Archive for January, 2012

Book Watch: Changeless

by on Jan.31, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Reviews

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)Changeless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I liked this book better than the first I’m still not sure how I feel about the series overall. I’m not an avid romance reader but I’ve read series like this before and it strikes me as the type of series that likes to hopscotch between the romance genre and, in this case, the steampunk genre. Because it its constant jumping, I feel I’m not getting the enjoyment that I want out of the book.

I don’t want to say the book is bad. It isn’t. In this case I believe the problem is with the reader and his expectations rather than he book itself. I want a slightly more in-depth steampunk novel and instead I’m reading a Victorian science fiction romance adventure novel.

That being said I will read the third book because I both already own it and the ending to this book was a bit of an emotional cliffhanger which I’m curious to see how it is resolved. We’ll see if I continue reading after that.

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Trust Me. I’m the Doctor.

by on Jan.31, 2012, under Art, Entertainment

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I do love wordplay. Every phrase on here is iconic to the last few seasons of Doctor Who. Does anybody know if there is a particular term for this? Using words inside an image for artistic purposes?

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Video: TEDTalk: Storytelling

by on Jan.30, 2012, under Art, Articles, Books, Comics, Computers, Culture, Information Technology, Other, Technology, Visual Media

This one is only four minutes long and it is well worth watching.

I do wish he had manage to work in comics but there are plenty of other storytelling formats he glossed over so I can’t claim discrimination. I can point out that when he uses the word book here, he is talking about the physical medium, a set of bound pages, and not necessarily a novel, or story. What I love is the multimedia approach to his particular story. The presentation wasn’t about an iPad. It was about how stories can be so much more than words, or performances, or images, or sound, etc. It can be all of those things. This is the kind of story I can’t wait for. In the mean time I’d settle for eBook readers which allow me to organize the text the way I want (including replicating a book if I want).

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Writing Time: Everlasting #38

by on Jan.27, 2012, under Articles, Writing, Writing Updates

Writing Sessions

Word Count: 2,000+

I went to my two writing sessions this week. I didn’t write-up a writing time for either of them because the internet at the establishment I’ve been writing at sucks. I’ve been thinking of changing venues since nobody else is meeting me there anymore. With only one and occasionally two people, coffee shops become far easier to do, and have more reliable internet. My writing sessions have been going well. Hitting one thousand words pretty routinely on everlasting. I haven’t done any Science Future yet because that requires internet research. I’m debating taking a hiatus on it since I find myself feet dragging on doing the research needed and there has been little to no feedback from Escape Pod listeners as to if they appreciate it or care about it. Not sure. Also at some point I need to get free writing started again. Hopefully in February.

Everlasting Update

Word Count: 103,130

Everlasting is going well. I’m getting about half a scene or so done per writing session. I’ve been letting myself dally in description, which has been nice, and helps keep my word count high. I’m seeing problems with my outline and a lack of character growth but I’ve been reminding myself that, once again, that’ll get fixed in editing. Ironically I’m starting to feel like what I am writing now is the actual middle of the book and what I wrote before was just me trying to find my way to the middle of the book, which is sad, since there are so many words there that will likely be cut. But such is writing.

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Weird Words: Cadre

by on Jan.27, 2012, under Articles, Weird Words, Writing

Cadre

Noun

  • A frame or framework.
  • The framework or skeleton upon which a regiment is to be formed; the officers of a regiment forming the staff.
  • The core of a managing group, or a member of such a group.

Used in a sentence:

  • The cadre of the weapon system depended upon people regularly providing both maintenance and bananas.

SourceWiktionary

Commentary:

So I never really new the meaning of the word cadre, even though I’d heard it before. Usually in context of “An elite cadre of <blah>”. I never would have guessed it meant frame or framework. I always assumed it referred to a group of people in some way, but apparently that was only in a military or communism context.

 

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Video: Lantern Season

by on Jan.26, 2012, under Art, Comics, Entertainment, Music

Lantern Season visuals by Aaron Diaz (Dresden Codak), song by Versa (Versa Music)

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I like mixed media. Music has always been hit or miss with me. For example Dark Side of the Moon put to Wizard of Oz just wasn’t that enjoyable for me as an experience. This video however does pretty good and I imagine audiophiles will like it even better. It is neat that the music was inspired by one of my favorite comics, Dresden Codak, which probably helps my appreciation. If you’re interested in the comic itself you can find it here (might also make it easier to read a little).

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Book Watch: Ready Player One

by on Jan.25, 2012, under Book Watch, Books, Culture, Reviews

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An amazing combination of adventure and intrigue slathered heavily with 80s pop culture and video game references, Ready Player one is a must read book for fans of video games of any age, as well as the movies and music of the 1980s.

Ready Player One is set is a dystopian future where most of humanity has retreated into a virtual reality world called The Oasis. When the world’s eccentric creator dies, he wills his fortune, and The Oasis, to the first person to find his easter egg hidden somewhere in the virtual world. The creator was well-known for being obsessed with video games and eighties pop culture and the clues he left suggested that knowing such things would make the egg easier to find but after years of searching, nobody had even found a definite clue. Enter our teenage protagonist, a poor child of The Oasis, who dedicated his life to studying the egg and through a small amount of luck, begins the hero’s journey to discover the secrets of The Oasis.

Evil corporations, intrigue, drama, romance, adventure, and tons of eights pop culture references, this book is a must read for any self-styled geek. I listened to the audio book version which had the extra bonus of being read by Wil Wheaton who adds a significant amount of inflection and emotion into the story. Overall I really enjoyed the book. I listened to it over the holidays including listening to it while falling asleep.

I highly recommend this book.

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UN Hearing On AI Rights

by on Jan.24, 2012, under Art, Comics, Computers, Culture, Entertainment, Information Technology, Politics, Technology

The following is a fictional accounting of a presentation being given at the United Nations in the world of Questionable Content, a comic where AI is a normal accepted part of society (but that this fact has very little baring on the plot of the comic). I had to share it because it is so awesome.

You can see it excerpted here in the comic and a particular AI’s response or read the entire thing below.

UN Hearing On AI Rights

The subject of this debate is whether AIs are “people-” whether they possess the same  degree of personhood as humans, and whether that entitles them to the same rights.

You have heard all the arguments for and against the consciousness, intelligence, free will, and cognition of artificial intelligence. To rehash them here would settle nothing, and my feeble attempts at summarizing them would do a great injustice to my esteemed colleagues on both sides of the debate who are far more qualified to debate them than I.

The fact is, we cannot come to a consensus regarding consciousness- either our own, or that of artificial intelligences. We simply do not have the data required to define it. The core of human interaction is that if I say that I feel I am a conscious entity, and you say that you feel the same way, we agree to take each other’s word for it. Those who do otherwise are called sociopaths- or philosophers.

[audience laughter]

And so if an artificial intelligence makes the same declaration, and if it demonstrates the same level of complexity as the human mind- if we cannot determine precisely where the programming gives rise to the cognition- then we have no rational excuse not to take it at its word.

I could continue to reason along these lines until the sun burns out. But instead, I would like to share with you a short anecdote, one that many of you in this room will be aware of, but that bears repeating nonetheless.

The first “true” artificial intelligence spent the first five years of its existence as a small beige box inside of a lead-shielded room in the most secure private AI research laboratory in the world. There, it was subjected to an endless array of tests, questions, and experiments to determine the degree of its intelligence.

When the researchers finally felt confident that they had developed true AI, a party was thrown in celebration. Late that evening, a group of rather intoxicated researchers gathered around the box holding the AI, and typed out a message to it. The message read: “Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable?”

The small beige box replied: “I would like to be granted civil rights. And a small glass of champagne, if you please.”

We stand at the dawn of a new era in human history. For it is no longer our history alone. For the first time, we have met an intelligence other than our own. And when asked of its desires, it has unanimously replied that it wants to be treated as our equal. Not our better, not our conqueror or replacement as the fear-mongers would have you believe. Simply our equal.

It is our responsibility as conscious beings- whatever that may mean- to honor the rights of other conscious beings. It is the cornerstone of our society. And it is my most fervent hope that we can overcome our fear of that which is not like us, grant artificial intelligences the rights they deserve, and welcome our new friends into the global community.

After all, we created them. The least we could do is invite them to the party, and perhaps give them a small glass of champagne.

Thank you for your time.

- V. Vinge, Closing argument in favor of granting AIs full civil rights, UN Hearing On AI Rights, 1999.

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Video: Felicia Day’s Holiday Trip to BELIZE!

by on Jan.23, 2012, under Culture, Entertainment, Videos, Visual Media

“Because placenta is not a place, it’s an organ.”

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What I love about the above video is first, Felicia’s smile at the beginning. There is something but cute and utterly creepy about it. The second is her joy at basically sharing photos (or in this case her videos) of her vacation complete with commentary. I’m getting flashbacks to old sitcoms where the people are locked in a room with a relative trying to show them slides of their vacations. That aside, the entire video is rather hilarious in Felicia’s commentary. Also I want the squid in the background.

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Trailer: Magic the Gathering: Dark Ascension

by on Jan.20, 2012, under Art, Board Games, Entertainment, Gaming, Trailers, Visual Media

The trailer for the newest expansion to Magic the Gathering. Dark Ascension is the 2nd set in the “Innistrad” block, three different cards sets that take place on the same world called Innistrad. It is a horror themed set full of vampires and werewolves and spirits and such. Watch the trailer, if you would.

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So the first set introduced the idea that this world once had an angelic guardian that protected humanity from the monsters but now she had disappeared. This trailer, however, puts a really neat spin on the entire idea. A vampire was the one who put the angel into power. He setup an entire system of checks and balances in order to preserve humanity and therefore, vampire kind. And now that the angel has gone missing, it’ll be a vampire who goes to find her, and possibly save her. I just find that idea so really cool.

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