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He calls himself a futurist—some say he’s a comedian Author Harlan Ellison makes his points with attitude and humor

Author Harlan Ellison. Photo by Allan E. Dines

This story was published on BU Today on October 13.

“Have I offended anyone here yet?” asked Harlan Ellison 10 minutes into his speech at Metcalf Hall on Tuesday night, October 11. For just over an hour, the notoriously foul-mouthed, cranky, and contentious 71-year-old author and self-styled cultural critic riffed, joked, and told colorful tales, all the while dangling his acerbic wit precariously close to the edge of perceived social acceptability.

“The whole concept of political correctness is over my head,” Ellison told an assembly of students, faculty, the general public, and members of the Howard Gotleib Archival Research Center Friends of the Libraries of Boston University, which had welcomed Ellison for the second installment of its current Friends Speaker Series season.

“I write about people,” Ellison told the crowd. “I love to take ordinary people, with no superpowers, and just put them in a weird situation.” He cited the likes of “Shatterday,” an award-winning teleplay he wrote for the 1980s revival of Twilight Zone, a television series for which he was a creative consultant (and which was recently released on DVD).

In a series of essays criticizing TV’s negative impact on American culture, Ellison once referred to television as “The Glass Teat,” despite having written for such shows as Star Trek and The Outer Limits. He admitted to a weakness for Judge Judy, which fascinates him as viewer, and said he regards Lost as the best show on TV in years.

Full of contradictions, Ellison is an atheistic Jew and a humble elitist. He bristles at being labeled a science fiction writer and makes every attempt (see his seminal Dangerous Visions anthology) to distance himself from sci-fi convention, yet is a regular fixture at sci-fi conventions.

But then, there is little that is conventional about Ellison or his work, and he is both loved and hated for it. He makes no apology for his frank perspective, although he sometimes offers up a grain of salt to put in the wound. “I’m a professional liar,” he noted at one point. “I tell fantasy stories.”

A few in attendance previously acquainted with Ellison’s famously ribald, cantankerous, and larger-than-life personality speculated afterward that he may have toned down his shtick somewhat for the crowd, but as he himself noted at the beginning of the evening, “I never give the same speech twice.” One audience member thanked the Friends of the Libraries for inviting such a challenging and thought-provoking speaker.

With enviable multitasking panache, Ellison took plenty of time both before and after his talk to sign autographs and chat with fans. “I’m always in the middle of six different projects,” he replied when asked what was coming next. He’s working on a screenplay and a film adaptation of his comic book Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, but it’s hard to know exactly what to expect next from a man who likes to keep people on their toes.

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Do As I Do, Say What I Say

Do As I Do, Say What I Say

I worked in the North Orange, New Jersey school district for one day. It was a training day. I had accepted a job as a teacher in a fine High School (read: rich) teaching Journalism and Theater Arts. As a challenge, this was a step down from the English teaching I had been doing at inner city High Schools for the past five years, but it would have been a very cushy teaching job. I had been offered a salary of $75,000, which is more than I thought a teacher could make. On my first day of training, a couple weeks before the school year started, I got a call from a Web site to which I had also applied for a job. They wanted me to work for them as a product reviewer and news writer.

[Image credit: Redfire Motion Group]

The Web site was offering less than half of what I would have made as a teacher. I tried to negotiate, but things fell apart quickly. Instead of increasing their offer, they decided not to hire anyone for the position and just stick with the people they had. I got a message on my voicemail that pretty much said “thanks, but no thanks.” I called back immediately and asked if they would let me work for the initial salary offer. Of course, they accepted. As a negotiator, I really suck.

I recently left tech journalism to work with a major phone manufacturer. When I told people I was leaving, I heard two questions repeating themselves over and over. First, would I continue writing these columns for SlashGear. Second, could they have my job. I don’t understand the first question. I didn’t suspect people enjoyed reading reviews of bad movies and sentimental stories about Facebook quite as much as they did. I’m flattered, and I hope that I’ll be back on SlashGear to stay a while longer.

The second question I completely understood. I’ll tell you when I realized I was working a dream job. I started at the Web site on the Tuesday after labor day. That Friday, I did not realize it was the end of the week until around 4:30, when it was time to start winding down. When I realized I had two days off from work, I was sad to be leaving. I wanted a longer work week. That’s my definition of a great job: when you hate Fridays more than you hate Mondays. For the past 4+ years, I’ve never looked forward to a Friday.

So, here’s how to get my job. Let’s start with qualifications. I have an English degree and a Master’s degree, but I wouldn’t say those are necessary. Definitely not the Master’s. But you need to be a very good writer if you want to do well. You need to be completely comfortable expressing yourself in print in a way that people can understand, and in a way that will express subtext and a deeper meaning to your readers. And you need to be able to do it quickly. I wrote 200 word news stories in 5 minutes. I wrote 4,000 word reviews in a day.

However, it wasn’t the writing or the degree that landed me the job. It also wasn’t my prior experience. I’d been teaching High School for five years, but before that I worked at a few top notch Web sites riding the crest of the tech bubble in New York City. I’d written some reviews, done plenty of editing and learned just enough HTML code that I can ask where the bathroom is using only anchor tags.

What landed me that job, and my previous tech jobs, was a connection I made with my interviewer using gadgets. I talked about my first cell phone. My parents bought me a so-called Motorola bag phone in 1991, the year I started driving. I talked about that, and how I had been landline-free since 1997, the year I got my first portable cell phone (an early Sprint TouchPoint phone). My future editor was hooked. He asked all the silly interview questions, but it was talking about my early experiences, and showing wonder for the world that opened up when I started carrying a phone everywhere, that convinced him I would be a good fit. I don’t think I even submitted a writing sample.

Start following some of the smaller Web sites that cover products and topics that interest you. Don’t aim large at first. Sure, sites like SlashGear, or Engadget, or TechCrunch may hire someone with little experience, but it’s not likely. Instead, aim for a smaller, up-and-coming site and plan on working hard until you’ve made a name for yourself.

Web sites usually follow a specific tone. SlashGear is intelligent, slightly longer-form, and family friendly. This site is interested more in discussion than simply blip-by-blip press release repetition. Some sites are more irreverent, with reviews of toys and even paraphernalia of all sorts. Some sites are more strictly news-based. Be flexible in your hunt, and try to write a few samples in the site’s style and tone. Most sites will ask for 2-3 samples anyway, so it’s better to have this ready up front.

Most important, make sure you target your application to the site in which you’re interested. If I could tell from an email that the applicant was sending me the same form letter he or she sent to every other site, I lost interest very quickly. You will have much more success taking the time and tailoring your attack to sites individually. Sure, you won’t be able to hit 20 sites at one time, but would you rather spend 4 months sending 20 emails a day, or 1 month sending one thoughtful, sculpted email at a time.

Now that I’m looking from the corporate side, I realize just how difficult the journalism job can be. There are a lot of fun aspects of the job. In my first week of working for a gadget blog, I went to a fancy dinner with RIM, got a free BlackBerry Pearl (which we then donated to a charity called Phones4Life), reviewed some of the coolest smartphones available at the time and saw my name in lights, err, pixels at least.

I also worked 12 hours a day (though usually not in a row), plus a few hours on weekends. I grew despondent as some of my best reviews flopped with little interest in the product or my analysis. I was rejected by PR flacks and left out of the loop. At those amazing trade shows, I skipped the free booze and greasy fried food and worked until 3AM, only to get up at 7AM for breakfast meetings.

I made far less money than my wife, who has an MBA, and worked more hours. But every hour of work felt like play time. I felt like I was getting paid for a wonderful hobby, and not like I was toiling away at a thankless career. It’s certainly not for everyone, and it isn’t an easy job to find, but for the right person, it’s a job that will have you looking forward to every Monday morning.

Robinhood Is Laying Off Employees! Does The Crypto Community Have A Say Here?

The Robinhood shares and crypto trading app is ending the month of April on a tense note.

Retail trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc. said on Tuesday it is laying off about 9% of its full-time employees, sending its shares down 5% in extended trade. The Robinhood shares and crypto trading app is ending the month of April on a tense note. The company, which is reporting its quarterly results later this week, said the rapid headcount growth has led to some duplicate roles and job functions. Robinhood’s easy-to-use interface has made it a hit among young investors trading from home on cryptocurrencies and stocks such as GameStop Corp during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Robinhood CFO Doesn’t Plan to Put ‘Meaningful Amount’ Of Cash Into Crypto Assets

In an official statement, firm’s CEO, Vlad Tenev said, this rapid headcount growth has led to some duplicate roles and job functions, and more than optimal layers and complexity. After carefully considering all these factors, we determined that making these reductions for Robinhood’s staff is the right decision to improve efficiency, increase our velocity, and ensure that we are responsive to the changing needs of our customers. Robinhood’s growth was helped by young investors trading from home on cryptocurrencies and stocks such as GameStop Corp. and AMC Inc. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced plans in March to extend trading hours for customers for extra six-and-a-half hours of trading daily. Vlad Tenev also said that the company would contact every laid-off employee and help them decide their plans after the layoff, offer separation packages and help them find new jobs. The company saw a loss of about 3.75% in today’s market trading and another 5% in extended trading hours. During its growth period from 2023 to 2023, the company expanded its workforce from 700 to nearly 3,800.  

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Retail trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc. said on Tuesday it is laying off about 9% of its full-time employees, sending its shares down 5% in extended trade. The Robinhood shares and crypto trading app is ending the month of April on a tense note. The company, which is reporting its quarterly results later this week, said the rapid headcount growth has led to some duplicate roles and job functions. Robinhood’s easy-to-use interface has made it a hit among young investors trading from home on cryptocurrencies and stocks such as GameStop Corp during the COVID-19 chúng tôi an official statement, firm’s CEO, Vlad Tenev said, this rapid headcount growth has led to some duplicate roles and job functions, and more than optimal layers and complexity. After carefully considering all these factors, we determined that making these reductions for Robinhood’s staff is the right decision to improve efficiency, increase our velocity, and ensure that we are responsive to the changing needs of our customers. Robinhood’s growth was helped by young investors trading from home on cryptocurrencies and stocks such as GameStop Corp. and AMC Inc. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced plans in March to extend trading hours for customers for extra six-and-a-half hours of trading daily. Vlad Tenev also said that the company would contact every laid-off employee and help them decide their plans after the layoff, offer separation packages and help them find new jobs. The company saw a loss of about 3.75% in today’s market trading and another 5% in extended trading hours. During its growth period from 2023 to 2023, the company expanded its workforce from 700 to nearly 3,800.

How To Keep Your Video Calls Private

How to Keep Your Video Calls Private

 Amid the continuous data breach and digital privacy shattering, no platform can guarantee you safety about privacy & security of your sensitive info. And in the digital world, the most prerequisite is the data security so you can be assured that you & your data is absolutely safe.

Normally, you don’t talk to the familiar people on video calls, let alone stranger ones. However, if needed to, you’d want to keep them as private as the conversations can be. So you wouldn’t feel that someone was eavesdropping on your conversations. Let’s find out various ways to make secure video calls & keep them as private as possible:

Ways to Keep Video Calls Private & Secure

A lot of video meetings (video conferences) come with an invitation link that helps you directly connect with video call members. Just ignore or keep yourself away from posting the links on social media platforms, email groups, or any probable place for misusing the link.

The Content You Share on Video Call

This goes without say and isn’t limited to video calls only. In the digital world, you should be quite sure about what content you are sharing as there is nothing called “security”. Being digitally secure is a myth that has been proved by companies many times over the years.

For a video call, stop yourself from showing content that isn’t part of the call purpose as it may work against you. For example, Zoom video conferencing app has different virtual backgrounds & Skype lets you blur the background with a toggle switch (simple as that).

End-to-End Encrypted Video Calling Service

I think all the digital communication platforms including all the social media stations need to be end-to-end encrypted. So your first attempt to while looking for video call services, check out the end-to-end encrypted apps so that whatever you write or say, is just a bunch of random codes for third parties.

Apple’s FaceTime & Google Duo, are two of the video call apps that are end-to-end encrypted services. Apart from these 2 above, WhatsApp & Signal help you send instant messages with the same feature.

Recently, Zoom has started end-to-end encryption service after the blunder the application has made in the recent days.

Constantly Keep Updating Your Video Calling Software

Every update brings something new that can be an amazing experience for the user as well as vice versa. Just to keep yourself updated with the latest bug problems & use the most updated apps would be quite safe for the user. Keep yourself away from the potential security holes by updating the device you are running on the software or the app.

You also need to keep yourself updated with the news around the app you are using as it may actually help you in various ways. For example, video conferencing apps like Zoom have rolled out many updates in recent weeks that have been useful for many users all over the world.

Start Using Additional Privacy Features

Similarly, Google Duo has the Knock Knock feature that lets you show your video to the contacts when you call them, before they answer the call. If you don’t want that to happen, tap on the burger menu on the right corner of the Duo app interface, go to Settings and turn off the Knock Knock feature.

Wrapping Up

The surprising need in the video calling services due to the COVID-19 lockdown has made things a bit stressful for the users. No app is giving you a security guarantee; however, all of them are trying their best to provide us ways to make secure video calls. For now, let’s not fully rely on the companies & try to keep ourselves updated with what we can do on our part.

Let’s follow the above pointers to determine if we are on the right track of not becoming a victim of digital world freedom.

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Ankit Agarwal

Some Of The Best Productivity

In today’s roundup, we’ll discuss what we believe are some of the best jailbreak tweaks for boosting productivity on pwned iOS & iPadOS 14 devices. With them, you can get more done in less time with the help of a more intuitive user interface.

The best productivity jailbreak tweaks for iOS 14 KBPro – FREE

One of the ways you can be more productive while using your jailbroken iPhone running iOS 14 is to have improved access to common text-editing features, including but not limited to Cut, Copy, and Paste.

KBPro adds these important capabilities directly to the bottom of the keyboard on notched iPhones, a place usually filled with nothing but void.

You can read about KBPro and why it’s a recommended productivity tweak in our full review post.

Zetsu – FREE

Another important variable when considering how productive you are is your capacity to multitask, and iOS’ App Switcher doesn’t always cut it.

Zetsu is a rather intriguing jailbreak tweak that brings desktop-class windowed apps to any jailbroken iOS or iPadOS 14 device, allowing you to run apps side-by-side, resize the app windows, and minimize them on demand.

You can find out more about Zetsu and what you can do with it to boost your output in our full review post.

Pasithea 2 – $5.00

On the pricier side of any jailbreak tweak on this list is Pasithea 2, but it’s well worth the price if you do any sort of multitasking and demand maximum productivity.

With Pasithea 2, you can manage your iPhone or iPad’s clipboard history right from the keyboard user interface.

You can and should learn more about Pasithea 2 and what you can do with it in our full review post.

ipaddock14 – FREE

Another way that iPhones running iOS 14 can be made into more powerful productivity tools is with an add-on called ipaddock14.

You can find out more about ipaddock14 and why it’s a boost for productivity in our full review post.

SwipeExtenderX – $2.49

Wish you could do more right from the comfort of your iPhone’s keyboard? If so, then SwipeExtenderX could be just the jailbreak tweak for you.

This tweak adds dozens of new features as shortcuts directly to the keyboard, such as text insertion, selecting and deselecting text, undo and redo, deleting words, and so much more.

You can find out more about the capabilities brought forth by SwipeExtenderX in our full review post.

backgrunnr – FREE

Sometimes you need certain apps to continue working in the background in order for you to remain at peak productivity, and a jailbreak tweak called backgrunnr can help make that a possibility.

With backgrunnr, you call all the shots about how long an app can operate in the background while you use another app. That includes an expiration time, a Home Screen indicator, and tons of user-facing options to tune the experience how you need it.

You can find out more about backgrunnr and how it works in our full review post.

iPadSwitcher – FREE

Not ready to embrace full-fledged windowed multitasking on your iPhone just yet? Perhaps the next best thing is to at least get the iPad’s spacious and more omnipotent App Switcher ported over.

The iPadSwitcher tweak lets you view your App Switcher as a grid instead of a row of scrolling app preview cards.

You can find out more about iPadSwitcher in our full review post.

FreePIP – FREE

FreePIP enhances the Picture-in-Picture mode of supported devices by allowing users to pin the resizable picture-in-picture window anywhere they want, even outside of the confines of ‘snappy’ spots so that you can get it out of your way.

Ordinarily, the picture-in-picture window snaps into place and users have little control over where it sets apart from moving it to another snappy location.

You can read more about FreePIP and how it works in our full review post.

STRCounter – FREE

For those times when you’re trying to be as concise as possible during text input, STRCounter can help you keep track of the number of characters in any selected text string.

To use it, simple select whatever text you wish to query and then tap on the Counter button in the resulting pop-up menu.

You can read more about STRCounter and how it works in our full review post.

Little12 – FREE

Little12 is a free jailbreak tweak that can help users of older handsets be more productive by adding modern device device features to your older device.

Among the things you can enjoy with it are side-by-side app multitasking, improved productivity gestures, and a bevy of other configurable things.

You can read more about Little12 in our full review post.

Loupe – FREE

Apple did away with the text editing magnifying glass in iOS 14, and then brought it back again in iOS 15.

But if you’re jailbroken on iOS 14 as many are, then a free jailbreak tweak called Loupe simply brings the original magnifying glass back for your convenience, helping you to better see the text edits you’re making.

You can find out more about Loupe in our full review post.

How’d we do?

We see a lot of jailbreak tweaks week in and week out here at iDownloadBlog, so we have a good idea of the best releases for tricking out your iPhone or iPad. Still, we can miss things, which is why we value reader input.

For even more great iOS & iPadOS 14 jailbreak tweaks, check these out:

Some Good Words About Adhd

Some Good Words about ADHD Author, entrepreneur, and alum Peter Shankman gives CGS Stone Lecture Thursday

Best-selling author Peter Shankman (CGS’92, COM’94), an expert on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, will talk about his own experience with ADHD when he delivers this year’s Stanley P. Stone Distinguished Lecture on Thursday.

Shankman (CGS’92, COM’94) comes to BU on Thursday, November 8, to deliver this year’s College of General Studies annual Stanley P. Stone Distinguished Lecture. The series, which brings notable speakers to BU annually, is sponsored by Stanley P. Stone (CGS’64, Questrom’66).

Among all of Shankman’s interests, he is perhaps best known for his unusual and very personal take on ADHD. He is convinced that the condition, often considered a hindrance, has helped him, by making him “faster than normal.” He is the creator and host of a podcast of the same name that is ranked the internet’s top podcast on the subject. Shankman believes that people just like him—what he calls “the new neuroatypical generation” have the potential to change the workplace and the world for good. 

BU Today: You have said that ADHD has been an asset, that it has helped you succeed as a speaker, PR expert, and entrepreneur. Could you talk about how that works?

Shankman: Simply put, ADHD is the brain’s inability to produce as much dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline as “regular” people’s brains produce. Because of that, our brains have become “faster.” When managed right, that becomes a superpower.

Have you found that you tend to think faster than most people?

Yes. My brain is faster than normal. I do everything faster. I joke that I only have two speeds: “Namaste” and “I’ll cut a bitch.” Because of that, as long as I follow certain rules, I can drive my superfast brain without skidding off the road and crashing into a tree. But because I’m always going at light speed, it’s superimportant to make sure I do the right things, and know where I could get tripped up.

A recent study that followed people with ADHD from age eight to adulthood found that those with ADHD are at greater risk for behavioral issues and learning issues, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-injury. What about you—did you have trouble learning?

When I was growing up, ADHD wasn’t a thing. I had “sit down, you’re disrupting the class” disease, and as such, I had a horrible time in school. I was the class clown. I scored perfect grades on the stuff I loved, but walked the line of barely passing in the subjects I hated. In fact, during my two years at CGS I was on academic probation the entire time. It wasn’t until I made it through to fifth semester that I was able to shine.

What did you do to overcome those problems?

Can you talk about your life rules and how they come into play?

After I sold my third company, I did an internal audit of myself to figure out why I could do some things really well, but could spend three days walking past the bag of trash I’d put in the living room so I wouldn’t forget to take it out. What I realized was that I’d spent my entire life “beneficially self-medicating,” i.e., training for Ironman triathlons, skydiving, starting companies, public speaking, all as a way of tricking my brain into producing more dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, the kind that people without ADHD automatically produce. Once I realized what I was doing, I realized that I’d stumbled upon a way to get more out of my brain than would ever be expected. I came up with a routine that guarantees that I live my life to the best of my ability every single day, and it begins with drawing an initial wake-up hit of those three brain chemicals I mentioned above, a hit that’ll last me long into my day, and ends with pure exhaustion and a wonderfully rejuvenating sleep to start the cycle over the next day. No pills needed, no external stimuli required.

What exactly is your routine?

When my alarm goes off at 3:45 am and my bedroom lights have finished their automated program to light my room, I rise out of bed, already in my workout clothes, because I always put them on the night before. I slip on my bike shoes, and walk to my Peloton bicycle, which sits right next to my bed. I snap on my heart-rate monitor and start my first 45-minute workout of the day. By the time the sun comes up, I’ve either done two rides already, or I’m finishing an outdoor long run or a lifting workout at the gym, depending on whether it’s a day my daughter is staying with me.

What comes next?

By 6:45 a.m, I’m back in my apartment, showered and dressed, and ready to start my day. I’m wearing either a T-shirt and jeans or a button-down shirt and jeans, depending on whether I’m traveling/going to the office, or speaking/going on TV.

That sounds extremely regimented. Do you also avoid things that might slow you down, like alcohol?

I quit drinking, not because I had a problem, but because most people with my type of personality simply can’t have one drink. I avoid the chance of drinking a lot, which would lead to eating poorly, which would lead to not getting up early, which would lead to no exercise, which could potentially start a cycle that could ruin me.

How hard was it for you to write books?

I’ve written five books, all entirely on airplanes. My most recent two have been written on flights that I had no other reason to take. In other words, I flew to Asia and back to write a book on the plane. Why? 14 hours each way of uninterrupted deep work, no distractions, no internet, no mobile phone, no alerts. Just a blank page and my headphones. And it works.

Was there one realization that changed your life?

Yes. I finally learned that I needed to stop caring what others thought about the things I do, and do the things that matter to me, for me. The second I did that, my world opened up for me. If you’re not taking care of yourself first, how can you possibly expect to take care of others, to better the world, or to create epic things? Taking care of you, whatever that might look like to you, isn’t optional. In the end, I’ve set up these life rules for myself because I know they make me better all around.

Technology is blamed for speeding up our lives. You naturally operate at a faster speed—has that increase in speed been helpful to you?

The technology I use helps me tremendously, but I don’t live by it. If the network went down tomorrow, I’d grab a pen and piece of paper and continue doing my thing.

How did you come up with the idea for HARO, connecting people who want press with people who can give them press?

You’ve had many successful ventures. Have you also had failures? How do you deal with failure?

I love failure. I learn every time I fail. Do that, it’s not failure.

Peter Shankman will deliver the Stanley P. Stone Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, November 8, at 5 pm, in the College of General Studies Jacob Sleeper Auditorium, 871 Commonwealth Ave. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is first come, first served.

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