October 2014 Media Thread

post by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:18.797Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 61 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.



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:28:08.138Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online Videos Thread

Replies from: sdr
comment by sdr · 2014-10-02T03:13:37.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A fantastic short on existentialism: The missing Scarf

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:46.076Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Music Thread

Replies from: spxtr, Toggle, gwern
comment by spxtr · 2014-10-02T02:41:16.766Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any love for metal on LW?

Replies from: ephion, drethelin, moonshadow, slutbunwaller
comment by ephion · 2014-10-14T17:23:31.211Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ne Obliviscaris's new song is absurdly good. Actually all of their music is amazing.

Replies from: spxtr
comment by spxtr · 2014-10-16T05:27:48.280Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is good.

comment by drethelin · 2014-10-02T02:43:49.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I fucking love Sonata Arctica. I also like a local band named lords of the trident.

comment by moonshadow · 2014-10-15T09:32:36.101Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about some ОП? ;) (cheating, since they normally do rock )

comment by slutbunwaller · 2014-10-02T02:52:10.469Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As a homeschooled individual with no college degree, Yudkowsky may not be in an ideal position to estimate his own smartness

comment by Toggle · 2014-10-02T00:08:25.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The War of the Worlds, by Jeff Wayne. Prog rock/ochestral. It sounds like the recording of a stage musical, but as far as I can tell the audio is all that ever existed.

comment by gwern · 2014-10-01T18:18:34.264Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Kantai Collection:



comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:28:11.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Short Online Texts Thread

Replies from: gwern, Gunnar_Zarncke
comment by gwern · 2014-10-01T18:18:49.524Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything is heritable:








comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-10-08T21:34:42.451Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When reading up on A survey of anti-cryonics writing I tried to follow up on a link and got to the

Institute for Evidence Based Cryonics

which has some more up to date information about what is or is not possible in cryopreservation. As that isn't linked prominently on LW yet. Here it is.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:28:04.741Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fanfiction Thread

Replies from: ArisKatsaris
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-04T14:17:42.793Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Following the Phoenix is an absolutely excellent "single-/dual-point-of-departure spinoff" from HPMOR, starting from HPMOR's Chapter 81.

I have found it very good reading; it really feels very original-flavor, as if it's what Eliezer could have potentially chosen to write instead of the path he chose to take.

Replies from: gattsuru, B_For_Bandana
comment by gattsuru · 2014-10-07T21:05:37.051Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Zombie is another good HPMoR elsefic, albeit one built for a drastically different purpose than its proceeding works. It also has the pleasant attribute of being very short. Caveat: it has spoilers up to the end of Chapter 89.

The same author's Metropolitan Man is longer, and significantly less optimistic, but might still be of interest to those who enjoy The Philosopher's Zombie

comment by B_For_Bandana · 2014-10-04T22:16:32.762Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wait a minute, there's such a thing as fan fiction of fan fiction? What a time to be alive.

Replies from: ArisKatsaris, Risto_Saarelma
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-06T08:50:54.414Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's whole ficverses that usually get built around a popular enough fanfic.

That's even more usual when the fic in question introduces a unique enough setting: e.g. most relevant to LessWrong would be The Optimalverse, the ficverse built around Friendship is Optimal, but I imagine the ficverse built in the setting of "Fallout: Equestria" to be the biggest one by far.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-10-11T04:58:02.654Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This thing goes back at least to the 90s and Adam Cadre's take on Stephen Ratliff's rather special Star Trek TNG fanfiction.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:28:00.564Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nonfiction Books Thread

Replies from: Anatoly_Vorobey, B_For_Bandana, gwern, Huluk, Nornagest
comment by Anatoly_Vorobey · 2014-10-01T18:04:25.752Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And Then I Thought I Was a Fish. After a bad LSD trip, a 20-something student can't sleep for two weeks, and as a result of the drug, the sleep deprivation, or both, he goes into psychosis. After a few months in this state, which include brief institutionalization which he ends by learning to fake recovery, he spontaneously wakes up sane one day. This is a first-hand account of the entire story, written 10 years after the fact. The author has very specific memories of what it felt like to be insane, which he's able to share convincingly. He tells us about his friends, roommates, crushes. He interviews people who interacted with him at the time and reports their impressions.

I couldn't put this book down. It's very well-written and utterly fascinating.

comment by B_For_Bandana · 2014-10-04T21:50:47.537Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I just finished Red Plenty by Francis Spufford, which I bought because of this review on Slate Star Codex. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting mix of history and fiction about the Soviet Union in the late 1950's and early 1960's, when it was actually plausible to hope that politicians and scientists could get central planning right and build an economy that provided a first-world standard of living to everyone. (Spoiler alert) it doesn't work out, and Red Plenty gives you a good look at how and why it failed.

I'm not usually a person given to intense patriotic emotions; I don't get choked up when "The Star Spangled Banner" is played or anything. But as an interesting side effect of reading this book, I love America a lot right now. I'm in the mood of people who get off planes and kiss the ground.

comment by gwern · 2014-10-01T18:23:06.185Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nicholas Wade's Troublesome Inheritance: I need to write a real review, but I was mostly disappointed. He spends far too little time building the case for the pervasive influence of genes on variation in almost all human behaviors and traits, and far too much time on broad speculations about the rise of civilization, and if you're interested in that, you'd be way better off just reading the books he's summarizing like Pinker's Better Angels.

comment by Huluk · 2014-10-01T23:05:50.751Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. Tamim Ansary is not trying to give an objective report of historic events; instead he tells stories about people and events that shaped Muslim thought. This includes episodes about Mohammed and the Quran, the reception of Greek philosophy, various rulers, and interactions with neighbouring groups and empires. The book is an easy read and gives a compact overview of the Islamic world. I recommend it for those who don't know much about Islam and want to get an introduction into the narrative of this religion.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-10-06T18:35:48.745Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm just about done with Michael Herr's Dispatches), a war correspondent's view of Vietnam circa the Tet Offensive.

It's about the opposite of objective journalism: first-person, tightly focused, episodic, vividly emotional and impressionistic. And it does that very well. I'm getting the feeling that it might have been responsible for the particular shade of hellish Kafkaesque insanity that we associate with the Vietnam War after films like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket; in fact several episodes and characters seem to have been composited into those movies. In a modern context, unfortunately, that strips the book of some of its potential impact; if you have a passing knowledge of Vietnam in modern pop culture, it's not going to be showing you much that you haven't already seen.

I'd recommend it if you liked Generation Kill but are too young to have seen the 80s wave of war movies, or for people that like emotional intensity in their journalism. If you're looking for a more historical or less conventional approach, though, this isn't the place to find it.

Replies from: taelor
comment by taelor · 2014-10-07T03:31:57.247Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Speaking of Generation Kill, I recently got done reading One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick, the platoon commander featured in Generation Kill, which covered many of the same events, but with a somewhat different focus (Evan Wright's book aimed at representing the experiences of as many of the Marines he was embedded with as possible, were as Fick's book explicitly about his experiences in particular), as well as Fick's experiences at Officer School and in Afghanistan.

In general, Fick's book is more sympathetic to First Recon's leadership, and to its commander Lt. Col Ferrando in particular, saying that he suspected Ferrando of caring about his men much more than he lead them (and by extension Wright) to believe. On the other hand, Fick agrees with Wright that Bravo Company's commander, whom Wright identifies as Encino Man and Fick just calls "the captain" or "my CO", was dangerously incompetent. Fick also describes having a hostile relationship with the battalion's XO (who was only briefly mentioned in GK), and writes about imagining himself fragging the XO.

Overall, I thought it was engagingly written, and a good companion piece to Wright's book (and the HBO series).

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:57.003Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fiction Books Thread

Replies from: shminux, Punoxysm, wadavis, gwern
comment by shminux · 2014-10-01T21:06:17.751Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

2312) by Kim Stanley Robinson, the author of Red/Blue/Green Mars (which I did not read).

The protagonist, Swan Er Hong, is probably the single most annoying character in recent memory, more so even than Catelyn Stark of GoT (in the books, not the show). Despite being 130 odd years old, she is mostly driven by impulses fitting for a 13 year-old. She is also bossy, short-tempered and not very smart. Whether this is intentional is not clear to me, probably not. Fitz Wahram, a diplomat, who is much more reasonable, is under her spell and often goes out of his comfort zone for her, with considerable risk to his life and health.

This book is a rare case where I wish for the main character to bite the dust already.

Oh, and the long scientific ruminations by the author, judging by the parts close my area of expertise, physics and quantum computers, are total rubbish.

I put down the book when it describes Swan's more stupid antics, and pick it up again when I have nothing else to read.

Replies from: B_For_Bandana
comment by B_For_Bandana · 2014-10-05T02:51:17.619Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whether this is intentional is not clear to me, probably not.

I think it was intentional -- other characters frequently remark on how dumb she is. My impression is that Swan's character was some kind of artistic/political statement by Robinson -- that the adventures of a screwed-up, clueless person are just as valid and meaningful as those of more traditional heroes, or something. I wasn't too impressed by this, but the book's worldbuilding was amazing and that made up for everything else.

comment by Punoxysm · 2014-10-02T17:43:00.748Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Economies of Force by Seth Dickinson

A very interesting sci-fi story touching on AI and automation.

comment by wadavis · 2014-10-02T15:04:36.207Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is a repost from last month's thread, because I posted at the end of the month and it had low exposure.

I once read a transhumanism short story by Isaac Asimov but have forgot the title and short story collection it was in, I'm trying to find this story again. The plot summary goes as such: A retired businessman is reminiscing about the frontier days of cognitive enhancement where 'chipped' professionals were a high value rarity and his firm was so lucky to have the opportunity to interview two at the same time and he had to choose which one to hire. A key limiter to the 'chipping' was that those professionals were ten times as smart for one tenth the productive lifespan, meaning early onset of senility and retirement. The retired businessman laments that the current generation of 'chipping' is so dialed down and legislated that they are nothing special.

If this rings a bell and you can give me a title to this short story, you will have my eternal gratitude.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-10-02T18:49:31.109Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you sure it was by Asimov?

Replies from: wadavis
comment by wadavis · 2014-10-02T20:28:03.558Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Very certain, Hardcopy short story collection from a public library, picked up after discovering the Foundation series.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-10-03T17:05:43.799Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


This list of Asimov's short stories may help. Also, see if you can dredge up any details about the title of the anthology, other stories in it, etc.

Replies from: wadavis
comment by wadavis · 2014-10-03T17:47:09.621Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Man as the Ultimate Gadget" (Asimov's original title: The Smile of the Chipper) Years ago, at the outset of the 21st century, junior executive Johnson's career depended on choosing between two "chippers"--those men with implanted microchips that gave them power over others' emotions. ASIMOV STORY [A.375] PUBLICATION RECORD: ----- First publication: Business Week's 1988 Guide to Giving (October 21, 1988) Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine (April 1989) Gold (1995)

Memory got corrupted, the chips were not cognitive enhancements but let them manipulate emotions.

comment by gwern · 2014-10-01T18:23:19.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Dunant's Blood and Beauty (historical fiction: early history of the Borgias; interesting time period + mediocre writing = decent but not great book)
  • Troupes:

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:52.541Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

Replies from: Leonhart, gwern
comment by Leonhart · 2014-10-04T11:37:33.401Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sora no Woto. The K-On! archetypes are traumatised child soldiers in an uneasy-interwar-period in bizzaro alternate Switzerland, and they have a pet owl. Scenery is amazing.

comment by gwern · 2014-10-01T18:18:23.929Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Replies from: James_Miller
comment by James_Miller · 2014-10-01T20:25:34.725Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Besides Death Note, I have never found Anime to be deep or intellectually stimulating. Am I missing something, or is Anime a lot closer to being like comic books than novels?

Replies from: blacktrance, ShardPhoenix, lmm, knb, Micaiah_Chang
comment by blacktrance · 2014-10-02T00:35:26.477Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you liked Death Note, you'd probably like Code Geass.

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-10-06T19:49:51.407Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe. Code Geass has the same battle of wits dynamic going on, but it's a siller world and lacks the moral ambiguity of the early parts of Death Note.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-10-01T23:32:56.649Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a number of anime series I've found deep and/or intellectually stimulating and/or novel-like in feel, for example:

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Serial Experiments Lain
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Replies from: taelor
comment by taelor · 2014-10-03T08:11:19.739Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would add Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

comment by lmm · 2014-10-06T19:48:23.368Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The form doesn't allow as much depth, in the sense that even a 52-episode series can only cover a short novel. But I've found some very thought-provoking works (as, to be fair, I have in comics); particularly:

  • Kaiba is my go-to example of something that would be impossible in any other medium; it's a story about personal identity in a world where memories can be transferred between bodies, and uses this blobby, amorphous style to fit with that - everything's strange but semi-familiar, the same way it is to the characters in the story.
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - a story about the teenager's gradual realization that you're not the center of the universe, but rather one ordinary person among many, refracted through the prism of a clever premise. Has this hyper-contextual style where everything is a cultural reference, but without ever seeming pretentious (perhaps because of the exceedingly wide range). Of course you can simply read the novels, undermining the argument somewhat, but the adaptation has some clever visual tricks and the immediacy is valuable. Its stock has fallen in recent years due to a very viewer-hostile approach to the second season; I'd advise only watching the first season, and definitely watch in broadcast order rather than DVD/chronological order (the baseball episode is the third "proper" episode).
  • Haibane Renmei - About personal identity and finding your place in the world, or perhaps living a life decided for you. Very much in the language of mystical symbolism, and rather a love it/hate it case, but I found it interesting, and it would usually push me into a reflective, detached state.
  • Kino's Travels - a series of short stories. Like the best episodes of Star Trek, really shows you a society that's mostly like our own, but with some crucial difference. I can't compare it to the novels as I haven't read them, but I find with this kind of worldbuilding the immersion of a visual medium can be valuable.

I could name plenty more shows that were thought-provoking stories (Psycho-Pass and Eden of the East come immediately to mind), but these are the ones where the animated form seemed to really matter. (Though to be honest I'm surprised you list Death Note - I wouldn't call it especially thought-provoking, and it was a manga before it was an anime).

Replies from: Leonhart
comment by Leonhart · 2014-10-07T21:58:30.028Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Wow, you're still sore over Endless Eight? I thought it one of the finer pieces of trolling ever indulged in by a commercial product. :)

Replies from: lmm
comment by lmm · 2014-10-07T22:22:58.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, I appreciated it, I just feel a certain amount of warning is in order.

(What a shame the gg-commie joint fell apart before then. What a troll confluence that could've been)

comment by knb · 2014-10-03T07:27:45.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I certainly wouldn't view anime as a replacement for novels, but it can be a great supplement to western live-action TV. It's pretty rare for visual media to be as deep or intellectually stimulating as novels. I don't think that is a fair reference point.

I would say the best of anime is comparable to the best US/western live action TV. Even the most sophisticated live-action dramas I've seen (like Breaking Bad and True Detective are probably only as intellectually deep as middlebrow novels.

comment by Micaiah_Chang · 2014-10-04T08:15:40.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I highly, highly recommend Naoki Urasawa's Monster. While I'm not sure it quite reaches the level of a novel, its characters are well developed, multi-dimensional and engaging. It's been quite some time since I've seen it.

Unfortunately, the only official localization of the series by Viz seems to have been canceled, but I believe HBO is planning to adapt it into a live action series.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:49.478Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

Replies from: garabik, advancedatheist, Dreaded_Anomaly
comment by garabik · 2014-10-04T16:28:06.331Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(WTF alert)

I have been (just) watching FOKUS TV channel (the Polish one), there was a short (5min) documentary about cryonics (apparently part of an US documentary movie). Paraphrasing from memory, we learn that cryonics serves to preserve the deceased bodies, because cryonic people believe that one day it will be possible to extract frozen cells and clone the persons preserved. The most famous body is that of Ted Williams, his son wants to clone the best baseball player one day.

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-10-03T03:23:05.325Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know how to fix to make it more watchable for me. It needs a real story arc where the super-smart characters, who do the equivalent of putting out fires set by sort-of smart people not quite on their level, realize that several of these fires show the handiwork of a super-smart arsonist, or a team of arsonists, like a terrorist group comprising several Professor Moriarty-like geeks. Identifying and confronting these people then becomes the focus of the rest of the series.

In Team Moriarty I'd throw in some super-smart people from ethnic groups not well-known in the West to give the show a 21st Century cosmopolitan flavor. (The series does take place in L.A., after all.) They probably should make the alpha Moriarty a Russian, a not uncommon ethnicity for villains in Hollywood these days.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2014-10-26T03:07:15.996Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been catching up on Person of Interest. The first season is kind of a slog, but it gets much better after that. The most recent episode explicitly discusses AI Friendliness and AI-box problems.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:42.971Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts Thread

Replies from: NancyLebovitz, James_Miller
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-10-06T15:50:26.452Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interview with Max Gladstone

He wrote Three Parts Dead, a legal procedural fantasy in which gods are made of contracts.

The interview includes his thoughts about breaking past what you think of as obvious (with reference to Bujold's "The Borders of Infinity") and a suggestion that if your first thought when you're inventing a character is something from central casting, it makes sense to start changing features.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-10-03T23:03:21.107Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The When Diplomacy Fails 30 episode series on the July 1914 crisis that ignited WW I. Each of the first 28 episodes covers the events of a single day.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:39.303Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other Media Thread

Replies from: listic, Prismattic
comment by listic · 2014-10-07T02:02:17.156Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pathologic - called a pandemic simulator, a game about battling death itsealf, the most nonconventional game of 2005 made by Russian Studio Ice-Pick Lodge, is running a Kickstarter campaign for the remake.

For those who don't speak Russian, the hree-part article named 'Butchering Pathologic' by Quintin Smith on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (p. 2, p. 3) is recommended for acquaintance with the game. Yes, probably instead of playing the game itself, because the English translation it got was the one no game deserves, let alone this one. This time, with the remake, developers want to do it right.

LAST MOMENT NOTICE: Kickstarter campaign is ending today, 8 hours to go! (sorry)

comment by Prismattic · 2014-10-24T03:21:01.920Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just an FYI for the interested: Homestuck has returned after a yearlong hiatus.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-10-01T17:27:27.379Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta Thread