Friday, August 31, 2012


Another video, yes.  You know I don't do this very often, so humor me and watch it.

I was a philosophy of science minor in college.  Why?  I loved the feeling of fascination, of vastness, of  the absurdity of our pretensions, of not being sure of what I knew or thought I believed.  The feeling that probably none of us really knew anything at all, although the wisdom of ancient philosophies and spiritualities probably had a lot of things right, first of all being that we need to try to get over ourselves.

Epistemology, ontology, metaphysics.  I loved having my mind blown on a weekly basis, reading things I never knew people thought about.  I only vaguely remember the names of the philosophers or the specific arguments that each contributed to fields such as, say, cognitive theory.

But I remember sitting around a large table (or maybe it was in a room of oddly placed right-handed desks, leaning over my notebook with my left shoulder, the students all vaguely facing the professor at various angles) and listening for the first time as it was explained to me that we could possibly be brains in vats of ginger ale orbiting Neptune, hooked up to electrodes to make us believe that we were experiencing sensory input through a physical body.  I remember the feeling I had.  Almost like deja-vu, it was a melding of the meanderings of my childhood mind (Is it all a dream?  Is it really my birthday but the whole world is pretending it is August 15 in order to surprise me?) with the logic, writings and questioning of a few thousand years of philosophers.

My mother thought I should be a scientist, but I couldn't imagine any fun in working in a lab all day.  I felt incredibly self-conscious in the chemistry lab.  I couldn't imagine pulling data off of machines for hours at a time, or performing operations on the tiny parts of the brains of rats, and I especially couldn't imagine all the recordkeeping.  Lab notebooks!  Living nightmare.  But I loved the awe of science.  Dark matter.  The Copernican Revolution.  Artificial intelligence theories.  What does quantum physics imply about spirituality?  Physicality?  So much fun.

I probably need to return to some of this reading.

The following video explains a bit about why those feelings I had are so appealing, addictive, and actually advantageous.  And the video is visually gorgeous as well.
The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck - by @JasonSilva from Jason Silva on Vimeo.

Two Completely Unrelated Videos

I'm probably a little mental right now from grading papers.  But what better time to blog?

One video features Jan Brewer, our state governor.  She's been in a tiff with Obama over state's rights in terms of immigration policy.  He dismantled her dear, dear SB1070, and she still hasn't forgiven him, and yet here's what she had to say at the RNC:

The other video is a bit longer, but apparently it is the most popular TED Talks video, and it features Sir Ken Robinson speaking about the importance of teaching and nurturing creativity in our schools.  He holds it on par with literacy.  Great talk.  I love what he says about children being willing to take a chance on an idea, even when they don't know or are wrong. "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Please watch:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


My newest Stories from School AZ post begins with a description of the process of hoarding office supplies...  and continues on to explore what else might be stashed within our classroom walls.

You can leave comments here, but they are much much appreciated on the SFS site.  You don't have to be a member to comment.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

One of my weapons for the soup coup.

As always, amounts are approximate and variable.

1 huge butternut squash (3 lb?  More?)
1 1/2 med onion
6 cloves garlic
2 carrots
5 ribs celery
1 1/2 qt. homemade vegetable stock (just because that's how much I had)
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
grated nutmeg (fresh)
dried ginger (1/2 tsp?)
dried thyme leaves (1/2 tsp?)
dried sage (1 tsp?)
dried marjoram (1/2 tsp?)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
olive oil

I started the pot with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic cloves, whole (crushed would work, too.) 
Chopped and threw in the onions, carrots, celery and let them sautee as I added each ingredient.
Added salt and a little pepper.
Poured the vegetable stock over it.  
Added the bay leaves, cinnamon stick and other herbs/spices.
Chopped and added the butternut squash (peeled first, and cleaned out the seeds & membrane w/ large spoon.  Chopped about 1" cubes more or less)
Added enough water to cover
Added the brown sugar, more salt and a little more pepper (don't go too crazy with the black pepper).

Let it cook for close to an hour.

Removed cinnamon stick and bay leaves.

Used the immersion blender to mix it up.  Left a few chunks.

Served with a little drizzle of olive oil.

Probably a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, or some sharp cheese might go well on top, too.

Soup Coup

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second-rate painting."
       Abraham Maslow

I am staging a soup coup.

I am going to take over the world with soup.

Jesus Christ has a mythic and metaphorical corner on the loaves and fishes market, but my vehicle will be soup.

Here's why soup will conquer evil and create world peace:

1. Soup is good food.

It tastes good.  It is nutritious.  With soup, you can have all four food groups in one pot.  Unless you are making cheese soup or a fancy-schmancy cream soup, it's probably pretty lean, too.

2. Soup is diplomatic.

It's hard to shove yourself away from the table in rage when you are eating soup.  You have to take care.  Unlike steak, grilled cheese or Chocodiles, you can't shove soup in your mouth and chew angrily. And you can't yell at anyone through a mouth full of soup, so you must listen.  First I talk and you eat and listen.  Then I'll eat and you talk and I'll listen.

Soup is disarming, which you already know if you've ever read the children's story Stone Soup.

3. Soup is loving.

A big pot of soup is meant to share. Feed your friends soup and see what happens.  My friend Heather makes her Love Soup if she loves you.  I've decided I'm making vegetarian pho when I want to show my students or friends I care. I hope you have or had a mother who made you homemade soup when you were sick or sad.

And soup leads to bread.  Sharing soup and bread is nourishing for friendships, for our children and for our own souls.

Soup can even be seductive.  If my man makes me soup, he is likely to get some appreciation from me at some point in the future.  He has only done this... maybe twice in our marriage.  But it was hot.  Sometimes I fantasize about him making me soup.  It's a lovely dream.

4.  Soup reduces waste.

Soup reduces food waste. America wastes anywhere from 40-50% of our food supply. Make stock from leftovers stashed in your freezer.  Show a bit of restraint, though (asparagus trimmings aren't good in pho broth, I discovered.)  As a rule, I don't go shopping for many soups I make unless it is a special occasion. Mostly I make soup when I have a bunch of scraps saved up in the freezer and some other veggies to use up.  Here's a recent article on food waste, an issue which seems to be getting some needed press lately.

Fresh produce doesn't come individually wrapped.  Homemade stock doesn't come in shelf-stable packaging. Soup can take advantage of seasonal, local produce. Soup reduces other kinds of waste as well.

5. Soup resists hierarchies and hegemony.

Nothing is more egalitarian than soup.  I suppose there are gourmet soups that are not, but most soups (and definitely the ones I make) are pretty basic food.  I hardly even use wine in them.  The basic flavors are onions, celery, carrots, bay, salt, pepper, garlic... for almost every soup. Nothing fancy, intimidating, holier-than-thou.  I sometimes use a prepared stock, but more and more I don't even do that.  Homemade soup, even gazpacho, rarely gives anyone any attitude.

Canned soups and prepared soup mixes are at the grocery store, but you don't need them to have plentiful and tasty soup.  You just need a little bit of time and practice.  Soup will take down corporate America. Soup is subversive.

6. Soup will be there in a recession.  

Schools may go without librarians and copy paper. Potholes may not be filled. But you can always find something with which to make soup.

7. Soup is forgiving.

It's hard to mess up soup too terribly.  Oversalting is probably the toughest problem, but then just add more water or some potatoes.

8. Soup will simplify your life.

A huge pot of soup, if you don't feed it to your friends, will store easily in fridge and freezer.  It freezes well in old yogurt containers, and heats up easily at work.  You can make a big pot of soup and enjoy it for several meals. And most soup recipes are low-maintenance:  chopping, seasoning and waiting.

9. Soup is meditation. 

Whether chopping vegetables or focusing on your soup spoon as it nears your mouth, soup slows you down, gives you time to think.  To work in the present, process the past, or plan the future.

"Beautiful soup, so rich and green
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup! 
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish
Game, or any other dish? 
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth of beautiful soup?"

Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Sloppily Joyceian Rendition of the Aloha Dance

Inside the Friday night foodtruck fencedin elementary courtyard the plasticleied children scamper.  Firstgrade girls left their spangletoed slippers and sequincrusted costumeclothing at home and cavort in ruffleflowery sundresses, a few in partystore grass skirts and shellbrasseires.  Silk petals baretted into their stringy elementary school locks. Carefree. The politics of friends, though. A teacher trying to break conversation long enough to order a hot dog.  Sonoran dogs doused with beansmayorsalsabacon coze in their warmsoft bread. Fathers dare to eat the bacon wrapped chiles on the side. Mothers nibble the ends.

Pay $3 at the table. Join the PTA. Only $10. Buy a soda. Only 50 cents.  Maybe the school can buy new jumpropes or go see a ballet.

Inside, the humid fully-lit hiphoppopbeatfilled cafeteria, decorated by craftymoms with oversized butcher paper red lilies and undersized tropical foliage and paper lanterns. Tables line up with trays of commercialkitchen cookies and styrofoam punch cups, fruit trays and vegetable snacks. The DJ scratches and the grown-ups love it.  Obese mothers with flowers behind their ears bob along with the music.  The teachers in their leis their tiredeyes breathed inward they dance with the children and keep smiling.  The fat multiracial boy with tight braids does the running man in his sports sandals. Two ADD skinny redhead boys flip around on the floor in fauxbreakdance mania. Their mother sings along to the pop songs, smiling. Rings of girls sloppily spin in circles, jumping, smiling, colliding, letting go, catching on, the circles form and break and form again with different girls.  Fifthgrade haltertopped scandal ignored by the pastelflowered principal.

Fathers in Birkenstocks linedance better than me in my dowdy Friday poetryfestival tee shirt, motherstandard crop pants, nerdy with gym shoes, sweatyfilmed from work and chores. Daughter catches onto the moves. To the right to the right to the left to the left feet feet turn turn. My husband and other tired parents try to look enthused. Fourthgrade boys with their haircombed roam and laugh about their dogs and strategize for video games. The dance floor moves in a floral chaos of well-seeming forms but this is not nothing, this is dancing and elementary joy fringed by the week's exhaustion.  Many real smiles, though. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hiking Stuff


The weather has cooled a few degrees here in Southern AZ, and tomorrow I'm taking the kids out for our first "fall" hike.  We didn't get to hike much over the summer-- we couldn't quite escape the heat most of the time and never did make it up Mt. Lemmon (weirdly).  And so I just collected my gear and sorted it into what I'd need tomorrow and what I only take on longer backpacks.  Into my smaller,  28 liter pack with a wishbone wire hoop suspension and aircraft aluminum internal frame(my gift to myself for completing my national board portfolio), I put my first aid kit (including blister pads), Gerber mini multitool, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, compass/safety whistle, monocle, nanotowl, broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, windbreaker in a stuff sack, matches in waterproof Girl-Scout-nostalgio-retro orange canister, trekking poles, laminated wildlife guides, trail book, and my reservoir.  Or, if you prefer, bladder.  A.K.A. Camelbak. I can't find my bandanas and I think Rich stole them.  Just a theory.

In the fall of 2009 I began training to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim (which I did with five other women, led by our fearless leader Suzanne.) When I first began, I had a lot of weight to lose. I hadn't hiked in a very long time. I was honestly afraid I wouldn't be ready for the Grand Canyon the following June. Suzanne had total confidence in all of us. I promised myself that I would not buy equipment until I showed myself that I was actually going to do this.

I began in my $35 cross-trainers and regular clothing.  After four or five hikes, I invested in good boots, and wool socks (which made a HUGE difference).  Then came good water bottles.  Soon after, a reservoir.  Even though my day pack wasn't built for one, it was worth rigging it in there to avoid having to stop to open a bottle to get a sip of water.  I couldn't believe I had to spend $30 on that.  After that, I didn't buy much for a while.  Good shoes and easy water were all I really needed to train.

But part of the fun of new hobbies is learning the tools of the hobby.  Beyond the inspiring and renewing experience of being outdoors and witnessing the most glorious spring wildflower display anyone could ever remember seeing, our group found much material pleasure in discussing the pros and cons of various equipment.  During the last 6-8 weeks of training I purchased my trekking poles, multitool, 40 liter backpack, ripstop nylon convertible hiking pants, spork, lightweight wide-brim hat, collapsible bowl, etc., etc.  I had proven my commitment to myself, and if I was going to be a backpacker, at my age and weight better equipment definitely helped me enjoy myself more.

Our other favorite topic of conversation during our training hikes was trail snacks.  However, that's a topic for another blog entry.  I must go sleep, rest being another priority high on my hiking preparation list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In Defense of the Streaky Tampon

Now that I have your attention, I should probably explain that I mis-heard my brother Bill when he called my mini-van a Streaking Tampon. I suppose as a metaphor the second version makes a little more sense.

He made this comment while driving my streaking tampon back from Apple Annie's in Willcox a couple of weeks ago.  I should point out that my streaking tampon carried seven people, a wagon, a full-sized cooler and about 25 pounds of produce back from Willcox, and still had enough power to pass the semi trucks up the hill through Benson. So, I shouldn't really let the comment bother me. But for some reason I feel compelled to, once again, defend my nondescript 2005 Chrysler Town and Country mini van, even though Bill and his family borrowed it a few years back for a trip to California, and so are clearly just giving me shit to get me to defend what they know is a great car.

For one thing, a mini van is awesome.  Sure, SUV's can fold down their seats and take a payload.  But only a mini van has that height from floor to ceiling.  I can move an entire twin bed including the mattresses and still have room to slide some bookshelves in alongside it.  I can transport several sheets of sheetrock or plywood. Of course, my children have to take the bus.  It's like a pick-up truck except you can stop at the store on the way without having your stuff disappear out of the back.

For another thing, I haven't had a car payment since 2006, and only this summer did we have any major repairs besides brakes and normal maintenance (I had to put in a new radiator.)  Compare that to my brother, who has pretty much bought a new car every year since 2006, each time losing value on his trade-in.  Come on, now, even if it handles like a streaking tampon, you can't argue with paying no interest for six years and very low maintenance costs.  Even if it does get 17 miles to the gallon... well, maybe that evens out.  I wish it was a hybrid, but I couldn't afford one of those at the time.  And I swore that I would drive this thing until it was no longer practical.  Get my money's worth and save the Earth some resources it would take to build me a new car.  The mini van obviously wins.

And I have to address the misogynistic prejudice so viciously expressed by the moniker my brother laid upon this car.  Streaking Tampon?  Is this supposed to imply that mini vans are not only feminine, but that somehow they are associated with a menstrual cycle, therefore implying that whoever is driving it is batshit crazy out of their minds with PMDD?

Actually, that could be an accurate characterization.  But let's not jump to broad generalizations-- that's only sometimes.  Is he implying the inherent inferiority of the female parts... the ones that produce life?  Whatever!

He says the shape of the mini-van is tampon-esque. Perhaps. Yes. I must agree. However, I might remind him that a tampon is roughly the same shape as a male member.  Hopefully not the same size.  Which, to me makes the mini van a good candidate for a masculine mid-life crisis-induced purchase.  It has a six cylinder engine.  I mean, come on.

Perhaps it's the powder blue color that makes it feminine.  More likely, it's the stereotype of the mom who picks up and drops off and chauffeurs kids around all day in the mini-van.  The soccer mom.  The dance mom.  I have been those things, and a mini van is an excellent vehicle for those purposes.  The van is like a womb-mobile, gently cradling our family throughout its day.  I'm not sure what part of this analogy includes the empty coffee cups, fast food wrappers, Target receipts, old schoolwork and Happy Meal toys that litters the floor of the thing so often.

So why do I need to defend my choice?  Maybe I really need to be defending the lowly tampon.  For if its position is elevated, then therefore too will be my mini-van.  However, if in the end my makeshift argument is not enough to guide Bill into the mini-van fold, from whence he will be reborn of the womb of the mini-van, then all I can do is remind him: You used it!

Some Days

Some Days

My lanyard
noisy with keys
is a cat bell
round my neck

I stalk the halls
cruise the rooms
announce, a jangle:
move along
huddle there
fly away
little birdies

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tweet Tweet. Tweetlee deet.

Follow me on Twitter.  @mshintonsainz

I'm learning.

The biggest things I've learned so far are:

a. It's pretty tough to break through the noise on there!
b. It's public, which makes it a much different dynamic than my FB stuff.  The cool thing about it being public is I don't feel as weird about students following me.  I definitely won't FB friend them.

I'm practicing to try to help the AZK12 center get more conversation going on their blog, Stories from School.

Here's my profile...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who Are We Protecting? My first SFS blog entry

I have been invited to blog for Stories from School AZ, a blog devoted to stories about teaching that show how policy affects teaching practice.

My first entry is, of course, too long. However, I'm happy with it. I'm anxious to see what kind of comments it gets.

I can say from my own experiences that, next to losing a student to suicide, one of the worst feelings a teacher can have is the kick to the gut that comes when she is put in the position of being an arm of an institution, to the detriment of other important things in the classroom, like the mutual trust and respect of her students.  Makes me feel like Nurse Ratched.  Except that she is more purely personally evil.  Or does she truly think she is doing the right thing?

Is there any personal redemption in the acknowledgement of our failings?

Anyway, through a specific school story about a suicidal teen and mandatory reporting, I hope I've addressed an important topic about the need for institutions to address individuals.

Please read (and hopefully enjoy... and comment!)

Who Are We Protecting?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Multimedia Multitasking Mash Up, August 6

Multimedia Multitasking Mash Up, August 6

The teachers are losing
their minds but finding others
along the way
Sikhs in Wisconsin
with holes in them
elliptical hamster wheel
headphones set to Fatboy Slim
poems of the past, snippets,
float across my conscience
yes conscience and consciousness
little mysteries and big ones
cosmic transmissions from the
face of Mars the victory
of human imagination
children’s backpacks filled with cupcakes

a desert murderer forcibly
medicated until his schizophrenia
is no longer an excuse 

put him on the uneven bars
and see if he’ll vault

and the Batman the Batman
will he rise again?  Of course
he will in the crack theater houses
where we are addicted to
the monomyth.  We get our fix.

What other story is there?
Searching for a narrative to
explain Gabby Douglas
and her medallions  

the heroes run in circles
I need my Robin
and we’ll hand to hand
combat the ice cream truck
which sells us happiness
for spare change before dinner. 


I wrote this during writing time with my Creative Writing class. I will probably revise and edit later at some point.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Old Holden

"It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What We Picked in Willcox

The kids and I just spent the day with my brother Bill, Angel and their kids. We went to Willcox and picked produce at Apple Annies. Here are the spoils:

We had more fun than it looks like the girls are having in this photo:

It was either the heat, or they were testing out their pouty model poses.  Not sure!

But I got a sweet picture of my boy that makes me wish I had a better camera:

And a precious lot of freckles from my girl...

And lots of fresh food for the week and for the freezer.

I'm looking forward to stuffed peppers and calabacitas.  Mmmm....

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Yeasty Goodness

This is a very sweet article about my dad's recent work with his 4-H Baking Club in Seaside, OR.

His approach to teaching these kids to bake as reflected in the article explains a lot about why I am almost genetically resistant to strict recipe-following.

Here were my comments on the article:
Michael Hinton is my dad, and I can tell you that the family legacy of good cookin' goes much deeper than the old A and Dub and Taco Time. I remember my grandpa's barbecued pork (marinated in a good southern vinegar marinade) and of course my grandmother makes the best boiled custard at holiday time, and makes a mean strawberry jam and blackberry pie. Dad bakes wonderful breads and fusses over his unique take on a variety of slow-cooked soups and other dishes. His wife, Lita, taught me chiles rellenos and developed her own recipe for whole-grain crepes that are to die for. A Hinton family affair is never short of good, fresh, homemade food. Wish I could be there to sample those breads right now!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Artists are Necessary

Have you ever come to the realization that a theme has been festering in your life?  Not festering-- that's a terrible word.  Incubating.  Thinkubating.  And you haven't purposefully sought out information or perspectives on it, but instead they seem to have come to you because of a great need you never even allowed yourself to acknowledge? 

The theme that seems to be floating toward me on what Emerson would call the "currents of the Universal Being" is the simple idea that art is necessary.  Art is a necessary and vital part of our human experience, and our ability to resist being human when we need to.  The often-excerpted passages from Thoreau's Walden came my way, about us living meanly like ants, the urging to spend our lives observing only realities and thinking, breaking away from the habit, routine and useless gossip of daily life;  Emerson's ideal of finding the unique Genius in our students and guiding them as they meet its needs; Northrup Frye's The Educated Imagination-- read that for the first time in the last year. I read This article about why the market economy model does not work in education, which rests partially on the premise that minds are NOT commodities! And then after that I read Chris Hedges' article about why the subversion of art is essential to democracy, which echoed a poem I had read at the beginning of the school year last year and really liked: Ferlinghetti's Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signalling you through the flames].

The idea that art is necessary to human experience, and also to a thriving democracy, is almost absent from mainstream curriculum mapping and standards-writing.  Whenever art programs are justified, they seem to be justified in terms of their ability to prepare students for the creativity that they may have to use to do their 21st Century job.  Innovation around the conference table.  Or they are justified in terms of their ability to build "basic skills" like math, reading and writing.  Take OMA in Tucson, for example.  I respect their program and their teachers-- they've done WONDERFUL things for my children, but I don't understand why art has to be justified only in terms of basic skills or its ability to generate future income for our students. I mean, I do understand it.  It's about money.  And our public policy, when it comes down to it, is largely money and safety driven. It's almost impossible to explain in a language that can be taken seriously by policymakers how important it is that folks are able to appreciate a well-written poem or novel, or interpret subtleties in a work of independent film, or write those novels, or make those films. And that's too bad. 

I believe the arts (visual arts, performing arts, writing) allow individuals, communities, and humanity as a collective group to, by representing ourselves, to understand ourselves and each other better, and on a level that is, perhaps, spiritual without pertaining at all to religion.  The arts take us both outside of ourselves and into our imaginations, beyond the daily grind, and ask us to consider things a little more slowly, in a way that is not about budgets, mileage or calories.  And goodness knows we all need to slow down a little, or the world will soon spin off its axis.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Learned this Week(ish) 2

School starts tomorrow.  Therefore I can think of nothing else but writing a blog entry.  Makes perfect sense. (There I go breaking my new year's resolution to put subjects in all my sentences).

1.  Americans seem more willing to drive across town to their nearest chicken joint to show they hate gay marriage than to write legislators or go marching in favor of better school funding... or, really, pick your issue.  Jeez, I could make you a really good chicken sandwich AND buy a kid a book for $20.

My theory is that they really wanted some juicy chicken nuggets, and just didn't have the nuggets to stand up for human rights and were willing to burn gas waiting in the drive-thru line for a taste of those tasty nuggets.  I wonder how many Americans became right-wing fundamentalist bigots today because the idea of giving up Chik-Fil-A was just too tempting.

Another take is that it must be a form of class warfare.  I think the Occupy protesters would have, for the most part, said the government has no place deciding who a person marries.  They were living on the streets in tents and taking showers in McDonalds' bathrooms for their protest.  How much political swagger can a protest really carry when everyone is in line at the drive-thru in their stinky SUV's?  It's middle class warfare against... well... against pretty much everyone else.  I don't think this paragraph really makes sense, but I'm moving on...

2.  I reminded myself how to jump a car and then later learned how to remove and replace the battery in my car without catching it on fire (as I once did in college-- my little Chevy Luv truck with the painted daisy hubcaps and the Nissan engine; my tuba was in the cab and it was a Friday at 6 p.m. at the U of A and nobody was around to help.  I ultimately started scooping handsful of dirt and putting them on top of the quickly melting battery, where the acid was beginning to leak over the sides.  It was one of many embarrassing moments in my life.)  In case you need this information, I found it at

Thankfully, the problem was the battery and NOT the alternator... at least so far.

3.  I learned that Taco Bell gives away free tacos when the D-Backs win.  But I'll never be able to take advantage of that, since I am immune to baseball.  Sorry, Honey.

4.  I learned that many recent stories about robots and A.I. contain a lot of eroticism.
 I was talking with someone about this (which I noticed in the collection of robot stories I'm reading) and they said they didn't see the correlation, except that the geeks who write the stuff must need to get some action.  But I think it makes sense.  Even the stories that aren't physically sexual explore the issue of intimacy, especially psychological intimacy.  It makes sense in stories about artificial intelligences because not only do they explore the nature of being human, which quickly travels to exploring human relationships, but they also explore identity (gender, sexuality included). Think about it; an A.I. doesn't have to have the same body forever... it's life span isn't limited to the lifespan of a human body... but if it were a true A.I. it's mind/ consciousness would continue to evolve. So, many of the stories explore the possibilities there, the idea that the A.I. could to varying degrees enter a human consciousness (and subconsciousness) and exist there alongside the human mind.  And so the full range of qualities of human relationships are explored.  Refreshingly, not all these stories are male fantasies about fembots.

The book is called Robots: The Recent A.I. , and here's my review from Goodreads:

Robots: The Recent A.IRobots: The Recent A.I by Rich Horton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this collection. It's been years since I read a lot of science fiction, although it used to be one of my favorite genres, and after reading this I felt a little more up to date on the possibilities being explored in the realm of artificial intelligence.

Many of the stories were quite erotic, and at first that surprised me. But I soon realized that it makes sense that stories that so directly confront concepts of human consciousness and identity would become stories about relationships and intimacy, physical and otherwise. Several of the stories involve an a.i. sharing interior space with a human. Others focus on intimacy between two a.i.'s who are life partners, life spanning hundreds of years. Another even explores the idea of an a.i. designed to promote the happiness of its owner, except that the owner is happy raping people. Quite disturbing, that one.

Some of the stories also explore the possibility for a consciousness other than human, which also makes a lot of sense. Why should humanity be the model for all forms of consciousness? And the last story of the collection, possibly my favorite, also hints at how human consciousness evolving alongside an a.i. consciousness creates a whole new life form almost. That story was also possibly my favorite because it explored ways of communicating based almost entirely in story, metaphor, mythology, and the possibility of an a.i. basically drawing on the monomyths of humanity to either carry out or create its own mythology.

I highly recommend this book, although I'm a little hesitant about lending it out to my students who were interested in it because of some of the content. They may have to find their own copy.

View all my reviews