Should-Read: John Scalzi: No, In Fact, You Should Not Write For Free: "I can see where Douglas has gone wrong... some of it boils down to a matter of definition of what constitutes 'free' writing...
Wakanda and the Resource Curse: Wakanda’s prosperity is based on its possession of vibranium, a stable transuranic elements with unique And extraordinary chemical properties. Yet those of us who have studied the history of emerging markets with powerful natural resource advantages would fear for the present and future of an emerging market country that based its prosperity on such a road so very vulnerable to the “resource curse“.
Should-Read: BBC: Amazon buys rights to Iain Banks' Consider Phlebas: "With the help of Brad Pitt's Plan B production company... the first of Banks' novels to feature the Culture, an interstellar utopian society...
Live from Rant Central: Charlie Stross has had it with you people—those of you people who abandon worldbuilding and the exploration of possible human civilizations different from ours in the future direction for spectacle, and warmed over Napoleonic or WWII stories in fancy future dress: Charlie Stross: Why I barely read SF these days: "Storytelling is about humanity and its endless introspective quest to understand its own existence and meaning...
Should-Read: I have to think about this. Yes, distributions have lower tails. but it still seems to me that the absence of clearly visible life out there is powerful evidence that there is a "Great Filter": that one of the parameters (or more than one of the parameters) in the Drake Equation is near zero. Sandberg et al. seem to me to be arguing not so much that the absence of visible life out there is likely even if none of the parameters are near zero, but that our uncertainty is so great that it is not surprising that the universe we live in has one or more parameters near zero even though the average value of each parameter across all universes we might live in is larger: Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Toby Ord: Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: "The Fermi question is not a paradox...
Tim Carmody: The People’s History of Tattooine: "The Tusken People. 'Raiders' presumes some malevolent intent. They are trying to preserve the desert habitat and Luke wants to race through it in his speeder. The Tusken are just trying to keep parts of Tatooine wild and undeveloped by heavy industry..."
Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: The Robert Heinlein Wars, Part MDCCLXIV: Hoisted from 2006: "It's pointless to read Heinlein through a political lens. He was a narcissist; it's all about him...
The Robert Heinlein Wars, Part MDCCLXIV http://www.bradford-delong.com/2006/12/the_robert_hein.html: John Scalzi watches as Dave Itzkoff begins another round of the Heinlein Wars:
Whatever: NYT Review Fallout: There's been some interesting commentary and discussion following Dave Itzkoff's NYT Book Review piece on me and my books, so I thought I'd post links to some of them I've found, for the edification of Whatever readers. In no particular order: Instapundit notes the piece, and has some thoughts on the idea of [Robert Heinlein's novel] Starship Troopers being fascist, roping in Spider Robinson to rebut that claim...
I would dispute Scalzi's claim that either Glenn Reynolds or Spider Robinson has "thoughts" on this issue. I would characterize them as having "reflexes."
I think I had some "thoughts" on this issue some 10^8 seconds ago:
The Starship Troopers novel I originally read in the early 1970s had four layers:
Should-Read: Charlie Stross (2015): The Present in Deep History: "Assume you are a historian in the 30th century, compiling a pop history text about the period 1700-2300AD. What are the five most influential factors in that period of history?... http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2015/09/the-present-in-deep-history.html
Live from the Future of the Past: John Holbo: Robert Heinlein writes letters to editors and librarians: "Enough Lovecraft! Robert Heinlein!... http://crookedtimber.org/2017/09/12/robert-heinlein-writes-letters-to-editors-and-librarians/
Weekend Reading: Ansible 240, July 2007 http://news.ansible.uk/a240.html#leguin: On Serious Literature:
Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it... Ruth Franklin (Slate, 8 May 2007)
Ursula K. Le Guin: Something woke her in the night...
Is it me? Or is it him?
I find an interesting link on Making Light http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016593.html, follow it, immediately find that the introduction annoys me—gets my back up—and then I notice that it is by John McWhorter. Other people like McWhorter a lot: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016593.html#4335396.
But I read:
John McWhorter: English is not normal https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-english-so-weirdly-different-from-other-languages: "Hwæt, we gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon...
...does that really mean ‘So, we Spear-Danes have heard of the tribe-kings’ glory in days of yore’? Icelanders can still read similar stories written in the Old Norse ancestor of their language 1,000 years ago, and yet, to the untrained eye, Beowulf might as well be in Turkish...
And my immediate response is: the cards have been dealt from the bottom of the deck here.
Hoisted from The Archives: Essence of Decision: Understanding the Real History of the Imperial and Succession Wars: The fall of the Empire, and the failure of its successor states to re-establish order in the galaxy, is usually mistold in the history books.
Popular, semi-academic, and even academic authors write it as a combination of tabloid soap opera and personal heroics: villains, Jedi Knights, stunning double crosses, the Palpatine succession, and--of course--the bizarre and incomprehensible repeated cross-generational psychodramas of the Skywalker family.
Should-Read: Charles Stross (2010): Insufficient Data: "So. I ask: how many people does it take, as a minimum, to maintain our current level of technological civilization?...
Should-Read: We are narrative-loving animals. It's how we think. We are jumped-up East African Plains Apes, only 3000 generations removed from those who first developed language, trying to understand the world as monkeys with, as Winnie-the-Pooh would say, “very little brain”. We are lousy at remembering lists—that is why we need to write them down. We are not much good at retaining sets of information—unless we can, somehow, turn them into a journey or a memory palace. We are excellent, however, at remembering landscapes. And we are fabulous at stories: human characters with believable motivations; beginnings, middles, and endings; hubris and nemesis; cause and effect; villains and heroes. To place ideas and lessons in the context of a story is a mighty aid to our thinking:
Charles Stross: Why Scifi Matters More When the Future Looks So Dangerous: "Near-future scifi is not a predictive medium: it doesn’t directly reflect reality so much as it presents us with a funhouse mirror view of the world around us...
Live from the Kansas City Convention Center: Niall Alexander: [“Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; Death is the Fifth, and Master of All”: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin]:
An orogene, or—if you want to be a bigot about it, as most of the people of the Stillness do, to be sure—a rogga...
Live from the Kansas City Convention Center: Damien Walter: Hugo Awards: Reading the Sad Puppies' Pets:
With this year’s Hugo awards coming on Saturday night in the US...
Must-Read: Leah Schnelbach: Thinking Through Violence in The Just City and The Philosopher Kings:
In a different book, the narrative would become either ‘Maia’s recovery’ or ‘Ikaros’ redemption’, and Walton would track their lives and relationships with this night as a fulcrum point. Instead, it’s one night in their lives...
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: The Star Trek movie reboot series strips the utopian core out of Star Trek--and continues the process of turning it into a third-rate "Guardians of the Galaxy" knockoff...
The television series and some of the films studiously explored the big moral questions facing a bloc as diverse as the Federation, from the limits on cultural integration right through to how a peace-loving organisation should tackle imperial forces.
What would a hybrid tentacled-horror unholy cross between H.P. Lovecraft and Tom Clancy write if it set out to do a sendup of Anne McCaffrey, Bram Stoker, and J.R.R. Tolkien?
Live from the Borderlands of Faerie: At Charlie Jane Anders's Writers with Drinks last Saturday night, Charles Stross read the opening to his brand-new The Nightmare Stacks. The whole is excellent. The opening is very, very fine and well-done. But the opening does not give an accurate picture of the full craziness.
So here is another passage. In this passage, the horns of Elfland call "boots and saddles", and we watch the Wild Hunt of the Unseelie Court of Faerie as the Queen of Air and Darkness prepares to take to the skies. Weyr Search was never like this:
Charles Stross: The Nightmare Stacks: "As the huge moon sets and the sky darkens towards true night...
...the ground crews in Malham Cove prepare the first two firewyrms for flight. Strikers One and Two are fettered, quiescent, upon the cracked limestone and grass below the cliff face. The dragons’ barrel-thoraxes rise and fall slowly, air pumping through their air sacs. Their legs, weak and hollow-boned, are splinted with a filigree of titanium trusses to stop them shattering under the weight of riders and weapons payloads. Woven copper wire hoses vanish into mouth and rectum, driven by moaning ventilator boxes to keep the corrosive fumes away from anyone who might approach them. Once airborne the deadly fluoritic acid (a decomposition product of wyrmspit) will diffuse away naturally, but close to the ground it can dissolve the bones inside the ground crew before anybody notices.
John Scalzi: How Blogs Work Today: "My piece... on Clinton and Sanders blew up... with roughly 75,000 views over two days...
...This gave me an excuse to check my referrers and ego search on Google and see a bit of who was talking about the post and/or sending people my way. What I found: Facebook was by far the largest mover of visits and the place where the largest number of people were commenting on the piece, on their own wall or in the comments of others. Twitter was the next highest contributor of traffic/discussion. After that, and a bit down the scale, a couple of political sites, community sites like Metafilter or Reddit, and Google Plus, which, yes, apparently some people still use. But, interestingly, almost none of the conversation about/traffic to the piece was coming from personal blogs.
Charlie Anders: Spoken word variety show: "Variety is more that just the name of Prince's favorite girl-singer sidekick...
...It's more than just having sex dressed as Alien Greenspan every once in a while. It's also a Literary Imperative!...
At The Make Out Room 3225 22nd St., San Francisco CA. Saturday, July 9, 2016 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open at 6:30 PM.
- Charles Stross (The Nightmare Stacks)
- Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex)
- Shruti Swamy (Night Garden)
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Books Inc.: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek: "Manu Saadia discusses Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek...
...What would the world look like if everybody had everything they wanted or needed? Delving deep into the details and intricacies of 24th century society, Trekonomics explores post-scarcity and whether we, as humans, are equipped for it. What are the prospects of automation and artificial intelligence? Is there really no money in Star Trek? Is Trekonomics at all possible? Manu will be in conversation with UC Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong.
June 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM in Berkeley, Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science Fiction, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (3)
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This is wrong!:
Todd van der Werff: Game of Thrones season 6, episode 9: 5 winners and 6 losers in the “Battle of the Bastards”: "Winner 1: Jon Snow...
...Well, obviously. Jon doesn’t just win the titular battle. He also effectively wins a battle against the entire dramatic apparatus of the TV show he lives in.... Jon also earned his win. Yeah, he was saved at the last minute by his half-sister and Littlefinger (more on that in a second), but he kept his troops rallied, even when they were surrounded on all sides by men with shields who were slowly killing all of them.... Yeah, someone else saves the day, but Jon gets everybody to the point where the day can be saved...
John Snow was so completely out-generalled by Ramsey Bolton that it isn't even funny. Yes, Wun-Wun and Petyr Baelish's acceding to Sansa's request and showing up with the knights of the Vale saves the day. But all John Snow did was to not die while his strategic, operational, and tactical decisions got his army of Stark loyalists and Wildlings slaughtered.
Live from the Make-Out Room: Charlie Stross: Gratuitous Self-Promotion: The US West Coast Remix: "On Saturday the 9th...
...I'll be appearing at Writers with Drinks in San Francisco at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St., from 7:30pm.
Manu Saadia: Trekonomics: Introduction:
I have shown how the ideas of progression and of the indefinite perfectibility of the human race belong to democratic ages. Democratic nations care but little for what has been, but they are haunted by visions of what will be; in this direction their unbounded imagination grows and dilates beyond all measure. Here then is the wildest range open to the genius of poets, which allows them to remove their performances to a sufficient distance from the eye. Democracy shuts the past against the poet, but opens the future before him... Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
...it no longer seemed so important whether the world was Adam Smith or Karl Marx. Neither made very much sense under the new circumstances... Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
Live from Thessaly: Stubby the Rocket: Necessity Sweepstakes!:
I went down yesterday to the Piraeus with Glaukon the son of Ariston, that I might offer up my prayers to the goddess; and also because I wanted to see in what manner they would celebrate the festival, which was a new thing. I was delighted with the procession of the inhabitants; but that of the Thrakians was equally, if not more, beautiful. When we had finished our prayers and viewed the spectacle, we turned in the direction of the city; and at that instant Polemarkhos the son of Kephalos chanced to catch sight of us from a distance as we were starting on our way home, and told his servant to run and bid us wait for him. The servant took hold of me by the cloak behind, and said: ‘Polemarkhos desires you to wait…’
‘Why?’ I responded.
Because tor.com is giving away a galley copy of Necessity, the third volume of Jo Walton’s Thessaly. And there was a drinking party last January over at Crooked Timber, in which part of the discussion went:
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Books Inc.: Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek: "Manu Saadia discusses Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek...
Live from R'lyeh: Charles Stross: The Nightmare Stacks: "A vampire is haunting Whitby; it’s traditional...
...It’s an hour after dusk on a Saturday evening four weeks before the spring gothic festival. Alex the Vampire strolls along the sea front, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his tweed jacket. There’s a chill breeze blowing onshore, and he has the pavement to himself as he walks, eyes downcast and chin tucked into his chest, lost in thought. What profound insight does the creature of the night contemplate as he paces along the North Promenade beside the beach, opposite a row of moonlit houses? What ancient wisdom, what hideous secrets haunt the conscience of the undying?
Let’s take a look inside his head:
Alex is fretting about his Form P.764 Employee Travel and Subsistence Claim, which he will have to fill out once he returns to his cramped room in a local bed and breakfast...
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Matthew Yglesias: Star Trek Rannkings: "The 10 Best Star Trek Episodes...
...‘The Best of Both Worlds,’ The Next Generation. ‘In the Pale Moonlight,’ Deep Space Nine. ‘Equinox,’ Voyager. ‘The City on the Edge of Forever,’ The Original Series. ‘Chain of Command,’ The Next Generation. ‘Cogenitor,’ Enterprise. ‘What You Leave Behind,’ Deep Space Nine. ‘The Trouble With Tribbles,’ The Original Series. ‘Time’s Arrow,’ The Next Generation. ‘The Void,’ Voyager
The 10 Best Star Trek Villains: Q, Gul Dukat, Khan Noonien Singh, The Borg, Weyoun, Captain Ransom, Kruge, Lore, Lursa and B’Etor, Kai Winn
Live from the Gamma Quadrant: Manu Saadia: The Big Idea – Whatever: "You’ve got books on the physics of Star Trek...
'Live long and prosper.'
'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.'
'Make it so.'
‘Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.’
'I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.'
'You can stop it!' 'Stop it? I'm counting on it!'
Over the past century Star Trek has woven itself into our socio-cultural DNA. It provides a set of cultural reference points to powerful ideas, striking ideas, beneficial ideas that help us here in our civilization think better--even those of us who are economists.
Live from Soda Hall: Hugh Hancock: 5 Magical Beasts And How To Replace Them With A Shell Script "Interestingly, there's another mystical summoned creature...
...that fits rather well here: the homunculus. After all, what are MOOCs doing but creating a small version of the magus (or professor) you wish to consult, and thus enabling the magus themselves to be in many more places at once, using their knowledge to do many more things?"
Live from the Laundry: Jon Letzing: CERN Is Seeking Secrets of the Universe, or Maybe Opening the Portals of Hell: "Operators of Large Hadron Collider gear up to battle conspiracy theories..."
James Gunn: H.G. Wells: The Man Who Invented Tomorrow: "In his autobiography (1934)...
...he pointed out what he saw as distinguishing his intentions from those of Conrad and James. They looked upon the novel as a form of art; Wells saw it as a means to an end. He wanted his writing to be appraised 'as a system of ideas'; they wanted ideas to enter, if at all, only as an integral part of the artistic whole. He wanted to write about himself, his reactions to what had happened to him and what had happened and was happening in the world; they wanted the writer kept out of it.
The literary approach, Wells finally decided:
Weekend Reading: In the novels of Guy Gavriel Kay, even the mortal humans are of Faerie:
Guy Gavriel Kay: Rhiannon of the Birds, Rhiannon of the Horses...: From Guy Gavriel Kay (2004), The Last Light of the Sun (New York: Roc: 0451459857), pp. 46-7:
'Needful as warmed wine in winter,' someone Alun couldn't see offered from down the room. Approval for that, a nicely phrased offering. Winter memory in midsummer, the phrase near to poetry. The hostess turned to Dai, politely, beyond her husband and the cleric, to let the other Cadyri prince have a turn.
Looking Forward to Four Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted
With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi: bunga-bunga governance, with a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters and a major drag on the country--except in states where his policies are neutralized.
Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!
The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...
"Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong
"I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email..." — Patrick Nielsen Hayden
"I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this.... I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There's a lot to learn..." — Mark Thoma
"Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you're being a bore..." — Teresa Nielsen Hayden
"With the arrival of Web logging... my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool.... Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience.... Web logging is a promising way to do that..." — Brad DeLong
"Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings.... At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine..." — Daniel Drezner
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787
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