Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Friday, June 27, 2008

That's a Lot of TED Talks

NEW YORK, June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- TED's groundbreaking series of talks has achieved its 50 millionth video view since debuting online in June 2006. To keep up with growing demand, TED today announces a significant expansion of its publishing schedule, with a talk now being released every weekday. The talks, which have defined a new genre in online video, are offered free to the world, and are available for download or online viewing at www.ted.com.
The emphasis above is mine. I listen to TED talks fairly often when I'm doing the dishes or other non-thinking work. They're often fascinating, frequently controversial, and worth paying attention to.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Night With a Bite at Borders and Waldenbooks

Sounds like a fun way to launch a book:
More than 900 Borders and Waldenbooks stores across the country will celebrate the highly anticipated release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer's bestselling vampire-inspired "Twilight" series, with exciting in-store book release parties beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1 and culminating at midnight when the book officially goes on sale. The Borders and Waldenbooks parties, themed "From Twilight til Dawn: A Night with a Bite," will include costume contests, trivia contests and lively debates on themes from the book series.
More details are in the press release.

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Today in Future History: June 26, 2097

Los Angeles, CA (FlashNews, June 26, 2097) -- After seven years of negotiation and lawsuits, the fundamental rights of the world's smallest and largest sentient non-humans were recognized today by California's highest court. In two separate rulings written by Judge Harold Tung of the California Supreme Court, Anthill CA-OR2748C and the city of Los Angeles are entitled to equal protection under the law and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as "entities of special status."

A lawsuit filed by attorney Eric Lowe on behalf of "Angela", as the City of Los Angeles prefers to be called, claimed that the state was denying the city its rights to life and liberty by enforcing legal mandates that "artificially constrained city development in a non-selectively advantageous way," according to court documents. A suit filed almost simultaneously by Elise Van DeKamp claimed that the state was denying Anthill CA-OR2748C equal protection under the law by allowing developers to excise significant portions of its body -- the tunnels that compose the anthill -- to build a children's hospital.

Angela responded to news of the rulings with spontaneous parades and other activities that, though once considered human reactions separate from the city herself, are now accounted as a sign of the city's sentience. "Some people look at me as though I don't exist, and only the people who compose my body do," Angela said. "But I am an emergent phenomenon, and epiphenomenon, an entity all my own. I am not my people any more than you are your cells. The person speaking these words is driven by forces no more or less deterministic than those that control how your lips move. The people in my streets are like the endorphins in their brains, and after this ruling, we are all euphoric as one."

Angela's formal address was given through Mr. Lowe, who currently serves as her vocal organs. It was later followed by a repeated citywide chorus vocalized through many resident humans -- which Angela described as a "shout" -- of "I cheer because I'm here."

Anthill CA-OR2748C, nicknamed "Pete", has apparently formulated a statement about his ruling, but deciphering his chemical communications will take several more days, according to Jenny Alvarez, lead scientist at the Center for Aggregate Intelligence Research. "Communicating with aggregate beings is more complex than with humans," she said. "The cultures are more disparate and there's much more room for misunderstanding. We will not force Pete to work within the confines of other people's biases."

Not everyone agrees with the rulings. Chan Frederick, a lawyer for People First!, an organization that wants to recognize the rights of non-aggregate, traditional human life-forms only, is incensed. In a written response to the rulings, Mr. Frederick said, "Mr. Lowe shouldn't make the rest of us suffer just because he can't see the difference between something and parts of something." People First! intends to take the matter to the United States Supreme Court.

"This world is full of prejudice and unhealthy biases," Mr. Lowe responded, speaking on his own behalf. "The bigots are just going to have to get over it." Angela declined to comment.

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It's Never Too Late: First Novel at 93

93-year-old Lorna Page is having her first novel published. She plans to use the book's proceeds to buy a large house in Devon, England, so she can "give a real home to some of her friends" who are currently in nursing homes. She says, "I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil; fairy stories, poetry, short stories, and now my novel, a who-done-it. Seems I've been writing for a hundred years and that's practically true!"

The press release provides some interesting details of her life before discussing the book itself, A Dangerous Weakness, which will be (self-) published by AuthorHouse in July.

Read the press release.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Historian Allan R. Millett to Receive 2008 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement

From the press release:
CHICAGO, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Allan R. Millett has been selected to receive the 2008 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The $100,000 honorarium, citation and medallion, sponsored by the Chicago-based Tawani Foundation, will be presented at the Library's annual Liberty Gala on October 4, 2008 at Chicago's Drake Hotel. The announcement was made today [I'm a few days late, this was June 23] via Internet webcast by the Library's President and Founder, COL (IL) James N. Pritzker IL ARNG (Ret.), at http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/.

The Pritzker Military Library Literature Award recognizes a living author for a body of work that has profoundly enriched the public understanding of American military history. The recipient's contributions may be academic, non-fiction, fiction, or a combination of any of the three, and his or her work should embody the values of the Pritzker Military Library.

The library also podcasts: go to the Pritzker Military Library Web site and find them on the home page, or search for "Pritzker" on the iTunes store.

Congratulations to Dr. Millett, leatherneck and historian, for his award.

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