Thursday, November 29, 2012

TKG Audio

I got to feel a little like George R. R. Martin today. Auditioned narrators for the audio book of The Kassa Gambit. OK, it's not as exciting as auditioning actors for a TV show, and actually, I kinda hated it, because I had to pick just one, and they were both great.

On the other hand, I feel like good old George every weekend that goes by without any progress on the next book, so there's that.

It was very strange to hear a stranger reading my words. I cringe every time I hear the sound of my own voice in a recording, and oddly, listening to my book being narrated by someone else induced almost the exact same response.

Luckily our darling Sophie won't suffer from that debility; she can watch videos of herself forever. And slide shows on the TV. And she has books full of pictures of herself (Artscow rules!) that she reads for her bedtime story. This has to be the first generation that has grown up watching itself in virtually real-time; I wonder how it will affect them?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


In one of the versions of Sim City, your city got to the point where it could build arcologies: super-buildings that were a self contained environment.

And now, this:

Sky City will boast a hospital, a school, 17 helipads, and enough apartments to house 30,000.

Above the world in 90 days: China building world’s tallest skyscraper — 220 storeys — in just three months

Just think about living there - the social aspects aside, I can't believe they can run water for that many households. Can you imagine taking a shower on one of the top floors? I know we need more urban density, but I don't think this will work. In 30 years it will be a slum, just like many of the huge housing projects in Britain, and for the same reason. The Brits committed what one writer called the "arithmetic heresy:" the idea that if 8 families in a block of flats could live together in good community, then 800 could do the same in a skyscraper. The Chinese perhaps have stronger cultural and social norms; but 30,000 people is a town, not a neighborhood. The building will need its own mayor and police force.

On the other hand they won't need a gym. Just going for a walk up and down the stairs will keep everybody fit for a marathon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The End of Politics

It's over. Sanity prevailed; presumably people will conclude that not releasing your taxes, flip-flopping with abandon, and telling outright lies (Jeeps to China!) does not win elections; and thus, the next election will abound with disclosure, principle, and integrity.

Already my prediction is coming true. Bill O'Reilly speaks with naked candor now:

The white establishment is now the minority.

The "w" word has crawled out into the open, like Nosferatu at the end of the movie, blinking in the revealing light of day. Just before he bursts into flames.

In any case I can shut up about it for a while. I am sure that is a welcome development to everyone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Socrates had the same problem, really

On The O’Reilly Factor on Nov. 1, John Stossel, former correspondent for ABC’s 20/20 and current host of the Fox Business Network show Stossel, said that “the government should stop insuring areas” prone to disaster.

“What if nobody wants to insure you?” O’Reilly asked.

“Then you take your own risk. Then the private insurance market is saying, you live in a risky place, don’t build there.”

Stossel himself once received $250,000 in FEMA money, but said during the program he would not do so again.

What a libertarian looks like when he opens his mouth
Socrates had almost the same exact problem. That is, he used the Athenian right of free speech to call for a revolution to end free speech. And I'm sure, when someone pointed out that the only reason he was still alive was because of the Athenian tolerance for free speech, he was just as smarmy, self-righteous, and outstandingly hypocritical as John "I've got mine, screw you" Stossel.

Eventually, of course, the Athenians did take him at his word, and offered the choice between drinking poison or leaving the city. In one of history's greatest acts of narcissism, Socrates chose death rather than admit he might be wrong about something. His acolytes wrote the history books, and now we think of Socrates as a heroic martyr instead of the way the Athenians thought of him, which was as a trouble-making conspirator whose nephew had twice overthrown the government to create a police state.

Poor Stossel won't have such loyal acolytes to remake his historical image; but then, I think we all know perfectly well that if FEMA showed up and offered Stossel the loose change in their pockets, he'd vacuum it up without moving his lips out of that permanently self-entitled pout.