After interviewing Alexander Wales and Daystar Eld for The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast, I put together a Rational Fiction Online Anthology. It consists of links to nine Rationalist short stories, with brief introductions explaining what aspects of Rat Fic I believe they demonstrate.
The intros aren’t really necessary, these are all really awesome short stories that I think just about everyone will love. But they do provide a bit of a snap shot of just what Rat Fic is.
I hope some people find this cool and/or useful. :)
How to Survive America’s Kill List
“Kareem did what the system asks a law-abiding American citizen with a grievance to do. He sued, filing a complaint in district court in Washington, D.C., on March 30th, 2017, asking the U.S. government to take him off the Kill List, at least until he had a chance to challenge the evidence against him.
It’s not a stretch to say that it’s one of the most important lawsuits to ever cross the desk of a federal judge. The core of the Bill of Rights is in play, and a wrong result could formalize a slide into authoritarianism that began long ago, but accelerated after 9/11.
Since that day, we have given presidents enormous power – to make war, to torture, to detain indefinitely – and our entire legal system has been transformed on a variety of fronts, placing huge questions about illegal searches, warrantless arrest, indefinite detention, torture and other matters behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy, outside the reach of courts.
And yet, nobody is paying attention.”
At least three innocent people have died in failed drone strikes on this guy. Maybe countries with Kill Lists should stop and ask “Are we the baddies?”
Are ethical asymmetries from property rights? An interesting argument that “ethical intuitions seem to just be property rights as applied to lives and welfare.” Note that it’s not trying to argue property rights are good, and in fact asks if maybe we should write off some moral intuitions and reason directly on consequential grounds if, indeed, our morality is an outgrowth of instinctive property-rights intuitions.
I will join this religion! Brutalist Web Design
“…the entirety of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is 708 kilobytes. To download this much data using a very slow mobile connection would be around one second (try it for yourself by reading it on Project Gutenberg). Pride and Prejudice is over 200 pages long, and would take over three hours to read. Certainly a news article, tweet, or product catalog can be downloaded and rendered in a comparable amount of time to a novel.”
I find it interesting that Cyberpunk 2020 was set 32 years in the future (from it’s publish date), but Cyberpunk 2077 (which is the reboot of 2020) is set 58 years in the future. We’ve become less optimistic about how quickly our tech will advance. But, perhaps, less pessimistic about how quickly society will spiral into shit! :)
In-Groups, Out-Groups, and the IDW
“scientists depend on what rationality researcher Keith Stanovich1 calls “cognitive decoupling.” Decoupling separates an idea from context and personal experience and considers it in the abstract…
The contrary mode of thinking sees every argument embedded in a particular context. The context of an idea includes its associations, implications, and the motivations and identities of those who advance it.
…To a decoupler, contextualizers are fighting a losing battle against facts…Who would defend a morality that can be discredited by a single study?
Defending a position without regard for the evidence supporting it is at best a failure to think straight, and at worst a naked power grab. A contextualizer will usually invoke higher motives, such as aiding the oppressed. But, in reality, they are simply promoting their in-group. So runs the decoupler argument.
…To a contextualizer, decouplers are allowing themselves to be manipulated. Science is biased by the motivations of scientists, and decouplers betray their lack of morals when they surrender to odious ideologies cloaked in a veneer of scientific authority.
Decouplers rarely admit to being driven by tribalism or identity politics, but the virtues of decoupled and ‘rational’ thought are promoted mainly by white and Asian men who are good at math…A decoupler can always claim higher motives, like the objective pursuit of truth. In reality, they are simply promoting their in-group. So runs the contextualizer argument.
…Quietly expressing one’s admiration for the group is cheap. Instead, the best signal of commitment to an in-group is attacking the out-group, loudly and publicly.”
I’m going to share this with any deathists I run into from now on:
“To the extent that the cultural-appropriation police are urging their targets to respect others who are different, they are saying something that everyone needs to hear. But beyond that, they can plunge into doomed tangles. American popular culture is a mishmash of influences: British Isles, Eastern European, West African, and who knows what else. Cole Porter committed no wrong by borrowing from Jewish music; Elvis Presley enriched the world when he fused country-and-western with rhythm-and-blues.
How to draw the line between that and America’s ugly tradition of minstrelsy, in which subordinated peoples are both mimicked and mocked—as Al Jolson mimicked and mocked black music in his notorious blackface career? There is no clear rule, but there is an open way: the values of respect and tolerance that draw precisely on the rationalist Enlightenment traditions both rejected and relied upon by the cultural-appropriation police. Those traditions are the spiritual core of American culture at its highest. And those values we should all hope to see appropriated by all this planet’s peoples and cultures.”
…The operation runs like clockwork, seven days a week, every waking hour, without significant variation.
…the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation is systematically to attack and undermine the reputations of those who are prominent in challenging the dominant corporate and state media narrative. particularly in foreign affairs.
…This matters because, an ordinary reader who comes across an article questioning (say) the official narrative on the Skripals, is very likely to turn to Wikipedia to get information on the author of the article. Simply put, the purpose of the “Philip Cross” operation is to make certain that if that reader looks up an anti-war person such as John Pilger, they will conclude they are thoroughly unreliable and untrustworthy, whereas if they look up a right wing MSM journalist, they will conclude they are a paragon of virtue and entirely to be trusted.
…What is particularly interesting is that “Philip Cross”‘s views happen to be precisely the same political views as those of Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales has been on twitter the last three days being actively rude and unpleasant to anybody questioning the activities of Philip Cross. His commitment to Cross’s freedom to operate on Wikipedia would be rather more impressive if the Cross operation were not promoting Wales’ own opinions.”
Make No Law. Popehat has a legal podcast, at long last! :) Specifically about the First Amendment and relevant historic cases!
Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) laws are designed to stop malicious litigants from silencing people by suing them for protected speech. While the defendant can prevail in court, to do so costs tens of thousands of dollars (because this is the US), and will either ruin most people or silence them. Anti-SLAPP laws stop these lawsuits, force the plaintiff to pay the defendants costs, AND impose an additional penalty (assuming that the lawsuit was indeed frivolous and an attempt at harassment/silencing)
“The story springs from the ending of Excellent Adventure, in which futuristic mentor Rufus (George Carlin) predicted the duo would write music that would turn the world into a utopia. (This has not happened yet.)
“You’re told you’re gonna save the world,” Matheson told Entertainment Weekly in March during a reunion interview with Solomon, Reeves and Winter. “And now you’re 50 and you haven’t done it. Now they’re married, and it affects their marriages, and it affects their relationships with their kids, and it affects their everything.”
The original is one of my favorite movies. This spin on it sounds awesome. Sounds a lot like the end of The Last Temptation of Christ, in fact. God I hope it’s good.
Torturers can smile too. Our society is so broken that not only do these people walk the streets freely, there’s a chance they could be promoted to the highest levels of government. Take note if your rep votes to confirm this monster.
This is delightful! EXCERPTS FROM MY UPCOMING NOVEL, READY PLAYER TWO: GIRL STUFF. “I ran a proud hand over the side of my spaceship that was shaped like a Lisa Frank dolphin. I had won it in a bet with my friend Snapewife over how many Pirates of the Caribbeanmovies there were. Back then, she had called it the Sparkleship, but I wanted a more intellectual, literary name. So I re-named it Astolat, after my favorite fan-fiction author.”
The Daily Mail is not a legitimate news source
“This is, in the bluntest possible terms, how they’ve managed to keep their hate-spewing empire running for so long. They adjust the facts just enough to get you angry, angry enough to click and read and pass the article along. How dare those writers disrespect my favourite actor, fuck the Russo brothers, and so on! They thrive on your outrage and weaponise it.”
“Even if you know that a group of millions of people will have some bad ones, hearing in detail about the bad ones all the time will slowly rewire your intuitions. You’ll start to expect, when you see a member of the group, bad things, because your brain has thousands of examples of bad things. You can try to consciously correct for this, but in my experience it’s actually nearly impossible to consciously correct enough; when you’re getting tons of “data” your intuitions will be shaped by it, even when it’s a lie and you know it.
I categorically reject any group of people which does this. If a group does this, I block them all and leave and never come back. It is a fundamentally wrong thing to do. It can be done against any target; it does not teach truth; all it does is rewire your brain towards suspicion and hatred, and it works just as well whether the targeted group has a higher rate of violence of various types or not. I strongly encourage anyone who recognizes this pattern in groups they’re part of to leave those groups, because this is a horrid tactic.”
That NYT article that got so much crap because the author didn’t “really” take two months away from the internet still makes very good points.
“Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.
Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have”
“People don’t just post stories — they post their takes on stories, often quoting key parts of a story to underscore how it proves them right”
No one realizes at the time they vote for the last time that it will be their last vote.
“In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.
“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”
Black Panther’s Right Thing. A great article, which reminded me I haven’t seen Do The Right Thing in over 20 years, and I really need to fix that. And probably buy it.
Oh shit! I thought Dogma was fucking awesome as it is, but now it’s *even better*!
How white nationalists fooled the media about Florida shooter. OMG, they used 4chan as a source. /headdesk. Interesting though.
(also note that even this article makes the hilarious error of calling Discord popular with white nationalists. I mean, I guess it is, but in the same way that cars are popular with white nationalists)
‘Donovan called this an instance of “source hacking,” a tactic by which fringe groups coordinate to feed false information to authoritative sources such as ADL researchers. These experts, in turn, disseminate the information to reporters, and it reaches thousands of readers before it can be debunked…
‘“We have to start thinking of these white nationalist groups as what some of them describe themselves — ‘media militias,’” said Donovan. “They think of media as adversarial territory.”’’
> Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.
> In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin. The University of Pennsylvania has spent nearly two years addressing federal and other requirements, including numerous safety checks designed to minimize risks to patients. While Penn hasn’t received final federal clearance to proceed, “we hope to get clearance soon,” a Penn spokeswoman said.
Why *in fuck* is a website only available during business hours???
Offspring is the Nickleback of punk. That is all.
The 1969 Easter Mass Incident.
“Dad remembers hearing the bishop through the windows roaring “THE HOLY BODY OF CHRIST DOES! NOT! CONTAIN! RAINBOW! SPRINKLES!””
And that’s waaaaaay before it gets to the really good part…
And in the process, FINALLY is able to articulate exactly why the Watchmen movie felt so Bleh, despite being gorgeous and ridiculously faithful to the literal presentation of the source material! Bob.
This is the only one of the three parts of Really That Bad that it’s worth watching. The others aren’t good. However this one is really REALLY good, basically start to finish! And when he theorizes on how this movie could have been done well, he basically describes the entirety of The Metropolitan Man!
Peeing standing up is VASTLY overrated. It’s basically a way of ensuring piss gets everywhere. Which I guess is good for marking territory. But in the modern world, it is an inferior method of urination.
The best person on the internet (really, IMO) talks about how to be kind. A neat note:
“when being wrong wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world because you know yourself to be valuable in many ways, then you’re equipped to be nice, and it’ll come much easier.”
> “If anyone were to take a highway engineer to a wide open space and ask them to design a junction which would readily enable two road users to collide with neither of them ever seeing each other, I doubt any would be able to manage it.
You recently voted for H.R. 1865 “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.”
1. This bill will make it more difficult to find and help victims of sex trafficking.
Freedom Network USA (a national network of frontline organizations working to reduce trafficking) say that eroding Section 230 would compromise the very tools that are most useful for finding and stopping traffickers:
“There are many cases of victims being identified online—and little doubt that without this platform, they would have not been identified. Internet sites provide a digital footprint that law enforcement can use to investigate trafficking into the sex trade, and to locate trafficking victims. When websites are shut down, the sex trade is pushed underground and sex trafficking victims are forced into even more dangerous circumstances.”
“SESTA would do nothing to decrease sex trafficking; in fact, it would have the opposite effect. […] When trafficking victims are pushed off of online platforms and onto the streets, we become invisible to the outside world as well as to law enforcement, thus putting us in more danger of violence.”
2. This law conflates sex trafficking with consensual sex work.
The majority of sex work is a victimless “crime” between consensual adults. The Sex Worker Outreach Project warns that “There are many Sex Workers who rely on meeting and screening clientele online as a way to stay safe. Without proper ways to establish identity, set service boundaries, and screen people properly, this bill could turn casual meet ups into life or death situations.”
3. We already have laws against kidnapping, slavery, and forced prostitution. The moral panic this bill panders to is greatly exaggerated. Over the past decades these laws have been ratcheted up to the point that they’re the same level as the laws that leave teens registered as Sex Offenders for the rest of their lives because they took a nude picture of themselves to send to a boy/girlfriend.
There is no evidence that this will prevent the sort of “sex trafficking” that people want it to. It will make life horrendously more difficult for many of society’s most vulnerable and outcast. It is opposed by women’s rights organizations including the International Women’s Health Coalition.
This bill is anti-woman, and anti-human-decency. However it appears you care more about the votes of self-righteous morality crusaders than the health, safety, and very lives of society’s most vulnerable.
4. When it comes to the safety of sex workers and lives of trafficking victims, I am a single-issue voter. Until this bill is repealed or overturned by the courts, I will be voting for the candidate most likely to defeat you in every election, no matter how odious.
[address redacted for the online version]
The guy playing Chuck Tingle really plays up the “retarded voice” for laughs, and I’m not PC or anything, but man, it really struck me as distasteful. ><
Then they read Tingle’s breakout hit (Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt), which was good! But it was just Cecil’s uncut first take, with people laughing in the background. Not terrible or anything, but it was kinda dumb and uncomfortable when book-ended by the previously mentioned Chuck Tingle voice.
I said in my first Chuck Tingle post that Tingle’s works, while they are parody, are “done in a gentle way that endears you to the characters.” The Chuck Tingle persona himself is the same way, there’s a sweetness and sincerity about the character that I think is what attracts most of his fans. This podcast feels like the opposite of that – a mockery that is mean-spirited, and somewhat cruel.
So far, not a fan, dunno if it’s worth listening to the next one. :(
Students at Concord’s Mt. Diablo High break through gate in gun protest
Lately I’ve seen friends on both sides of the “Walk Out/Walk Up” debate. The two sides are (roughly)
1. Instead of walking out to protest guns, kids should walk up to the weird, bullied kid and befriend him.
2. It’s not any kids responsibility to be nice to anyone in order to not get shot.
Neither of these does anything but anger the other side, and both completely miss the root cause.
With public schools being prison-like environments, the incentives on children are to be awful to each other. This will not change until adults do something to make schools less like prisons, and no amount of shootings will change that. Neither will scolding kids to be nicer. Anti-gun programs are useless bullshit. Anti-bullying programs are useless bullshit. All the permanent incentives that shape action are pushing children to emulate prison gangs.
“Utopia, LOL?”, written by Jaime Wahls, is a finalist for this year’s Nebula!! The first piece of explicit RatFic (I believe) to be up for a major award! While there are other things put up that we all point to as great Rationalist Fiction, I don’t think those authors were aware of/writing as RatFic (esp since many of them pre-date the genre). This is pretty freakin’ huge, guys. :)
My first reaction to Black Panther below, so spoiler alert.
Erik Killmonger was *absolutely* the hero of that movie. He rose from nothing, infiltrated Galt’s Gulch, defeated them at their own game by simply *being better* than them, and did it all in order to raise 2 billion people out of subjugation and bring them justice. And in the end, even though he is slain by the uppermost pinnacle of the 1%, he *still* managed to bring his home country out of isolationism and engaging with the rest of the world in what will be the greatest boon for (the rest of) humanity since antibiotics were discovered.
And he was just so fucking awesome. I love characters that run on rage. Jesus. I really REALLY wish we got to see a lot more of him in the movie.