December 2014 Media Thread

post by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:06.039Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 91 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 · 2014-12-01T08:27:06.922Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Short Online Texts Thread

comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:48:04.973Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)





comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:47:58.314Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everything is heritable:




comment by advancedatheist · 2014-12-04T15:21:59.277Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Gerontologist Stephen Coles, M.D. Ph.D., went into cryo at Alcor, after going to a hospice nearby to "clock out," as Mike Perry says:

comment by bogus · 2014-12-04T19:42:15.332Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Eric S. Raymond on his relationship to LessWrong and the rationalist community (Including some friendly criticism).

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-12-01T15:03:28.419Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An article about cryonics and Alcor which interviews Max More:

The Art of Not Dying

Wesley J. Smith, a conservative bioethicist, criticizes transhumanism as a new religious movement here:

I suspect some of the resistance to transhumanism by conservatives, Objectivists and secular humanists derives from "Not Invented Here" thinking: The "wrong" sorts of people from outside their respective tribes came up with this idea, instead of the ones who already held high status in them. Ironically many of Alcor's early participants shared conservatives' belief in limited government, admired Ayn Rand's Objectivism and agreed with the basic principles of the philosophical materialism underlying secular humanism.

For example:

Many Are Cold But Few Are Frozen

How Ayn Rand Didn't Get Frozen

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-12-01T19:24:06.391Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Slate on killer robots.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-12-01T17:37:57.817Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


The failure of the standard model of cosmology by Pavel Kroupa - strong support for MOND physics and no dark matter.

comment by Vaniver · 2014-12-02T18:27:02.756Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, my impression from ~4 years ago was that SMOC was mediocre on ~3 different empirical tests, and competitors, like MOND, were great on one test but terrible on the other two, and this is why SMOC is the majority viewpoint. But that was years ago, and things may have changed significantly since then; are there any cosmologists in the audience who can comment on if progress in MOND has overcome any of the hurdles it faced before?

comment by MrMind · 2014-12-03T08:09:30.615Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

IIRC, the biggest problem for SMOC is the reheating after inflation, while MOND cosmology have trouble with everything else.

comment by advancedatheist · 2014-12-02T15:11:16.946Z · score: -10 (20 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The PUA blogger Roosh Valizadeh explains his:

Cultural Collapse Theory: The 7 Steps That Lead To A Complete Culture Decline

Apparently a French talkshow host has found readers for his similar analysis of the situation in France:

French Curtains

I find it fascinating that men who claim to have become skillful as PUA's, like Roosh, Heartiste and Vox Day, have come around to seeing the wisdom of patriarchal social conservatism. After exploring the dysfunctional world of female sexual freedom, they realize that our allegedly unenlightened forefathers had good reasons for keeping women under male authority.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-12-02T16:27:38.194Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

they realize that our allegedly unenlightened forefathers had good reasons for keeping women under male authority

Yeah, these reasons boil down to MOAR POWAH TO ME!

I mean, it's a blatantly obvious power play -- they just want to have the power and women to not have the power. It is a valid instrumental reason :-/ the only thing it doesn't have much to do with "wisdom" or what's usually called "good reasons".

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-12-07T11:58:06.374Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it fascinating that men who claim to have become skillful as PUA's, like Roosh, Heartiste and Vox Day, have come around to seeing the wisdom of patriarchal social conservatism.

I find it fascinating that you find this fascinating. Going from "women are mentally immature (as demonstrated by my ability to trivially manipulate them)" to "women should be treated like mentally immature" seems rather straightforward. I don't know about the other two, but Heartiste is extremely arrogant towards women, so it is no surprise that he has such opinion.

However, to prove the wisdom of patriarchy, it is not enough to prove that women are immature; you also have to prove that men are (more) mature. Where is this proof? The fact that Heartiste does not have similar stories about men is an evidence about his sexual orientation, not about wisdom of the average man.

Just to play devil's advocate, if women really are so trivial to manipulate, and yet most men can't realize it and instead suffer most of their lives, that would prove that most men are pretty stupid, too. Let's hypothesize that 90% of men and 90% of women are extremely stupid. How does this prove that keeping women under male authority is better (for the society in general) than e.g. a regime where feminists (of the strawman kind) would have all the power and make all the rules?

comment by MrMind · 2014-12-03T08:05:43.528Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it fascinating that men who claim to have become skillful as PUA's, like Roosh, Heartiste and Vox Day, have come around to seeing the wisdom of patriarchal social conservatism.

OTOH, men like Mark Manson (the former Entropy) have taken the exactly opposite route, so that's probably not significant.

comment by gjm · 2014-12-03T01:07:04.568Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

come around

Hasn't Ted Beale ("Vox Day") been an extreme patriarchal social conservative since for ever?

comment by MrMind · 2014-12-03T08:06:00.797Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Neither Roosh, from the tone of his earlier "Bang X" guides, strikes me as particularly progressive.

comment by bogus · 2014-12-03T00:34:01.762Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Roosh, Heartiste and Vox Day have come around to seeing the wisdom of patriarchal social conservatism.

These folks are not representative of pickup, though. Many people involved in pickup are quite apolitical, and others could even be described as left-wing, at least in a very broad sense drawing on Jonathan Haidt's work on moral foundations.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:34.935Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:41:21.262Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • The Wire

    Lives up to its fame (as long as you watch with subtitles), more than 12 years later. Satisfyingly intricate and intelligent police drama delving into the War on Drugs from a realistic point of view not blinded by idealism or unfounded confidence in police, courts, or governments like so many other shows which are based more on what writers think the audience wants to be true. Better than any other cop show I've watched. The filming on location in Baltimore helps realism for me, since I've wandered around Baltimore more than once. The downside is that the ~60 hours demands to be marathoned, and ate my month.

    The first season is perfect in its taut narrative from start to finish and illustrating the theme of The Wire: it's the incentives, stupid.

    There's a lot of discussion of The Wire and praise for how it deals with racial themes, but this misses the mark - race is almost entirely irrelevant in the series, except occasionally as something fools are blinded by and can be manipulated with (such as how Clay Davis gulls voters and jurymen with racial rhetoric). What is important is how, black or white, male or female, everyone faces pressure from the system & reality to maximize pursuit of their assigned objectives, not the underlying latent goals.

    Everyone is 'juking the stats' and responding to incentives to the extent that the series is practically a primer on public choice: the police respond to overtime increases and pressure to fake the crime statistics; poorer people respond to demand from junkies to make easy risky money selling drugs; politicians respond to the pressure from myopic voters and their ambition for re-election or election to higher office to do what looks good rather than what is good; newspapers tolerate faked news for the potential awards; and everyone faces coordination problems posed by incentives. Stringer Bell & Avon Barksdale sell each other out, resulting in their death & incarceration respectively; two prisoners remain silent but one is tricked into thinking the other is talking and then defects; a stickup boy is tortured to death, not because anyone really wants to but to maintain deterrence; a young boy talks to police, but an error results in his defection being detected and punished; the mayor frantically argues with his advisers to maintain a successful drug legalization policy but his police chief interprets the delay as indicating the mayor is preparing to pin all the blame on him and defects to the newspapers, contributing to the mayor's electoral defeat; the next mayor asks for FBI help with a cluster of murders but that's outside the FBI's terrorism mission (FBI employees are not rewarded for making Americans safer but fighting 'the War on Terror') and he refuses the political sacrifice which would give them cover to help. Incentives pop up from the grand politics to the low interpersonal relationships: the political consultant won't sleep with the mayor when he's only a lowly councilman but the instant he's elected? Jumps on him the first moment they're alone.

    And this is all systemic, so it's not clear how it could ever be fixed. Anyone who claims to be a reformer may well decide to 'sell out' and respond to the incentives, as the season 3-5 mayoral arc illustrates. Real-world events since then have illustrated this: one of the saddest things about The Wire is that there's only one thing in the Wire world which actually seems to be done right and morally: the eponymous wiretaps. They have to show probable cause, they get it for limited times and purposes, barely abuse it at all, and have to fight to have it at all. When they do abuse it, it's in the service of a good cause, the abuse is discovered, and the culprits are punished more than most characters. And now here we are in 2014 with smartphones and Facebook and the endless Snowden revelations, and it all doesn't mean shit any more. All it took was one terrorist attack, and that was that. The politicians responded to the incentives.

    One of the things I like most is that almost none of this is spoonfed you: season 3 doesn't ever explicitly point out the parallel plots are Prisoner's Dilemmas in which both groups wind up defecting and reaching the worst outcome for most members, it expects you to infer this; similarly, when the white junkie kid ODs, it doesn't hammer his death in, just does a quick ~10 second bit of his body being found and you barely see his face; or when you see the police major at a gay bar, explaining why he has no family and is such a paranoid careerist, he's just a face in the background; or it establishes characters in bits which are almost invisible, such as in season 4 when the camera pans in on the ex-convict's boxing gym past a poster of Avon's photo up on the wall with the legend 'platinum club' - referencing the original photo in season 1 of Avon, and also requiring us to remember that Avon didn't want his sponsorship known because he was free but that he's back in jail now in this season and this is a comment on the boxer's loyalty. Timing can be established similarly, in the unremarked-upon upgrade of kids playing Halo on Xbox to playing it on Xbox 360.

    There are some missteps. I disagree with the pollyanna-ish approach to inner-city school problems; the kids are pretty bad at playing Halo - the SMGs are useless against close-in Elites, they should've been meleeing them; Stringer Bell misuses the concept of elasticity, confusing it with competitiveness/market-power; the Brother Muzon character was a bad idea, coming off like a a shonen or comic book monster-of-the-week character ('the nerd gunfighter!'); in contrast to the others, the gang boss Marlo is too opaque and it's unclear what motivates him besides sheer lust for power and an animalistic taste for conflict; season 2 wastes time on the Ziggy character who winds up contributing nothing; and I'm unsure the mayoral arc of season 3-5 really needed to last that long.

comment by chaosmage · 2014-12-02T17:44:00.106Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You summarize it well, but I'd like to add that most of the characters feel amazingly real. The language is a big part of that of course, but much of the rest is that the cast largely played people they knew personally. The extreme is Felicia Pearson, a murderess who is played by a convicted (supposedly second-degree) murderess of the same name.

I'm amazed at how well this series has aged. It looks copyable, but somehow nobody ever did - maybe showrunners would rather avoid the comparison? Even Breaking Bad, which started out somewhat similar, went away from the realistic and toward the cinematic after the first few episodes, and I imagine the reduced comparisons to The Wire were an intended part of the effect.

(Although now that I think about it, there's a German series ("Kriminaldauerdienst") that obviously copies The Wire. Makes sense though, because The Wire is practically untranslatable, and its German dubbing is atrocious, so you can kind of avoid that juggernaut if you hide inside the German language market. Maybe other non-English language markets have similar series.)

It definitely needs subtitles if English isn't your first language.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-12-01T22:44:11.723Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And this is all systemic, so it's not clear how it could ever be fixed.

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

comment by gwern · 2014-12-02T01:52:51.498Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

Who ends the war...? It's humans all the way down - there you get into the Hamsterdam arc and the bit I discussed about politicians defecting against each other for fear of public condemnation. Systemic problems are systemic.

Consider marijuana legalization: some months ago after a referendum for legalization passed, I went looking for national level politicians who endorsed legalization. This is a proposition with tremendous support in some demographics, which is succeeding at the electoral ballot, and which comes at little direct cost to the implementing governments (legalization is easy compared to almost any other major issue - most of the work is setting up additional taxes and regulation!), so I figured I should find some prominent politicians endorsing it. Maybe not a President, but surely some Senators and state governors? The entries I found were distinctly underwhelming in prestige and some were questionably endorsements. Some leadership!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-12-02T04:04:07.379Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's been some pulling back from the war on drugs, and I hope it will continue, though I'm expecting a fairly slow and incomplete process. (Alcohol is only sold in state stores in Pennsylvania-- every now and then, there's a effort to open up the market, but I assume the state stores are a fairly powerful lobby.)

As for the war on drugs, I keep wondering whether organized crime is bribing politicians to keep it going, but I don't really know.

comment by Alsadius · 2014-12-02T02:06:04.628Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the characters tried that - the politicians basically shat themselves and sacked him mercilessly.

comment by alienist · 2014-12-20T02:11:28.939Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

Prediction: within a decade of drug X, say crack, becoming legal, the same people currently calling for an end to the war on drugs will denouncing the evil crack corporations as "merchants of death".

comment by lmm · 2014-12-23T19:53:25.783Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Will they be wrong? It's possible for those crack corporations to be a) evil merchants of death and b) still better than what we have now. It's even possible that denouncing them will cause them to behave better.

comment by gattsuru · 2014-12-03T21:23:22.369Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

In addition to the public choice theory issues that gwern has already described, many of the problems and most of the severe problems of the war on drugs are path-dependent. Just as the mafia didn't disappear at the end of Prohibition, there's no reason to expect gangs to close up shop because drug funding disappears.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2014-12-20T00:22:11.690Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The gangs wont, but the addicts will stop committing crimes to support their habit, which will free up lots of police manhours, and just about all alternative forms of crime the core gangs would turn to are different from the drug trade in one key aspect - The victims will generally cooperate with the law when it comes to putting them behind bars. And without addicts doing stupid stuff and getting caught, lots of empty jail cells to throw the gangs in, too.

comment by Alsadius · 2014-12-02T02:04:29.520Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I loved the first four seasons, but gave up in disgust at season 5 - one of the major characters went from being a well-intentioned screwup to doing some pretty messed-up stuff out of seeming boredom, and I just couldn't handle it. (Rot13: Jura Zpahygl qrpvqrq gb fanc n pnqnire'f arpx gb snxr n frevny xvyyre)

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-02T20:57:25.844Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Guvf ernyyl vfa'g nf rkgerzr nf lbh'er znxvat vg bhg gb or.

Erzrzore, ZpAhygl vf n pnerre ubzvpvqr qrgrpgvir. Guvf vfa'g gur svefg obql ur'f frra. Guvf vfa'g gur uhaqerqgu obql ur'f frra. Ur jbexf va Onygvzber, sbe puevffnxrf.

ZpAhygl unf nyjnlf orra nobhg tbvat sbe gur gehgu, orvat Erny Cbyvpr, rgp.. Vg znqr frafr gb zr gung ur'q frr nabgure frafryrff qrngu, naq guvax "jung gur uryy, V pna hfr guvf gb trg erny jbex qbar."

V qba'g guvax vg jnf oberqbz ng nyy gung zbgvingrq uvz; vg jnf frrvat rirelguvat ur pbhyq qb gb npghnyyl qb uvf wbo engure guna whxr gur fgngf snvy. Uvf zrgubqf tbg zber rkgerzr bire gur pbhefr bs gur frevrf. Va gur irel svefg rcvfbqr ur vasbezf ba gur cbyvpr qrcnegzrag gb gur whqtr -- guvf vf cebonoyl rzbgvbanyyl uneqre sbe n ubzvpvqr qrgrpgvir gb qb, va ernyvgl, guna gnzcrevat jvgu rivqrapr (rira vs gur rivqrapr vf n uhzna pbecfr).

Vg'f nyy va gur tnzr.

comment by Alsadius · 2014-12-02T23:52:32.705Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know some folks were okay with it, but it was a bridge too far for me. Also, most of the other plotlines had gone a bit stale for me as well - Avon and Stringer were always more interesting than Marlo, Carcetti's story was kind of played out, and the newspaper angle didn't interest me.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-01T18:26:04.543Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by pushcx · 2014-12-01T22:11:40.749Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Many of the characters have thick accents and/or a patois. If you can comfortably carry a conversation in a crowded bar you'll be fine without them.

comment by gwern · 2015-01-20T03:10:15.544Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And on top of that, I'm hearing-impaired. Let purists watch without subtitles - I'd prefer to actually understand what people are saying.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-02T15:29:46.109Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Movie, 1990) The Hunt for Red October

Interesting because the plot focuses on coordination rather than combat. Also just generally pretty engaging and suspenseful.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-14T05:14:21.804Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting; I rewatched this a couple days ago (without having seen this comment).

There's a particularly brilliant point where the protagonist asserts his intimate knowledge of a foreign submarine commander by guessing a detail completely at random. When he owns up to having guessed later (when it doesn't matter that he had guessed), he attains even more status.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-12-01T14:03:34.008Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm curious about other people's reactions to The Imitation Game, a film in which Sherlock Holmes is hired by Tywin Lannister to crack Enigma.

comment by moonshadow · 2014-12-01T14:52:36.953Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really enjoyed the film; thought it was a very decent portrayal of misunderstood socially inept genius. Got me right in the feels. My wife concurs. I would happily recommend it on that basis.

If you're expecting any historical accuracy or sensible computer science, you will be sadly disappointed; if this is a problem for you, avoid. This is not Turing's history; this is Turing fanfiction.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-12-01T16:25:42.205Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am stealing "Turing fanfiction".

comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:46:50.589Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


  • The Shining: I watched it because it was a famous classic; it's very slow-moving movie which has the pacing problem of spending what seems like half the movie establishing the basic premise and then short-changes the descent into madness, which comes off as abrupt and unconvincing. The special effects are now tame enough that they're more amusing than frightening (the blood-hallway didn't inspire any unease in me, just some wondering how they did it - a miniature set which they could flood at will?) except for the rotting woman. I also couldn't get over how strange Shelley Duvall looks, and was a little offput by the Magical Negro character. Still, the hotel is a great setting and the ending works nicely, so I'd call it a good film.
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013 remake); pretty decent, albeit very little like story, and a rather shoehorned in quest/Blue Bird of Happiness which undermines original short story's protagonist by implying he was a failure before & the core dreaming was escapism

TV (putting The Wire in a separate comment due to length):

  • Blue Blazes

    Live-action Japanese TV series, 11 half-hour episodes: quasi-autobiographical account of the manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto's university years as he flailed around, drew manga, and finally got a break in a magazine's contest. The mangaka himself isn't particularly notable - he did the Blazing Transfer Student manga and apparently the Anime Tenchou commercials, which are "hot blooded youth" bombastic fun heavy on sketchy art to convey intensity & drama & speed, but I had to look up his WP entry to realize that he was involved in those.

    The series is heavy on exaggerated emotion and facial reactions as the protagonist lurches from extremes of high and low, and draws on cringe-humor - you're laughing at the follies of his youth, not laughing with him. Tastes will vary for this kind of humor. Personally, I find some bathos is fine, but sustained over a series is a bit too much. The romantic subplots are also a misstep as they wind up being irrelevant, and inflicting a character on us whose voice is best described as a nasal whine.

    The real interest of Blue Blazes is in the otaku culture depicted; it is stuffed with cameos (Hiroyuki Yamaga is the bartender in the scene about him forgetting to breathe; Toshio Okada plays Osamu Tezuka after Daicon; several manga editors have small parts), allusions and in-jokes, many of which I didn't even get (the episode intros are based on kyodai hero poses from Ultraman & other franchises, but I've never seen enough of them to recognize them) but some of which were hysterical (to me) - the manga club character dominates every scene he is in, eg after crushing the protagonist's dreams by critiquing his draft, remarks "One does not care to recall the mistakes of youth!" and rides away on his pink bicycle, declaring, "it's three times as fast!" (Char Aznable/Mobile Suit Gundam). In particular, I was surprised to learn that he had gone to the same university at the same time with some of the founders of Gainax, and it is depicting Hideaki Anno, Hiroyuki Yamaga, and the run-up to the DAICON films where it shines for me as it gives another perspective on early Gainax beyond The Notenki Memoirs. He apparently competed with them but was crushed; eg ep3 has Anno doing the Gendo pose after crushing everyone in animation (as expected from the master!). The character sketches are dead-on: when a room-mate's sister visits and Anno learns she has not seen Mobile Suit Gundam and shows his hospitality by marathoning 12 episodes with her, one senses this is something that really happened and which his friends have never let him live it down. Other incidents are interestingly reflective of the times: getting a new VCR to allow stepping through home-videos of animated series frame by frame, to better understand them; visiting an animation supply shop just to watch a loop of anime series intros on their TV; passing out slowly and dramatically, imitating a tokusatsu; re-enacting a sea fight in the baths. The student films shown seem to either be the originals or shot-by-shot remakes. Other aspects are... odd. If episode 8 is remotely accurate, Toshio Okada was crazier than a bag of honey-roasted peanuts and his nouveau-riche family (with terrible decorating taste) made their money off blatantly counterfeiting money, which undermines my generally positive impression of him.

    Overall: a must-watch for anyone interested in Gainax; probably a good watch for anyone who liked Bakuman or Genshiken; maybe a watch for anime fans; probably better skipped by anyone else.

comment by Nick_Roy · 2014-12-03T06:49:00.687Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Paths of Glory (1957), film. Kirk Douglas vs. Moloch. An anti-war film, for reasons both usual and unusual.

comment by gwern · 2014-12-03T17:12:42.860Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In one of his Wire interviews, Simon recommends Paths of Glory; anyone who's seen both will certainly appreciate the comparison.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-18T18:39:22.661Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just finished marathoning the first season of Broadchurch, a typical cozy murder series staring David Tennant and every other actor I presume the BBC keeps locked away in a closet somewhere.

Tennant plays a guilt-ridden and deathly-sick-but-hiding-it DCI Alec Hardy who's just been reassigned to Broadchurch, replacing DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), who was promised the job. He's all forlorn and gritty (not unlike Cohle from True Detective, but minus the philosophical rambling) and she's all sociable and awkward at investigating all her friends and neighbors.

The show wins when it's about DS Miller coming to terms with the idea that everyone's a suspect and about DCI Hardy being a gruff, tragic hero with a heart of gold. It also is good at being a Scottish cozy that doesn't depend as heavily on British cozy murder tropes (although there is the obligatory adultery that is revealed when one of the parties lies about their alibi). There's lots of fish and chips, and also (more shockingly) child actors who can act.

At one point, I told the television screen, "No, you don't get any more f--king plot twists, you're not M. Night Shyamalan." To the show's credit, there were no more plot twists after that point. There's also a stupid and annoying and worthless police psychic sticking his nose in the plot every once in a while, but luckily he doesn't show up that often.

You may be familiar with Gracepoint, the FOX AU fanfiction that also stars Tennant playing the same character, but this time in California without his Scottish accent. The only difference I've detected in the plot is that they've roughed it up a bit (pedophiles, drug dealing minors, and whatnot) and made Anna Gunn play Miller like she's Skyler from Breaking Bad. One of these shows was renewed for a second season; hint: it wasn't Gracepoint.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:27:01.955Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online Videos Thread

comment by Alex_Miller · 2014-12-01T20:45:08.177Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Vsauce is a great youtube channel for kid's education.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-03T18:37:39.918Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


CGP Grey


Vi Hart


comment by advancedatheist · 2014-12-01T14:39:46.464Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A couple of videos from the Venturists' END DEATH Cryonics Convention in Laughlin,Nevada:

An interview with the Venturists' founder, David Pizer:

Maria Konovalenko's talk:

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-03T18:24:48.966Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Trailer (90 seconds) for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-02T15:36:30.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A few YouTube channels for anyone with an interest in Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA):




comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2014-12-02T15:40:48.036Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Lindybeige is also worth watching if you have an interest in swing dancing, or oddly charismatic contrarians with beards.

comment by Gondolinian · 2014-12-02T16:04:54.649Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Skallagrim also has a bunch of interesting stuff that isn't about historical warfare, including modern tool reviews, gaming videos, slightly less charismatic rants, and live action steampunk roleplays.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:57.300Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fanfiction Thread

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:49.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nonfiction Books Thread

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-01T23:15:08.370Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Origins of Political Order and Political Order and Political Decay, by Francis Fukuyama.

The project is like "Guns, Germs, and Steel", but with a focus on institutions. Basically, it's an overview of all the different routes political development has taken. It mostly presents historical examples. This overview of the first book is decent, which covers autonomous states in China, India, the Middle East (so early Islam, Mamluk slave-military-rulers (!), and Europe (he focuses on the balance of powers between Church/aristocracy/monarchy in France, Spain+Early Spanish Colonies, Denmark, UK, Hungary and Russia) up to the French Revolution. The second volume covers modern democracy (contrasting early American and European democracy, and contemporary Italy/Greece v Northern Europe), colonial and post-colonial states (contrasting Latin America and African, and then the different paths within each area), and bureaucracies (a lot of German stuff; a surprisingly interesting discussion of the US Forest Service). He makes some nods to contemporary issues at the end of the last book, but probably not in a way that will trigger any particular tribal reflexes; he talks about why he thinks contemporary American bureaucracy has degraded in quality over time, about political gridlock, and about lobbying and corruption.

I highly recommend the project as a cure for a sort of myopia where we take our contemporary political concerns as the starting ground for our general model of how societies vary. He's admirable in not trying to force-fit everything to a particular pattern: He explicitly highlights Costa Rica and Botswana as more successful than his general theories would predict, and Argentina as less successful. Unlike other grand-sweeping-overview books, his history comes across as neither reactionary nor reformist.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-12-14T05:17:42.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One might be interested in Lyons' Probability on Trees and Networks. For a non-expert some cognitive-kilometers away from probability theory, the text is surprisingly readable.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-02T22:49:00.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Generation Kill. While I can't know how accurate or biased it ultimately is, it gave me a much more visceral appreciation for the kind of decisions a combatant has to make, and how many of the seeming stupidities of war arise as a result of perfectly rational decisions from the various actors based on the information they have available. While I've long had an anti-war tilt, this gave me a new appreciation for how hard some goals (e.g. low civilian casualties) might be to achieve, and what some of the tradeoffs are. The psychology of the often strikingly young Marines - insightful on some subjects, simplistic on others - was also fascinating.

comment by gattsuru · 2014-12-03T20:07:25.291Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The book is better than the HBO series, but both are very much written from a noncombat perspective and have a number of limitations because of that. If you enjoyed it, I'd strongly recommend trying to track down a copy of One Bullet Away.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-15T20:49:34.873Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Have done so, found it much less illuminating tbh. Fick makes it all sound normal - I assume because to him it is. Wright has an outsider's perspective and so is more able to highlight the quirks, the absurdities, the parts that make the Marines very different from your typical corporation.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:43.674Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fiction Books Thread

comment by shminux · 2014-12-01T16:57:02.369Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things, describing the inner and outer world of Aur is written as beautifully as the two previous novels, maybe even more so. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author, as the book just screams to be read aloud, like poetry, which it basically is.

I wonder if there are any reviews of the book by psychiatrists (maybe SSC will get around to it, once done bashing NRx and social justice?). Auri seems to have schizo, bipolar and OCD, all seeming sensible and natural from her own point of view.

comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:47:17.828Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Burgess
  • Lud-in-the-Mist, Mirrlees
  • The Far Side Gallery 3 (I think I liked them better as a kid; re-reading, I realize Larson really only had a few jokes & characters which he permuted endlessly. It doesn't grow up with you as much as some others like Calvin & Hobbes do.)
comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:39.761Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-12-02T07:56:08.302Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Shirobako, ongoing series. It's an anime about an animation company. Seems pretty realistic apart from some comically exaggerated characters. It's not going to blow anyone's mind but if you're into anime as a medium it's an interesting and entertaining look at how it's made.

comment by Halfwitz · 2014-12-12T03:48:41.578Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good rec. And not just for the education - the whole show is very charming, though I agree nothing too special.

comment by Artaxerxes · 2014-12-03T16:00:04.863Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I second this, I think you could get as much information about the process of making anime out of this show as you would a documentary. If you've read Bakuman, it's like a more detailed anime version of that. Or if you've seen Paranoia Agent, it's like a series length version of the episode about making anime.

comment by Halfwitz · 2014-12-03T15:54:18.776Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been enjoying Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo

comment by moonshadow · 2014-12-04T11:08:44.662Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's awesome until the plot does a 90 degree turn near the end. Unfortunately their authors just aren't as good as Dumas and oynzvat Rqzbaq'f npgvbaf ba zvaq pbagebyyvat fcnpr nyvraf xvaq bs erzbirf gur cbvag.

comment by Halfwitz · 2014-12-04T17:06:59.820Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Finished it last night.

Gehr, V gubhtug pnfgvat Rqjneq nf zber ivyynvabhf guna pnaaba jnf vafcverq - gur snpg gung ur jnf cbffrffrq fbeg bs ehvarq gung.

Still one of the better animes I've seen recently, and probably the best adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo I've ever seen - though I haven't seen many.

Now I need a new animie.

comment by gwern · 2014-12-04T17:25:17.945Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Now I need a new animie.

If you liked the visual style, you could check out Mononoke and the last part of Ayakashi.

comment by Halfwitz · 2014-12-05T16:40:27.370Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you liked the visual style,

I liked it, but I think the static textures should have been used with a bit more subtlety.

Mononoke and Ayakashi.

I'll check those out, looks like they're both on Crunchyroll.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-08T19:52:52.888Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you like visual weirdness in anime I highly recommend Kaiba; it's a rather cool sci-fi story too.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:30.524Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Music Thread

comment by gwern · 2014-12-01T16:40:24.299Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)




comment by spxtr · 2014-12-01T10:17:57.374Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon. I'm surprised I missed this album when it first came out. It's like a folk version of Agalloch. Excellent.

In Flames' newest album was garbage. It's sad, since that band got me into metal. These are some of my favorites of their old stuff: Man Made God, Episode 666, and Swim.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:24.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts Thread

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-12-03T13:26:47.928Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Top Ten Myths about the Alexander Technique

An excellent depiction of letting mind-body systems work without imposing unnecessary concepts (posture, relaxation, symmetry, etc.) on them.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:20.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other Media Thread

comment by listic · 2014-12-07T20:04:34.995Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's an advent postcard I have received today in Fallen London:

"We've had our differences. But this is Christmas.

Best wishes, the Fallen London Probably Random Number Algorithm"

There was a pair of Devilbone Dice in the letter. I wonder what could they be good for?

Fallen London (formerly Echo Bazaar) is an alternative Victorian London with gothic and steampunk overtones", according to Wikipedia.

It won an Escapist Magazine's award for Browser-Based Game of 2009 (scroll to the end) and is, in fact, developed by the actual Londoners.

I am Listic in Fallen London.

I can send you an invite (listic.pony at gmail; not sure what an invite gets you, though) or you may register all by yourself, as it is a free-to-p(l)ay game.

comment by jamesf · 2014-12-02T05:35:34.191Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reminder that Weird Sun Twitter exists.

(Edited link because Unit Of Selection is apparently deactivated)

comment by Davidmanheim · 2014-12-26T18:24:01.022Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you explain what this is, or who is doing it?

comment by jamesf · 2014-12-31T03:28:46.988Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's pretty much exactly what it looks like; multicolored pseudonymous suns that tweet funny and strange and sometimes-insightful stuff to each other, relying heavily on rationalist memes. I think the original was Instance Of Class, then other people made a bunch of similar ones because it's fun, and now it's a whole Thing. The real identities of the suns aren't made public.

comment by othercriteria · 2014-12-04T15:47:40.256Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Noun phrases that are insufficiently abstract.

comment by Hoppy_Times · 2014-12-08T22:15:44.261Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

02geek is offering a Kickstarter pre-order special offer for a bundle of online video training courses:

Learn to develop amazing animations for the web/apps teaches JavaScript via animation. I like the approach, since I find both topic interesting.

I can arrange for a free pass, in exchange for a review; email me.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-02T23:07:49.185Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Board Games:

I recently played Archipelago for the first time and the physical object is just so, so pretty. It feels like the setup is quite complex - perhaps too complex to be worth it - but I'm in love with the pieces and the way it tries to integrate a standard eurogame theme into its mechanics in a way that's actually relevant.

I didn't like the 7 Wonders: Leaders expansion; one leader in particular seemed to have a very unbalancing effect, not so much on the owning player as their neighbours thanks to the effect on resource distribution.

comment by MrMind · 2014-12-03T08:27:15.791Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, I'd like to hijack the sub-thread to recommend Elder sign: the usual Cthulhu setting, the usual occult detectives, but a very interesting cooperative structure. Each player at every turn has an array of adventures to face, each adventure gaining him/her some resources, with the goal to accumulate enough Elder signs before the chosen Ancient One awakes.
It feels more like an RPG than a board game, and with my most nerdy friends we've had tons of fun. It tends to be a little bit on the easy side, if you have a munchkin friend (like I do), but with more than two player the coordination tends to become more difficult. And is one of the very few board games which is still satisfyng to play alone.
Wil Wheaton has a review of the game in his Youtube channel, which I cannot link because I'm behind my company firewall.

comment by lmm · 2014-12-03T18:41:51.801Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, that reminds me of the other game I hated lately: Mansions of Madness.

I've long felt that these RPG-like games miss the point: if you're going to give one player the DM role, you might as well give them the freedom to make stuff up on the fly. Don't Rest Your Head is the best horror game I've played (and run), because it gives you just enough mechanics to enforce the narrative structure and then gets out of your way, letting the DM do what needs to be done and react very quickly on the fly because there's just not that much system. This game felt like too much bookkeeping, not enough flexibility, and an experience of playing it through to the bitter end when the outcome became obvious to all of us because of the sheer mechanics of it all.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-12-01T08:26:15.603Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta Thread

comment by listic · 2014-12-07T19:48:18.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)