Action Park

“It was not long before our visitors reworked our advertising to better reflect their experiences: ‘Action Park: Where you’re the center of the accident.’

The risk did not keep people away. The risk is what drew them to us…

…Action Park has become a campfire tale, an urban legend, a can-you-believe-this snapshot of our culture that seemed to pre-date liability laws and lawyers.”

—Andy Mulvihill, “Remembering Action Park, New Jersey’s Deranged Theme Park, ‘Where You’re the Center of the Accident’“. Esquire. July 2, 2020.

Loved this excerpt, and plan to read the book.

Brought to Light

“In 1989, at the very end of the Cold War, a group of four prominent mainstream and alternative comic book writers and artists created a double volume graphic novel exposing the rampant injustices, assassinations, and terrorism facilitated by the CIA and its creatures worldwide, ostensibly to fight global communism in the years following World War II. This pair of books, sold under the shared title Brought To Light, came courtesy of one of the only justice movements since the Church Committee to successfully take on the American deep state and confront the CIA’s historical criminal behavior.”

-Brought to Light is a graphic novel of two parts: Shadowplay — The Secret Team and Flashpoint — The La Penca Bombing

Shadowplay is by Alan Moore and “centers on an avatar of the CIA and American imperialism in the form of a maniacal, drunken bald eagle who ‘represent[s] the Company,’ the common sobriquet for the CIA, and who explains American intelligence interference abroad in terms of the brutality and murder necessary to protect American (business) interests.” Flashpoint provides the details of an assassination of a former Sandinista who has switched sides to join the Contras. However, he found the CIA’s involvement with the Contras troubling, and he was assassinated before he could reveal too much about the CIA and what became known as the “Iran-Contra affair” in the United States.

h/t We Are The Mutants.

Tachyon Humble Book Bundle

“Get ready to ride off into the stars and charge into magical battles. We’ve teamed up with Tachyon to provide you with a bundle of imaginative digital sci-fi and fantasy books for your reading pleasure! Get ebooks like Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein, The Very Best of Caitlin by R. Kiernan, and Beyond Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.”

Humble Book Bundle: Celebrating 25 Years of Sci-Fi & Fantasy from Tachyon.

Most excited about Jo Walton’s Starlings, The Best of Michael Moorcock, Bruce Sterling’s Pirate Utopia, and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology in this collection.

How to Read Big Books

“…it is a principal task of a successful modern university to teach people how to read [big, difficult, flawed, incredibly insightful, genius books]. Indeed, it might be said that one of the few key competencies we here at the university have to teach—our counterpart or the medieval triad of rhetoric, logic, grammar and then quadriad of arithmetic, geometry, music and astrology—is how to read and absorb a theoretical argument made by a hard, worthwhile, flawed book. People need to understand what an argument is, and the only way to do that is actually go through an argument—to read the argument and try to make sense of it. People need to be able to tell the difference between an argument and an assertion. People need to be able to do more than just say whether they liked the conclusion or not: they need to be able to specify whether the argument hangs together given the premises, and where it is the premises, and where it is the premises themselves that need to be challenged. People need to learn that while you can disagree, you need to be able to specify why and how you disagree.

The first order task is to teach people how to read difficult books…Teaching them how to read difficult books will stick with them over the years. Knowing what to do with a book that makes an important, an interesting, but also a flawed argument—that is a key skill.

…we urge you to focus on the “meta” to the extent that you can: it is not so much the ability to answer the question “what does Marx think about X?” that we want you to grasp, but rather “how do I figure out what Marx thinks about X?” that is the big goal here…

We have our recommended ten-stage process for reading such big books:

1. Figure out beforehand what the author is trying to accomplish in the book.

2. Orient yourself by becoming the kind of reader the book is directed at—the kind of person with whom the arguments would resonate.

3. Read through the book actively, taking notes.

4. “Steelman” the argument, reworking it so that you find it as convincing and clear as you can possibly make it.

5. Find someone else—usually a roommate—and bore them to death by making them listen to you set out your “steelmanned” version of the argument.

6. Go back over the book again, giving it a sympathetic but not credulous reading.

7. Then you will be in a good position to figure out what the weak points of this strongest-possible argument version might be.

8. Test the major assertions and interpretations against reality: do they actually make sense of and in the context of the world as it truly is?

9. Decide what you think of the whole.

10. Then comes the task of cementing your interpretation, your reading, into your mind so that it becomes part of your intellectual panoply for the future.”

-Brad Delong, “A Note on Reading Big, Difficult Books…Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality. December 28, 2019

The Frailest Thing: Ten Years of Thinking About the Meaning of Technology by L. M. Sacasas

“In the fall of 2009, as the age of blogs was already fading, I launched The Frailest Thing as a space to think out loud as I worked my way through a graduate program in technology studies. In the years since, I sought to think about the challenges posed by emerging technologies, particularly digital media, in light of insights offered by scholars and thinkers from a variety of disciplines, past and present. Lewis Mumford, Neil Postman, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, Langdon Winner, and Walter Ong are among the those whose work has informed my analysis and reflection as I sought to clarify the political, cultural, and moral consequences of technological change. Ten years and 800 posts later, it was time to bring the enterprise to a close. 

What you have here are 100 dispatches spanning that decade of thinking and writing about how technology sustains, mediates, and conditions our experience. These are the essays that, in my view, have remained useful exercises in thinking about the meaning of technology. Prominent themes include the relationship of technology to politics, memory and time, ethics, and the experience of the self.

I’ve made the work available at no cost, you’re welcome to it. You are also able to pay whatever amount you like for it, should you so desire. Either way, if you find the work helpful, consider letting others know about it and rating the e-book here. 

Thanks for reading.

-L. M. Sacasas, “The Frailest Thing: Ten Years of Thinking About the Meaning of Technology.”

The Moolah Tree

“Pluck, an irritable and featherless rooster, and his best pal, the awkwardly unsocialized but lovable teddy bear known as Fuzz, met long ago in a garbage truck. A tenuous if decidedly co-dependent friendship between Fuzz & Pluck followed, sending them on a series of not-so-heroic adventures. But now, we find them on a ramshackle barge, slowly drifting out to sea. How did they get there? How will they escape? The answer lies in the book’s title, but the true fun is in the Picaresque and often Swiftian adbsurdities that our heroes find themselves in along the way. Ted Stearn’s work is rich with pathos, wit, farce, existentialism and drama. Sometimes cruel but always funny, like a Winnie the Pooh for adults.”

The Moolah Tree published by Fantagraphics

Sold at “Winnie the Pooh for adults.”