“We need someone to direct the new Star Wars. Who’s hot?”
“Well, there’s this guy who made a movie about a cute farmboy in the boondocks who never knew his real father, dreams of outer space, fights in a bar full of crazy aliens and then goes up against the evil overlord who killed his father—this really nasty guy with Roman Empire trappings, favorite color black, lots of glowy green energy—and who flies around in a giant ship bigger than anything else in space blowing up planets. He blasts the home planet of one of the heroes early on, so we know he’s serious, and at the end, it’s a race with the clock to stop him blowing up the planet that’s really important. But the good guys win and there’s a flashy award ceremony to wrap it all up.”
“Sounds great! Is there stuff which only makes sense if, like, Fate or Destiny is willing it?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe!”
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I’ve received several invitations to be listed in a “Who’s Who”, over the years. As far as academic spam goes, it’s been slightly more common than the invitations to attend fraudulent conferences or to publish in fee-gouging, unrefereed vanity journals. (Memo to academic vanity publishers: I know LaTeX. I’ve wrangled two volumes of conference proceedings into shape. I’ve done six books through three different print-on-demand services. I handled the production editing and the typesetting for two editions of The Open Laboratory. I can do your job myself, and I can do it better than you.) I’ve gotten several e-mails with basically identically repeated verbiage in recent weeks. Take a look:
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Am I the only nerd out there who doesn’t really give a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys for logic puzzles? The blue-eyed islanders always tell the truth, except on Thursdays after teatime, when they put on the mauve hats and can only smoke Parliaments if the fox and the cabbage are left on the island simultaneously . . . If I wanted to fret about the behaviour of agents whose actions and character are unlike actual humans in every way, I’d be an economist.
(Also, I never made it further into Tolkien than The Hobbit, and my closest approach to superhero comics has been Sandman. Everything I know of RPGs I learned because I had a flatmate once who spent her evenings whacking things with a Keyblade. For a costweeting physicist, I have a surprising level of indifference to vast stretches of “geek canon” — as the Internets seem to define it. Maybe the notion of “canon” doesn’t mesh so well with the idea of a personality geared to intense interest in particular, more-or-less circumscribed subjects?)
If your logic puzzle ties into some larger body of mathematics, then I might be able to summon up interest in it, but in my experience, they’re seldom presented that way. When a puzzle has no connection to the larger weave of knowledge, to an actual -ology either pure or applied, I move on to ones which do.
WARNING: This post rated NSFW-17 by the Mainstream Prose Association of America. Contains multiple instances of foul language, all of them, given the subject matter, entirely warranted.
Normally, I take a pretty sanguine attitude to arguments about movies. You can maybe argue somebody into finding a film historically significant, technically accomplished or philosophically interesting, but arguing them into liking or disliking it? I’m not so sure. The popcorn bucket has its reasons, which reason knows not. Debate over matters of sentiment is often a spectacularly futile effort.
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Gosh, I’ve forgotten a lot of Latin, but I think it goes like this.
Accusaties impudentes Dawkinsi deliberavi, et is inopia litterarum gravium me exacerbavit. Sermes magnarum singularum Roderigi Hispalis, de coriis conquisitis externisque caligarum Imperatorum non legavit, per speciem, neque consideratiem donat brevem opo summa laude dignum Bellini, De Plumis Illustris Petasæ Imperatorem. Scholas totas consecratas ut libos doctos de pulchritude vestimentum Imperatoris scribans habeamus, et acta diurna omnia magna pars de more regio comprehendant. Dawkinsus totum inflate dimittat. Etiam cachinnat ad disputaties gratiosissimas suaviloquentissimasque civis eius, Mawkscribblerius, qui clare monstravit Imperatorem aut gyssypium vulgare aut polyesteram molestam non gerat, sed subucula bombycis subtilissimæ gerenda Imperatori est.
Dawkinsus hæc reputanda alta philosopha arrogane prætereit, ut Imperatorem rude accuset nudi.
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The spores of discontent have infected the nervous system of Warren Ellis, driving him to higher ground so that they may burst open his skull and spread their meme sequences upon the wind:
That’s been the job of half the web, for the last several years â€” collating links from the other half of the web. Last year, I started getting a little itchy about this.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stand up now and say, okay, these are the post-curation years? The world does not need another linkblog. What is required, frankly, is what we’re supposed to call “content” these days. When I were a lad, back in the age of steam, we called this “original material.” Put another way: we like it when Cory and Xeni are the copy/paste editors for the internet, but we like it better when Cory writes a book and Xeni makes an episode of BoingBoingTV.
(In fact, if you read any of the abhorrent comments threads on BoingBoing, you could be forgiven for coming away with the notion that its readership would be happy if it shut down tomorrow.)
Trying to create “original material” does occasionally leave me with the impression that I should take lessons from my indie-rock friends on whining, “Won’t anybody listen?”