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Guest Post - Brexegesis

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.24.19

CharleyCarp writes: Where we at? Why does anyone think getting rid of May is going to help? Or is that just some stab-in-the-back misdirection?

Heebie's take: happy friday.


 

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Read Closely

Posted by Ogged
on 05.23.19

In Billy Idol's hit song Rebel Yell, a young lady comes to his door and threatens him with the expiration of a license.


 

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Brains, lines, and zones

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.23.19

1. Back in 2008, this pilot's plane computers went berserk on him, and the experience has haunted him until he finally takes early retirement this year, due to PTSD symptoms.

On the flight deck of the Qantas Airbus A330, the confused computers have completed their second psychotic takeover of the controls. I'm in the recovery phase again, probing the sidestick with small nose-up inputs until the aircraft responds. Qantas Flight 72 is descending in a nose-low altitude for just over 15 seconds, so I must again try to recover as smoothly as I can. We lose 400 feet of altitude in levelling off and commence climbing back to 37,000 feet above the Indian Ocean on the flight from Singapore to Perth. It is October 7, 2008.
By this time, my cage has been rattled. I've been sucker-punched twice, powerless to stop the aircraft's illogical and violent behaviour. How many more times will this happen?

and

Peter and I engage in some brief conversation; as a pilot, he's curious to know the reason the plane manoeuvred so violently.
"Oh my god, Peter. Are you okay? Is that blood on your shirt?"
"Some of it is, some is from the red we were drinking before we got knocked out. What the hell happened?"
I repeat my feeble answer that the computers went berserk, that I still don't fully know the reasons but that they weren't pilot-induced or turbulence-related. My face is flushed and my eyes are wet with suppressed tears as I leave Peter. Slowly, I make my way forward again. I can't stop staring at the cabin's ceiling, and my memory permanently records the busted plastic holes still holding on to hair and bloodied remnants of scalp, the broken luggage lockers, the dislodged ceiling panels and exposed ducting. It's a nightmare reality, not of my doing, and not in my power to prevent.

I would like to know a lot more about how often this happens!

2. Obviously status-based plane-boarding is getting sliced thinner than a 2007 credit default swap. This amused me:

In order to apply these fine distinctions, United boards in six groups, while American and Delta each have ten.
In recent years, American and Delta have had to rename their boarding groups to fix an absurdity: American had a "Group 1" and Delta had a "Zone 1," but these groups did not in fact board first, but were behind various more-privileged boarding groups, from first-class passengers to high-frequency flyers to those who had purchased extra-legroom seats. Often, "Zone 1" meant about half the passengers on the plane got to board before you, which doesn't feel very number one at all.
So, American gave all its boarding groups numbers, even the premium ones, and "Group 1" became "Group 5." Citibank had to send an email to American co-brand cardholders telling them they'd now be boarding in "Group 5," but that this wasn't a demotion because they'd really been in the fifth group all along. Actually, "Group 5" is the sixth group -- American still allows its most elite Concierge Key fliers to board before "Group 1," as a sort of Group 0 -- but who's counting? (Just kidding: These people are definitely counting.)

3. Why not:

Male PA Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Female PA Announcer: The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a red zone.
Male PA Announcer: The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.
Female PA Announcer: No, the white zone is for loading. Now, there is no stopping in a RED zone.
Male PA Announcer: The red zone has always been for loading.
Female PA Announcer: Don't you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for unloading.
Male PA Announcer: Look Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again. There's just no stopping in a white zone.
Female PA Announcer: Oh really, Vernon? Why pretend, we both know perfectly well what this is about. You want me to have an abortion.
Male PA Announcer: It's really the only sensible thing to do. If its done safely, therapeutically, there's no danger involved.


 

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Guest Post - Summer Reading List

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.22.19

Dave W. writes: The voting period for the 2019 Hugo Awards (and 1944 Retro-Hugos) is now open through July 31st, and the 2019 Hugo Voter Packet is now available for download by Hugo voters. JJ over at file770.com has an article about what's in the Hugo Voter Packet this year in which formats, and it's quite a collection. If you would like to read a bunch of quality science fiction and fantasy this year and vote for your favorites, you just need to become at least a Supporting Member of the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin, Ireland, for 40 euros (about $45 US) - the link is in JJ's article. If you join before the close of the voting period, you should get an email with a link to your personalized voting page, which includes download links to the packet in each of the various categories. The full list of finalists for both the 2019 Hugos and the 1944 Retro-Hugos is available here.

The items that are available through NetGalley are usually DRMed to only be readable during the voting period. The rest are generally DRM-free, and are yours to keep. Items in the voter packet are voluntarily made available by authors and their publishers to Hugo voters for their consideration, and they ask that you not redistribute them to non-voters in order to keep publishers incentivized to continue to share in the future.

Some of the items in the voter packet are also available for free online (see link in JJ's article). Often, the voter packet contains a full-length work or significantly longer excerpt for work that only has short excerpts online for free.

There will presumably also be a voter packet for the Retro-Hugos available later, although Retro-Hugo packets are often much more limited, due to the challenges of getting permissions and usable copy for older works, where the publisher may not see a Retro-Hugo as that much of a marketing advantage.

Supporting memberships also come with all the other benefits of attending memberships except the right to physically attend the con: the right to nominate for the 2020 Hugo Awards (also 2019 if you had signed up before Dec 31st, although that's moot now), the right to upgrade to an attending membership later for the difference in price, the right to receive publications of the con, the right to propose and cosponsor items of business for the Business Meeting, and the right (for an additional fee, which automatically converts to a supporting membership in the 2021 Worldcon) to participate in the site selection voting for the 2021 Worldcon. The last isn't as significant this year as some previous years, because Washington DC is running uncontested to host the Worldcon in August 2021, but it is still the cheapest way to guarantee a supporting membership for 2021 for those who want it.

Anyhow, that's most of what I'm going to be reading between now and the end of July. Feel free to comment on anything that you've read/watched/enjoyed. Steven J. Wright is offering a bunch of reviews (some spoilers) here.

Heebie's take: Oh you know me. I've never read a hugo. I like the concept of Retro-Hugos.


 

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Hard night's sleep

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.21.19

At some point in adulthood, I became unable to sleep on hard surfaces. Or rather, I can fall asleep, but I toss and turn and have a miserable night's sleep. The next day, I start off all stiff and sore. (Whereas, in my 20s, I used to sleep some nights on the carpet, if that's where I happened to be reading when I got tired.)

I love my foam pillow topper very, very much, and I also have a knee pillow which is the best. However, this "build up accommodations for a good night's sleep" philosophy runs contrary to how I feel about other injuries, which is more or less that you should err on the side of being as active as possible and not babying yourself.

Is sleeping on firm surfaces a "use it or lose it" kind of skill? If you take in all the cultures across time and space, what happens as you age, in the absence of a comfy a foam pillow topper? Do aging people just take a while to warm up in the morning from the stiffness and bumps of their sleep, or am I a delicate western pansy who can't handle a pea under my mattress?


 

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Guest Post - Texas mysteriously low on this list

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.20.19

Nworbie writes: Have you ever wondered which state of the USA has the most psychopaths? Wonder no more. All who bet on Washington DC can collect a fruit basket. I was desperately avoiding listening to a lecture on post-humanism when I stumbled on a couple of suggestive psych papers:
here's psychopathy -

Psychopathy is clustered in the Northeast and is loosely correlated with what Rentfrow et al. (2013) characterizes as the "Temperamental and Uninhibited Region," which is defined in terms of "low extraversion, very low agreeableness and conscientiousness, very high neuroticism, and moderately high openness" (2013: 1008). This definition includes some positive relationships and some negative relationships with psychopathy, and unlike the "Temperamental and Uninhibited" cluster, Texas does not appear close to the top of the list for psychopathy.

And for an extra bonus, the basis of all snake oil affinity marketing, and indeed Liberty University -- a paper showing that people grade wholly apolitical skills on the basis of what they know about the performer's political orientation:

We find that (dis)similarity in political views interferes with the ability to make an accurate assessment of people's expertise in the domain of shapes, which leads to two central outcomes. The first is that people chose to hear about shapes from others who are politically like-minded, even when those people are not especially good at the shape task, rather than to hear from people who excel at the shape task but have different political opinions. The second is that people are more influenced by those with similar political opinions, even when they had the opportunity to learn that those by whom they are influenced are not especially good at the task they are solving.

It's also worth noting that the automated (by AI, no less) links in the first paper helpfully gloss a link to the fact that journalists are at high risk for psychopathy by linking to a paragraph explaining what the editors of your precious papers do when it's being published.

Heebie's take:

They then use cluster analysis to identify three clusters of personalities - "Friendly and Conventional," which roughly corresponds to the Midwest and the South, "Relaxed & Creative," which is primarily found in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest, and "Temperamental & Uninhibited," corresponding to the Northeast plus Texas.

Heh. "Friendly and Conventional" sounds like they kept revising the label and questioning, "Are we being insulting? Or just descriptive?" On Temperamental & Uninhibited, it sounds like Texas maybe gets a pass for being rural - even in the cities, the white people think they live on a farm. Maine on the other hand, is rural and psychopathic, which is probably Stephen King's fault.

Also,

To apply Hyatt et al. (Forthcoming) and to create a raw score for psychopathy, a metric is created in which extraversion enters positively, while neuroticism, agreeableness, and conscientiousness enter negatively. Because extraversion and neuroticism are both intended to reflect "boldness," they are each given a half weight.1 Mathematically, the metric is given as,

Psychopathy = (0.5) * Extroversion - (0.5) * Neuroticism - Agreeableness - Conscientiousness

You know I can't resist a mathematically precise formula. It's physics.

and

For additional candidates for correlates of psychopathy, we reference occupations that were found to be excessively likely or unlikely to be populated by psychopaths, as tabulated by Dutton (2012: 162). The occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were CEO, lawyer, media, salesperson, surgeon, journalist, police officer, clergyperson, chef, and civil servant. Those that were least psychopathic were care aide, nurse, therapist, craftsperson, beautician/stylist, charity worker, teacher, creative artist, doctor, and accountant.

Clearly, it's all about desire for power versus desire to nurture.



 

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