Print Story If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 02:08:42 PM EST) Reading, Listening, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "By Light Alone". Watching: "Shadow of a Doubt". Listening. Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished By Light Alone, recent SF novel by Adam Roberts.

Has an intriguing premise: in the future a genetically-engineered Bug allows people to photosynthesize from their hair, leaving them with little need to eat.

Roberts sometimes treats SF elements as just a pretty background for ugly characters, but here he's put some effort into thinking things through. Without the need to eat, the population of the world's poor, the Longhairs, has exploded. The rich minority trim their hair and eat conspicuous luxury foods as a status symbol, keeping the poor away from their enclaves with brutal repression. The lack of need for food has apparently depressed wages allowing for cheaper production. Women are particularly exploited as they need hard food to produce babies.

So, it's an interesting idea, possibly intended as an allegory for increasing inequality. Roberts also switches between narrators to show us different aspects of the world. As usual for Roberts, the initial character is unsympathetically self-absorbed, but the others are more differentiated.

The plot isn't particularly compelling, and leaves things a little bit unresolved, but the quality of the writing and world-building keep you interested.

Overall, decent book, worth a read if you like his stuff.

Listening
Went to see Girl B's amateur choir do an unrehearsed performance of Verdi's Requiem. Very good: surprised they held it together despite everyone just turning up and doing it from the score. The Dies Irae was particularly impressive (that's not them, that's another group).

What I'm Watching
Saw Shadow of a Doubt on DVD. 1943 Hitchcock movie about a wanderer who returns to his sister's family with secrets in tow.

A little bit dated, especially the portentous soundtrack. Seems oddly slow for a Forties movie too. But does eventually generate quite a bit of suspense, with a nicely glib/menacing performance from the lead.

Thanks to Girl B I seem to have been seeing a lot of fairly cerebral movies lately. I must go for something with explosions pretty soon. Was seriously tempted to see Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance despite its abysmal 14% rating on Rottentomatoes.

Web
Socioeconomics. Women randomly assigned to single-sex groups gradually show less risk-aversion. Independent invention should be a defence against patent infringement. What should investors do if Greece leaves the Euro.

Culture. Musicians Wage War Against Evil Robots Biblical literalists used not to think the Bible teaches that human life begins at conception. Oscar Academy demographics, via. Homer. A Canadian Citizen's Guide to the War of 1812. BBC nuclear war script, via. WikiHow: How to persuade an atheist to become a Christian.

Pics. Classic Japanese Fart art, via. Refreshing Honesty, Deptford Market.

Politics. Pirate bay could be blocked. ACTA. America has decided it has the right to kill whoever it wants, whenever it wants.

If in the year 2000 the U.S. president had told the American people that the government would soon begin using robot planes to track people, including U.S. citizens, all over the world, and would reserve to itself the right to kill them without trial, it is safe to say there would have been an enormous uproar.

The question Donald Rumsfeld, of all people, asked about Iraq is still the central one: Is our dirty war creating more terrorists than it’s killing? And there is every reason to believe that it is.

For Americans, “fighting terrorists” on a permanent basis by blowing people up here and there across the globe is just something a responsible country does, the same way that a good dog owner remembers to give his pooch his flea medicine.

Video. Every Face Punch in Road House. Nobody listens to Worf. Cassetteboy vs. The News.

Sci/Tech. Fruit flies get drunk to beat parasites EFF Wins Protection for Time Zone Database. CBT Therapy app, via.

Random. Daddy Saddle. The meaning of Tube cleaner codes.

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If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Baffling poll by Alan Crowe (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 02:53:22 PM EST
Independent invention is (and has always been) a defense against accusations of copyright infringement.

Hmm by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 03:04:02 PM EST
Should probably be patent infringement, as in the link.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Life begins at conception... by ana (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 03:22:56 PM EST
I think the linked article says the opposite of what your link suggests. That is, biblical literalists only discovered that the bible has "always" said life begins at conception sometime in the 1980s.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

Gosh, everybody's a critic today by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 03:36:07 PM EST
Changed.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
And, at that, only a subset of literalists by lm (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 05:54:59 PM EST
Plenty of literalists, or mostly literalists, throughout history have argued that life begins at conception based on a literal reading of certain texts.

But, for some odd reason, Evangelical Christianity largely ignores the history of Biblical interpretation.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
also by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 07:01:15 PM EST
when did we actually discover the "sperm fertilizes the egg" bit?

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
It was first observed in the 19th century by lm (4.00 / 1) #7 Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 05:58:08 AM EST
There were a series of discoveries by more than a few scientists that happened from 1841 (sperm discovered to be cells) to 1875 when it was first observed that sperm and egg combine into a new cell. But that's just proof of the mechanical aspects of fertilization. Just as the field of genetics was initiated centuries before the discovery of chromosomes and DNA, it was long known that it took something from a man and a woman to make a child.

The wrench in the works, so to speak, was Aristotle's mistaken biology that thought the seed of the man was the active part and the woman, being a fertile planting ground, was entirely passive in the process. The high regard for Aristotle in the west in the middle ages resulted in a distorted view of what happens for centuries.

I seem to recall that this view was not unchallenged. But I may be misremembering.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Woman entirely passive by Herring (4.00 / 3) #8 Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 06:52:51 AM EST
Says more for Aristotle's technique really.

IIRC, there's something in the Kama Sutra about it requiring bits from both genders and that goes back a bit.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
That's a good line by lm (4.00 / 1) #9 Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 12:29:18 PM EST
Since I'm at a university whose philosophy department is hugely influenced by Aristotle and his intellectual heirs, I'll have to keep that in mind.

But it's really just a working out of his theory of motion in a biological context. Everything in Aristotle's universe moved from total potency to total actuality.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
So by Herring (4.00 / 1) #10 Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 03:02:57 PM EST
He was actually impotent. No, I didn't need to post that.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Ein Buch ist ein Spiegel by nathan (4.00 / 1) #11 Sat Feb 25, 2012 at 06:13:52 PM EST
Aus dem kein Apostel herausgucken kann, wenn ein Affe hineinguckt.

[ Parent ]
Deptford Market by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 04:55:02 PM EST
I know that stall! They have a similar signs beside each box saying things like "Amazing!" and gradually get more surreal as they run out of things to say. Market stall holders are generally pretty funny I've found.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

Insider knowledge, cool! [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:21:29 AM EST

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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback