I’m a chronic magazine subscriber.

I currently subscribe to:

I’ve dropped a half-dozen magazine subscriptions in the past year.

At one time, these magazine subscriptions were a good thing: I had the time and inclination to sit in the evening, leafing through Harper’s or National Review or Linux Journal. The magazines kept me well-informed, allowed me to read widely.

Over the past two years, however, I’ve retained my subscriptions merely out of habit. I rarely read the magazines that arrive each month and, as a result, my to-read pile grows and grows and grows.

Every few months I give up on this massive stack of words, and move the unread magazines to the storage shed. New magazines soon arrive, however, and the stack grows and grows and grows again.

Why don’t I read magazines any more? Two reasons:

  • I haven’t the time. I’m too busy reading books or spending time with friends or working on the computer or playing games with Kris to find time to read magazines.
  • More to the point: much of what I once obtained from magazines, I now find on the internet. A weekly news magazine? I’ve got USA Today and BBC News. Computer magazines? There are scores of computer-oriented web sites that are more up-to-date. Opinion pieces? I regularly read about 25 personal weblogs; I get my fill of opinion from these.

Weblogs—maligned by some as narcissistic and self-indulgent—are a revolutionary form of journalism, a type of personal journalism that, to me at least, is more compelling and more informative than traditional journalism (though, obviously, not subject to the same standards).

I’ll retain four subscriptions (Cook’s Illustrated, Harper’s, Orion, National Geographic), but I’m going to allow the others to lapse.

Two late nights recently:

  • Last night was the MNF group’s annual sweetheart banquet (delayed this year from Valentine’s Day). Jeremy and Jennifer, with Jeff’s help, prepared a fantastic feast for sixteen. This is the fourth or fifth year the Gingeriches have been holding this event, and I think it was the most successful yet. The conversation was good, the food delicious, and the pace relaxed. We didn’t get to bed til one o’clock, though.
  • Thursday we went to see a 10:20 showing of The Matrix with Joel and Aimee. The Matrix is a great film; the more I watch it, the more willing I am to forgive the sometimes gratuitous violence. I was impressed this time by the cinematography: some of the shots are beautiful. I wonder if the next two films can maintain the same level of quality. I didn’t get to bed until about two o’clock on Thursday night/Friday morning.

I was a zombie at work Friday. It was all I could do to stay awake. Apparently it was more than I could do: Jeff says that when he left the shop at about three, I was slumped back in my chair, slack-jawed and snoring.

Driving home after the movie, Joel made the statement: “All science fiction is about destruction.” I believe that science fiction is no more about destruction than any other form of narrative fiction, but my brain was too tired to put up a fight. Maybe I’ll write a rebuttal in the near future…


On 23 March 2003 (09:19 PM),
J.D. said:

Kris tells me that Joel clarified his statement to “All science fiction films are about destruction.” I still disagree, but not as much. The science fiction that gets put on the big screen is inherently more fraught with conflict than that in literature. In order for a film to maintain the audience’s interest, it has to have a strong central conflict. I still maintain that this focus on destruction is true of nearly all films, not just science fiction films.

On 24 March 2003 (11:05 AM),
Dana said:

Contact, 2001, and Gattaca are not about destruction, at least I don’t think so. They are about perspective, man’s relationship with his tools, and prejudice.

Neither are Time Bandits or Buckaroo Banzai, for that matter.

Of course, maybe I’m missing Joel’s point.

On 24 March 2003 (03:12 PM),
Joelah said:

Right, it would be unfair to say that ALL S.F. movies are fantasies of destruction. Just a whole bunch of them. I would venture to say that S.F. movies are (almost) always about Encountering the Other, and, in general, there is a very strong anxiety associated with the Other. In most cases this anxiety resolves itself when the Other is blown to pieces. What can separate interesting S.F. from the rest of Hollywood product is the leeway a fictional time/space frame allows the creators to approach the question: “What do we do about [slavering aliens/out-of-control-robots/spaced-based tyranny]?

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