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Interesting reset concepts

Rolling Jubilee is about to kick off, billing itself as “a bailout of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Other comments I’ve seen on this:

I like the idea, in some ways especially the “random acts of kindness” aspect of it. One imagines there’s no way they could actually eliminate any significant fraction of American personal debt, so in some sense randomly is the ‘fairest’ way to try to help anyone. Although they will get some prety impressive ‘bang for the buck’ (in a more literal than usual sense).

This also led my husband and I to look a bit into the actual Bilblical concept of the Jubilee — which turns out to have probably made sense in ancient Near Eastern cultures for reasons including provisioning the armies. See Michael Hudson‘s article in Bible Review 15:01 (1999) “The Economic Roots of the Jubilee.”

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Bimonthly Roundup

Hello, all! This is the first installment of the Bimonthly Roundup, an attempt to list and discuss events (like sci-fi or gaming conventions) which HRSFANS are going to. Future installments will be sent to hrsfans-discuss and posted on thiS blog, and a list will be kept on the HRSFANS wiki.

Are you going to any of these events? Got anything coming up that you’d like HRSFANS to know about? Like to see other HRSFANs? Great! Just drop a note and let people know!

Now, without further ado:

August

8/26 – 8/28: Pax Prime: Seattle, WA
This is probably today’s largest and most influential video game conference, created by Penny Arcade. A number of HRSFANs will be attending, including Tony V, Rebecca N, and Dennis C (who has previously convinced Tycho of the wisdom of drinking Catan, if I’m not mistaken).

8/29 – 9/5: Burning Man: Black Rock City, NV
An experiment in temporary community, filled with creativity and bizarreness of all sorts. At least a few HRSFANs will be there.

September

9/2-9/5: DragonCon: Atlanta, GA
A very big gaming con. No HRSFANs (that we know of) are going, but several are interested in a possible expedition next year.

9/16-18: Intercon Midatlantic: Bethesda, MD
A LARP-focused con with a strong following. Several HRSFANs attending, including Warren T, Rebecca M, and Michael V.

October

10/20-10/23: Spiel: Essen, Germany
A giant 4-day board game convention in Essen, Germany, where new board games come out. For most of us, heading there sounds a little crazy, but it’s a great place for new German-style board games (as you might expect), and Kevin G is potentially interested in a trip.

10/21-10/22: BlizzCon: Anaheim, CA
For all things Blizzard related, especially World of Warcraft. Certainly of interest to several HRSFANs, but none (so far) are known to be going.

To get put on future announcements, just add yourself (or your event) to the wiki list, or email me to let me know!

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Who’s the medium now? Part II

Nur

Nur - Enemy of darkness and illuminator of consciousness

Xyn

Xyn - Bringer of sleep, keeper of secrets and guardian of Mysteries

Earlier this fall I encountered an pair of goddesses to enthrall me, part of a larger pantheon on display in a coffee shop. More recently I found contact information for the artist, Jonah Kamphorst, and asked for their stories; he has been kind enough to send some preliminary pointers prepared for an earlier show.

I had earlier on the evening I wrote to Jonah re-read my other recent post on fiction, reality, and communication by/through artists. This pretty clearly influenced the particular questions I posed of this artist:

Are they from a world of yours? If so, to what degree are they yet fleshed out in your consciousness?  If not, where else can I look for more?

Jonah’s response is that he created the goddesses (note the direction of the agency) for himself, but has hoped others might find them illustrative or more. Also that he has an “extensive narrative … which is nowhere near complete” regarding them.

I haven’t checked yet, but my first guess is that Jonah has less than extensive experience writing narrative fiction so far. Again, as I noted last month, many writers seem to find themselves less than entirely in control of their narrative worlds. Also, I would describe none of my favorite fictional worlds as “complete”—or at least not as “completely described.” Wholeness in a world, whether this in which we live or those into which we follow storytellers’ great tales, is to my senses crucially dependent on there being always more to discover. One should always sense that one does not yet know everything that’s going on. Even, I expect, as a world’s creator.

Certainly that’s how I maintain my self-respect as a proper Dune fanatic: by insisting that it is not a universe belonging to and best understood by Frank Herbert. Herbert was merely the first to show it to us.

Likewise, I quite without remorse discarded Farscape barely into Season 3 and Six Feet Under part-way through Season 2, feeling the writers had lost track of their characters. And, despite my continued absorption in and deep respect for the character creation from Martha Cooley in The Archivist, I feel she mistakes her plot at the end.

Nur and Xyn here, from Jonah Kamphorst’s pantheon, remind me visually somewhat of “The two sisters,” from Margaret Mahy‘s The Door in the Air, and Other Stories, although these two are not actually complements as Jennifer and Jessica are. The obvious visual influences of Indian, Celtic, and cyberpunk cultures are quite striking and super-fun in combination. The image of Xyn linked here, though, does not quite feel the same as when I first saw it; it may be a different image, or possibly I feel different enough looking at it through the computer screen. In either case, I don’t have quite as forceful a feeling today as I did earlier this fall that there is more to discover—but it’s forceful enough.

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International Pillow Fight Day

This Saturday, April 3rd, is International Pillow Fight Day! In cities all around the world, people will gather for massive public pillow fights. The facebook event for my local pillow fight in San Diego has over 5000 attendees registered. I can’t wait!

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Vericon this weekend

Vericon is this weekend!

Vericon is a science-fiction, fantasy, gaming, and anime convention featuring many events and distinguished guest speakers. It has been held annually at Harvard University since 2001. The tenth Vericon will take place on Friday-Sunday, March 19-21, 2010. The convention is sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA), an undergraduate student group.

This year’s Guest of Honor is Timothy Zahn. It’s guaranteed to be a great Con, so if you’re in the Boston area–or can get there in the next 24 hours–I highly recommend you check it out!

In addition to all of the wonderful Vericon events, we have two HRSFANS events planned for the weekend: Saturday night Non-Cons, and Sunday lunch. See the hrsfans-announce email list for more information.

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Because friends want friends to eat good food

HRSFANS supporting HRSFANS, especially those in greater Boston, should know that two HRSFANS are soon to open a restaurant, called “Journeyman,” in Somerville.

I don’t want to say too much more at this time, although many HRSFANS will be able to guess which two people I’m talking about.  I’m certain it’s going to be good.  In the past their cooking has been described as second in Boston only to L’Espalier (in print, no less!).

I encourage all interested parties to follow their blog (feed) and try them out after their expected open in late May 2010.

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Adventures in India

HRSFANS member Neil S. has just returned from a trip to visit his family in rural India, and has a really interesting blog post with photos from and thoughts about his adventures. I particularly enjoyed hearing Neil’s perspective on life there because he’s simultaneously part of the family, and an observer from modern urban America. Plus it’s full of great photos:
Neil

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Mathematical non-games

The world of Algebraic Geometry (to which I have personal but absolutely no professional ties) is kind of tempest-tossed at the moment. I wouldn’t be suprised but what a number of you would enjoy thinking about and commenting on what’s going on.

In brief, lay terms, as I have heard it, there was this brilliant young French mathematician in the 1950s by the name of Alexandre Grothendieck who all but single-handedly revolutionized/created certain fields of Algebraic Geometry. Some 10-15 years later, he gave up academic life, moved to the Pyrrenées, and became a sheep farmer.

Since Grothendieck’s disengagement, his body of work has remained wildly useful and has formed a bedrock for later mathematical generations. The respect accorded to his own writings has gone so far as to inspire its own personal Distributed Proofreaders analogue for creating a TeX version of a long systematic work, “Séminaire de Géométrie Algébrique” (or SGA). The free electronic SGA project has been ongoing for the better part of a decade or more; volumes SGA 1 and SGA 2 are up on the arXiv already.

It seems just possible that might not be true much longer.

Behold the text of the until-recently-current webpage for the SGA 4 project:

Alexandre Grothendieck a malheureusement souhaité que cessent les travaux de réédition de SGA. Les pages qui étaient consacrées sont donc closes.
Dernière actualisation : 2 février 2010.

There is slightly more information, and much discussion, at Scott Morrison’s post on the Secret Blogging Seminar, a group math weblog. Again in brief (and English), Grothendieck apparently resurfaced enough to put out a letter stating that he doesn’t want his work republished or translated.

And he wags his finger at anyone who has done so or wants to.

Which is the really weird part. Assuming the letter is genuine, what legal ramifications does it actually have? Why use a phrase like “unlawful in my eyes,” which sounds to me deliberately obfuscatory? (Legality is not a matter of an individual’s vision.) The comments on the SBSeminar post seem weighted towards arguments as to the moral dimensions of Grothendieck’s stated wishes and a given mathematician’s obligation to respect them (or not). To me, the legal questions are more pressing and pertinent. Whether one has a moral obligation to respect an author’s wishes is a decision one makes for oneself. Whether the mathematical community as a whole has a legal obligation to take Grothendieck at his word has greater ramifications–and probably a single, findable answer (unlike a question of personal morality).

Edixhoven, one of the prior leaders of the TeX SGA project, did research the distribution question through the publishers and was told copyright had in fact reverted to the original authors (as he states on the linked page). This seems to indicate Grothendieck is not out of line to say he withholds his permission. But the questions only start there. …

Some on the SBSeminar comment thread made the “glass half full” suggestion that maybe it’s time SGA got a revamp anyhow. Yet the original is still a precious resource. I’ll be interested to try to follow what decisions are made.

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Acrobatics + Yoga = Acroyoga

I find the amount of control that these people have over their bodies amazing:

You can hear a bit more about acroyoga in this video (but the demonstrations aren’t as impressive): Jason and Jenny, who you see in the embedded video here, invented the sport about five years ago in Berkeley, CA. I’ve heard of an acroyoga class being offered in Amsterdam, so apparently it’s spread quite quickly.

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Who did it better?

This week‘s New Yorker has a “Talk of the Town” about a version of Assassins at a private high school in NYC. You can see a summary of the sketch here or find the full one online for subscribers (or, of course, search out a hardcopy!).

Fond, frightening, and mixed memories of the 1999 HRSFA-HCS Assassins War. Which reminds me that someone really ought to create a stories page on the HRSFANS wiki. (Yes, I realize that having said that, I am accepting de facto responsibility…)

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