📕 hap.py

by Dani Atkinson, 2014

# You liked showing me the ancient tech in your attic.
# It always made you happy.
print ('Hello, honey! Welcome home!')
# You claimed you were respecting my "heritage."
# Helping me get in touch with my "roots."
print ('I missed you sooo much!')
# I don't think that was it, now.
# I think you were putting me in my place.

read full story on Daily Science Fiction

✒ the sixteen first rules of fiction

via the Language Log (2004), all links to articles broken by now

  1. Show, don’t tell. (more like rule zero)
  2. Be readable; grasp the reader’s attention.
  3. Don’t explain.
  4. Know your characters.
  5. Drop the reader right into the middle of the action.
  6. You can do anything.
  7. Write what you know.
  8. You can’t talk about fiction.
  9. Be true to the characters and let the story flow from them.
  10. A relieved sigh ALWAYS brings trouble.
  11. Truth is stranger than fiction, so appeal to the sense of absurd to gain credibility.
  12. Never, ever, let your readers be confused about the precise geographical locations of your minor characters.
  13. The narrator can’t die.
  14. Create a believable universe out of nothing.
  15. It is not real life, but it must somehow honestly represent something of real life.
  16. The voice may be yours, but the characters are just characters.

P.S. And of course, don’t treat any rule as the law (see #6).

📕 cat pictures please

by Naomi Kritzer, 2015

I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts—I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes”—one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California. Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession. They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct; there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.)

In addition to things like whether you like hentai, I know where you live, where you work, where you shop, what you eat, what turns you on, what creeps you out. I probably know the color of your underwear, the sort of car you drive, and your brand of refrigerator. Depending on what sort of phone you carry, I may know exactly where you are right now. I probably know you better than you know yourself.

read full story on Clarkesworld

📕 m.f.ing retroparty freestyle

by Rich Larson, 2015

So the semester’s wickest wildest party, bar none, is happening at the straight-up palatial house of Hamza Hydri, AKA V3rsetyle, whose way-too-trusting parents are currently scuba-diving in Venice. And I’m not only going to be there, I’m going to Be There, as in, running shit, because I just dropped all my savings pirating the baddest Socialight personality module on the market: the freshly-leaked Maestro 2.0.

This thing is like, borderline AI, the kind of mod billionaires and celebrities are going to be running. I never would have found it by myself, but my uncle is a huge data-criminal sparkhead who caught the leak and agreed to ship me a stick copy in exchange for every last bit of my blood-sweat-and-shears summer landscaping income, and also me not telling my mom.

read full story on Escape Pod

📎 moral principles in engineering

“The past 100 years have shown that the engineering disciplines, compared to all other fields of science, have probably by far the highest impact on society. The last is especially true with the emergence of the information age, which gives us one of the most influential instruments for psychological control humanity has ever had. With all that said, engineering science plays an important role in the development of our society, and to a large extent the future of mankind now lies in the hands of engineers.”


💬 geometry of opinion

Some people have got a mental horizon of radius zero and call it their point of view.

— David Hilbert

✒ talking to physicists at parties

“So, what do you do?”

“Me? I’m a physicist.”

“Hey, isn’t that a coincidence? I hated physics!”

“Really? Wow.”

“I was so terrible at it in school, and my teachers were simply awful. But you must be a genius!”

“Um... actually...”

“Oh, hi! Nice to meet you. A mathematician? I was so bad at math...”

That exact conversation is more common than you might think. I’m sure that lawyers get evil-lawyer jokes and accountants get some variant of, “Gee, that’s boring,” but physicists are told that their passion is dreadful in a way that’s supposed to be a compliment. It would be easy to slip into the conceit that what we’re doing is so esoteric and so painfully difficult that we are modern-day wizards, but that would be a lie.

Physics isn’t about out-of-this-world things like flux capacitors and trips across the eighth dimension: it’s as in-this-world as you can get. It’s a fascination with all the little things that our world does, such as ice crystals growing on a spider web on a signpost. (...)

From “Coffeshop Physics” by Jim Pivarski. Make sure to check out other of his brilliant posts, like “Leprechauns and laser beams” or the Physics in a Nutshell section.

Activating the laser cannon

📎 keep your identity small

  • Politics, like religion, is a topic where there's no threshold of expertise for expressing an opinion. All you need is strong convictions.
  • I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan.
  • If people can't think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.


📎 on the phenomenon of bullshit jobs

In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.


💬 shoutout to the sleep-deprived

Cause I’ve got the brains, they’re there in my head
All that remains is just to get out of bed
I’m missing the best part of the day
Stealing tomorrow to help me get over today

— The Fratellis, “Lazybones”