Category Archive 'Nerd News'
15 Apr 2016

io9 Reviewer and “The Jungle Book” (2016)

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TrendacostaRudyardKipling
Katherine Trendacosta and Rudyard Kipling

Then leftist W.H. Auden, paying valedictory tribute to the reactionary William Butler Yeats in 1939, condescendingly conceded that Kipling’s literary merit gained him forgiveness for his Imperialist views:

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

Columbia graduate Katherine Trendacosta, night editor of io9, writing in 2016 is a lot less tolerant than was W.H. Auden back then.

Ms. Trendacosta decisively warns potential viewers of Disney Movie’s “The Jungle Book” (2016) that “Rudyard Kipling Was a Racist Fuck and The Jungle Book Is Imperialist Garbage.”

We are currently in the 21st century. We are in the second decade of the 21st century and there are not one, not two, but three Jungle Book movies on the horizon. And that means that it’s time to remind everyone that Rudyard Kipling was a piece of racist, imperialist trash. …

[There is] inherent racism and imperialism baked into The Jungle Book. And the argument about when the book was written and by whom doesn’t excuse either Disney or Warner Bros. from making adaptations of it in the 21st century. Unless these movies are loaded with historical context, or are subversive critiques of Kipling, they’re still adapting, for entertainment, a story that has fundamental issues. …

I’m not saying that Kipling should be censored, but I am saying that he cannot be presented without context. There are messages in The Jungle Book that are very hard to remove. Hell, Disney managed to add to the problems in the 1960s when it added a character called King Louie, who is widely seen as a racist caricature of black people. (Kipling’s book has monkeys, which are the worst of the animal lot, being incapable of having government and only able to mimic others without a decent culture of their own.)

And, at the end of the day, we’re still left with a story where a white person exoticizes a country and its people. How does this idea pass muster in 2016?

Whole thing.

Spectacular, isn’t it?

I find, to my amazement, that I now live in a world in which a graduate of an elite university is (apparently) unable to read “The Jungle Book,” a tremendously lovable children’s classic, with appreciation or enjoyment because she finds the author’s world-view and politics ideologically offensive.

Ms. Trendacosta does not actually find it necessary to review the Disney cartoon. She considers it sufficient to indict the author of the book on which, I expect, the animated feature is very loosely based, and to heap abuse on him and the original book.

I am frankly more than a little skeptical as to whether this reviewer has ever actually read “The Jungle Book.” She is probably, in reality, just applying political taxonomy based on a glance at the Wikipedia plot summary and an on-line political critique by Edward Said she found somewhere. Had she really read the book, I have to believe that she would speak differently.

Apart from this reviewer’s manifest unfamiliarity with, what the late Susan Sontag would have referred to as, the erotics of the reading experience of “TJB,” I was myself struck by this writer’s total reliance upon petitio principii, “the assumption of the initial point.” It never remotely occurs to Ms. Trendacosta that she is under any obligation to offer arguments against Imperialism or the late Rudyard Kipling’s belief in the superiority of British culture and institutions to those indigenous to India. Her own perspective is totally absolute and goes without saying, and if you were to violate it by thought crime, one gets the impression that you’d be lucky to get off being merely humiliated and ostracised. You should really be immediately taken out and shot.

io9 is a techie geek sort of blog, the kind of blog that reviews games, software developments, and nerd culture sorts of things, Marvel comics, Star Wars, Game of Thrones. It is depressing and alarming to find the likes of io9 infested by Social Justice Warrior-types, too illiterate to have ever read “The Jungle Book,” but ideologically intolerant and arrogant enough to denounce it anyway.

27 Aug 2015

Hitler Reacts to the 2015 Hugo Awards

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26 Aug 2015

This Year’s Hugos

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morlock
(Morlock by Tony McVey)

The struggle over Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards waged between “sad puppies” (joined this year by the even more enthusiastic “rabid puppies” associated with writer Vox Day) and the Social Justice Warriors continued through the voting for this year’s awards.

Stung by the the puppies’ successes last year, the SJW faction was better organized and implemented a new strategy.

Milo Yiannopoulos describes the SJW operation and its results.

[T]he opposition to the Sad & Rabid Puppies slates took the form of encouraging voters to choose “no award” for an award category unless a work with appropriate politics was available. Taking it a step farther, many SJW zealots proved their commitment to tolerance, openness and variety by vowing not to read a work found on a Puppies slate under any circumstances.

Like the Death Star’s visit to Alderaan, the results of Hugo Awards voting were ugly and unprecedented. 5 major categories including best novella and best short story went with “no award.” To put that in perspective, in the previous 60 years of Hugo Awards, a total of 5 “no awards” have been given previously.

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A rabid puppy commenter at Vox Day’s site waxed eloquent about what he thought of all this.

If we were to erect a monument to the spirit of our age, it wouldn’t be something sublime like the Eiffel Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica or the Empire State Building. No grandiose frescos would decorate it. No wondrous ostentations in gold leaf and lapis lazuli would adorn it. No clean-limbed marble statuary would guard it.

No, it’d be a squat, ugly thing, like a paleolithic fertility fetish or a Morlock or typical WorldCon polyamory enthusiast. It would be sexless, androgynous and gendernonconforming all at the same time, and rendered in drab wattle and daub. Its most striking feature would be a great big mealy mouth, from which would drip liquid bromides and taurine fecal matter. Hordes of hooting crypto-humanoids in their mobility scooters would gather under this toxic shower to pray for equality and more all-you-can-eat buffets.

Just wait until next year!

28 Jul 2015

All the Changes Made to the Initial Star Wars Trilogy

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Marcelo Zuniga illustrates in a series of videos all the changes that Lucasfilm has made to the original Star Wars Trilogy (and he found a lot of them).

(Watching in Full Screen modes is recommended.)

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12 Jun 2015

Mencius Moldbug Booted From Programming Conference

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Moldbug
Curtis Yarvon aka Mencius Moldbug

The true extent of left-wing censorship in American society today can be perceived by the fact that über-nerd Curtis Yarvon had a software presentation cancelled by a programming conference because some attendees objected to the highly eccentric conservative philosophy expressed learnedly, and at astonishing length, on a relatively obscure (and infrequently updated) blog, titled Unqualified Reservations, writing under the pen-name “Mencius Moldbug.”

David Auerbach, at Slate, considers Moldbug’s political philosophy “odious”, but thinks it is not appropriate to boot him out unless he actually says something casually racist.

What does a bizarre project to reinvent software from the ground up have in common with 19th-century reactionary political philosophy? That question has become the unlikely heart of a computing controversy involving this September’s Strange Loop programming conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 2009, Strange Loop is a yearly three-day conference with talks and workshops on new computer science technologies. The conference had accepted an apolitical presentation on a fairly obscure project by a software engineer named Curtis Yarvin, only to reject it last week after it received complaints about political views Yarvin espoused on his blog.

Yarvin’s canceled presentation centered on Urbit, an idiosyncratic software platform he created, and an associated virtual machine called Nock. I’ve read the specifications, and Yarvin’s project is an intriguing attempt to create an entirely new, universal computation framework based around a virtual machine that is truly distributed from the ground up, so that even tiny amounts of computation can be apportioned across multiple machines. It may, as I suspect, be utterly impractical, but it’s undoubtedly different and a worthy experiment. I would attend a talk on it. But I wouldn’t be able to at Strange Loop now, thanks to a strange figure named Mencius Moldbug.

That’s the nom de Web under which Yarvin writes mind-numbing political tracts. Yarvin/Moldbug is a self-proclaimed “neoreactionary,” an unabashed elitist and inegalitarian in the tradition of Thomas Carlyle, one of his heroes. (He fits neatly into the “Natural-Order Conservative” category of a conservative taxonomy.) His worldview: Democracy sucks, the strong should rule the weak, and we could use a good old-fashioned dictator to clean up this mess. That, and he believes that “human biodiversity”—as in the “science” of racial differences, à la The Bell Curve—is real, valid, and very important. Neoreactionary thinking is far more complicated and far more verbose than this—which is in part a deliberate attempt to keep the great unwashed from paying too much attention to such Important Thought. If you’re curious, the tireless Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex has written extensive rebuttals of neoreactionary theory, which go to prove Brandolini’s Law: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” The neoreactionaries make up a small and mostly ignorable corner of the Internet, but because they include a number of techies and wonks, they have drawn attention and criticism from outlets like the Baffler and the Daily Beast, all of which served to raise the neoreactionary profile far higher than it ever would have made it on its own. If you want serious reactionary activity, look to Congress.
ADVERTISING

Normally I would have no cause to write about neoreactionary politics—it is eminently inconsequential—except that Yarvin was tossed out of Strange Loop because of his writings. Strange Loop creator and organizer Alex Miller made this public statement regarding his decision to rescind Yarvin’s invitation:

    A large number of current and former speakers and attendees contacted me to say that they found Curtis’s writings objectionable. I have not personally read them. … If Curtis was part of the program, his mere inclusion and/or presence would overshadow the content of his talk and become the focus.

The decision to toss Yarvin is foolish but not because it’s censorship. By making the issue about Yarvin being a “distraction,” Miller has created a perverse incentive. By that logic, anyone could get tossed from the conference if enough people object for any reason at all. Miller admits as much when he says he hasn’t even read Yarvin’s political writing.

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NYM has occasional quoted some of the Moldbug’s good lines.

Here is a good example:

Whatever you make of the left-right axis, you have to admit that there exists some force which has been pulling the Anglo-American political system leftward for at least the last three centuries. Whatever this unfathomable stellar emanation may be, it has gotten us from the Stuarts to Barack Obama. Personally, I would like a refund. But that’s just me. …

intellectuals cluster to the left, generally adopting as a social norm the principle of pas d’ennemis a gauche, pas d’amis a droit, because like everyone else they are drawn to power. The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.

Once the cluster exists, however, it works by any means necessary. The reverence of anarchy is a mindset in which an essentially Machiavellian, tribal model of power flourishes. To the bishops of the Cathedral, anything that strengthens their influence is a good thing, and vice versa. The analysis is completely reflexive, far below the conscious level. Consider this comparison of the coverage between the regime of Pinochet and that of Castro. Despite atrocities that are comparable at most – not to mention a much better record in providing responsible and effective government – Pinochet receives the full-out two-minute hate, whereas the treatment of Castro tends to have, at most, a gentle and wistful disapproval. …

[T]he problem is not just that our present system of government – which might be described succinctly as an atheistic theocracy – is accidentally similar to Puritan Massachusetts. As anatomists put it, these structures are not just analogous. They are homologous. This architecture of government – theocracy secured through democratic means – is a single continuous thread in American history.

26 May 2015

John Scalzi Gets $3.4 Million Publishing Deal

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JohnScalzi

NYT:

John Scalzi, a best-selling author of science fiction, has signed a $3.4 million, 10-year deal with the publisher Tor Books that will cover his next 13 books.

Mr. Scalzi’s works include a series known as the “Old Man’s War” and the more recent “Redshirts,” a Hugo-award-winning sendup of the luckless lives of nonfeatured characters on shows like the original “Star Trek.” Three of his works are being developed for television, including “Redshirts” and “Lock In,” a science-inflected medical thriller that evokes Michael Crichton. Mr. Scalzi’s hyper-caffeinated Internet presence through his blog, Whatever, has made him an online celebrity as well.

Mr. Scalzi approached Tor Books, his longtime publisher, with proposals for 10 adult novels and three young adult novels over 10 years. Some of the books will extend the popular “Old Man’s War” series, building on an existing audience, and one will be a sequel to “Lock In.” Mr. Scalzi said he hoped books like “Lock In” could draw more readers toward science fiction, since many, he said, are still “gun-shy” about the genre.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, said the decision was an easy one. While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”

Scalzi has alienated a significant portion of his readership with sanctimonious hoplophobic blog posts (example) and by lining up with the Social Justice Warriors in the fighting over the Hugo Awards. My guess is that his backlisting powers will be declining.

26 May 2015

Tanith Lee, 1947-2015

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TanithLee

Sci Fi/Fantasy writer Tanith Lee has passed away.

Heavy has five facts about Lee.

Locusmag obituary.

Tor.

05 May 2015

“The Binks Awakens”

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Jar Jar Binks apparently does not appear in The Force Awakens.

But Murdock Motion used software to add one of the most hated characters in cinematic history into the trailer of the highly anticipated new Star Wars film. It’s a great reminder to fans of the horror that could have been.

Hat tip to Chico Kidd.

16 Apr 2015

New Star Wars Trailer

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Glenn Reynolds will be so happy!

14 Mar 2015

HPMOR Concludes Today

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HPMOR2

Today, March 14 is Pi Day, the date selected by uber-nerd Eliezer Yudkowsky aka Less Wrong for the release of the 122nd and final chapter of his widely-acclaimed Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

Wrap parties celebrating the conclusion of what is, in the eyes of many readers, the greatest all-time performance by a piece of fan fiction will be taking place in Singapore, Bombay, Melbourne and Sydney, Cambridge, Berkeley, Mountain View, Brussels, London, and Berlin.

If we wanted to capture the ultimate Boone and Crockett Club record-book specimen of Nerdus Americanus to be mounted and displayed in a diorama in the Museum of Natural History, we’d be hunting for Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Yudkowsky is an autodidact who quit attending other people’s schools after 8th grade. He nonetheless is pretty successful. He co-founded his own university, the Singularity Institute, and he hobnobs with and advises billionaire capitalist Peter Thiel on change-the-world tech projects.

HPMOR differs from J.K. Rowling’s original in its ruthless consistency. All the background sob story is removed. Harry grows up happily and without being neglected and abused. Neither is Harry is humanized. Harry is not unhappy or insecure. Harry is one of us, a gifted intellectual and thoroughgoing rationalist of keen scientific bent, skeptical of authority and completely self-confident. He knows he’s smarter than everybody else. This Harry is not willing to accept Magic as traditionally taught at Hogwarts. This Harry intends to understand Magic in the light of Muggle science.

As HPMOR develops, Yudkowsky follows the pattern of the early portions of the J.K. Rowling original, but he continually revises. The reader looks on in admiration, noting with astonishment that Yudkowsky is certainly right. Again and again, he successfully improves upon the original.

It’s a great achievement, but it did not go entirely smoothly. Writing HPMOR took years and years, and Yudkowsky found himself distracted from continuing by his own reviews. He bogged down about halfway through, and production slowed to a trickle. He made promises of completion, which he broke. His readers have been sitting around, tapping their feet impatiently, for all of last year.

Today, at last, it’s all finished. Yudkowsky will be releasing his final chapter.

It’s going to be interesting to see what he writes next.

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Facts About Eliezer Yudkowsky:

Eliezer Yudkowsky was once attacked by a Moebius strip. He beat it to death with the other side, non-violently.
Inside Eliezer Yudkowsky’s pineal gland is not an immortal soul, but another brain.
Eliezer Yudkowsky’s favorite food is printouts of Rice’s theorem.
Eliezer Yudkowsky’s favorite fighting technique is a roundhouse dustspeck to the face.
Eliezer Yudkowsky once brought peace to the Middle East from inside a freight container, through a straw.
Eliezer Yudkowsky once held up a sheet of paper and said, “A blank map does not correspond to a blank territory”. It was thus that the universe was created. …

HPMOR1

04 Mar 2015

Canadians Are Spocking Their Fives

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SpockingFives

Dangerous Minds reports:

Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop “Spocking” its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy’s death, Canadian folks have been “Spocking” the hell out of the five dollar bill that features a portrait of Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Sir Wilfrid now sports, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock’s mantra “Live long and prosper.”

According to Bank of Canada it’s not illegal to do this but:

    “…However, there are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.”
03 Dec 2014

Major Controversy: New Star Wars Plasma-Hilted Light Sabre

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New trailer for next year’s Star Wars movie:

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Colbert defends new light sabre design.

29 Nov 2014

Actor’s First Day Playing Jedi Knight

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05 Aug 2014

Geekiest Pin Numbers

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GeekiestPinNumbers

Via I F*cking Love Science.

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