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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction

[NEWS] Five science fiction links: Catherynne Valente, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Janelle Monáe, numbers

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  • Lawyers, Guns and Money recently took a look at the way the great author Catherynne M. Valente made use of culture as a force in her briliant Space Opera.
  • I quite enjoyed this oral history of Babylon 5, over at Syfy.
  • MEL Magazine hosts this great article arguing the strength of The Last Jedi is that it does not give in to the wishes of fans.
  • Vox’s exploration of the Afrofuturism of Janelle Monáe’s work really laid out these influences on her for me.
  • James Nicoll recently asked an interesting question at Tor: Where is all the science fiction dealing with depopulation, with population decline?
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[NEWS] Three links about sci-fi and pop culture: Westworld and AI, machine learning, Janelle Monáe

  • This fascinating look at Westworld takes a look at how changing representations of artificial intelligence influence storylines in pop culture, as we shift from fear of AI to potential sympathy. The AV Club has it.
  • Machine learning these days is demonstrating an astounding ability to understand complex systems. Quanta Magazine has it.
  • io9 notes an upcoming queer Afrofuturist film from Janelle Monáe (also starring Tessa Thompson as a love interest) that sounds amazing.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Anthrodendum recommends design researcher Jan Chipchase’s Field Study Handbook for anthropologists interested in field practice.
  • Architectuul investigates strange similarities between buildings built in far-removed parts of the world.
  • Centauri Dreams takes a look at TESS, the next generation of exoplanet-hunting satellite.
  • Crooked Timber investigates the connections between the spiritualism of the 19th century and the fiction of the uncanny.
  • D-Brief notes the many names, often delightful, that newly-discovered locations on Mercury and Charon have received.
  • Cody Delistraty investigates two exhibitions of French satirists, including Charlie Hedo’s Georges Wolinski, to examine the nature of satire.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the possibility of cryomagna leaving marks on the surface of Europa.
  • Drew Ex Machina takes a look at the strangely alien skies of TRAPPIST-1e. What would its sun look like? How would the other planets appear?
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog takes a look at the new prominence of multigenerational households in the United States. While a response to economic strains, it also looks back to past traditions.
  • Hornet Stories notes how, on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Monet X Change gave a decent explanation behind the surprisingly recent birth of the modern British accent.
  • Imageo notes how a massive blob of warm water is rising to the surface of the Pacific.
  • At In A State of Migration, Lyman Stone explores the unique population history of Maine, to my eyes easily the most Atlantic Canadian of the fifty American states.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper exploring why modern video games can produce such rewarding experiences for players. (We can get meaning from many places.)
  • Language Log takes a look at the complexity of Chinese language classifications with a song by Yishi Band. What exactly is Yibin Sichuanese?
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes a look at an interesting question: When did Jews in the United States become white?
  • The LRB Blog takes a look at the baffling reasons behind the poisoning of the Skribins with Novichok, and the science behind it.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that this year, GDP per capita measured at PPP in Spain is higher than in Italy. (This probably says more about the disarray in Italy.)
  • The NYR Daily shares an interesting interview with cartoonist Art Spiegelman.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw tells of his experiences on a trip to the small Australian city of Armidale, in the region of New England.
  • Justin Petrone reflects on the tidy and clean, minimalist even, rural landscape of Estonia.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell notes brain scans that provide evidence of consciousness even in very young infants.
  • Drew Rowsome praises the Toronto production of the musical Fun Home, based on the Alison Bechdel graphic novel. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel notes that, although Proxima Centauri is far too active a star for Proxima Centauri b to be Earth-like, that world could still plausibly host life-supporting environments.
  • Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy suggests a recent deal at the federal level in the US between Trump and Cory Gardner has created space for states to legalize marijuana without fear of federal intervention.

[NEWS] Five sci-fi links: HAL 9000, Space Seed on VHS, baseball on DS9, Civilization, AIs doing D&D

  • How did the movie version of HAL 9000, from 2001, come about? And why does HAL sound so Canadian? The National Post reports.
  • The official Star Trek website explains how the release of the episode “Space Seed” on VHS helped change the videocassette market of the 1980s, here.
  • Deadspin explains how the central role played by the sport of baseball in Deep Space 9 underlined the ways in which that show was atypical Trek.
  • Rock Paper Shotgun examines how many long-run civilization-building games, like Civilization, do a poor job of depicting stagnation and decline, and what this failure says about us now.
  • The idea that the game that artificial intelligences need to learn to play is not chess but D&D–that games involving roleplaying are good tests for general intelligence–seems obvious to me. Aeon has it.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait suggests that strange markings in the upper atmosphere of Venus might well be evidence of life in that relatively Earth-like environment.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly raves over Babylon Berlin.
  • Centauri Dreams considers, fifty years after its publication, Clarke’s 2001.
  • Crooked Timber considers Kevin Williamson in the context of conservative intellectual representation more generally.
  • D-Brief considers “digisexuality”, the fusion of the digital world with sexuality. (I think we’re quite some way off, myself.)
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers evidence suggesting that the agricultural revolution in ancient Anatolia was achieved without population replacement from the Fertile Crescent.
  • Drew Ex Machina takes a look at the flight of Apollo 6, a flight that helped iron out problem with the Saturn V.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas is not impressed by the idea of the trolley problem, as something that allows for the displacement of responsibility.
  • Gizmodo explains why the faces of Neanderthals were so different from the faces of modern humans.
  • JSTOR Daily considers if volcano-driven climate change helped the rise of Christianity.
  • Language Log considers, after Spinoza, the idea that vowels are the souls of consonants.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money engages in a bit of speculation: What would have happened had Clinton won? (Ideological gridlock, perhaps.)
  • Lovesick Cyborg explores how the advent of the cheap USB memory stick allowed North Koreans to start to enjoy K-Pop.
  • Russell Darnley considers the transformation of the forests of Indonesia’s Riau forest from closed canopy forest to plantations.
  • The Map Room Blog shares some praise of inset maps.
  • Neuroskeptic considers how ketamine may work as an anti-depressant.
  • The NYR Daily considers student of death, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
  • Justin Petrone of north! shares an anecdote from the Long Island coastal community of Greenport.
  • Personal Reflection’s Jim Belshaw considers the iconic Benjamin Wolfe painting The Death of General Wolfe.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Casey Dreier notes cost overruns for the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • pollotenchegg maps recent trends in natural increase and decrease in Ukraine.
  • Roads and Kingdoms talks about a special Hverabrauð in Iceland, baked in hot springs.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel shares his own proposal for a new Drake Equation, revised to take account of recent discoveries.
  • Vintage Space considers how the American government would have responded if John Glenn had died in the course of his 1962 voyage into space.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the belief among many Russians that had Beria, not Khrushchev, succeeded Stalin, the Soviet Union might have been more successful.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • At Anthrodendum, Elizabeth Marino takes issue with what she identifies as the naively and fiercely neoliberal elements of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now.
  • Anthropology.net’s Kambiz Kamrani takes a look at an innovative study of the Surinamese creole of Sranan Tongo that uncovers that language’s linguistic origins in remarkably fine detail.
  • Architectuul examines the architecture of Communist-era Hungarian architect István Szábo
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes the nearly naked black hole at the heart of galaxy ZwCl 8193, 2.2 billion light-years away.
  • The Big Picture shares photos from the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.
  • Gerry Canavan has an interesting critical take on Star Trek: Discovery. Is it really doing new things, or is its newness just superficial?
  • Centauri Dreams considers the impact the spectra of red dwarfs would have on biosignatures from their worlds.
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at Australia’s Darling River, a critical watercourse threatened by extensive water withdrawals.
  • Inkfish notes that patterns of wear on the tusks of elephants indicate most are right-handed.
  • Joe. My. God. links to a study suggesting a relationship between Trump rallies and violent assaults.
  • JSTOR Daily links to a paper examining why people drink Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Language Hat takes a look at the use of Xhosa as the language of Wakanda.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mourns Alfred Crosby, the historian whose work examined the epidemiological and ecological changes wrought by contact with the Americas.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map showing indigenous placenames in Canada.
  • In the aftermath of the death of Stephen Hawking, Out There had a lovely idea: what nearby major stars emitted life than arrive at the moment of his birth? Hawking’s star is Regulus, and mine was (nearly) Arcturus.
  • Marginal Revolution suggests AI will never be able to centrally plan an economy because the complexity of the economy will always escape it.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel examines Stephen Hawking’s contribution to the study of black holes.
  • Supernova Condensate shares a list of moons, fictional and otherwise, from Endor on down.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • At Anthropology.net, Kamzib Kamrani looks at the Yamnaya horse culture of far eastern Europe and their connection to the spread of the Indo-Europeans.
  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait looks at the predicted collision of China’s Tiangong-1 space station. Where will it fall?
  • James Bow notes a Kickstarter funding effort to revive classic Canadian science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the impending retirement of the pioneering Kepler telescope, and what’s being done in the time before this retirement.
  • D-Brief notes how nanowires made of gold and titanium were used to restore the sight of blind mice.
  • Russell Darnley takes a look at the indigenous people of Riau province, the Siak, who have been marginalized by (among other things) the Indonesian policy of transmigration.
  • Dead Things reports on more evidence of Denisovan ancestry in East Asian populations, with the suggestion that the trace of Denisovan ancestry in East Asia came from a different Denisovan population than the stronger traces in Melanesia.
  • Hornet Stories paints a compelling portrait of the West Texas oasis-like community of Marfa.
  • JSTOR Daily notes how indigenous mythology about illness was used to solve a hantavirus outbreak in New Mexico in the 1990s.
  • Language Log praises the technical style of a Google Translate translation of a text from German to English.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that, under the Shah, Iran was interested in building nuclear plants. Iranian nuclear aspirations go back a long way.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the unsettling elements of the literary, and other, popularity of Jordan Peterson.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the continuing existence of a glass ceiling even in relatively egalitarian Iceland.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the unsettling elements behind the rise of Xi Jinping to unchecked power. Transitions from an oligarchy to one-man rule are never good for a country, never mind one as big as China.
  • Drew Rowsome writes about Love, Cecil, a new film biography of photographer Cecil Beaton.
  • Peter Rukavina celebrates the 25th anniversary of his move to Prince Edward Island. That province, my native one, is much the better for his having moved there. Congratulations!
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a strange story of Russian speculation about Kazakh pan-Turkic irredentism for Orenburg that can be traced back to one of its own posts.
  • At Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Frances Woolley takes the time to determine that Canadian university professors tend to be more left-wing than the general Canadian population, and to ask why this is the case.