May 2015 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read1st May 201553 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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The Awareness, a short movie about letting (or not letting) an AI out of its box. Free, on Vimeo, about 17 minutes long.

(Found on r/HPMOR where it is alleged that one Eliezer Yudkowsky said some kind words about it.)

Short Online Texts Thread

Everything is heritable:








"Genetics and the placebo effect: the placebome"

God dammit, FINALLY. I am endlessly frustrated by the universal use of placebo effects as the CONTROL GROUP rather than an object of study to be enhanced.

"CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes"

There's been rumors about this paper for some time before it actually came out. If there's interest I could break it down...

The vegetarian article seems to be saying "because the argument against eating meat is so good, we need to explain the lack of vegetarians by...."

Popular psychology is an easy place to draw conclusions based on assuming that your side is in the right.

The vegetarian article is also notable for demonstrating how many people have no problems pronouncing "I am a vegetarian" while chewing on chicken or fish...

[-][anonymous]6y 0

To me the whole problem is fascinating. I can very easily understand the idea of not wanting to kill personally, but how does one jump to not eating pre-killed meat, and especially to things that processed to the point where they don't look like meat at all such as sausage or salami? I mean, I understand that there are a handful of efficient utilitarian altruists who care about what the outcome is for the animal and now how doing the act feels for their own purity, but I would figure most people rate actions based on how they feel. And chewing pepperoni pizza does not feel the same way as a grimy, messy, bloody pig murder. I guess I am just surprised how many people think like utilitarians, caring about the outcome for the animal, instead of what I would think the more natural, namely avoiding to do actions that feel too gruesome but happily enjoying the results if others do them.

Not eating prekilled meat and processed meat allows you to be part of a social movement and gain status. Not killing the meat personally doesn't.

Also, people do things based on how they feel, but don't like to be reminded of that. If the particular rationalization for doing what they feel happens to include an ethical claim, even if it is just a rationalization and they don't understand any theories of ethics, they will avoid a broad enough category to convince themselves that they really are doing it based on ethics.

"Tacit Knowledge, Weapons Design, and the Uninvention of Nuclear Weapons", MacKenzie & Spinardi 1995

The link goes to:

Mostly about a rational look at what causes car accidents, and how car companies decide what's safe enough.

The Grumpy Programmer - "RFIDs, Encryption, and Stop Rules... Oh My!" -- A bit rambly in the middle, but an interesting post on trying to get people to look past their cached thoughts.

Stop Rules is really important-- in humans, they're when someone's mind stops working on cognitive material, and if pushed to do so, the person goes into attack/defense mode.

14 Ways Cognitive Biases Hamper Your Diablo Toon

It is actually titled "How Your Mind Screws with You in Games Like Diablo". Not novel material, but novel to see on a gaming website.

While all good points (and the tag is "For Science!") they aren't really doing science. Take the first case, the belief that rapidly clicking Kadala will affect what you get. Is it true or not? You don't know until you test it. It is not true in the idealized world where Kadala has a perfect RNG. But it may or may not be true in the real world where a click triggers a message to the server and, depending on the latency, rapid clicks could tickle some bug involving a race condition or out-of-order messages or something like that.

It's not like Diablo is known to be entirely bug-free :-/ You don't get to say "actually" unless you actually tested it.

And they never claim to be doing science (other than that "For Science" tag, but who would take that seriously on an entertainment website?). They are introducing the idea that our minds have flaws and are full of bias to their audience through highly relatable example material.

I don't know if the Kadala bug is real, and I don't care, that is a tree in the forest. And the article is about the forest. (If the Kadala bug is real, that is just poor fact checking. The lesson on Confirmation Bias still stands.)

Overtesting and overtreatment in American medicine, and what's being done to have more sensible medical treatment.

Recent sequence on mathematical ability and Scott A. being bad at math (or is he?) reminded me of this short story (possibly nonfiction), which I recommend: Bad At Math by Alone a.k.a. The Last Psychiatrist.

Barbie fucks it up again is a short article about how an attempt at feminist Barbie can turn up creepy and sexist.

The piece is hilarious, in a depressing way, and inspiring, as in "inspiring me to write a rational!Barbie fanfic".

Yeah, the Barbie book seems kind of unfortunate. On the other hand, lambdaphagy wrote an also hillarious/depressing post about the criticism of the book: women writing about their experiences in IT is very problematic.

Online Videos Thread

Fanfiction Thread

Nonfiction Books Thread

"Civilized Life in the Universe". George Basalla.

A study of the history of the idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life, and how our [the European diaspora's] thoughts of it have never had much to do with extraterrestrials and instead have everything to do with ourselves. The notion is dissected for all its parts to be seen.

In the 1500s, the notion that the Earth and other planets were made of similar stuff lead to the supposition that if that is the case, perhaps they were inhabited too. The hot question was if Jesus also saved them or if we needed to send missionaries.

Percival Lowell at the turn of the 20th century thought he saw canals all over mars, and talked about how this indicated they had reached a socialist utopia.

Carl Sagan, perhaps steeped in the Barsoom books in his youth, held onto the notion of macroscopic living things on mars for quite some time. He also expounded on the idea that old civilizations might teach us how to avoid nuclear war.

These days, we talk about technological progress, the questionable assumption that it continues without bound in all cases but extinction, and 'where are they?"

It's never been about them. It's always about us - what we care about at that particular moment.

Curtis Yarvin, who looked to Mars for tips and tricks on writing a "tiny, diamond-perfect kernel" for a programming environment.

"The science of evil" by Simon Baron-Cohen.

A social, neurophysiological and psychological exploration of tabooing "evil" and substituting it with "empathy erosion".

Intriguing, disturbing, eye-opening, depressing. This book is kicking me in the guts pretty hard and I'm loving every minute of it. You'll start to see mild psychopaths everywhere ;)

  • The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays, Simon Leys

Fiction Books Thread

Finally got around to starting The Tale of Genji. Decent start, might give an update once I've gotten further along.

[-][anonymous]6y 1

You may also like Minamoto-no Yositsune:)

  • The Sagas of Icelanders

TV and Movies (Animation) Thread

  • Atama Yama: curious short story about a greedy miser who grows a small sprout on his head apparently as punishment, is annoyed by the even smaller visitors to the tree, and then apparently drowns while trying to get rid of it. The story isn't much, but it's much more interesting to listen to the narrator recite it to the traditional music and watch the eccentric animation.
  • Ben-to: waste of time. Interesting concept which doesn't go anywhere, on top of which the fights are repetitive and unimaginative (if you've seen one you've seen all, as they are all lazy battle-royales and punches which could be, and probably were, clip-arts), they are entertaining neither as realistic nor shonen-superpowered nor parodies, and the series winds up spending most of its time, apparently, on mean-spirited mockery of fujoshi, yuri fanservice, and twincest. Only 2 positive aspects come to mind: the character Sen Yarizui is not, surprisingly, yet another Rei/Yuki-doll-knockoff character; and the final arc is a little more insightful about the nature of competition than expected.

TV and Movies (Live Action) Thread

It's probably worth mentioning that Avengers: Age of Ultron jumps on the Lets-Be-Afraid-of-Artificial-Intelligence bandwagon. I think it's safe to say there's a bandwagon now.

Ultron is from the comic books, and has been reasonably prominent in the comic books for long enough that this isn't a bandwagon. That's like saying that R2D2 in the new Star Wars movie would be jumping on the friendly AI bandwagon.

There is repeated and explicit dialogue reference in the film to the scary and unknown nature of AI. It is put forward as something novel that shouldn't be meddled with. This is not necessary given the setting, which could easily support sentient robots without having to draw attention to the fact that they're a case of artificial intelligence, and artificial intelligence is scary and new. Hence bandwagon jumpage.

This all goes back to the old principle of "don't conjure up what you can't put down", which featured prominently in stories about magic. Whether you're summoning demons or building an AI, the main idea is essentially the same. If you bring about a power greater than your own, you're at its mercy.

Age of Ultron at the very least gave us the positive example of Vision.

Evil AI has been a theme in scifi at least since I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream came out in 1967 (probably earlier, that's just the earliest example to come to mind). 2001: A Space Odyssey came out the next year. So I don't really think it's a bandwagon effect, just a tried and true formula.

Not that I particularly care about this, but my original point was that concern over AI is topical right now, and the film in question seemed to make small but deliberate effort to tap into that topicality, beyond simply having an AI as the villain. I wasn't claiming that Avengers: Age of Ultron had invented an amazing new fictional concept of antagonistic intelligent machines.

The movie wasn't very good, even by Marvel superhero movie standards. Did anyone understand Ultron's motivation? It seems like Ultron's logic was:

  1. humans are going to destroy the world
  2. ????????
  3. Therefore I will destroy the world.

Also, I was left wondering about whether Iron Man was going to be financially/criminally liable for the damages Ultron caused.

For what I've understood of the movie!Ultron rationale, having as goal peace-keeping, he devised what he thought was a better way to do this than the Avengers itself: instead of maintaining peace by fighting the enemy of peace, do it by evolving a new kind of human being (the project that eventually phyzvangrq jvgu gur nppvqragny perngvba bs gur Ivfvba) and then killing all the older ones.
Screw with the fact that there's no continuity between the latter and the former... :/

do it by evolving a new kind of human being (the project that eventually phyzvangrq jvgu gur nppvqragny perngvba bs gur Ivfvba)

Oh. Thanks. I thought he was just creating a new body for himself.

Bit late, but: IIRC the post-credits scene implies that Ultron was somehow really under Thanos' control, via the Infinity Stone Thanos originally gave to Loki (and/or its corruption/influence via Stark via Wanda Maximoff).

I suppose it might be giving the movie too much credit to argue that Ultron was at no point honestly explaining his plans, but instead saying whatever he expected would confuse and/or demoralize his enemies.

The question of liability is sort of alluded to in the latest movie, Civil War; though the short answer seems to be no.

In the end, the only real answer is always "it's all made up and what you see is what you get".

  • Cinderella 2015: this was more interesting than I had expected. What it seems to be aiming at is a polished, straight/non-revisionist telling of the classic Cinderella story (without the narcissism of Frozen and its instantly-dated tone-deaf snark), but with a minimalist approach to magic and comedy (the animals are only minor elements) with all the romanticism and exaltation of traditionally feminine virtues implied, and a low-key but consistent effort at rationalizing and embedding the fairy-tale into a plausible world (a sort of 1700s England/Italy/France-hybrid small kingdom). For example, the wicked stepmother is indeed wicked and enjoys her small cruelties, but has motives beyond pure malevolence for the mistreatment (aware of her daughters' fecklessness, if she doesn't find them a match, they're doomed); or while Cinderella is escaping from the palace, the prince plausibly orders a pursuit and the coachmen trip a portcullis on their way out to block pursuit, resolving a common objection. The rest of the movie is executed as competently as one expects of a top-tier Disney live-action film: the dresses are naturally almost hyperreal, the settings are overstuffed pastoral of almost Thomas Kinkade-caliber, and Cate Blanchett & Lily James hold down their parts well (the former to simmer and emote, and the latter to be brainless & beautiful - although I will never understand why they did not dye her eyebrows blond as well, a contrast which distracted me in almost every scene). All in all, pretty good and has probably cemented Cinderella's status as a major part of the Disney princess-industry for another generation.
  • Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014); an attempt to do a little worldbuilding in providing a backstory for all the antics, and close the franchise (temporarily?) with a theme of maturing and passing on the baton, closing the loop with the first movie; unfortunately it comes off as completely stale, with no gags we didn't get tired of in the first two movies.



Kantai Collection:


  • "Yume Rockets" (Miku; OKUMEIKIBOUNOTOKYOTOZAIJYUU; Virtual Songs {2009}) [electronic/Jpop]
[-][anonymous]6y 1

Berserk - Sign >> A powerful piece. Gives me the same feeling as Der Erlkonig. Sadly, the effect wears off after a while.

Deus Ex - Main Theme >> A good track, giving a feeling of having a great burden on your shoulders. Definitely heroic and if you've played Deus Ex, inspiratory.

EDIT: Accidentally to you instead of parent. At least I get some attention.

Podcasts Thread

Other Media Thread

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