Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The 15 Best Novels Forecasting Our Future

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February 27th, 2012

Speculative fiction’s appeal lies inherently with its imaginative properties; casual readers and scholars alike gravitate towards the genre (or device, in some cases) with the hopes of perhaps parsing some kernel of humanity’s future fate. As one can expect, most not proven wholly wrong have yet to work out, if they ever even will. Sometimes, though, an author either calls components or – even rarer – creepily manages to predict phenomena with full accuracy. Time will obviously reveal whether or not the following novels bear fruit, but all of them hold the closest potential to coming true. In some form or fashion, of course, even if remaining more in spirit than actuality.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

    Ostensibly a secular government, American politicians nevertheless frequently capitulate to the demands of Christianity. Even the allegedly hyperliberal Barack Obama willingly ignores separation of church and state from time to time. Canadian author Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 as more of a warning against theocratic rule than an accurate prediction. Unfortunately, with religion acting as just another DC lobby these days, her fiction may someday end up this nation’s oppressive (and frankly un-American) reality.

  2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    This highly popular dystopian novel meant to mourn the sacrifice of the written word at the altar of television, though most readers focus on the censorship element instead. When one peers at the surface elements, however, it’s easy to see how many of Ray Bradbury’s writings could easily spiral out of control in the near future. Government and citizen censorship are, of course, nothing new anywhere and at any time period. By this point, nobody would be surprised if the feds started rolling out book burning mobiles, although media evolution probably means SOPA would’ve proven the Internet Age equivalent had it passed. Heavier pressure from the entertainment industry and ambiguous wording are all it takes to make Americans watch their favorite law-abiding websites shut down permanently.

  3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Scientists may be able to clone complete animals, but duplicating tissues and organs for transplant continues eluding them. So if the idea of creating entire humans as walking, talking, and thinking donor farms is quite a ways away, assuming it even happens at all. Obviously, such a concept comes inherently swaddled with numerous ethical questions. Humanity’s track record of observing such things remains, to put it nicely, on the spotty side; no matter how many laws various governments pass illegalizing the practice, it’ll still happen. Assuming the technology eventually comes to pass, at least. They might not wind up in Kazuo Ishiguro’s creepy boarding school, but the commercialization (underground or otherwise) of cloning oneself for exact organ matching seems a logical conclusion should science enable.

  4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

    Like many of the great cyberpunk novels, elements of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? already exist – but only on a nascent level for now. Artificial intelligence pops up in the news regularly these days, often touting just how eerily advanced it’s grown, and speculation about where these technological advances could head inevitably lead to discussions of what life would be like if people couldn’t tell themselves from androids. This novel, which inspired the loosely-adapted cinematic classic Blade Runner, envisions an environmentally-ravaged, post-WWIII future where such questions arise in a major way. Protagonist Rick Deckard works as a bounty hunter tasted with shutting down rogue androids, but encounters some of the aforementioned difficulties (not to mention the expected ethical issues) along the way.

  5. Plus, flying cars would be so very, very sweet.

  6. White Noise by Don DeLillo

    Imagine a pill that could eliminate the fear of death entirely. Although White Noise otherwise more or less hews identically to known reality (or reality as it was known at the time of its 1985 publication), that one little departure carries with it the requisite black hole-dense amount of questions and concerns. Pharmaceutical companies have yet to develop magic medicine to alleviate the all-too-human anxiety over impermanence, but discovering it does not sit outside the realm of improbability. Far beyond mere antidepressant and antianxiety pills, scientists know how to erase painful memories chemically; the Pentagon, in fact, might start using it when treating soldiers with PTSD. All it would take to start deadening the fear is finding the appropriate alchemy to switch it off in the same manner as the ingrained experiences.

  7. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

    Seeing as how Neal Stephenson predicted, in some form or another, Second Life, anti-rape devices, the prolificacy (and exploitation) of memes, and other phenomena in 1992′s Snow Crash, it stands to reason that The Diamond Age might very well follow suit. People already enjoy ebooks, albeit with significantly less interactivity than the one employed by heroine Nell, and seemingly tend to gravitate more and more towards subcultural identities now that the internet enables like-minded individuals to connect. Should any of the postcyberpunk novel’s ruminations on inadequate AI and out of control nanotech occur, it likely won’t be anytime soon! But considering the author’s famously in-depth research and futurist sensibilities, he might prove more on the nose than most sci-fi writers, even if things ultimately take on a different shape.

  8. The Running Man by Stephen King

    The biggest name in horror set a story of a decrepit economy (sound familiar?) and a horrific game show channeling "The Most Dangerous Game" in 2025. While not a prediction so much as a conduit for a young Stephen King’s apoplexies (the book was originally published in 1982), contemporary audiences might still find it eerily resonant. Reality shows might not necessarily resort to the extreme measures of hunting down and killing people for ratings, but they certainly seem more and more shameless as each new season rolls out. Rather than literally murdering humans, human dignity undoubtedly dies tortured and screaming at a corresponding crescendo. At some point, one channel or another is going to accidentally result in someone croaking on live television.

  9. Generation A Douglas Coupland

    So honeybees are still endangered, which might very well result in a few different, agriculturally important plant species (like almonds) eventually winding up extinct. Not to mention a dwindling supply of honey. This novel isn’t set in a future with sophisticated robots or hostile Christian takeovers – just a simple lack of our favorite buzzing collectivist pals. OR IS THERE?! Five very different people wind up stung, subsequently launching an insane flurry of both media and scientific fervor before finding themselves sequestered on a bizarre island.

  10. The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman

    Chances are, a cabal of murderous revolutionaries won’t rise up and slaughter reporters in a bloody statement against media bias and manipulation. But writer and artist Jonathan Hickman’s tense, imaginative graphic novel perfectly bottles up how so many Americans switch on or pick up the news and grow frustrated with all they absorb. Rather than channeling this helplessness into violence as he depicts, however, it’s easier to believe that revolt will happen once society hits a tolerance event horizon and starts demanding more from a consumer’s perspective. One can already witness early rumblings of a cultural shift when it comes to covering politics, with trained journalists jettisoned in favor of condescending audiences with "Cult of Personality" talking heads offering commentary instead of facts.

  11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    Correcting deviant behavior burst into being shortly after deviant behavior itself, making the basis of A Clockwork Orange near universal. The Ludovico approach to the very real aversion therapy remains entirely in the realm of fiction right now, but ramping up existing methods’ severity to that level could feasibly occur. Considering the anarchic, dystopian world which Alex and his merry band of murderous, rape-hungry thugs cavort, extreme measures make perfect sense. Here, our future is only forecast should we happen to devolve into such a truly terrifying universe – but does punishment crescendo in reaction to swelling delinquency, or does delinquency crescendo in reaction to swelling punishment?

  12. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

    Future scenarios don’t always have to embrace the gloom and doom of human nature, though most literary critics will agree they make for much more complex and compelling fiction. Aside from the perpetuation of war and the death penalty, protagonist Consuelo Ramos ("Connie") encounters a time traveler from the most idyllic future imaginable – one where all peoples truly coexist as equals, with all lines of marginalization fully eradicated. She serves as the lynchpin of this vision, however, as one misstep means a horrific plutocracy instead. Complicating matters even further, Connie can’t figure out whether or not what she knows might actually occur or just happens to exist all in her imagination. Cynics will, of course, disagree, but with advances in human rights hitting the news regularly (even small, overlooked stories), future generations might very get to witness firsthand just how harmonious we can get.

  13. Neuromancer by William Gibson

    More speculation about mankind’s possibly intimate biological relationships with nanotechnology from the man who brought us the word "cyberspace." Once again, the foundations for the fictional advancements already appeared in the real world, most notably in the exciting and fetal field of nanomedicine. But for every altruistic action, there is an equal and opposite not-so-altruistic reaction, as evidenced by the shady paramilitary, mercenary types populating this quintessential tale of "high tech, low life." In the book, hackers plug their brains directly into machinery; although today’s interfaces don’t connect with the internet, we do possess the ability to control computers using nothing but the mind. However, such technology only seems to be applied to medicine these days, and lacks the same level of sophistication as William Gibson’s imaginings. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t very well take the path towards the cyberpunkish later.

  14. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

    Overpopulation will probably always plague humanity until we achieve easy access to birth control (and the social permissiveness that allows it) on a global level. Dystopian future Japan’s solution involves shipping high school kids off to an island and embroiling them in a mandatory contest to murder each other. Last one standing wins! Most countries probably won’t act nearly as blatant when faced with the inevitable crises, but human nature’s boundless cruelty allows for murderous atrocities to occur on national scales every day with others neither knowing or caring. Reining in numbers probably won’t go down like this, but few would express shock if it ever did.

  15. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Ayn Rand and her Objectivist disciples worshiped self above all, praising those at the top of the economic hierarchy as inherently superior – no matter how many egregious ethical violations they committed to end up there. Rationalized selfishness and other sociopathic and psychotic tendencies increase in correlation with power acquisition. Or at least the perception of power acquisition. For far too many nations,Atlas Shrugged (or elements of it) already stands as the grim reality of exploitation. The lucky ones now might not enjoy the sheltering after the wrong people gain clout; Objectivism’s damaging reach could wreak havoc on small and major scales alike.

  16. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

    If we can’t have the flying cars science promised, can humanity AT LEAST evolve into cuddly-wuddly little seal creatures?!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Medical Uses of Abused Drugs

Medical Uses of Abused Drugs

10 Signs Your Child May be Color Blind

10 Signs Your Child May be Color Blind

Posted on by admin | in Nannies

When someone is color blind it doesn’t mean that they see no colors. It’s not like they see everything in shades of gray except in very rare instances. Being color blind means that you have trouble seeing red, green, yellow, blue or some combination of these. Red/green color blindness is most common. Color blindness is often inherited so if you are color blind then it is very important that you have your child checked as early as possible. Being color blind can affect the way a child learns to read. Check out 10 signs your child may be color blind to see if you think your child may need to be tested.

  1. Struggles with color games: When kids are little, parents often play games with them where they tell them to pick up the red ball. At the beginning kids are just learning their colors and if they don’t pick up the red ball all the time it doesn’t mean that they are color blind. If time goes on and they can easily pick up the yellow and blue balls, but struggle with the red and green ones you might make a note.
  2. Can’t point out certain colors: Another thing parents do when kids are little and they are trying to teach them their colors is to ask their child to point to the pink pony. It may be that the child can’t tell the difference between the light pink pony and the yellow pony. Continue to ask these questions, but make a point to follow their progress with certain colors.
  3. Can’t match their clothes: This one is harder to tell because some kids just like to dress in wild and crazy clothes, but if you ask your child to put on their red T-shirt with some jeans and they come back with another color be sure to ask them why they didn’t grab the red shirt. More often than not it will be because they couldn’t find it. Show it to them and see what color they think it is.
  4. Can’t tell which light is glowing on a stoplight: When in the car you can work on colors and safety issues by asking what color light is shining right now on the stoplight? If the child doesn’t know you can tell them, but if it becomes a pattern that they can’t tell the green light from the red light you may need to get them checked.
  5. Have trouble finding patterns: Kids books will sometimes have patterns. If the patterns are made up of green and red a child who is green/red color blind won’t be able to see the pattern. Unless the colors are different shades. Then it would be like the shades of gray thing.
  6. See no difference in light green and dark green: Another sign that your child may be color blind is if you ask them about different shades of a color. If you ask a child to get their light green sweater because it matches that outfit and they come back with a different sweater it may be that they can’t tell the difference between light and dark green.
  7. Browns, blues and blacks get mixed up: This is a very common issue for color blind people. They can’t tell the difference between dark blue, dark brown and black. While they don’t all look the same they may look similar to each other enough that they can’t distinguish which is which. While it’s uncommon for girls to be color blind it does happen. If you asked your daughter to put on her black skirt and red top to go to school she may come out with a brown skirt and pink top. Don’t just chalk this up to her taste in clothes. She may not have been able to tell.
  8. You find yourself correcting them on colors a lot: Children tend to talk a lot and may be running around touching things in a store and say isn’t this a pretty pink shirt and its yellow. Once or twice making a correction is nothing to worry about, but if you find yourself correcting them on colors a lot you may need to get them checked.
  9. They complain about glaring light: Color blindness is caused by missing cones in the eye. For some reason children can see better when there isn’t a glare on the page. Most kids won’t complain about lighting so if you hear your child complaining about lighting you may need to have them checked.
  10. When they use crayons they stay away from certain colors: While this may also just be whim take note if your child stays away from certain colors all the time. Like they never use brown for trees or green on leaves. Apples are not red they are some other color. This may just be your child being creative and that’s great, but if it’s not then you might have a color blind child.


8 American Subcultures You Know Nothing About

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America is known for being culturally diverse and tolerant. This not only means that people can continue the traditions of their ancestors from other countries, it means that new subcultures are popping up all the time. Some are worldwide phenomena, and others are exclusively home-grown. While there are plenty of subcultures that you've heard of (think hipsters and gamers), there are many that remain relatively obscure. Look hard enough around you and you might find some of these communities outside of the mainstream.


    This group of Americans takes the Boy Scout idea of being prepared to extremes. Also known as preppers, they spend their time readying for the end of the world, which they have a variety of reasons for believing is coming. Some are afraid of terrorism, others environmental destruction, while many just point to the stupidity of mankind as a sure sign of impending doom. Survivalists normally build their own little survival centers, not too different from the nuclear fallout shelters of the Cold War, stocked with generators, water, food, and often weapons. For some reason, many members of this subculture move to Idaho, which may seem random, but if Armageddon comes, we know where we're headed.


    If you've ever longed to be an athletic team's mascot, but more for the chance to be an animal than for the stunts and publicity, you could be a furry fan in waiting. Furries are interested in animals with human characteristics, like walking on two legs, talking, and wearing clothes. And there are more of them than you think. Furry conventions take place around the world every year, and fans meet to show off their fursuits, or costumes, furry arts, music, and literature. The attention furries often get is focused on the sexual aspect of the subculture, since the majority of furry fans report at least a minor sexual interest in the furry culture.


    Unlike furries who wish they were a different creature, the community of otherkin actually believe they are something other than humans. Members of this subculture normally felt out of place as a child and come to believe it's because they are reincarnated or evolved elves, dragons in human bodies, or possibly even vampires. Many claim to have supernatural powers such as the ability to heal more quickly than humans or to shapeshift (even if others can't physically see the change in their form). If you feel like you belong to this group, a quick Internet search will turn up a variety of forums and sites that will help you relate to other otherkin.

  4. PRO-ANA

    We've all seen weight-loss blogs online that we would probably consider inspirational, but there's a subculture of people, mostly girls, who find their identity in extreme weight-loss communities. Many of the members keep their online pro-ana (or pro-anorexia) lives secret from family and friends that don't understand it, but may wear red bracelets to be identifiable to other members. Most go through and post "thinspiration," or thinspo for short, involving photos and quotes, sometimes spending hours each day on the Internet for this purpose. The photos are often of emaciated women with ribs, shoulder bones, and hips sticking out, and they share with each other how to stave off hunger and hide the eating disorders most undoubtedly have.


    You've probably gotten some glimpses of the steampunk culture — jewelry made of gears, modern technologies that look like they were made in Victorian England, anyone wearing driving goggles and carrying a pocket watch. Steampunk fans are a sect of the general sci-fi/fantasy community and they like to imagine a world that still relies on steam power but adds in the elements of science fiction. Those who are really into the subculture will often dress in a style that looks as though they came from the time and modify their cell phones or iPods to look as a Wild West-era person would've imagined them. Though it's arguable what exactly qualifies, there is also a steampunk style of music that fans enjoy.


    We use this term a lot when speaking about politics and someone who is uncompromising in their position, but the subculture isn't related. Hardline is an extreme offshoot of the straight edge hardcore scene, whose members abstain from alcohol and drugs, but hardline takes the idea even farther, emphasizing a respect for innocent life and the natural order. They're vegan, pro-life, and often don't consume caffeine (meaning no coffee or chocolate) or any third-world cash crops (we're talking sugar and tropical fruits). Though they are related to the hardcore subculture, their militant stance on abortion and sex often alienates them from other hardcore members.


    If you're not watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, you might be missing out. At least, that's what the population of bronies would have you believe. A brony is an adult who is a fan of the kid's show. The term can refer to a man or woman, but some women prefer to be called pegasisters. The majority of bronies are males, which has caused them to attract a lot of ridicule and negative media attention, but you shouldn't think they're dumb: most have a college degree or higher. This community of Friendship is Magic lovers often creates their own fan fiction and takes part in conventions like Comic-Con.


    While most of the other subcultures on this list are joined by choice, Deaf (the capitalized version of the word referring to the culture rather than the condition) culture chooses a person, more or less. While not all deaf and hard-of-hearing people are part of the culture, choosing instead to be a part of the hearing culture, many prefer the community they've created for themselves. Besides the obvious use of sign language, Deaf people differ from the hearing community because they don't consider their deafness a disability and often oppose technologies like cochlear implants. They are also typically much more open about their personal lives, from why they're running late to their sexual orientation, communicate more bluntly, and have their own arts and literature.

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