Thursday, January 26, 2012

Buy Me on eBay ... Apparently

I actually rather enjoy finding eBay sellers who use my Starlog Project (aka the Starlog Internet Archive Project) as their descriptive text for issues of Starlog they're listing for sale. I'm pleased that the Starlog Project basically has become the go-to source for information on back issues of the late Starlog magazine.

The only annoying thing is that some of the sellers don't give credit to me or link to the Project. So I was pleased to stumble across this seller, who links prominently to my blog series. Thank you. (Then again, s/he accidentally listed the item for sale as being "Starlog Internet Archive Project: Starlog #9, October 1977: Logan's Run Spotli" which is being a little too literal and not literal enough. Thanks for the link; but people, of course, won't be buying the Starlog Internet Archive; they'll just be buying that issue of the magazine s/he has for sale.  But whatever.)

And buy it you should (said Yoda). Hey, $1.99 and free shipping? It's a deal.

POW! Right to the Moon

I wasn't sure it would happen, but I actually agree with the Grinch on something. Presidential candidate and GOP bad boy Newt Gingrich is promising to establish a permanent settlement on the moon, if he becomes president.

I don't agree with him about the president part; that would be a disaster of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire proportions. But we should be on the moon, and we should have a space transportation system that works. And, yeah, I might even agree with him on the statehood thing.

My preference is for privatized space (see my article on Virgin Galactic in my free digital Galaxis magazine from last summer), but we should be out there. And yes, we should be talking about permanent colonization of the moon and other appropriate places in the solar system – and not just when we're shilling for votes of NASA workers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Merkel: Decision Time for Europe

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (my favorite conservative) continues to be, well, conservative, in the classic sense. She's reluctant to move from a solid course; she's not influenced by of-the-moment emotion. And she's being rock-solid clear: Europe's not getting out of this mess unless it seriously deals with its problems, focuses on growth, and curbs its spending appetite. She's right.

I saw The Iron Lady last week, and I thought it was pretty well done, albeit a very incomplete picture of the Thatcher agenda and the Thatcher years. But one thing that always bothered me about Margaret Thatcher was her willingness to appear cold and unfeeling toward the losers in British society.

Merkel is a conservative, but she's also the daughter of a Protestant Christian pastor. She is, like Thatcher, a scientist, though with better grades. And when she brought the free-market Free Democrats into her government after her reelection, she also curbed their more radical tendencies. She wasn't going to be the chancellor to cold-heartedly release the poor into a world of no help.

The press has treated her throughout this Euro mess as an obstacle. I won't pretend that she's done everything correctly, but she has been correct: The quick solutions (bail out Greece and Italy and Portugal and Ireland and Spain at any cost) would be expensive failures if those countries don't deal with their endemic corruption and uncompetitiveness.

She's right.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Does This LOOK Like a Rubblish Bin?

I hadn't been intending to make this an ongoing feature of this blog, but nonetheless: Spotted in the restroom of the truly great Shanghai Dumpling King in San Francisco. The food was super delicious, the service great, my lunch companions wonderful. Bathroom signage, not so much.

Apparently, you must find some other place for your rubblish.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ain't Coordinatin'

The Super PAC formerly informally known as Stephen Colbert's Super PAC but that is now not run by him nor coordinating with him though it is being run by his pal Jon Stewart who says he's not coordinating because that would be wrong (are you following all of this), has issued a TV advertisement against Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fangoria Goes All Corman-ish on Us

Fangoria magazine, fresh off winning "Magazine of the Year" from This Is Horror, sports a (mostly) black-and-white cover to herald a major Roger Corman interview.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The New San Francisco Examiner: The Paper with No Voice

At the end of November 2011, The San Francisco Examiner was sold by its right-wing owner to another publisher, Black Press Group, which publishes many other papers, including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The question many of us in San Francisco (at least those of us who pay attention to real media) was whether the new owners would continue the populist hard-right opinion pages of the previous owner or if they would moderate it somewhat.

Today on my way to work, I picked up a copy, reasoning that the publishers have had enough time to make at least their initial changes in editorial policy. The Examiner is a free daily, filled with color, and in many ways it is nicely designed. It's thin – only 20 pages today – but then again it's a free paper with no newsstand or subscription revenue and this is a time of economic strain. But it still should have an editorial section, a page at least, and I was startled to see that it had none. Nor do I see anyone on the page two senior staff listing with a title of editorials editor or opinion pages editor or any such title.

There simply is no opinion section, not even a half-page. No letters to the editor, no editorial columnists, no op-ed columnists, no unsigned editorials. In short, it's a paper without a voice.

Opinion pages can appear in many forms, and they've been done in many ways. (Those of us from the Midwest remember hearing about the Chicago Tribune running editorial cartoons on the front page years earlier.) The paper can be conservative, liberal, moderate, radical, populist, erudite, a mishmash of all of those. But it should be something.

A well-done opinion section can be fun for an editor to put together and an absorbing (and yes, sometimes entertaining) experience for the reader. That The Examiner's new owners are depriving their staff and readers of this section is sad enough.

But the real shame of it is that San Francisco could use a well-done editorial voice, one that isn't lamely leftist and certainly one that isn't populist right-wing. (I still remember picking up a copy of The Examiner a few years ago and being confronted by at least two full pages of opinion pieces attacking ACORN – a tilt-at-windmills cause that only the far right ever cared about.) The city rather dearly needs an intelligent voice that can dissent from the prevailing political culture here and introduce new ideas and give criticism that has a chance of being heard. The venting-type right-wing silliness of The Examiner's previous incarnation had the dual problem of being too right-wing for even the conservatives in San Francisco while also being easily ignored because it echoed the worst of the fire-breathing populist conservatism that has taken over the Republican Party nationally.

Give San Francisco a daily voice that can be moderate or conservative, but particularly one that is smart enough to get itself heard with well-reasoned arguments, that listens to its opponents, and that can engage the attention and loyalty of that huge swath of San Franciscans who repeatedly reject the far-left at the mayoral ballot box every four years.

That would be a rewarding business move, because I think there are a lot of readers and advertisers who are looking for such a publication (and it's one of the reasons monthlies such as Northside San Francisco are growing aggressively). (Point to note: I am a columnist for Northside).

It would also be a rewarding move from the perspective of a newspaper really serving its community. It's one thing to tell people what they want to hear; it's another to tell them what they might not want to hear but that can help them be better citizens.

It's what newspapers at their best do. It's what The San Francisco Examiner isn't doing right now.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just Downloaded Perry Rhodan Neo Book 1

I just bought the digital edition (for my Nook desktop software) of the first book in the reboot of the Perry Rhodan franchise. It's the German-language edition; I don't know if it will ever be translated into English.

But if you want an English-language explanation about what's happening to this oldest of science fiction franchises, and to find out why the editors are simultaneously keeping the original series going while restarting the franchise in a different timeframe, see page 36 of my free digital science fiction/science magazine, Galaxis, below:

So, Uh, What Should You Do With It?

Seen in the bathroom of an otherwise excellent Korean restaurant in San Francisco this evening:

2012 Predictions: My Latest Northside San Francisco Column

Here is my column in the January 2012 edition of Northside San Francisco magazine, available online and in print across San Francisco.
Common KnowledgeSurprise Me in 2012
By John Zipperer 
A few decades ago The Commonwealth Club began each year by hosting a local psychic, who would make predictions about world events in the year ahead. For example, psychic Barbara Mousalam’s forecast for 1984 included the prediction that Soviet leader Yuri Andropov “will pull some dramatic antics during the first part of 1984, but he will settle down.” True enough; he died in early 1984 and settled down permanently.  
For 1985 Mousalam predicted further change ...
Read the entire column