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Början

The Gift of Grogu

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, March 31, 2021 07:25:51

 THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS FOR THE SECOND SEASON OF THE MANDALORIAN AHEAD

As a man with two daughters (whom I love dearly), I didn’t have great expectations that there would be someone like me. This just goes to show that although I am a biological scientist, my grasp of genetics is somewhat flaky—to say the least! Not everything is channeled through sex-differences.

In fact, I have learned a lot about myself as I have observed my children grow up. I even wonder whether Gene Wolfe’s classic novella and title story that begins the book The Fifth Head of Cerberus was inspired by his own observation of his children.

My youngest daughter returned from her Scottish Art school and her studies in animation rather abruptly around a year ago, just as lockdown was about to start and as her university switched to remote learning. She finished her studies by distance and despite the traumatic extraction, passed with flying colours.

Not surprisingly, given the subject of her degree studies, she had subscribed to Disney plus, and in common with her Dad has a soft-spot for SF and fantasy, particularly in in the visual arts. Consequently, she’s been a willing companion for the three science fiction World Conventions that I have attended. So, she invited her parents to watch The Mandalorian with her. It’s one of the better Star Wars spin-offs, and whilst the titular character is interesting and well-drawn, it’s The Child, a member of Yoda’s species, who steals the show. I knew she was was labouring away on some work of art for my Christmas present, but I was firmly excluded from watching the process. She considers herself a digital artist but also works with physical media. Nevertheless, the present I received was painted digitally. My jaw dropped when finally I saw it. Here it is in all its glory below.

The Child -Grogu

We had some debate about the eggs he’s eating, belonging to the poor frog lady. I argue that it’s just like eating chicken eggs as they were unfertilized, given the story was their journey to find her husband for the fertilization job. None-the-less, they were the last of their species… If you want to see more of her art, follow her on Instagram:@pandaswings –and here you can also see how she built up the picture.

After this burst of blog activity, another announcement will follow shortly—watch this space…



Adminstrative note on comments

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, March 24, 2021 07:45:30

Some time ago my website host moved this blog to WordPress. This was generally a good move, though their first shot at it corrupted all the text formatting. They did sort it out fairly quickly, thankfully. Under the old regime, the comments didn’t function properly. That is, there was no mechanism to approve the comments and rather than be spammed out I switched this off.

I switched on comments on again with the new WordPress (which has the ability to screen comments) and then left this blog alone for quite some time. Quite some time, it seems, is plenty of time to get spammed. So when I finally updated the blog, I peeked into the pending comments. Of the approximately 450 comments all but 3 were straight spam. The remaining 3 were at least trying to relate to the subject of the website, if not the post they associated their comments with. Needless to say, I didn’t approve these either. I then installed a spam eliminating program offered by the webhost.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that comments are now activated again and I promise to regularly check.

If you want to contact me directly try cj (the funny at squiggle) cjohnarthur.com.

A more interesting post will appear here shortly!



1756 to patient zero, and back again

Uncategorised Posted on Sun, March 21, 2021 17:43:47

A piece I wrote for this blog (but never posted) about a year ago began like this:

Several weeks ago, at 7 am, as I drove to the training I do most weeks, it was light for the first time, a sign that Spring is in the air, a feeling reinforced by the appearance of snowdrops and healthy sprouts of daffodils. Well, snowdrops—poor sods—are going to have to think about a new name.

It was the middle of February and winter in Stockholm seemed to have passed without snow and as I write this at the end of March 2020, apart from a short-lived dusting, snow has remained absent. We’ve lived here over 20 years and always had snow every winter. One of the main Swedish newspapers (Dagens Nyheter) announced it was the warmest January since 1756. Is the climate changing? No, it has changed—drastically.

Is this a political comment? No, not at all, it’s a scientific one. William Gibson, the guy credited for coining the word, Cyberspace, returned to writing SF in one of his more recent novels, The Peripheral. In this book he described a calamitous event which he called the Jackpot. In fact, we learn that this isn’t one calamity but a convergence of several. I now learn that the Jackpot idea’s original source was probably from Robert Heinlein. This neatly leads me to the present day where something rather worse than the delay of winter is emerging in Wuhan, China: a new kind of corona virus.

And then 2020 disappeared into a pandemic that would put the best SF dystopia’s to shame. Like many things that take the human race by surprise and hit us over the head when we’re least expecting it, with hindsight, it could have been predicted. (Plastic, I’m looking at you!) The possibility of this event had been foreshadowed by previous coronavirus outbreaks and the crossover from the world of wildlife to the human population encroaching on it.

The personal fall-out has been devastating, not just among the elderly and other vulnerable groups, but the knock-on effect of losing intensive care beds (not to mention the carnage wrought on medical staff) has been predicted to kill as many people as the virus itself. Married to somebody working in the health services, I hear of the effects first hand. However, the full economic impact and the dissolution of people’s livelihoods have still to be fully felt. And it is a coronavirus, so thinking of the flu (which requires annual immunization), it looks like the so-called ‘new normal’ will be with us for some years to come.

Here in Sweden, we had lock-down lite, which worked here in the first wave due to the conformist culture where people generally carefully follow the recommendations (and probably the lower population density). However, I think by the time we got to the second wave, conformist fatigue reared its head.

On reflection, the feeling I got over this last year was not one of living in a SF Dystopia, but more like an Alternative Reality: familiar things still exist but everything is distorted in unimagined ways by the slight of some author’s hand. The better news in 2021 was we had more snow here than for many years. Whilst this is probably one of those dips that you see on the graphs of gradual temperature rises, at least the poor snowdrops got a temporary reprieve of their name.