October 2012 Media Thread

by RobertLumley1 min read1st Oct 201297 comments

6

Personal Blog

This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. I find that exposure to LW ideas makes me less likely to enjoy some entertainment media that is otherwise quite popular, and finding media recommended by LWers is a good way to mitigate this. 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.

Rules:

  • 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 use the comment trees for genres. There is a meta thread for comments about future threads.
  • If you have a thread to add, such as a video game thread or an Anime thread, please post it to the Other Media thread for now, and add a poll to the Meta thread asking if it should be a thread every month.

 

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Non-Fiction Books Thread

4beoShaffer8yI've been on a bit of a Feynman binge recently. I strongly recommend "Surely you're joking Mr.Feynman" and "What do you care what other people think?" Less strongly recommend, but still recommend, "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track". Previous review [http://lesswrong.com/lw/9t4/february_2012_media_thread/5ur1]. All of them give significant insight into the mind of one of the master traditional rationalists and are quite funny. The first two, do better than the last one in both respects.
4RobertLumley8yI second Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman and What do you care what other people think? I expect most LWers have read them, but they were absolutely fantastic if you haven't. I can't recommend them strongly enough.
1iDante8yGenius by James Gleick is excellent. It's a pretty dense biography, but well worth it.
2drethelin8yAfter Yvain posted about it I read the Nurture Assumption and No Two Alike in quick succession and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. They've got the all-important trait of having dozens and dozens of citations for every point that I find both useful and interesting in pop-sci books, and are written in fairly good conversational style.
1djcb8yDave Grossman - On Killing [http://www.amazon.com/On-Killing-Psychological-Learning-Society/dp/0316040932/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349856432&sr=8-1&keywords=on+killing] After reading quite a few books relating to military matters (including some which glorify the whole business a bit -- say, "No easy day" or "American sniper"), it seemed good to look a bit deeper into the minds of soldiers -- "On Killing" is all about what goes through the heads of men whose job it is to kill. An interesting fact seems to be that at most 20% or so of American WW2 soldiers fired at the enemy; and this number seems to be consistent with other armies / history (there is no hard evidence, but some indications). Reason for this seems to be a mental barrier most people have against killing. Another interesting observation is that Skinnerian operant conditioning has raised that number to ~ 90% in the Vietnam war. Useful for the war effort, but, as the book suggests, killing comes back to haunt the killer after the war (and esp. in the Vietnam conflict it was made worse by the way the troops returned -- this explains many of the psychological problems veterans face). Interesting read -- the last part about violent movies / video games seemed a bit redundant, and it'd be interesting to see an update on this '95 book.
1Jabberslythe8yAlso I read "Judgement Misguided" and it is one of the best books on Metaethics I've ever read. It's about how moral judgements are particularly prone to bias and how unbiased moral judgement resembles consequentialism/utilitarianism.
1AlexMennen8yMeasurement [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0674057554] by Paul Lockhart, a book on geometry for those who have little background in mathematics. I have not actually read it, but I have heard it hyped quite a bit by people who know what they're talking about, and I'm quite prepared to believe that it is excellent given that it was written by the author of A Mathematician's Lament [http://www.maa.org/devlin/lockhartslament.pdf]. If you are already a math expert, you might not get much out of this, but if you want to become a math expert, I recommend it.
1bramflakes8yThe Collapse of Complex Societies, it's kind of dry but a very interesting look at the mechanics of societal expansion and contraction. He dispenses with a lot of popular notions of why the Roman Empire in particular collapsed with excellent clarity, but goes further than that and proposes a general theory of collapse that applies to societies of all types, even hunter gatherers. I haven't finished it yet however, and since I'm not particularly knowledgeable about archaeology or economics I don't know how well it fares against other works in the genre.
0djcb8yRead Frans de Waal's Our inner ape [http://www.amazon.com/Our-Inner-Ape-Primatologist-Explains/dp/1594481962/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349856138&sr=8-1&keywords=inner+ape] Frans de Waal looks at primates (primarily, chimpanzees and bonobos) at some of human nature -- in particular, sex, violence and morality. The stories about ape behavior are really fascinating, and may tell us a bit about our own behavior. De Waal suggests that some of our behavior has counterparts in chimpanzees and bonobos, the latter being more aggressive (even violent, cruel) and competitive, and the second being more social. I didn't like De Waal's extrapolations into human politics and society, or his snide remarks towards Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, apparently mostly because he did not like the title. And the circular reasoning, "Morality needs emotions, because Mr. Spocks's pure-logic morality doesn't feel right". So, in summary -- Overall, an enjoyable read, and De Waal is best when he discusses apes. (Note: primates such as bonobos, chimpanzees and gorilla's are apes, they get annoyed when you call them monkeys)
0lukeprog8yMETA: I would love it if you also ran a monthly or quarterly "Anticipated Media Thread", where people could post links to media they're looking forward to being released in the next few months, broken into categories just as you do with these Media threads.
4RobertLumley8yIs there any reason that couldn't go in here? I don't see much point in having two threads.
0Jabberslythe8yI would recommend most anything by Desmond Morris the Zoologist and Ethologist. Most of his books are about the human species and the insight per page ratio is very high. They are all very readable as well. He does seem to be too confident about some claims he makes, however. It would be nice if he noted that some of the claims that he makes would be controversial in his field. I particularly enjoyed "Catwatching".
0David_Gerard8yWhy Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. Can usefully be regarded as one of a pair with Dawkins' The Greatest Show On Earth.
0palladias8yThe Destiny of the Republic. I did not know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the metal detector specifically to find Guiteau's bullet in President Garfield's body. It's an interesting history of science/history of medicine book (this is the assassination where Guiteau's defence was that he only shot the Prez and it was the doctors who killed him).

I enjoyed the interview of Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter on Charlierose.com

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12557

He emphasized that what worries him the most is how to keep the balance between courage and focus in his company.

Courage = Try new bold ideas, don't just try to protect what you already have or being doing something

Focus = Having courage and at the same time being aware of the fact that you can't try everything and every new thing, so you need to set limit and boundaries.

0RobertLumley8yHey, in the future can you use the comment threads? I'm just now noticing this because I never got a notification for it, but if you post in those threads, at least one person (me) is guaranteed to read it. :-)
[-][anonymous]8y 0

Dave Grossman - On Killing

After reading quite a few books relating to military matters (including some which glorify the whole business a bit -- say, "No easy day" or "American sniper"), it seemed good to look a bit deeper into the minds of soldiers -- "On Killing" is all about what goes through the heads of men whose job it is to kill.

An interesting fact seems to be that at most 20% or so of American WW2 soldiers fired at the enemy; and this number seems to be consistent with other armies / history (there is no hard evidence,... (read more)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Fiction Books Thread

4palladias8yLet me warn the Harry Potter nerds off of The Casual Vacancy. The plurality of the book is Dursleyish people having unpleasant sex.
4NancyLebovitz8yIt's somewhat better than that, but it's basically about various ways that cooperation can fail. It's not just the sex that was unpleasant.
2MileyCyrus8yCould someone recommend a fun romance novel? Preferably heterosexual with some dominance/submission.
2arundelo8yDisclaimer: I have read very little romance. Also I'm not particularly into the dominance/submission dynamic. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is theO.G. [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=OG] of romance novels. It's funny and engaging and has well-drawn characters. No dominance stuff though. Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is a good read (with obvious cultural baggage) that has a bit of this dynamic between Rhett and Scarlett. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is not a romance per se, but the romantic subplot is full of power games. Rand is a love-or-hate author. If you read the first chapter and you don't like it you probably won't like the rest. If you decide not to read the whole book, though, then before putting it down you might as well skip ahead to the (in)famous scene in Chapter II of Part 2. Trigger warning for sex that a fly on the wall would find indistinguishable from rape.
1MileyCyrus8yHmm, maybe I'll read P&P since it comes free on the Kindle.
1Alicorn8ySharon Shinn writes speculative fiction, and most of it's pretty heavy on the romance, all heterosexual so far as I can remember. I don't know if it'll push your BDSM buttons - there's nothing explicitly like that I can think of, although she does tend to throw characters into weird not-necessarily-sexual power dynamics, does that count? Start with Archangel.
0MileyCyrus8yThanks! I'll check it out.
1palladias8yKushiel's Dart (but not the sequels). The worldbuilding is delightful.
3Scott Alexander8yHow strange! I had the exact opposite experience. By mistake I read Scion first. I then went in order, got to the end, and looped around to Dart. I thought Scion stood on its own extremely well and have been recommending friends start with it; I was almost unable to finish Dart and dismissed it as "Guess she hadn't learned how to write yet". (My friend who started with Scion on my advice also ended up enjoying them all except Dart, and I suggested to Alicorn that she not start with Dart, she refused my suggestion, and then she disliked Dart and didn't read the others which was my prediction all along.) Kushiel's Avatar continues to be my favorite of all of them, and the new Naamah series isn't bad either.
0Alicorn8yI started the next one, but haven't finished it yet, may yet plod through to get to the later ones if I am bored on an airplane in the future.
2Alicorn8yI have not enjoyed these books at all. Kushiel's Dart's virtues, while not nonexistent, probably don't include something best described as "fun" - it is not light or humorous or particularly merry.
1palladias8yI liked all the descriptions of how the different parts of society work logistically.
0MileyCyrus8yGood catch! I'm just trying to ease into the romance literature as I've never read one before. But I thought I might enjoy one because of how often I fantasize about being married.
1palladias8yIf you're interested in romance->marriage, you may actually like Amish romance novels [http://www.salon.com/2012/09/01/amish_fiction_put_a_bonnet_on_it/].
1MileyCyrus8yWill check it out, thank you!
0arundelo8yOf course not many romance novels are about married characters! :-)
1MileyCyrus8yReally?? Shows how little I know :(
2negamuhia8yRudy Rucker's Ware Tetralogy. I'm thisclose to starting Freeware. I'm about to finish book 2 (The Golden Apple) of the Illuminatus! Trilogy...in fact that's what I'm currently reading... :) I just got Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross...haven't got around to reading it yet though... And I have about 39 fiction+nonfiction books on my current reading list, so...phew....
3gwern8yI read Rapture recently [http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/416512247].
1Bill_McGrath8yI love the Illuminatus! trilogy. I have a soft spot for Discordian ideas in general, actually.
2drethelin8yStarfish by Peter Watts is an awesome novel about transhumanism and broken people and societies. It's got unlikable (as people) characters that you grow to love and a very thought out and unique setting. I can't say I enjoyed the sequel as much, though the concept of Guilt Trip is pretty awesome, and I didn't get more than a chapter or so into the third book. But I strongly recommend Starfish on its own.
1[anonymous]8yI've started reading Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. The first section, while plagued with Ye Olde Australian, managed to hook me, so unless it's quite awful I imagine I'll finish reading it. It comes somewhat recommended from my boyfriend, who claims there's no way they'll be able to competently turn it into a screenplay.
1[anonymous]8yFinished the rest of it tonight. Boyfriend correct on all counts (as he tends to be). Attempt at a spoiler-free stream-of-consciousness review (hey, it's 0153 here) follows: Written transcriptions of various accents are abundant, but they are somewhat necessary to the plot and not terribly grating. That, or reading too much Homestuck has dulled my sensitivity. The six narratives have to be connected, of course, and some of the connections are much more contrived than others. Weird use of the word orison. At one point the author cops out of a contrived scene by having the POV character reveal that they knew it was contrived all along; now that I think of it this happens at least three times -- perhaps it counts as a motif? A bit preachy toward the end and in the middle. One of the narratives is told as an interview dialog, and in my opinion the format stunts the plot's growth. It's a bit like Christian Bale's performance in Equilibrium. Some LW-tropeage on synthetic humans, more or less coextensive with the economy of ems and so on. Existential risk shows up in the middle two narratives, but isn't played for keeps. I'll probably read Number9Dream at some point, and perhaps Ghostwritten.
1RomeoStevens8yFiction on mind merging seems high on mysteriousness and hand-waving and low on plausible speculation in my experience. Anyone have any recommendations?
5NexH8yThe short story Closer [http://eidolon.net/?story=Closer&pagetitle=Closer&section=fiction] by Greg Egan deals with the subject.
1Bakkot8yundefined
1FiftyTwo8yit says it follows another fic called "Theft absolute," is reading of that necessary?
0Bakkot8yundefined
0Alicorn8yIt seems to just be a short description of where the fic AU diverges from canon. It's worth reading if you're going to read the rest; it's very brief.
1FiftyTwo8yThe Laundry Files by Charles Stross, [http://www.amazon.co.uk/Atrocity-Archives-Laundry-Files/dp/1841495697] basic premise, advanced mathematics and computing can summon lovecraftion monstrosities. Spy drama, parody of beaurocracy and an interesting take on the history of the 20th century. There's a short story free online [http://www.tor.com/stories/2008/07/down-on-the-farm] (no massive spoilers) and the main novel series is available on Amazon.
7[comment deleted]8y
3[anonymous]8yI enjoyed The 2nd Law by Muse, but I'm kind-of peeved by the fact that they seem to be overlooking the fact that the Earth isn't an isolated system, and so what they say about isolated systems doesn't directly apply to Earth (but see this [http://lesswrong.com/lw/bp0/exponential_economist_meets_finite_physicist_link/] ). (OTOH, they do kind-of have a point, so I'm willing to write this off as poetic licence.)
2pragmatist8yIl Giardino Armonico [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Giardino_Armonico] has some excellent recordings of baroque music. I'm usually not a fan of period instrument performances, but this stuff really works for me. You still have to deal with the blatty horns, which I really detest, but the rest of it is great. Doesn't sound "thin" like some other period instrument recordings. Their Brandenburgs [http://www.amazon.com/Bach-Brandenburg-Concertos-Giardino-armonico/dp/B000000SRC/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1349192929&sr=1-3&keywords=il+giardino+armonico] are among the best I've heard, up there with Marriner. Here's a Youtube link [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J7fm12H1HI] to a performance of the fourth concerto, but that performance is unfortunately not nearly as good as the one on the recording. They even bring something fresh and exciting to really tired old chestnuts. Their version of The Four Seasons [http://www.amazon.com/Vivaldi-Four-Seasons-Antonio/dp/B000000SPU/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1349194014&sr=1-2&keywords=il+giardino+armonico] is marvellous and unlike anything else out there. Check it out here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASSbHLQ3KGY&playnext=1&list=PLAC57A5E6DBA63A11&feature=results_video] , and compare with a more traditional (but still excellent) version [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-dYNttdgl0] (Itzhak Perlman with the Israel Philharmonic). For an even more tired chestnut made fresh, see their version of Pachelbel's canon [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y7b0Y-Qx7E].
1iDante8yListening to a lot of piano music lately and looking for suggestions. Scott [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDxRpSAtB4U] Joplin [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsgJd0YikEg] has always been a favorite [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzpDzikeO-U] of mine. I linked my favorite 3 songs of his other than the two that everyone knows. I also love Chopin.
4[anonymous]8yGlad to see one of those links is Magnetic Rag. That's my favorite. Most people I know who like Chopin also like Rachmaninoff (his Preludes [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXU7I_Yyi2Y] are a good [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RICGqS2UtmU] place [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zW0naZwyGA] to start; if you don't mind a cellist joining in, the Cello Sonata is amazing) and Brahms (Op. 118 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nexldBRyhU] is a favorite). I also recommend everyone listen to Schubert's Sonata D. 960 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbJtHzaFpBQ] no matter what else they like. Lately I haven't been playing much besides Scriabin's early works. I don't think he gets enough credit -- there's a lot there. The Op. 11 Preludes [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc3ph3jGy_M] are a good starting point. (The Op. 8 Etudes, the first three sonatas, the Sonata-Fantasie, and Fantaisie in B Minor are the others I'm slowly working through. He's probably my favorite composer at this point.) Are you interested in contemporary classical? Rzewski is fantastic. Try listening to Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDNy4YuCxdk] or The People United Will Never Be Defeated (8-video live performance [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s0H38-NJe8&list=PL12AA7725E96A9E75&feature=plcp] , or a good recording in a single chunk [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHRFLwQbQPI] ). As far as stuff more like Joplin, you might like Art Tatum [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfrieOk6Q8w]. I'm less knowledgeable in that arena (not that I really know that much about classical music).
0iDante8yMagnetic Rag is my favorite too :D Thanks for the recommendations!
2pragmatist8yMurray Perahia playing Bach is always fantastic. I particularly recommend his recordings of the partitas (here's a performance of one of them [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZuklNdjCN4]). Also good are his English suites [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVshvYVpOBM] and Goldberg variations [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwEsrdClimk]. Perahia's Bach is lyrical and contemplative, probably more Chopin-esque than other interpretations (to the extent that Bach can be Chopin-esque). I suspect you'll like Scarlatti. I recommend Yevgeny Sudbin's [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeC5BUkoMBc] recording of his sonatas. I don't listen to much ragtime, but if you're into bop, I highly recommend Thelonious [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VutOIlxRJaQ] Monk [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9PRxunAfgU] and Bud [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSC_abOuXrA] Powell [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARfHJe2h5B8&feature=related]. Since you like solo piano, get the album Monk Alone [http://www.amazon.com/Monk-Alone-Recordings-Thelonious-1962-1968/dp/B000007NAC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349203365&sr=8-1&keywords=monk+alone] . It's so good. Also, "Thelonious Monk" has to be the most bad-ass name ever.
0iDante8yThank you. I really like the first few you posted, and I'll check out the rest. Don't know why you had a downvote...
0pragmatist8yPerhaps someone disagrees that "Thelonious Monk" is the most bad-ass name ever? I have had vicious arguments with "Wolf Blitzer" advocates before.
0Bill_McGrath8yBrahms' Rhapsody in G minor [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr2q8-Sr__A] is wonderful, the other one in the set is good too. One of my favourite pieces of all time is Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata (1st movement here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79gzdskOGu4]). For more contemporary stuff, I can't recommend Ligeti's solo piano music enough. Etude 13 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZTaiDHqs5s] is in large part responsible for me getting into contemporary music, and thus, becoming a composer. EDIT: Also, John Field [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBV_pTsom2Q] was a big influence on Chopin; he's credited with inventing the nocturne form I think. Not as virtuosic though, if that's what you're into.
0lukeprog8yAlex Altair introduced me to Pegboard Nerds [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5VJX9kYf3Q].
0negamuhia8yI've been listening to Sphongle a lot lately... the two albums Nothing Lasts and Are You Sphogled? have some pretty gnarfy Muzaks... Also, though this has been a constant in my life since about 4 years ago, Juno Reactor's Gods and Monsters... Beethoven's 9th (my favourite), via Gunter Wand [http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Symphonies-Nos-G%C3%BCnter-Edition/dp/B00005QHV5] .The Social Network's OST is also quite nice.... Question: Who loves chiptune [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI2Wo0vkXbQ]?
0tim8y*Shpongle Would second the recommendation if you like weird psychedelic/trancey music.

Movies and Television Thread

8gwern8yI marathoned Fate/Zero overnight; it was awesome and makes up for Fate/Stay Night - I'm a big fan of shows that grind down and destroy characters, and now I understand why a lot of people like Eliezer are fans of Kiritsugu. That said, there were some obvious writing errors (eg. Kiritsugu arranging for his lackey to kill a character within seconds of signing a magically binding contract to not intend his death! -_-), the first episodes were bad data dumps, and I still don't get the ending with the rejection of the Grail. It seems to have been some sort of straw utilitarianism. Eh.
2ArisKatsaris8ySynchronicity! I'll second all of the above, and indeed I intended (and neglected) to make a comment about Fate/Zero, as I recently saw it. Fate/Zero finally made me realize why Kiritsugu was a somewhat appropriate name for that particular SuperHappy faction... And I recommend people to see it first, I think. There's no need to drudge through the nonsense of the Fate/Stay night anime -- I think that pretty much all that's good in Fate/stay night is even better in Fate/Zero, and Fate/Zero rids itself of the bad... And I loved seeing a character who was almost pure consequentialist, a man who could indeed shut-up-and-multiply, to not be treated as a villain, even when his attitude comes in conflict with more rule-bound "honorable" heroes...
1[anonymous]8yI'm not entirely sure what to make of the consequentialism thing. It came across more of a curse than anything else, and the bit at the end seemed to imply that it was supposed to be actually a bad thing.
2[anonymous]8yOne problem with Fate/Zero is that it expects the audience to have seen FSN and played through most of the visual novel paths. The Grail is tainted with the evil of Angra Mainyu [http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Avenger\_\(Fate/hollow\_ataraxia\]), which makes it into an antagonistic wish-granting device. I'd imagine that no matter what wish one brought to it, it would interpret in such a way as to harm humanity to the fullest extent. That doesn't constitute a dismissal of Kiritsugu's philosophy. It's a warning against wish-granting devices. Like telling Belgarath not to use his power when he doesn't know how the universe will implement it [http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5389450/1/The\_Finale\_of\_the\_Ultimate\_Meta\_Mega\_Crossover] .
1ArisKatsaris8yI disagree with this -- in fact I think some criticized it for spending time enough to introduce new watchers who had never seen F/SN(and in fact I recommend people to watch Fate/Zero first. Though personally I had indeed watched F/SN first, several years back) Without having known anything about Angra Mainyu, and never played the visual novels, I still got that with all its tentacliness and black-ooziness and the human-sacrifice needingness of the thing, it was really more of an Unholy Grail than a Holy one; malicious, not just ruthless like Kiritsugu...
1ArisKatsaris8yI don't think Kiritsugu ever abandons his consequentialism; he just abandons one particular path which he realizes will have bad consequences... but the anime is really ambiguous on this.
1[anonymous]8yI think the contract thing can work out. All the arranging was done in advance, so if his goal of having the character die is magically removed after the completion of the contract, he's fine unless a a goal of actively saving his life is also magically added.
0gwern8yPerhaps there was a nuance in the original Japanese, but as I read the deal in the fansub and thought about exactly the question "are there any loopholes in this?", I was sure that the answer was no and the language completely excluded any clever tricks Kiritsugu pulled or could pull... until I saw that the shooter was Maiya (rather than any other faction), at which point I was furious. (And if the contracts are that easy to subvert, Lord Kenneth should have easily spotted the loophole as a pretty devious and experienced mage himself.)
2[anonymous]8yI'm also a bit skeptical about the contract implementation, but from a plot perspective it doesn't matter very much. Even with Excalibur sealed and her left hand disabled, Saber outclasses Lancer. Even without the self-Geis scroll, Kayneth has no other option for evading Kiritsugu. It was probably still a bad writing decision to add a plot hole simply to make Kiritsugu look badass. (A better subversion, IMO, would have been to have Kiritsugu not inherit the Emiya family crest -- which is what it looks like from the perspective of Fate/Zero anyway. Then the self-Geis fails for a reason Kayneth may have genuinely not known.) The bigger WTF, in my mind, is why Saber's left hand was injured at all. That whole sequence required her to hold the Idiot Ball twice. Where did she ever get the idea that Servants only have one Noble Phantasm? And since when does her magical armor slow her down? Argh....
0gwern8yI largely agree with your points. Further, Kiritsugu explains his goal as eliminating master & servant simultaneously, but this seems entirely unnecessary. You should prefer to eliminate a servant first, so it can't contract with another master or act as a free agent, and also eliminate a master so they can't hang around and fight you or contract with a spare servant - but there's no need to do them simultaneously in the same battle, and with Kayneth there was even less need: he was completely crippled physically & magically, so he could neither fight nor, I think, contract again! I think I'm going to leave this as a plot hole like in Death Note. Yes, it may be 'cool' that Near just magically deduces who Mikami is. But it's still stupid and unnecessary.
0[anonymous]8yEven if he couldn't fight or contract again, couldn't he still have given away his Command Seals to someone else, if he hadn't been forced to use them all up?
0gwern8yMy impression was that unused Command Seals automatically went back to the Church, so he wouldn't have them to give away.
5DanPeverley8y"Legend of the Galactic Heroes" is the kind of show I would like people to imagine I was watching when I say I've been watching anime. To start with the things I don't like about it, or that are in any way suboptimal: The animation is an example of a lot of what's wrong with old school anime productions; choppy movements and stock footage abound. There are plenty of strawmen who seem to exist purely to be taken down a notch by the better, more reasonable characters, the idiot ball bounces its merry way through the ranks of secondary characters like a children's sing along movie. There is a whole lot of improbable and just plain stupid pseudoscience, and little attempt is made at making it make logical sense. This is space opera, not science fiction. Occasionally the Japanese writers fanboy on German-style culture too hard, which combined with themes of military rule and strong blond and blue eyed characters receiving salutes from crowds of uniformed soldiers may make casual viewers wonder if the show promotes fascism (It doesn't. Sort of. It's complicated). With all of that said, I highly recommend this show. It doesn't take the easy way out of having a clear good vs. evil conflict. On one side there is the Free Planet's Alliance, a corrupt and bloated democracy, and on the other is the Galactic Empire, a military aristocracy which has given in to decadence and forsaken noblesse oblige. The actions of the characters within each faction highlight the issues of authoritarian and democratic government, but neither side is explicitly right or wrong. Individual characters have different conceptions of morality, many of which conflict, and many of which are sympathetic. Oberstein, a grey-eyed spy-master and bureaucrat of the Empire, is hated by his own compatriots for his ruthlessness, but does everything out of a sense of utilitarian calculation. If a thousand civilian lives lost to an attack could save hundreds of thousands in the long term, he will push the fat man i
5lukeprog8yLooper was pretty great.
1Kevin8yThe Master is the best serious drama I've seen in years.
1Nic_Smith8yI have mixed feelings about Casshern Sins, which I watched over the weekend. It has an excellent soundtrack, kind of neat figure-it-out plot, and a surreal dreamlike quality that reminds me (a lot!) of Squall's Dead [http://squallsdead.com/]. That said, the resolution to the puzzles don't really make any sense (it seems halfway plausible at the end that, in-universe, eating Casshern really would grant immortality -- it's certainly no stranger than the ruin being caused by nyy gur qrngu rfpncvat sebz Yhan jura fur jnf xvyyrq), and characters and perhaps the series over all are engure rkcyvpvgyl qrnguvfg, bs gur fvyyvrfg "qrngu tvirf zrnavat gb yvsr" glcr.
0NancyLebovitz8yFrankenweenie. I'm not going to say it's Bayesian or materialist, but it's very definite that accepting death is bad. It's charmingly visually grotesque and beautifully filmed (Tim Burton), and a good bit of fun.
0palladias8yI find The Thick of It delightful (half hour episodes of British politicking and cursing extravagantly). It's on Hulu.
0Risto_Saarelma8yBased on the pilot episode with a very special game of chicken, the new Last Resort TV show seems promising. The initial premise is basically The Hunt for Red October meets Lost minus the supernatural elements. It's also the sort of show that can turn into a complete mess if the writers don't have a good handle on running the larger story arc.

Other Media Thread

3ShardPhoenix8yAnyone who's a fan of Star Trek, Firefly, etc, and likes (or doesn't mind) challenging games should play indie PC game FTL. It's a really fun and well-designed pseudo-Roguelike about managing a small spaceship as it races through space fighting and exploring, and is only $10 on Steam or from http://www.ftlgame.com/ [http://www.ftlgame.com/] . I've seen several people describe FTL as "the game I didn't know I always wanted", and I felt the same. It's also good practice for risk and crisis management - there's a lot of literal putting out of fires :).
2Kindly8ya.k.a. "Oregon Trail... IN SPACE!"
1ShardPhoenix8yIs that supposed to be good or bad? I liked Oregon Trail a bit as a child but I like this game far more. It doesn't really seem like a good analogy to me either - both involve a journey, random encounters, and probable death of characters, but other than that the mechanics are completely different.
1Kindly8yI think one could make a faithful recreation of Oregon Trail with more or less the gameplay of FTL. It's the game Oregon Trail should have been.
0Kevin8yI am now describing FTL as Oregon Trail meets Rogue meets Escape Velocity.
1Kevin8yThanks! I'm definitely looking forward to the LW 0x10c guild...
1lukeprog8yThe Rules of the Game Called Psychological Science [http://www.bdat.nl/Bakker%20Van%20Dijk%20Wicherts%202012.pdf].
1beoShaffer8yThis article about envy free cake division/introductory mathematical dispute resolution [http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A27360038#back1] is pretty cool. For that matter h2g2, as a whole is worth checking out, abliet less relevant to LW. What To Do in the Face of Certain and Imminent Death [http://www.h2g2.com/approved_entry/A18778747] is particularly good.
0lukeprog8yRationality and Charity [http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~pthagard/Articles/rationality-charity.pdf]: Found while looking for literature on optimal philanthropy. :)
0lukeprog8ySkepticism about Philosophy [http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Brennan-Scepticism-about-philosophy.pdf] .
0magfrump8yThe following youtube video: Oppa Bill-Nye Style [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHOVRhN5yTA&feature=player_embedded] may be relevant to the interests of many here.
1carey8yGreat thread. Separate movies from TV I think. I am trying to find movies for LW/THINK meetups and all I see is anime. Lots of appealing premises end up being of too short a length to be able to share in a meetup environment.