cyrej: (Default)
The Mysteries of Udolpho: 600 pages of just classic romanticism: themes of nature, pastoralism, christian spirituality, etc. Complete with purple prose, super-long sentences, poetry.

Somewhat educational to know the English version of romanticism is thematically just the same (as the German version) but it somehow comes across a bit insipid and fake. Beyond that there's no point reading 600 pages of this.

Time (Manifold): I'm pretty sure this is the worst thing I've ever read. Bad writing, lots of expositional monologuing, making me read about these CEO types (and their divorce issues and bunch of other gross stuff I don't care about) a lot. Really silly science, all explained in the same annoying pop-science way no matter who is explaining to whom. Extremely messed up (in universe and from the author) libertarian worldview: no sign of the environmental and humanitarian mess these people are directly causing and would realistically be living in, lots of enthusiasm for solving problems by just further mining everything, very negative and dismissive portrayal of the public and the government. Beyond that there's just a million implausible and silly things about this.

This Changes Everything: Read this instead for a realistic overview of the impending end of the world and how to fix it. It's less intimidating if one is less ignorant.
cyrej: (Default)
So here's an idea I just had that I haven't seen anywhere else:

We mess up the atmosphere (it is definitely headed in that direction, and once the runaway effect starts it doesn't stop), we lose our air, water, temperature, radiation protection, etc. Humans don't die completely: they learn to live in sealed off environments and conserve & acquire those things. I think that's likely, since it won't be sudden and humans like trying to not die and we are capable of those things. (Similar to that time cells learned to deal with it and seal themselves off and pump resources even though their preferred water-potassium ocean isn't to be found anywhere anymore). Once that's stabilized, it's not a big step to do the same in space, or on the moon, or on Mars, or anywhere. So my prediction is life is going to spread into space.

To clarify the central idea is that earth will become similarly uninhabitable to other planets and only adapting to this will make true expansion into space possible.

I think this is pretty plausible. On more esoteric grounds, I think either life dies completely or there is a next step in the molecule-cell-organism-society happening sometime, in a cataclysmic way. Maybe such a habitat-cell with humans and other organisms can be considered the next type of entity.

Facts against: don't see anyone from other planets having done so and survived long enough to have a presence in space.

This is not an optimistic prediction, short-term that's still centuries of catastrophe and I don't really care about the long-term persistence of humanity or life, although it would be interesting.

If I have just come to the impression that a radically different form of life is needed for space proliferation, it does make everything with humanoids in space travel a bit implausible and boring.
cyrej: (Default)
fixed touchpad issues (static induced probably, it did not work and jumped around only when not charging) by changing background noise cancellation & senstivity parameters. The hardware wasn't hopelessly broken after all.

Just got an external hard drive, since I have only 16GB (it was meant s a chromebook with cloud storage).

I believe I have a working computer now without having to send the whole thing back or attack any more mouse, keyboard, screens.

I wanted to use the "vocabulary builder" - not to quiz myself (gross), I just want to see a list of things I've looked up in each book. But sometimes words (from well-known books) are not in the dictionary and it is impossible to add them to the list by hand. Minor but annoying. I'm having to keep "coquelicot", "rhodomontade", and "pattened" in my head.

The reading speed estimates are very wrong. Thinks I will read a 600 page book in about 20 minutes. Yesterday I had to read for 40 minutes to reduce the "time left in book" by 2 minutes. Even if I reset it it goes back to being very wrong after some time.

Phone: still broken (for the second time). Do not recommend XPeria Z1 at all, it splinters at the slightest provocation and once it does the whole touchscreen (and therefore everything) is unusable.
cyrej: (Default)
It's in a few months and I can do this easily, in fact I have done just about the same route. And I don't really care for doing it faster. I just don't quite want to try a half marathon as a first race.
cyrej: (Default)
Self replicating machine: apparently possible but not yet done because there's too many parts. But 3D printers can apparently make complex and many-parted things out of a plan and a tub of plastic grains, can we do it now?
cyrej: (Default)
At 48 books out of 50, I'm not gonna spend the last 2 days of the year reading, I'm so annoyed at books and there's no point doing this to myself if it isn't even good.

This year in reading:
-read non-fiction for the first time
--11 Very Short Introductions (that's almost cheating)
--5 other non-fiction books (plus a lot partially read) on physics and molecular biology
-4 Discworld books
-1 Culture book
-4 Aubrey-Maturin books
-classics caught up on: Amerika, Faust, the Iliad, Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, L'Etranger
-4 in German, 1 in French (another first)
cyrej: (Default)
Was between 4 stars (good, but not mind-blowing) and 3 (meh); the "epilogue" disgusted and bored me so much that I settled at 3. That alone is 2 parts and several chapters, the first part is about everyone's life some years later - I am disgusted, I did not want to read about people's marriages and babies at length and pretend that's great, and does he really think someone is doing great morally for only hitting the serfs occasionally - and the second part is a long essay on why historians are all wrong and how they should instead approach things. This is ok, but it had already been said less directly throughout the book, the whole thing feels condescending and repetitive often. On the other hand I sometimes think he could have just written the essay and left off the rest of it.

Rostovs are all of them spoiled little brats.

I don't know what I expected, something like Moby Dick which just describes everything probably. It does very occasionally do a thing like put in a few paragraphs about how beekeeping works, but only to make a didactic metaphor out of it. I didn't properly consider that Tolstoy is some russian nobleman and can't tell about anything else or in a different tone.


Quotes I feel are holding onto (because the only thing I enjoy is being super arrogant and putting down the "social sciences"):

"Among that number of innumerable categories applicable to the phenomena of human life there are those in which substance prevails and those in which form prevails"

"The strangeness and absurdity of these replies arise from the fact that modern history, like a deaf man, answers questions no one asks" (it's mostly philosophy, in my opinion, where they continue to write long essays about questions which have long been answered or absurd and simple scenarios which no one wanted to know about, still come to no answers, and then feel smug about it)

The metaphor that history books and ideas (and in my opinion philosophy, literature, etc) are like paper or coin money in that they have mutually agreed upon value but not necessarily inherent value is also quite nice, if obvious.
The fact that academics write the history books and that's why books and academics and ideas are falsely portrayed as very influential was perhaps less obvious but probably true.
cyrej: (Default)
I thought life decreases local entropy through outside energy input. Apparently structures dissipate entropy through themselves faster than it would otherwise. Like a drain spiral?

We're not even here to survive and replicate despite circumstances, we're mostly here mess things up more efficiently?

(I like the whole organisms and life thing, can I do a PhD in it yet)
cyrej: (Default)
How come, with the huge volume of books published constantly, I can't for example find more prehistory fiction than Clan of the Cave Bear series and a few children's books? Do we really just have a huge amount of the same types of romance novels and crime and stuff and absolutely no demand for some other genres one would expect to be a thing? What is going on.

Prehistory and steampunk are definitely on the 2016 reading list (I don't know if that's an actual list yet).
cyrej: (Default)
==== a book review ====
Reading L'Etranger. My impression might be way off because I don't even speak French, but this is the worst. blah blah super "deep" and "we are all Mersault"... well maybe if one also happens to be an incredibly boring and disgusting person. I have absolutely no patience for this - purposeful display of disgust and boredom(?). Like I said the last possibly purposefully awful books, I don't care if it may have been done self-consciously or ironically- if they really cared to make a point they could be doing it without putting the reader through all that again.

I think this book is somewhat like Homo Faber (I hated that one too) in genre and style and content and reception. Although again I might be wrong, that one was so boring I forgot everything and I don't entirely understand French. So if you love The Stranger you may like that one, I guess.

People are going to say I'm ignorant or immature for not being impressed probably. I don't care, I'm done excusing things because it's "innovative at the time" or "exemplary of its genre" or something or because the author's name sounds important. If a book doesn't impress me by itself it's just not a good book. Everyone needs to get over themselves.

==== in general ====
I am so sick of all these things I've been told are super profound, they all turn out to be not at all impressive. Every time some man has a thought everyone falls over themselves about how intelligent and universal and important that was? And then I have to read Brave New World or Lord of the Flies or whatever.

Seriously considering making it a strict rule to not read a single book by and about straight white men all of next year (because this year I read about literally 50 of them and that is way enough). I don't know if that is the cause of the problem but I'll try it, I feel like things certainly can't get more boring and annoying.
cyrej: (Default)
We are all very insulting humanities students right now, especially literature, pretty much out of jealousy. The feeling is that their work is far easier and more fun and still they don't even do it competently. Points of evidence: they still go to bars and clubbing during exam time weeks. A girl is writing an essay about "the devil in literature" and has not heard of Faust or read Paradise Lost. Unquestionably I could do better than that (because wow), and it would be fun, and then I could finish War and Peace and all the other free-time activities I barely squeeze in that are their "work".

Personally I am also jealous of all the cigarettes and nice coffees they allow themselves, annoyed at the loudness, and judgemental of the accents which overwhelmingly indicate they are English and are paying a lot of tuition to be here.

So yeah. Back to math practice. Should have studied literature.
cyrej: (Default)
The City and The City: you should read it it's good. Original and convincing sort of science fiction premise. I also like that the main character is neither a revolutionary or a naive person who gets introduced to the revolution and how their world is actually bad, he's just an ordinary person going with the system.

War and Peace: maybe I will finish this year.
cyrej: (Default)
I looked at a buzzfeed article yesterday and that was a bad idea but it's really bothering me?

If you ever jokingly typed "unfollow me" or "you monster" or "you had no childhood" or "what sane person would..." because someone didn't watch the same cartoon as you or bit into a chocolate from the wrong angle or doesn't love the some brand, unfollow me (actually pls). But maybe explain to me how this 'pretend' outrage over the slightest difference could seem fun and constructive and not awful first.

(It's not a silly internet problem, I've had this happen to my face forever too and can we stop pretending what people say on the internet is different from their behavior irl)
cyrej: (Default)
I finally got rid of chromeOS completely and put in Xubuntu 15.04. It may be worse but I feel better now, I was continuously annoyed having to live with all the limited and internet-connected features I did not ask for or understand.

Why did launching seaBIOS suddenly work (pressing ctrl L previously did just literally nothing, not even the two beeps) ? I did the step about patching it for this particular chromebook again, maybe typing at the right shell this time.

Dell Chromebook review after some time:
Good: it is very light and portable and seems durable. ChromeOS is shiny and user friendly and simple. Everything is always in the cloud and thus backed up, if you're into that. Slightly better memory and speed than other very small cheap things (will see how that does on only xubuntu shortly). Pretty compatible and modifiable, easily got an alternative ubuntu desktop environment to use command line, IDEs, latex, and all that on & somewhat easily put on an entire xubuntu operating system.
Bad: Keyboard feels oddly mushy but works, mousepad is frustrating and often doesn't move or jumps around or clicks or highlights. Screen isn't super clear. Everything is literally all in your google account all the time, I just don't like it.
cyrej: (Default)
Whatever hints were dropped towards unresolved murder mysteries, I didn't find them. Help?

spoilers )
cyrej: (Default)
and found it oddly free of aggressive (hetero)sexuality. There were opportunities to make (appropriately veiled and funny) sexual comments on women, to help characterize the man as especially foolish or entertain or whyever authors would do that, and they were just not taken.
In fact a lot of plots are about trying to get out of getting married. When Bertie Wooster suddenly feels lonely, his first thought is to adopt a child or move in with his sister and her children. I like that a lot; I appreciate not having to read yet another "funny" plot about a man suddenly wanting a wife.

I was almost thinking that the problem is that nowadays authors seem to pride themselves on being overtly sexual (and always heterosexual) at every opportunity and that's not necessarily a good thing, but then I remembered how many old books I've had to read that were 100% about people's gross engagement, marriage, and adultery issues.

Anyway this book has been not too awful in that one aspect. Should not be that special yet here we are.
cyrej: (Default)
I am reading Inversions and it is not spectacular. I'm liking Culture novels less and less.

It's just like War and Peace and a lot of other things in that I have to read about some nobles hunting, going to war, diplomacying, being sexist, mistreating their serf and servants, etc. Generally being people with monarchies, patriarchy, European features and culture, a whole lot of extremely improbably things like horses and dogs (they have more suns and moons than us but that's about it)... Sure it's entirely possible that some other planet out there is medieval in all of exactly the same ways as Earth, but why do I have to read a whole book about this one out of all the planets in the universe.

If there turn out to be very good reasons for the suspicious similarities to Europe, 1700s, Earth I will still not like it, that's not the point. The point is that he chose to write about this instead of literally everything else in the universe, except now with some added assertions at being open-minded.

At least War and Peace is authentic and complex. I think we could really do better at criticizing things than by writing the exact same thing as always except exaggeratedly, "ironically" and smugly.

I'm more than annoyed. Why are maybe literally all the books there are the same boring stuff?
cyrej: (Default)
When I was younger I assumed its just a flattering way of saying 12-17 year olds.

But they seem super popular with literal young adults, like 18-24, too. Some of them are written at a pretty middle -school level though (for example Divergent). What is going on?

Maybe this didn't exist a few years ago? Maybe I just didn't have access to things like buzzfeed to know what kind of things everyone else is reading?

Update: wikipedia agrees these are for 13-18 year olds. Maybe Wikipedia just hasn't caught up yet, maybe it's some really artificial hype with the 20somethings at buzzfeed.
cyrej: (Default)
Course #1: everything done, 56/80 marks on known things. It is likely I'm getting more than 4/20 on last assigment but not likely in getting 14/20. So, upper second.

Course #2: study for exams today

Course #3: study for exams today

Project: Report and poster done and I'm pretty happy with this. Leave alone today, last corrections and turn in tomorrow.

Group project: I'm ahead of everyone, do more after exams
cyrej: (Default)
Class #1: I got 40/60 on the project where half my group just stopped talking to us for no reason I know of and we split into two groups. People say that's not too bad for university but I made an embarrassing amount of mistakes and omissions, and it feels even worse because it now also has to be inspected and discussed by the entire department to adjust the grade upwards for the disadvantage.

I turned in the last homework badly but then the deadline got extended, so I guess I should redo it. I don't want to, I don't have any more knowledge to write about if I have more time either.

Class #2: Finished doing homework and I think those went well. I know nothing for the exam.

Class #3: All exam, I am going to have to study so much, I skipped learning anything all year.

Project: I think I'm doing great, finish it this week.


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February 2016

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