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Calling Bullshit

This makes me happy. Now if we can just make it mandatory for every grade from K through 12 the citizens might stand a chance against the politicians and the corporations that own them.

Source: Calling Bullshit

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Study Shows That Teaching Young Kids Philosophy Improves Their Academic Performance, Making Them Better at Reading & Math | Open Culture

Should we teach philosophy to children? You’d have a hard time, I imagine, convincing many readers of this site that we shouldn’t. But why?

Source: Study Shows That Teaching Young Kids Philosophy Improves Their Academic Performance, Making Them Better at Reading & Math | Open Culture

YES! Everyone should graduate high school with the equivalent of an AA in Philosophy. How can we expect people to know how to think when we don't teach them?

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50 Things You Can Control Right Now

You can expel all your energy on things you can't control or use it to create positive change in your life. Here are 50 ways to start right now.

Source: 50 Things You Can Control Right Now

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Playing with syntax highlighter

some text here

some more text down here

Hey look, it's a plugin for making code and config snippets pretty.

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Why Humanity Destroyed Itself

I'm currently reading The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt where he uses the metaphor of  the elephant and the rider.  The elephant is instinct, the rider is consciousness.  He talks a lot in the early section about how the rider often spends it's time justifying and excusing the snap decisions made by the elephant. I completely agree that this is what happens and even that it might be part of why consciousness evolved but he seems to argue that this is right and proper and I completely disagree with that.

The elephant is instinct.  It's a super fast pattern matching machine that's purpose built for for making snap decisions on limited information.  On the African savannah that was probably a really good thing. In the modern world it's a recipe for global destruction.  The elephant is always going to make that snap decision, that's it's job, and the rider is always going to feel an impulse to back up the elephant, but that's what a clever animal would do.  A human would feel that impulse, then set it aside and examine the elephant's decision, perhaps do a little research, and take a serious look at whether the elephant's choice, made in a second without benefit of logic or reasoning, was really the best decision for the modern world.

Haidt says that research shows that education doesn't improve the ability of the rider to control the elephant but I don't think the kind of education we do is likely to. I think that to control the elephant, or rather, to disregard the elephant, the education would need to be aimed at that specific skill. I think meditation might be part of that training.  My limited experience with meditation is that's all about disregarding your impulses.  Observing them but not getting caught up in them.  That seems exactly like the training you'd need to disregard the elephant.


The Wisdom of Night Vale

  • It was a simpler time. Because I personally had less memories and so less to superimpose upon the world, and so it was much clearer, and also I was younger. Thus, the world was simpler.
  • Fear is a reasonable response to life.
  • ...what are people but deaths that haven't happened yet?
  • He'll be what he'll be. And we'll all learn to be okay with whatever that is.
  • “I mean I would never do that. I just think it. Does this make me a bad person?”
    “You are only a bad person if you do bad things,” said the second anchor.
    “Thank you.”
    “That’s not an acquittal, Diane. The counterpoint is that you are only a good person if you do good things.”
  • A good person is a person who does good things. It was a deceptively simple prescription because it implied that she or anyone else knew what good things are. What could she do in this situation that was good, and by what standard?
  • Jackie sighed but let her talk. She knew that messages were for the sender, not the receiver.
  • Of the stages of grief, Diane had already gone through denial, sadness, and despair. Now she had been on the verge of the final step, vengeance.
  • These possibilities and all other possibilities remain . . . possible.
  • Please know that our station exists because of donors like you. It also exists because a long and terribly improbable series of galactic events over the course of billions of years conspired to bring us to this very moment in our station’s existence. And we thank you for your support. Again, we apologize for the delay in receiving your items, and also for the absurdity of time.
  • You have helped many people with your many skills, but also you’re an irresponsible little shit. Both of those are true. Truth can be contradictory. You are not forgiven your lapses by your nonlapses.
  • I’ll always be a mother, she thought, but I’ll always be a lot of things. I wonder what the next of those things will be?

Walter Jon Williams agrees with me, so there.

Yes! This!

I think this is part of why I keep complaining about books that are too long and editors not doing their jobs.


"This!" is a blog post by Walter Jon Williams online at:

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Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer

Read: 2015-09-08 to 2015-09-17

3 stars

2015-09-08/5%: Not too impressed so far but I've enjoyed some of Spencer's other books so we'll see.

2015-09-11/15%: Okay, so Nikki broke into the crime scene, totally stupid, but she did this after the book said the police were going to take her to the crime scene. And I think the cops were going to take her for the same reason she's there, to see if there were other details that matched her book. It's taking a while to get to moving and it's not really pulling me in.

2015-09-13/53%: It picked up at about 18% but it's still a middlin' pace at best. Good enough so far but I wish it would move along.

2015-09-17/92%: OMG this is long. I can't believe I'm still not done with it. This is one downside to ebooks, not having an obvious indicator of how long they are before you start reading. Moon+ does give an estimate of how long it will take to read, I think this one said 8 hours (I'm at 5.9 with 38 minutes left) but it just doesn't work the same as seeing the thickness of a book and then opening it to see the font size and spacing. Of course none of that matters if the book grabs me because I'll clear the decks and read straight it through. It's harder with one like this that's good enough to keep going but not so good that I want to set aside everything else and just read.

2015-09-17/100%: It turned out the book ended at about 94% and the rest was appendix or some such. A good read, though I think it could have been shorter. There were times when I skimmed a page or two and didn't feel I missed anything. The Mom had very little to do with the story. She was just background for why Nikki was secretive. She justified some emotional turmoil but I think I she could have been whacked without much impact.


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My problem with Military SF

I am soooooo tired of the heroes in uniform bullshit. I was in the military and I can tell you that it's just like any other group of humans. You've got some really good folks, some really shitty folks, and a whole lot of folks just trying to get through the day. When you pretend all of them are heroes you make that meaningless for the ones who actually are and you give cover to the shitholes hiding in uniform. Go look up statistics on rape of servicewomen by servicemen and then talk to me about how every soldier is a "hero".

Most military, like most cops, are fine people. The biggest mistake they make is in covering for the bad apples in their midst. If the military and the cops were really so uber-honorable and uber-honest then they'd keep their own house clean and they wouldn't tainted by the actions of the few. But the majority is just grinding through another day and it's easier to look the other way and not make waves, and "that dude was really cool at the poker game the other night so I don't want to get him trouble".

I used to love the fairy tale of the honorable soldier, but sadly I grew up and I learned that many of them aren't all that honorable.

I don't want to see the military (or cops) depicted as the bad guys, I want to see them depicted as real people.

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2015 Campbell Award

I think this is probably my final ranking.  English will be #1 and not rank anything else, including No Award. She can write. The others write well enough but mostly not about anything interesting. There's also not enough in the packet to go on for Nelson or Raymond and I passed on Chu last year and I probably won't read his Death of Tao any time soon, if ever.

  1. Kary English
    Reading the short stories in the packet and Kary English is a very good writer.  Skimmed Total (already read it) and it still fades for me at the end. Very much enjoyed Departure Gate 34B and I enjoyed Flight of the Kikayon as well. So, is she a rabid right-winger, married to one, or did the Puppies slip and accidentally nominate someone with talent? If they found one writer talent why couldn't they find more?
  • Wesley Chu
    I read Lives of Tao last year and gave it 3 stars. It was okay but didn't leave me with any desire to read further in the series. I probably will eventually, but I'm in no rush.
  • Jason Cordova
    Not impressed with Hill 142. About 23% through Murder World and while it's decent stuff there's nothing in it that hasn't been done before. I'm ready to punt but I am curious as why "kaiju" is in the name? Are there giant monsters on Murder World? Is Murder World the dumbest planetary name ever? I know it's just a nickname for Gorgon IV but still. The best thing about Murder World is that it reminded me of Death World which I'd love to re-read except I'm afraid that it wouldn't be as good as it was 30-ish years ago. (Fuck, I'm old.) I have yet to read anything from my teens that holds up and it's such a disappointment. Better to let them stand as fond memories. But I'd really like to read them again.
  • Rolf Nelson
    Shakedown Cruise was decent MilSF but not enough to go on. Also, MilSF is boring. It's been done... to death even.
  • Eric S. Raymond
    Read Sucker Punch and Battlefield Lasers from Riding the Red Horse. Good stuff but not enough for the Campbell.

PS. Did anyone else wonder if Riding the Red Horse was about menstruation? Anyone else think that would probably be more interesting than more fucking MilSF?

PPS. I'm actually not that opposed to MilSF and used to read, and enjoy, a lot of it when I was younger. With age I've decided that violence isn't nearly as cool as I used to think it was. Also, MilSF is heavily cliched. If the Pups had put up some MilSF with some originality I'd be less irritated with them.