Five for Friday

My top raves of the week:

1. Quentin Coldwater in the Season 4 finale of The Magicians


The Magicians Quentin Coldwater a strange case. In the books he was meant to subvert the trope of the savior; instead of being super special, he was an average, depressed dude with a marginal talent for magic. In the show he always wanted to be the hero but kept getting outshined by the other characters. The season 4 finale of The Magicians was all his. He became the hero in every sense of the word, but most especially the tragic one.

2. Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone


I just finished Two Serpents Rise, Max Gladstone’s second book in his fantasy Craft Sequence series, about a world full of living and dead gods, and mortals who use a complex system of rules to keep both magic and gods in check. While no book is perfect, he did a great job of creating a wholly unique world very loosely based on Aztec and Mayan legends. His prose is intense (and intimidating from a writer’s standpoint) and his characterizations are effective. Most of all, this book was fun, which is what any reader really wants.

3. Karmacoma by Massive Attack

Once upon a time videos were close to art. I don’t know if I’d put this video in that category but what I love about this throwback is how it spins stories in the viewers mind. Welcome to the weirdest hotel outside of the one in The Shining. What the hell is going on? The guy hunting his tiny double? Why did that other guy get shot in the stomach? The kidnapped kid? The weird homeless dude? The random nosebleed woman? Plus the song holds up after a couple of decades. Hard to beat.

4. Florida Man Aggressively Eats Pasta

florida spaghetti

In Florida (of course), a crazed Jesus hipster looking man, looking beat to hell, was arrested at an Olive Garden for aggressively eating pasta (spoiler: he was drunk). I could eat this story up forever.

5. Dany Targaryen’s bloody coat in Game of Thrones

GoT Dany

I’m not much for fashion. but this coat? I couldn’t look away. Give the costumers an Oscar right now. Fur the color of pure snow, but hidden beneath were lines of red. Blood and snow mingling beautifully. Nothing subtle about this foreshadowing. I can’t wait for the blood!


Wanna live forever (well, at least 30% longer)?

Immortality beckons. It’s that one thing unattainable to all of us. No matter how lucky, rich, or good looking we are, the odds are 99.999999% that we will die (there’s always the slimmest of chances that someone, somewhere has outsmarted death).


But like modern day Ponce de Leons rambling through Florida searching for the fountain of youth (the irony of him searching in Florida of all places), scientists are diligently trying, if not to have us live forever, then at least a bit longer.

One idea that’s been tossed around has been to upload our consciousness onto the web, or some other computer. But that begs the question — even if it would be possible to map our gray and white matter into bits and bytes, would it really be us?

Forget that for now. We won’t be cylons any time soon.


Instead scientists are focused on taking what we have — our flesh and blood bodies — and making them better.

The latest: scientists at UCLA have targeted a gene that counterbalances the harmful but seemingly unavoidable aging process, and by manipulating it in fruit flies, they’ve been able to extend life spans (in the flies) by as much as 30%.

fruitflyFirst question: what good are fruit flies? We’re a lot more complex than them after all. Well, fruit flies are easy to study for one thing. Scientists know all the fruit fly genes, and can switch them on and off at will. Plus, their genetics correspond to 75% of our disease-causing genes. It’s not proof, but it’s a good first start.

Second question: what are they doing exactly? They identified a gene called AMPK that, when activated specifically in the nervous system and the gut, spread beneficial effects throughout the body. It is believed that this gene could help offset the damaging effects of a range of diseases.

If this hold true in humans, the average lifespan could be shifted to well over 100. And not only would we theoretically live longer, but our quality of life would be vastly improved. Yes, in a way it’s science meets sci-fi.

Don’t rush down to the nearest gene therapy clinic just yet. This work is all very preliminary. But it’s got to start somewhere.