June 2014 Media Thread

post by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:05.928Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 95 comments

This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. Post what you're reading, listening to, watching, and your opinion of it. Post recommendations to blogs. Post whatever media you feel like discussing! To see previous recommendations, check out the older threads.


Note for this month's thread: As per comment in last month's 'meta' subthread, the "Television and Movies" subthread has been split into two: "TV and Movies (Animation)" and "TV and Movies (Live Action)"


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:46.802Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fiction Books Thread

Replies from: Punoxysm, DataPacRat, Anatoly_Vorobey, gwern, shminux, moonshadow, Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Punoxysm · 2014-06-05T02:55:38.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Firm SF that focuses on the adventures of a mathematician monk. Science in the world of Anathem is still science, but it has a quasi-mystical culture built around it. It's a long, slow-building book but eventually has plenty of action and rationality alike. The ending is the highlight.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-06-01T17:09:12.640Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I finished my first draft of S.I.'s first book, "Re-", a couple of days ago. An attempt at a post-singularity self-insert RatFic, I'm taking a couple of days' break before I start in on the second part.

I'm looking for any and all feedback I can get - I'm going to be focusing mainly on extending the story until I finish it, but don't mind improving what's already in place.

Replies from: DataPacRat, gattsuru, David_Gerard
comment by DataPacRat · 2014-06-02T03:59:20.307Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've started Book Two. So far, it's just a few hundred words to get my typing fingers back in the groove, mostly me being pointlessly verbose about fire in a way that's nearly totally unrelated to the plot... but hey, I'm having fun writing again, so a couple of days break every now and then seems an important key to ensure I /want/ to keep writing the thing. :)

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-07T22:40:25.156Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

WRITE MORE DAMMIT AAAAAAA I've just got to the not-an-AI offering tea. Please note when you finish :-)

comment by gattsuru · 2014-06-09T18:42:08.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like it. The grabber was reasonably good, the sequence from the first book to the second amazing, and it touches on the potential for horror inherent to transhumanism without becoming a horror story. It's hard to get to that Roadside Picnic vibe, and you did a very good job.

That said, it seems a little rough. Compared to Myou've Got To Be Kidding Me, there's very little difference in character tone : even Convoy and Mrs. House and Joe seem to share similar linguistic habits to Bunny. ((Caveat: certain twists like a simulated environment might require such a thing.)) This is especially noticeable in the info-dumps -- perhaps why you're moving to a more detached reflective point of view in later info-dumps.

You've also got a very large number of balls in the air just by the end of In-Convenient. Some of them are pretty clearly Hemingway's Iceberg references, which discuss small details to give the impression of a larger world (or to reference other works: I assume the poor person transmuted into livestock organs is a reference to the current end of Myou've), so it's fine if they're dropped, hidden away, or otherwise left behind. I'd be careful to avoid doing so too heavily, though. If too many events occur without being linked to the central thematic arc, the work ends up feeling like a sequence of events rather than a story. That can work ok in some circumstances (see Alan Dean Foster's Quozl), but it's often disappointing and may be counterproductive if the work's intended for a general audience.

There are some more specific lexical or typographical matters -- would you prefer they be given by Google Doc comment, or is there another way that you find easier?

Replies from: DataPacRat
comment by DataPacRat · 2014-06-09T23:08:33.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

it seems a little rough

I can't possibly disagree.

very little difference in character tone

I knew before I started writing that this is a writing skill I need improving. That's part of why I originally included a disclaimer paragraph about the fallibility of memory, and decided to stay with first-person perspective - if I ever need it, I have a built-in excuse in that the narrator is adding their own biases about the other characters' phrasing. (Yes, it's a cop-out. But it's at least one with a lampshade hung on it.)

the work ends up feeling like a sequence of events rather than a story.

I have certain themes and events that I'd like to hit, and some setting details to cover that haven't made it into the story proper yet; I'm /hoping/ that I can bring enough of the threads together by the end to be satisfying. (And unlike some of my previous writing attempts, I am planning on bringing this to a close.)

There are some more specific lexical or typographical matters -- would you prefer they be given by Google Doc comment, or is there another way that you find easier?

For simple things like that, GDocs' system of highlighting text to comment makes it much easier to find and fix them than sending them by some other route. (I do know that I'm highlighting italics with /slashes/ instead of inline code symbols, and that I've been writing out numerals and years rather than using digits; those are semi-deliberate choices.) If you do want a private discussion, you can always email me at my username at gmail dot com.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-07T20:17:35.866Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, I started reading and kept going right to the end. Nice one!

comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2014-06-02T14:09:22.189Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter. This is fantasy for adults: complex flawed characters, a world rich in detail, multitude of characters who live and do things for their own sake rather than to advance a plot point or help the hero. Utter disregard for conventions and cliches of the genre. A hero who is an anti-Mary Sue. Endless inventiveness of the author.

To my taste, this novel is what books like The Kingkiller Chronicles promise, but then utterly fail to deliver. But if you're a fan of Rothfuss, try Swanwick anyway, and you might get a fuller and richer taste of what you like.

I've also read a science fiction novel by the same author, Stations of the Tide, which won a Nebula in 1991. It's also very good. In it, a nameless bureaucrat of the interplanetary government is pursuing a self-declared magician (who's suspected of smuggling restricted technology) across the surface of a planet where half the surface is about to get flooded for many years, and a great migration of the populace is imminent. One of the themes is unfriendly AI - the Earth with its entire population had suffered a horrible fate in the world of this novel, which is discussed and explored in one of the episodes, although it's not a major plot device.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-06-09T02:44:18.583Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is fantasy for adults: complex flawed characters, a world rich in detail, multitude of characters who live and do things for their own sake rather than to advance a plot point or help.

So based on your description, I read The Iron Dragon's Daughter and liked it a lot and agree with the rest of your description (that gargoyle scene!). But this part I don't really get: what part of it gave you a sense of many characters being agenty and pursuing plots unrelated to the heroine? It didn't give me much of a sense of that.

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T17:21:06.456Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • The Quantum Thief, Hannu (Accelerando meets Lupin; uncompromising SF, stuffed full of interesting tidbits - the game-theoretic prison at the beginning is only the beginning; self-recommending)
  • Catch-22, Heller (I reread it out of curiosity to see how it'd hold up after all these years. I still enjoyed it.)
Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2014-06-01T18:40:38.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Quibble: authors are Rajaniemi (Hannu is his forename, not his surname) and Heller (not Hellman).

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T18:52:49.746Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll never be able to consistently spell 'Rajaniemi' without recourse to spaced repetition, so 'Hannu' it is.

comment by shminux · 2014-06-01T16:49:04.246Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reading Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart. The linked blurb is a bit lame, and there are plot holes, but it is written as solidly as Sanderson's other recent works, like Mistborn and the Stormlight Archive. I am yet to see Sanderson's signature trick of misdirection, where the clues dispersed throughout the book add up to something completely different from what a naive reader (me) would expect.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2014-06-01T17:58:37.152Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I liked Steelheart much, much more than Mistborn and what I've read of the Stormlight Archive. I cringed less, at least. The misdirection comes pretty close towards the end.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2014-06-01T18:06:31.850Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, Steelheart reminds me of Worm a bit.

Replies from: Luke_A_Somers
comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-06-03T02:12:01.466Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, what the frell is this getting DVed for? UV unless I get an explanation for why this is a particularly boneheaded comparison to make.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2014-06-03T16:32:59.898Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's OK, someone goes through my comments, both recent and old, roughly once a day and downvotes 20-30 of them at a time, regardless of the content. This has been going on for a month or so now. I'm sure I am not the only target.

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-04T14:25:46.721Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I have one of these too. Someone is slowly working back through my comments systematically downvoting them. Given the rate, I think they're actually doing it by hand, and must have a browser window they've kept open for months just for this task. It's like they're trolling themselves for me, without me having to actually lift a finger. Some LW karma is cheap for such entertainment.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2014-06-04T17:51:04.344Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, I've noticed that most of the karma drop is eventually recovered, probably because people tend to upvote comments they feel are downvoted unjustly.

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-04T22:29:16.143Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've lost 600 points since they started. (How much is that in Bitcoins at present exchange rates?) But, as I said, it's worth it in knowing some obsessive idiot is keeping a browser window open for months just to do this.

comment by moonshadow · 2014-06-05T13:36:22.998Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've spent the last few months following the recommendations from these and (for the most part) loving them, so thought I'd contribute back:

  • The Girl With All The Gifts, one of the few things I've read las month NOT recommended here, is a fresh, heartwrenching, intelligent and often rational take on the zombie apocalypse genre (not one I am normally fond of, either!)

  • Thief's Magic reads almost like a Lawrence Watt-Evans book; it is unfortunately the first in a trilogy and makes no pretence otherwise, so you get more of an introduction than a complete story, but nevertheless a fantasy well worth starting.

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-09T00:42:08.355Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just read The Girl With All The Gifts and really enjoyed it, thanks for the recommendation. It makes an interesting comparison with Saya no Uta (visual novel), which puts the opposite emotional slant on somewhat similar actions.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2014-06-01T18:09:31.448Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For dealing with Kingkiller Chronicle withdrawal (extremely highly recommended, possibly my favorite book series right now), I and others have found that the Demon Cycle and Gentlemen Bastard series are good substitutes. They're both also incomplete, though.

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T19:36:15.241Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disliked The Lies of Locke Lamora; I felt the lead's morality was implausibly inconsistent, and the book seemed to rely heavily on thievery being cool. I found The Straight Razor Cure a much more satisfying example of that kind of fantasy, with a mystery that fit together well and a very enjoyable twist for the ending.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:05:02.579Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Short Online Texts Thread

Replies from: gwern, gwern, Punoxysm, whales
comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T19:14:40.627Z · LW(p) · GW(p)







Replies from: tgb
comment by tgb · 2014-06-01T21:59:59.046Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for filling up my Pocket queue!

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T19:14:27.395Z · LW(p) · GW(p)




comment by Punoxysm · 2014-06-05T17:57:43.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A bit of humor: World's Supercomputers Release Study Confirming they are not Powerful Enough

A journalist talks about the irrational fears of parenting. It includes a good hearing of a hard-nosed rationalist view, but it's not posed as a debate. The day I left my son in the car

comment by whales · 2014-06-01T20:15:42.371Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Failed theories of superconductivity. My favorite part:

The second idea proposed in 1932 by Bohr and Kronig was that superconductivity would result from the coherent quantum motion of a lattice of electrons. Given Bloch’s stature in the field, theorists like Niels Bohr where eager to discuss their own ideas with him. In fact Bohr, whose theory for superconductivity was already accepted for publication in the July 1932 issue of the journal “Die Naturwissenschaften”, withdrew his article in the proof stage, because of Bloch’s criticism (see Ref.[20]). Kronig was most likely also aware of Bloch’s opinion when he published his ideas[22]. Only months after the first publication he responded to the criticism made by Bohr and Bloch in a second manuscript[23]. It is tempting to speculate that his decision to publish and later defend his theory was influenced by an earlier experience: in 1925 Kronig proposed that the electron carries spin, i.e. possesses an internal angular momentum. Wolfgang Pauli’s response to this idea was that it was interesting but incorrect, which discouraged Kronig from publishing it. The proposal for the electron spin was made shortly thereafter by Samuel Goudsmit and George Uhlenbeck[29]. Kronig might have concluded that it is not always wise to follow the advice of an established and respected expert.

"History of what didn't work" seems like an important genre, for example if you want help avoiding hindsight/survivorship biases. Are there other good examples? It seems a lot of histories of science impose a false sense of direction or inevitability and don't cover many dead ends if any; all I can think of are some biographies that cover a lone genius's missteps on his way to the true theory.

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-07T09:52:53.715Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pseudoscience is sometimes useful for finding examples - there's a whole subclass of pseudosciences (particularly in alternative medicine and pseudophysics) that are based on advocating an old formerly-mainstream theory that turned out to be wrong. It would almost be a reliable way to generate new alternative medicines.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:58.595Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online Videos Thread

Replies from: Skeptityke, sdr
comment by Skeptityke · 2014-06-16T18:09:50.895Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Universal Death Clock In short, this video displays a 43-part clock in Minecraft which pulses once every 1.3 googol years, and uses that to talk about universal heat death and deep time. It's somewhat chilling to watch, and provides a nice system of units to use for talking about really long times. 3 trillion years is 8 Death Clock Units (DCU's).

Also, figuring out how long energy could be generated in the universe is an interesting mental exercise. I think I figured out how to generate power until 15 DCU's.

comment by sdr · 2014-06-20T23:05:08.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:54.862Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fanfiction Thread

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, sceaduwe
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2014-06-01T18:04:39.899Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not quite fanfiction, but everyone who told me to read Worm was completely right. It's a little rough at the beginning and ramps up a lot as it goes on, so don't worry if the first few arcs don't seem that amazing.

Actually fanfiction: actually got around to reading To the Stars and was intrigued. It remains to be seen whether various plotlines will actually pay off, though, since it isn't complete.

Replies from: gwillen, David_Gerard
comment by gwillen · 2014-06-01T19:21:40.624Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would caution that Worm is very long and extremely gripping. So if you are bad at putting things down once you've started them, carve out at least a week when you have nothing better to do.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-24T20:27:19.370Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, it had a slightly obsessive effect on me, and I don't know why. I don't really care about anyone other than Tattletale, but I'm still binge reading it all of the same. It's been two days in a row of feeling like I've read the Elder Scrolls.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-03T09:01:58.525Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Worm: The comments are actually worth reading to make sense of the thing along the way as well.

And a lot of stuff won't make sense until the second time through.

(For comparison, Worm is about the size of Mission Earth.)

Replies from: ThrustVectoring
comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-06-08T23:04:17.878Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a four-word chapter in worm. If you read one chapter's comment pages, read that one's.

Replies from: shminux
comment by shminux · 2014-06-09T00:02:00.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

why so cryptic?

Replies from: ThrustVectoring
comment by ThrustVectoring · 2014-06-09T06:46:25.137Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because I can't talk about what makes it awesome without spoiling it, and I forgot that rot13 is a thing.

Warning: massive spoilers below

Fpvba, gur ynfg yvivat tbqyvxr nyvra erfcbafvoyr sbe cnenuhzna cbjref, vf svtugvat Rvqbyba naq Tynvfgnt Hynvar. Rvqbyba vf bar bs gur zbfg cbjreshy pncrf, n uvtu yriry Gehzc - uvf cbjre tvirf uvz gur guerr cbjref gung ur arrqf. Uvf cbjre jnf jrnxravat bire gvzr, naq ur erpragyl svkrq vg, naq vf gnxvat gur bssrafvir gb Fpvba.

Sbe onpxtebhaq, gurer unir orra n frevrf bs pvgl-qrfgeblvat zbafgref pnyyrq "Raqoevatref". Gurl fubjrq hc nsgre Rvqbyba chg Tynvfgnt Hynvar vagb gur Oveqpntr, n fhcrecevfba sbe cnenuhznaf. Gurl'ir xvyyrq pbhagyrff pncrf naq jerpxrq n gba bs guvatf - Yrivnguna pbagebyf jngre naq fnax Xlhfuh, naq fpnevarff yriryf tb hc sebz gurer.

Abj, Rvqbyba unf fgnegrq npghnyyl cerffhevat Fpvba fbzr, fb Fpvba qrpvqrf gb hfr na rkcrafvir cbjre - gur novyvgl gb svther bhg jung ur arrqf gb qb va beqre gb jva. Vg gheaf bhg gung gur npgvba vf gb fgbc naq fnl sbhe jbeqf gb hggreyl gnxr gur svtug bhg bs Rvqbyba, naq gura oynfg uvz nf ur cebprffrf vg. Naq bire gur ynfg guvegl lrnef, Fpvba unf fnvq V guvax 2 jbeqf gbgny, znlor bar.

"Lbh arrqrq jbegul bccbaragf". Nyy gur crbcyr gung qvrq, nyy gur fnpevsvprf lbh naq lbhe sevraqf znqr - nyy gung unccrarq orpnhfr lbh arrqrq gb cebir lbhefrys, lbh arrqrq fbzrguvat gb svtug ntnvafg, fbzrguvat gb tvir lbh checbfr. Nyy orpnhfr lbh pbhyqa'g qrny jvgu gur checbfryrffarff bs abg univat fbzrguvat gb svtug ntnvafg. Naq fb, lbh tbg gur Raqoevatref - Orurzbgu, Yrivnguna, gur Fvzhetu, Xubafh, Obuh naq Gbuh.

Naq vs lbh qba'g ernq gur pbzzragf, vg'f rnfl gb zvff bhg ba ubj Rvqbyba gnxrf gubfr jbeqf.

Replies from: gwern, shminux
comment by gwern · 2014-08-14T22:15:18.115Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nyy orpnhfr lbh pbhyqa'g qrny jvgu gur checbfryrffarff bs abg univat fbzrguvat gb svtug ntnvafg. Naq fb, lbh tbg gur Raqoevatref - Orurzbgu, Yrivnguna, gur Fvzhetu, Xubafh, Obuh naq Gbuh.

Vf gung npghnyyl evtug? V tbg gur vzcerffvba gung guvf jnf qhr gb gur birenepuvat cbvag gung nyy gur crbcyr jvgu cbjref jrer fhogyl cerffherq vagb svtugvat naq raqyrff pbasyvpg ol gurve cnegvphyne funeqf, gur orggre sbe gur ragvgvrf gb tngure vasbezngvba naq bar qnl rfpncr gur qlvat havirefr/ragebcl. Sbe Rvqbyba va cnegvphyne, ur 'arrqrq' pbasyvpg gb grfg ubj gur cbjref jbexrq va pbzong, fb uvf funeq qrfvtarq naq perngrq gur Raqoevatref sbe uvz gb svtug, naq gurve qrfgehpgvirarff jnf gb sbepr uvz gb svtug gurz erthyneyl nsgre n erfcvgr sbe fgengrtvmvat. Gur cflpubybtvpny qrinfgngvba vf gung ol npprcgvat Pnhyqeba'f bssre, ur qverpgyl pnhfrq nyy bs guvf orpnhfr uvf cbjre jnf bhg bs pbageby. Pregnvayl Rvqbyba vf arire qrfpevorq nf cnegvphyneyl unccl be nalguvat.

comment by shminux · 2014-06-09T07:32:23.497Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did miss it, actually.

comment by sceaduwe · 2014-06-01T18:29:21.067Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Up and coming writer of rational fiction alexandarwhales has started a new story. The Metropolitan Man

The year is 1934, and Superman has arrived in Metropolis. Features Lex Luthor as the villain protagonist as he comes to grips with the arrival of an alien god.

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-07T09:53:50.663Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is really good so far.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:50.836Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nonfiction Books Thread

Replies from: gwern, lmm
comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T17:21:16.242Z · LW(p) · GW(p) Replies from: ShardPhoenix
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-06-02T00:22:54.241Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

higher-level languages like Python/JavaScript/Haskell, which as hardware resources increase, game programmers will increasingly use

This is a common sentiment but I'm not sure it's true exactly, at least not for AAA games (many indie games already use Flash or other higher-level technologies). As hardware increases, game companies also keep pushing the boundaries - better graphics, more players on a server, etc. Even with 10x current hardware you'd probably still want to implement in Eve Online server in C++ rather than Haskell. What I'd guess is more likely is that C++ will be replaced by something like Rust that gives high level conveniences while still allowing low-level control.

(Note I say all this as someone with minimal C++ experience and little desire to get more).

Replies from: gwern, moonshadow
comment by gwern · 2014-06-02T01:15:09.544Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a common sentiment but I'm not sure it's true exactly, at least not for AAA games (many indie games already use Flash or other higher-level technologies).

Just a matter of time. We're already a long way from assembler, and the indie games represent the low end which will gradually eat the high end's lunch.

Even with 10x current hardware you'd probably still want to implement in Eve Online server in C++ rather than Haskell.

Given Haskell's excellent concurrency support, I'm not sure that's true.

Replies from: ShardPhoenix, fezziwig
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-06-02T01:47:33.263Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just a matter of time. We're already a long way from assembler, and the indie games represent the low end which will gradually eat the high end's lunch.

It might be possible to move on with a "sufficiently advanced compiler" for Haskell or the like, but barring that I think game devs for performance-intensive games will still want more precise control over memory usage. I predict we'll see widespread use of "functional C++" (eg Rust, or C++ 11's functional features) before "low-level Haskell" (eg ???).

Given Haskell's excellent concurrency support, I'm not sure that's true.

As far as I know Haskell's performance isn't considered predictable/reliable (mainly due to GC and lazy evaluation) enough for games. If even multi-threaded C++ is still too slow for what you want to do (eg have 10000 people on one server in real-time), Haskell isn't going help.

At one point Epic was looking at Haskell, but recently they've actually gone the other way, abandoning embedded scripting languages in the newest version of the Unreal engine in favour of doing everything in C++ (although I think that was as much about consistency as performance).

(By the way, as a Scala dev I'd personally rather write Haskell than C++, and C++ is one of the things keeping me out of the gaming industry, but personally I'm not optimistic).

Replies from: gwern, lmm
comment by gwern · 2014-06-02T21:22:07.702Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

barring that I think game devs for performance-intensive games will still want more precise control over memory usage

What is 'performance-intensive' is constantly changing. I don't think that languages like C# or JavaScript which sometimes get used in game development these days have sufficiently-advanced compilers, but they still get used. (Although at least in the case of Haskell, we really do have the promised 'sufficiently advanced compiler' in the form of GHC and all the research put into optimizing lazy pure languages; I think the estimate I saw floating around somewhere was that a modern GHC-optimized binary of an ordinary Haskell program will run something like 1000x faster than the best that could be done in the early '90s.)

If even multi-threaded C++ is still too slow for what you want to do (eg have 10000 people on one server in real-time), Haskell isn't going help.\

Haskell's pure functions, green threads, and STM are great for concurrency, so I think your argument may work in the other direction.

Replies from: ShardPhoenix
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-06-02T23:22:43.656Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Although at least in the case of Haskell, we really do have the promised 'sufficiently advanced compiler' in the form of GHC

The "sufficiently advanced compiler" I was referring to is one that makes high level languages as fast as hand-tuned C++ (thus eliminating the need for said hand-tuning), not just one that's faster than it used to be. Such a thing is probably possible but it doesn't exist now or in the immediately foreseeable future. Things like precise control of memory layout can make an order of magnitude difference to performance or more.

Haskell's pure functions, green threads, and STM are great for concurrency, so I think your argument may work in the other direction.

They might make it easier but they don't make it faster which is currently the limiting factor for performance-intensive servers. Making it easier would certainly help - apparently the latest Battlefield game has a lot of bugs due to hard-to-diagnose threading issues in the client. But it wouldn't be viable to write that game in Haskell due to GC and lazy eval, even if the basic performance was good enough which it probably isn't.

edit: Also as far as I know it's possible to avoid some of these issues in Haskell with careful optimization of the code, but of course the more you have to do that the less you benefit from things "just working".

I'm not saying we'll never see real-time performance-intensive apps commonly written in functional languages, I guess I'm just not as optimistic about it happening soon.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-06-03T01:28:26.361Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They might make it easier but they don't make it faster which is currently the limiting factor for performance-intensive servers. Making it easier would certainly help - apparently the latest Battlefield game has a lot of bugs due to hard-to-diagnose threading issues in the client. But it wouldn't be viable to write that game in Haskell due to GC and lazy eval, even if the basic performance was good enough which it probably isn't.

What you can write determines how fast it will run. If you don't have green threads, but must use OS-level threads, that's going to be a problem. If you have to be constantly locking because of mutability and can't use STM, that's going to be a problem. And yes, correctness does matter so that's a problem too.

Replies from: ShardPhoenix
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-06-03T01:47:07.726Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fast lock-free thread-safe mutable data structures (eg ConcurentLinkedQueue) have been written in languages like Java (and apparently even C++ but I'm less familiar).

Also, STM isn't necessarily much better than locks in practice eg quick Googled example: http://nbronson.github.io/scala-stm/benchmark.html (Don't know how the Haskell equivalent compares)

(where "medium" granularity locks were just as good perf. wise and STM's GC pressure was higher)

comment by lmm · 2014-06-02T07:40:00.511Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've worked with videoconferencing software written in Haskell. Realtime performance is certainly possible, though whether the industry will accept that is another question.

Replies from: 4hodmt
comment by 4hodmt · 2014-06-02T20:59:31.598Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Videoconferencing uses fairly consistent processing/memory over time. The load on the garbage collector has low variance so it can be run at regular inteverals while maintaining very high probability that the software will meet the next frame time. Games have more variable GC load, so it's more difficult to guarantee no missed frames without reserving an unacceptably high time for garbage collection.

comment by fezziwig · 2014-06-03T21:20:22.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just a matter of time.

Unfortunately perf isn't the only roadblock here; middleware is a real problem too. Even if you write your game in Python, your AI, physics, and tree-drawing components were all written by somebody else, in C++. No matter how good your bindings are you have to do some data conversion every time you talk to one of those libraries, or else use C++ data types in your Python game engine.

That's not to say that soft real time constraints and tight bounds on memory usage and so forth aren't also hard problems, just that even if you have those things you still need the ability to carve out 12 bytes, put 3 4-bytes floats inside, and give it to Havok unaltered. Eventually people will port Havok and SpeedTree and such to your HLL (or write new better ones), but it's a chicken and egg problem: no one will do that until there's a robust market of studios using the language.

comment by moonshadow · 2014-06-05T13:25:44.371Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As someone working on AAA games, generally what happens is the engine is written in C++ (and small performance-critical sections possibly hand-coded using intrinsics or assembly) and some portion of the game logic is written in a scripting language. Lua is quite popular.

comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:05:06.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Search of Kazakhstan - largely just a travel book, but the author does a good job of getting out of the way. The stories around independence (e.g. secretly producing a new currency) are fascinating, and it was interesting that the president's very popularity seems to present a problem for democracy. But mostly just a whole lot of interesting new information (even as someone who's been there).

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:41.105Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan, David_Gerard, None, moonshadow, None, lmm, gwern
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2014-06-01T18:05:02.434Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Kill la Kill is excellent. Watch if you liked Gurren Lagann (at least some of the same people were involved), although I think it's better.

Replies from: ShardPhoenix, lmm, None
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-06-02T00:13:34.834Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I enjoyed KLK but I thought it didn't live up to the promise of the first episode, which was one of the best things I've seen. (I rewatched it the next day which I've never done before). I liked the characters and art style, but the plot and themes weren't that interesting.

comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T18:43:16.145Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To expand a bit, Kill la Kill feels very self-consciously retro, an homage to a very '90s style of anime that's much more cartoony than today (it owes something to Needless which I looked up and found to be more recent than I expected - I can only assume that was itself a retro effort?). There're a lot of exaggerated visual effects (think heads expanding to 10x usual size), limited animation tricks (cyclic eating motion, speed lines); a few of the visual touches are quite clever clever (using a square aspect ratio for the sepia-tinted flashbacks) and it obviously looks a lot better than the animation of the era it's echoing, but I'm not sure how it objectively stacks up against modern style. The plot is deliberately ridiculous and over-the-top, and the show's pretty heavy on fanservice (admittedly integrated closely into the plot, but it still feels like a lot of gratuitous nudity). As well as Gurren Lagann it reminded me of Mysterious Girlfriend X - different genre, but the same retro fanservice style.

The overall impression was reminiscent of Grindhouse - "ok, you've crafted an excellent pastiche of this old style - but actually we abandoned that old style for a reason". I found Kill la Kill very fun to watch at the time, but it hasn't stayed with me since.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-02T13:15:24.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was interesting to compare people's reactions to Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill, seeing as one is in essence the gender swap of the other.

comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-07T22:45:28.284Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How To Train Your Dragon - a Dreamworks animation which they didn't just fill with tropes the kids won't understand to keep the parents amused. And today the 7yo and I watched the first six episodes of the TV animation that comes next in the story, Dreamworks Dragons. It's really pretty good and Freda laughed like a drain. You and your kid will enjoy it. Second movie is out shortly.

I ran it by her because she's been playing the online School of Dragons game (requires Unity Web Player). Literally the first activity in the game is to teach the player a version of the scientific method, as are several subsequent activities. I thoroughly approve of putting that into a 7yo's head.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-01T15:23:34.770Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sword Art Online: The premise is completely untenable - thousands of people are trapped in the titular MMORPG - but after the third or fourth episode it becomes a very good anime with a strong female lead. Then the second story arc takes all the good things about the series and removes or reverses them. Alas.

Replies from: Qiaochu_Yuan
comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2014-06-01T18:12:49.129Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I thought it was pretty but ultimately I couldn't really get into it. Accel World shares a universe (I think it takes place in SAO's future) but I liked it more.

comment by moonshadow · 2014-06-26T10:36:34.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From the season just finished, Hitsugi no Chaika consistently overdelivers on what it promises, despite a weak first episode. The worldbuilding is pretty decent (I normally use Moribito as the touchstone for that, and it's not quite that good, but few things are), the plot - while not overly complex - seems quite fresh, and cliches are often avoided. On the downside, while they don't actually leave you on a cliffhanger, you get half a series - the other half to come in the autumn.

Also One Week Friends is pure tissuebox material, possibly one of the most emotion-inducing shows in the last year or two. That sort of thing is not everyone's cup of tea though, natch.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-06-22T23:15:59.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sakamichi no Apollo (Kids on the Slope): A fantastic one-season slice of life about a city boy who plays classical piano learning jazz from a country boy. We'd been going through a spate of good-to-mediocre anime with horrible endings (the aforementioned Sword Art Online, for instance) so it's worth noting that the ending of Kids on the Slope is excellent. Skip if you're not a fan of jazz, obviously.

comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T18:02:44.030Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hunter X Hunter: I'd heard several recommendations that this was some kind of "thinking man's shonen", which it hasn't really lived up to so far (I'm around episode 80, so I understand I've finished all the complete arcs and are about to start the ongoing one). The powers seem very arbitrary (far more so than e.g. Fate/*), and any number of characters seem to be massively overpowered if they'd think a little more about how they use their abilities. It's hard to get a coherent sense of the world, because there are a huge number of differences from reality that one would expect to radically change the world, but the consequences of these things aren't really explored or visible, so it never felt real to me.

I'll keep watching - the way the various plot threads interact is quite clever, and some of the powers and fights are quite fun, but I can't really recommend this.

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T17:22:25.493Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Summer in Andalusia (Ghibli-esque movie about a professional cycling race in Spain; better than it sounds)
  • Ghost Hound (attempt at psychological/supernatural horror that ultimately falls short of building up to anything interesting)
  • Un-go (incredibly lame mysteries in the worst vein of Sherlock Holmes, offputting fan-service, not one but two major deus ex machinas; stick to something like Umineko)
Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:28:01.529Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You liked Umineko? I found it impossible to engage with because we saw plenty of impossible things happening onscreen and were apparently supposed to deduce what was really going on, but it was never clear what we were supposed to take as true / the facts that needed to be explained.

Replies from: higurashimerlin, gwern
comment by higurashimerlin · 2014-06-24T18:23:50.808Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are talking about the anime then I agree. The anime version left out the things you need to solve it. The VN has more than enough to know whats real and what isn't.

The important thing to note is who is around to see an event. The fantasy battle in game 3 is witness by no one. When people witness theses things that are killed or are in with the culprit(not necessary that they know people are really dying). The fantasy should not be dismissed though as it contains important clues to the emotions of the characters.

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T18:24:59.816Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My feelings about Umineko are complex; but given a choice between something as dumb as Un-go and something clever-but-enraging as Umineko, I'll go with the latter every time.

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T19:39:01.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, I hadn't realized you were talking about the VN rather than the anime

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:36.161Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

Replies from: lmm, gwern, Risto_Saarelma
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:44:54.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Easy A - went in expecting a dumb teen movie and found it surprisingly clever. A bunch of literary allusions (at the level where I could spot them but felt smug about doing so) and some genuinely amusing dialogue (at one point I had to pause for a minute or so and just laugh); the lead's snark is implausible but can be assumed to be mild unreliable narrator. Portrays what felt like a realistic case of someone trying to do good by stepping around conventional moral rules, and finding this introduces unexpected difficulties, but without (to me at least) implying she made the wrong choice. I'm not sure whether Hollywood in general has shifted in recent years, but I was surprised by the relatively positive take on sex and the Christian antagonists. I also liked that even the "evil" characters were acting in ways that made sense; some people are quite selfish, but everyone's motivations are understandable.

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T17:22:52.543Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • The Thing

    I enjoyed this a great deal. The special effects hold up well, I liked the suspense & paranoia especially since I had no idea how the plot goes and really was unsure who would be assimilated, and the characters don't act too stupidly for most of the movie.

  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Her
  • Nebraska 2013 (??? My relatives say this is a good depiction of the more Scandinavian parts of the Midwest but it left me deeply nonplussed)
comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-06-01T16:57:36.109Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I got interested in Person of Interest after the recent article and binged through the three seasons.

It's definitely not essential viewing, most of it is forgettable case of the week fluff, particularly almost all of the first season, but it was fun seeing a standard procedural show gradually turn into a Neuromancer lite by the third season finale. Also, Michael Emerson makes it much better than it would be otherwise be.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:31.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Music Thread

Replies from: Username, David_Gerard, gwern
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-01T20:28:28.896Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Kraftwerk box set again. (In which Autobahn is renumbered as album number 1, instead of album number 4 as it actually was. Not that the first three are worth almost anyone's time.) A band that is simultaneously prog rock, disco, hiphop and note-by-note composition that really rewards close listening. All the details are important.

I have been particuarly playing Trans Europe Express, which I've given a close listening to in conjunction with "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa and Arthur Baker, which combined the beat of "Numbers", the melody of "Trans Europe Express" and rapping to form what was pretty much the first popular record where the rapping just went over a beat. I've also been listening to people's old mixtapes from 98.7 KISS FM which they put up on YouTube - there was a phase change, where the rapping went from instrumental backing to just beats, and "Planet Rock" appears to have been it.

So yeah, I've put together a pretty good rough version of "Trans Europe Express" to a "Numbers" beat myself. The loved one (who can actually sing) will be recording vocals for it in English and German next week. Just getting her to also translate "Planet Rock" into German (the less rhyming and scansion the better for this purpose) and that will follow. I will also do "Metal on Metal", of course.

(Those KISS FM mixtapes are just amazingly good stuff, by the way. This is what Shep Pettibone did before making it even bigger as a remixer.)

comment by gwern · 2014-06-01T16:56:54.011Z · LW(p) · GW(p)




comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:26.854Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts Thread

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:21.865Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other Media Thread

Replies from: lmm, gattsuru, lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:14:56.449Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Freakangels (comic/webcomic) - very pretty (particularly for a London resident who recognises the flooded setting), with a coherent storyline that ties up everything it opens, at least from the emotional side. Raises questions about power and responsibility, though the answers it gives are not the LW view. I really enjoyed it, but I know I weight worldbuilding and visuals more strongly than many people do.

Replies from: David_Gerard, Bakkot
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-06-01T20:40:47.784Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The character of Arkady in Freakangels is, in actual fact, based on my girlfriend. So there. In looks and name, though not personality. I think everyone should become a comic book character.

comment by Bakkot · 2014-06-01T21:45:56.582Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I read that as it was ongoing! Second the recommendation, and I'd point out that it's written by Warren Ellis, who also wrote Transmetropolitan and Planetary and The Authority. If you like any of those, you'll probably like the others (I particularly like Transmetropolitan), and if you haven't read any, give one a shot. (FreakAngels is free online and much shorter than Transmetropoitan.)

comment by gattsuru · 2014-06-07T17:21:51.068Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Transistor is a mildly tactical Diablo-like by the makers of Bastion. It's a fairly quick, incredibly artsy game with a wonderful soundtrack, challenging opponents, and an interface that I want to hit with a hammer. Well worth a purchase if you're into the game genre at all.

Vg'f /nyfb/ nobhg n infgyl cbjreshy bcgvzvmngvba cebprff hfrq ol sbyx abjurer arne pnhgvbhf bs vg, naq n cbfg-Fvathynevgl hcybnqrq fbpvrgl punfvat vgf gnvy.

comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:48:38.534Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disliked The Drowned Man (theatre); the format felt like an awkward compromise between traditional theatre and LARP with the downsides of both. Full review here

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T15:04:15.377Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta Thread

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-06-01T17:25:10.795Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nitpick: "Live Action" is the usual phrase rather than "Live Actor"

Replies from: ArisKatsaris
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-06-01T20:55:30.073Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

oops, I'll fix. Thanks.