November 2014 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read1st Nov 2014155 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.
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Short Online Texts Thread

[-][anonymous]6y 11

I'm always so impressed by how much you contribute to these threads. Thanks.

5CellBioGuy6yI am living this reality every day...
-2zslastman6yHere here...
0Gunnar_Zarncke6yWhy did you call the Google article "exit, voice, and loyalty"? That's the title of a book by Hirschman and on first skimming it seems to be related but I don't understand why exactly you chose that line.
0gwern6yI'm implying that Hirschman's classification offers some insight into the dynamics of that incident; if you aren't familiar with it, it's probably an opaque allusion. (I wouldn't say it's a great book: it's a good trichotomy, but it doesn't really merit a whole book and would be better off as an article. On the other hand, it's not a very long book.)

"The Acquired Immune System: A Vantage from Beneath", Hedrick 2004 (immune systems as parasites; excerpts)

I absolutely loved this. The concept of the adaptive immune system as something that gives the ability to get a slight advantage over your conspecifics, at the expense of selecting your pathogens to be more virulent such that loss of the adaptive system becomes fatal, reminds me forcefully of all sorts of things in prokaryotic and eukaryotic genome structure. Things that happen because they can and then get locked in place by other things built on top of them even though they themselves are harmful, or sheer selfish elements. Like poison/antidote pairs of genes in bacteria that stick around even though they increase average generation time because fluctuations in the levels of the two make a small fraction of bacteria grow extra slowly and be stress-resistant, or the evolution of the spliceosome to make sure self-splicing introns always leave leading to vertebrate genes that are 90% spliceosome-requiring introns, or the sheer abundance of transposons that make up more than half of our genomes...

3polymathwannabe6yDo you actually read that amount of links every month? If so, can I borrow your time-turner?
4gwern6yDon't tell anyone, but I've been stealing links from previous months to pad out the compilations, compensate for month to month variance, and create a sort of link directory.
2Salemicus6yI thought the Dominic Cummings post, in particular, was excellent. Perhaps the best blogpost I've read this year. I've already recommended it to several other people. But, warning: * It is perhaps over-long * If you are not British, it is possible you will be missing important context
1[anonymous]6yThe deliberate practice link is dead for me, but this works. []
2NancyLebovitz6yTwo more about deliberate practice: The Sports Gene [] -- debunks some of the research-- there's a lot of variation, not a simple requirement of 10K hours. Also, elite achievement in at least some sports requires very specific physical qualities. Effortless Mastery [] -- a jazz musician develops a system of deliberate practice on his own in the 80s/early 90s. He works earlier in the process of taking action by teaching a meditative state, then teaching how to maintain it as one plays. This isn't easy-- the first challenge is maintaining a meditative state while touching one's instrument.
2NancyLebovitz6yAlso, even if it's true that all masters have put in 10K hours of deliberate practice, this is not equivalent to the idea that anyone who puts in 10K hours of deliberate practice can become a master, nor is it equivalent to the idea that anyone can become a master at anything (or anything physically plausible) with 10K hours. This being said, I still believe (without evidence) that putting in some deliberate practice on whatever you care about is a good idea.
1[anonymous]6yA fun link: this guy [] is racking up 10000 hours golfing, with no previous experience.

Nonfiction Books Thread

4sixes_and_sevens6yI finally got around to reading Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save []. I'm pretty much sold on the whole Effective Altruism venture, but I found the book quite disappointing. The chapters on arguments for greater charitable giving don't go far beyond appeals to moral intuition, and Singer's rebuttals to common counterarguments focus on arguments that seem particularly weak. I was expecting something a bit more robust from a professional moral philosopher. There are some reasonable bits on foreign aid, development economics and establishing new cultural standards of charitable giving. The parts about loudly publicising one's charitable giving has the same sort of tone and content as LW material on the subject. It clocks in at 176 pages excluding the endnotes, so it gains points for conciseness. I wouldn't say it's an especially sophisticated treatment of the subject, though, and you're probably not missing much if you skip it. Read the Call of Soares [] or pretty much anything by Scott on practical solutions to abstruse utilitarian problems [] instead.
3sixes_and_sevens6yIt's been praised elsewhere on LW, but I found Stephen Pinker's The Sense of Style [] to be a worthwhile, entertaining and educational read.
1gwern6yNonfiction: * Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance [] , Gleeson-White 2012 (review []) * Fascinating Mathematical People [] , ed Albers 2011 (review [])

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

5moreati6yEx Machina (IMDB []) looks like AI Box Experiment: The Movie. It's due for release in Jan 2015. Synopsis: The trailer contains a possible spoiler: V guvax V fnj n tyvzcfr bs gur lbhat cebtenzzre jvgu na negvsvpvny obql.

Fiction Books Thread

6ShardPhoenix6yThe Magician's Land is the third and final book in Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy. For those who haven't heard of the series, it's basically a dark take on the Chronicles of Narnia (with some Harry Potter-ish elements) featuring disaffected college students rather than kids. I found this one to be a quite satisfying conclusion. Where the second book felt like less than the sum of its parts to me, this one was very tight. If you found the first book too negative, this one is a lot more optimistic in the end (though not surprisingly there's still plenty of darkness along the way).
4gwern6y* Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria ("The Empty Box and The Zeroth Maria") [] ( review [])
2spxtr6yThe Slow Regard of Silent Things [] is a novella about Auri from the Kingkiller Chronicles. There's not really a plot. I loved it.
1bbleeker6yI'm reading it right now, I love it too!
1Baughn6yI/O Revision II [], a visual novel. It has been translated, though unfortunately I can't link to the translation. The story is unusual, and very, very hard to explain without spoiling it; let's just say that if you like Greg Egan's works, there's a good chance you will like this.
2lmm6yJust following links from your link, the translation is at []
2Baughn6ySpecifically, the reason I couldn't link to the translation is that doing so is illegal in some countries, possibly including the one where this site is hosted. Following links is not, so maybe you can amend your post to just mention that it's possible?
5lmm6yMeh. I very much doubt the site cares (gwern links to a bunch of music remixes every month, for example). An admin can delete my post if LW is really bothered.
0Ritalin6ySo I just finished reading Fate Stay Night, and I feel hungry for more, but its sequels are a lot more silly and laid back, and what I want isn't the easy familiarity of characters whose tales are already told, but the poignant drama and character development, and the poetic narrative delivery, that I'd never experienced before. Does anyone here know stories that have this type of heart-gripping-ness?
0gwern6yHave you considered other VNs? You could look at the top rated VNs [;o=d] on VNdb and see whether they sound dramatic enough for you; for example, Umineko (although I'm not sure [] if I recommend it or not).

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

6lmm6yMy group finished our Summer season last week: * Akuma no Riddle: awful, the worst show I've watched all the way through. Incoherent setting, implausibly stupid characters, cheap and mistake-ridden animation, and an ending that's actively hostile to the rest of the show. * Knights of Sidonia: half good, quite hard sci-fi, half staid harem antics. My friend insists on comparing it to Attack on Titan, which I don't think is entirely fair (Sidonia has a coherent setting that drives the plot while being amenable to reasoning), but it shares that series' problem of a boring perfect protagonist. There are some questionable aspects to the ordering and where time is spent (it feels like the series is trying to establish a B-plot about Sidonia's history and an ongoing conspiracy, but it never quite connects to anything else), but the main plot is solid and the fight action is a lot of fun. It's done in all-3DCG, which makes the robot fights look great and the people look weird (I quite like it, but I know some people who hate the look). I do recommend it, but it's got plenty of flaws. * Katanagatari - talky action with a weird visual style. The overarching plot doesn't really click IMO, but the episodic "get to know a person, fight them, do something clever and take their sword" is plenty of fun, and together with the high production values I'm happy to recommend it. * Toradora - a rewatch of a series I counted among my favourites. It holds up - a story of teenage love, discovering what you want and learning how to relate to your family, with a good sense of humour and a very satisfying conclusion by anime standards. But it definitely has its flaws; the pacing is off (the first ~9 episodes are basically establishing, which is way too long, and the twists crammed into the last two episodes should be spread out a bit more; by modern standards the whole thing drags), and the second half in particular is stru
3Artaxerxes6yI think I might like Toradora a tiny bit less than you, but apart from that, I'm surprised to agree with pretty much everything you've said on these particular titles. I didn't watch Akuma all the way through though, I figured it was trash about 2 minutes into the first episode and dropped it without looking back. Although your friend is right about Kishi, it's pretty much AoT in space in terms of premise.
1lmm6yYeah, I would've dropped it if I could, but others at my weekly anime insisted. There are two things that I seem to value more than other people: coherency of the setting, and animation quality, and both of them are areas where I think Sidonia is far ahead of AoT. The setting of AoT is ludicrous enough that I can't apply logic to it; the big reveal at the end of the series didn't make me go "ah" but rather "wtf, that's dumb". Sidonia doesn't stretch my suspension of disbelief anywhere near as much; the materials science that would produce something that could stand up to planet-busting weapons is a bit implausible, but not too much. We've been able to predict things that happened later in the series by thinking about the setting. On the animation front, Sidonia's may well be a budget-saving measure but it looks different rather than AoTs excess of still frames, which just looked cheap. There's some similarity sure, but the differences are significant, at least to me.
4ShardPhoenix6yThe new Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works [] TV adaptation by Ufotable is only 5 episodes in but so far it's an amazingly good adaption of the VN. (From what I hear, previous adaptations weren't too good). Important elements are preserved, long-windedness is reduced (although the show is willing to take its time and rarely feels rushed), and the new added scenes complement the existing ones nicely. There are also some nice callbacks to Fate/Zero that (naturally) weren't in the VN. The animation [] is incredible, perhaps the best I've seen in TV anime, and a step up from the already high level of Fate/Zero. Highly recommended if you have any interest in the Fate series.
6lfghjkl6yFor those who aren't aware, Fate/stay night (the visual novel) has been mentioned/recommended here before in Eliezer's Three Worlds Collide short story []: Reading the visual novel can take some time, so anyone who isn't interested in that should really consider watching this TV adaption instead. Personally, I found Unlimited Blade Works to be the best part of Fate/stay night (closely followed by Heaven's Feel, which they've also promised to make a TV adaption of), so you wouldn't be missing too much in my opinion.
2Ritalin6yYou know, it may well actually make it to 'acclaimed univesal classic' status. It's tremendously good stuff.
2[anonymous]6yYou probably already know all of this, but for the sake of completeness, IMHO ( Thar be spoliers below!): The original eroge novel had (as is the tradition) several endings and plotlines. The "Fate" plotline mostly dealt with Shirou/Saber; the "Unlimited Blade Works" (UBW) plotline resolves Shirou and Archer's relationship while focusing on Shirou/Rin (and to some extent Shirou/Rin/Saber); and "Heaven's Feel" focuses on Shirou/Ilya and explains Sakura's backstory. Then there's Realta Nua, an expansion of UBW that rewrites the ending into Shirou/Saber forever (literally). There's also a sequel called Fate/hollow ataraxia which supplies a lot of the backstory and the metaphysics of how the grail war actually works. As is the tradition will multi-ending visual novel adaptations, Fate/stay night (the original anime adaptation) tries to combine several elements of Fate with Heaven's Feel, and hints of the ending of Realta Nua. The animation is not great e.g., most fights are still-shot montages and even if it were, there are few high-powered attacks in the fifth grail war, other than perhaps Archer's version of UBW and Enuma Elish. For crying out loud, Enuma Elish is represented by flat red splotches. People were rather unhappy that UBW got shafted, and so Type-Moon produced an OVA (now-confusingly also called Unlimited Blade Works) that tries to do too much from UBW in too little time with practically no budget. The animation quality is crappier than Fate/stay night and the plot hangs together with duct tape and string cheese. Then ufotable came along, and Fate/zero was mindblowingly awesome.Some of this, IMO, is just because the heroes of the fourth grail war have attacks that are far greater in scope (Ionian Hetaroi, fully-powered Excalibur, Enuma Elish, For Someone's Glory and Prelati's Spellbook) than the fifth (shitty Excalibur, Archer's UBW, Enuma Elish, Gae Bolg?). That and they had a vastly larger production budget.
2gwern6y* Kill la Kill []: confusing, but I think I liked it.
4lmm6yI enjoyed it a lot at the time, but it's diminished in the memory (I think mostly due to what I see as a lack of ambition). (I think I said much the same thing in a previous thread)
3ShardPhoenix6yI liked it but it could have been so much better if they actually committed to doing a serious plot in their over-the-top style rather than just going "fuck it, we'll make the plot stupid too".
0Protagoras6yI thought it got off to a great start, dragged a bit in the middle (too many standard anime extremely long battles), but had a decent ending.
0tgb6yBoyhood [] is one of the better movies I've seen recently.
2gwern6yTouhou: * "恋色マスタースパーク (Love-Colored Master Spark)" [] (霧雨 魔理沙; Charisma Lash Type-M {C86}) [orchestral] * "感情の摩天楼 ~ Cosmic Mind" [] (聖 白蓮; Charisma Lash Type-M {C86}) [orchestral] * "少女さとり ~3rd eye" [] (古明地 さとり; Charisma Lash Type-M {C86}) [orchestral] * "百鬼夏祭" [] (狐の工作室; 夏風の音 {C86}) [acoustic/jazz?] * "天空を駆ける風の都" [] (狐の工作室; 夏風の音 {C86}) [acoustic] * "Skydiver" [] (Babbe feat. kuroTenshi; SUNSHINE EP {2014-08-16}) [house] * "Beat of Summer" [] (Babbe feat. Kasuka; SUNSHINE EP {2014-08-16}) [house] * "月光跡" [] (柊秀雪 feat. Atori; MT22 {C86}) [Rock] * "An cailin ar an tine" [] (Escarmew; MT22 {C86}) [Celtic] * "Fires of Hokkai" [] (Jun.A; Cradle2 {C77}) [electronic] Doujin: * "The Strong Peanuts" [] (Takahiro Eguchi + Tomohiko Togashi; 'AD:HOUSE 3' {C86}) [instrumental] * "Sajou" [] (doriko feat. Hanatan; PRIMROSE FLOWER VOICE {2013}) [rock] * "ロリババアに恋をした" [] (HoneyWorks feat. Sana; Suki na Hito. {C86}) [Jpop] * "清恋 ~ベルティネの夜の夢~" [] (Drop feat. 葉月ゆら; Eclipse Parade {C86}) [Jpop] Vocalo

Other Media Thread

8Artaxerxes6yOngoing webcomic Strong Female Protagonist [] has impressed me so far. I recommend reading all of what has currently been drawn of it.
1CellBioGuy6yBeen reading it for months. Seconded.
3listic6yIce-Bound: A Novel of Reconfiguration [] is an upcoming indie game combining an iPad app and an augmented reality-enabled print book by Aaron A. Reed [] and Jason Garbe []. Ice-Bound is a novel about an AI recreation of a struggling writer, brought to life to finish his now-legendary novel. The player looks at the printed compendium via their iPad to unlock the hidden reality between the lines; at the same time the pages that the player shows to AI writer that 'lives' in the iPad determine the story that he will write. It is running a Kickstarter campaign [] that ends today; all the funds will go towards a print run of the print book. The list of backers includes all the usual suspects of the tiny world of interactive fiction, which is kinda sad at the same time, as I believe this kind of project deserves wider publicity. Help spread the word by upvoting: r/kickstarter [], r/indiegames [], and especially r/writing [] (look for post [] on 'Upgrading prose')
0pragmatist6yJust to add to this recommendation, Aaron Reed's Blue Lacuna [] is one of the best pieces of interactive fiction I've read/played. It's practically novel-length, well-written, contains some interesting puzzles to solve (or skip, if that's not your jam), and has some pretty rich world-building. And it's free. Also, for those interested in interactive fiction, Andrew Plotkin's long-delayed commercial IF Hadean Lands [] is finally available. I haven't yet finished it, so I can't offer a fully informed recommendation, but I'm enjoying it so far. It's very puzzle-dense, and a lot of the puzzles center around its extremely elaborate alchemy system. Figuring out how alchemy works in the game has a sort of HPMOR-esque "apply rationalist methods to a magical system" feel. Avoid if you don't like having to sort through a deluge of information in order to solve puzzles and make progress. And, finally, if you are unfamiliar with Plotkin's work, I highly highly recommend Spider and Web [], which is free to play. It also has the theme of figuring out how things work in an almost-but-not-quite-familiar setting (technological rather than magical, this time around). It has a very clever narrative hook, where you're a captured spy being inerrogated and the game is your (often unreliable) account of what happened. And it has probably the best narrative-integrated puzzle in any game I've played (you'll know it when you see it -- or solve it, rather). You'll need to install a Z-code interpreter like Gargoyle [] to play any of these.
0L29Ah6y []
0[anonymous]6yPeter Singer investigates a basement flood [] (comic)
1Dr_Manhattan6yI rate this as "sucky ripoff of the original utility monster comic" []
6gjm6yI also rate it as pretty sucky, but I don't see that it's a ripoff of the SMBC comic or even trying to do the same thing. The SMBC comic is about a utility monster. The EC comic is about the term "utility monster". The SMBC comic asks the question "what would the world look like, if we maximized utility and there were a utility monster" (and answers it in a silly fashion). The EC comic asks the question "wouldn't it be funny to draw a comic with a utility monster that -- ahahahaha -- actually looked like a monster?" (and, perhaps unfortunately, answers yes). The SMBC comic would be exactly as interesting, and exactly as funny, if the particular term "utility monster" had never existed. The EC comic would be 100% pointless if that particular term had never existed. [EDITED to fix a trivial but boneheaded mistake.]
4Pfft6yI guess the joke is that "utilities" can refer to piped water.
0gjm6yOh yeah, that too. (I'm in the UK where that term isn't so commonly used; it didn't occur to me when I saw the comic.) So there's a rather weak pun on "utility" and a rather weak pun on "monster".
1[anonymous]6yThis comic is basically a pun. I don't see why would you compare it to SMBC's one.
-4advancedatheist6yBloggers go here? Over at Dale Carrico's mostly neglected blog, he posts: [] Of course, Elon Musk's ability to make money from scratch doesn't seem problematic when progressives want to shake him down for some of it at gunpoint. And also: [] Which shows non sequitur thinking and an ignorance of history. A lot of problems look really hard, and a lot of people fail at them, as they explore the solution spaces to try to find ways to solve them. When someone stumbles on a feasible solution, from a kind of hindsight bias we tend to forget about the failures and take the success for granted.
6Nornagest6yHonestly, I'm having a hard time extracting an actual point from all the dog-whistle in those posts.


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0Viliam_Bur6yGreat comment; wrong thread.
0JoshuaFox6yThank you. Moved to here [].

Online Videos Thread

Fanfiction Thread

4Artaxerxes6yMore than a year ago, I read Mortal [], a My Little Pony fanfiction with transhumanist themes, and liked it. I recently found out about a short sequel, Mother of Nations [], which I also read and enjoyed. If you read Mortal and enjoyed it, you will probably like Mother of Nations. Mortal has been discussed on LessWrong before, here [].
2[anonymous]6yThanks! If you like my rationality-themed stories, you might also be interested in Happily Ever After [] and The Thousand Year Romance Of Clover The Clever [] .
1Artaxerxes6yI read Happily Ever After roughly around the time I read Mortal, and I read Clover the Clever just after reading Mother of Nations. They were all good :) I recommended Mother of Nations in particular because I realised that there may be people who are in the position I was in, of having read and liked Mortal but not being aware of there being an extra story.
1sceaduwe6yWith This Ring [] An SI fanfic set in the DC universe. Main character is a transhumanist and tries to improve the world using his previous knowledge of the world, research, noticing things others have overlooked, and intelligent application of his powers. It's well written. Even though the main character is very powerfull, he doesn't come off as a Gary Stu. Things to note. Sometimes the words are different colors. These correspond to the different emotional states states of the characters. Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum [] Also any parts of the story where the title is red or there's a red star, is part of the 'Renegade Option' side story.

Podcasts Thread