Links for December 10th through December 16th

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on December 16, 2009). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Sometime between December 10th and December 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • 20 Best Science Fiction Books of the Decade: “After much mulling and culling, we’ve come up with our list of the twenty best books of the decade. The list is weighted towards science fiction, but does have healthy doses of fantasy and horror. And a few surprises. This list is alphabetical, and not in order of awesomeness. All are equally great and worthy of your attention. In deciding which would make the list and which wouldn’t, we weighed not only our opinions, but also those of the critical community at large – looking at how each book was received by reviewers for mainstream publications as well as science fiction magazines. There were many, many books we love that almost made the cut – if we’d let ourselves go it would have been more like the 100 best books of the decade.”
  • Why Fake-Looking CG Space Battles Are Beautiful: “Television used to be full of space skirmishes… that looked kind of bogus. And yet, they’re totally beautiful and make our inner children giggle with excitement. Here’s why we love the faux space battles. The 1990s were really the heydey for wonderful but not-quite-convincing space skirmishes. We used to see tons of ships flying around our screen, often too many to count. Unlike Battlestar Galactica’s quick cuts and weird handheld camera footage, these 1990s space wars were usually filmed with an unflinching eye or a slow pan, letting you see every computer-generated line and explosion. And it’s totally awesome.”
  • Octopus Snatches Coconut and Runs: “After turning the shells so the open side faces upwards, the octopuses blow jets of mud out of the bowl before extending their arms around the shell – or if they have two halves, stacking them first, one inside the other – before stiffening their legs and tip-toeing away. Dr Norman said: ‘I think it is amazing that those arms of pure muscle get turned into rigid rods so that they can run along a bit like a high-speed spider. It comes down to amazing dexterity and co-ordination of eight arms and several hundred suckers.'”
  • Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: “Being a free speech organization, EFF is supportive of internet users who consciously choose to share more on Facebook after weighing the privacy risks; more online speech is a good thing. But to ensure that users don’t accidentally share more than they intend to, we do not recommend Facebook’s ‘recommended’ settings. Facebook will justify the new push for more sharing with everyone by pointing to the new per-post privacy options — if you don’t want to share a particular piece of content with everyone, Facebook will argue, then just set the privacy level for that piece of content to something else. But we think the much safer option is to do the reverse: set your general privacy default to a more restrictive level, like ‘Only Friends,’ and then set the per-post privacy to ‘Everyone’ for those particular things that you’re sure you want to share with the world.”
  • Does CGI Ruin Movies?: “Watching movies where CGI has created entire worlds…may be technically impressive and the work of hundreds of artists up and down the moviemaking food chain, but none of it entirely convinces; there’s a distance that we, as viewers, instinctively pick up on because what we’re watching is so fake that it can’t even convincingly fake verisimilitude. It doesn’t matter how many how many hours or computer modeling programs have been spent to create ‘lifelike’ scenery or surroundings, it will always lack the element of chaos, the potential for mistakes, that makes it something we can believe (and lose ourselves) in.”