Sunday, March 28, 2010

Speaking of Brave New Worlds

Huxley vs Orwell: cartoon version.  Pass the soma please.

Call him the Knave, if you're into the whole "brevity is the soul of wit" thing.

Shakespearean Lebowski.   O brave new world that hath such mash-ups in it.


Jimmy Page, Edge and Jack White.  It might get loud.

For your next party

Consider c-jump.  Then consider something else.

If you do play, here's a pro-tip: don't play with Rubyists or Lispers because they cheat.  Worse, when you call them on it, they call it "meta-programming" and pretend like it's not a problem.

Now for something everyone can enjoy

Breakdancing fingers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogs you should be reading

Since I'm on a posting spree anyway, here's ye old blog roll.  Opinions linked herein aren't necessarily endorsed.  The necessary qualifications are that the material be interesting, original, thought-provoking and/or well-written.


I read about 70 more, but these are the best.  Anything I should add?

Quality over quantity

Dear internet, life expectancy is not by itself a sufficient metric for the performance of a health care system.

It's a nice proxy for "are people dying of preventable crap that most Americans associate with the Civil War era," but we can and should expect more.

Which means we need better metrics.  Ideas?

Role Reversal

One of the smarter things that I've read in a while:
I had a fantasy in which the Fed and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) switched roles.
If a bank failed at 9 a.m. one morning and shut its doors, the TSA would announce that all banks henceforth begin their business day at 10 a.m.
And, if a terrorist managed to get on board a plane between Stockholm and Washington, the Fed would increase the number of flights between the cities.

Speaking of Avatar...

“Sometime in the next twenty years or so, the technology that enabled Avatar will become cheap enough to risk employing alongside a moderately intelligent script.”

Resource Curse

So a while back, I posted this.  I titled the post "connecting the dots" and connected them to a Slashdot post about feminism and agency.  What I should have done was connect a bit further to that nagging feeling I get whenever I experience how run down the native areas of Hawaii are.

The problem with living in paradise or having bribe-worthy boobs is the same: resource curse.  

Heck, this was my problem with Avatar as well.  The blue people weren't striving to build capital or learn more than their parents.  Their parents had come up with a functioning system and they were trying to conserve it, not build upon it.  Maintain a cultural and technological velocity of zero.

When you've got a culture living in harmony with it's environment and simply iterating the generations without significant development or expansion, you've got the ideal environment for a story.  Dances with Wolves, Avatar, Fiddler on the Roof, Tolkien's Shire.

What you also have is a recipe for getting flat out owned by the folks who aren't in harmony.  Dances with Wolves got it right and Avatar got it wrong.  Brother Iz and the Hawaiian independence folks need to heed the advice from Marlo in The Wire: "you want it to be one way.  But it's the other way."

In real life, the best case for the blue people would be leading tourist expeditions to the minor cultural sites that remained after the marines wiped out home tree and the surrounding environs.  Perhaps they might find decent pay working in resorts in the floating mountains.

It's easy to subscribe to the romantic vibe of knowing when you have enough, living in harmony, and simply coasting on the bounty that the universe has provided.  But the girl getting her papers written for boob pics is going to be another data point in the salary deficit between men and women.  The Hawaiian fantasizing about living off the land and the sea is going to be as screwed as the South East Asians were when the tsunami hit.  His great grandparents were as screwed as the Cherokee when the US decided that we wanted Hawaii to be ours instead of theirs.

If we're ever going to get off of oil, cure cancer (or mortality itself), or fight off the next meteor/ice age/whatever, we're going to need to strive, not stand still. 

The winning answer is education, creation, organization, engineering.  Cultures and individuals that don't value those things will fall at the hands of cultures that do, to natural disasters, or changing environments.  When a living can be had without those values, the stage is set for trouble.

Yes this is a Randian notion.  What do you want to do?  Fight about it?  We might want it to be one way, but it's the other way.

If it weren't for the internet,

we would never have known about this.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Timely Tardiness

So I just watched Avatar* a few weeks back, a bit behind the curve I know.

Then today I'm going through my RSS reader and I start seeing Avatar review posts.  I'm about 3.5 months behind on RSS as well, so it all worked out.  Time machine FTW.

*Slipshod assortment of various noble savage themes with a host of super-cliché moments barely excused by kick-ass visuals.  Would have been immeasurably better if it had ended as a tragedy rather than continuing on for the inevitable final battle.  Cameron tried to be Spielberg because he lacked the guts to be a Kubrick.  The result reminded me of the recent efforts of Lucas, and that's not a compliment.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Connecting the Dots

So... a while back I ran into this.  Then today I ran into this.  All of it's quite interesting, though we have to remember that the plural of anecdote is... bullshit.

Friday, March 5, 2010