Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Open Tabs 3

Hello again, just a quick summary of some of my more interesting open tabs:

A blog post on the economics of Star Trek. There are a lot of interesting questions, there. What is the effect on society of a near total lack of scarcity? You want something, you replicate it. In the Star Trek universe the writers had good incentives to try to find ways in which this breaks down: the need for exotic materials, large sized objects, energy budgets, etc. One of the commenters points out that Charlie Stross has not only looked into the subject as well, but came up with a very clever way of showing how different societies might treat the issue differently.

Michael Weingrad asks why there isn't a Jewish Narnia (and why there is otherwise a relative dearth of Jewish fantasy writers), and why that might be changing.

Looks like I might get to fiddle with a Pixel Qi display this fall, that's exciting. I suspect that swapping it into my Mac would be a pain, but I have a netbook with about the right size screen that I might be willing to sacrifice.

Wil Shipley's recollections from this year's TED conference. Still open because I haven't quite finished reading it, but the bit about Stephen Wolfram is what makes it stick in my head: I had occasion briefly to meet Wolfram when he gave a talk here some years back on cellular automata shortly after A New Kind of Science came out. The talk itself I remember as being somewhat... meh... but I was deeply impressed that he stayed for a good hour afterward to answer questions.

The latest entry in Steven Strogatz's New York Time math blogging series, this one on geometry.

A discussion of the Information Commons that I'm still trying to wrap my head around

... and finally, my sentence of the day, courtesy of the always-interesting Chuck Wendig:


  1. So I've read The Magicians, referenced in the Weingrad article. It was excellently written, and I would recommend it to many people (yourself included), but somehow I just didn't *enjoy* it as much as I was hoping. It just felt ... joyless - amazing craftsmanship, no soul. But I figure that's just me.

  2. I also read The Magicians. I enjoyed it, but I admit that I expected to enjoy it (based on the blurb and Scalzi's Big Idea post) much more than I actually did. There is skill there -- it would be so easy to screw up an idea like that in the implementation. But yeah, it was a tiny bit of a letdown.

  3. I notice that I've gotten a visitor from Wolfram Research: Welcome! (And thank you -- Mathematica was quite helpful in finishing my PhD thesis)

    Perhaps I should clarify my comment on the talk at Dartmouth: (this was probably about six or seven years ago, so take this with a grain of salt) This was advertised to me as part of a series of technical lectures at the engineering school, and I remember the talk as being rather high-level for what was supposed to be a technical audience, with lots of graphs that I remember thinking of as the "Let's wow the English majors" variety. This is not uncommon at all, particularly when high-profile people come to speak, but I was a bit disappointed.

    What really stuck with me about the occasion was not the contents of the talk, though, but how gracious Dr. Wolfram was, as I was reminded by Wil's post.