April 2014 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read1st Apr 201470 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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Fanfiction Thread

Cenotaph, a finished Worm fanfic. Taylor doesn't get too upset with Armsmaster, doesn't join the Undersiders.

It might be featured in today's author note since Eliezer has expressed approval of the fic in the comments.

6David_Gerard7yReading Cenotaph now. It's excellent. If you enjoyed Worm, you'll enjoy this.
2Barry_Cotter7yIs "Worm" finished and is there a pdf/epub/text file somewhere convenient for one behind the Great Firewall? I have heard Good Things about it.
7David_Gerard7yYes and no, in that order. The author has asked that ebooks and PDFs not be made available, as he's working on a partial-rewrite with the aim of selling ebook versions for money.
0drethelin7yCenotaph is great.
6Bakkot7yI've mentioned it before [http://lesswrong.com/lw/eqc/october_2012_media_thread/7joj], but it's recently completed and hence bears bringing up again: Embers [https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5398503/1/Embers], an Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction, is one of the best works I've read, fanfic or otherwise. At 750k words, it'll keep you entertained for a while. It features characters who are generally smart (at least some of them, and in ways generally more age- and culturally-appropriate than eg HJPEV) and significant fleshing out of the world, with the latter drawing heavily on the author's sometimes-cited research: see eg the author's notes at the end of chapter 30 [https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5398503/30/Embers] (warning, slight spoilers, though nothing that will make sense out of context) or at the end of chapter 47 [https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5398503/47/Embers] (somewhat more significant spoilers). You don't need to have seen the show to know what's going on, but it'll help, and the show is worth a quick watch if you've got time on your hands anyway. Don't skip this work just because you don't have time for the show right now, though. Also, there's a prequel of sorts called "Theft Absolute", which is three orders of magnitude shorter and will not make much sense without the show; it's not necessary for Embers.
0drethelin7yI enjoyed ember for 20 or so chapters while it did a great job of developing characters and justifying oddities about the fire nation in canon with new effects on bending and had a great novel perspective on Aang but then it really went off the rails in terms of adding too much non-avatar universe content.
6Risto_Saarelma7ySaruman of Many Devices [https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7568728/1/Saruman-of-many-Devices] takes Saruman's gunpowder weapons and Industrial Revolution angle from Lord of the Rings and runs with it for some military SF style fun.

Okay, I'm going to have to plug The Last Ringbearer. See download link for an english translation (which cannot be sold for money for legal reasons but can be downloaded for free).

Originally written in Russian, which pretty much explains the tone. The hobbits and the ring never existed and the Lord of the Rings is the long-after-the-fact mythologized retelling of a war as told by the victors. Aragorn was a power-hungry opportunist who stole the throne. Sauron was a ruling dynasty of the rich nation of Mordor, invaded by the barbarian hordes at its borders. Its trolls and orcs were human ethnicities, with the retelling of the war warping their portrayal into monsters. Saruman quit the council of wizards in disgust when he learned that they sided with the barbarians in their genocide of Mordor because of the fearsome power that Mordor's new industrial revolution could bring. And we get a glimpse at an 'industrialized' middle-earth 3,000 years into the future where, among other things, aerospace companies try and fail to replicate the ancient lost materials science of mithril.

5gwern7yI enjoyed both "Saruman of Many Devices" and The Last Ringbearer. Although I should caution people that for the former, it does a good job of mimicking both the good and bad parts of David Weber's military SF fiction, and don't read TLR expecting Tolkien, read it expecting John le Carré.
2Risto_Saarelma7yAlso good. Previously discussed here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/4sr/rationalist_lord_of_the_rings_fanfiction_newly/].
4FiftyTwo7yEnjoying it so far (just finished chapter 4). Slightly worried that Saruman's forces are too competent though. Reminds me a bit of "The Salvation War"
2Nornagest7yIt's Mary Gentle's Grunts! [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grunts!] with more of a techno-thriller bent and a more sympathetic protagonist faction, basically. If you liked Grunts!, how you feel about this one will probably depend on how you weigh gun porn against psychopath jokes. I'm finding it readable but not exceptional.
1polymathwannabe7yI've been writing a Captain Planet fanfic for a while. The premise is that the original members have grown old and a new team is needed: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8642760/ [https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8642760/]

Short Online Texts Thread

5edanm7yGlanced at the "Have a nice day" article. I'm absolutely shocked by how much can be said about a banal expression, especially how much negative stuff and criticism people level at it. Wow. What made you stumble on it?
0gwern7yProbably /r/Wikipedia [http://wikipedia.reddit.com].
1[anonymous]7yOn the topic of death, I've always been fond of Derrida's "Last Words" (later translated and published in Critical Inquiry, I believe). While they were addressed to his son, I think it's clear he really addressed them to everyone:
0beoShaffer7yThe China study link gives me
0gwern7yIronic, since that link was itself a link I tracked down after the original link had died. One of the links in http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=18363866799340069167&hl=en&as_sdt=0,9 [http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=18363866799340069167&hl=en&as_sdt=0,9] should work...
0lukeprog7yThe attribution of mental states to technological systems [http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/tempdocs/Parlangeli_Paper_Confirmed.pdf].
0gsastry7yRelated: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/11/07/ux-and-the-civilizing-process/ [http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2013/11/07/ux-and-the-civilizing-process/]
0feanor16007yHow Politics Makes Us Stupid [http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid] Ezra Klein's version of Politics is the Mind-Killer.
0Pfft7ySuzanne Sadedin, "What is the evolutionary or biological purpose of having periods?" [http://www.quora.com/Menstruation/What-is-the-evolutionary-or-biological-purpose-of-having-periods/answer/Suzanne-Sadedin?srid=ms&share=1]

Podcasts Thread

1niceguyanon7yScience fiction podcast about space travel and AI. You can also read it if that is what you rather do. http://escapepod.org/2014/03/29/ep441-kumara/ [http://escapepod.org/2014/03/29/ep441-kumara/]

From GTORangeBuilder (featured on /.):

Consider the standard game of Rock Paper Scissors with the following twist. At the start of each round an independent judge flips a fair coin and tells your opponent the result but does not tell you. If the coin came up heads your opponent must play rock. Otherwise he can play whatever he wants. You can always play whatever you want and standard RPS rules apply (paper beats rock, which beats scissors, which beats paper). Your opponent is a smart thinking player and will adapt perfectly to whatever strategy you pl

... (read more)

Online Videos Thread

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance.

I have to say that this was the most blatantly transhumanist mainstream lecture that I've seen in a long time, with sentences like "a human being can never be broken - only technology is broken [because it doesn't allow us to remove all of the human's disabilities yet]". Also generally one of my favorite TED Talks so far.

Note that the implications of the technology go beyond just healing the physically disabled: the exoskeletons he mentions will do wonders to old people. We're looking at the possibility of people maintaining the mobility and ease of movement of a young person for potentially their entire lives, and this technology may become widely available within quite a short time. That means that countless of people might become capable of moving back from nursing homes to living independently with only limited assistance.

4NancyLebovitz7yWhat makes it really transhumanist is that the speaker doesn't stop with the idea of bringing abilities up to the human norm or even to existing human excellence. He's got assorted feet (long and narrow, with claws, whatever) which enable him to climb in ways that aren't possible for unmodified humans, and he's very pleased with that.
1Kawoomba7yHow To Build a Computer [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b85h_ujZ_vg].
0Armok_GoB7ywarning: NSFW
1Ben Pace7yA friend made an Escher inspired, visually stimulating video, two mins. Called " On Reflection [http://youtu.be/Rf_-MfyIt3M]".
0knb7yLive Forever as You are Now [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xg29TuWo0Yo]: pop culture depiction of transhumanism, mind uploading, and immortalism. Funny and slightly disturbing.
0RichardKennaway7yRelieved of mortality, I would intend doing a lot better than that.

Nonfiction Books Thread

2gwern7yLevenson's Newton and the Counterfeiter (review [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/372217592])

Fiction Books Thread

8gwern7yFiction: * reread R.A. Lafferty's [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.A._Lafferty] Fourth Mansions [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Mansions] * Harrison's Light [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_%28novel%29] (review [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/371384448L]) Also, may I take a moment to strongly recommend Ted Chiang's short stories? * "Understand" [http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm] * "72 Letters" [http://web.archive.org/web/20010802144026/http://www.tor.com/72ltrs.html] * "Hell is the Absence of God" [http://www.ibooksonline.com/88/Text/hell.html] * "Story of Your Life" [http://www.ime.usp.br/~jstern/miscellanea/General/Chiang98.pdf] (see also Lagrangians, Principle of Least Action, Greg Egan's "The Infinite Assassin", and Qualia the Purple) * "Liking What You See: A Documentary" [http://www.ibooksonline.com/88/Text/liking.html] * "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" [http://subterraneanpress.com/magazine/fall_2013/the_truth_of_fact_the_truth_of_feeling_by_ted_chiang]
7Prismattic7yI've been on a bit of an alternate history kick recently. I can recommend both Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan-Behemoth-Goliath young adult steampunk v. biotech alternate World War One trilogy, and Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds-The Coldest War-Necessary Evil demonologists v. bioengineered ubermenchen series. (Neither is rationalist fiction in the sense of having super rational characters, but it is realist fiction in the sense of character's making mistakes for bias-related reasons.) Also, I seem to recall seeing Yvain say something on his blog recently about being surprised that many of the people he knew who reference Lovecraft haven't actually read him. For those who aren't aware of it, all of Lovecraft's solo-authored work in chronological order is available as a free e-book here [http://cthulhuchick.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-nook-kindle/].
2polymathwannabe7yThanks a million. I've been looking for a Lovecraft omnibus for ages.
0NancyLebovitz7yYou might like Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle-- ancient Greek metaphysics is true. Greece becomes a world power, and the story is about an expedition to the sun to get elemental fire. Taoist alchemy is also true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_Matters [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_Matters]
4David_Gerard7yA Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. An amazing and hilarious novel. Believe the hype. (If you've ever been annoyed by neoreactionaries, you'll delight in the main character. "A king? You want a king? Boy, nobody wants a king! Ignatius, are you sure you're OK?" First noted on Metafilter [http://www.metafilter.com/135201/The-Dark-Enlightenment#5351009]. I see one neoreaction fan [http://thesoulisnotasmithy.blogspot.co.uk/p/great-books-for-men.html] who classifies it as "Red Pill fiction" ...)
-2gwern7yCounter-recommendation: I found it vastly overrated and OK at best. (Review [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/370122433])
2David_Gerard7yI think the Internet could still do with "oh, my valve!" as a meme.
0Lumifer7yToo much contamination with Steam and Half-Life and Portal and...
1DaFranker7yIt'll be Valve Soon™ before everyone understands that one...
0edanm7yJust finished Brandon Sanderson's book "Words of Radiance". It is the 2nd book in a (projected) 10-book series, and came out last month. I thought it was a wonderful book. It developed the story from "The Way of Kings", some parts in obvious ways, but also in some new and unexpected ways. The world that Sanderson developed for this series is clearly huge, with many different actors and sub-stories going on. Also, one sub-story in particular was very fun for me as an LW'er. I'm talking about: Gneninatvna, naq uvf VD punatvat rirel qnl (rot 13'ed). Btw, I love Brandon Sanderson's work. It combines very "realistic" magic systems with awesome characters, and an epic back-story. I highly recommend reading the Mistborn trilogy, I consider it the finest fantasy work around.
1[anonymous]7yIs he high?! He already knows what happens to people who start 10-book series.
0edanm7yIt gets worse. Most of his fantasy novels are actually connected into one world (called the Cosmere). He guesses there will be a total of 30-40 books in this world. Btw, for anyone that doesn't know, Brandon Sanderson was chosen as the author of the final Wheel of Time books, the ones that came out after the original author Robert Jordan passed away. So yeah, he knows what happens to people who start 10-book series.
0ChristianKl7yWhat does "realistic" magic systems mean?
3edanm7yWhat I meant by that was: The magic system is basically comparable to him inventing a world with extra laws of physics. The magic is usually well understood, at least eventually, and is basically treated like just more physics. E.g. (ROT13'd for minor spoiler): Bar bs uvf obbxf pbagnvaf n flfgrz gung, jura crbcyr qevax inevbhf xvaqf bs zrgny, gurl ner noyr gb "ohea hc" gur zrgny gb tnva pregnva cbjref, sbe rknzcyr, gryrxvarfvf. Guvf vf irel jryy haqrefgbbq naq hfrq, lbh haqrefgnaq gur zntvp, gur yvzvgf, vg erdhverf fbzr xvaq bs ryrzrag gb cbjre vg, rgp. Va bgure jbeqf, vg fbhaqf yvxr ryrpgevpvgl jbhyq fbhaq gb fbzrbar jub qbrfa'g xabj nobhg vg. Guvf vf abg gur xvaq bs zntvp flfgrz jurer enaqbz crbcyr ner noyr gb qb guvatf juvpu lbh arire ernyyl haqrefgnaq, naq gung ner oneryl hfrq. Guvf vf zber n jbeyq jvgu rkgen ryrzragnel sbeprf.
2GuySrinivasan7ySanderson’s First Law of Magics [http://brandonsanderson.com/sandersons-first-law/]: An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

Television and Movies Thread

5gwern7yAnime: * Shin Sekai Yori [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_the_New_World_%28novel%29] (review [http://myanimelist.net/reviews.php?id=137109]) * Attack on Titan [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Titan] * Kyousougiga [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyousougiga]
2[anonymous]7yThe reboot of Cosmos (available on Hulu if you're into two minutes of ads every ten minutes) is fairly good pop science. They're hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Pros: The show makes me happy-cry on a regular basis. There's a clip in the opening sequence where a dandelion seed floating in the wind fades in to Voyager. The show is pretty heavily against religious tomfoolery, death, and staying on Earth until the civilization collapses and/or destroys itself. Cons: The show owes a lot of its goodness to Sagan. NGT is leaning really heavily on his Crowning Moment of Awesome with Sagan before NGT went to undergrad. The CG is atrocious when it's not based on Hubble pictures. The anti-religion bits are heavy-handed to the point of being outright trolling (which one might argue was also a feature of the original).
1DaFranker7yShould read:
4gwern7yTouhou: * "A Queen Of The Sixteenth Night" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dchwT8lkQDs] (Yuri Yuzriha; TOHO R&B HOUSE Party Vol.2 {C85}) [instrumental/electronic] * "Hello Aliens" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsQoAvTP85A] feat. emaru (アサヒ; デジハロ NEXUS {C84}) [electro pop] * "Einsamkeit" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5ot8YuEzRQ] feat. 綾倉 盟 (spctrm, Syrufit; Sensitive Moment {C76}) * "Ska or RED" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QriU83vYj9E] (水橋ゆっきー; Brass Quartet {C80}) [brass] * "気だるい図書館" [http://youtu.be/sQtynGssefk?t=6m13s] (水橋ゆっきー; Brass Quartet {C80}) [brass] * "銀河と恋色魔法" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_LEOKKdpFs] (水橋ゆっきー; Brass Quartet {C80}) [brass] * "NEXUS WiNG" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayR7ziDCdcs] feat. peЯoco. (katsu; DiGiHalo NEXUS {C84}) [pop] Vocaloid: * "ウィリウィリ (Wiliwili)" [https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/280585369/music/takamatt-eastendpandemonium-%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A3%E3%83%AA%E3%82%A6%E3%82%A3%E3%83%AAwiliwili.ogg] (Rin; takamatt, East End Pandemonium) [trance] * "girls' afternoon appointments" [http://soundcloud.com/leggysalad/girls-afternoon-appointments#play] (Miku? leggysalad; Amber {VM23}) [electronic] * "Swim Through The Air" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgArqShLH6w] (Miku; leggysalad; Amber {VM23}) [electronic] * "2AM Dreamy Wonderland (CY Short Mix)" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LAvJyr4NWQ] (Miku; MJQ, CY) [Progressive House] * "パンデミックの掃除" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upCOVlLEuQ4] (Rin; note@L-tone; かがみね★ふぇすた 2013) [J-pop] * "Bling Bling★Brighten Every Days" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cyo4WEbUqYo] (SeeU; Team StarRoid; On You) [house] * "Now Here" [https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/280585369/music/teamstarroid-onyou-nowhere.ogg] (SeeU; Team StarRoid, On You) [house]
1[anonymous]7yMetal: * Yn Gizarm - The Ruins of Loulan [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LSHFjh4-ws] - Black metal from the solo project of a member of Zuriaake. * Baradj - Qurai [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msI8q2Vct5c] - Tatar folk metal. * Nechochwen - Four Effigies [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ19Am1kw54] - Classical guitar + black metal. * Rattenfänger - Clausae Patent [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frXOSk27DD0] - A Drudkh side project, I think. Death metal. * Csejthe - La mort du prince noir [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bud9BE1slUk] - Canadian black metal. Sounds like Burzum. * La Rumeur des Chaînes - Erythème [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g2DUHNyu9Y] - Progressive black jazz metal. With horns. * Drottnar - Victor Comrade [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjFN57lXZWI] - If they'd had metal in the Roaring Twenties, this is what it would have sounded like. Accordion: * Truart - Die Komposition 3 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGajiwM5btQ] - Accordion-driven martial industrial. * Feindflug - Sturmwalzer [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXVbwA4_Gb0] - More accordion-driven martial industrial. * Barney McKenna and Tony MacMahon - The Wounded Hussar [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_leFY8oFbg] - An Irish folk tune played on accordion and banjo. * Eläkeläiset - Humppamaratooni [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RW_BEXpY19w] - A humppa arrangement of Whiskey in the Jar. Eläkeläiset almost made it to Eurovision once with Hulluna humpasta [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HXIb4IBPuU]. * Detektivbyrån - Life/Universe [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82NXtraD7kg] - Electronic accordion pop.

Other Media Thread

1niceguyanon7yhttp://www.ftlgame.com/ [http://www.ftlgame.com/] Fun space rouge-like.
1falenas1087yGood April Fool's Day Media http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/introducing-auto-awesome-photobombs.html [http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/introducing-auto-awesome-photobombs.html]
0[anonymous]7yI started using Librivox.org for audiobooks recently. One I exceptionally enjoyed was Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I read it once upon a time, but haven't picked it up since then. "Song of Myself" is still very powerful. His earthy loves and his love of the earth mixed beautifully with native visions of cosmic time and space. https://librivox.org/leaves-of-grass-by-walt-whitman/ [https://librivox.org/leaves-of-grass-by-walt-whitman/]