It's pulp. It's very old. It's aimed at kids. It's part of the "Tom Corbett: Space Cadet!" series. So, it is kinda fun, if you can look the other way whenever it gets really sexist, or silly, but I can't quite recommend it to anyone.
This title came to mind when I saw in the news references to an article in The Lancet about how in 2030 7 out of 10 deaths would be due to cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer, and chronic obstructive respiratory diseases.
The lesson most newspapers get out of this is "whoa, we are a bunch of lazy, salt and fat eating morons and we are all gonna die".
Sure, we are all gonna die, and yes, more people will die of those chronic illnesses in 2030. But that's mostly because we are not going to die of many other things that used to kill us earlier.
So, eat more veggies, stop smoking and don't worry too much.
Oh, and about cigarettes and lightning? I must confess I don't have the numbers to prove it, but I would be very surprised if that was not the case. After all, smoking 40 cigarettes a day should reduce your life expectation, and the less you live, the less likely are you to be hit by lightning. It's even a direct causal connection!
Neal Stephenson wrote:
There is something new: A globe about the size of a grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm's length in front of his eyes. Hiro has heard about this but never seen it. It is a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns - all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.
Hiro has been thinking that in a few years, if he does really well in the intel biz, maybe he will make enough money to subscribe to Earth and get this thing in his office. Now it is suddenly here, free of charge...
And of course, I have just that very thing installed in my desktop. Not all the mentioned data is hooked into it, but hey, it is free of charge.
Heinlein wrote about private citizens and companies going into space. He thought it was not any government's job. And that is going to happen in my lifetime. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who went to space paying for it with his own money.
Of course there are no flying cars or rocket backpacks (those were good ideas... not!)
What's the difference between Gibson's Idoru and Gorillaz, except that it's cheaper to pay musicians than it is to build Artificial Intelligences? Can you tell me what's the point in building an AI, anyway? Aren't mechanical turks cheaper and better?
Asimov wrote about a foundation of scholars writing an encyclopedia to be constantly updated, containing the whole of humanity's knowledge (we got wikipedia instead. Good enough!)
Our phones are much nicer than Star Trek's communicators (for example, the loudspeaker is optional)
It's as if most of the ideas of scifi got filtered through a purifier and what made sense came out on the other side. I like living in the future. I want to see the next one.
A few days ago, the last video rental in the neighborhood closed. It was a Blockbuster and since it's bankrupt in the US it's hardly surprising that they killed the Argentina operation.
But Blockbuster had, years earlier, killed all the other video rental shops. So now there aren't any, at all.
So, how does anyone with a DVD player actually use it? Well, he can buy DVDs in the newspaper stands. That's expensive because it's buying and it's late. Who will want to spend $35 to watch "Due Date" at home 3 months after the theatrical release? There is no NetFlix here!
And of course, you can do what everyone was doing anyway: downoad it, or buy illegal copies. They are often better than the originals anyway, at least in this sense:
And really it's amazing. The whole movie rental industry has basically ceased to exist, and the competition is illegal. They sucked so much at its business that they couldn't compete with a "business" that can't do commercials, has no quality assurance.
Sometimes you got a very bad illegal copy, filmed from a seat in the last row, full of people talking over the movie you can barely see... and still, people preferred to buy that for $7 instead of paying $10 for a "quality" rental.
It's a tale of incredible incompetence. Quickly, can someone find me one example of an business that got killed by illegal and crappy competition?
There are crappy and/or illegal medicines, but pharmaceuticals still work. There are illegal (unlicensed) places to eat, but restaurants still make money. There are illegal cabs, but real cabs are in business.
This is not even bad, it's just embarrasing.
I have a strong tendency to be argumentative. That's because I really enjoy a good argument, if you'll pardon the obviousness.
The best thing about a good argument is that you get the most amazing insights from the wrong side of it. For example, Lamarckian vs. Darwinian evolution: Lamarck was wrong. But Lamarckism is a heck of an idea, and once you get lamarckism, you can pass it on! (ha!).
Or, the chicken and the egg? I actually got into an argument (and I did not start it myself) about this a couple of weeks ago.
If you start with something that's wrong, you can backtrack and see why it's wrong. What was the implicit mistaken assumption, the incoming garbage that created the outgoing crap. And then you can tweak it. And see what new garbage comes out. Wrong stuff, but new stuff.
And that's one of the great things about being a nerd: nerds are the awesome at this. Oh, you may think people in politics would be better? Nah, they never change their minds. Lawyers? Well, they argue for money!
But nerds? We do it for fun. And most of us don't give a damn about looking weird to others because we already know we look weird to others.
Spending 4 hours locked in a car with average humans is mostly a chore. Someone will play music, maybe people will talk intermittently about stuff that happened in the last few days, whatever.
But lock 4 nerds in a car for 4 hours and you're going to listen to stuff. This happened to me twice in the last few weeks. And in between, we had a dinner with a very high nerd factor (with alcohol assist)... great fun.Warning, nerds and alcohol mix a bit too well.
Now, I know many experience this when they are with people that have a certain thing in common. I've seen something similar happen betwen, for example, communists and former communists. They would talk for hours, and it was lots of fun (even for me ;-) but what they talked about was their common thing: communism.Yes, the tiramisu has penguins in it.
Nerds apparently don't have such inclination. Nerds will argue about anything. Nerds will argue about everything. And that makes me think... why are nerds seen as shy and introverted? Hell, why are nerds shy and introverted? How can I reconcile what I see when I'm among fellow nerds and how others see us?Yes, penguin cookies
And it's not easy. I am by all standard measures painfully shy. I had great difficulty making friends when I was a kid. I didn't like the things other kids liked. I didn't know many things they knew all along. I continuously was the butt of jokes for being naïve on things I had never heard about. I was always afraid to speak when I was in a group because I thought I would make a fool of myself.
Shy doesn't mean boring. Shy doesn't mean someone who doesn't have anything interesting to say. Shy means someone that has problems starting.
On the other hand, I have spoken in front of hundreds and I've been told I look relaxed (I am not, I am faking, guys). I write under my real name and I never felt something was "too weird" so I shouldn't write it (coming soon: an economic explanation of why men like to see women kissing), so I am not really afraid of people thinking I'm weird. What the hell, I know I'm weird. Ask me if you see me: Am I weird? Yes!
But I still have trouble when I am in a party with people I don't know (I am lucky my wife is like social WD-40). I still have trouble making small talk. I don't know what happened in the TV show everyone watches. I appear shy and introverted. Until you know me.