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Links 1 through 10 of 2130 by Chad Orzel tagged blogs

A unique approach to increasing academic productivity.

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I wish more discussions of fraternities and sororities were conducted with this level of thoughtfulness and respect. Also, the application of these ideas to stuff like "What's the matter with Kansas?" is left as an exercise for the reader.

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AVC: You come from a punk background. That seems to fit in with the anti-nationalism, anti-corporate, and anti-religious messages of “Imagine,” no?
FT: Yes, but that’s one of the things that’s so fucking annoying about it. Compared to, say, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” or indeed anything by Crass or The Clash or Propagandhi, it’s so utterly vacuous. It’s a Hallmark card set to music. There’s a pretty high dose of hypocrisy in here as well. For a man who had a dedicated, refrigerated room in his New York penthouse apartment for storing his fur-coat collection to sing “Imagine no possessions” takes a fair amount of chutzpah. I mean, I have no problem with the man collecting fur coats. Whatever floats your boat. But there’s a certain strain of material disdain that can only result from being really fucking rich, which is intensely patronizing.

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Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet. If something is read by someone in Star Wars, it’s almost certainly off of a screen (and even then, maybe being translated by a droid), and it’s definitely not for entertainment purposes. As early as the 1990s-era expanded Star Wars books and comic books, we’re introduced to ancient Jedi “texts” called holocrons, which are basically talking holographic video recordings. Just how long has the Star Wars universe been reliant on fancy technology to transfer information as opposed to the written word? Is it possible that a good number of people in Star Wars are completely illiterate?

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Travis is a native of New Hampshire. He likes to show me, as I’ve only lived in New Hampshire 17 years, some of the back roads and byways of the state. One evening we were taking a very rural shortcut when the headlights fell upon a creature. It crossed the road in front of the car, Travis had slammed on the brakes, and we just sat there for a moment.

“Did you see what I just saw?” Travis exclaimed.

I took a breath and think I answered something like “Yeah, if you think we just saw a chupacabra.”

At this point, we just started to laugh. The last people that need to see a mysterious creature crossing the road late at night are leaders of the local skeptic group.

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William Gibson’s Neuromancer is perhaps the closest thing to a Nostradamus that fiction has produced. And it feels like it’s getting truer every day. Think about that for a minute. Of all the realities in speculative fiction since the beginning, the ones that look most authentic in the here and now are the ones that remained more mundane — bound up in the struggles we have today posited a century hither. What does that say about science fiction’s success?

Science fiction as a genre requires one thing, and one thing only. It requires the story to engage with the future. Not merely be set in the future, or use some form of technology to accomplish a goal, rather it must engage with that future in way that is reflective of both now and then. If a story’s science fictional, or fantastic, elements can be removed and the story remains largely unchanged then it cannot be science fiction.

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Captain Kirk's Enterprise was a ship of phaser-happy explorers always pressing onward toward the next undiscovered planet on which they could stage a fistfight; in comparison, Captain Picard's Enterprise is a calm, sleek vessel of end-of-history galactic administration — a kind of faster-than-light embassy, complete with chamber music concerts. There's very little fighting; there's a great deal of personal growth and trade-pact negotiation. Many, many episodes turn on the decidedly nonstandard TV plot of something has gone wrong with a diplomat.

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The letter that Robert Heinlein sent in response to Theodore Sturgeon suffering writer's block, containing 26 "Sturgeon-ish" story ideas.

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Entrepreneurial action can represent the best social and imaginative potential of modern liberal societies. It’s also a great way to focus and challenge any new initiative or project. Do you want to mobilize groups, sustain collective action? Then it’s totally fair to ask, “With what resources? With what costs or liabilities? With what kind of plan for organizational and financial sustainability?” Do you have a great creative vision, or some change in material practices you’d like to encourage? Thinking “entrepreneurially” is a great filter or structure for approaching those aspirations.

What I do not like about “entrepreneurship” is when it starts to collapse into itself, when it’s an alibi for a gold-rush approach to life and aspiration, when it’s part of a frenzy.

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There is a massive, ever-expanding class of Americans who cannot remember a connection to pro football that did not involve the drafting and owning of skill players who work on their personal behalf. And the result, I fear, has been the mild dehumanization of humans we were already prone to perceive as machines.

Now, I realize dehumanization is a melodramatic word to use when discussing millionaires. I would guess that most people reading this column would love to be "dehumanized" in any context that pays them $9 million a year. But this isn't about feeling sympathy for pro athletes. That's not my point. What I'm proposing has more to do with how a few grains of personal investment prompt normal people to think about strangers in inaccurate, twisted, robotic ways. It's about how something fun quietly makes us selfish, and it's about the downside of turning real people into algebraic chess pieces.

The person who is making me think about this is Chris Johnson.

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