Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Game of Thrones

Just watched this season's finale. The Hound was brilliant, his best scene ever. Martin has made clear why you don't write books in which the main characters die: because when you make it into a movie, you keep killing off the actors just as they hit their stride.

At least we still have Jorah Mormont to kick around. I wasn't that attached to the character in the book, but I am a big fan of Iain Glen ever since his bit part in Downton Abbey. This is another problem with film; a good actor makes his character more likeable than the plot expects. Sean Bean did the same thing with Boromir.

At the end, I was struck by the unhappy revelation that this book series will never be finished. The TV show is burning through the plot; they have maybe one more season and they'll be out of books. Martin will have to devote his time to script treatments to finish out the show. After that, he'll just be too tired of the whole thing to actually write the books.

On the other hand, as much as I like Martin's discursive writing, the show is dramatically and narratively tighter. Maybe they'll hire somebody to write the final books based on the show.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paul Krugman has a more optimistic view

Well, think about global warming from the point of view of someone who grew up taking Ayn Rand seriously, believing that the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest is always good and that government is always the problem, never the solution. Along come some scientists declaring that unrestricted pursuit of self-interest will destroy the world, and that government intervention is the only answer. It doesn’t matter how market-friendly you make the proposed intervention; this is a direct challenge to the libertarian worldview.
Interests, Ideology And Climate 
In Krugman's view, the only real problem is ideological. I agree. All of my arguments with libertarians have gone the most screwy at precisely the moment when I point out that the looming environmental crisis cannot be managed by the free market.

These are data points that are unassailable: we are heading for disaster, and the only solution is collective action. Libertarians can only respond by ignoring the scientific facts, ignoring the consequences of their own ideology, or by embracing defeatism - essentially, our destruction is inevitable and inescapable.

Think about that. These people would rather see the world burn than admit that their governing philosophy is simply bunk. But that's not as defamatory as it seems, since it basically describes all people ever. It is only now, with the advent of science, that people can separate their personal worth and self-esteem from the factual positions they happen to hold at the moment. And even now, most people simply can't do it.

Because most people have built an edifice on those "facts," an edifice they know is unfair and unjust, and they rightly fear that if they surrender on those "facts" they will have to dismantle their edifice, and at that point they may well be required to account for the injustice they have done (or even merely be subject to someone else's injustice). By most people, of course, I mean the entire Western world which has consumed the lion's share of the Earth's resources for centuries.

An accounting is coming, either at our own hands or at the hands of Nature, in the form of brute reality; and as any biologist will rush to assure you, Nature is not by any definition merciful.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blogging the end of the world

It starts here: Erza Klein lists seven reasons why it's too late.


1. We waited too long. Self-explanatory.

2. The people most affected don't get to vote. For those of you who read Collapse by Jared Diamond, this is the number one reason societies collapse.

3. We're bad at sacrificing now for the future. As Neil Degrasse Tyson and Thomas Piketty keep pointing out, that is a design feature of capitalism.

4. The effects are not reversible. It's not like if we just stop burning carbon, things will go back to the way they were. These changes are effectively permanent.

5. The Republican party. Self-explanatory.

6. International cooperation is too hard. Here I think he is wrong; if America were leading the way on this, we could actually pull it off. There is a value to having a military roughly equivalent to the rest of the world combined; people listen when you speak. If the USA were of one heart and mind on this, we could make it happen. But see #5.

7. Blind faith in magic doesn't work. But I guess this is really just #5, again.

What am I doing about it? I only had one child, we own a single car, and I will be buying a house at least 10 meters above sea level.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I should check my email more often

Just found a year's worth of fan mail. Also, less importantly, a request to enter the Compton award, and an inquiry from a movie studio on licensing rights for TKG.

I was sure my IT department set that account up to forward my mail. I would complain, but I don't want to have to sleep on the couch.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lawerence Krauss agrees with me

Just saw him on the show Q&A; he said it seemed like Abbot was trying to make Australia into America.

And indeed he is, from regressive taxes, repealing regulation, and increasing the defense budget, right across to science denial. Krauss' best line of the night (said to a climate-change denier): "OK, so what does your model predict?"