Now hold on. There are millions of people in the streets demonstrating on a regular basis these days. How many have to be trying to change things before we stop labeling them all distracted, sleeping, over-amused sheeple?
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us."
— Neil Postman (Author of Amusing Ourselves to Death)
On both an absolute and per-capita level, those millions are actually record highs. These are historically large demonstrations. I'd have to check where I read this, but IIRC about 3% of a country's total population is typically the amount you need demonstrating in order to overthrow a government.
We're possibly looking at a revolution in progress, and all you guys can say is, "Why aren't there more of them?"?
I'd also like to see the source for he 3% number that leads to overthrow.
I don't know what group you're imagining me to be a part of, but you have no idea who I am, clearly. That's fine.
3.5 percent, according to research.
Also, if I had to venture a guess for why things have been improving, it's that modern economies rely on very fine, highly-skilled divisions of labor. If you're a marketing manager, you probably don't really understand how software goes together. This makes it very difficult to point a gun at a programmer and force them to work.
This means that in order to climb the ladder of value-added production, you need to keep your social organization nonviolent, and possibly even increasingly peaceful. You need everyone to cooperate, and when they cease to do so, even nonviolently, you start losing all that value you can't extract at gunpoint.
Is this a joke? Having recently reread Orwell's 1984, you can't seriously believe our society resembles Oceania in the slightest. The world may have some problems today, but the world in 1984 is war-torn, totaliarian hellscape from which no one can escape.
I remember reading these as a young teen and liking the stories, but thinking the concepts were so far from ever being possible.
This was the age where the brutality stories of my grandparents surviving WWII started sinking in.
I was convinced mankind would never ever allow anything to happen again that could lead to what happened in the late 30s.
Haven't read it yet, but it looks interesting
Having not read the book. Anyone know if that soma is based on vedic soma, seems like it.
Huxley's soma is some kind of narcotic haalucinogen. This is a list of quotes from the book that include the word "soma" in them, and it should give you an idea of the drug's effects and the characters' attitudes toward it: https://www.huxley.net/soma/somaquote.html
Rig veda describes Soma is a hallucinogenic used for intoxication.
1. Intoxication, though not addiction, is a central theme of the Veda, since the sacrificial offering of the hallucinogenic juice of the soma plant was an element of several important Vedic rituals. The poets who “saw” the poems were inspired both by their meditations and by drinking the soma juice. The poems draw upon a corpus of myths about a fiery plant that a bird brings down from heaven; soma is born in the mountains or in heaven, where it is closely guarded; an eagle brings soma to earth (4.26-7) or to Indra (4.18.13), or the eagle carries Indra to heaven to bring the somabo
2. we have seen a Vedic poem (10.119) in which someone exhilarated (or stoned) on soma says that the drinks have carried him up and away, “Like horses bolting with a chariot.”
Doniger, Wendy (2009-02-24). The Hindus: An Alternative History (p. 122).
So famous it became a bit of a cliche. I read it years ago and it didn't make any sense to me. But now that I've been studying Buddhism and practicing meditation for a while I picked it up again and I found it nothing short of brilliant, packed with interesting insights on philosophy, the arts, theology, the history of mysticism and the quest for the meaning of life. I know it sounds trite, but I simply wasn't ready for it the first time.
* The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. 
I read this 10 years ago. It touched my heart back then and it did it again this time. It's one of the few works of fiction that changed, a little or a lot, the way I think about love, relationships, loneliness and happiness.
I can't wait to re-read it a third time, in 10 years.
I am only marginally familiar with K's work but have no knowledge of Huxley's . Would be curious if someone who has read both can comment about the similarities/influences between the two.
“A child free from the guilt of ownership and the burden of economic competition will grow up with the will to do what needs doing and the capacity for joy in doing it. It is useless work that darkens the heart. The delight of the nursing mother, of the scholar, of the successful hunter, of the good cook, of the skilful maker, of anyone doing needed work and doing it well, - this durable joy is perhaps the deepest source of human affection and of sociality as a whole.”
Read it; it's really good, and works well as a pair with _The Left Hand of Darkness_.
Oh, yeah --- the Old Hainish were Not Nice People.
It's the 13th book of Terry Pratchett's superb Discworld series, but it's the perfect entry point for anyone who hasn't read any of them because it doesn't require any exterior context, and it's pure Pratchett in his prime.
I honestly can't recommend it, and the rest of the series, highly enough. If you haven't experienced Pratchett's work then I implore you, beg you, to get a copy of this book today.
Discworld has a number of major story arcs which are generally able to be read separately although they often overlap, and so some people prefer to follow one of the many Reading Guides out there to determine which books to read and when.
But a lot of us disagree and say that you should go to the very first book, The Colour of Magic, start there, and read the whole series in order, because it lets you experience Pratchett as he evolves from a pretty good writer into one of the best fantasy authors of all time. Plus you get to experience the Discworld itself evolving, as the Disc is broadly an allegory of Earth in the 1700s / 1800s with many of the same technological progressions.
It's important to note, though, that the first few books in the series can be tough to get through if you don't already have an appreciation for what's coming, and some readers are put off by them, but please, please don't give up, you have no idea what you're missing right now.
God, I envy you so much. If I had three wishes, I would genuinely spend the third one on forgetting the Discworld series just so I could once again experience the joy of reading it for the first time.
I would also highly recommend reading The Annotated Pratchett, which provides insight into the many fascinating real-world events, objects, people, myths, legends, and more that Pratchett subtly (or not so subtly in some cases) referenced in his work.
Don't get ahead of yourself of course, wait until you've finished reading the entire book before you read its corresponding APF entry so as to avoid spoilers :)
I think it doesn't matter a great deal, the plot of each individual book is usually pretty freestanding, so it's a question of whether you want to watch the characters develop chronologically or not.
Collecting Pratchett's books is probably the nearest thing I have to a drug addiction.
If the entire world were to become a police state obsessed with recovering old secrets, then vast resources might be thrown at the problem of factoring large composite numbers.
and the second in the series
It's not a sequel but has some common threads.
By the way: I'm not the only one for whom Sobel's bio screamed "John Carmack" from the first page he's mentioned, am I?
Eye opening reading for everyone who works in IT, science or any industry that requires long chunks of deep attention.
Great book - highly recommend it.
He dropped out of high-school and bummed cigarettes and crashed at friends, apparently. He talks about several lessons and how he remained associated with several people who've helped him when he was "nothing". The case of a banker who agreed to open a bank account for him despite being broke out of sympathy/pity.
Dennis likes to write poetry and some of the passages are intense and tear worthy (van Gogh passage). The style is to the point, tells it as it is (He doesn't hesitate to state that his employees are not likely to become wealthy working for him and that he encourages them to fly on their own. He also talks about the less flattering aspects of doing business and says that even between friends, they were on good terms because none of them depended on the venture to survive. He also says never to give shares of your company to anyone and to remain in control).
In his subsequent book, 88, he states that people didn't get that "How to Get Rich" was a cautionary tale about what it takes to become wealthy, which is obvious from many passages in the book. [One of which is when he says he'd rather have stopped at £30 million and wrote poetry while young, instead of pursuing becoming rich at an old age).
It's a worthy read in style and content.
Dennis is buying forests the Government can't take care of in a philanthropic effort to save them.
But with Steve Jobs, Apple will always attempt to mould
the universe to fit Steve's vision of Apple, and will pay the price again and again and again
Feels like he wrote this just before the IPhone. Another excerpt:
Without Jobs, Apple could never have risen from obscurity to become a world-class brand. But with Steve Jobs, Apple will always attempt to mould the universe to fit Steve's vision of Apple, and will pay the price again and again and again. 'Lesser' companies and men will filch their ideas, connect,connect, connect, and beat Apple at its own game.
Steve Jobs is not a monster. He is an all-American maverick and a world-class marketing genius. But until a man or woman as powerful as he is arrives at Apple (over his dead body), who is determined to break the cycle he has indulged in for so many years, Apple will remain merely an icon of awe. It
will not become a company of the size that truly could (and
should) 'bury' monsters like IBM.
Not quite Nostradamus there but give him credit for trying.
This interview gives a flavor of the style:
In the UK: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Business/How-to-Get-Rich-Audiobo...
I've been revisiting a lot of Le Guin's novellas ('The Found and the Lost' is a great collection) and Borges's stories since the election. They have been a source of great comfort.
I find that I don't reread nonfiction. I'll reference something I remember in it, but I can't think of a work of nonfiction I've reread in the past few years.
Not within the last year, but I've probably re-read that between five and ten times. I think I first read it as a teenager in the early 70s, or in the Navy in the late 70s.
3rd time; learned something knew every time.
 Among programming books: How to Design Programs...I've got a print copy. There's a lot of sophistication and relevant experience behind its programming fundamentals content (e.g. tests and documentation before (2002) tests and documentation became the new black).
One of the few books, that when I'm finished, I just want to turn it over a start again.
Covers a wide range of important and relevant topics in technology, biology/genetics, ethics. My only problem is it is too short! Could easily have been a triology like the Baroque Cycle (another favorite) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Baroque_Cycle
Oh really? Please share one such account. Because this is a statement from Stephenson himself:
There’s nothing currently in the works. A lot depends on what happens in the next few months, how people respond to the book, if there’s any interest in doing media adaptations
That's pretty clear it depends on how well it sells, whether film rights get bought and how that goes, etc.
That seems clear enough.
Have you read the book? There's no way someone could read this book and not think, "Yeah, the author clearly purposefully left room for this to be a very large series."
Recursion by Tony Ballantyne is a book that I didn't actually like all that much, but reread anyways. It covers a lot of topics I love (global AIs, Von Neumann Machines, tulpas, trusting trust, and a totalitarian utopia). The plot leaves a lot to be desired, but the concepts are worth it.
Even more than Star Trek, this novel caused me to think about a post-scarcity world. If we could have anything and everything, what should we do with it?
Really? I always thought of The Diamond Age as being about class conflict and social hierarchy in a partially post-scarcity world.
There are 7 books in the series now, and hopefully I'll finish the re-read not too long before the next one comes out!
Also re-listened to Getting Things Done by David Allen. This could also be any number of times.
Sort-of related, currently re-watching Westworld. I burned through ten episodes in two sittings first time around and wanted to properly appreciate it this time at a more leisurely pace.
But I'm not fully re-reading it, because the first time I only got to one third of it.
So, until I get to that first third, I'm re-reading, and after that, it is all new.
I had been programming for about 10 years or so when I read it and did all the exercises. It seriously leveled-up my abilities, in my opinion.
I read the piece in the New Yorker about rich tech guys and their bug out plans for the apocalypse (including Reddit's Alex Ohanian).
I love Strauss' journey from survivalist to community volunteer. It changed the way I think about preparedness.
Heller's book is one of only a few that I find myself thinking about all the time. I'm a sucker for any book with a dog in it though, so that might color my opinion.
The second time through I was much better able to keep the characters straight.
by Carl Sagan
I had previously seen the movie. The book (or rather the movie) takes a bit of a departure. The backgrounds on all the different characters as well as the political parts weren't that interesting to me. But overall the book was great.
* We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse)
by Dennis Taylor
I'd suggest listening to it on Audiobook. Excellent read. Makes me want to buy the book and read through it again. I can't wait until the next one comes out in (March?)
I love it. It's about doing the impossible, one step at a time
I understood a lot more of the jokes this time through, I think I was in Elementary school the last time I read it :)
That moment of realization; d'oh!
Is Phlebas typical of the whole Culture series, or are the other books a different kind of story?
You could try The Player of Games (my personal favourite) or The Hydrogen Sonata, which has a fairly peaceful storyline. And The State of the Art - a collection of short SF stories - is very good too.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
In fact I'm doing a lot of re-reading. The world is full of so much uncertainty, these days, that I can't even cope with not knowing how a book ends.
Still a good story though.
It's a little dated, but a lot of what he says is timeless.
About a year ago I reread Faulkner's _As I Lay Dying_ which is one of my favorite books. I can't explain why, but I think about it often.
Though the recent second time was as an audio book on a long car trip.
Reading this book is a nice way to step into another universe for a while.
I got initially into computers because I would press something on the keyboard and knew there was a sequence of commands that directed the graphics card to output something – I needed to understand that. Now, as I assume applies to so many people here, my curiosity has expanded to human development, this books is _the bridge_ between CS and psychology.
I consider this timeless humour, because it gets me to laugh out loud in public. People get startled by this. Also, I read episodes from the book to my 7 year old, who loves it. Occasionally, I need to explain a very dry joke, but some I leave for him to discover later.
Goldmine of information about practical things you have to deal with when starting HW startup.
All the content of the book + extra chapters are available in forum format and you can read it here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/701900/schiit-happened-the-story-of...
I'm going to start re-reading the Steven Brust Vlad-series, in the near future. Mostly to anticipate his forthcoming novel.
* Stephen King – 11/22/63
* Michael R Underwood – Geekomancy series
11/22/63 in particular is hard to put down, King doesn't need the supernatural to create a thrilling story.
Considering it was written in 1999 still feels very contemporary.
How do you continue learning more types of stuff that the book teaches you?
Also, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote a book called Rationality: From AI to Zombies.
No affiliate link: https://www.amazon.com/Clash-Eagles-Trilogy-Book/dp/11018853...
Edit: corrected author's name
I'm kind of in a perpetual re-read of Pierce's Types and Programming Languages.
This time through it's been shocking to me to see such parallels between the politics, policies, and consequences there of and the world today.
There's a lot to think about in Dune.
The Code Book
He has an amazing ability to go really deep into what he's explaining. No hand waving over the details. And yet, it's so very readable.
Unfortunately that wasn't true with his other book - Fermat's Theorem - probably because the subject matter was too complex?
This is an excellent sci-fi exploration of possible future, especially given the year in which it was written. I've not re-read it since I've only finished it a few months ago, but it was an excellent read.
Fascinatingly relevant right now.
Others I’ve re-read recently are:
* Camouflage 
* The Green And the Gray 
* The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 
* The Martian 
* I Am Not A Serial Killer series 
I plan to re-read in the near future:
* Touch 
* The Hollow City 
* Pulling Up Stakes 
Yes, I read a lot. 
 Only the first book in the series. Really disliked all the rest. Last couple of times I’ve listened to the Audible audiobook version which is excellent.
Here is a short post I wrote a few days back:
Hamilton is an absolutely fantastic musical. An amazing history : probably the most interesting story of a founding-father. It has got everything : rags-to-riches, heroism, fighting, betrayal, sex scandal, .. you name it. The musical is based off of Ron Chernow's door-stop sized biography. Lin Manuel Miranda adapted it to a Broadway play. And if you are like most, you will end up becoming a huge fan of Miranda. The musical won a Pulitzer as well as a lot of Tony's including the best musical. What a beautiful way to tell the story of a founding father with Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B and a bunch of other genres. Mind blown!
If you can get a ticket to the musical, consider yourself lucky and go watch it. I haven't. So ended up doing all the other reading / listening before the musical finale. :)
I got so interested in this that I have now listened to the musical (many times), read all the coverage of it in NY Times (published as a book) and also the book that Miranda himself wrote about the genesis of the show and watched a dozen videos of Lin on youtube.
Here's Lin's first presentation of this idea in a poetry recital at the White House:
The entire musical is available on many streaming services and on youtube too.
The book by Lin Manuel Miranda : Hamilton :
This is the book that covers all articles on NY Times: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FWP73AM/
A few cool Lin videos:
Freestyle rapping in the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:
Freestyle with Ellen:
Ron Chernow's book:
[yet to read this massive tome -> saving it up as the finale].
Mostly re-read the parts of the book that talk about the 80s (the creation of the PC, DOS, Windows, the PC clones, Microsoft and Intel outsmarting IBM, Microsoft bullying the rest of the industry, etc.).
It gave me
a) a whole new understanding of the computer hardware/ecosystem I grew up with
b) a re-newed insight into why Gates was a horrible, horrible monopolist who held back software development for the world quite a bit. My best guess is by about 5 years. (And that estimate is actually quite generous towards Mr. Gates.)
Just because I needed a bit of fun fiction to break up all the non-fiction. And because it (perhaps accidentally) says something interesting about the gods of a land of immigrants and future-philes.