Re: What are you reading?

That sentence melted my eyes. What the hell??

Witness me!

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Re: What are you reading?

It comes off even worse than it otherwise would when the book is making frequent hay out of how incoherent Trump is when he speaks. I mean, he is, and that's horrifying, but that doesn't excuse you weaving together phrases with such disregard for prose structure that you sound like a phone keyboard predicting text.

Re: What are you reading?

Just finished Peter Watts' Blindsight—which you can either buy in print or download from his website for free due to its Creative Commons license. Picture Alien, but as a first contact story that's a mind-bending riff on the nature of consciousness as a glitch in human evolution. This is the hardest of hard SF, but since it's also functioning as a philosophical horrorshow it's by necessity far more readable and elegant than something by, say, Kim Stanley Robinson—it has to evoke an emotional chill at the implications of its subject matter, not just an intellectual one.

Very much a companion piece to Thomas Ligotti's excellent/soul-crushing book of horror philosophy The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, which I recommended here a while back.

Also, if you don't want to read a whole novel as your jumping-off point with Watts, take fifteen minutes out of your day to read his story "The Things" (also freely available online), which manages to take John Carpenter's The Thing and make it even more horrifying by setting it from the POV of the titular creature.

Last edited by DarthPraxus (2018-02-22 17:44:23)

Re: What are you reading?

Your first paragraph couldn't have sold me harder.

I'm not even much for novels these days, and just: fuck yes.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

Woot! As I was reading it I couldn't help thinking it was such your shit. Probably Brian's, too, but it doesn't involve Mars so he might be snobby about it. tongue

Re: What are you reading?

I just read the first intro secton, prior to 'Theseus,' and... super yep.

Y'all check this shit out.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

Finished Blindsight.

In short, I'm all over the place about it, and intend to skim through it again immediately just to help myself out. As a piece of writing, several aspects instantly became my all-time favorite example of something, even while the same book was earning all-time worst offender status on some of my other criterion; it's the longest, greatest book I've ever been so mad at for so many pages, and/but/or/ergo, I'm pretty sure it's the only book I've ever yelled at repeatedly and also finished.

But, before I write that version of the review, I'm keeping my powder dry and skimming through it again. I want to give Blindsight a fair shake, because in my life I've experienced at least one other similar reaction to a complex work of art — that is, being actively blown away by creative synthesis far in excess of what I can imagine coming from myself, even as I'm being actively frustrated into screaming discomprehension by executive 'mistakes' in the same piece of art that are so disruptive to my experience that even as I'm drawn in by greatness, I'm pushed away by frustration — and in my previous experience, despite myself, I just fought through my initial reaction (plus a few follow-up reactions) and got over it. My old brain wanted to reject the new work of art that didn't fit, but the art seemed unassailably worthwhile in other ways, so I updated my brain to fit the art. The unexpected pay-off is having a piece of work in my life which I now appreciate more than any other unified work of art I've yet encountered on Earth, and one which I've long-since memorized every word of; this piece is called Hamilton.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So who knows, maybe the stuff that pissed me off about Blindsight is just 'me'-stuff it's time for me to get over.

In any case, the stuff that didn't piss me off is unassailably worthwhile.

...grr.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

Ooh, well now I'm gonna be eagerly awaiting your second-read thoughts. Apparently your initial reaction is something a lot of people had with Echopraxia, Watts' follow-up novel; I'll be reading that one soon and I'm curious to see if I'll feel the same way.

EDIT: That should have said second-read thoughts, not second-rate thoughts! Evidently my phone keyboard is the hostile kind of intelligent life.

Last edited by DarthPraxus (2018-03-06 00:29:20)

Re: What are you reading?

Teague wrote:

I want to give Blindsight a fair shake, because in my life I've experienced at least one other similar reaction to a complex work of art — that is, being actively blown away by creative synthesis far in excess of what I can imagine coming from myself, even as I'm being actively frustrated into screaming discomprehension by executive 'mistakes' in the same piece of art that are so disruptive to my experience that even as I'm drawn in by greatness, I'm pushed away by frustration — and in my previous experience, despite myself, I just fought through my initial reaction (plus a few follow-up reactions) and got over it. My old brain wanted to reject the new work of art that didn't fit, but the art seemed unassailably worthwhile in other ways, so I updated my brain to fit the art. The unexpected pay-off is having a piece of work in my life which I now appreciate more than any other unified work of art I've yet encountered on Earth, and one which I've long-since memorized every word of; this piece is called Hamilton.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

HAH. This has LITERALLY been my life over the past week. I tried desperately to get through it for MONTHS and just /couldn't/. Finally just pushed through Act 1, and then watching some interviews with LMM about the theme and what it's /actually/ about, and then listened through act 2 the next and fell HEAD OVER FUCKING HEELS in love. Listened through the whole thing at least 5-6 times in the last 4 days. Brains are weird y'all.

ZangrethorDigital.ca
youtube.com/bigdamnartist

Re: What are you reading?

SOONISH
Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/515nbKntBNL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

You all know the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Wait, you don't?

Then go read it yesterday. This webcomic is simply one of the best out there; it talks about science, psychology, philosophy, sex, everything. It won't teach you something everytime, but is consistent in making you laugh even on subjects you know nothing about (it cracks me up with economy; let this sink in). As a comparison, I find it more accessible and consistent than XKCD, which can be brilliant at best, but leave me wondering what the hell did I just read at worst.

So Zach Weinersmith, its author, partnered with his wife who is a top scientist (how convenient) to create this book, Soonish, studying current emerging technologies and how they can shape the future to come, in a very good or a very bad way.

Nuclear fusion - where we are now, the multiple projects for it, where it could lead us (e.g. bringing your own fusion reactor on a spaceship, how it could make interstellar travel much more feasible, and how we can imagine this); orbital spaceflight - and when you look at it, just how ridiculous it is right now that we have to carry fuel on a rocket to propel its own fuel into escape velocity; asteroid handling and mining (handily available resources for space exploration, but also, what if terrorists decide to just push a big one towards Earth?). It's not only a great summary of current developments, it's also really good at making you picture where they could lead us, but it's also fucking hilarious. Like the piece on Dr. Bull, a Canadian scientist who somehow ended up working for Saddam Hussein to fund his spacecannon project. It's written in a style that won't let you forget what it's teaching you, because it's making you laugh your ass off at every turn of a page, in association with sporadic drawings from Zach.

Do yourself a favor and buy it. Science and humor are not that often paired - done well even less so.

Last edited by Saniss (2018-03-06 12:56:27)

Sébastien Fraud
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"We're gonna build a great green screen, and make the traditional matte painters pay for it"
Saniss for President 2016 - "Make VFX great again"

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Re: What are you reading?

I read the first couple of chapters then, through no fault of its own, moved onto other stuff. I need to get back to it.

Also it has a chapter on asteroid mining, which is of interest to us for some reason.

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: What are you reading?

https://i.imgur.com/kvZy51n.png

Technically not quite finished with this yet—300 pages of the final volume left—but I'm close enough that I wanted to post about it.

Absolutely monumental history of Nazi Germany, covering its historical roots, government, military, racial-political ethos, internal conflicts, etc. The Coming of the Third Reich covers the period up to Hitler's official seizure of power, with the lion's share devoted to setting the scene by covering all the factors that led to his rise—the disaster of World War I, the resulting economic crisis, historical anti-Semitism, etc. The Third Reich in Power covers the period from Hitler's rise to the invasion of Poland, charting all the ways that Nazism tunneled into German society. The Third Reich at War is what it says on the tin, offering a history of Germany during WWII and the final solution.

This is 1,800 very dense pages, but Evans put in the work to make it a page-turner as well as information-rich. I think the thing that most struck me throughout my reading is how utterly wrong the popular image of the Nazis as some ultra-efficient political/military force is. It's mind-blowing how these yahoos self-sabotaged at almost every turn, with inner power struggles and redundant/contradictory bureaucracies constantly threatening to descend into chaos. (It's also notable how much they struggled at actually converting the German people to their cause—their propaganda efforts were ultimately enough to allow the Holocaust to transpire, but a lot of their attempts to instill the Nazi ideology in the population were completely pathetic. If it hadn't been for latent anti-Semitism and bitterness over WWI already at work, Goebbels and his team would have failed entirely.)

It would be hilarious if it hadn't actually happened, and as it is it stands as a sobering reminder that lack of competence doesn't equal lack of danger. (As if I needed any further reminder of that living under the current president.) Highly recommended.

Re: What are you reading?

Oh man.

Mannnnnnnn.

Yeah, I'm comin' back to this. Not sure when, but I intend to do a deep dive on WW2 in the next year or two, and I'm gonna have to remember to dredge up this post.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

William Shirer's Rise and Fall Of The Third Reich is well worth a read.

Extended Edition - 140 Solo: A Star Wars Story!
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Re: What are you reading?

Also, we as a society need to talk about the Battle of Kursk more. Because as I learned from reading The Third Reich at War, the Battle of Kursk was fucking nuts.

At one point, the superior German tanks were pounding the Soviet tanks, which couldn't afford to fall back.
So here's what the Soviets did: under cover of darkness, they buried all their tanks with dirt. The Nazis assumed there had been a retreat, and rolled their tanks forward. When they'd all crossed the Soviet line, the hidden Soviet tanks burst out of the ground, opened up from behind, and obliterated the Nazis.

What makes it even better is that this massive triumph happened at the same battle that featured one of the biggest fuck-ups of all time, also from the Soviets. Shortly afterward, the Soviets were rolling their tanks forward to advance on the Germans and failed to realize they were running smack-dab into an anti-tank trench they themselves had set up. The entire first wave of their tanks fell into the ditch and was then crashed into by the second wave. Stalin was so furious at the losses that the military just all agreed to lie to him and tell him they lost all their tanks in a pitched battle with the Nazis, who suffered staggering losses. There's still a monument at Kursk claiming dozens of Nazi tanks were destroyed in that exchange. Three were in actuality.

Last edited by DarthPraxus (2018-03-08 20:34:42)

Re: What are you reading?

It would be hilarious if it hadn't actually happened, and as it is it stands as a sobering reminder that lack of competence doesn't equal lack of danger. (As if I needed any further reminder of that living under the current president.) Highly recommended.

I ran across a term on Metafilter years ago that I really dig.  "Malcompetence"  - Malicious Incompetence.  I feel like it's especially relevant these days.

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Re: What are you reading?

DarthPraxus wrote:

Stalin was so furious at the losses that the military just all agreed to lie to him and tell him they lost all their tanks in a pitched battle with the Nazis, who suffered staggering losses. There's still a monument at Kursk claiming dozens of Nazi tanks were destroyed in that exchange. Three were in actuality.

And so remains the greatest "So we're agreed, nobody tells dad right?" in all of history.

ZangrethorDigital.ca
youtube.com/bigdamnartist

Re: What are you reading?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51gvbZCkhuL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Well that was a fucking bummer.

Exhaustive chronicle of the personal and legal battles between the four band members, their families, and the veritable sea of corporations they'd all become tied up in by the time the unit split. All four Beatles come out of it looking much worse than they did before I read it (and I have a pretty extensive knowledge of the group). It's painful how close they came to patching things up time after time over the decades only for ego or circumstances or sheer mischance to dash things without fail.

That said, right after I finished I listened to Abbey Road and the magic wasn't tarnished one bit. That's the primary reason it remains my favorite album by the group—in spite of all the shit they were slinging at each other, they managed to come together and give a loving send-off for the good of the world/the band's story/etc. No matter the number of squabbles that came after, their musical story has a perfect ending and nothing will change that.

Not recommended for casual fans, but for those who are familiar with the group's history it's utterly enthralling, if demoralizing in equal measure.

Re: What are you reading?

Just finished Annie Jacobsen's Operation Paperclip based on Teague's recommendation. Gonna punch a wall, rewatch Dr. Strangelove, and buy a copy of Jacobsen's Area 51 in that order.

Last edited by DarthPraxus (2018-05-07 00:50:46)

Re: What are you reading?

https://i.imgur.com/yoOkmsf.jpg

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81L0U5FvOuL.jpg

Since crazy billionaire's have been a bit of a hot topic in chat of late... I've just finished Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryrou.

In Bad Blood, John Carreyrou tells the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

Rumoured to be turned into a movie starring Jenifer Lawrence, and I think there is just enough meat there to pull out something good if it every comes to fruition.

Hurroo

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222

Re: What are you reading?

Copy-pasting my review on the store's website.

http://quirkbooks.com/sites/default/files/u1125/2018/Week2_Hope%20Never%20Dies_Social%20Cards_Quirk.jpg

Hope Never Dies starts with the protagonist lamenting not being in contact with his best friend of eight years, then that friend showing up one night, telling him that another of his good friends died under mysterious circumstances. They team up, try to patch their friendship while investigating, always asking questions and getting more questions than answers in return.

It just so happens that the protagonist is former Vice President Joe Biden, and his best friend is the Forty-Fourth President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

Through his investigation, Joe reflects on the friends he’s fallen out of touch with, with the life he once led, and on his successes and failures over time. There’s serious reflection on dealing with grief and a close look at how America’s opioid epidemic impacts his home town. And at one point there’s Obama, recovering from a moment of doubt, looking at Biden with renewed determination and saying, “Yes we can.”

With plenty of references to the eight years they spent in office together and their time on the campaign trail before that, “Hope Never Dies” draws you in with the prospect of a madcap caper as Joe and Barack, amateur detectives, bumble their way around blue-collar America, but the meat of the book – estranged friendships, an ever-deepening web of seemingly-disconnected evidence, and a vibrant cast of characters – is what keeps you invested, from the first page to the last. Recommended reading for anyone wanting to spend just a few more hours with America’s favorite bromance.

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: What are you reading?

Just Finished Walter Issacson's bio on Leonardo Da Vinci.  It might be the best biography I've ever read.  The sheer amount of stuff he did in his lifetime is mind blowing.  I've never been so inspired and angry at myself for being lazy at the same time.  I can't recommend it enough.

I also just picked up Blind Ambition, John Dean's book all about the Watergate era....for no real reason, just seemed appropriate.  ha.

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Re: What are you reading?

Shackman wrote:

Just Finished Walter Issacson's bio on Leonardo Da Vinci.  It might be the best biogra-

SOLD

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: What are you reading?

https://i.harperapps.com/covers/9780008192488/y648.jpg

Ah, simpler, happier times.

And just like that...

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