June 30th, 2009


Poll: Future Topics for Poetry Fishbowls

Based on yesterday's call for proposals, I have assembled a poll to determine the most popular topics among the ones that people proposed. Leading topics will get penciled into my calendar for Poetry Fishbowl dates later this year.

Please read the voting guidelines before you vote. The number of votes you get to make is based on your level of participation in the project. In a previous poll of this type, someone lamented that they didn't realize what the voting parameters were, so this time I'm trying to make them more noticable.

Everyone may vote for ONE topic, even if you have never participated in a Poetry Fishbowl. New folks are always welcome.

If you have previously posted a prompt in a Poetry Fishbowl OR donated any amount of money in 2009, you may vote for TWO topics. (If you are really excited by this poll but haven't had a chance to participate before, there's a a permanent donation button in my LJ profile. In cyberfunded creativity, it's okay to raise your level of participation when you want.) This rewards people for getting involved, because the fishbowls only work if you feed the fish.

If you have donated a total of $25 or more to the Poetry Fishbowl project in 2009, you may vote for THREE topics. (If you are really excited by this poll but haven't reached this threshold, there's a a permanent donation button in my LJ profile. In cyberfunded creativity, it's okay to raise your level of participation when you want.) This is an extra perk for the most enthusiastic supporters of the Poetry Fishbowl project. Partly this is good business sense, because I want my regular customers to have a great time. But more significantly, cyberfunded creativity is about patronage of the arts; patrons get to influence the flavor of creative material that enters the world.

Poll #1423336 Future Topics for Poetry Fishbowls

Which of these topics would you most like to see in future Poetry Fishbowls?

Horror (Shapeshifters)
Nature (Flowers, Birds & Butterflies)
Folk Tales
Cultures of the World
Food & Farming
Stages of Life

Poetry Fishbowl on Tuesday, July 7

This is an advance announcement for the July 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. This time the theme will be "cyberpunk." (Post-Cyberpunk also counts.) I'll be soliciting ideas for computer geeks, rebels, jacked-up idealists, shadowy rulers, body modifications, weird technology, future history, social theories, cultural repair jobs, cyber plot bugs, dystopian settings, "utopias" that actually suck, and poetic forms in particular.

If you're interested, mark the date on your calendar, and please hold actual prompts until the "Poetry Fishbowl Open" post next week. Meanwhile, if you want to help with promotion, please feel free to link back here or repost this on your blog.

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Cyberpunk Resources

For the July 7, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl I picked the theme "cyberpunk." I did a quick search for inspiration, and found some resources that folks might enjoy. My favorites are these two quotes from the TV Tropes entry:

"Anything that can be done to a rat can be done to a human being. And we can do most anything to rats. This is a hard thing to think about, but it's the truth. It won't go away because we cover our eyes. THAT is cyberpunk."
— Bruce Sterling

"Transhumanism is about how technology will eventually help us overcome the problems that have, up until now, been endemic to human nature. Cyberpunk is about how technology won't."— Stephenls of RPG.Net, on the difference between transhumanism and cyberpunk

Also worth reading are...

Cyberpunk -- Wikipedia entry
Cyberpunk: a short story by Bruce Bethke -- origin of the term
Cyberpunk Reading List
Cyberpunk and SF Reading List -- on Amazon.com
Thought Experiments: Cyberpunk is Alive and Well and Living in - Where Else?- Japan
History of Science Fiction: Cyberpunk
Shadowrun -- roleplaying game
GURPS Cyberpunk -- roleplaying game

What are your favorite cyberpunk materials or ideas not mentioned above?

Graze Review

Those of you in UK territory may enjoy this review of Graze.com, a company that delivers healthy snacks right to people's desks. Graze offers a mouth-watering variety of fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, etc. And chocolate. The site offers suggestions depending on whether you want to snack for energy maintenance, energy boost, weight loss, diet variety, or other goals. Plus, you can rate their foods and they will help you stock a box based on what you like.

I must admit ... if I were working a desk job over there, I would be seriously tempted to try this. *chuckle* But in reality, it's pretty close to what I do at home: eat small amounts through the day, mostly fruit or fruit-related snacks. "Grazing" is better for the body than gorging, and my belly doesn't hold much, so I have to keep nibbling.

I really like seeing companies make it easy to do the right thing. This really caters to people who don't have the luxury of cutting their own fruit several times a day, but do have extra pocket money to buy packaged goodies and want to pick healthy ones. The prices aren't ridiculous, particularly given the quality and the fact that these can substitute for or be part of lunch.

Health Care Market Consolidated

I've been increasingly frustrated by the lies and distortion in the health care debate. This article looks at how consolidated the health care insurance industry really is, which puts the lie to "competitive market." No, the insurance industry wants to stomp out competition, especially from a government option or anything else that might appeal to their currently captive audience.

Health-Care Market Characterized By Consolidation, Not Competition
As Congress gets set to take up health-care reform, there's a crucial piece of data that hasn't received nearly the prominence in the debate that it deserves.</p>

Defenders of the status quo on health care like to point out that a public option will destroy the system of robust free-market competition that currently exists.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), speaking earlier this month on Fox News, called President Obama's plan the "first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known." A public option, Shelby added, would "destroy the marketplace for health care."

But the notion that most American consumers enjoy anything like a competitive marketplace for health care is flatly false. And a study issued last month by a pro-reform group makes that strikingly clear.

A few companies dominate the market. They are using their leverage to cheat people, taking their money and mostly pocketing it (look at the skyrocketing profit rates) instead of providing quality care. Furthermore, a majority of people get health care through employers. Their "choice" is limited to the plan or plan the company offers, whether it is good or bad. Otherwise people's "choice" is limited to what, if anything, they can afford out of pocket. People with a history of poor health often have their choice reduced to ... nothing, because the companies simply won't cover them.