10 FEB 2018 by ideonexus

 The Thermian Argument

So there's a bad habit people have gotten into. It's nothing new, but it's become more and more common. It goes like this: Critic: Hello. This is Folding Ideas. I recently watched the anime Women Getting Ripped Apart by Orcs and was, you know, disturbed by the seeming perverse glee the way the show takes the frequent and excessive dismemberment of its female cast members. In fact, the entire purpose of the show seems to be little more than showing women being brutally violated by orcs. Mino...
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 When Information is Cheap, Attention Becomes Expensive

Negative reviews are fun to write and fun to read, but the world doesn’t need them, since the average work of literary fiction is, in Laura Miller’s words, “invisible to the average reader.” It appears and vanishes from the scene largely unnoticed and unremarked. “Even the novelists you may think of as ‘hyped’ are in fact relatively obscure,” writes Miller. “I’ve got a battalion of perfectly intelligent cousins who have never heard of either Jonathan Franzen or Dave Eggers...
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05 JUN 2017 by ideonexus

 Reading Fiction is to Temporarily Believe Nonsense

The weather bureau will tell you what next Tuesday will be like, and the Rand Corporation will tell you what the twenty-first century will be like. I don't recommend that you turn to the writers of fiction for such information. It's none of their business. All they're trying to do is tell you what they're like, and what you're like—what's going on—what the weather is now, today, this moment, the rain, the sunlight, look! Open your eyes; listen, listen. That is what the novelists say. But ...
Folksonomies: fiction truth lies
Folksonomies: fiction truth lies
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21 APR 2017 by ideonexus

 Code is Not Literature

Code is not literature and we are not readers. Rather, interesting pieces of code are specimens and we are naturalists. So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found: “Look at the antenna on this...
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
Folksonomies: programming coding hacking
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Seibel's observation that reading code is less like literature and more like science is dead on. No matter how readable the code is, when I'm confronted with 10,000 lines of it spread across numerous encapsulated functions, I must tackle it very differently from how I read prose. With a complex literary text, I can just read it in linear fashion with occasional segueing to look up words and concepts, with well-engineered code I must follow numerous cases into different flows of logic. These aren't the same at all.

I appreciate that he's trying to dispel the idea that we "read" code as we read for pleasure, I learn from code by experimenting with it. I open up the debugger and step through it, watch the variables change and see where it goes when I execute it. Most of all, I learn by changing that code and trying to build on it. I have enhanced my javascript skills immensely in recent years by cloning various projects on github and trying to expand on them or adopt them to my own purposes. I don't recommend opening up a code base and just reading it, actively engage it, break it, and enhance it.

29 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 Science Fiction Gave Literature New Frontiers

The shift in subject matter from westerns to science fiction was probably already underway when Burroughs began writing. The frontier, which had been such a key feature of American popular fiction, was rapidly disappearing, and writers had begun looking for new frontiers—hence, the increasing number of stories about lost civilizations in unexplored parts of the world. But even the unexplored parts of the world were shrinking rapidly, and as new technologies, such as aircraft and rocketry, b...
Folksonomies: history science fiction
Folksonomies: history science fiction
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Burroughs "Princess of Mars" even has the protagonist go from the Western frontier to a Martian desert. Wastelands are frontiers as well.

08 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 We Are Living in a Science Fictional Age

1) We’re living in a science fictional era, thanks to all the incredible technological and scientific discoveries we’ve made. (At the time, we were just starting to discover exoplanets and sequence the DNA of individual people.) In some sense, science fiction has “come true.” 2) This means science fiction is uniquely qualified to comment on the era we’re living in, and is the only pop culture that accurately reflects the world around us. 3) Meanwhile, science fiction itself has cl...
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