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truth is life
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Does anyone know of a site or sites which have prompts for science fiction stories? I am really dying to write something but I don't know what (and the writing project I currently have going is not sufficiently inspirational).
@TBAT: Yes, please. I could have sworn I only hit the post button once. Typepad why do you hate me... @Ross: You've essentially reinvented the classical dream of utopians. Since...I dunno, the mid-19th century at least (ie., when Communism showed up), people have been talking about how advancing technology/productivity would mean that everyone could meet each other's needs on four hours of labor a day, or something like that. Hasn't happened so far, but that doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing.
Clearly I haven't read enough Asimov, or at least not recently enough. Explain 'Solaria', please. From the Robots novels. The Solarians were the first wave of space colonists to leave the Earth, using massive amounts of robotic labor to compensate for the natural shortage of personnel you would expect in a frontier situation (you didn't need janitors, or for that matter farmers, since you could use robots instead). As a result, all of the humans are in relatively well-off positions, rather than grunt laborers, and combined with the immense amounts of space available on an unsettled world naturally go off and build massive mansions with the huge robotic labor force, rather than crowd together in cities. It gets to the point where every Solarian expects to have a massive estate and huge personal robotic labor force, and not have to actually physically work with other Solarians; as a matter of fact, they become quite unwilling to have physical contact with each other in any context. They do pretty well, but then the humans who stayed behind, who do live in huge, crowded cities and don't use robots do better, expanding way out into the galaxy and eventually setting up the Galactic Empire of the Foundation novels.
Beh, I just finished a rather large post and it vanished. Is there any chance it fell in the spam trap, TBAT?
I moved National Novel Writing Month from July to November to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather. Author needs to move to Houston, then. This last November's weather was fine--if it was "miserable" it was because it kept whipsawing between pretty cold (for Houston) and spring temperatures (for Houston--read, upper 70s to low 80s). It couldn't just pick one. And the building is always a few days behind the weather wrt cooling or heating. And I always feel a nice, rainy day is, well, nice (and cozy). One, note, without thunderstorms or what not--just a steady, light rain fall for most of the day. It makes me feel warm fuzzies inside. Something about getting to stay inside and have a nice-looking grayish sort of landscape outside, and all that...I may not be typical, may I?
So I seem to have busted my foot a week ago. I was going down the stairs, and tripped, and twisted my ankle up. (Surely this is something that has happened to Bella at some point). The ankle swelled up, and obviously I had trouble for a few days. But then it shrank back down, and mostly stopped hurting, so everything seemed fine. And now this weekend, the foot itself (not the ankle) started swelling up, and developed blue-black streaks, and so on. It's actually worse than when the ankle itself was the problem. So it looks like I get to go to the doctor tomorrow and probably get an x-ray and who knows what will happen after that. It doesn't actually hurt right now, but only by virtue of sitting in a chair in my room with said foot propped up on a beat-up old Ottoman (and why do we call those things Ottomans anyways, the Ottomans were much more than a foot rest). So it's no fun at all. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), it's finals...half-month here, so I don't actually have to go into school very much--4-5 days over the next two weeks at most. It shouldn't be too hard, but the crutches that I will probably have to use will be brutal (no upper body strength--they turn a quick walk into an intense workout). Other than that, I can just sit in my room at home and prop up my foot and down ibuprofen to keep things from hurting and read and do problems. @J. Engima: You helped create Eclipse Phase? Cool, I really like that game. Not for being a game, since I have a distinct lack of time or real-life RPG...people I can play a game with, but the setting is really neat. Probably one of my favorite sci-fi settings out there, especially for the so-called "plausible midfuture".
Toggle Commented Dec 4, 2011 on Board Post, December 1 2011 at The Slacktiverse
@Deird: I'm pretty sure we have a decent community of RPGers here...I, for one, would be interested in such a thing. Despite being not particularly an RPGer or an Avatar fan.
Toggle Commented Dec 2, 2011 on Board Post, December 1 2011 at The Slacktiverse
I always have to stop and think for a moment when people ask where I'm from (the short answer, the slightly-longer answer, or the full story?). I guess I have it easy, since I pretty much only have a short answer (*current city*) and a slightly longer answer (*current city* and was born in *state capital* but moved to *current city* within 2 years).
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2011 on Ethical Dilemmas at The Slacktiverse
Should one support international treaties to reduce carbon emissions, thus protecting the environment, or should one support international efforts to bring everyone up to the same standard of living, thus reducing privilege? One could support both, but how to industrialize nations without dumping mountains of soot into the air? Well...I would say protecting the environment is (at least) strictly superior up to the point where the minimal necessary environmental quality is achieved (that is, you want to make sure that the Earth is still, y'know, inhabitable before you worry about quality of life since it's no good to have a million bucks if you're dead). After that, you need to balance the standard of living benefits of a healthy environment against the standard of living benefits of increased industrialization. I would also note that there are very sound reasons to avoid the "dumping soot in air" model of industrialization at this point which are completely tied to (future) "standard of living" concerns and not so much to environmental concerns.
Toggle Commented Nov 29, 2011 on Ethical Dilemmas at The Slacktiverse
@21st Century Bird: While I don't doubt United Russia would do something like that, I am confused about how local leaders in St. Petersburg (unless I am very misled, St. Petersburg hasn't been the national capital since 1917) would have the power to ban QUILTBAG literature everywhere in Russia (again, unless I am very much misled, 1/2 of the city's population is probably not QUILTBAG, statistically speaking). Unless it's something where Russian publishers are based in St. Petersburg, in general, or for some reason books that aren't published there are generally no available in Russia? But both of those don't quite seem to make sense... Not that I disagree with the petition, of course, I'm just wondering how this seems to be a national-level threat instead of a (very significant!) local one. It seems more comparable with, say, Dallas banning QUILTBAG literature than with the US doing so as a whole, but the quotes act like it's the other way around.
@TRiG: Ctrl-F might be easier to remember though--it's slightly mnemonic ("F" for "Find"), especially if you're used to the Ctrl-___ scheme Windows uses for lots of things (and other things use for lots of things too, to be fair).
Another thing you can do with Firefox is initiate an on-page search with the "/" key, as long as you aren't in a text box. Also works on Opera, if anyone else out there happens to use it. So if the numbers were 2400 and 2000 then you want to change the smaller number to 500, because 2400/600 = 5 and 2000/5 = 500. *cough* 2000/5 = 400. /math hat Sorry, but, well...
Bleu Cheese makes me sad. Thanks to my penicillin allergy, it's kinda taking my life into my own hands, but SO OFTEN they stick it into things that sound REALLY TASTY. Hm, Bleu Cheese can trigger penicillin allergies? Better put that down on my list of Things Never to Eat.
You know, I don't know quite how the department I'm at treats candidacy. I know they don't have the traditional qualification exams (for physics Ph.D.s), instead relying on the class finals, but other than that...? I should probably look into that the next time I'm not trying to grade papers or study for upcoming tests. Anyways, as I posted in the last thread (and to get back semi-on-topic), the writing project I'm currently working on is actually going pretty well right now. The old creativity module, which seemed to have shut down for most of the semester, just restarted, so I've been having ideas right and left, which my coauthor seems to like (I mean the ideas, although I'm sure he also appreciates my having ideas right and left too!). Of course, translating "ideas" into "words" is not the easiest step, but you have to have the ideas before you can do that. And we do have a buffer of a few months worth of posts, so I don't have to start writing to a schedule just yet.
I find myself very surprised that I have managed to write ~2000 words over the last 3 days for a project I've been working on for...well, a few years if you want to get expansive, but more like a year or so in actuality. For context, the entirety of the ready stuff my coauthor and I have written thus far is like...20,000 words, so I've written about a tenth as much again as everything we've put together since March. In 3 days. Of course, we've done a lot of stuff which isn't strictly speaking writing (ie., no one but us will see it), but which is pretty necessary for what we have written, but still. When I have a ton of grading to do argh so I shouldn't really be thinking about alternate space programs but I can't stop argh. And this is only part of three chunks, with quite a bit left in each one...and I have a good part of another chunk floating around in my head...
TBAT: The ShareThis links at the bottom of posts are bothering me because they seem to auto-open when my mouse cursor passes over them (a common occurrence since I'm on a laptop and using a touchpad--a beat-up old touchpad which likes being tricky) and prevent me from clicking any other links on the page while they're open (like the comment links). Is there anyway to keep them from auto-opening?
OTOH, all of the republics were on major trade routes, or trading-oriented. And it's not like any of them were really particularly representative, being more (IIRC) formalized versions of plutocracy--in other words, not differing so much from the surrounding lands except in the whole "no King" thing (and even that wasn't necessarily true--there were many small republics which were members of the HRE, for instance!). They didn't really challenge the basic notion of kingship the way a US or France-style republic would (and did).
(Yet no one noticed that Venice didn't have too many problems in that regard...) Or Genoa, or Pisa, or Ragusa. Plenty of republics to go around!
And very few people ever even pretended to be interested in my rhapsodic disquisitions on the finite population correction factor -- and yet understanding that (and a few other basic statistical facts) would be immensely useful to anyone who wants to intelligently follow the many polls/studies about the American political scene. Come to think of it, I don't know much about that (or anything else about statistics, for that matter--just the remnants of a high-school, therefore alegebra-based, class sloshing around my brain), even though it will probably be immensely useful given the field I want to go into. Hm... But I can agree with you there. I doubt too many people would be interested in how cool the link between the calculus of variations and partial differential equations is, and how extra cool is the fact that you can derive some really important results (like, say, the fact that quantum theory predicts quantization) from that with no reference to physical situations at all. I saw a great essay once (possibly a link from someone here?) that compared the way math is usually taught to trying to teach art by starting a bunch of grade-school kids with paint-by-number kits that only have one color. After a couple of years, you graduate them up to a second color. Then wait a couple of years, add a third color. If anybody complains that coloring by number isn't really much to do with art, tell them that you're trying teach the basics at a pace everyone can handle, and if they really want to draw, they can take courses on it in college. Well, there is something to be said for getting really good at all the things they tend to make you do in math classes--being able to do them without thinking is often of some value in later classes, just the same way advanced physics or math classes often benefit from you being able to do algebra (calculus, linear algebra...) very smoothly and quickly. Algebra is often just a generalization of those existing rules to the case where you don't know one (or more) of the values involved. OTOH, well, it *is* just a generalization, and maybe you could start out with it (I've sometimes thought it ought to be started in elementary school, though that might be asking a bit much).
It's not really a conspiracy theory or anything coherent, to be honest, but one thing that bugs me a LOT (and it did even before I became a TA and thus had to deal with it enormously more) is how little people care or know about algebra. I'm not even talking really complicated stuff here, just the basics of how to solve a problem with symbolic components. It often seems like people are deliberately choosing to take the more complicated and difficult route just because it has fewer letters. Maybe people don't actually use this much in their everyday life (I wouldn't know, I use it constantly), but most people don't use history or literary criticism in their everyday life either.
World War I? "There was some fighting over something or other over in Europe and then America came over and saved the day!" World War II? same, pretty much, but we did learn about the Holocaust too. I think by the end of the school year we got as far as the US saving the day in Vietnam... Wait, but aren't you Hungarian? *Mind boggles*
2) A linear view of history where it goes Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, 1000 years of nothing but disease and stupidity, The Rennaisance, Columbus, Shakespeare, America, the French Revolution, Jane Austen, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, some Hippies, Disco, Regan, Clinton, 9/11, Now. For a moment I was like "Well, there are some awfully big gaps in there (cue standard rant on Romans->Byzantines, how the "Dark Ages" weren't, etc.), but nothing too awful," and then I noticed that it was totally Eurocentric--and not even in such a way that it would pay attention to the places Europeans knocked over! Not to mention the nearly-total ignorance of social and technological history...
or are the fears it draws on baseless or unsupported. The idea that rich white Westerners might force others into medical treatment that had questionable value, was a gross violation of important cultural values, or did actual physical harm...where would anyone come up with that? Indeed, and I didn't say they weren't at least somewhat justified by history. However, it is a factor that has to be taken into account--in Nigeria, it got so bad they actually suspended vaccination for a few years!
Also it costs thirty cents to vaccinate a child. At that price, why in the name of all that's holy haven't we eradicated polio yet? Well, there are a couple of reasons I can think of off the top of my head. First, that price probably only takes into account the cost of manufacturing the vaccine, not (for instance) transporting it to wherever it's being deployed, refregerating it on the trip, arranging vaccination drives, hiring local people to administer the vaccine, and so on. Obviously, all of those are important as well, and they aren't free. Add it all up, and it probably takes quite a bit of money to vaccinate any given child. Factor in that not every child vaccinated would have been infected, or would have died or been disabled, and the relatively limited scope of endemic polio nowadays, and it's possible some charities or people say "Well, polio eradication isn't as important as [say] anti-malarial work or combating diarrhea or etc. etc., at least in terms of helping people--we can save more lives by doing something else." That isn't even taking into account the relatively limited geographical scope of endemic polio, and therefore the relatively limited number of people affected by it (although some of that geography is densely populated). Second, anti-vax sentiment is not just limited to rich white Westerners. There have been actual factual riots--I remember in Nigeria, but possibly elsewhere--over vaccination campaigns. The usual line is that the vaccination is actually a plot by whites/Christians/Jews/etc. to infect with HIV/render sterile/etc. the local population, so they shouldn't get vaccinated. This is, IIRC, a bit more common in Muslim populations for various reasons, which if you look at the countries listed...well, two of them are majority-Muslim and the other two have large Muslim minorities. Third, at least in Afghanistan and Pakistan you have areas which are not under central government control, or are suffering considerable unrest. It's obviously quite difficult to organize vaccination campaigns in a country which is suffering from a civil war, as Afghanistan has been for the past 30 years! Similarly, it's quite difficult to organize vaccination drives in populations that are severely isolated from the outside world, or which don't officially exist anywhere. That probably explains part of why those two countries still have endemic polio.
Especially if you don't have access to antibiotics because they haven't been invented yet. Even that doesn't necessarily help that much if you don't have the right type of antibiotics. For instance, the first time I was reading The Plague, I wondered why the French didn't just ship in penicillin. It was taking place soon after WWII, after all, so I knew there was plenty around. It turns out, though, that plague is not vulnerable to penicillin (I think it's Gram-negative, whereas penicillin will only affect Gram-positive organisms), so that wouldn't work. Sanitation might've helped some, but what they really needed was flea control. Well, better sanitation might cut the rat population, reducing contact with fleas. Maybe, I don't really know.