Sci-fi Books

This is an interesting list by writer China Miéville: "Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read"

This is not a list of the “best” fantasy or SF. There are huge numbers
of superb works not on the list. Those below are chosen not just
because of their quality—which though mostly good, is variable—but
because the politics they embed (deliberately or not) are of particular
interest to socialists. Of course, other works—by the same or other
writers—could have been chosen: disagreement and alternative
suggestions are welcomed. I change my own mind hour to hour on this
anyway.

I don’t read much sci-fi at all because most of the writing is mediocre (in my humble opinion), but lately I’ve been reading some classics (like H.G. Wells).  I started a very short/incomplete list of fiction books that address technology’s impact on society (at the lower left).  (I’m using Amazon because typepad makes it easy; I’m not trying to make Amazon-associate money.)

Via Scott Rosenberg’s blog.

Fear the (Fake) Squid

If, while Googling for interesting pages about squids (we all have hobbies), don’t worry if you stumble across this page reporting on a scary new skull-eating squid called the "exocell".  Despite the authentic look and the links to real marine biology pages, it’s all a marketing hoax for a videogame.  I smell a class-action suit on the part of well-mannered squids everywhere.

Via Near Near Future and Selectparks.

Kurzweil Doesn’t Tailgate

New interview with Ray Kurzweil about his plan to live forever:

Ray Kurzweil doesn’t tailgate. A man who plans to live forever
doesn’t take chances with his health on the highway, or anywhere else.

As part of his daily routine, Kurzweil ingests 250 supplements,
eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea. He also
periodically tracks 40 to 50 fitness indicators, down to his "tactile
sensitivity." Adjustments are made as needed.

"I do actually fine-tune my programming," he said.

Once again, I think Sherwin Nuland’s assessment is right on:

Sherwin Nuland, a bioethics professor at Yale University’s School
of Medicine, calls Kurzweil a "genius" but also says he’s a product of
a narcissistic age when brilliant people are becoming obsessed with
their longevity.

"They’ve forgotten they’re acting on the basic biological fear of
death and extinction, and it distorts their rational approach to the
human condition," Nuland said.

As to the increased demand for resources when he and his friends start living forever,

Kurzweil says he believes new technology will emerge to meet increasing
human needs. And he said society will be able to control the advances
he predicts as long as it makes decisions openly and democratically,
without excessive government interference.

But there are no guarantees, he adds.

Link, via Kottke: Inventor believes humans eventually will be immortal (AP)

Studies Show…

Studies show we are amused by this article written by Ellen Vanstone, published in the November 2004 issue of The Walrus.  An excerpt:

My study has pointed inexorably to three main truths:

1) A study with encouraging results will always be followed by a study with contradictory results.
For example, a study showing that aspirin prevents heart disease will
be followed by a study that says this may not be true, depending on the
individual heart. Likewise, a study that says drinking two glasses of
wine daily increases longevity will be followed by a study that says
women who drink two or more glasses of wine a day are twice as likely
to develop breast cancer as non-drinking women. Acrylamides in
deep-fried French fries definitely cause cancer. Oops, maybe they don’t. …