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Skyler Crossman
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I embed the odd apology, does that count? "But I’ll teach the student Who’ll manage the factory That tempers the steel that makes colonies strong. And I’ll write the program that runs the computer That charts out the stars where our rockets belong." I hear having dinner and conversation with one's son is the best source of meaning in life. I've got thoughts aplenty if you ever start running low.
Toggle Commented Jan 9, 2019 on "Is this all?’” at Eucatastrophe Reader
There was an essay I once read (long lost to the internet and I have not been able to find it again) about Ender's Game specifically, and fiction novels in general, that cut very close to home. In Ender's Game, near the end of the story the main character overcomes the great threat that the story has been building up to. Like many adventure novels, at the end Grendel is defeated, Voldemort is overcome, and Brian Robeson returns home. There's so much focus placed throughout the story, and in Ender's Game throughout the entire life of the main character, on this climax of purpose. If one grows up on this kind of narrative (and it's not a surprise that many people do- we call many of these stories "coming of age novels" after all) then it's natural to push upward towards the great challenge or obstacle in our lives. And then the story goes on, and we don't know what to do with ourselves. Ender wins his war, then lies around on a barren asteroid with no idea what he wants to do next. Like Frodo, eventually he "sails west" out off the map we've made. What would a book written about Frodo's life after The Return of the King be like? What does a life lived after graduation or getting that big promotion or getting married look like? Meaning in life might be better thought of as food. We need it, but we there is no great feast so large that we won't need to eat again next week. Perhaps better to take our meaning in small drips and drabs, like one more brick laid in a foundation of a building you believe will be great someday.
Toggle Commented Jan 8, 2019 on "Is this all?’” at Eucatastrophe Reader
"The opposition of the cat (instinct) and the sound of 'ever dean' contains the connotation of both the amygdala and the frontal cortex." Unrelated, but how's Unsong treating you? :P I know I need more physicality in my life. Also more challenge, something to push back at me. Also more sleep. Bah.
Clarification: Neuromancer is one of two books that I would point to as the definitive cyberpunk novels. The other, Snow Crash, could be described as a negative Dystopia (in contrast to Brave New World's negative Utopia) as it portrays a world we would find disturbing (all prisons are private prisons and it's normal to bribe the private police corporations to bring you to a better quality of prison, people live in U-store-it boxes, there are "sacrifice zones" with so much ecological damage that they have been utterly abandoned) but whose characters are generally happy with the circumstances. Other stories on the subject you should read- Philip Farmer's Riders of the Purple Wage, Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Cory Doctorow's Walkaway. In my own writing, I find it useful to think of utopias that I personally couldn't stand to live in. Automation already seems to threaten to abrogate most employment. A world where food, shelter, medicine, and most technology was freely available to all due to absurd abundance, but there was nothing useful or productive for the overwhelming majority of humanity to do would objectively be a utopia but I would have a hard time living there.
People can obviously agree with both- one need not look far before one finds any number of people who believe that taxes should be lower, that the government should provide more, and that we should not have as high a deficit as we do. Whether a person can agree with both and be consistent is another matter entirely. I do wish we could stop using 'right' as a tool of argument. Words have meanings, and I would love to see many of the arguments around rights be made without use of that particular word but with the intended meanings instead. For myself, the best explanation of the foundational rights in the U.S. is probably here ( and it does not lend itself well to education and health care being rights.
The problem is not listening to our hearts, but acting on what we hear. I've come to take my emotions as inputs, signals regarding what I want; I then let my mind figure out how to achieve those desires. This seems to work well for me, though others may find they have more inconsistent hearts than I.
Companies have no clear incentive to pay for it, and as you point out taxing them is already somewhat harder than we would like. If GM was told it had to give the workers it was laying off a bachelors degree, do you think they would do that properly or find some loophole like they do with out of country tax loopholes? I think your first question about reinvention is the wrong one. Perhaps people "should" acquire new skills to fit the changing world, but my worry is whether they "can" acquire those skills. Self-driving cars and automatic fast food joints aren't too far off in the future. It's a worry that's cropped up since the start of the industrial revolution, that there will be no more work after the machines take it, and up until now it seems like the workers have been able to migrate to something new. Maybe I'm wrong and that will happen again. . . but I don't think it will happen forever.
Both lost and gained. On the dangerous side, games can create addictive cycles, feedback loops based on skinner boxes that keep us doing the same things over and over again. These kinds of things are usually spotted by experienced gamers and rightly ignored, but the inexperienced are easy prey to them. At their worst, these games are essentially virtual slot machines, with all the waste that entails. As time goes on, designers get better at disguising or empowering these sorts of games- to the extent that some game designers have been hired to consult for operations in Vegas. But games create community and meaning, places of common ground between people. When people of my parent's age at work talk about that great Patriots game last night I nod and smile and fake my way through things, but I can get a chuckle and a groan out of nearly anyone my age by saying "I used to play sports, but then I took an arrow through the knee." The friendly rivalry that exists between Yankees and Red Sox fans also exists between Stormcloak and Imperial supporters. (Both of the above are Skyrim references.) I've heard stories of kids a generation ago wandering out to a soccer field to run into pickup games. That doesn't happen anymore, not as often I don't think- the games are scheduled, organized by adults. I wandered into Minecraft servers, met people in Runescape guilds, and built friendships over a D&D game. My roommates at college were the Sorcerer and the Zenith, my significant other played the Druid. I think a lot of ways to feel like you 'matter' have gotten harder to access- as communities get larger, it's harder to feel exceptional. When I was feeling lonely after graduation, I reached out to people by offering to run games. Some designers are working to bilk money from their players. Others are working to foster community and team spirit. As far as I know, the latter are the only people actively working on this problem.
Have you read Snow Crash? The genre in general I know wouldn't appeal to you, but one of the central concepts under discussion I find very interesting. It spends a lot of time watching the natural conclusion of "Power attempts to get more power." You can divide all human organizations into two camps- those who put the preservation of themselves as an organization as a goal of the organization, and those who don't. The problem is, obviously, that eventually an organization has to make a choice between what is good for its survival vs what is good for its other stated goals. Organizations that actively strive towards their own survival tend to last much longer- at the risk of putting their stated goals second. Unions were created with a need- to get fair treatment for workers. The longer the union lasts however, the easier and easier it is to make "Keep the union afloat" as a goal of the union. That's what we see a lot of in this movie- a system that is choosing its own survival over its stated goals.
Toggle Commented Mar 6, 2014 on Won't Back Down at Eucatastrophe Reader
Skyler Crossman is now following Philip Crossman
Oct 27, 2013
I think every teacher should have to do their own homework. At the very least, it gives students an idea of how the assignment can be done. How do you measure success?
This is a blog about Dungeons, and about Dragons. Let me start out by making a few amendments to that statement- I really love all roleplaying games. It's one of my favorite things to do with friends. As an engineer, I love the math of it, the sheer tactical opportunity... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2011 at Somewhere in the Dungeon
Skyler Crossman is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 7, 2010