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Comment: Re:And all because a copyright expired! (Score 1) 126

by StefanJ (#47492471) Attached to: Dungeons & Dragons' Influence and Legacy

Sirnomad99 notes that there were other influences. Jon Peterson, author of the scholarly gaming history Playing at the World, suggests that Tolkein and LOTR was just one influence among many. The Conan stories, Pratt and de Camp, Leiber and Vance are all specifically mentioned.

In fact . . . I just picked up the book and turned to page (117) where I'd last left off. There are quotes from Gygax where he suggests that Tolkein is not the be-all and end-all authority on the nature of fantasy creatures.

Oh . . . I actually have a set of the Ace paperbacks! They're not impressive. The special characters look hand-sketched, and the cover art is mediocre.

Comment: Fund the research by building in targeted ads! (Score 1) 87

by StefanJ (#47417701) Attached to: A Brain Implant For Synthetic Memory

Google* and others should be willing to pour big bucks into the research. We may as well bow to the inevitable and let them build DRM, mandatory personality profile tracking, and advertising insertion right into artificial memory creation standards.

* New motto: "We'll figure out what 'evil' is and then not do it."

Comment: Vinge & Pohl Anecdote (Score 4, Interesting) 339

by StefanJ (#47112337) Attached to: The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative

In, ah, 1997, just before I moved out west, I went to the campus SF convention that I'd once helped run once last time. The GOH was Vernor Vinge. A friend and I, seeing Vinge looking kind of bored and lost at a loud cyberpunk-themed meet-the-pros party, dragged him off to the green room and BSed about the Singularity, Vinge's "Zones" setting, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and gaming for a couple of hours. This was freaking amazing! Next day, a couple more friends and I took him for Mongolian BBQ. More heady speculation and wonky BSing.

That afternoon we'd arranged for a panel about the Singularity. One of the other panelists was Frederik Pohl. I'd suggested him because I thought his 1965 short-short story, "Day Million," was arguably the first SF to hint at the singularity. There's talk in there about asymptotic progress, and society becoming so weird it would be hard for us to comprehend.

"Just what is this Singularity thing?" Pohl asked while waiting for the panel to begin. A friend and I gave a short explanation. He rolled his eyes. Paraphrasing: "What a load of crap. All that's going to happen is that we're going to burn out this planet, and the survivors will live to regret our waste and folly."

Well. That was embarassing.

Fifteen years later, I found myself agreeing more and more with Pohl. He had seen, in his fifty-plus years writing and editing SF, and keeping a pulse on science and technology, to see many, many cultish futurist fads come and go, some of them touted by SF authors or editors (COUGH Dianetics COUGH psionics COUGH L-5 colonies). When spirits are high these seemed logical and inevitable and full of answers (and good things to peg an SF story to); with time, they all became pale and in retrospect seem a bit silly, and the remaining true believers kind of odd.

Comment: I used WordStar 4.0 for MANY years (Score 1, Interesting) 522

I was working for a computer mail order place (Logicsoft) when WS 4.0 came out. The salespeople all got promotional lucite paperweights; I might still have one!

I used WS 3 and WS 4 to crank out role playing game manuscripts. For most of this time I only had a floppy-only PC-DOS system. This required juggling floppy disks when running spell check. It was great upgrading to a hard disk drive, but I maintained one-or-two-floppy running copies of WordStar that I could bring with me. Kind of like putting applications on a thumb drive.

I used WordStar X.X on an Osborne PC. The "OzBox," which lived in the campus SF library where I spent a lot of my time, had a program that could copy files to single-sided DOS floppies.

I was what you might call a Journeyman user of WS. I used "dot commands" and spell check and maybe even Mail Merge. There was still a lot more I didn't need and didn't bother learning.

I remember buying WordStar 5.0, but regretted it. It couldn't be whittled down to a few floppies.

I still had copies of WordStar (and various versions of DOS) until, um, late last decade, when I got rid of all my floppy disks. If Memory Serves, a fairly complete WordStar 4.0 install took up two 720K floppies. As part of the great reduction I converted all of my old RPG manuscripts to ASCII, so I didn't need a working WS copy.

I sometimes regret the loss of the "keyboard diamond" method of navigation. I could probably set up Word to use it, but it isn't worth the trouble.

Comment: And don't forget . . . (Score 2) 784

by StefanJ (#46985259) Attached to: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

Virtually all of the people who have visited "Antarctica" are SCIENTISTS. And the rest are GOVERNMENT WORKERS.

Can we really believe people who have a vested interest in grant money to accurately report on this place?

Pretty soon now we'll find the set in Alaska where "South pole research station" news segments are filmed.

Comment: Forgot some steps (Score 1) 661

Missing steps:

4.5 No One Could Have Foreseen This Problem. Let us not point fingers and play the blame game.

5.5 Fine, we're in a fix. It is time for the ideologues to step aside and the Level Heads and Professionals and People Who Have a Stake in the Game to take over and provide reality-based solutions. We'll start by proposing tax credits for owners of shore front vacation homes to move their properties, because summer recreation is a vital part of our economy. And cancel Social Security to incentivize Honored Citizens to get healthy exercise filling sandbags to protect oil industry facilities in the Gulf. And annex Canada to provide homes for citizens displaced by the Texas Hell-Cyclone. After all, Canadians sold us a lot of that oil . . . remember the XL pipeline they forced us to build?

Comment: Bugs? (Score 4, Interesting) 116

by StefanJ (#46731939) Attached to: CSIRO Scientists' Aquaculture Holy Grail: Fish-Free Prawn Food

There was an interesting piece on Radiolab* last year about some guys who'd found an protein-rich insect whose larva at almost anything, including agricultural waste and pig manure. They reduced the amount of waste that had to be dealt with and result in copious quantities of nutritious bug flesh.

One of the suggested uses was food for farmed fish.

* I think . . . I'm having trouble finding the segment in the archives.

Comment: Re:question objectivity (Score 3, Insightful) 497

by StefanJ (#46429893) Attached to: Can Science Ever Be "Settled?"

"evolutionary criticism . . . is completely forbidden in US schools."

Well, unless you go to school in one of those states where the school boards also don't think children should be trusted to learn about puberty, carbon dating, and history that wasn't vetted by the Club for Growth and the Daughters of Confederate Heroes.

Comment: Brunner, Dyson, Pohl (Score 1) 293

Any number of novels by John Brunner, but Stand on Zanzibar if you have to choose one.

Fred Pohl's short-short "Day Million," about a cyborg spaceman and a transgendered otter-woman meeting, falling in love, exchanging virtual reality sex profiles and never meetin again.

Freeman Dyson's essay "The Greening of the Galaxy."

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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