Open Thread, 5/23/2016

The origin of the white walkers (GoT).

a-game-of-thronesDon’t click the above unless you want a major book spoiler. But the television show Game of Thrones is pushing deep into uncharted territory. And by book spoiler, I don’t mean the reveal about Hodor. Rather, the scene above reveals the origins of the Others, also known as the white walkers.

Or does it? We’re now in a zone where perhaps the show is deviating from George R. R. Martin’s own vision. But I doubt it, because the explanation is actually true to the author’s philosophy when it comes to fantasy. There’s a lot of naturalism, and magic and the supernatural are inferred, and their exact character are difficult to pin down. By this, I mean that in J. R. R. Tolkien the supernatural mythos was well developed, and all understood it to be concretely real in a straightforward sense. Similarly, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson have universes where gods clearly exist and have supernatural agency. George R. R. Martin’s world of grays is more attuned to the mindset of a religious skeptic, to the point of have a fair number of religious nonbelievers as major characters.

One month out now from the Evolution Meeting. Will probably drop in now and then as I’m normally not that far from the convention center.

A bunch of people in the tech scene in Austin are rather upset about the whole Uber/Lyft leaving town thing (honestly, I’ve been hearing about this for 6 months, but like a lot of people I just didn’t believe it would come to this). So there’s one solution, Nonprofit Uber alternative springs from Austin tech minds. Should be up and ready for the Evolution Meeting. So who knows.

Spent the weekend with some out of town friends who are immersed in genomics. Always fun when you can spend a day talking shop in this sort of fluid manner.

Some people complaining again that I’m not nice to commenters. First, these complaints never have any effect. Second, a lot of you shouldn’t comment when you have nothing valuable to contribute to a particular thread. Some of you lack domain specific insight. And some of you are just plain old stupid, even if well intentioned. I hope my irritation that you comment makes you feel appropriately unwelcome.

Speaking of rudeness, Bruenighazi: how a feisty Bernie blogger’s firing explains Democratic politics in 2016. And, Is Matt Bruenig a Populist Martyr? Bruenig certainly seems to behave in a nasty manner in relation to those on his “enemies list.” That probably justified Demos firing him, as that sort of behavior can ruffle too many feathers. But that doesn’t negate the reality that his picking on someone in a position of power, as he did, probably was the immediate cause of what happened to him. Additionally, I’m not going to lie, I exhibit more tolerance towards class-based attacks than I do race/sex/gender stuff, because so often the latter is just signaling and opportunism. I am not on the Left, so I don’t support a lot of Left economic policies, but the logic of self-interest here is at least somewhat logical. In contrast, race/sex/gender identity politics easily devolves into parody.

On the other hand, this massive decline in poverty is despite Left activism against markets.

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