Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Favorite Science Fiction Series

Companion post to the "Favorite Fantasy Series", and again in no particular order of preference.   Leaving out well known classics such as "1984", "War of the Worlds", 
 "Brave New World", etc.

"Foundation" - Isaac Asimov
"The Handmaid's Tale" - Margaret Atwood
"Salughterhouse 5" - Kurt Vonnegut
"Dune" - Frank Herbert
"Remembrance of Earth's Past" - Cixin Liu
"Story of Your Life and Others" - Ted Chiang
"Science in the Capitol Trilogy" - Kim Stanley Robinson
"Snowcrash" - Neal Stephenson
"Rendezvous with Rama" - Arthur C. Clarke
"Ender's Game" - Orson Scott Card
"The Red Rising Trilogy" - Pierce Brown
"Ancillary Justice" - Ann Lecke
"Collected Short Stories" - Philip K. Dick
"Starship Troopers" - Robert H. Heinlein
"H2G2" - Douglas Adams
"Left Hand of Darkness" - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, February 04, 2019

My Favorite Fantasy Series/Books

In no particular order of preference, but leaving out well known classics such as "Lord of the Rings", "Chronicles of Narnia", "Once and Future King", etc. I have only included books/series I have read.

"The Powder Mage Trilogy" - Brian McClellan
"The Magicians" - Lev Grossman
"The Stormlight Archives" - Brandon Sanderson
"Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne" - Brian Staveley
"The Shadow Campaigns" - Django Wexler
"The First Law" - Joe Abercrombie
"Farseer Trilogy" - Robin Hobb
"Lightbringer" - Brent Weeks
"Mistborn" - Brandon Sanderson
"The Raven's Shadow" - Anthony Ryan
"His Dark Materials" - Philip Pullman
"Kingkiller Chronicles" - Partick Rothfuss
"A Song of Ice and Fire" - George R. R. Martin
"Wheel of Time" - Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson)
"The Dark Tower" - Stephen King
"Lord Darcy" - Randall
"Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" 

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Short Treatise on French Electronic

Playlist time!  A colleague at work asked for recommendations on French electronic, a genre I was quite into in the early 2000s.  So here are my top pics and recommendations if you want to get into the French electronic scene :)

1. Air's seminal 1998 album "Moon Safari" is a classic.  The whole album is a great example of the downtempo and lounge genres.  The rest of their discography is pretty great too.
"La Femme d'Argent" from "Moon Safari"
"Sexy Boyfrom "Moon Safari"

2. You, of course, know Daft Punk, but DP's manager Busy P is an electronic legend.
"Genie" a 2017 single
"Rainbow Man" from the 2014 album "Reworking is Not a Crime"

3. Justice, takes DP's "Aerodynamic" style and mixes it with rock, Kraftpop, and French house.  Also managed by Busy P.  Their 2007 debut album "Cross" was a revelation.
"Genesis" - from "Cross"

4. Étienne de Crécy has been a longtime electronic producer, and "Super Discount" was fantastic for 1998; I mean Daft Punk's "Homework" and Air's "Moon Safari" had just released!
"Super Disco" from "Super Discount"

5. M83 I'm sure you've heard of or heard somewhere.  "Midnight City" was a staple for while on ads and such.  Their 2011 album "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" and the follow-up 2016 album "Junk" were pretty solid.
"Midnight City" from "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"
"Reunion" from "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"

6. I will admit I haven't heard a lot of Kavinsky, but loved "Nightcall" after watching the film "Drive".  "Nightcall" also features vocals from Lovefoxxx of the Brazlian band CSS (check out their song "Alala" for a taste)
"Nightcall" from the 2013 album "Outrun"

7. Finally, Danger.  Not exactly my scene, but curious to hear what others think; it's a little too dubstep-y for me.  He's very weird, his songs are titled with the time he finished recording them.
Playlist for his 2017 album "Taiko" (he does use taiko drums)

On a different vein, but if you like Sigur Ros, Ulan Bator is a solid listen in the French post-rock scene.
"Let Go Ego" from the 2003 album "Ok: Ko"
"Hemisphere" from the 2000 album "Ego: Echo"

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

One Night On Hoth

Story reads from top to bottom. 
Updates as often I can, but usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

One day at the Rebel Base, two new chefs came in, ‘cause a Rebel’s gotta eat. But not all is as it seems. Nefarious things are afoot... Find out next time on “Those Rebel Days”.

For they were no ordinary chefs - these were Empire assassins *dun* *dun* *dun*

The assassin chefs corner rebel pilot Cosmo Politan - but it seems like Poe Dumdum is going to get the jump on them. Will the brave Rebels survive? Tune in next time on “The Real Rebels of Hoth”!

But before Dumdum could get the jump on the assassin chefs, help came from an unexpected place! Who is this mysterious savior? Find out in the next installment of “Rebel Run: The Ballad of Cosmo Politan”.

“Hey, who you be brah?” Cosmo asked in his off kilter South Jersey accent. What he meant to say was “thank you for saving my life beautiful stranger.” But who is this mysterious savior in green? Find out next time on “Hoth’s Next Top Rebel”.

He is not the hero the Rebellion wanted, but he’s the hero they needed... illegal alien and savior - Dash Cunningham Jr.  But will the Rebels accept him? Find out in the next installment of “Days of our Alliance”.

Meanwhile, back at the Window Empire, the evil Kylo Ramen was sending his most trusted henchmen - Tweedledee and Tweedledum (no relation) to end the Rebel threat... what new dangers will this bring to our heroes?  Find out next time on "The Rebel Files".

Meanwhile, back at the Hoth base:
Poe: "Cunnigham Jr, was it?  Thanks for saving Cosmo's life here - he's our resident stylist, without him, the Rebel alliance would all be dressed in drab Soviet grey..."
CJ: "Call me CJ.  You know, everyone makes fun of art students, but everyone LOVES designer clothes, graphics, comic books, and animation... see the irony?"
Cosmo: "Brah - did not see this scene headed in that direction, but hey, you're the savior of the day."
... but how will this trio deal with the new threat from the Empire - Tweedledee and Tweedledum?  Find out in the next installment of "Rebel Without a Cause".

And then suddenly...
Tweedledee: "Reach for the sky you Rebel scum"
Tweedledum: "Yeah, and put your hands up too"
Tweedledee: "That's what I just said!"
Tweedledum: "Oh?  I was wondering why you asked them to get sky in a cave - it was weirdly inspirational... sorry..."
How will our heroes escape from this new predicament?  Find out next time on "Rebelholics".

“But, OMG, I totally love your uniforms, is that Hugo Boss?” exclaimed Cosmo Politan, much to the surprise of TnT. Is this a ploy, or does Captain Cosmo really go gaga for fashion? Find out in the next exciting installment of “The Rebel World

“You know what this means? Fashion show! Work it people!” exclaimed Cosmo Politan. There was something magnetic about his voice and suddenly TnT, Poe, and Cunningham Jr. found themselves walking the runway... What will the evil empire do now that TnT have been ensnared? Find out next time on “Project Rebelway

Bonus: And afterwards, the gang did a conga line to celebrate!

"We need to form a band" decided Cosmo, "give the Cantina band a run for their money!" In the middle of “YMCA” band practice that night, Cosmo exclaimed, “Damn it, where’s an Indian chief when you need one!”  Will Cosmo make his dreams of making it big in the Tatooine music scene come true, or does the Empire have other plans? Find out next time on, “Dancing with the Rebels

Every boy band needs a classy album cover.  Album cover shoot for boy band sensation “The Rebel Boys” 😎

Tweedledee, however, was upset to be left out of the album cover and resorted to his baser instincts.  Sometimes, when you can’t work out your differences through dance, it results in a Mexican standoff. To be continued... *dun* *dun* *dun*!

Meanwhile, back at White Table, the Imperial Base, evil Lord Shiny Top (aka Kylo Ramen) was back for a progress report on dealing with the Rebels... heads were going to roll (and rock)... what will Shiny Top do next? Find out next week on “Empire”!

Kylo Ramen: “Ah, my assassin chefs, did you take care of the Rebels?” 
Chefs: “Yes, sir, they’re quite well fed and healthy!” 
Kylo Ramen: *face palm*

“Mr. Takagki won’t be joining us for the rest of his life” said KR, decapitating one of the assassins in a fit of rage. 
“Woah, goncho, we really lost our head chef now, get it, get it?” exclaimed the remaining assassin. 
“Careful, assassin, you don’t want to be pun-ished too...” said Kylo Ramen menacingly.  What evil plans do the Empire have for our heroes? Find out next time on “Hoth’s Next Top Rebel

Bonus: In the evenings, Kylo liked to play Hamlet at the local Shakespeare in the Park production... “To be or not to be, that is the question...” - good thing he had a fresh skull to work with!

Kylo Ramen: "I'm leaving you with my two subordinates, Ping and Pong... don't fail me again, Chef"
Chef: "A Hot Topic sale going on somewhere eh?  Or is there an emo music festival on Korriban?"
Kylo Ramen: "At least I don't wear an albino mushroom on my head - why do chef's wear that?  Storage?"

Kylo Ramen: “Daft Pink brothers, I think it’s best I leave the only female character in this story to help you with your job... she’s pretty evil and excellent at paperwork, her name is Anne Chovy.”

Meanwhile on Hoth:
“You want to make it in the boy band industry, you gotta work for it ladies, work it, work it!” - Cosmo was running a hard boot camp at HQ to get the team ready for their big debut on “Hoth’s Got Talent”, unaware of the danger looming...

Meanwhile back on Tabletop, Kylo Ramen was taking a well earned break from evil, enjoying a MaiTai and some shade... 
Chef Assassin: “Curses, I should have read the fine print on the internship contract...”

Due to his popularity Kylo often has to do interviews and TV spots, here is KR filming an episode of “Pimp My Shuttle”.

Sometimes Cosmo dreamed of being in a galactic production of "West Side Story"... of course, he would be a Jets...

But while the Rebels and the Empire were busy in their own plots, on the third day, one chef arose from the dead - and he was pissed. What shenanigans will ensue next, find out next time on “The Passion of Chef”.

And as the gang was preparing for their big debut, unbeknownst to them... evil was lurking close behind. How will our young heroes escape this predicament? Find out next time on “Say yes to the Rebel dress”!

“Not so fast, you wannabe Guy Fieri” - exclaimed CJ drawing his blaster. Oh, damn, shit was gonna go down! Who’s going to bite the stardust? Find out next time on “30 Rebel”!

“Hey man, you don’t have to do this - you’re in a safe place now - you don’t need to pretend to be a chef, an assassin - there are no Rebels, no Empire - we’re all just people trying to get by - why don’t you just come and dance with us?” Reasoned Cosmo... 
“I would, but you have a dirty illegal alien” said Chef pointing at CJ. 
“Wow, a racist chef assassin - that’s original.” sighed Cosmo...
What will happen next? Find it next time on “Rebelville”...

“Yes, yes, you’re right, all my life I’ve killed and killed, just to make my daddy proud, but all I really wanted to do was cook and dance and get rid of the illegal aliens plaguing our galaxy - preferably at the same time...” mused Chef as Cosmo put a comforting arm on his racist shoulder.  
Will Chef exact revenge or will he join the Rebels? Find out next time on “The Barefoot Rebel”.

And to drive home all the possibilities the future held, FlyFlyDrink the droid, did his trademark space sombrero act. Will this be enough to convince Chef to give up his evil ways? Find out next time on “The Rebel Idol

And lo! That did the trick; Chef gets into the act and becomes the center piece of the Rebel Pole. But will this be enough to sate his thirst for revenge? Find out next time on “The Inglorious Rebels”.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Zimbabwe Primer: Major Urban Consumer Concentrations

Since Zimabwe is in the news: a quick analysis on the consumer class in the major cities of Zimbabwe.  Read more here.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Why Do Economic Links Matter in Tackling HIV/AIDS?

For the One Campaign, Fraym created a Connectivity Index, which measures how people and goods move across Africa, to display how significant the economic interaction is between high-burden countries and their neighbors. A reduction in access to treatment in economic hubs like Johannesburg and Lagos could have negative impacts across the continent.

Read more here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Nakumatt Went Down in East Africa

Using geostatistical techniques and on-the-ground expertise, Fraym explores why supermarket chain Nakumatt failed in East Africa with a case study in Kampala.  Read more here.