Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Victor Vinge

Thursday Links

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* New dystopian novella from Margaret Atwood. It’s a $2.99 Kindle single.

* A spring heat wave like no other in U.S. and Canadian history peaked in intensity yesterday, during its tenth day. Since record keeping began in the late 1800s, there have never been so many temperature records broken for spring warmth in a one-week period–and the margins by which some of the records were broken yesterday were truly astonishing. Wunderground’s weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, commented to me yesterday, “it’s almost like science fiction at this point.“

* Some student loan borrowers with the biggest debt loads didn’t fully understand what they were getting into when they borrowed the money, a survey of those borrowers has found. I’m shocked, shocked!

* Disney taking a bath on John Carter.

* …let’s start by setting forth two uncontroversial propositions. The first proposition is that the health care law is constitutional. The second is that the court could strike it down anyway.

* George Orwell reviews Mein Kampf.

Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all “progressive” thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarized version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation “Greatest happiness of the greatest number” is a good slogan, but at this moment “Better an end with horror than a horror without end” is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.

* Stand Your Ground and Vigilante Justice.

* Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization. At least that’s one of us!

‘Accelerando’

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Just finished Accelerando for my exams and really enjoyed it. The book gets better as it goes, and in accordance with Stross’s singularitarian themes it’s free on the Internet. What I think I like best about the novel is Stross’s unflinching take on the “rapture of the nerds,” which is reframed at one point in the book as “the Vinge catastrophe”; what the Singularity is for Stross is not so much the moment A.I. achieves sentience but the moment corporations do.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 6, 2009 at 1:51 am