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April 23rd, 2016
10:10 am

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Why don't people at least *try* to get things right?
Failures of conscientiousness lead to a smaller bank robbery than otherwise would have happened

Link thanks to andrewducker.

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April 12th, 2016
10:43 am

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The clue
I've been reading the most recent Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel, Make Me (library book borrowed from a friend) and even though I've been a big fan of the series, I'm just not terribly interested in this one. I've been continuing to read it somewhat out of stubbornness, and I just remembered I'd dreamed about selling a (store-bought) copy of it to a friend, and I think that was before I'd finished reading it. Well, actually, I also dreamed about realizing that after I'd sold it, I'd previously promised it to another friend, but that plot thread wasn't addressed before I woke up.

I have no idea why I'm not devouring this one, though I remember the previous one was less fun than most of the series.

I think I've been given a message to not bother reading more of it.

This being said, I'd noticed that some of the books have emphasis on particular mental skills-- there was one that had Bayesian reasoning (making percentage predictions of what you think is going to happen and then adjusting them up or down carefully as you get more evidence), one that had keeping track arithmetically of the quantities in the information you've got, and this one seems to be focused on making deductions from close observation and a high level of background knowledge (yes, like Sherlock Holmes, but I think Child is playing more fair than Doyle did). Anyone notice specific mental skills in other books?

Also, I've seen discussion about remembering on dreams immediately after waking up, but nothing about remembering a dream later in the day. Any thoughts, experiences, or resources about this?

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April 3rd, 2016
12:25 pm

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Hard but interesting-- beyond 3D printing
Making vinyl records is up against a bunch of challenges. It was chugging along quietly as a niche with some difficulties-- it's highly skilled work that takes very specific machines, skills, and knowledge, all of which were becoming more rare, but then it all got a lot tighter when some big record companies decided to go back to making vinyl records.

The thing that caught my eye wasn't so much the specifics as that figuring out how to replicate a thing is much harder than it sounds.

3d printing is a matter of exploring a tiny fraction of a huge realm. I think 3d printing is massively cool, and I'm delighted when I find out about another material it can handle. It looks like a combined additive and subtractive printer exists but costs two million dollars.

A very casual search suggests that there are no 3d printers which can handle more than one material for the same project.

Imagine a device which could examine something and figure out how to make it using conventional manufacturing methods if necessary. I'm not sure how close to a general artificial intelligence it would need to be, but it's hard in a different direction than the research I've been hearing about. I'm sure that partial solutions would be developed long before there was anything approaching a general ability to figure out replication.

In the interests of avoiding the easy science fiction plots, it's just able to replicate things people can make, not living things.

It might be able to do research as well as figuring out how to replicate things by studying them and using knowledge of science and engineering. It wouldn't surprise me if some of that machinery for making vinyl records is abandoned in warehouses or factories.

First link thanks to andrewducker.

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March 27th, 2016
01:33 am

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List of Islamist terror attacks
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks

I don't know about you, but I get a lot of my news from the radio, and sometimes I have trouble keeping track of whether an attack is new or from a few days ago.

Wikipedia has a list. It's not my ideal list, which would include terrorist attack generally, and also have some way of making the number of deaths more conspicuous rather than making all attacks look like they're the same size to a casual glance. There's a surprising gap from January 30 to March 13 of this year. Still, it's a great deal better than not having a list at all.

Maps of worst terrorist attacks (100 or more fatalities)

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March 24th, 2016
05:35 pm

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Kickstarter for inverted tropes anthology
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/apexpublications/upside-down-inverted-tropes-in-storytelling-anthol/

I'm posting this partly because it's a cool idea, but mostly because it's the only kickstarter I've seen where most of the stretch goals are better payment for the contributors.

It's got 2 days to go.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1080769.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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March 23rd, 2016
11:43 am

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Instead of asking for definitions
For example, rather than ask "What does 'progressive' mean?" I often find I can create intimacy by asking questions like "what's most important to you about being progressive?" "how do you recognize other progressives?" "what sorts of things do you feel inspired or compelled to do or refrain from because you're a progressive?" and so forth.


--http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/565773.html

This strikes me as generally useful, and I wish I'd had this question handy back when people were trying to define science fiction.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1080458.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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12:52 am

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Are we past peak zombie?
I'm reading Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memery, a steampunk novel set in the old west and enjoying it, and suddenly I realize that there are no zombies. Actually, there are no fantastic elements so far (I'm about a third of the way through). There are no werewolves. Unless I missed something there are no robots, though there are robot bodies controlled by humans.

And then I realized I don't think I've seen a new story about zombies for a year or two.

It's not that I hate zombies, and there have been a few zombie stories that I've liked very much, it's just that they don't delight me.

Favorite zombie stories: "Iphigenia In Aulis" by M.R. Carey-- his The Girl with All the Gifts is loosely related to it and quite good, but the short story is the finest thing about love and courage I've read in sf. Carey's Felix Castor novels also had a zombie character I'm fond of. He was determined to hold off entropy as long as possible-- lived in a refrigerated warehouse and sold old movies.

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine: zombie-ism used in a metaphor for employer-supplied health insurance. It works very well. The book is the first of a trilogy, but I think that Caine becoming easier on the main character made the books less interesting. Avoid them if you can't tolerate nanotech which can do just about anything.

Sidetrack: I don't think I've seen any sf with literally magic nanotech. That could be fun.

I can't remember author or title, but there was an entertaining book about a zombie uprising and fans trapped in a hotel. The romance was about whether a Star Trek fan and a Star Wars fan can get together.

Have you been seeing zombies in fiction lately? Any new elements that might become fads?

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1080120.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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March 21st, 2016
07:40 am

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In Israel, wolves and hyenas are hunting cooperatively
I didn't even know there were hyenas in Israel.

Also, tiresome political analogy. I'll tell you why it's easier to get a peace deal between hyenas and wolves-- it's because they don't remember history.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1079867.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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March 9th, 2016
03:58 pm

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I've been Zorped!
Zorpia is a spam "social network" which is good at scavenging email lists.

More details if you like. I'm mostly interested in whether anyone who's reading this has also gotten mysterious messages from zorpia.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1079740.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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09:11 am

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kickstarter for pens that double as construction toys


This isn't a product I feel a need for, but it's cool to see people trying to come up with the best version of something. Who knew people wanted a felt-tip pen that's also a construction toy?

It's also cool to see a kickstarter for a reasonable product that's pushing close to 30 times its goal money. They do have an unusually good video.

If they can make the project work, I think they've potentially got a a good-sized business there-- expand it to include many more colors and types of point.

I've decided to put more of my facebook posts on livejournal/dreamwidth-- I'm annoyed at the way fb posts get lost.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1079467.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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