MonthNovember 2011

When Did Magic Become Hereditary?

The Twelfth Enchantment author David Liss on the portrayal of magic in popular story telling:

In the past, people generally believed they could acquire magic in two ways: through learning the craft, either from another practitioner or from books; or through obtaining magic from a powerful being-think Faust or the classic, demonized witch, both of whom get their mojo from Satan. Anyone could learn magic as long as he or she had access to the knowledge or could make a connection with the right supernatural entity. The important point is that in theory, the gates of magic were open to everyone, and what I find most interesting is how that has changed in popular culture. […]

Magic has gone from being an open system to a closed one. Their massive popularity make the Harry Potter novels and films the most glaring example, but it’s everywhere, and has been for decades now: TV shows like Charmed and Wizards of Waverly Place, books like those of Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris. More often than not, magical practitioners are born, not made. Magic is an exclusive club. You can watch and be envious, but you can’t join.

i09: When did magic become elitist?

Also, Alyssa Rosenberg writes: “I wonder if a sense of biological magic also correlates to a sense of unease about how much power we have to impact our lives and to change the world. Believing that you can put the evil eye on someone, or that you can summon the devil, means believing in your own capacity to learn, hold, and wield power. Biological conceptions of magic are a way of explaining your own powerlessness. We can’t change our lives — but we’re also not responsible for changing the world — because we’re not Harry Potter, or the Slayer, or the Halliwell sisters.”

(both links via David Forbes)

Not unrelated are Michael Moorcock’s essay on the fascist, conservative and/or reactionary strains running through sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and this essay by Stokes on the aesthetics of fascism and the TV series Game of Thrones.

DARPA Offers $50,000 Prize for Techniques for Reconstructing Shredded Documents

shredded paper by Ryan Hyde

Today’s troops often confiscate the remnants of destroyed documents in war zones, but reconstructing them is a daunting task. DARPA’s Shredder Challenge calls upon computer scientists, puzzle enthusiasts and anyone else who likes solving complex problems to compete for up to $50,000 by piecing together a series of shredded documents.

The goal is to identify and assess potential capabilities that could be used by our warfighters operating in war zones, but might also create vulnerabilities to sensitive information that is protected through our own shredding practices throughout the U.S. national security community.

Do you have the skills to reconstruct shredded documents and solve the puzzle?

Can you form a team to help solve the complex physical and analytical problems associated with document reconstruction?

If so, register today for a chance to win $50,000!

DARPA’s Shredder Challenge

(Photo by Ryan Hyde)

Mutant Music Blog: Intonarumoron

Intonarumoron is a music blog founded by Trevor Blake with contributions from Walter Alter, Waldo Ham, SKot Kirkwood, Jack Winslow and myself.

Here are a couple videos I’ve embedded there recently:

Be sure to wait through/skip past the intro on this one:

New Survey “Proves” There’s a Generation Gap Between Workers

The Globe and Mail covers a new survey of Canadian workers of different ages:

The millennial generation, workers in their 20s, are most likely to want a job that offers quick advancement, congenial co-workers and fun.

Generation X workers, in their 30s and early 40s, put the most value on balance between hours at work and their personal lives.

Baby boomers, between 45 and 60, are most likely to say they want to continue to grow and use their skills on the job and get clear information from management on what’s expected from them.

Mature workers, over 60, are actually more concerned with advancement than boomers or generation X.

Globe and Mail: Study of workplace priorities highlights generation gap

Does this show a generation gap? I suppose it depends on what you mean by “generation gap.” It could just show that people at different stages of their careers value different things. People just starting their careers want to find a job they like that has room for advancement. People further along in their careers, who are more likely to have families, are concerned with work/life balance. Workers older still start to be interested in developing skills and advancement again, as they look towards paying their kids’ way through college and saving for retirement. Maybe that’s a “generation gap.” Maybe it’s just a normal, natural cycle.

The article also mentions that older workers are more likely to value challenging work than millennials, while millennials value a “fun” workplace. That could indicate a shift in maturity as workers get older, but it’s probably worth noting that part of what makes work “fun” is challenge. It could be that older workers just have a better idea of what makes work rewarding. Though it is possible that there’s a generational difference between the prioritization of work and fun (there’s been some interesting research about which one is more motivating).

See also:

Debunking The Millennials’ Work Ethic “Problem”

Genreational differences

Grant Morrison Working on Rogue Trooper Film?

Rogue Trooper

Empire Online reports Grant Morrison is attached a film based on the 2000AD character Rogue Trooper:

With all eyes on the incoming Judge Dredd movie, it makes sense that savvy producers would be looking to legendary British comic 2000AD for further inspiration. Hence the news this morning that a Rogue Trooper film is in development at Sam Worthington’s production company, and that cult comics writer Grant Morrison (Arkham Asylum, Final Crisis, Superman) is at work on the screenplay. […]

Morrison never wrote for the strip, but did provide copious Future Shocks, Zenith, and a handful of Dredds, so has plenty of 2000AD heritage. The news of a film and of Worthington and Morrison’s involvement is buried in a Daily Record story that mostly concentrates on Dinosaurs vs Aliens, the property that Morrison is currently working on with Barry Sonnenfeld. It’s an aside so sketchy that it doesn’t even come with a Morrison quote to back it up, so whether Worthington is developing the film with a view to personally slapping on the blue paint remains to be seen. We’ll bring you further details as they emerge.

Empire Online: Grant Morrison Writes Rogue Trooper Film

Rogue Trooper has already had a few video game adaptations.

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