Bring Your Goggles and Top Hat

Next weekend, the Minnesota History Museum is hosting an event for geeky teens–or for geeky families with teens.

What If? Alternate History Teen & Family Day

Saturday, April 21, 12-4 p.m.
Included with museum admission.
$6 admission for anyone who brings their public library card!

Travel back in time and imagine a new future. Explore Minnesota through the eyes of science fiction and steampunk authors, artisans, and alternate historians. And by all means, don’t forget your goggles and top hat.

Activities will include: Interactive Steampunk Mystery with Red Ribbon Society; Music by Bad September; Ask a Writer with Minnesota science fiction authors Kelly Barnhill, Lyda Morehouse and Kelly McCullough; Fashion Art Activity with Leonardo’s Basement; fashion models styled by Blasphemenia’s Closet; and Steampunk artisans selling fashion accessories to create a more fantastic you.

It sounds like a great time, whether you’re into history, alternate history, or just dressing up. If I know those authors (and I know two of them personally and one online), that will be a very entertaining Ask a Writer session. Grab some teenagers and go have some fun!

Bring Your Goggles and Top Hat

How Do You Spend Easter Weekend?

Running for your life, of course. No, not from the family. Not the priest either. Better than that.

About 700 runners registered for the 5K Zombie Survival Run on Saturday morning in Cherokee Park, where about 100 actors dressed in ghoulish face paint and bloody costumes snarled and grabbed at them — ostensibly out of the hunger for flesh.

“The zombies were fast,” said Easterling, who lives in New Albany and ran with her 11-year-old son Derek. “I didn’t think they’d be that fast. They’re not that fast in the movies.”


Runners wore belts with three red flags, like in flag football. The zombies were mostly stationed on the race course, though some ran. Each flag grabbed by a zombie represented a wound; the runner’s goal was to was complete the course through the tranquil wooded park with at least one flag — in other words, alive.

Sadly, this does not appear to have been specifically planned to fall on zombie weekend. Or maybe it was. The organizers, who set up the run to benefit a local progressive theater, are in Kentucky.

Oh, what the heck. I’ll pretend that was the case even if it wasn’t. After all, it’s that sort of day.

How Do You Spend Easter Weekend?

In Which I Rail About Doctor Who Fandom and the Pink Ghetto

There will be spoilers.

I love feminist science fiction and fantasy fandom. I am part of feminist science fiction and fantasy fandom. And then I come across something like this in a post titled “I Hate You, Steven Moffat“:

Continue reading “In Which I Rail About Doctor Who Fandom and the Pink Ghetto”

In Which I Rail About Doctor Who Fandom and the Pink Ghetto

We Need Max Headroom

A couple of days ago, President Obama did a YouTube “press conference.” User questions were submitted to Google and answered by the president in a Google+ hangout. The press conference continues Obama’s trend of preferentially speaking directly to the public instead of the press (which is a vast improvement over his predecessor’s practice of speaking to neither).

This didn’t go over well with some White House reporters. In particular, Josh Gerstein of Politico took the opportunity to sneer:

Max Headroom
The White House’s drive to embrace new media and technology will achieve nirvana next week as President Barack Obama participates in what his aides are proudly billing as the “first completely-virtual interview from the White House.”

Yes, that’s right. We journalists are now entirely superfluous and irrelevant. The White House can solicit questions directly from the public and no third-party involvement is required. Max Headroom would be proud.

I’m not sure Gerstein ever watched Max Headroom, despite being exactly the right age for it. Maybe he was too busy learning to be a serious reporter to catch anything but the Coke ads. They ran on the news, right? Heck, he probably even missed the music video.

Okay, the music video isn’t required cultural knowledge, but Max Headroom itself should be required viewing for anyone in media–particularly for reporters. Don’t be fooled by the goofiness. Don’t be fooled by the ancient computer graphics. Max Headroom is every bit as socially and politically relevant today as it was when it came out to high critical praise.

Continue reading “We Need Max Headroom”

We Need Max Headroom

Relative Importance of IT Domains

The following is a guest post from my friend Jim Hall. He’s best known as the founder of the FreeDOS project, but he’s also the Director of IT at the University of Minnesota Morris. A while back, he ran a survey for people at all levels of IT to collect some data on how required skill sets change as people move through an IT leadership chain.

I helped him promote the survey and let him know I was curious about the results. My husband works in IT as well, and conversations among the lot of us frequently touch on how organizations and projects are managed–for better or for worse. He offered me this guest post to get the information to a broader audience than would read it on his own blog, which has a largely academic readership. I know I have a lot of readers in IT. Enjoy.

Some time ago, I posted an online poll to survey the relative importance of four qualities at various levels in an IT organization. With the help of other bloggers, and through retweets, we got the word out to as many IT folks as possible. We received responses from all across the globe (though most were from the U.S.) representing private industry, higher education, and government. The poll was up for about two months, but most of the responses came within the first few weeks. I’d like to share the results with you.

Continue reading “Relative Importance of IT Domains”

Relative Importance of IT Domains

Have a More Colorful Friday

The Black Friday shopping ritual has always been ridiculous. People standing in the cold for hours. Fights over limited stock. People being trampled. It’s not a recipe for bringing out the best in humanity.

This year, it’s worse.

With a stagnating economy, stores started running Christmas ads before Thanksgiving, and are even pulling Black Friday openings earlier and earlier – into Thanksgiving itself – hoping to whip consumers into a spending frenzy. The LA Times reports stores like Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Kmart will open at 10 p.m. this Thursday, while Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Kohl’s are opening at midnight on Friday.

The problem is, as stores push doors open, employees are pushing back. While some shoppers are excited to line up on Thanksgiving to snag deals, those having to work resent missing out on the holiday. At, a petition protesting Target in particular has already gathered 198,246 out of 200,000 votes needed. Created by Target employee Anthony Hardwick, it calls out Target President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel with these words:

“A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day.  By opening the doors at midnight, Target is requiring team members to be in the store by 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation – all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving!”

You don’t have to contribute to this disaster, and you don’t have to choose between that and contributing to the economy. If our recent crash course in practical economics has taught us anything, it should be that money that goes to big corporations doesn’t act the same way the same money would if pushed to individuals. So this year, why not do some or all of your Christmas shopping from individual artists and small family companies.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Howling Pig Ginger Lilly
Continue reading “Have a More Colorful Friday”

Have a More Colorful Friday

Remembering Anne McCaffrey

From Anne McCaffrey’s son Todd:

At about 5 p.m. Monday November 21st, 2011, Anne McCaffrey passed away.

Mum was getting ready to go back to the hospital because she was feeling “puny” and collapsed while she was moving into her wheelchair. Her daughter, Georgeanne Kennedy, and son-in-law, Geoffrey Kennedy were with her. She was in no pain and it was over in an instant.

She first had a heart attack in late 2000 and a stroke in 2001, so we were well-prepared and knew that we were on “golden time” with Mum these past ten years and more.

She leaves behind an incredible legacy of marvelous books and a huge legion of fans. She won practically every major award in available to authors of science fiction and fantasy, including both Hugo and Nebula Awards, the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards award for Lifetime Literary achievement in Young Adult fiction, was an inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was a SFWA Nebula Grandmaster.

She was also a great cook, magnificent mother, doting grandmother, ardent quilter, knitter, bridge player, horsewoman, fencer, actress, singer, and all-around nice person.

We are blessed to have known her, just as we are blessed with the knowledge that she has touched so many lives and made such huge changes in them.

Mum always said, “Don’t just pay back a favor — pass it on!” In light of that spirit, we ask that, instead of condolences or flowers, that commemorators make a donation to their favorite charity.

We know that we haven’t lost Mum — that she has truly passed on her legacy of love and honor to all those who were touched by her — and that we have only to open one of her books to find her again.

Rest well, Mum, you’ve earned it!

I never wanted to ride a dragon, as so many McCaffrey fans did. Continue reading “Remembering Anne McCaffrey”

Remembering Anne McCaffrey