Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

*More* Weekend Links? Can It Be?

with 5 comments

41BSSAd0WEL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_* Jaimee’s amazing first book has a preorder page at Amazon. Book launches in October! See her webpage for some of her online poems in the meantime!

* The entire natural world is celebrating this event. Dolphins are riding whales off the coast of Hawaii.

* The latest at Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art yet.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 21 / Wednesday Night Fights: “Equity” vs. “equality.” Two words enter! One word leaves!

* Are universities in wealthy nations exploiting researchers from developing countries, treating them mainly as data gatherers instead of respected colleagues? And, wielding all the money and the clout, do Western academics fail to engage with their counterparts in emerging nations as true partners in the research collaborations?

* In the intensifying debate over whether to reduce federal government regulations on universities and colleges, one number has been at the forefront: $150 million. That’s what Vanderbilt University says a study found it spends each year complying with government red tape: 11 percent of the university’s entire budget.

A University Without Shared Governance is Not a University.

U. of Wisconsin Professor’s Tweets Draw Criticism From Her Own Colleagues. Another social media trainwreck for academia.

* From Open Humanities Press: Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies.

Video shows that African-American woman who died in custody did not assault an officer as police claimed.

Millennials Who Are Thriving Financially Have One Thing in Common.

‘Streets of Old Milwaukee’ to close for reimagining, sensory upgrade.

Confessions of an Executioner.

* On Otherkin.

The Judy Greer effect: Why a ridiculously talented actress gets stuck with so many thankless roles.

Watching ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ In The Era Of Mass Incarceration.

One man’s journey from Sesame Street to the heart of truther collage art.

* Age at First Marriage and Divorce Risk.

* I know it usually seems like we’re living in the darkest timeline, but we need to remember every day that somehow we got spared The Amazing Spider-Man 3.

Episode five of Telltale’s Game of Thrones arrives next week.

* Probably not a good sign — though I think I’m most upset that they made the robot so apologetic.

* xkcd reads sports rulebooks like I read sports rulebooks.

Over a decade ago, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow laid the foundations for today’s effects-driven blockbusters. Why haven’t its creators made a film since?

And warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists. Have a good weekend, everyone!


5 Responses

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  1. This is an off-topic comment. I’m about a quarter of the way into Aurora (I just finished part two). I have two questions about the book I thought I’d throw at you since you’re one of the only people I know who has read it! They’re both quite minor.

    First, I am puzzled by KSR’s math. He says several times that there are 24 biomes on the ship. He makes it clear that most of them are inhabited. And the figure of 2,122 people is given (a few other figures too, all very close to that). Which means that the average number of people per biome should be about 88 — slightly higher if aa few biomes are uninhabited. But when Freya is in the Nova Scotia biome it’s said that “Each biome supported on average 305 people, and Nova Scotia was near the average.” Given roughly 2,100 people, if each biome supports on average 300 people, there can’t be more than seven inhabited biomes… which is clearly wrong. I’d write this off as a typo, except that KSR’s presentation of the biomes clearly feels more like each has c. 300 people than c. 88. But KSR’s world building is so careful that I can’t imagine he’d just goof this. So I don’t get what’s going on. Do you?

    Second, KSR refers several times to “a common human cognitive error called ease of representation”. But google searches do not make it seem like that’s a standard term for a standard cognitive error. Is it supposed to be a newly discovered/named one? Is my google-fu just off? Again, what am I missing here?

    Any thoughts?

    (So far I’d have to say that while I’m enjoying the book quite a bit — KSR is, after all, one of my favorite writers — I wouldn’t quite put it up with the Mars books, Antarctica, Years of R&S or 2312 as one of his best. Maybe I’ll change my mind as I go, of course.)

    Stephen Frug

    July 21, 2015 at 9:47 am

    • I’d have to go back and reread, but I was under the impression that most of the biomes weren’t inhabited — I thought most of them were for food and resource circulation, not for people. You’re clearly right that if biome is being used to mean the same thing in both sentences there’s no way to get the math right; I may have just mentally adjusted what I thought was going on so it made sense.

      As for the cognitive bias, I think on those lists it’s often called the “availability heuristic”:

      “Ease of representation” seems to be the preferred term of art in a probability/statistics context:

      Click to access ProbabilityMontyHall1991.pdf

      I love AURORA — I think the twist coming up a little ahead of where you are makes it into a truly fantastic book, and maybe my favorite of his (would be hard to really display the Mars books or YEARS OF RICE AND SALT, but…).


      July 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      • Thanks very much for the reply. (I say that to you a lot, don’t I?) I think you’ve nailed it on ease of representation/availability heuristic; that’s clearly what’s meant.

        But I’m fairly certain that KSR describes far more than six biomes as inhabited — if you look at the one Freya goes through, there seem to be at least a dozen inhabited ones, if not more. I suppose I’d have to walk back to be absolutely certain, but I am *fairly* certain more than six are *described* as inhabited by name, and a lot more are implied. So I have to think the math just doesn’t work. What puzzles me is that it is such an uncharacteristic mistake.

        And I look forward to the twist. As I said, I’m enjoying it a lot, even if it’s not yet in my top pantheon of KSR novels. And I do hold out the idea that it will take a big leap — I can’t decide if a warp metaphor would be cute here, given the circumstances — ahead.

        Thanks again.

        Stephen Frug

        July 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      • …yeah ok that’s quite a fucking twist. And then it JUST KEEPS GOING. Wow.

        Thanks for not spoiling it in your review: I think it really is a book that needs its surprises.

        Stephen Frug

        July 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

      • Yeah ok I see why it might be one’s favorite. I wouldn’t say it is for me (although I just finished: we’ll see how it sits with me for a while). I think, brilliant though it is, it also has some distinct flaws in a way that, for me, the Mars books (eg) didn’t, Still, it’s fantastic.

        I would love to read you discuss it in a spoilerific way. Just sayin’.

        Stephen Frug

        July 23, 2015 at 10:03 pm

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