Live from Bullwinkle Plaza: Highly, highly recommended:
The Fifth Season (Orbit).**:
Comment of the Day: Ryan: Notes on "Trekonomics"...: "In Star Trek, as in the Culture series, work still occurs...
...But the idea is that work is geared toward improving oneself and making the world better. It's service. I doubt this is the likeliest outcome, as there is a thread in human nature that manifests itself in exploitation of others for reasons that go beyond the economic...
Must-Read: Why "Arena" is one of my ten favorite Star Trek episodes of all time!
Keith DeCandido: Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: “Arena”: "The Metrons... find the confrontation that was about to ensue to be violent and icky...
...and so they will resolve it.... They have prepared a planet for Kirk and the Gorn captain (which is the first time the enemy has been identified by name) to battle against each other in individual combat. Elements will be provided for them to fashion weapons, and they’re equipped with translators that will enable them to talk to each other and record the combat. While Kirk is faster than the reptilian Gorn, the Gorn is far stronger....
It’s always the books I like the most that I feel I haven’t done justice to when I write about them.
Gaudy Night was published in 1936. It’s still in print, and more than that, it’s still relevant. It’s not science fiction or fantasy by any stretch, its genre is cosy detective story. It’s about a series of incidents in a women’s college in Oxford in which someone is trying to provoke a scandal. But what it’s really about is the difficult balance between love and work and whether it is possible for a woman to lead a life of the mind wholeheartedly, and whether it’s possible for her to do this and have love and a family. Sayers examines this seriously and with examples. You might think that the issues might be dated. Some of the attitudes are, but on the whole the fulcrum point of ‘having it all’, marrying as an equal and not as a helpmeet, is still an interesting question.
Must-Read: Ethan Sacks: ‘Star Wars’ Standalone Film Will Be Han Solo Prequel: "Lucasfilm announced Tuesday that film...
...which is slated for a May 25, 2018 release, will focus on the how the iconic character played by Harrison Ford in four 'Star Wars' movies 'became the smuggler, thief, and scoundrel whom Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first encountered in the cantina at Mos Eisley.' Piloting the anthology flick will be 'LEGO Movie' co-directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, two of the most powerful nerds in this galaxy. This is the first film we've worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with,' the directors said in a joint statement...
bottlerocketscience: Startup Geometry Podcast EP 004: Brad DeLong:
J. Bradford DeLong on June 17, 2015 at 12:49 PM in Economics: Finance, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Information, Economics: Macro, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science Fiction, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: DeLong FAQ, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (1)
...to break free from all the limitations of his turn-of-the-century, Bible Belt Missouri background, his engineer’s pragmatism and exactitude, his naval officer’s dedication and discipline, his willingness to think and rethink, and his readiness to educate the young in necessary survival skills. Heinlein’s bad side has been his arrogance and egotism, his manipulativeness and concern to always have the upper hand, and -- worst of all -- his misplaced morality.
Live from the Glaswegian Mists: Ken Macleod: Ralph Miliband (Pére): "[Miliband pére's] essays are hard-headed, sober, nuanced....
Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: Links and Tweets...: "I am not going to type that...
...'the real Peter Baelish would never leave Sansa Stark at the mercy of Boltons', because I'm not quite far enough gone to forget that 'A Song of Ice and Fire is fiction'. Yet.
Live from La Farine: Game of Thrones Blogging:
People: "Game of Thrones" Is Horror!:
In the very first scene of the very first episode of the very first season of "Game of Thrones", three members of the Night's Watch--an older veteran-type Gared, and two callow-youth types, one in command named Waymar Royce and the other named Will--set out on patrol. By 2:45 the point rider Will has encountered horrible evil. By 3:30 the veteran-type Gared has told the two callow-youth types that they need to head back to their base. By 5:50 they learn that the evil is supernatural, and start to die. By 6:15 the survivors' courage has broken and they are running south as fast as they can. By 7:00 there is only one survivor--the un-arrogant callow youth Will.
Re: John Scalzi: The Myth of SF/F Publishing House Exceptionalism
I don't doubt that Baen Books under Jim Baen was primarily a print-good-stories-that-Jim-Baen-thinks-will-sell-and-get-people-to-buy-more-Baen-books enterprise. And I don't doubt that Jim Baen was very good to John Ringo.
Consider three things:
First, Walter Jon Williams's take. Walter Jon Williams tells stories of unhappy dealings with Jim Baen. WJW is a very, very good writer indeed who writes cracking good stories that have a beginning, a middle, and a (more than satisfactory end--in fact, who writes stories that are so good that everyone would benefit from some more serious publisher marketing muscle behind him. He casts a rather different light on Baen. See http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2011/04/1983-the-writers-life/, on life in the days when Jim Baen was both an editor at Tom Doherty's Tor Boks and running his own Baen Software computer-game company: "Those were the days when there were only three people in the Tor offices. Jim Baen the editor, Tom Doherty the publisher, and Mrs. Doherty the bookkeeper....
...by political ideology promoted:
- The Star Fraction: Revolutionary Communism
- The Stone Canal: Anarcho-Capitalism
- The Cassini Division: State Communism
- The Sky Road: Barbarism
- Engines of Light Trilogy: Feudalism
- Learning the World: Neoliberalism
- Night Sessions: Secularism
- Restoration Game: Gnosticism
- The Execution Channel: Liberalism
- Intrusion: Libertarianism....
I went with the one that either was shown as working better than you might expect (the semi-utopias), or was the most obvious counter to the the dominant ideology of the dystopias. Of course, YMMV as to which is which…
...about the ways in which war has become worse for soldiers--continuous through the night, continuous through the year, louder, the danger is more random... and the punchline was that some have compared war to hunting, but for soldiers in a modern war, it's more like being prey.
UrsulaV: Puddleglum in Heaven: "@ 119 - 'It's all very well for us,' said Puddleglum gloomily...
...'but what about everyone else, eh? Not exactly sunny skies and eel-pie for them, now, is it?' He gestured vaguely, presumably in the direction of Earth, or the now-defunct Narnia. 'Great crashing train wrecks--whatever a 'train' is, though I'm given to understand it involves a lot of metal and steam and boilers and fantastic speeds and you can't tell me THAT was a good idea, whoever came up with it--and some poor sod's got to go picking through the wreckage, don't they?'
Live from the Beverly Hills Hilton: On my flight to LAX I watched the intro episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise”. First time watching the show.
Does it ever get better? Or do we deal with it in the same way we deal with the Star Wars prequels — i.e., pretend they never happened?
...in which the frothing distrust of people who aren’t just like you is couched in language designed to give the appearance of being reasonable until you squint at it closely, then you’re not going to want to miss this piece by Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf. It’s a really fine example of the form. I recommend you check it out for the full effect, but for those of you who won’t, here’s an encapsulation of the piece:
“Once upon a time all the fractious lands of science fiction fandom were joined together, and worshiped at the altar of Heinlein. But in these fallen times, lo do many refuse to worship Heinlein, preferring instead their false idols and evil ways. What shall we, who continue to attend the Orthodox Church of Heinlein, do with these dirty, dirty people? Perhaps we shall wall ourselves away in His sepulcher, for we are the One True Church, and should not have to sully ourselves with the likes of them. P.S.: Also, their awards don’t mean anything because we don’t get nominated for them very much and maybe we don’t want to be nominated anyway.”
On Robert A. Heinlein (1964):
So the banker is the son of a bitch in the deal--Or is he, now? Bankers never handle their own money to any important extent; they are custodians of other people’s money. If the banker thinks that it is a bad deal in the long run [because of discrimination], is it not his solemn duty to his stockholders and his depositors to refuse it? No matter how it offends the “human rights” of purple people eaters? Is he morally justified in hypothecating other people’s money in a deal which he considers risky--whether the risk be on that one piece of paper, or long-term risk for his whole crazy structure of loans and futures and so forth? I say he is not; he is a steward and must behave as one--not as a social reformer. Are you and I entitled to a backseat veto over his judgment? No, it ain’t our money. So far, I think, no argument--You, the banker, and the subdivider are each morally entitled to turn down the purple people eater...
And me on Twitter via Storify:
The Heinlein Foundation appears to have taken down its Virginia Edition Sample.
Here's the letter to F.M. Busby from it:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter may never have been sent, possibly due (in part) to its racial contents, still incandescently incendiary forty-five years later. Heinlein moved the letter bodily to his “Story Notes” desk file, possibly because of its relevance to the underlying background of Farnham’s Freehold. The first page of the letter is missing, so we pick it up in mid- sentence and undated, though Virginia Heinlein noted on an index card stored with the letter that it must, by internal evidence, have been written sometime in 1964 or 1965 and in any event before October 1965 (when the Heinleins moved from Colorado Springs). The letter is printed otherwise complete and as Heinlein wrote it.
...long enough that I am seriously annoyed at the amount of time I've wasted on it, because that time could have been better spent reading a good book. Or even writing one. And I think I've finally hit my ohfuckitall point. Brad Torgersen has made himself the point man in this year's brouhaha--and I have patiently slogged through his endless blogs, his self-serving sideways denials, his squalid victim racket, and his astonishing refusal to recognize that he has committed all the same sins he is now projecting onto others.
...I considered photographing one and turning out facsimiles by the gross, but Dad advised me not to. 'It is within the rules, Kip, but I've never yet known a skunk to be welcome at a picnic.'
The School of Athens, Plus Gods and Robots...
Jo Walton: The Just City
...has heard the prayers of all her worshipers through the ages who have read Plato's Republic.... So she summons them all to a volcanic island... doomed to be lost to eruption... ensuring that her tampering... will not unduly disrupt the future, which will only dimly remember the island as Atlantis. In this place, men and women from all times and places set to making a place for the children whom they will raise to be philosopher kings....
The raw ingredients out of which J.R.R. Tolkien fashioned The Lord of the Rings are equal parts Norse-Anglo-Saxon-Germanic myth, chivalric romance, and Christian apocalyptics (evil personified and mighty, but also powerful guardian spirits, and over all a God who arranges things so that the highest prizes fall to those who suffer). The mix is extraordinarily powerful.
...eighty miles south of Rome... founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Nursia.... Generations of scribes labored in the abbey’s library to copy texts and preserve artifacts.... From November, 1943, to May, 1944, the hill on which the abbey stood was at the center of one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Second World War. Monte Cassino was a crucial part of the Gustav Line... ‘fortress strength.’... The Allied command, believing that the Germans were using the abbey as a garrison and ammunition dump, made the controversial decision to bomb Monte Cassino. On February 15, 1944, American B-17s, B-25s, and B-26s dropped more than four hundred tons of explosives on the monastery....
So I followed my son's friend Jennifer Allaway: #Gamergate Trolls Aren't Ethics Crusaders; They're a Hate Group into the wilds of #GamerGate; discovered among other things that in response to the misogyny there is now a Scalzi Gender; and found that Reason continues its downward spiral with some more "harassment has been a two-way street" opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ journamalism. I then thought I owed it in order to round out my understanding the picture to see what the honchos of science fiction publishing house Baen Books had to say about #GamerGate...
Jo Walton: After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride: [Steven] Brust is definitely writing genre fantasy...
...and he knows what it is, and he is writing it with me as his imagined reader, so that’s great. And he’s always playing with narrative conventions and with ways of telling stories, within the heart of genre fantasy--Teckla is structured as a laundry list, and he constantly plays with narrators, to the point where the Paarfi books have a narrator who addresses the gentle reader directly, and he does all this within the frame of the secondary world fantasy and makes it work admirably.
Jo Walton: After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride: "I am not the intended audience for William Goldman’s The Princess Bride....
I think Goldman wanted to write something like a children’s book with the thrills of a children’s book, but for adults. Many writers have an imaginary reader, and I think Goldman’s imaginary reader for The Princess Bride was a cynic who normally reads John Updike, and a lot of what Goldman is doing in the way he wrote the book is trying to woo that reader. So, with that reader in mind, he wrote it with a very interesting frame. And when he came to make it into a movie, he wrote it with a different and also interesting frame. I might be a long way from Goldman’s imagined reader, but I am the real reader. I love it....
**Jo Walton: "In dialogue with his century":
I was getting a book off the shelf last night and I came eye to eye with the hardcover of Patterson's biography of Heinlein: Robert A Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century.
And I realised what a stupid title it is.
Especially for Heinlein, who seemed to write things that went straight from the nineteenth century to the future without pausing for the present:
Twentieth Century: Cars, planes, electricity!
Robert A. Heinlein: The nineteenth century is over! Soon we will be going to the stars!
Twentieth Century: The depression, WWII!
Robert A. Heinlein: To the stars! First we'll settle the solar system. Martians!
Twentieth Century: Cold War.
Robert A. Heinlein: Bomb shelters!
Twentieth Century: Boop, be doop, be doop, be doodle-ooo, boop, be boop, be boop, be doodle-ooo, boop, be doop, be doop, be doodle-eye-doo!
Robert A. Heinlein: The nineteenth century is over! Soon we can have sex with our mothers and our clones! Also, come on, hey, we haven't even got to the moon yet, and I want to have sex with Martians!
Twentieth Century: Apollo XI. Done with space now. Boop be doop be doop...
Robert A. Heinlein: The stars!
Twentieth Century: Computers!
Robert A Heinlein: The stars! Also, more hot competent red-heads, are you listening?
Twentieth Century: If one of us isn't listening, are you sure it's me?
Annalee Newitz: 8 Things We Can Do Now to Build a Space Colony This Century: "We talked to scientists and experts about the fundamental things they think we should do right now...
...if we want to have a space colony in the next 100 years.
Save Earth: NASA astronomer Amy Mainzer, who studies Near Earth Objects at JPL, says our number one priority has to be here on our home planet. She told io9 that it's a pretty inhospitable universe out there, so our space colonies will probably never replace home:
From my perspective, the most important thing we can do to be prepared for any activity far in the future is try not to wipe out life here.... The defining challenge of the next hundred years is to come to grips with creating a sustainable future here, as a minimum precursor to building a sustainable future anywhere else.
Change the Way the U.S. Government Plans Space Missions: Ariel Waldman....
If the nation decides to begin a space colony outside of low Earth orbit, you need to talk about changing the way NASA does business. Currently, NASA engages in a capabilities-based and/or "flexible path" approach in which technologies are developed with no specific set of missions in mind.... The National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Human Spaceflight... recommend[s]... NASA switch to a "pathways" approach... [with[ a horizon goal... [and] a very specific set of stepping stones along the way.... As far as technologies needed for a pathway that leads to Mars, the committee assessed 10 high priority areas in terms of the technical challenges. The 10 high priority areas are: Mars Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL), Radiation Safety, In-Space Propulsion and Power, Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles, Planetary Ascent Propulsion, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), Habitats, Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Suits, Crew Health, and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU - using the Mars atmosphere as a raw material).
Develop 3D Printing in Space: Les Johnson suggests:
3D printing and the rocket engine are the two inventions that will eventually enable space settlement. With 3D printing you can cut that supply chain and make all the spare parts you need locally.... A colony cannot survive if it is dependent upon a supply chain from Earth. We must mine asteroids for their raw materials (making solar arrays, colony structural materials, etc from the raw materials in Near Earth Asteroids)....
Let Space Tourists Take Vacations in Orbital Hotels: Seth Shostack... heads up the SETI Institute.... He said that our best bet is to create a thriving space tourism industry today.... He told io9:
At space conferences, people interested in commercializing space want to build small hotel rooms in orbit.... The big problems here are not technical--they are liabiltiy. But there is a market.... at any price point for putting people in orbit. So the first eight space hotel rooms are expensive, but then it's cheaper for next eight....
Figure Out How Ecosystems Work:... Hedvig Nenzen... gave us the lowdown on all the things we need to research now if we ever hope to terraform a barren world:
I'm going to assume that we find a new planet without an ecosystem already on it. Thus, in order to live in space we will have to build something from scratch with species we bring us. Scientists are realizing that it's more and more difficult to make an ecosystem from nothing, and to know how exactly the new ecosystem might work. There are just so many details and parts in an ecosystem that we don't understand yet....
Build a Giant Sun Umbrella with Robots: UC Berkeley economist Brad De Long, who has written a great deal about how robots will change our future economy, noodled around late one night with a few robot-fueled ideas he shared with io9:
It seems clear to me at least that anything done at or inside the moon's orbit over the next century will be better done by teleoperated robots, because beyond the van Allen belt and the atmosphere we become very heavy creatures that need not only water but also sheaths of lead. So I have been trying to think of something we might need to do far enough outside the moon's orbit that teleoperated robots won't do it, and that would be wildly profitable--as the late Jim Baen liked to say, successful space travel and space colonization will be exothermic, not endothermic....
The big one, of course, is the giant sun umbrella at L1, 930,000 miles away. That is far enough that teleoperated robots controlled from a local station shielded against solar storms and cosmic rays might do much better then robots with a 10 second response leg controlled from earth, and that might be a vastly cheaper way of dealing with global warming successfully then hoping for the nuclear/better solar fairies to show up.
Were I NASA, I would be planning for the sunshade now—both the Earth-control 10 second lag teleoperated robot and the local station controlled versions. And, of course, the moon base—perhaps robot only, alas!—for manufacturing the station would make lifting it out of the gravity well to L1 much cheaper.
Study How DNA Repairs Radiation Damage: Sylvain Costes is a molecular biologist at Lawrence Berkeley Labs.... He has some advice.... He told io9:
To colonize another planet, you need to focus on biology. The best way to deal with radiation is to take nutrients that will protect you, like antioxidants. Of course, you need the right ones. NASA and other groups have shown that there are a lot of nutrients blueberries, and more efficient ones, that will protect you against radiation. It won't stop radiation, but it can mitigate the effects....
Costes believes we need to plan for space colonies by discovering better anti-oxidants, adopting a "risk management" approach to space travel. He also notes that it's possible that some people simply may not be able to thrive in space, because their DNA doesn't recover from damage as easily as other people's.
Educate People About Our Connection to Space: Mae Jemison... the most important first step is education:
If we are to have any hope of having a robust, healthy nation of humans living, working, growing up and excelling happily in space we have to reconnect people here on Earth today with their ancient space heritage! The task is to get people to feel that we, like our ancestors, are linked to the stars above, not just the ground beneath our feet. And to know that what we prepare now builds the future. Teach that the reason we can predict aspects of flooding today is because everyday people thousands of years ago noticed the connection of the tides to phases of the moon. And they created calendars based on the movement of the stars. Call weather and crop satellite pictures "images from space," or GPS directions "satellite navigation."... But just a rational discussion won't do it; to feel it, let's make sure that at least once a year we go outside at night with all the lights off and experience a star-studded vista!
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn And Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition): BY JEFF ALEXANDER AND TOM BISSELL
Chomsky: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.
Graydon Saunders (2014): The March North
You will really, really, really like this thing if this is the kind of thing you like. I do...
"They're sending us a Rust, somebody who goes by Blossom, and Halt."
"Halt?" Twitch says the name again, emphasis different. Not supposed to be anything surprising in the monthly update. "What could we possibly have done to deserve Halt?" Twitch might be appalled.
"Five years in fifty means they've got to send Halt somewhere." Which is just true, not an explanation. Not when Independents don't serve with the Line--there's five centuries of custom back of that.
"West Wetcreek isn't somewhere. Even back in the day, Westcreek wasn't anywhere." Twitch was born here, says this like the laws of the universe are being changed. Twitch don't like it.
Max Gladstone: Choice of the Deathless:
Battle demons and undead attorneys, and win souls to pay back your student loans! At the elite demonic-law firm of Varkath Nebuchadnezzar Stone, you'll depose a fallen god, find romance, and maybe even make partner, if you don't lose your own soul first.
"Choice of the Deathless" is a necromantic legal thriller by Max Gladstone, Campbell Award-nominated author of Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. The game is entirely text-based--without graphics or sound effects--and powered by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
- Explore a fantasy realm with a rich and evolving backstory, based on the novels published by Tor Books.
- Play as male or female, gay or straight, dead or alive (or both).
- Build your career on carefully reasoned contracts, or party all night with the skeletal partners at your firm.
- Navigate intrigue and mystery in a world of scheming magicians and devious monsters.
- Look for love in at least some of the right places.
- Balance student loans, sleep, daily commute, rent payments, and demonic litigation—hey, nobody said being a wizard was always fun.
I have decided that "Thursday Idiocy" adds too much negativity to this blog. Besides: it depresses me. So I want to fold the negativity into the Monday Smackdowns, and use Thursday to blog from the future...
Here is something from 2114:
Consider twentieth-century American science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.
Charlie Jane Anders: Brad DeLong, Carol Queen and Farhad Manjoo at Writers With Drinks!:
We bring you "An Evening of Oversharing About Money"!
When: Saturday, July 12, from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open 6:30 PM
Who: J. Bradford DeLong, Carol Queen, Farhad Manjoo, Frances Lefkowitz and Charlie Jane Anders
How much: $5 to $20, all proceeds benefit the Center for Sex and Culture.
Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St., San Francisco