April 2015 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read1st Apr 201543 comments


Personal Blog

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.


  • Please avoid downvoting recommendations just because you don't personally like the recommended material; remember that liking is a two-place word. If you can point out a specific flaw in a person's recommendation, consider posting a comment to that effect.
  • If you want to post something that (you know) has been recommended before, but have another recommendation to add, please link to the original, so that the reader has both recommendations.
  • Please post only under one of the already created subthreads, and never directly under the parent media thread.
  • Use the "Other Media" thread if you believe the piece of media you want to discuss doesn't fit under any of the established categories.
  • Use the "Meta" thread if you want to discuss about the monthly media thread itself (e.g. to propose adding/removing/splitting/merging subthreads, or to discuss the type of content properly belonging to each subthread) or for any other question or issue you may have about the thread or the rules.
43 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 11:57 AM
New Comment

Short Online Texts Thread

Everything is heritable:









A good overview-- probably not a lot new for most people here, but I liked the bit about hypotheses that simply don't get considered.

Practice of Wisdom by Josh Kaufman. I don't quite agree with all the characterizations (prudence, in particular, has issues), but overall a concise description of many useful mental skills.

[-][anonymous]6y 0

Ya‐Qin Hu , David Kay Ferguson , Subir Bera & Cheng‐Sen Li (2008): Seed hairs of poplar trees as natural airborne pollen trap for allergenic pollen grains, Grana, 47:3, 241-245. - They did it in a botany garden, which means that pollen diversity could have been higher than in an average street, but still... it's like, 'we serve any pollen in the city'.

Athanasios Damialis & Dimitrios Gioulekas (2006): Airborne allergenic fungal spores and meteorological factors in Greece: Forecasting possibilities, Grana, 45:2, 122-129. - the section 'statistical method' occupies about 1.5 pages; it would be cool if someone who can actually understand it chewed it out for people like me. Overall, this is one of those things that 'belong to the future'. The sheer monitoring needed to get that many datapoints seems to me unpracticable. Another one with flashy statistics is Hector L. D'antoni & Frank Schäbitz (1990): Pollen analysis for the generation of environmental hypothesis, Grana, 29:4, 295-300.

Annette Andersen (1985): Microfungi in Beds and their Relation to House-Dust Mites, Grana, 24:1, 55-59. - This one is so sweet. Two beds have been examined monthly over a year for the occurrence of viable micro fungi...

Michael S. Zavada , Stephanie M. McGraw & Melissa A. Miller (2007): The role of clothing fabrics as passive pollen collectors in the north‐eastern United States, Grana, 46:4, 285-291. - "Clothing may be a primary avenue of ingress that contributes to the contamination of indoor air quality at the workplace and the home."

Bernardus Speelberg , Egidius Panis & Jan G. R. De Monchy (1991): Reduction in skin test reactions to inhaled allergens during a 12 weeks stay in the alpine climate, Grana, 30:1, 155-160. - "...Thus a reduced exposure to airborne allergens may be one of the reasons why asthmatic patients benefit from a stay in the alpine climate."

E. Fernandez-Caldas , M. C. Swanson , J. Pravda , P. Welsh , J. W. Yunginger & C. E. Reed (1989): Immunochemical Demonstration of Red Oak Pollen Aeroallergens outside the Oak Pollination Season, Grana, 28:3, 205-209. - "Some authors have suggested that patients may suffer allergic symptoms not only from tree pollen but also from the leaves, leaf hairs, or sap, as well (Fonde 1935, Rudolph and Cohen 1932, Ostrov 1984). Our findings are consistent with this suggestion..."

Jean C. Emberlin , Jane Norris-Hill & R. H. Bryant (1990): A calendar for tree pollen in London, Grana, 29:4, 301-309. - "Although three years are insufficient to confirm the length of the reproductive rhythms, the patterns evident so far indicate that [birch] Betula and [oak] Quercus vary in phase with each other on a biennial basis, having both achieved peaks concentrations in 1987 and 1989. In contrast both [ash] Fraxinus and [plane] Platanus attained peak production in the intervening year. Other species such as [chestnut] Castanea, [beech] Fagus and [pine] Pinus seem to exhibit longer cycles which cannot be determined at this stage." - Someday, vacations will be planned using this kind of 'nature compatibility' forecasts...

Fanfiction Thread

Fiction Books Thread

Making my way through Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings (currently on Book 4). It's a bit of historical fiction covering the plots and politicking that followed the reign of Philip the Fair of France and would eventually culminate in the Hundred Years' War.

I'm enjoying it. It paints an engaging portrait of medieval France and there are many historical footnotes giving context and explanations that would otherwise clutter the main text. The series moves at a decent pace and doesn't get bogged down in fluff.

[-][anonymous]6y 1

I found it dry. For people who find it dry too, I can recommend as an alternative Robert Merle's Fortune de France series set a few centuries later but still in recognizably medievalish circumstances. It is more colorful, more of a swordplay-and-sex swashbucklerish feel.

I have just spotted that Marina and Sergei Dyachenko's Metamorphosis cycle is being translated into English. The first book is Vita Nostra; I would very much recommend it, especially to anyone that enjoyed Max Barry's "Lexicon".

Online Videos Thread

Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going Of interest even if you don't care much about Singapore. Consequentialism in politics and economics.

a TL;DR would be much appreciated

Lots of short bits, not suitable for TL;DR, plus I didn't take notes when I watched.

I mean I don't know anything about Singapore, apart from that it is a small place in Asia. What was that stuff about sand? He seemed very threatened by sand, and I presume if you already knew about Singapore you'd know why, for example, sand was bad.

Sand didn't play a big part in the interview. I think Malaysia objected to Singapore getting more sand because Malaysia didn't want Singapore to use the sand to get even bigger, but I'm not sure how serious an issue this is.

Nonfiction Books Thread

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software is a wonderful book explaining how computers work. I've read the section on Computer Architecture in Gödel Escher Bach, but that did not stay in my mind. This book, however, explains how computers work from the most basic level; it starts with circuits and builds up! I have not finished it, but I'm over halfway and Petzold has built up a machine with memory and a calculator function, which can load items from memory and perform operations upon them.

At times it is a bit difficult to follow, but I think it has been written, overall, very well. I really have found it a fascinating book. Highly recommended.

Thanks for the recommendation, I'll have to check it out.

I've been reading lately The dictator's handbook, which despite the name, is an analysis of politics in terms of game theory.
Although the tone is a bit sarcastic, it's very interesting and quite eye-opening to see how absurd situations arise in the context of politics when you mix rationality and self-interest.

Read Tyler Cowen's The Great Stagnation last week. It's not massively insightful if you're already familiar with the thesis, but it is a very short read, and fruitfully referenced.

Working my way through Torture and the Law of Proof. It's an account of the role of torture in European justice systems going back to medieval times. It starts at the end of the older system of trial by battle/ordeal where God would (presumably) decide the case and looks at the start of evidence-based trials.

It's interesting to see how torture "naturally" arose because the standards of evidence were so high--you couldn't be convicted except on the testimony of two witnesses or your own confession (note that a similar proviso is found in the US Constitution regarding treason). They came up with the idea of a half-proof, where a single witness or circumstantial evidence could be used to gain judicial permission to apply torture. The author notes that legal scholars of the day were very well aware of the possibility of false confessions and looks at the various methods used to attempt to minimize this and why they failed.

The main drawback for me is that the writing can be rather dry and academic.

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

I've just finished marathoning the first 1.5 seasons (to the current cliffhanger/hiatus) of Gravity Falls, and strongly recommend it. Supernatural mystery/horror/comedy, significantly darker than Disney usually gets. High levels of continuity; very strong art direction; near-HPMOR levels of foreshadowing/conservation of detail (I advise not reading about it beforehand as there was a similar hivemind-predictive-success of the biggest twist). Secret codes, cryptic Reddit AMAs, trolling creators with hand puppets, all the good stuff.

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

  • Project Nim:

    Thorough documentary on a 1970s scientific project in raising a chimpanzee as a human to get it to sign true language. The project was very well documented with photographs and footage, so with all the archival footage and retrospective interviews, we get a vivid sense of Nim and the people around him. Specifically, we get a vivid sense of everyone involved as having absolutely terrible judgment and the people involved as fanatical nurturists - why on earth would anyone expect such a thing to work? Why would chimpanzees have evolved true language when they never use that in the wild, and why would you expect any sort of objectivity from the involved personnel? Early on, the daughter of the foster-mother comments that "It was the '70s!"; which does explain a lot.

    It goes about as terribly as one expects: there is bitter infighting over who is Nim's 'real' parents, the footage of Nim 'signing' is quite weak (I know a little ASL myself, and I was deeply unimpressed by what we see Nim do - the teachers' claims about Nim communicating seem to be a hefty heaping of anthropormorphizing, reading into random gestures, and wishful thinking; a nice example of which is how one male teacher comments how Nim loved to play with cats and would "quiver" with excitement holding it, while later on, we see this 'quivering' is actually Nim trying to dry-hump the cats, and they eventually are taken away lest he kill them). As Nim gets bigger, it's less that he became human than his caretakers became chimpanzee: the original foster-mother and the new female teacher compete for who can play with and supplicate Nim the most, and Nim successfully dominates the two men involved while the women applaud and enjoy the dominance contests. (The project lead, Terrace, comments at one point that most of the staff turned out to be women.) The film-makers seem to try to draw a parallel by noting that Terrace slept with the first foster-mother before the project started and with one teacher during the project, but it doesn't work too well since Nim clearly won their hearts long-term. Unrestrained, with no other males to keep him in check, it predictably starts going all wrong - the female teacher in question recounts how Nim put ~100 stitches into her (I counted her enumeration), and then the project shuts down after he tears open her face.

    After which, of course, he goes back to the primate colony. The documentary & people lay it on thick how Nim is being terribly treated in this, but they're so compromised that it's impossible to take them seriously; I was baffled when they described him being sedated, to transport him safely back to the colony in a plane as quickly as possible, as being "a nasty thing to do. Very deceitful." Seriously‽ A growing male chimpanzee nearly killed his closest caretaker and that is your reaction to an entirely sensible measure, a completely irrelevant concern about deceitfulness, as if Nim were some sort of athlete whose competitor cheated? Similarly, a big deal is made of the locked collars on the chimpanzees at the colony... which turn out to be on the chimps so if one starts trying to chew your face off, you have a chance to defend yourself by grabbing the collar and holding them off.

    While at the primate colony, Nim's minimal signing skills seemed to degrade even further and the primates eventually start being used in medical experiments; rather than take it seriously and ask whether the medical experiments were scientifically & medically useful, the documentarians choose to simply show decontextualized injections. (With an approach like that, routine operations in a hospital would look like ghoulish crimes against humanity...)

    Finally, Nim winds up at a horse-rescue farm, where as a reminder of why Project Nim had to be terminated, we're told how he casually killed a dog one day and how, when the original foster-mother visited she, apparently still under many illusions, enters the cage to visit him and is attacked (one interviewee commenting, "The fact that he didn't kill her meant a lot, 'cause he could have." I see.)

  • The King of Kong: fascinating in part because the stakes are so low, and the skullduggery so calculated; the access of the filmmakers to key players is so thorough that at times you're given a god's-eye point of view and it feels fictional (eg when you watch both sides of a telephone conversation happen).

I would be careful about taking the events in The King of Kong at face value. Jason Scott, the BBS and Infocom documentary guy, hates it and points out several parts of the narrative which apper to be made up. (Second much longer writeup, which is as much about Scott's approach to being a documentarian as it is to problems with The King of Kong, but is also worth a read).


  • "classique d'amour~愛のクラスィーク" (Yoko Kanno; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [orchestral]
  • "White House" (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; Space Dandy OST 2 {2014}) [progressive rock] - ep 21 ED
  • "Dandy's Fly" (Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [brass]
  • "金色の玩具" (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [progressive rock]
  • "バブル・オブ・バブル" (OGRE YOU ASSHOLE; 「スペース☆ダンディ」O.S.T.2 Boobies Wonderland {2014}) [progressive rock]


  • "Dreaming Shout" (livetune feat. NIRGILIS; 「と」 {2014}) [electronic/dance]

Kantai Collection:


[-][anonymous]6y 2

Artists I've been Listening to Recently:

Podcasts Thread

Other Media Thread

I'm going to recommend the Muv Luv series of visual novels. This is a military sci-fi story where the lead of a slice-of-life harem/romcom finds himself in a war-torn alternate timeline, and has to learn to pilot giant robots in order to fight alongside battle-hardened versions of the girls from his own world. There are 3 parts: Muv Luv (romcom), Muv Luv Unlimited (darker military focus), and Muv Luv Alternative (very dark military/war). Muv Luv Alternative is the #1 ranked VN on vndb.org, with an average score of 9.28. Apparently it's also the highest ranked on the equivalent Japanese site.

The series has many virtues, but also some major caveats.

I'll start with the good stuff:

  • Amazing battle sequences - the animation is very advanced for a VN and the best battles are among some of the most tense and exciting I've experienced in any medium.
  • Interesting exploration of duty and identity in the politics arc.
  • Fun character interactions and humor.
  • Many very emotionally compelling moments - this story made me cry more than any other I've experienced (for both happy and sad reasons).
  • Pretty smart writing in general - characters don't obviously hold the idiot ball unless they're supposed to be idiots or are acting emotionally at the time.
  • Great world-building with well thought-through military/technical elements.
  • Great character development for the main character.
  • Amazing, film-quality music (more so in Alternative).


  • Extremely long overall - at least about 80 hours for the whole thing.
  • The first part ("Muv Luv") is a very silly and fluffy romcom, and while it's often amusing, it's over-long and some parts really drag (ugh, the lacrosse). By contrast to Alternative's 9.28 average score and #1 ranking, this only got 7.14 and #476, and shouldn't really be skipped due to important character and plot setup.
  • Only available in English via an old pirated version that requires some technical fiddling to get it to work (comes with a readme to explain this).
  • Has gratuitous sexual/fanservice elements.
  • Some of the tear-jerker moments may come across as heavy-handed or manipulative if you're not in the right mood for them.

Neutral elements:

  • Not heavily decision driven - the main routes in Muv Luv are extremely obvious, and Alternative only has one route.
  • The prose (and/or translation thereof) is quite simple and straightfoward, compared to eg Fate/stay night.

I wasn't sure whether to post about this because of the downsides, but I read it a couple of months ago and it's still on my mind enough to feel worth recommending. I'd strongly recommend it if you have the time to spare and like both military sci-fi and emotion-heavy stories.

Content warning: Explicit sex and violence.

Fair warning to anyone thinking of attempting these visual novels:

  • The protagonist is the dumbest and most thickheaded person I've ever encountered in fiction (and I've read a lot of dumb fiction, including quite a few visual novels). If you cannot tolerate extreme idiocy, you're not going to like this series.

  • About half the story is meaningless filler (yes, that's 40-50 hours of reading time).

  • The plot is very straightforward and predictable.

(Posting from the anonymous community account since I don't want to get into another argument with a muvluv fan about any of this. This is strictly my opinion, take from it what you will.)

The protagonist is the dumbest and most thickheaded person I've ever encountered in fiction (and I've read a lot of dumb fiction, including quite a few visual novels). If you cannot tolerate extreme idiocy, you're not going to like this series.

He's pretty dumb at the start but I think he grows nicely as a person over the course of the series, though he's certainly never particularly smart.

On the flip side there's Luv and Hate, which is an (incomplete! still good) rewrite of the Muv-Luv Alternate story with a guest protagonist from... Supreme Commander. Including the ACU.

It's well-written, mainly character-focused with a few amusing combat interludes, and oh so gratifying after attempting to read the grimdark original.

It's also a quest. If this doesn't mean anything to you folks... don't worry about it, you can treat it as an ordinary story if you wish.

Where/how can one buy this thing?

There's an online store with various versions of the game and spinoffs: http://www.age-soft.co.jp/dlstore/

But the games have never officially been released in English and I don't know if it's even possible to buy them outside Japan. AFAIK most English speakers download a torrent which contains a pirated version of the disk images plus a tool to automatically patch in the English text. If you can manage to buy the Japanese version you can also find and install the translation patch separately, but IIRC the translation patch is only compatible with the older version, not the version that was remade for better Windows 7 compatibility.