April 2014 Media Thread

post by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:07.748Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 70 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 · 2014-04-01T07:14:52.392Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fanfiction Thread

Replies from: Tenoke, Bakkot, Risto_Saarelma, polymathwannabe
comment by Tenoke · 2014-04-01T08:37:14.919Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cenotaph, a finished Worm fanfic. Taylor doesn't get too upset with Armsmaster, doesn't join the Undersiders.

It might be featured in today's author note since Eliezer has expressed approval of the fic in the comments.

Replies from: David_Gerard, Barry_Cotter, drethelin
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-04-01T21:50:24.502Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reading Cenotaph now. It's excellent. If you enjoyed Worm, you'll enjoy this.

comment by Barry_Cotter · 2014-04-01T11:19:49.386Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is "Worm" finished and is there a pdf/epub/text file somewhere convenient for one behind the Great Firewall? I have heard Good Things about it.

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-04-01T12:56:43.915Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes and no, in that order. The author has asked that ebooks and PDFs not be made available, as he's working on a partial-rewrite with the aim of selling ebook versions for money.

comment by drethelin · 2014-04-08T21:41:25.908Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cenotaph is great.

comment by Bakkot · 2014-04-03T22:16:56.201Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've mentioned it before, but it's recently completed and hence bears bringing up again:

Embers, an Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction, is one of the best works I've read, fanfic or otherwise. At 750k words, it'll keep you entertained for a while. It features characters who are generally smart (at least some of them, and in ways generally more age- and culturally-appropriate than eg HJPEV) and significant fleshing out of the world, with the latter drawing heavily on the author's sometimes-cited research: see eg the author's notes at the end of chapter 30 (warning, slight spoilers, though nothing that will make sense out of context) or at the end of chapter 47 (somewhat more significant spoilers).

You don't need to have seen the show to know what's going on, but it'll help, and the show is worth a quick watch if you've got time on your hands anyway. Don't skip this work just because you don't have time for the show right now, though. Also, there's a prequel of sorts called "Theft Absolute", which is three orders of magnitude shorter and will not make much sense without the show; it's not necessary for Embers.

Replies from: drethelin
comment by drethelin · 2014-04-08T21:39:38.156Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I enjoyed ember for 20 or so chapters while it did a great job of developing characters and justifying oddities about the fire nation in canon with new effects on bending and had a great novel perspective on Aang but then it really went off the rails in terms of adding too much non-avatar universe content.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-04-01T07:24:33.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Saruman of Many Devices takes Saruman's gunpowder weapons and Industrial Revolution angle from Lord of the Rings and runs with it for some military SF style fun.

Replies from: CellBioGuy, FiftyTwo, Nornagest
comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-04-01T07:56:30.209Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Okay, I'm going to have to plug The Last Ringbearer. See download link for an english translation (which cannot be sold for money for legal reasons but can be downloaded for free).

Originally written in Russian, which pretty much explains the tone. The hobbits and the ring never existed and the Lord of the Rings is the long-after-the-fact mythologized retelling of a war as told by the victors. Aragorn was a power-hungry opportunist who stole the throne. Sauron was a ruling dynasty of the rich nation of Mordor, invaded by the barbarian hordes at its borders. Its trolls and orcs were human ethnicities, with the retelling of the war warping their portrayal into monsters. Saruman quit the council of wizards in disgust when he learned that they sided with the barbarians in their genocide of Mordor because of the fearsome power that Mordor's new industrial revolution could bring. And we get a glimpse at an 'industrialized' middle-earth 3,000 years into the future where, among other things, aerospace companies try and fail to replicate the ancient lost materials science of mithril.

Replies from: gwern, Risto_Saarelma
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:33:47.300Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I enjoyed both "Saruman of Many Devices" and The Last Ringbearer.

Although I should caution people that for the former, it does a good job of mimicking both the good and bad parts of David Weber's military SF fiction, and don't read TLR expecting Tolkien, read it expecting John le Carré.

comment by Risto_Saarelma · 2014-04-01T08:41:13.083Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also good. Previously discussed here.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2014-04-02T09:59:29.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Enjoying it so far (just finished chapter 4). Slightly worried that Saruman's forces are too competent though. Reminds me a bit of "The Salvation War"

comment by Nornagest · 2014-04-16T03:17:32.188Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's Mary Gentle's Grunts! with more of a techno-thriller bent and a more sympathetic protagonist faction, basically. If you liked Grunts!, how you feel about this one will probably depend on how you weigh gun porn against psychopath jokes.

I'm finding it readable but not exceptional.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-04-01T18:07:36.043Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been writing a Captain Planet fanfic for a while. The premise is that the original members have grown old and a new team is needed:


comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:15:04.086Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Short Online Texts Thread

Replies from: gwern, gwern, lukeprog, feanor1600, Pfft
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:46:12.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)






Replies from: edanm, None, beoShaffer
comment by edanm · 2014-04-02T09:29:42.389Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Glanced at the "Have a nice day" article. I'm absolutely shocked by how much can be said about a banal expression, especially how much negative stuff and criticism people level at it. Wow.

What made you stumble on it?

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-04-02T15:08:49.111Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Probably /r/Wikipedia.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-02T04:14:19.359Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the topic of death, I've always been fond of Derrida's "Last Words" (later translated and published in Critical Inquiry, I believe). While they were addressed to his son, I think it's clear he really addressed them to everyone:

Jacques wanted no rites and no orations. He knows from experience what an ordeal it is for the friend who takes on the task. He asks me to thank you for coming and to bless you. He beseeches you not to be sad, to think only of the happy moments you gave him the chance to share with him.

Smile for me, he says, as I will have smiled for you until the end.

Always prefer life and constantly affirm survival...

I love you and am smiling at you from wherever I am.

comment by beoShaffer · 2014-04-02T00:51:46.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The China study link gives me

The URL might be incorrect or have changed. Please go back to the homepage.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-04-02T01:49:39.163Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ironic, since that link was itself a link I tracked down after the original link had died. One of the links in http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=18363866799340069167&hl=en&as_sdt=0,9 should work...

comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:46:00.821Z · LW(p) · GW(p)





Replies from: feanor1600
comment by feanor1600 · 2014-04-09T02:21:01.378Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have to agree with Sanderson's first law. One reason I liked HPMOR more than the original Harry Potter was the transition from soft magic to hard (rule-based, well-explained) magic.

comment by feanor1600 · 2014-04-09T02:13:23.660Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How Politics Makes Us Stupid

Ezra Klein's version of Politics is the Mind-Killer.

comment by Pfft · 2014-04-08T01:13:32.490Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Suzanne Sadedin, "What is the evolutionary or biological purpose of having periods?"

You see, mother and fetus have quite distinct evolutionary interests. The mother 'wants' to dedicate approximately equal resources to all her surviving children, including possible future children, and none to those who will die. The fetus 'wants' to survive, and take as much as it can get.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:25.594Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Podcasts Thread

Replies from: niceguyanon
comment by niceguyanon · 2014-04-04T02:10:29.532Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Science fiction podcast about space travel and AI. You can also read it if that is what you rather do.


comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:14.962Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta Thread

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-04-06T21:21:47.881Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

From GTORangeBuilder (featured on /.):

Consider the standard game of Rock Paper Scissors with the following twist. At the start of each round an independent judge flips a fair coin and tells your opponent the result but does not tell you. If the coin came up heads your opponent must play rock. Otherwise he can play whatever he wants. You can always play whatever you want and standard RPS rules apply (paper beats rock, which beats scissors, which beats paper). Your opponent is a smart thinking player and will adapt perfectly to whatever strategy you play.

We're going to look at the following two questions.

  • If the loser of the game must pay the winner $100, what is the most you should be willing pay to play it?

  • What is the GTO strategy for both players?

From http://blog.gtorangebuilder.com/2014/04/gto-brain-teaser-1-exploitation-and.html

A solution will be given on video on Monday.

I'm not affiliated with that Blog.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:59.075Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Online Videos Thread

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala, Kawoomba, Benito, knb
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2014-04-01T16:49:45.989Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance.

I have to say that this was the most blatantly transhumanist mainstream lecture that I've seen in a long time, with sentences like "a human being can never be broken - only technology is broken [because it doesn't allow us to remove all of the human's disabilities yet]". Also generally one of my favorite TED Talks so far.

Note that the implications of the technology go beyond just healing the physically disabled: the exoskeletons he mentions will do wonders to old people. We're looking at the possibility of people maintaining the mobility and ease of movement of a young person for potentially their entire lives, and this technology may become widely available within quite a short time. That means that countless of people might become capable of moving back from nursing homes to living independently with only limited assistance.

Replies from: NancyLebovitz
comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-04-02T00:11:59.560Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What makes it really transhumanist is that the speaker doesn't stop with the idea of bringing abilities up to the human norm or even to existing human excellence. He's got assorted feet (long and narrow, with claws, whatever) which enable him to climb in ways that aren't possible for unmodified humans, and he's very pleased with that.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-04-04T22:06:13.833Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How To Build a Computer.

Replies from: Armok_GoB
comment by Armok_GoB · 2014-04-08T00:52:19.861Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

warning: NSFW

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2014-04-03T20:29:54.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A friend made an Escher inspired, visually stimulating video, two mins. Called "On Reflection".

comment by knb · 2014-04-10T06:10:33.808Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Live Forever as You are Now: pop culture depiction of transhumanism, mind uploading, and immortalism. Funny and slightly disturbing.

Replies from: RichardKennaway
comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-04-10T07:26:48.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Live Forever as You are Now:

Relieved of mortality, I would intend doing a lot better than that.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:47.181Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nonfiction Books Thread

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:45:29.015Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Levenson's Newton and the Counterfeiter (review)

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:41.061Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fiction Books Thread

Replies from: gwern, Prismattic, David_Gerard, whales, edanm
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:45:09.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


Also, may I take a moment to strongly recommend Ted Chiang's short stories?

comment by Prismattic · 2014-04-03T03:21:03.219Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been on a bit of an alternate history kick recently. I can recommend both Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan-Behemoth-Goliath young adult steampunk v. biotech alternate World War One trilogy, and Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds-The Coldest War-Necessary Evil demonologists v. bioengineered ubermenchen series. (Neither is rationalist fiction in the sense of having super rational characters, but it is realist fiction in the sense of character's making mistakes for bias-related reasons.)

Also, I seem to recall seeing Yvain say something on his blog recently about being surprised that many of the people he knew who reference Lovecraft haven't actually read him. For those who aren't aware of it, all of Lovecraft's solo-authored work in chronological order is available as a free e-book here.

Replies from: polymathwannabe, NancyLebovitz
comment by polymathwannabe · 2014-04-03T19:20:10.327Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks a million. I've been looking for a Lovecraft omnibus for ages.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-04-05T18:48:24.639Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might like Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle-- ancient Greek metaphysics is true. Greece becomes a world power, and the story is about an expedition to the sun to get elemental fire. Taoist alchemy is also true.


comment by David_Gerard · 2014-04-01T12:55:35.723Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. An amazing and hilarious novel. Believe the hype.

(If you've ever been annoyed by neoreactionaries, you'll delight in the main character. "A king? You want a king? Boy, nobody wants a king! Ignatius, are you sure you're OK?" First noted on Metafilter. I see one neoreaction fan who classifies it as "Red Pill fiction" ...)

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:29:41.931Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. An amazing and hilarious novel. Believe the hype.

Counter-recommendation: I found it vastly overrated and OK at best. (Review)

Replies from: David_Gerard
comment by David_Gerard · 2014-04-01T22:39:09.816Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the Internet could still do with "oh, my valve!" as a meme.

Replies from: Lumifer
comment by Lumifer · 2014-04-02T01:04:48.230Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too much contamination with Steam and Half-Life and Portal and...

Replies from: DaFranker
comment by DaFranker · 2014-04-02T15:02:44.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It'll be Valve Soon™ before everyone understands that one...

comment by whales · 2014-04-01T19:44:09.052Z · LW(p) · GW(p).
comment by edanm · 2014-04-01T07:43:07.669Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Just finished Brandon Sanderson's book "Words of Radiance". It is the 2nd book in a (projected) 10-book series, and came out last month.

I thought it was a wonderful book. It developed the story from "The Way of Kings", some parts in obvious ways, but also in some new and unexpected ways. The world that Sanderson developed for this series is clearly huge, with many different actors and sub-stories going on.

Also, one sub-story in particular was very fun for me as an LW'er. I'm talking about: Gneninatvna, naq uvf VD punatvat rirel qnl (rot 13'ed).

Btw, I love Brandon Sanderson's work. It combines very "realistic" magic systems with awesome characters, and an epic back-story. I highly recommend reading the Mistborn trilogy, I consider it the finest fantasy work around.

Replies from: None, ChristianKl
comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-02T04:15:58.632Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is the 2nd book in a (projected) 10-book series,

Is he high?! He already knows what happens to people who start 10-book series.

Replies from: edanm
comment by edanm · 2014-04-02T09:28:09.906Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It gets worse. Most of his fantasy novels are actually connected into one world (called the Cosmere).

He guesses there will be a total of 30-40 books in this world.

Btw, for anyone that doesn't know, Brandon Sanderson was chosen as the author of the final Wheel of Time books, the ones that came out after the original author Robert Jordan passed away. So yeah, he knows what happens to people who start 10-book series.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-04-01T14:12:09.340Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It combines very "realistic" magic systems with awesome characters, and an epic back-story.

What does "realistic" magic systems mean?

Replies from: edanm, GuySrinivasan
comment by edanm · 2014-04-01T16:36:16.192Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I meant by that was:

The magic system is basically comparable to him inventing a world with extra laws of physics. The magic is usually well understood, at least eventually, and is basically treated like just more physics.

E.g. (ROT13'd for minor spoiler): Bar bs uvf obbxf pbagnvaf n flfgrz gung, jura crbcyr qevax inevbhf xvaqf bs zrgny, gurl ner noyr gb "ohea hc" gur zrgny gb tnva pregnva cbjref, sbe rknzcyr, gryrxvarfvf. Guvf vf irel jryy haqrefgbbq naq hfrq, lbh haqrefgnaq gur zntvp, gur yvzvgf, vg erdhverf fbzr xvaq bs ryrzrag gb cbjre vg, rgp. Va bgure jbeqf, vg fbhaqf yvxr ryrpgevpvgl jbhyq fbhaq gb fbzrbar jub qbrfa'g xabj nobhg vg.

Guvf vf abg gur xvaq bs zntvp flfgrz jurer enaqbz crbcyr ner noyr gb qb guvatf juvpu lbh arire ernyyl haqrefgnaq, naq gung ner oneryl hfrq. Guvf vf zber n jbeyq jvgu rkgen ryrzragnel sbeprf.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2014-04-01T14:53:05.871Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:34.273Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Television and Movies Thread

Replies from: gwern, None
comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-02T04:22:34.189Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reboot of Cosmos (available on Hulu if you're into two minutes of ads every ten minutes) is fairly good pop science. They're hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Pros: The show makes me happy-cry on a regular basis. There's a clip in the opening sequence where a dandelion seed floating in the wind fades in to Voyager. The show is pretty heavily against religious tomfoolery, death, and staying on Earth until the civilization collapses and/or destroys itself.

Cons: The show owes a lot of its goodness to Sagan. NGT is leaning really heavily on his Crowning Moment of Awesome with Sagan before NGT went to undergrad. The CG is atrocious when it's not based on Hubble pictures. The anti-religion bits are heavy-handed to the point of being outright trolling (which one might argue was also a feature of the original).

Replies from: DaFranker
comment by DaFranker · 2014-04-02T15:07:08.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(available on Hulu if you're into two minutes of ads every ten minutes)

Should read:

(available on Hulu for US residents with a local ISP contract if you're into two minutes of ads every ten minutes, and for devious tricksters with access to a reliable US proxy who are too impatient to just torrent things - since both would be considered just as illegal by a completely impartial US court of law)

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:29.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Music Thread

Replies from: gwern, None
comment by gwern · 2014-04-01T15:34:13.931Z · LW(p) · GW(p)



comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-04T05:19:33.129Z · LW(p) · GW(p)



comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-04-01T07:14:20.560Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Other Media Thread

Replies from: niceguyanon, falenas108, None
comment by niceguyanon · 2014-04-04T02:07:16.284Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

http://www.ftlgame.com/ Fun space rouge-like.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-03T19:28:05.818Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I started using Librivox.org for audiobooks recently. One I exceptionally enjoyed was Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I read it once upon a time, but haven't picked it up since then. "Song of Myself" is still very powerful. His earthy loves and his love of the earth mixed beautifully with native visions of cosmic time and space.