Posts Tagged ‘Foundation series’
First Bill O’Reilly explained how Christianity isn’t a religion. Now Paul Krugman explains that the Foundation series isn’t science fiction.
We are at a tipping point for determining whether or not the university is indeed fulfilling its constitutional mandate to “encourage by all suitable means” the “general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence…essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people.” As such, perhaps shifting attention away from the autonomy of the regents allows for consideration of the public trust that structures that autonomy. How, exactly, does the (temporarily withdrawn, but still looming) threat to raise tuition and fees 81% express a will to further the public’s interest? How does decimating language programs, student services, and the core teaching missions of the university promote the public good? Allowing “joint” research projects with massive corporations to direct the course of university scholarship for decades to come? Permitting the UC president to wield “emergency powers” for two years and counting, depriving faculty of a voice in shaping the university?
* We pretend that 2 degrees C is our threshold. Yet the climate scenarios and plans presented to policymakers do not actually reflect that threshold. As Anderson and Bows say, “most policy advice is to accept a high probability of extremely dangerous climate change rather than propose radical and immediate emission reductions.”
* If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, Newt Gingrich is from the planet Trantor, a fictional world created by Isaac Asimov in his classic Foundation series about galactic empire. UPDATE: Retort! Krugman is from Trantor; Gingrich ain’t.
The 40-year-old nuclear station just outside Seneca installed the system, called a standby shutdown facility or backup control room, about 30 years ago as an added safety precaution.
On June 1, an engineer discovered that breakers associated with the system would have tripped if exposed to high ambient heat — likely in an emergency. The breakers have since been replaced with fuses not susceptible to the heat problem.
* Why New New Twitter? Because “we can and have an obligation to reach every person on the planet.” That’s why.
* And Geoff Nunberg says “Occupy” is 2011’s word of the year. Seems hard to argue there.
* This is the second year in a row Binghamton has recorded a 1-in-100 year rain event. If only there were some sort of scientific theory that could explain these abnormal weather patterns.
* Just great: GOP debate audience cheers Perry’s execution record.
* TPM v. Anonymous. Weird times.
* And from Reddit: a brief history of banking.
* Lucylou is illustrating Harry Potter.
* Also at io9: An infographic explaining the Phantom Time Hypothesis. Is the idea really that complicated?
* TEPCO has confirmed what we already knew: Fukushima suffered a full meltdown.
* Republican follies! Jon Huntsman pulls a Pawlenty, pretends he doesn’t believe in climate change anymore. The John Ensign case has been referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution. John McCain hates torture again. The Wall Street Journal hates Mitt Romney. And so does Mitt Romney.
Forget Roland Emmerich; the real Foundation adaptation was on BBC Radio in 1973.
* In the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies have announced new plans to screw sick kids for money. As the Eschaton link notes, strategies to deny coverage to their captive customers are always, necessarily, a huge part of the business model for these companies. This is why they’re so hard to effectively regulate. I sincerely wish we could find the political will for single payer, if only to stop Nicholas Sarkosy’s taunts.
* Job growth in March? That’s not just good news for March, that’s good news for Democrats in November.
* Cuba in the 1930s.
* Back to the Hugos and Blogging the Hugos.
* Scarface as school play. This seemed so much more endearing in Rushmore.
* Change we can believe in: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announces “the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”
* Will Smith to make two totally unnecessary Independence Day sequels. The title? Of course, it’s ID4-Ever. This is the monster who is ruining Foundation. He must be stopped.
* And the end of independent bookstores. Lots of factors here, of which the iPhone/Droid “barcode scanner” is just the latest. It’s terrible to watch.
* A majority of people want the filibuster abolished. There’s talk of actually doing something about it. But Harry Reid has declared the filibuster must live forever. America!
* From Lawrence Lessig, via MyDD, here’s how the Democrats are planning to tackle Citizens United v. FEC. Like Lessig, at first glance I’m not certain this reaction is quite up to the challenge.
* Attention: Global Warming Isn’t the Opposite of Snow.
* I knew we were in a Seldon crisis: Obama eying “New Foundation” as his answer to the New Deal.
* If you can’t beat ‘em: GOP moderate and feared 2012 rival Jon Huntsman joins Obama administration as ambassador to China.
* There’s been a lot of talk on the blogotubes about recent polls showing a national shift towards pro-life positions. It’s possible there’s been some sort of catalyzing event or demographic shift I’m unaware of that accounts for this, but it seems to me most likely that this reflects an important rhetorical shift that has recently been embraced by the GOP. Consider that the nation’s most prominent pro-life politician, Sarah Palin, routinely describes “life” as a morally admirable “choice” made by her and others. I suspect this new rhetoric of choice is significantly muddying the waters in these polls, encouraging people who might not choose abortion for themselves to think that’s what being “pro-life” is. Of course, that any choice is or should be involved at all is incompatible with what the term “pro-life” has historically meant.
Krugman says he found himself in the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, especially the Foundation series—”It was nerds saving civilization, quants who had a theory of society, people writing equations on a blackboard, saying, ‘See, unless you follow this formula, the empire will fail and be followed by a thousand years of barbarism.'”
Every science fiction fan has a foundation for their nerdity. It is their Urtext. For me—and I take no particular joy in admitting this—there’s no question that it is Star Trek. The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and I watched more or less every episode of Star Trek produced before the day I came to understand the show’s structural limitations sometime during the mid-’90s.
But if my nerdy nature can have a second foundation, it’s undoubtedly Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, which I remember as vividly today as the day I read them a decade and a half ago. It’s only partially an exaggeration to say that for me all theories of history are but footnotes to Asimov. (If it’s good enough for al Qaeda, it should be good enough for everyone.)
Now, I wouldn’t recommend that any of you necessarily read these books now; I suspect Asimov’s magic only really works on thirteen-year-old boys. But I bring this up because there’s word that a Foundation movie is finally going to be made, and it’s clearly going to be awful. The director attached, Roland Emmerich, directed Independence Day, the Godzilla remake, The Day after Tomorrow, and 10,000 BC. On his entire IMDb page only Stargate and The Thirteenth Floor (producer’s credit) fills me with anything less than total dread. B-movies are great, but Foundation shouldn’t be a B-movie. If anything, it should be a HBO series…
* Toothpaste for Dinner beholds the Singularity. (Thanks, kate w!)
* They’re (finally) turning Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series into a movie.
* Once again people are discovering Orson Scott Card’s reprehensible politics. It happens about once every six months.
* 29 Literary Science Fiction Novels You Should Read. More than half of these are already on my exam lists; the rest probably will be by the time I take my exams in March…