November 2013 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read1st Nov 201346 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 use the comment trees for genres. There is a meta thread for comments about future threads.
  • If you think there should be a thread for a particular genre of media, 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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Other Media Thread

I've been reading this awesome web serial called Worm. Highly recommend if you want some action and suspense. There's a bit of rationality business in there as well, but it's spaced out and the story is long. I see it's been recommended previously on here as well.

Caveat: Worm is really dark. The characters are clever, the protagonist makes the most out of a superpower that seems mediocre at first glance, and there are enough twists and turns that I would look at the clock and realize that I'd been reading for six hours. (Worm is really long, so if you're the sort of person who has to keep reading fiction be warned that it will eat a week or two.)

But, despite those positives, terrible things happen to everyone always. I found it similar to Game of Thrones in that it was engaging but depressing, and unlike GoT where new characters are introduced, dance about, and then die, in Worm there's a clear protagonist who, as far as I can tell, always wins eventually. I also found the superhero fight sequences less engaging as time went on- but they can be skimmed with little loss.

Worm had some moments that hit me really hard emotionally.

"V ybfg genpx. V sbetbg ubj gb punatr ure onpx."

"Znef! Vg’f gbb fbba! V jnag gb xvyy gurz! V jnag gb xvyy gurz nyy!"

"Hagvy jryy nsgre gur fha tbrf bhg, gurl guvax"

"Gur bayl jnl jr’q nyy npuvrir nalguvat erfrzoyvat crnpr."

The fight scenes do get tedious though, by the end I was mostly fast-forwarding them.

And also recommended by Eliezer:

Worm continues to be awesome (I’m up to Vol. 13). I didn’t even notice until I was halfway through what I’ve already read that all of the characters were using their superpowers intelligently, that none of the supposed geniuses were behaving like idiots, and that the flying bricks who would be the central Powers of other tales were properly taking second place to the real movers and shakers, namely anyone with any sort of informational, cognitive, or probability-based talent. Doing this so smoothly that I don’t even notice because my brain considers the resulting world to be ‘normal’ really ought to deserve some kind of epic bonus points. For many readers, though not all, Worm should be a strong candidate for treating HPMOR withdrawal (the author updates very quickly and regularly).

I'm just starting arc 9, and am ready to give up. It's fun enough, but there doesn't seem to be any rationality here. I would buy an argument that the author is rationalist, but not any of the characters so far. (The backstory does suggest there the characters have done research and thought deep thoughts, be we see none of that.)

If it suddenly improves please let me know -- I've heard enough good things from enough people that I kept going this far, and it'd be a pity to quit just before things get interesting. But I'm almost a third of the way through, and still nothing :-/

If you don't like it now, you never will.

The 2013 Interactive Fiction competition is currently ongoing:

It has a variety of fairly short games playable online, some being parser-based (you enter a command and the world tells you what is happening) and some in other forms (e.g. Twine games, where there's a clearly marked set of things you can do at each node, CYOA-style), some puzzly and some less puzzly. Here is a brief introduction to parser-based IF if you find yourself confused.

I enjoyed:

  • Captain Verdeterre's Plunder by Ryan Veeder - a short puzzle game with an entertaining narrative voice, where you rush to scrounge up valuables from your sinking ship and make it off alive.
  • Their Angelical Understanding by Porpentine - a moving allegorical story about something like pain and redemption.
  • Coloratura by Lynnea Glasser - where you play a strange, inhuman mind which can emotionally influence humans to try to get them to achieve your goals.
  • Solarium by Alan DeNiro - an alternate history about nuclear holocaust with fantastic elements.

Additionally, if you play them and have an opinion then you can sign up and vote afterward :-)

Short Online Texts Thread

The SCP Foundation Wiki

A wiki about the SCP Foundation and the various SCP's contained within.

About the Foundation

SCP Classifications

Security Clearance Levels

SCP Ethics Commity - [Audio]

Here are some SCP's to get you started!

Folks should be cautioned that SCP entries may be more upsetting or triggering than typical horror-sf.

There's a lot of body horror, some disturbing images (although they tend to avoid animated "shockers"), plenty of violence, occasional mindfuckery, and at least one pretty damn disturbing implied rape/torture scenario.

I read a couple of these last night (I've read others long ago), not particularly scary ones - 427 and 682... and then dreamt I read more, including one that did have a "shocker" animation (after which I remember cursing you for suggesting they were rare!), and then one with a high-res gif/video of a complex artifact I can remember the vague form of - somewhat like a grey bowling-pin with brightly colored shapes rotating along its axis - abstract, but almost clownish and mundane, but still creeped me out in-dream far more than any actual article.

The page What Has Experimental Philosophy Discovered about Expert Intuitions? on the Experimental Philosophy blog has been updated. It contains several links to papers on the area.

The Logic Matters blog has three posts on the topic "Does mathematics need a philosophy?"

Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Fanfiction Thread

[-][anonymous]7y 5

Clyde's Tales is a series of shorts (two of which I wrote) about ponies, fairy tales, and levelheaded munchkinry. The whole thing is under 3000 words.

My writing partner and I are nearly done with our second Harry Potter fic Ill Met by Moonlight which is a sequel to A Pound of Flesh. Not explicitly rationalist fic, but we've tried to write Riddle and Hermione smart.

One thing that's particularly fun about plotting with a partner is that we both want our character to win, (I write Hermione, he writes Riddle), so we only let the other person get away with a good trick when it delights us more as a reader than it hurts us to lose ground. Hope that pays off well for readers!

Nonfiction Books Thread

  • Tombstone: The Untold Story of Mao's Great Famine (review)
  • Kanigel's The Man Who Knew Infinity (review)
  • Gsponer & Hurni's Fourth generation nuclear weapons
  • Pape's It's Behind You: the making of a computer game (review)
  • The Man Who Would Be Queen

What was your opinion of The Man Who Would Be Queen?

I found some of the claims interesting, and after reading the like 100-page-long compilation of papers on the controversy I was deeply appalled by McCloskey and her allies' clear dishonesty & bad behavior (which is something I shall certainly be taking into consideration if I read anything by McCloskey in the future), but I feel too ignorant of the topic to venture any opinion at all on the book or its claims (and the fact that it was 'pop' science didn't help me).

EDIT: actually I guess I'll just post that as my review. Better than leaving no review at all.

Fiction Books Thread

Some classic short story recommendations: "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov. It's classic for a reason and the ending will probably give most LessWrongers shivers.

"The Dead Past" by Isaac Asimov. Not as highly regarded as Nightfall, but it has become even more relevant today in at least two directions than it was when Asimov wrote it and presents real, genuine moral difficulties that are neither contrived nor given the standard treament. Refreshing!

"Can He Bake a Cherry Pie?" by Laurell Hamilton, available here

A lot of ordinary rationality-- asking sensible questions, keeping track of what one is trying to accomplish, looking for cooperation unless there are clear reasons to not expect it.

How is the FLCL manga compared to the show?

The anime is much better. The manga tries to cover the same material, but in basically a sort of cracked-out heavily-stylized surrealistic way which makes it hard to read without, I felt, really adding anything.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood -- end-of-the-world and beyond dystopian novel, superb. I also mentioned it here.

I'm currently reading a collection of Robert Scheckley's short stories. "A ticket to Tranai" (conveniently available online ) strikes me as one of the earliest literary attempts to show a weirdtopia. (The physics and economics here are both ridiculous, but it's nonetheless quite entertaining as an early form of the genre.)

Television and Movies Thread

Anime, descending order of quality:

  • Hellsing Ultimate (review)
  • Wolf Children (review)
  • From Up on Poppy Hill (review)
  • Hotarubi no Mori e (cute one-shot with predictable twist ending, no real reason for anyone to watch it)


  • Prince Avalanche: beautiful visuals of a burnt but recovering nature, pretty good OST by Explosions in the Sky, story was kinda an awkward buddy flick which felt almost deliberately dumb. Recommended as nature/scenery porn.
  • The Princess Bride: fun and enjoyable, and now I will understand references to it.
  • Mediastan: sort of an awkward exploration of Wikileaks trying to find people to write articles on its cables.

Anime: Shin Sekai Yori is essentially several layers of unintended consequences placed into a puzzling world. It has three arcs following Saki Watanabe's early life in a society with psychokinesis, lots of hidden rules, and somewhat questionable morality.

In order to prevent humans sebz xvyyvat bar nabgure jvgu gurve cbjref, gurl unir orra trargvpnyyl zbqvsvrq gb frys-qrfgehpg hcba qbvat fb. Juvyr vg znxrf zheqre fbzrjung yrff pbairavrag va-fgbel, vg qbrf abg fgbc gur pbzzvggrrf gung eha gur fbpvrgl sebz ryvzvangvat crbcyr ivn pngf bgure bgure ebhaqnobhg zrnaf. The indirectness of the action gung pnhfrf fbzrbar'f qrngu can apparently be rather thin.

A subtly wrong word ends up being very important.

So, Thor: The Dark World, transhumanism and violently incompatible value systems.

Ohg svefg, n dhvpx qvterffvba nobhg gur D Pbagvahhz sebz Fgne Gerx. Gurl'er n enpr bs orvatf jvgu frrzvatyl-tbqyvxr cbjref, ohg va erprag lrnef V'ir ernyvfrq gurer'f n fgebat fhttrfgvba gung gurl'er n cbfg-fvathynevgl fbpvrgl. Ng fbzr cbvag gurl znqr n pbyyrpgvir qrpvfvba gb nffhzr gur frrzvatyl-bzavcbgrag fgngr gurl abj bpphcl, naq unir pbagvahrq gb bpphcl hapbhagrq nrbaf. Jurarire zbegnyf ivrj gur D Pbagvahhz, vg'f va gur sbez bs fbzr fbeg bs aneengvir zrgncubevpny raivebazrag gung snyyf jvguva gurve novyvgl gb pbzceruraq.

V'ir orra guvaxvat gur Nftneqvnaf va Gube unir fbzrguvat fvzvyne tbvat ba. Gurl'er curabzranyyl cbjreshy orvatf (ol uhzna fgnaqneqf), naq znal unir havdhr snagnfgvpny novyvgvrf gung ybbx yvxr zntvp. Urvzqnyy, sbe rknzcyr, pna ivrj rirel fbhy va gur havirefr. Gurer'f guvf haqrepheerag bs gur jubyr ehaavat-nebhaq-yvxr-Abefr-Zlgubybtl-pbfcynlref orvat whfg jung vg ybbxf yvxr sebz n zbegny fgnaqcbvag.

Fb, gb gur vapbzcngvoyr inyhrf nfcrpg. Gur nagntbavfgf, gur "qnex ryirf" (qrrcyl qvfnccbvagrq abar bs gurz jvryqrq qhny fpvzvgnef, ol gur jnl; gung jbhyq unir znqr zl 13-lrne-byq frys irel unccl), ner gelvat gb cyhatr gur havirefr vagb qnexarff. Gur vqrn vf gung gurl cerqngr "gur yvtug". Gurl'er sebz n gvzr jura gur jubyr havirefr jnf va qnexarff, naq gur irel rkvfgrapr bs yvtug vf nangurzn gb gurz. Gurl qrfpevor vg nf n "cbvfbarq havirefr", naq frr gurve tbny nf erfgbevat vg gb vgf angheny fgngr.

V unir gb pbasrff n pregnva nzbhag bs flzcngul sbe gurz ba guvf fpber, naq V vzntvar V cebonoyl jba'g or gur bayl YJre gb rkuvovg guvf erfcbafr. Gurl'er rffragvnyyl yvivat va n havirefr juvpu vf ng bqqf jvgu gurve inyhr flfgrz. Vs lbh jrag guebhtu gur fpevcg fhofgvghgvat "qnex(arff)" jvgu "yvtug" naq ivpr irefn, nyy bs n fhqqra gurl qba'g ybbx dhvgr fb ivyynvabhf. Nf sne nf gurl'er pbaprearq, gurl jrer yvivat va n havirefr gung jnf zber be yrff svar, naq nyy bs n fhqqra guvf ubeevoyr curabzraba fcevatf vagb orvat gung pbasyvpgf jvgu gurve inyhrf, naq fcnjaf n jubyr ohapu bs fcrpvrf gung jubyrurnegrqyl qrsraq vg, naq jub nyy raq hc gelvat gb renqvpngr gur qnex ryirf.

American; Explosions in the Sky released a new album/OST:

Besides that, I ran into a chiptune album 'Fake the Bitters' by 8bit Betty and liked it enough to buy. I kept, in album order:

(Each is available on YouTube if you prefer to use their player.)


I finished playing Umineko. The soundtrack is one of the strong points, and I wound up liking quite a few of the tracks; in alphabetical order from the game soundtracks ("Requiem" is from the anime, see the discography torrent):


Touhou (version 17 of the mega-torrent is out, BTW), reverse order:

Thank you for introducing me to Explosions in the Sky. I've listened to The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place all the way through multiple times today. I'm fairly partial to the final track, Your Hand In Mine.

You should also check out Giants (particularly "While The Ages Steal") and El Ten Eleven.

Previously people recommended me Evpatoria Report based on my liking for Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You!, and World's End Girlfriend. Any more excellent post-rock I ought to hear?

Totally unrelated: I really like metal. Here (Album art NSFW) are some of my favorites. More?

Mogwai is an obvious recommend based off of that, and their new album is coming out soon: you can hear one track from it here, but it's a little more electronic than their typical.

Kashiwa Daisuke is pretty good, though about half the time it plays I can't be bothered and skip it and the other half I love it. I think Stella is their best.

God is an Astronaut has some good songs somewhat similar to some Explosions in the Sky as it's more electronic than most post-rock. All is Violent, All is Bright is a highly approachable album of theirs. These guys got me into post rock but I don't listen to them that much these days. Maybe I should.

And Mon has a number of good songs like this one.

And Sigur Ros has some great ones, like Hopipolla and Glosoli. Really a charming band. Too bad their original music video for Hopipolla is no longer on youtube apparently as it was rather endearing.

Some other bands that I haven't gotten into but that a friend keeps recommending are 65daysofstatic and Caspian. Sweek might also be worth a try.

Well, that just about exhausts the sum total of my post-rock knowledge. I think it was your recommendation of World's End Girlfriend got me onto them, so thanks! Their best songs are among my absolute favorites now.

This is really great, thanks :D

YouTube keeps deleting or muting the full version of the PMMM ending, which I find annoying when I put it on a playlist. Here is the original song on the band's VEVO channel, which I think is less likely to get deleted.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

I've been thoroughly enjoying Portugal. The Man's new(ish) album "Evil Friends". 'Modern Jesus' is an amazing humanist anthem, and its music video is striking.

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Podcasts Thread