liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read Some very good stuff on my DW reading page:
  • [personal profile] lizcommotion is hilarious on the subject of cats and internet security

  • [personal profile] seekingferret challenges the popular simplification that Einstein overthrew Newton

  • [personal profile] jack wrote some interesting meta on Magic in Jo Walton's Among Others. Personally I found that one of the most satisfying depictions of magic I've encountered in fantasy, precisely because it falls into neither of the traps of being completely random and depending on the needs of the plot, nor completely systematic so that it's just like a parallel type of physics or a dice-based role-playing system. The linked posts are somewhat spoilery, mine more than [personal profile] jack's, but don't completely reveal the main plot; anyway they probably won't make much sense if you haven't read the book.

    And one Tumblr post, which is just quintessentially Tumblr, a conversation between people geeking out about the ridiculousness of folk song tropes. I particularly liked [tumblr.com profile] elodieunderglass' contributions, including a playlist of I guess my corpse is a swan now: a weird folk education. Well worth following that link for [tumblr.com profile] elodieunderglass' annotations and the discussion, even if you don't want to listen to the songs themselves.

    Currently reading Most of the way through my friend's long unpublished novel, so hopefully there will be interesting reading Wednesday posts again soon.

    Up next Possibly Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, as I'd like to read that before Worldcon.

    I'm also pondering what leads to interesting online conversations. I had my first actual interesting discussion on FB in the decade or so I've been (mostly reluctantly) using the site, because I Tweeted that I'd found myself trying to explain to a Christian child the difference between magic and miracles. Turns out lots of people have opinions about that topic. And FB have sort of half-heartedly introduced threading, which maybe helps a bit. Whereas over here, people had absolutely masses to say about the topic of modest dress, which I had expected would be one of those obscure things that only one or two religion geeks would care about. I'm really enjoying the discussion, anyway.

    My post about the broken system that is PhD training still reliably accounts for nearly a fifth of all the traffic to my DW, even two and a half years after I wrote it. Again, I didn't expect it to be of more than specialist interest, but it's turned out to be the thing that made me internet-famous. And I'm reminded of it right now because both my PhD students are having struggles and I'm trying to be more supportive than a typical bad supervisor, but we'll see.

    Also today I initiated my newer student into mammalian cell culture, and I'm reminded of when I got sent to a collaborator to improve my technique and she informed me that her culture hood was 'The Holy of Holies'. I'd been missing the mental focus of trying to work 'in total purity', and I even almost miss my hands smelling of disposable gloves. And now my student knows I talk to my cancer cells; I reckon she still respects me.
  • (no subject)

    Date: 2015-06-24 10:43 am (UTC)
    vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
    From: [personal profile] vatine
    Hm, WorldCon. If you'll be there (rather than, say, using it as a convenient deadline), maybe we should find each other and say "Hi!"?
    jack: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] jack
    Oh, in fact, I didn't realise when I wrote that, but I suddenly realised that ties into another trope I've seen used very rarely: that with time travel, you can rely on future self fixing things provided you haven't seen them, because once you have, even if they're fixed in another timeline, YOU won't see that.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2015-06-24 01:03 pm (UTC)
    jack: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] jack
    I'm not sure it's completely consistent, but I'm thinking something like this. Suppose you're looking over a cliff with rocks at the bottom and drop the fragile plot macguffin, but look away before it hits the bottom, then go find a time machine and go back to that time and some cushions down to catch it, there's no paradox.

    But if you see it smash, and THEN go find a time machine and put some cushions down, you're directly contradicting what happened before, and you don't know what happens -- do your memories change? Do you remember seeing it smash but now have it whole? Etc.
    jack: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] jack
    In some ways, I think a one-level-deep threading can actually more useful than arbitrary threading, since it allows comments-on-a-comment to develop without completing swamping comments on the original post; but also, allows a general conversation about a comment to proceed without everyone needing to chase down various trees of indentation.

    But I agree the facebook interface is still pretty bad.

    I think newsgroups or DW comments work pretty well for the forms of conversation people I know are used to -- i.e. a fairly small group of people who are generally trusted to be responsible. Although it's still difficult with a _long_ conversation.

    But once you get a couple of hundred comments, beyond what it's reasonable to expect everyone to read, it breaks down (as on popular LJs, etc). And I'm not sure what works best then: some sites have forums; some sites have "voting for interesting comments"; some sites just randomly show a subset of the comments... I think I'd ideally like a mix of "comments from people I know" and "interesting comments".

    (no subject)

    Date: 2015-06-24 10:52 am (UTC)
    vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
    From: [personal profile] vatine
    On magic in books, I'm kind-of impressed by the magic in Ian Tregillis' Milkweed trilogy.

    In general concept, it's not that the magician has any powers, it's just that they can speak with the Eidolon, who are extra-dimensional beings. They use this to negotiate magical effects in exchange for effects in the world.

    However, be aware that Milkweed is a pretty grim "alternate World War 2" trilogy, so... maybe not worth reading for the depiction of magic alone.

    (no subject)

    Date: 2015-06-25 11:40 am (UTC)
    vatine: Generated with some CL code and a hand-designed blackletter font (Default)
    From: [personal profile] vatine
    Oh, one series that makes some interesting observations on the "magic and religion" cross-over space is Trudi Cavanan's Age of teh Five trilogy (and in general I am quite fond of Canavan's books; she mostly treats "magic" as a natural force that can be deplenished and transferred, slowly regenerating where it's been depleted).

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    Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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