January 2012 Archives

It is a strange thing to post at such a well-known techy econo-futurist blog. That's not my usual hat, see. I'm a fantasy writer, and more particularly, a folklorist and historian. It is literally my job to find value in old things, to show people versions of themselves in ancient stories. Nobody asks me what I think about the future.

It's not that I don't have a dog in this race. I am, I know you'll be surprised to hear, a human living in the early 21st century with a vested interest in continuing at least one of those states (human or living in the 21st century--I'm not super picky which). And having just written a time-sprawling posthuman AI novella, it's fairly clear I have thoughts on the subject. It's just that, to belabor a metaphor, your dog is a SuperLabrador with paw-rockets, a tail that can hack wirelessly into the holorabbit whipping around the track, and an honest, loving, loyal cyborg heart. Mine is an old herd-dog, shaggy, dark, beautiful and uncanny, primeval and enormous--and every once in awhile, even though her heart is blood and muscle, she wins as if by magic.

A friend of mine said the other day that he'd surprised himself by starting to write a fantasy novel rather than his beloved SF. He felt it was a story he needed to tell, but also confined by what he saw as the limitations of fantasy: that it is essentially about the past and therefore not concerned with possibility in the same way--in fact, by definition a genre of the impossible. A genre of might-have-been instead of could-someday-be.

Charlie here: I'm writing this in a hotel room in Manhattan. It's been a long and exhausting week.

It started at 4am last Wednesday, when I left home in Edinburgh; I timed the door-to-door travel time to a hotel in Colorado Springs and it worked out as 24 hours and 6 minutes (with a seven hour time zone change on top). COSine, the local Colorado Springs SF convention was a blast, and I'd like to thank everyone (and in particular, con chair Joe Sokola) for inviting me. Then it all re-started again on Monday, with a 4am start and a couple of flights that ended at La Guardia. I'm now decompressing somewhat, but still rushing around: New York is where a huge chunk of the US publishing business is based, and I'm here because my agent and both my largest publishers are here.

Anyway, because I'm here, I might as well announce that I'm planning on holing up in a pub on Thursday evening: I'll be at The Ginger Man (11 East 36th St, NYC) from 6pm this Thursday 2nd. (No reservation, all welcome. Well, all who read this blog, or my twitter feed, or my Facebook page. I'd rather you didn't try to flashmob the place by inviting random strangers.)

I had a request for some Russian recipes, so I'm gonna hit you with Salad Olivier over the quiet internet weekend.

The problem with Russian Cuisine and Me is that I don't like dill and I don't like sour cream. These ingredients are prominent in like 90% of Russian dishes. So I end up altering things a lot, because I want to be able to eat it. I'll eat the cow tongue and the pickled herring and dammit, I'll even have the chicken jello if I get salt and some thick bread to put it on, but the smell of dill turns my stomach and unless it's swirled in borscht, sour cream is just foul.

All of this brings me to Olivier, which is a traditional and much beloved Russian/Ukrainian adaptation of a French dish (far more of Russian cooking is French-derived than you'd think, thanks to pre-Revolution courtly connections with France) often served at holidays. And how you feel about it depends on how you feel about potato salad in general.

As I was watching the finale of Sherlock last night, a fun little thought experiment popped into my head and I thought you folks would be the perfect lab to try it out in. I hemmed and hawed for a little while over whether this was too hard or too easy--which is probably a good sign. So. On to one of the more overused tropes in any genre!

How would you go about faking your own death?

Like any good story, there have to be some restrictions, of course.

1. You must appear to die in front of witnesses. No simply sending a mass email from a fake account. The method of death, however, is up to you. You must appear credibly dead for at least a brief period of time.

2. You cannot use anything or anyone you do not actually have access to in your real life. If you don't know someone who is amazing at Hollywood-level makeup and could keep your secret, or aren't besties with a coroner, you can't manifest them out of thin air for this scenario. (If you do, however, knock yourself out.)

Oddly enough, this has come up in my family. The minute I mentioned that I was thinking of asking Charlie's commenters to fake their own deaths, my husband said: Oh, we kind of had to do that back in Russia! He may actually be the child of some kind of Soviet superhero breeding program, given how often he busts out these kinds of stories.

Turns out, in order to immigrate to the United States, Dmitri's father, despite being in his 40s, had to secure either his father's permission or his father's death certificate. They did not have either. Why? Because apparently, "his father's disappearance was a mystery." I'm quoting directly so you will know how very like the beginning of a Holmes story this sounded.

Thus, the family had to bureaucratically fake a death which none of them could be sure had actually occurred and produce a death certificate out of nothing.

Obviously, I'm asking you for a slightly tougher task, with a pesky body to swap or mangle or vanish. But do consider to whom you will be faking your death: who in your life would have to believe you are beyond this mortal coil in order for you to be effectively deceased? Who would keep your secret? This is where the too hard/too easy thing comes in. People are really more likely to believe anything they're told or see that's remotely plausible, I think, than kids in murder mystery shows. But at the same time, if a death is too flashy, in the real world there's usually an investigation, which would sink you unless you were very good.

But I have faith in you! The game is afoot!

Edit: Please be as elaborate as possible--that's part of the fun. Also, no more boating scenarios, we're full up. And as the conversation has evolved, feel free consider how one lives in the world post-death.

Hello there! My name is Cat Valente (Catherynne M. if you're nasty reading my business cards) and I'll be your blogger for the next month. I hope we'll have some good times together, some laughs, some tears, and at the end we can sit back and look on our montage reel with a soft focus lens and some mid-90s comfort rock.

For those of you (which I suspect is most of you) who don't know who I am, I present a few Facts before I get into the technofuture thoughttery.

I'm mostly a fantasy writer. But I've branched out into science fiction in the last couple of years. I dig folklore all the way and a lot of what I write deals with that, even the SF, because we don't just stop telling stories to explain ourselves to ourselves when we have shinier tech. A lot of what I write features what gets variously called "rich language" "lyrical prose" or "I couldn't follow it, can't she use fewer/easier words?"

I write a lot of books for adults and have a pretty successful middle grade series going. I've done some time editing but it didn't agree with me. I write fast--I teach seminars on how to write a book in 30 days. I've won some awards, lost several, and I've been at the gig since 2004, full-time since 2006. I blog myself over on Livejournal.

I live on an island off the coast of Maine, which is both more and less isolating than you'd think. I live in a village of a few hundred people, a lot of us grow, raise, and/or fish a fair portion of our own food, and connected through a listserv, we have a unique internal economy wherein we barter for goods and services. Once an object has been brought across the bay, it is such a pain in the ass to take it back that it tends to stay on the island for more or less centuries, traded from hand to hand, sometimes bought with money, but mostly not. This includes your physical body: we have three large graveyards on an island slightly less than two miles long. But we are part of the city of Portland, only two miles offshore, and have regular ferry service.

I have two dogs (Golden Retriever and German Shepherd), two cats (Maine Coon and Stray Extremely Ill-Tempered Tabby Who Came Home from the Park with My Husband Eleven Years Ago and Will Obviously Live Forever Fueled by Her Hatred of the Universe) and six laying hens (I present their names as they probably tell you more about me than this whole post: Pertelote, Billina, Black Chocobo, Dinosaur, Ziggy Stardust and Nanny Ogg). Little known fact: my Maine Coon has a full sister and half brother owned by awesome author Seanan McGuire.

If the Maine thing didn't make it clear, I'm American--I thought I'd throw that out up front since this is a European blog and I'm, well, not. I will necessarily have a slightly different political perspective. Many of you have governments that will take care of you when you're sick! Mine would rather let me rot, most especially since I am a self-employed writer. Good times. However, I actually lived in Edinburgh, a city relevant to this blog, and went to university there (since I know you're all internet research hounds, I'll explain: I went as an exchange student? But then it turned out no one in the history of the program had ever gone in my major--Classics--and few enough in their senior year, so they sat me down and were all: "Yeah, you're going to need to take and pass the full degree exams for both Greek and Latin or you can't graduate from your American university either." And kids, those are no joke. Especially when they only tell you that two weeks before the exam. So by god I feel it's legit to say I went to university at Edinburgh, though my diploma says University of California.) so we needn't discuss cookies vs biscuits or lift vs elevator or any of that. I also lived in Japan for a couple of years when I was first publishing.

Aside from writing I'm an Italian-American woman with no kids, so naturally I cook like a fiend. I'll definitely be sharing some recipes. I'm also an avid knitter, I make pickles (because I married a Russian man and homemade pickles are love-in-a-jar for him) and jams, I sail and blow glass and I am trying to learn the accordion but damn, it is not the easiest instrument I could have chosen to pick up. Other than sailing, which I was raised with as both my parents were sailors, I picked up most of these hobbies when, like Charlie, my hobby became my day job and I suddenly needed something else to do as a hobby.

Part of the reason Charlie asked me to come over here and natter for a month because I posted about his recent series of future/worldbuilding posts a few weeks ago. Basically, he kind of freaked me out. That Stross, he is a convincing guy when he talks about the future!

The kind of science fiction I write is not as concerned with the near future. I take a folkloric approach to SF--these are the stories we are telling ourselves right now about our own nature, this is how we explain the world to ourselves. I like to take those stories apart and put them back together in strange shapes. I think in every meaningful way we are living in "the future" of the 50s, of which flying cars were never the central feature. I am thirty-two years old--I remember life before the internet, but I was a child. My adult life has been characterized by radical technological and political change I, as a classicist who did not even have an email address until she was twenty, could not have begun to predict. (Ok, not true, classicists are really good at predicting politics. It's the tech that stumbles us. I could have predicted my 8 bit games turning into Skyrim, but not that a glorified classmates.com would take over the technological world.) Now that the internet has settled into being a massive an integral part of our lives on Planet Earth, we are starting to see how it changes our culture in the medium to long term, how profoundly it skews even comparatively young predictions of 15 years ago. The internet is not a Singularity with a capital S, but it is a sea change sharing more in common with the Industrial Revolution than simply a new device.

One of the problems that is leading to some of the more dire issues Charlie brings up is memory. Not personal memory (at least not per se) or senescence, but generational and cultural memory. No one is now living who can remember the Industrial Revolution, so the West draws very few lessons from that, so few that we just assume the world created by that Revolution is the one we'll be living in in perpetuity. We think technological advancement means new toys, not new worlds. I lived in Ohio for awhile, part of what is sort of affectionately called the Rust Belt in the United States. It used to be called the Steel Belt. It was where great swathes of American manufacturing, particularly automotive manufacturing, took place. Towns thrived on their auto plants, tire plants, steel mills, came into being purely to fill jobs at those facilities. With only a few exceptions, those plants have been shut for decades now. Some shut down in the 80s, some shut down in the 70s. Yet if you talk to older folk in those once-booming towns, most will tell you that one day the industry will come back. The politicians will make it happen, or somehow they will make their town attractive enough again that magically a steel mill will appear with a big red bow on it. Some of the younger generation knows it isn't so--but only some.

Because industrial boom is normal, right? The way of life that worked for exactly one generation--the Boomers--will work for everyone from now on. Any bust or crisis is a blip, a deviation which will, which must, correct itself. Because culturally we have about two generations worth of memory, maybe three, and then the black curtain comes down and we can't imagine that life in a 20th century first world nation is itself the aberration in human experience. What do you mean you can't afford a house by the time you're 30? What do you mean there are no good entry level positions? You're just not trying hard enough. The steel mills will come back, you'll see.

Will the internet go the way of the steel mill? I don't know, maybe. We still use steel, but the way we make it, buy it, and sell it has changed profoundly and cannot change back. (Nothing changes back, only forward. I suppose this is a relevant lesson for publishing, really. Radical change is the new black.) Certainly the current state of the internet, which is itself changed pretty radically from just five or six years ago, will change enormously, no matter how many articles I read on the permanence of Facebook. (See what I mean about memory? They said MySpace was permanent, too, and that was hardly a generation ago. I remember thinking Livejournal would go on forever.) Facebook changed the culture of online interaction and it can't change back, but it will certainly be replaced by something else--the question is only how it will be changed. By government intvervention, SOPA 2: Beyond Thunderdome, by independent companies innovating or by enormous corporations cannibalizing each other. Probably all of those. I can't imagine the internet going away entirely, I don't think you can put that massive networked genie back in the bottle--but I suppose that's the point. I live in a company town. It's inconceivable right now that the company won't always be around.

I think everyone is kind of freaked out right now. Which is why they set up tents on the street last year. Why some are still there. We're freaked because we don't know what's coming--but we're reasonably sure it's going to be shitty. Dystopia is the thing to write about these days. We have more faith in dystopia than utopia. SF used to be all about utopia, Starfleet and replicators and living forever. To be honest, Brave New World seems kind of cute to me these days. At least the oppressive government thought to hand out Soma so trod-upon people wouldn't be so goddamn miserable! Our governments just say: suck it up, epsilon assholes. Might as well be stamped on our coins.

It's tough to say everything's going to be ok. Living at the end of one way of life and the beginning of another sucks. Most people just want to be fat and happy and do some meaningful work, have kids, and die. Except for dying, the ability to do all of that is up in the air these days. And that's where we are. Industrial life is in its death throes and it isn't pretty or fair. Daddy Tolkien will tell us it was no treat living in the just-post Industrial Revolution, either. After all, we all know our history: what follows Revolutions? Usually, Terror.

That's why, I think, there's been a small but concerted effort to "bring back" optimistic SF in the last few years. We're looking for ways to know it'll all work out without mass extinction or widespread horror. The trouble is that massive technological change is not optimistic for some people, it's frightening. Terrifying. And not just mainstream "mundanes," or else what is the recent newfound love of the 19th century all about? What else has driven half my generation back to spinning wheels, knitting needles, preserving jars, and livestock? Everything is uncertain--let's go back and pretend it's still possible to live in the Shire. I'm guilty of it, too, obviously.

And I guess the whole point of writing future-oriented SF is to show one possible way it could all work out. Even if that involves dystopia. In some sense, big S Singularity is such an easy answer to that. An escape hatch--we'll all uplift, upload, and upend everything, and sort of skip the problems at the end of this chapter. SF writers don't get to call the shots, but we are meant to show the way.

Of course, once we get there, memory will fade and we'll forget it was any other way.

I'm 12 hours from getting on a plane (the first of three) in the direction of sunny, tropical Colorado Springs. This weekend, I'm guest of honour at COSine; thereafter ... well, I'll post my convention program and my subsequent itinerary on Thursday (assuming all flights go well). Play nice, and give a warm welcome to our new guest blogger, Cat Valente!

In earlier think-pieces I discussed a very normative, predictable, conservative (in the sense of unadventurous) version of the likely shape of the next century.

Of course, it's not going to be like that.

I have, in general, very little time for Donald Rumsfeld; but he's very occasionally right about something, and in February 2002, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he made a rather remarkable speech for a contemporary politician; one in which he attempted to distinguish between categories of uncertainty:

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don't know.
Contorted though his language might be, that's a pretty good guide to the future.

Yes, I'm travelling again, from next Wednesday. (I'll post details of my public fixtures tomorrow: places I'll be hitting include Colorado Springs, Manhattan, and Boston.)

While I'm on the road, blogging will be very erratic. So I'm handing over the soap box this time to award-winning and wildly innovative fantasy novelist Cat Valente. Here's her potted author bio:

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton Award, the Tiptree Award, the Mythopoeic Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Million Writers Award She has been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, and Spectrum Awards, the Pushcart Prize, and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award in 2007 and 2009. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and enormous cat.
Catherynne will be dropping in to blog here from next week ...

(This will redound to our detriment in the long term.)

As you might have noticed, the British public unintentionally elected a rather weird pantomime horse coalition government nearly two years ago. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Conservatives vowed to reduce the national deficit — the ratio of tax income to expenditure — in order to reduce the government's level of borrowing. There's more than one way to do this: you can raise tax levels, cut expenditure, or cut tax and increase expenditure selectively to encourage economic growth (and thus increase tax receipts in the long term). The government decided to rely overwhelmingly on just one lever, however: spending cuts.

When the budget is cut, hard choices are made. Do you cut healthcare spending, or essential provision for the severely disabled (and those unable to work because there are no jobs to go round)? Or do you cut fripperies, such as the maintenance budget for public parks or libraries?

As in several other countries, here in the UK we have a thing called the Public Lending Right. PLR is a small pot of cash distributed annually to authors who have registered books that are loaned out via British libraries. This is compensation for sales lost to library loans. It's not a huge pot, and the disbursement is relatively small: it was 6.29 pence (£0.0629) per loan prior to February 2010, and there was a ceiling on payouts — both Terry Pratchett and J. J. Rowling stood to take home no more than £6600 each. To put it in perspective, the royalty an author receives for the sale of a £7.99 paperback is on the order of 60p, or the equivalent of ten loans under the scheme.

Since the Coalition were elected, PLR payments have been cut, modestly: to 6.25p in February 2011, and 6.05p in February 2012. Not too onerous for a round of public belt-tightening ... but it's only a cut of 5% or so over two years, right?

Which is why I am extremely worried to report that my payment has fallen from £1,956.21p in February 2011 to £1,371.39p in February 2012.

I registered two additional titles in 2011, thus increasing my number of titles eligible for loans by around 10%. And my publishers' sales figures don't show my sales to the public falling significantly. (The picture is muddied by the recession and the implosion of Borders in the USA, but I haven't suddenly fallen into the memory hole.)

After taking into account the fact that payments are made at 96.8% of the level in 2012 as in 2011, this corresponds to a drop in library loans of 27.6% in one year — probably more, taking into account the new titles.

I'm not worried because of a cut to my income: rather, I'm worried about the big picture. Libraries are substantially but not exclusively used by children, the unemployed, and pensioners: mostly people without the discretionary spending power to shrug and go to a bookshop instead.

And note the first group I mentioned. I'm not a children/young adult author, but if the drop in my PLR loans reflects library closures, then we have just slammed the door in the face of a new generation of readers. I got my start reading fiction from my local library; the voracious reading habits of a bookish child aren't easily supported from a family budget under strain from elsewhere during a time of cuts. I hate to think what the long term outcome of this short-term policy is going to be, but I don't believe any good will come of it.

If this was an American blog, it would be going dark for 24 hours tomorrow in sympathy with the strike against the Stop Online Piracy Act currently before Congress — which might more accurately be named the Rent-Seeking Plutocrats Enabling Act.

But this is not an American blog, I don't get to vote in those elections (not being American), and meddling in other folks' internal politics is rarely sensible. So I'm simply going to note my sympathy for the strikers at this point, and suggest that if you're American and don't want your internet future to be dominated by centralized media entities stamping down on anything resembling satire or remix culture or independent thought, you might want to learn about SOPA and get campaigning.


Meanwhile, in France, where President Sarkozy's government passed the draconian HADOPI anti-downloading law a couple of years back, it appears that the Elysee Palace is a hive of law-breaking online pirates ...

(PS: Many of the links in this blog entry will fail if you click on them on January 18th, the day of the anti-SOPA internet strike. They should be back by the 19th.)

"The past is a different country; they do things differently there."

In my last essay I discussed the likely and predictable environmental and technical constraints on writing fiction set in the 21st century, specifically looking at 2032 and 2092 as yardsticks. But I said virtually nothing about probably the most important factor in defining what our world might look like in the near future — namely, how we perceive it, and how our perception of our world feeds back into the way we behave (and how this in turn determines its shape).

This is of necessity a much fuzzier and more incoherent, flexible view of the future. But let's start with the predictive element that looks most likely — that the future will be about cities full of elderly people who are afraid of the sky — and then ask what this means.

Hi, everybody! After my brief blogging stint here last summer, Charlie graciously offered to let me appear here now and then when I have something major to announce. I do: the fifth and final Virga novel, Ashes of Candesce, will be published in exactly a month, and you can read an excerpt online now for free, at Tor.com.

In 2008, at the height of my game, my life was derailed by long-anticipated but unwelcome heart surgery. The publishing gap this left has hurt me dearly, but finally it's here--the novel I wrote in the long and painful recovery period after they opened me up. I'm kinda nervous about this one, and hopeful, and eager to get back on the horse after nearly three years.

I'll leave you with a brief excerpt from a letter, addressed to Antaea Argyre, and sent by history tutor Leal Hieronyma Maspeth:

"I believe something has awakened in one of the cold abandoned places of the world. It is picking off the weak and those who get separated from the group and it is growing bolder.

If you make inquiries no one will admit to anything, so don't even try! I know I'm asking a lot, but you must trust me. We need someone who has experience with this world's mysteries, Antaea.

We need a hunter."

The rest, you'll be able to see for yourselves, after February 14.

Right now, over at the venerable discussion board known as the WELL, Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky and having their regular annual State of the World pow-wow, this time for 2012.

I always find these fascinating, because Chairman Bruce is the pre-eminent thought leader of modern near-future SF.

Just to let you know that between working on a novel ("robot accountants in spaaace!"), torturing the little people who live inside my iPad, and watching the gruesome train-wreck that is the Republican presidential primaries on the other side of the Atlantic ("I'm crazy: I want to define life as starting before conception!" "That's not crazy! I'm a billionaire and I want to ban taxes while nuking Iran!" "You think you're crazy? I bite the heads off atheist chickens in church every Sunday and I want to bring about the Apocalypse!") ... I am fresh out of subjects to blog about. So what would you like me to blog about? NB: the Republican presidential primaries are not a suitable subject.

(Just for the record, I want Santorum to win the nomination. Just so I can see another conceding-defeat family group portrait like this one. It's so Edward Gorey!)

Back when "Halting State" had just come out, I began having "Halting State moments"—flashes of deja vu when aspects of a work of near-future science fiction began cropping up in the news.

Now I'm having Rule 34 moments:

"At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles."

Here was one of the biggest investment banks in the world seeking psychopaths as recruits.

From The Independent: Brian Basham: Beware corporate psychopaths - they are still occupying positions of power.

Paging the Toymaker ...

(Alternatively, as Vladimir Lenin remarked, "what is to be done?")

This blog gets hit by spammers.

A couple of years ago the spam load was pretty bad; then we moved to a server with a new IP address. I reckon the blog spammers are using tools hardwired to go to a specific IP address (saving the DNS resolver overheads) and blast some fields at a CGI script. Unfortunately in October the spammers caught up with the new IP address and the spam load hitting this site has been rising ever since, from around 200 spams/month to around 7700/month currently (and rising).

The vast bulk of the spam (around 90% of it—over 200 spams/day) come from roboposters these days. And they have a common characteristic: they either leave the "your name" field blank when posting, or they fill it with "anonymous".

As you can see if you hang around the discussions here, not much spam gets through. We have filters; we also have volunteer moderators (both to nuke any spam that makes it past the filters and to enforce the moderation policy).

Unfortunately, the robospammers mean that some changes to the way I run this blog are necessary.

For starters: I don't insist that you use your real name when posting comments. Pseudonyms or anonymous handles will get you closer scrutiny by the moderators, because they are frequently used by trolls, but there are legitimate reasons for not wanting to use your true name on the internet. However you should use a pseudonym other than "anonymous" because all comments posted by "anonymous" go straight in the spam bin. Which is so full-to-overflowing that nobody bothers to check it for misplaced ham these days. NB: calling yourself "a. n. onymouse" (or variations thereon) will work fine.

For seconds: a huge amount of spam relates to three categories: (a) dodgy financial assistance (loans, credit, etc), (b) luxury designer brands (you would not believe the number of spammers who seem to think you all want to buy cheap Karen Millen dresses and Gucci handbags), and (c) prescription medication (Cialis, Viagra, you name it, they want to sell it to you). If you want to refer to these medicines or high-end designer brands in a comment, mangle the spelling slightly. Stick a space or a punctuation character in it. (I feel safe telling you to do this here because the spammers, almost by definition, aren't part of the conversation and won't read these helpful tips).

Thirdly: if you post something and it vanishes into the moderation black hole, feel free to post another comment saying "Moderator HELP!". We'll look for it. (Please bear in mind, though, that we may well live in a different time zone from you and be in bed at the time. And this is not the New York Times, with a paid staff on 24x7 duty.)

Finally: as noted here, this blog doesn't take advertising (because it is an advert). However, I won't snarl at you if, in the course of a discussion you post a recommendation or a link to some commercial product or service that may interest other readers as long as you have no financial interest in the product. Found something that you like using and want to share it? That's fine. Taking revenue from click-throughs or otherwise boosting the noise level for purposes of search engine optimization? That's not cool. Not sure whether what you want to push is okay? Just ask.



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