Print Story How many ears has Captain Kirk?
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Nov 15, 2015 at 11:37:24 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching (all tags)
Reading: "Roboteer". Watching: "Birdman". Links.

What I'm Reading
Roboteer by Alex Lamb. Old-fashioned adventure science fiction with some modern ideas. In a war between Earth and its Colonies, a roboteer, enhanced to connect his mind to control drones, takes a critical role.

Really enjoyed this: it's one of the most fun books I've read in years. It's action-packed and fast paced, with characters who are eminently cheerable or hissable even if not that well rounded. But as science fiction Lamb manages the difficult trick of keeping the plentiful space battles both exciting and fairly believable, with each ship protected by a fleet of programmable drones.

To be fair, it might be particularly appealing to computer programmers, as one of the critical skills in this combat is programming your drones in real time...

Overall, great fun, heartily recommended for anyone who likes entertaining science fiction.

What I'm Watching
Saw the much acclaimed Birdman on disk. A washed-up actor who played a superhero in the Nineties tries to revive his self-respect and reputation by putting on a play on Broadway. I found it pretty annoying. I suppose primarily because I like both serious theatre and superhero movies, so the idea that there's a huge clash didn't really click. It was also hard to suspend disbelief at the odd depiction of the World of Theatre, where Broadway is somehow a highbrow haven rather than a repository of tourist-friendly musicals; and a critic is furiously astonished at the idea of a Hollywood star trying to boost his cred rather than seeing it as absolutely routine. The movie used the gimmick of being apparently in one take (with digital help). I've liked that in other movies like "Russian Ark", but didn't think it really worked here with a story unfolding over several days rather than tense real time. Overall, didn't much like it, but the critics did so I guess there's something there for people more open minded than me.

Socioeconomics. Finland plans a Basic Income. The disintegration of the European project:

A final feature of all three cases is the pivotal moment when the second major power leaves the union. History suggests that unions can survive the loss of a small member state, such as Ireland from the UK in 1921. Conceivably the Baltic republics could have left the USSR, Slovenia could have bailed out of Yugoslavia, and in the EU context Greece could quit without the whole Union collapsing. When the second state quits, however – Ukraine, in the case of the USSR, and Croatia in Yugoslavia – the loss critically destabilises the balance of power within the union.

At this point, the smaller states are left in a dangerously asymmetrical relationship with the dominant state and must leave to avoid becoming de facto colonies of a single, unrivalled power. With Croatia’s departure, Yugoslavia in effect morphed into Greater Serbia and states such as Bosnia and Macedonia were forced to claim an independence they had not previously sought. Once Ukraine left the Soviet Union, no state would have been able to keep the power of Russia in check.

Sci/Tech. Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency. How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name. Reproducibility Crisis: The Plot Thickens.

Pics. You don't look like you're in pain. Map: All the British soldiers who have been lost in conflict since 1945.

Politics. Problems with the Trade Union Bill. Peter Hitchens: Really want to beat terror? Then calm down and think. Osborne just gave a gift to his friends in the City which added £135bn to the national debt. UK Polling Report: What the BES poll tells us about why the UK election polls were wrong:

If the problems had been caused by people incorrectly reporting their voting intentions ("shy Tories") or people saying they would when they did not then it is likely that exactly the same problems would have shown up in the British Election Study... The difference... suggests that the error is associated with the thing that makes the BES f2f so different from the pre-election polls – the way it is sampled...

I think most people in market research would agree a proper random sample like the BES is the ideal, but the cost is exponentially higher... a completely difference scale of expense, the difference between a couple of thousand and a couple of hundred thousand. No media outlet could ever justify the cost of a full scale random poll...

Articles. Alastair Reynolds on what it was like when Star Wars came out in the UK. Translating Gender: "Ancillary Justice" in Five Languages. The return of Teletubbies.
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How many ears has Captain Kirk? | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
Flat design by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Nov 15, 2015 at 01:59:51 PM EST
I am a fan of flat design in the sense that these 1980s faux-3D widgets and similar space-cluttering elements have to go at any cost. Feedback is important though. Strong but lightweight contextual signifiers are good.

This talk of efficiency in context of the web is hard to swallow. Flat design usually comes with a moderate-to-high dose of minimalism which I find helps more than the residual ambiguities hurt. The comment about younger users in the conclusion: we could say the same about older users and what they're used to—older web design trends have their fair share of atrocities.

See you, space cowboy.

Birdman by lm (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Nov 16, 2015 at 08:49:18 AM EST
The only thing I liked about it was how all of the movement on screen was punctuated by percussion. Given all the buzz, I kept waiting for something brilliant to show up on screen. It never arrived.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
I think maybe by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Nov 16, 2015 at 03:22:02 PM EST
It was a kind of hymn of self-congratulation to the old-school Hollywood middlebrow. Haha, look at the action movie stars, aren't they dumb! Hoho, look at the theatre people, aren't they pretentious!
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 ]
It certainly seemed to have a targeted audience by lm (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Nov 17, 2015 at 09:52:49 AM EST
I'm not sure how self-congratulatory it was. The main representative of the old-school action hero was a guy who kept trying and failing to kill himself and who suffered from some pretty bizarre delusions.

I think it was more intended to satirize both Hollywood and Broadway. There's probably a community somewhere that got all of the inside jabs and thought the movie was hysterical in the same way that I think South Park is hysterical.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
How many ears has Captain Kirk? | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)