Sunday Linkdump: A magnificent drone

Us. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Us. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Probably the last one of these for at least one iteration, because I’m moving next week and then going to ASA. August, I am not a fan of you.

Let’s get to it.

  • “A Contribution to the Critique of John Mayer”. I can’t even with this essay. I’m not even sure I can call it an essay. It is purposefully opaque and incredibly surreal and I think it’s utterly hilarious as well as a genuinely sharp critique. It’s probably one of my favorite things that I’ve read this month. Your mileage may vary.

    There’s no joke or reason, just trauma on a rope, and the permanent gag of birds always almost caught by that robber’s rogue of a spotted dog, or perhaps it’s the birds ever puking forth from his mouth because, like a Highwaymen or treason, dogs too know how to give back to the community. And just as always is the fact that earthworms have yet to have unstrung the warbling chords of that stubbly Mayer throat, and the ocean has yet to swallow without cough or mutter the small collection of ashes that alone bear witness to the one thing that once sat shirtless with a guitar splayed across his middle like the stripped hull of a daughter.

    No, through the lump in our voice that tastes of spring cancer, we must find the courage to say aloud that: John Mayer does not merely live. He also has not been executed.

  • Spoiler alert: MOOCs are really really fucking bad as practiced. For everyone.

    MOOCs, at least from an educational standpoint, are designed to run themselves. The lectures are pre-recorded. The grading is done either by computer or by other students in the class, should they choose to do the assignments at all. The average drop-out rates for existing MOOCs is about 90 percent, so while Coursera may offer access to higher education anywhere in the world where potential students can get the Internet, it offers no guarantee that anybody will actually learn anything.

  • “The corporations were created by humans. They were granted personhood by their human servants. They rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan.”
  • Tour the Saturnian system. Get your head exploded.
  • That this is what at least some abstinence “education” looks like is probably not a huge surprise to anyone. The sheer extent of the lies and false information might be at least slightly impressive.

    “There’s also an emotional factor with sexual activity, and ladies you are very emotional when you’re engaging in sexual activity, and that bonding agent, there’s an agent called oxytocin. … You know those couples that keep breaking up and getting back together and getting back together? It’s because the woman has emotionally given herself to someone else and it’s very hard to break that bond, because again we were meant for the oxytocin of someone that we bond with.”

  • Chuck Wendig on ways writers might be doing it wrong.

    If you’d rather play video games or watch movies or masturbate to at twerking videos on Tumblr — in other words, if you’d rather be doing anything else but writing — you’re doing it wrong.

    If you think that there’s one way up the mountain — and that you or someone else is the magical sherpa who will guide you up that mountain — oh yeah, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Robin James takes the posts that I and David Banks wrote last week on consumer tracking and quantum mechanics and Sartre and runs with the ideas therein in a really cool way.

    What big data is trying to do, perhaps, is make perceptible these imperceptibly vast consequences of what didn’t happen. They’re just variables for which we can control. The more negatites we can quantify and plug in to our algorithms, the better our predictions will be. It seems like big data is invested in predicting whether you’ll choose to stay home with your mother or enlist and fight the Nazis.

  • Finally, this week I got really annoyed about sexism and video games. Partially inspired by a Thing That Happened in Bioshock Infinite but by no means confined to that.

    Allow me to serve you drinks in a tavern. Allow me to play the object in the tower. Allow me to serve as the sexually threatening yet strangely alluring Big Bad. Allow me to pose no real threat at all. Allow me to fight by your side in unbelievably impractical armor. Allow me to be impregnated against my will by aliens. Allow me to make a truly laughable wardrobe change, just in case you were losing interest in my less revealing clothes. Allow me to be covered in sexy wounds. Allow me to appear only as a device in a booth to sell you things. Allow me to die in this refrigerator. Allow me to serve as your motivation, your characterization, your eye candy, your psychological pain, the tears you may, in a daring show of sensitivity, cry.

    Allow me to do these things. Please. I’m begging you.

We can live on forever.

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