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Posts Tagged ‘superheroes’

Part of what good fiction does is to create a world and place the reader in it, allowing you to imagine yourself battling the Empire, slaying the dragon, or rescuing the fair prince in distress. But I get it, fiction is also a distancing mechanism.

Satisfying stories open with a problem and close when that problem is resolved, leaving the reader with the sense that they’ve helped and no more needs to be done. I think that can be particularly true when it comes to real challenges like climate change. 

Sometimes what’s needed is a picture.

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Meet ThisClimateDoesNotExist, a project by a group of scientists from the Quebec AI Institute in Montreal. They’ve put together a tool that lets you visualize the impact of climate change not on the world in general, or even a region, but on an address.

This Montreal-made website uses AI to show the potential impact of climate change on any address | CBC News

Take Killian Court at MIT, overlooking the Charles River. What would it look like flooded? Or the US Capitol Building? Or the Sam’s Club parking lot in West Palm Beach, The Alamo in San Antonio (and I’m pretty sure we can kiss the River Walk goodbye), Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, or (now it’s getting real) the Guinness Brewery in Dublin?

Not worried about flooding? Try the options for wildfire or smog. Also unpleasant!

Then picture yourself there too. Who better to be the hero of that story?

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Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

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Are you or someone you know currently in possession of superpowers? Are you ready to break out of the box your secret identity has put you in, and fly (or leap, or teleport) free from traditional norms and expectations? Then it is your lucky day!

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Superhero shop sign
Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash

The Paranormal Challenge is offering a cool quarter of a million dollars US for proof of powers. Supes from all corners of the globe, or universe, are welcome! And the field remains wide open.

Only a handful of the 100 to 150 applicants to the Paranormal Challenge who contact the center each year actually make it to the testing phase…

— Hex Factor: Inside the Group Offering $250,000 for Proof of Superpowers

And that’s not the only such challenge. If you’re ready to come out of the phone booth and face your fans, Wikipedia has a list of current prizes for proof of abilities:

List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal

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Hand holding Spiderman mask.
Photo by Joey Nicotra on Unsplash

Sure, you’ll be outed on a global scale, tasked with defending the world from the forces of evil,* forced to spend your free time cleaning up other people’s messes while being second-guessed by every Tom, Dick, and Trollie on social media, but just think! You’d never have to wait in line again. And I know you’re in this for the good of humanity and all, but the name and likeness rights alone will set up your family for generations to come.

So come on out! The frontline workers, doctors, nurses, police, and other first responders could use a break.** And my mom makes great capes!

Boy wearing bat cape.
My mother made me and my brother amazing satin bat capes for Halloween one year. I know, Batman doesn’t actually have superpowers. Don’t tell 8-year old me that, though.
Photo by Joey Nicotra on Unsplash

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* I mean, you could be evil, I suppose, but that’s only cool in stories. In real life, the trail of broken lives and civilizations has to wear on you after a while. And the insurance premiums! Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

Gilded woman of wonder.
Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

** Also and P.S., if you do have actual super powers, I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering where the heck you’ve been this past year!

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Wait, what?

Yep, that’s the takeaway from a recent Bloomberg article about humans with (very, very) rare genetic mutations:

These Superhumans Are Real and Their DNA Could Be Worth Billions

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the focus of the article is on drug companies exploiting such mutations to develop new blockbuster products, but let’s just take a second to look at the bottom line:

Rare mutations > affect a tiny percent of the human population = superpowers.
/enough said

Yes, it’s Unbreakable all over again, only this time for real. If there’s a way to convert such mutations into useful (rather than simply profitable) innovations, great. Without (hopefully) the evil mastermind willing to sacrifice innocent lives in the search for outliers.

Are there challenges to life as a “superhero”? Of course, the most obvious being the dramatic downsides for those with dangerous mutations like insensitivity to pain, but I have to say: I find this hopeful.

Why? Because it’s a reminder that there is no one “normal” and that the continuum of human evolution isn’t done with us yet, not by a long shot.

That the range of human experience is deep and varied, and that there is room in our world for everyone.

And that the impossible can, under extraordinary circumstances, become possible.

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Wonder Woman movie is finally really actually happening. This article at Tor.com lays out what we know (not much) and how this movie fits with the WB film slate.

Few details are available other than a 2017 release date, so let me leave you with Jill Lepore’s New Yorker piece on everyone’s favorite lasso-toting amazon and this fascinating Smithsonian article on The Surprising Origins of Wonder Woman.

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