Archive for August, 2011

08/31/2011

He has erected a multitude of new offices…

by wfgodbold

And sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

Now, I’m not saying that the current president is responsible for all of the recent federal overreach, abuse of power, or creation of pointless (and arguably unconstitutional) government offices, but…

The CEO of Gibson is a Republican donor; a competitor (who happens to be a Democratic donor) uses the same Indian rosewood, but has not been raided.

Selective enforcement of the law is tyrannical; if we are a nation of laws and not men (hah!), then Gibson’s competitors also ought to be raided (Though the Lahey Act is flat out insane in the first place; how is anyone supposed to keep track of foreign laws, or know whether foreign manufacturers complied with their own laws?).

While it’s tempting to lay the blame for this at the feet of the Obama administration (since it did happen on their watch), the propensity for the creation of powerful federal agencies is bipartisan, and no one on either side of the aisle has given any indication that they’re willing to consider shutting down the bureaucracies.

08/30/2011

No wonder the Greeks made Socrates drink hemlock

by wfgodbold

They were probably sick of his damn method. If I’m not sick of endless questions by the time I finish law school, I may need to be committed.

I’ve not yet been called on in any classes yet, though I think the gunner has identified himself (no, it’s not me; I subscribe to the “keep your mouth shut” school of learning).

The reading hasn’t been too bad (yet); ~60 pages a night per class, and I’ve been doing rough briefs while reading, so I can finish each class’s reading/briefing in a couple hours. With two classes each day (six classes this semester, each meets twice a week), that’s not too difficult to do.

I expect it to get worse, though. I’d’ve gotten along great with Diogenes.

08/29/2011

The question isn’t whether you’re *too* cynical

by wfgodbold

It’s whether you’re cynical enough.

Jerry Pournelle points out the problems with environmentalism and our society, and what could happen in the future.

We’re screwed.

Read the whole thing.

08/28/2011

In lieu of actual content…

by wfgodbold

I figured I would go through the NPR Top 100 SF/Fantasy books and see which I’ve read in full (bolded), in part (italicized), or not at all (you can figure it out, I think).

1. The Lord of the Rings (I read this for the first time back in 5th or 6th grade, and probably once more in high school. It’s easy to see why it’s at the top of the list)

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Another series I read in high school. That might explain my warped sense of humor)

3. Ender’s Game (The best of the series. I have no idea what Card was thinking with the sequels)

4. The Dune Chronicles (I’ve read all of Herbert’s books; I have not read any of the books written by his son.)

5. A Song of Ice and Fire Series (I’ve read the first book; it was good, but I’m waiting until Martin finishes the series before I read the rest)

6. 1984 (Read it in eighth grade for English class. Good in spite of that)

7. Fahrenheit 451

8. The Foundation Trilogy

9. Brave New World

10. American Gods (An excellent book; though I did prefer the main story to the many vignettes in between chapters)

11. The Princess Bride (Just as wonderful as the movie)

12. The Wheel of Time Series (I’ve read the first 7 or 8 books, and then quit until it was finished. Now I’ve got to wait until Sanderson finishes writing from Jordan’s notes; even then, I should probably start over, since there’s a cast of thousands and I don’t remember much)

13. Animal Farm (Another book I read for English in junior/senior high school; I think the teachers were just trying to depress us)

14. Neuromancer

15. Watchmen (I’ve skimmed it; I really should go through and read the entire book sometime)

16. I, Robot (Far better than the movie. No comparison. At all.)

17. Stranger in a Strange Land (I prefer Heinlein’s other works, but this had good points)

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind was good, but since this is another giant series, I’m going to wait until it’s done before reading the rest)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five (I don’t remember much about this, other than its being extremely disjointed)

20. Frankenstein (Another eighth grade reading assignment)

21. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

22. The Handmaid’s Tale

23. The Dark Tower Series (I’ve read all but the last book and a half. I keep meaning to finish it, but…)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Good, but overrated, I think)

25. The Stand

26. Snow Crash (How can you not like a book where the main character is named Hiro Protagonist?)

27. The Martian Chronicles

28. Cat’s Cradle

29. The Sandman Series

30. A Clockwork Orange

31. Starship Troopers (A timeless classic. Far better than Verhoeven’s awful adaptation)

32. Watership Down (Rabbits, rabbit mythology, rabbit wars…)

33. Dragonflight (I read most of the series, but I think they were mediocre for the most part)

34. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Remember, kids; when we’ve colonized the moon, it’s best to be nice to them lest they drop giant rocks on us)

35. A Canticle for Leibowitz

36. The Time Machine

37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (I don’t remember much about the book, other than my copy was at least 40 years old when I read it)

38. Flowers for Algernon (Excerpts were assigned in English. Now I really do think they were trying to depress us)

39. The War of the Worlds

40. The Chronicles of Amber (The only books by Zelazny I’ve read. A fun read, but confusing at times)

41. The Belgariad

42. The Mists of Avalon

43. The Mistborn Series (The “magic” system Sanderson invented for this world is amazing; I’m looking forward to The Alloy of Law, his upcoming sequel)

44. Ringworld (Pierson’s Puppeteers, Pak Protectors, Kzinti, and weird alien sex. What more do you want from your SF?)

45. The Left Hand of Darkness

46. The Silmarillion

47. The Once and Future King

48. Neverwhere (Not as good as American Gods, but still not awful)

49. Childhood’s End (I started this in junior high, and never finished it. I just lost interest)

50. Contact

51. The Hyperion Cantos (Just Hyperion; not the sequels)

52. Stardust (A modern take on fairy tales, and another decent work by Gaiman)

53. Cryptonomicon

54. World War Z (An interesting look at the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, and a great read)

55. The Last Unicorn

56. The Forever War (Time dilation and how society can change when decades or centuries pass between when you leave for war and when you return)

57. Small Gods (Not my favorite of the Discworld books, but Pratchett is usually good)

58. The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, The Unbeliever (Depressing. I read the original six, and have no interest in finishing it)

59. The Vorkosigan Saga (Intrigue, action, and politics on an interstellar scale)

60. Going Postal (How con man Moist Lipwig reformed Ankh Morpork’s Post Office and himself at the same time)

61. The Mote in God’s Eye (Niven and Pournelle’s tale of first contact)

62. The Sword of Truth (If Ayn Rand wrote fantasy, this is what she’d’ve written. I need to finish the last couple of books)

63. The Road

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

65. I am Legend (Why does Will Smith manage to ruin every book adaptation he stars in?)

66. The Riftwar Saga (I read through the first major story arc and lost interest after that)

67. The Shannara Trilogy (The first is a ripoff of LOTR. Blatant. The second and third are better)

68. The Conan the Barbarian Series (I’ve read some of the short stories, but not all of them)

69. The Farseer Trilogy

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife

71. The Way of Kings

72. A Journey to the Center of the Earth

73. The Legend of Drizzt Series

74. Old Man’s War (Scalzi’s take on human vs alien war is excellent)

75. The Diamond Age

76. Rendezvous with Rama (I didn’t much like it in junior high when I read it, but I think by then I’d read the rest of the SF they had at the library)

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series

78. The Dispossessed

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes

80. Wicked

81. The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series (Dark, epic fantasy. I’m ~2.5 books from the end, but they’re very large books…)

82. The Eyre Affair

83. The Culture Series

84. The Crystal Cave

85. Anathem

86. The Codex Alera Series (I prefer the Dresden Files to Butcher’s take on what would happen if the lost Roman legion found their way to a world filled with Pokemon)

87. The Book of the New Sun

88. The Thrawn Trilogy (I read these when they first came out. George Lucas should’ve adapted them for film instead of doing the prequels)

89. The Outlander Series

90. The Elric Saga (Just a few of the short stories, not the whole series. Very Conan-esque)

91. The Illustrated Man

92. Sunshine

93. A Fire Upon the Deep

94. The Caves of Steel

95. The Mars Trilogy

96. Lucifer’s Hammer (If Earth got hit by a comet, we would be royally screwed)

97. Doomsday Book

98. Perdido Street Station

99. The Xanth Series (Just the first few. The puns get too forced after that)

100. The Space Trilogy (For some reason I think I’ve only read the middle book. No idea why)

Huh. I’ve read (at least in part) just over half of them.

Not bad.

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08/27/2011

Blizz, you could learn a thing or two from Runic Games…

by wfgodbold

Torchlight II will feature online multiplayer, LAN multiplayer, and offline single player.

And it will do all of this at the low low price of $20.

That beats the hell out of the $60 I’m sure Diablo III will cost (or $90+ for the inevitable collector’s edition), and it doesn’t even require a permanent internet connection.

08/26/2011

Rebuild of Evangelion #3: Q dated!

by wfgodbold

And the word is: Fall 2012. (Incidentally, the Q is for Quickening. No idea why.)

Misato narrates (in the style of the next episode previews from the TV series):

Shinji Ikari awakens! A mysterious boy stands nearby! And a new world awaits him! Next time, Evangenion Rebuild Q! I’ll be there for fan service this time, too!

Now I’m intrigued; Asuka never lost an eye in the original, and she looks pretty cool with an eyepatch. I don’t think Unit 02 went to space, either.

Gainax needs to get moving on this and on the fourth (and supposedly final) film, so I can sit down and mainline them. This periodic doling out of content is just cruel.

Update: I realized why it’s subtitled “Q”; it’s a play on the Japanese artistic concept of jo-ha-kyu; 1.11 was jo, and 2.22 was ha. It’s been a few years since I last read any Noh plays, and so I’d forgotten about the concept until I saw the subtitles for the first two.

08/25/2011

Missed it by *that* much

by wfgodbold

The Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting piece up about Georg Elser, the man who almost single-handed killed Hitler in the early days of World War II.

His bomb went off  less than 15 minutes too late.

When someone says that one person (or a few people) would be no match against the power of the government (should it turn tyrannical), tell them about Georg Elser and how he, acting completely alone, nearly decapitated Nazi Germany in 1939.

Sadly, Elser was shipped off to a concentration camp, and executed shortly before the end of the war.

Read the whole thing.

08/24/2011

It’s against the rules!

by wfgodbold

Celebratory gunfire, that is.

And those rules would be Jeff Cooper’s:

  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Don’t fire your gun into the air.

Ever.

08/23/2011

As I reread Empire from the Ashes…

by wfgodbold

I’m struck once more by David Weber’s willingness to raid his own material for future work. Mutineer’s Moon (the first book in the trilogy) was published in 1991 (before the first Honor Harrington novel), but some of the ideas are congruent; Imperials in Empire from the Ashes have 4-5 century life expectancies thanks to nanotech-style augmentation, while in the Honorverse, genetic modification has slowed aging so that people so modified have … multi-century life expectancies (he does the same thing in The Apocalypse Troll (with the symbiote) and in many of his other works (presumably because if his main characters are ridiculously long-lived, he doesn’t have to worry about their having more adventures than would be possible)).

The third book in the trilogy, Heirs of Empire, features an anti-technology religion founded to protect the inhabitants of that planet from a bio-weapon that wipes out all life; the religion was formed and structured in such a way that the scientific method became heretical, and advances beyond a certain tech level were punished by the inquisition. Low-tech (US Civil War level) battles ensue for roughly half of the novel. Weber took this idea (almost whole cloth) and created the Safehold series around it; the tech level is the same, the anti-tech religion is the same (it was even founded by humans to keep the tech below a threshold so that aliens bent on the destruction of all life would never find them), the uprising spearheaded by a near-immortal (of course!) tech-familiar character is the same…

I don’t particularly mind; it’s his material, and if he wants to go into greater depth, that’s his business. I do wish he wouldn’t retread quite so often, though.

For that matter, I wish he’d take a break from his newer stuff and go back to the Empire from the Ashes series. That’s still my favorite of his works, and it’s gone far too long (15 years?) without a new installment.

08/23/2011

Sorry, Nintendo

by wfgodbold

But a redesign and an addon second joystick are not going to transform the 3DS into a successful handheld console.

The games are too expensive (even more than DS games, and far more than smartphone games), and the system was too expensive at launch (and there were no games then, either). $170 is more palatable, but a redesign is going to be more expensive, and no one will buy it, either.

Not after the fiasco that was the 3DS launch.

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