Amazon to Consider Phlebas

Deadline has the scoop:

EXCLUSIVE: Iain M. Banks’ classic sci-fi Culture book series is headed to television. Amazon Studios has acquired the global TV rights to the first novel in the series, Consider Phlebas, with Utopia creator Dennis Kelly set to pen the TV adaptation, Plan B Entertainment (World War Z Moonlight) slated to produce and the Estate of Iain Banks attached as executive producer. The book had been pursued by a number of top film and TV producers.

I think Player of Games would have been a more engaging entry – but I can see why Phlebas is getting first billing, what with the monsters and the trains and the big booms and all.

The Search for Spock in Season 2

Fundamentally, Spock is the central character of Star Trek. His presence connects space, time, and reality. He has appeared before TOS and after DS9; he has appeared as an infant and an adult; he has appeared in an alternate timeline (Prime) and an alternate Universe (Mirror); he has appeared on screen with himself, he has died, he has been reborn, he has suffered the loss of his mind, he has suffered the loss of his brain. There is no axis of star Trek that can omit Spock.

Consider also that even putting aside the visual retcon of Star Trek: Discovery, Spock as a character has been played by a total of eight actors, two of which played Spock in his prime (Nimoy and Quinto). Spock is akin to Superman – a character who is instantly iconic and recognized, even though the face changes.There was no angst about Zachary Quinto’s portrayal on par with the angst currently suffusing Star Wars fandom over casting Alden Ehrenreich as Solo. We, the Trek collective, did not even have any real issue with Quinto-Spock receiving personal effects of Nimoy-Spock including the iconic cast photograph in which the visual discrepancy between all of the bridge crew was simply presented on screen without explanation or fuss. It simply was. It simply is.

Spock must appear in Season 2. We can quibble over warp nacelle shapes and surface veneer when it comes to the Enterprise, but even the critics of that design choice still had at least one heart palpitation at seeing the original NCC-1701 grace a television screen again for the first time in decades. Spock, however, is beyond debate.

Spock must appear in season 2.

yet another super scholar

I read this profile of Christopher Langan with genuine curiosity – allegedly having the highest IQ in the US, if not the world. Imagine my surprise to find that he claims he can prove the existence of God:

Some of these projects relate to a book I’ve been writing on mathematically proving the existence of God. Surprising as it may seem, this can certainly be done. In fact, save for a few crucial ingredients, it was nearly accomplished by (e.g.) Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century AD. (Sadly, neither Anselm nor his various followers and modern analysts were able to pin down all of the logic and ontology required to fill out and support his essential argument.)

Some people, reasoning from past failures, regard such a proof as impossible. But then again, many people had considered it impossible to solve the venerable chicken-or-egg problem, for which I presented a concise case-by-case solution around a decade ago. The chicken-or-egg problem and the existence of God both relate to the general issue of circular dependency, a connection to be explored in the book.

He also asserted in an interview in 2014 that he can solve the P vs. NP problem, and has his own “cognitive-theoretic model of the universe.” I reproduce the abstract below:

Inasmuch as science is observational or perceptual in nature, the goal of providing a scientific model and mechanism for the evolution of complex systems ultimately requires a supporting theory of reality of which perception itself is the model (or theory-to-universe mapping). Where information is the abstract currency of perception, such a theory must incorporate the theory of information while extending the information concept to incorporate reflexive self-processing in order to achieve an intrinsic (self-contained) description of reality. This extension is associated with a limiting formulation of model theory identifying mental and physical reality, resulting in a reflexively self-generating, self-modeling theory of reality identical to its universe on the syntactic level. By the nature of its derivation, this theory, the Cognitive Theoretic Model of the Universe or CTMU, can be regarded as a supertautological reality-theoretic extension of logic. Uniting the theory of reality with an advanced form of computational language theory, the CTMU describes reality as a Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language or SCSPL, a reflexive intrinsic language characterized not only by self-reference and recursive self-definition, but full self-configuration and self- execution (reflexive read-write functionality). SCSPL reality embodies a dual-aspect monism consisting of infocognition, self-transducing information residing in self-recognizing SCSPL elements called syntactic operators. The CTMU identifies itself with the structure of these operators and thus with the distributive syntax of its self-modeling SCSPL universe, including the reflexive grammar by which the universe refines itself from unbound telesis or UBT, a primordial realm of infocognitive potential free of informational constraint. Under the guidance of a limiting (intrinsic) form of anthropic principle called the Telic Principle, SCSPL evolves by telic recursion, jointly configuring syntax and state while maximizing a generalized self- selection parameter and adjusting on the fly to freely-changing internal conditions. SCSPL relates space, time and object by means of conspansive duality and conspansion, an SCSPL-grammatical process featuring an alternation between dual phases of existence associated with design and actualization and related to the familiar wave-particle duality of quantum mechanics. By distributing the design phase of reality over the actualization phase, conspansive spacetime also provides a distributed mechanism for Intelligent Design, adjoining to the restrictive principle of natural selection a basic means of generating information and complexity. Addressing physical evolution on not only the biological but cosmic level, the CTMU addresses the most evident deficiencies and paradoxes associated with conventional discrete and continuum models of reality, including temporal directionality and accelerating cosmic expansion, while preserving virtually all of the major benefits of current scientific and mathematical paradigms.

Mr. Langan has critiques of academia. Not the usual ones, that higher degrees are being commoditized, that there is self-selection in peer review for positive results at the expense of null results, p-value hackery, the social disruption of adjunct positions, and the fundamental tension of the paid journal business model vs the need for unfettered creative access to other researchers’ work. No, his critique is that high school sucked for really smart kids, and kids like himself who fell asleep in class and who didn’t pay attention to the teachers were unfairly excluded from college by small-minded administrators. Fair enough.

I propose Z’s Law: anyone claiming to be able to prove the existence of God is not as smart as they say they are.

Results on BFI-2 Personality Test

For personal reference, taken at personalitylab.org:

  • Extraversion: 60
  • Agreeableness: 81
  • Conscientousness: 44
  • Neuroticism: 46
  • Openness to Experience: 92

Taken after reading Most Personality Quizzes are Junk Science – I found One That Isn’t at FiveThirtyEight.com. Also see the lab page of the researchers who developed the test.

Definitions:

Extraversion

High scorers tend to be talkative and energetic. They like being around people, and are comfortable asserting themselves in a group. High scorers tend to have more friends and dating partners, and are seen as more popular. They generally prefer, and are successful in, social and enterprising occupations. They are more likely to serve in community leadership roles, and to do volunteer work. They tend to prefer energetic music such as hip-hop, rock, and heavy metal, exercise more frequently, and are more likely to play a sport. They experience more frequent positive emotions, and react more strongly to positive events. Women tend to score higher than men.

Low scorers tend to be socially and emotionally reserved. They generally prefer to be alone or with a few close friends, and keep their opinions and feelings to themselves. Low scorers tend to pursue, and do better in, jobs that involve independent work rather than social interaction. They are less likely to engage in thrill-seeking or risky behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and risky sexual activity.

Agreeableness

High scorers tend to be considerate and polite in social interactions, and enjoy cooperating. They find it easy to trust people, and feel compassion for those in need. High scorers tend to be well liked by their peers, and establish satisfying and stable close relationships. They generally prefer, and do better in, social occupations. They are more likely to be religious, to serve in community leadership roles, and to do volunteer work. They tend to prefer pop, country, and religious music. Women tend to score higher than men, and older adults tend to score higher than younger adults.

Low scorers express themselves directly and bluntly, even at the risk of starting an argument. They enjoy competition, and tend to be skeptical of other people’s intentions. Low scorers tend to earn higher salaries, and are more likely to engage in some risky behaviors, such as smoking and aggressive driving.

Conscientiousness

High scorers tend to be organized and responsible. They work hard to achieve their goals, and see tasks through to completion. High scorers tend to earn higher grades in school, and perform better in many occupations. They are more likely to be religious and hold conservative political attitudes. They tend to exercise more, have better physical health, and live longer. Women tend to score higher than men, and older adults tend to score higher than younger adults.

Low scorers tend to act spontaneously rather than making plans, and find it easier to look at the big picture than pay attention to details. They prefer to jump between tasks, instead of finishing one at a time. Low scorers are more likely to hold liberal political attitudes. They tend to engage in more risky behaviors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, and risky sexual activity.

Neuroticism

High scorers tend to be emotionally sensitive, and have up-and-down mood swings. They experience more frequent negative emotions, and react more strongly to negative events. Women tend to score higher than men, and younger adults tend to score higher than older adults.

Low scorers tend to be emotionally stable and resilient. They usually stay calm, even in stressful situations, and can quickly bounce back from negative events. Low scorers tend to feel a greater sense of well-being.

Openness to Experience

High scorers are generally open to new activities and new ideas. They tend to be creative, intellectually curious, and sensitive to art and beauty. High scorers tend to prefer, and do better in, scientific and artistic occupations. They are more likely to hold liberal political attitudes, prefer classical, jazz, blues, and rock music, and engage in drug use.

Low scorers tend to be traditional, down-to-earth, and stick with tried-and-true ways of doing things. They prefer the familiar over the new, and the concrete over the abstract. Low scorers tend to prefer, and do better in, conventional and practical occupations. They are more likely to hold conservative political attitudes.

Otakucoin

Consider this a proposal, not a formal whitepaper, for an initial coin offering of a new cryptocurrency, Otakucoin.

Otakucoin (OUC) is intended to be used to support Otaku who write reviews of anime, science fiction, and other television and film fiction, as a measure of credibility and authority. It is therefore analogous to Reddit gold and Medium claps, i.e. can be bought in order to be given, or sold after accumulation.

I am still planning the technical backend and the details. Some references are below. I encourage anyone who is interested in participating to contact me by leaving a comment in this thread. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s an excuse to learn something cool and have some fun. To that end, I intend to structure the coin so it does not pass the Howey test and is in no danger of being labeled a security. We may need to launch a Kickstarter to raise some money so we can hire Token Deck, Espeo, or IcoBox to take care of the details.

References: