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For it was a Hobbit hole, and that means Comfort

Jul. 31st, 2014 10:29 pm Also..

As an aside, I dislike the new basic style sheet.

Eww.

For all your Comic Sans / Arial Gothic needs

(not that you have Arial Gothic needs. That would be weird. And gross. Ewww)

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May. 21st, 2013 12:00 pm Welcome to the future. We're glad you made it.

I read a lot of news, and a fair bit of science reporting, and spend a fair bit of time thinking about what I expect to see in the next fifty years. This is a very long post about the things I expect to see.

Read more...Collapse )

In conclusion, I expect the 21st century will look a lot more like the 19th century than the 20th, albeit with less human misery and longer lifespans. The biggest black box is how does the world change when we hit peak humans - our entire modern history has been shaped by always having more humans, wanting more stuff, and having more children being a path to greater prosperity. And all bets are off if we back ourselves into actual widespread environmental collapse. I'm unwilling to take bets on how little sea level rise we end up seeing, but I still think we dodge the runaway greenhouse gas models.

Welcome to the future. It's going to be a great adventure.

Citations to follow in next post

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Current Location: US, California, San Francisco, Cumberland St, 31

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Jan. 27th, 2013 02:56 am Arisia Book Report

<fodder for the line eater>
Travel is generally a high-text time for me. I have not yet fallen to the dark path of e-books, so these days a measurable fraction of the weight of my luggage is text.

This year, the assembled fodder was as follows

  • 50 Mathematical Ideas You Should know
  • - I really need to read this series. I've dented like, mmm, two of the six or so books I picked up at the British Science Museum (Dude! We invented Steam! Catch Up!), but haven't actually finished any of them. Keep meaning to. Maybe when I've wiped out another two shelves of fiction and non-fiction. Not cracked this trip, much less finished.
  • Right, Ho, Jeeves
  • - Years ago, the esteemed @memeregal introduced me to EF Benson's Lucia series, and after that, Wodehouse is practically an inevitably. I've been quite happy with the Fry and Laurie Jeeves and Wooster productions, and occasionally reread the original Wodehouse when I find a print edition that I'm particularly fond of. Someday, I'll be certain that I've actually read all of it, at the same time, and I won't need to reread it again. 'Til then, well, there keep being new editions. Also unopened at the end of the trip.
  • Fate of Worlds
  • - Larry Niven has been writing the long-form novelization of Down in Flames, this is the last of them. I seem to have somehow missed the next-to-last, so I'll have to go find it and read it. In the meantime, I have to say, enlisting a hard-science SF author to co-author a space opera whose objective was to burn the Ringworld franchise to the ground was, ah, inspired. Finished after returning from the con, as Amazon had replaced my original, misprinted copy.
  • The Unincorporated Future
  • - I met the brothers Kollin at a Westercon and Norwescon some years ago, and I've enjoyed their fiction ever since I got around to reading it. The entire Unincorporated series really is a lovely indictment of the entire Randian anarchy-syndicalist utopia, altho, unfortunately, Future is the weakest of the lot. It's not quite a Stephensonian level of oh, crap, we've run out of page count ending, but it definitely feels .. rushed. Particularly compared to the earlier works, which include pieces of fine, fine piece (American) Civil War and World War II history cleverly disguised as science fiction. I'll have to offer them a refreshing adult beverage next time I see one or the other of them and ask them what the hell happened. Norwescon is a likely bet. Finished while on holiday.
  • Doctor No
  • - Penguin Classics has been reissuing the original Ian Fleming Bond works, which I originally read in the very early eighties, and I've been rereading them, as I've been giving my earlier editions to a deserving, happy recipient. She gets to read Bond for the first time, I get to reread them again, and Green Apple Books and Powells get to sell them to me, I'm pretty sure everyone is walking away happy. Anyway, I really, really like the fact that in the early Bonds, he's not Superhuman. In fact, while we-the-reader may know that he's going to come out intact, he certainly doesn't. Which is a lovely. I know, I know, You Only Live Twice. Hush, you. In any case, Quantum of Solace is a stunning piece of English-language prose. Finished while on the flight East.
  • Moonraker
  • - Yes, Virginia, the original Fleming from which the 1979 Roger Moore fantasy is drawn is originally a piece which is clearly shouted out to in the penultimate and final episodes of The Prisoner. There, I've now obscurely spoilt one piece of mid-century thriller spy fiction and one extended episode of one of the greatest pieces of spy-genre commentary ever produced. I expect 1500 words on the subject by Tuesday, and I'm not above using one of those new-fangled anti-plaigarism sites to make sure that you're not cribbing from your classmates. Get cracking! (Finished on the flight West, in case you're wondering)
  • Lust
  • - I don't often delve into Literature as such, and even less frequently into Essays, per se, but there was a .. promising series on the seven deadly sins offered a number of years ago that I picked up from my corner Blues and Books shop. Sadly, having consumed the treatise upon Lust, and attempted the tract on the subject of Pride a number of times, I can sadly report that these works do not work for me, and I will be returning them to the shops for delivery to some more-deserving reader. Finished on the flight East, in between naps.
  • I Shall Wear Midnight
  • - I am led to understand that Mr Pratchett considers his Juveniles to be More Important than his Discworld work generally, which is a point of view to which I am sympathetic, but I am sadly a book behind in the replacing the Witches series, which I hoped to catch up on while on holiday. Sadly, not cracked, I was entirely unsuccessful.
  • The Consummata
  • - As part of my recently-acquired affection for Film Noir and hard-boiled crime fiction generally, I've devoured the bulk of the output of the Hard Case Crime imprint. They've undergone a bit of a rough patch over the last year, as their publishing house has undergone.. ah, interesting times, but they're now back in the groove, albeit with a shift to trade paperback format instead of mass-market fiction format. But I'm not complaining. In any case, I demolished this on the flight East, along with the inadequately graceful essay on Lust, and it was quite fulfilling.

    For those of you keeping score at home, I took eight books with me on the trip, and finished five of them at, or shortly after, the con, and can recommend all but one of those.

    What have you been reading?

Current Music: Carole King - Tapestry

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Aug. 5th, 2012 10:59 pm The Chances of Anything coming from Earth... [Redux]

Barsoom News congratulates the great people of Mars on their successful efforts to again repel another invasion from their blue-green sister planet. The most recent attack came in the form of the Mars Incursion Vehicle, Victory, which was shot from the Martian sky while deploying its advanced landing system, leaving the vehicle to crash into the surface at nearly escape velocity. A small underground village was destroyed by the impact, but Martian officials report that nearly all civilians were successfully cleared from the area. "We've seen a lot of attacks from Earth, and they just never think these things all the way through," one Martian Space Defense commander was observed to say.

The failure comes as yet another disappointment to the Terran authorities, who have launched some successful landers, but have suffered setback after setback in their efforts to catalog, map, and overrun Martian defenses. Worse yet, these failures continue to be expensive; the most recent represents a loss of more than two billion US dollars, a price that ailing country can ill afford after its ruinous conflicts with its own neighbors on the watery planet.

Martian officials stressed that while this invasion was halted, they must remain vigilant against attacks from their nearby neighbor. "We must be ever vigilant. Failures do not deter them, and they simply cannot be bothered to respond to diplomatic overtures. We fear the only deterrent will ultimately be invasion, an unpleasant duty we expect the Terrans will force upon us."

Here at Barsoom News, we hope that day will not be soon. Until then, Watch The Skies!

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Aug. 3rd, 2012 09:43 am The chances of anything coming from Earth...

INN would like to extend its congratulations to the National Air and Space Administration and the United States Department of Defense on their successful test of the third generation Mars Incursion Vehicle. Named Victory, the test vehicle is believed large enough and resourceful enough to be the keystone weapon in a future invasion of the Red Planet. While previous Incursion Vehicles have been blown of course or destroyed by Martian point defense efforts, Victory supports a fast and agile landing system that can evade Martian defenses. Once on the ground, Incursion Vehicles can deliver energy and projectile weapons at close range, and crush many surface features and structures.

We are confident that the Pentagon is entirely prepared to mass-produce Victory-type Incursion Vehicles, and the spoils of our planetary neighbor will soon be enriching the Empire of Earth.

With Interstellar Network News, I'm Helmuth Smith. Hail Terra!

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Oct. 18th, 2011 04:39 pm What we need is a Super Conductor..

Meissner, the effect please -





I will allow you to insert your own Insane Clown Posse remark here.

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May. 18th, 2011 09:21 pm Hey, Youse! Don't Watch Dat, Watch Dis!

Tonight's Mixed Media edition is heavy on current British Synthpop, with my normal affection for Female-fronted acts, although not fitting entirely to the traditional Whiny Babe Music category.

Bat For Lashes. From Britain, I told you this was a story about Britpop, the standout single so far is Daniel. Somewhat ethereal, but not too, too dreamy, with heavily aspirated vocals, although I think the official video is unfortunate. Joe Bob sez Check it out!

The Good Natured (sorry for the MySpace link, Wikipedia is apparently running behind). More Britpop, and a hat tip to netik for turning me on to these people. Well, this nineteen-year-old performer from London, actually, brings a sound reminiscent of early Smiths and The Beautiful South. Stand out tracks are Skeleton and Tongue Tied.

The Bird and the Bee. Out of LA, but with a lot of collaboration with British Synthpop artists under the lead singer's belt, veevi introduced me to this duo a year or so back, and they're lovely. Their most recent albums include Rayguns Are Not Just The Future and a brilliant album of Hall & Oates covers. Check out Again & Again and Rich Girl. Again, sadly, the official video is a bit unfortunate.

Modernaire. A Britpop band that you can't find, kamileon turned me on to them a while back. They've only done one EP, that we've found, but it's tasty, tasty goodness. Check out Bloodshed in the Woodshed. They're apparently performing now as The Moulettes, but I haven't had occasion to listen to the new work yet.

Little Boots. British Synthpop and New Wave are not dead, one of her tracks has Philip Oakey providing vocals, my brother pointed me at her cover of Freddie Mercury's Love Kills from the 1984 Metropolis soundtrack. Also a bit of a Motels vibe on some of her tracks, and perhaps a touch of Terri Nunn, which again isn't surprising, given the crowd she's running with. Check out the single New In Town, my favorite track of hers is Meddle, but I can't find a good reference performance on the web to share.

Sleepthief. American Electronica, because this can't be just a story about Britpop. Hat tip to @water_of_fire for turning me on to them, Sleepthief are very much in the vein of Delerium and Conjure One, with a debut album from a couple of years ago including an amazing cover of Duran Duran's Chauffeur, which you should check out. The lovely vocal on that track is by Kirsty Hirkshaw of Opus III, who adsah_98 pointed me to so many years ago.

And with that, I bid you a Fine Night Tonight, with a raft of tasty britpop and electronica to guide your way.

Current Music: The Good Natured - Skeleton

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Feb. 21st, 2011 12:47 pm There Oughta Be A Law!

In another venue, someone argued 'the people who caused the mortgage meltdown be in jail?!'

I don't know if any of you, dear readers, happen to hold that view, but, if you do, would you be so kind as to tell me, in general terms, who you think ought to be in jail, and in specific terms, what you think they should be in jail for?

Let me note two important things at the outset: remember that lying to people is usually only against the law if you're doing so to cheat them out of money (which is why Bernie Madoff is in jail), and it's unconstitutional to make laws that make something retroactively illegal.

Got your moral outrage ready? Go!

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Dec. 20th, 2010 09:30 pm Well, that's a bit surreal..

I've been watching Mad Men for the first time recently.
It's extremely good.
I finished the first season a few weeks ago, and watched about half of the second season yesterday.
In between, I read most of Liar's Poker, about bond trading, Salomon Brothers, and the invention of interest-rate swaps. It was extremely surreal, because in many respects, it seemed like the world of Sterling Cooper and the world of Salomon Brothers just weren't very far away from each other.

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Dec. 10th, 2010 08:49 pm For Science!

I was looking through recent articles I've pulled aside for signal boosting, and there are a number of science snacks among them. Thus, without further adieu, some science crunchies for a Friday evening:

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