess is the assistant may not know either and it probably wasn’t her call, but since she’s the one asking you to do it, you’ve got to point out that you can’t do it without more information.

4. My coworker refuses to reply-all when she needs to

I have a coworker who works at an off-site location who I need to email frequently with questions. I often include her team lead and our manager in the emails so they are in the loop and can also see her replies with information I’m trying to find out.

The problem is, she is terrible at the reply-all function and always ends up only replying to me. At times this is fine, but many times there are instances where she is having problems or issues I can’t help her with, and instead of replying-all so her team lead also reads it, the message only ends up with me.

I know the usual problem is more commonly with too many people hitting reply-all when it’s not necessary, but this is a reoccurring instance where I really need her to reply-all. I’ve even pointed it out to her for the more serious issues, letting her know that she should be looping in her managers to draw attention to specific problems. Is there another way to deal with this? I find it constantly frustrating and not sure if there’s anything I can do.

Ask her one time very clearly and explain why (“can you please reply-all when I’ve cc’d Jane and/or Cecil since they need to see the answer too?”). If she continues not to, you can try one more reminder … but after that, you probably need to accept that for whatever reason she’s not doing it and you can’t make her. In that case, you can just forward her replies to Jane and Cecil with “FYI” or “You were left off the cc, but looks like Ophelia needs help with this” or so forth.

Some people will just never manage their email the way you want them to. It’s reasonable to ask once or twice, but after that you’ve just got to work around it. (There are exceptions to this, of course, like if you happen to be their boss or if they’re causing havoc with customers by not doing it.)

5. Do I have to reveal my arrest on job applications if my record was expunged?

I was arrested years ago. Later the case was dismissed and all records of it were expunged.

When applying for jobs, sometimes they ask if you’ve ever been arrested. I answer yes because I have. However, I’ve been told that since my record was expunged and if you look it up there’s no evidence of it, I should say no. But I feel like that’s lying. I don’t mind telling anyone the story because they would be able to see that I didn’t do anything wrong. But I worry about people just seeing “arrested” and having a negative opinion about me. What are your thoughts?

You can answer “no” to that question. That’s what expungement is — legally speaking, it never happened and you’re permitted to say no. You might feel better about it if you reword the question in your head to, “Do you have any legal record of arrests?”

Caveat 1: Certain government jobs or jobs working with vulnerable populations (like children) may still require you to disclose expunged records for relevant charges, so make sure to closely read what you’re answering. (You could also check with the lawyer who handled your expungement to be sure.)

Caveat 2: Order a copy of your own criminal history to make sure your record was actually expunged correctly. I recently had an old arrest from a political protest sealed (it was a bad arrest; I was there to bail out other activists but they arrested all of us, and having it on my record annoyed me on principle) and when I double checked my report months later to be sure, it was still there, despite the judge’s order to seal it. It’s fixed now, but if I hadn’t checked I wouldn’t have known they’d messed it up. My lawyer told me the same thing happened to another one of his clients, who didn’t find out until a prospective employer ran his background check — and his offer was pulled over it. So definitely check.

05 Feb 22:45

The forgotten gas stove wars

by Rebecca Leber
Black-and-white photo of two women in a 1950s kitchen with a gas stove.
Concerns about whether stoves are safe are nearly as old as gas stoves themselves. | Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

We’ve been fighting over gas stoves for decades.

Forty years ago, the federal government seemed to be on the brink of regulating the gas stove. Everything was on the table, from an outright ban to a modification of the Clean Air Act to address indoor air pollution. Congress held indoor air quality hearings in 1983, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were both investigating the effects of gas appliances.

Backed into a corner, the industry that profits from selling consumers natural gas for their heating and cooking sprang into action. It filed comments to agencies disputing the science. It funded its own studies and hired consultants to assess the threats it would face from further regulation.

To prove that voluntary action was effective and regulation unnecessary, utilities produced their own literature for consumers, like Northern States Power Company’s warning that “Homes Need Fresh Air During the Heating Season.” And it nervously eyed media reports, like Consumer Reports’ conclusion in 1984 that “the evidence so far suggests that emissions from a gas range do pose a risk” and “may make you choose an electric one.”

The research on gas stoves’ health effects was “provocative, not conclusive,” concluded a 1984 Energy Bar Association report drawn up by gas industry consultants.

Ultimately, the US did not pass new regulations. Instead, natural gas became even more embedded in American homes and lives, in 2020 supplying fuel to 70 million homes. All the while, scientists continued to warn that gas can produce a range of emissions and pollutants: nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and particulate matter, among others. The methane from gas is a growing contributor to climate change.

Now, the US runs the risk of repeating history, and natural gas utilities find themselves in a similar position to the one they were in four decades ago. We have dozens of studies and better quantification of exposures and risks than ever, but the industry, dependent on selling fuel to tens of millions of homes, is reprising an age-old playbook used by any industry that finds itself on the defense over public health.

The gas industry takes a page from tobacco to dispute gas stove science

Even in the early 1900s, the natural gas industry knew it had a problem with the gas stove. At the time, people who didn’t have gas stoves largely used coal or wood, but new competition was on the horizon from electric stoves. Both coal and wood were known to cause health issues, but while gas companies would later position themselves as a clean alternative to these fuels, the industry was already aware it was far from clean.

At the second annual meeting of the Natural Gas Association of America in 1907, gas representatives debated how to approach the issue of ventilation around the stove. “I believe the association will go on record on that point: no gas of any kind should go into a heating stove without a flue connection,” which vents into the air outdoors, according to published minutes from the meeting.

One attendee noted, “This method of burning gas should be condemned merely from the fact that we get the gas direct and there is danger to life in getting any gas direct in your room, to say nothing of all of the by-products.” The most obvious danger of the time was carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas grew regardless of these problems. Over the next few decades, electric and gas stoves went to war with marketing campaigns — a pre-presidential Ronald Reagan appeared in a marketing campaign for General Electric’s all-electric household in 1958, while in 1964 the Pennsylvania People’s Natural Gas Company recruited film star Marlene Dietrich. She professed in her ad, “Every recipe I give is closely related to cooking with gas. If forced, I can cook on an electric stove but it is not a happy union.”

By the 1970s and ’80s, the science had become far more nuanced. One of the seminal reports from the EPA’s appointed Committee on Indoor Pollutants published in 1981 showed, “an association between gas cooking and the impairment of lung function in children.” While many questions were unanswered, the NAS was convinced by the evidence it did have that gas appliances posed a “sufficient threat to the general public health to justify remedial action.”

The gas industry has latched onto these small uncertainties to undermine the larger body of research. The American Gas Association still heralds the federal agencies’ lack of action since the 1980s and 1990s as an argument in the stoves’ favor.

In 1986, though, the EPA sent a report back to the CPSC. The executive summary said gas from cooking or heating “is not a risk factor of great magnitude in comparison with a factor such as cigarette smoke,” but still noted the amount of research needed to understand more: “Unfortunately the majority of epidemiological studies include no information on N02, and among those that do have actual measurements, the number of homes and characterization of concentrations are very limited,” the report continued. “This suggests that better quantification of exposure is a major need in future studies.”

The EPA also kicked the issue of nitrogen dioxides to the CPSC to determine the level of emissions coming from these appliances, asking for “further efforts ... to assess the health risks associated with indoor use of kerosene space heaters and other sources of nitrogen dioxide emissions.”

None of this appeared to happen.

The EPA did issue emissions standards for wood stoves and fireplaces in 1985, but never took up gas. The prospect of any more EPA action faded from the public debate. Agencies apparently backed away from the issue. Tobacco was becoming a bigger priority, and the EPA and Housing and Urban Development started voluntary initiatives for healthier homes.

There were marginal improvements in stove and oven technology in the intervening years. The biggest change was phasing out pilot lights, a flame that would always burn gas but also is dangerous when it goes out. These helped some severe safety issues with gas appliances, like lowering the chance of an explosion, but didn’t address air quality issues when the stove was on or off. Building codes throughout the country also began to mandate lifesaving carbon monoxide detectors.

One key gas industry technology that could have improved the safety of the stove was developed around the same period, in the 1980s. It was an infrared burner device that uses less gas and lowers nitrogen dioxide emissions, one of the most concerning pollutants that comes from gas and causes asthma. According to NPR’s reporting, the idea was shelved in part because there was no demand for it; it would even do away with the iconic blue flame that made the stove so popular.

The déjà vu of the gas stove debate

As these debates have resurfaced, the gas trade groups have echoed similar lines to the ones they used in the 1980s. This time, in addition to drawing attention to the uncertainties that remain, the industry has directly disputed the scientific consensus.

Some of the defenders of the gas stove are the same consultants who have defended tobacco and chemicals industries in litigation over health problems.

A hearing in November in the Portland-area Multnomah County in Oregon on gas stoves as pollution hazards offered a glimpse of that strategy. Doctors and public advocates testified against gas appliances because of the NO2 they emit. The gas appliance had its defenders as well, including Julie Goodman, an epidemiologist employed by the consulting firm Gradient who argued that “longer-term average NO2 concentrations in homes with gas cooking are not of a potential health concern. Importantly, it is well-established that ventilation mitigates cooking emissions, regardless of the source of the energy used.”

Goodman’s firm had been hired by the American Gas Association to dispute the research on gas stoves, according to a letter to the American Medical Association temporarily published on the association’s website. The letter noted, as of September, that AGA had hired Gradient for consulting. In a recent interview in the New York Times, Goodman added, “when considering the entire body of literature, the available epidemiology evidence is not adequate to support causation with respect to gas stoves and adverse health effects.”

A similar pattern has emerged in the gas industry’s pushback on gas stoves. AGA’s replies have emphasized that there is no conclusive evidence that gas cooking poses harm, and no clear causation between asthma and pollution from the stove. After all, it’s not the only source of nitrogen dioxide or other pollutants that we’re exposed to.

But for all the talk about uncertainty around risks from gas appliances and the gas stoves in 70 million American homes, there are plenty epidemiologists, pediatricians, and other scientists feel confident about. Gas produces pollutants, and without any ventilation it can be dangerous to one’s health. Even when gas is ventilated, the emissions don’t go away; it just contributes to outdoor smog instead of poor indoor air quality.

Republicans have claimed the recent gas stove news is a front or a distraction spun by a Biden administration intent on taking people’s freedoms away (to repeat, neither Biden nor the CPSC is banning the stove). Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted on Friday, “Maybe if the Biden Administration wasn’t so worried about banning your gas stoves, they would have seen this Chinese spy balloon coming.” In a recent letter to the CPSC, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) called the gas stove a “newfound ‘hidden hazard’ that rests on limited research.” And right-wing forums are full of conspiracies, including the theory, “The Gas Stove Ban was to keep Biden’s Mishandling Classified Docs out of the news.”

None of it is true. The pollution concerns are practically as old as the gas stoves themselves. There’s less debate over the gas stove than the natural gas industry and its allies have implied.