Monthly Archives: July 2012

Yes, humans are the best predators

Yesterday I stopped by Westercon for the quick whirlwind tour. It being Thursday, the programming was fairly light and I occasionally got the feeling that I was the only person there who wasn’t on a panel, but I’m working through one of the most bizarrely busy weeks ever so yesterday was my one chance to check it out.

I think what most surprised me was the dragon panel, which I went into as kind of placeholder since there wasn’t much else in the timeslot, but turned into a really interesting discussion of the philosophical and psychological role of dragons in human literature. Which, probably inevitably, led to the guy who claims that humans aren’t really Earth’s apex predator, because we got to the top of the food chain by “cheating.”

This idea keeps popping up, and it never makes any sense. The fallacy is pretty basic: You can’t cheat when there are no rules.

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Aaron Sorkin is telling us yesterday’s news

HBO, "The Newsroom"

I thought about going with “Aaron Sorkin is yesterday’s news,” but that seemed excessively mean. And probably inaccurate.

A recurring subplot in Sorkin’s previous worst show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, dealt with a character who was developing a TV show about the United Nations, which he was planning to put on HBO because it was too highbrow for the network TV audience — an idea that Amanda Peet’s fake programming director tried to dissuade him of. So it’s probably telling that now, after Studio 60 collapsed under its own baggage and Sorkin himself got to put a show on HBO, his big idea was apparently to make Studio 60 again.

The Newsroom works considerably better than Studio 60 did, largely because it doesn’t have to sell the idea that a fake version of Saturday Night Live is somehow central to the soul of American society. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t seem to advanced its analysis of the news industry much beyond a few wistful lines about how much better America was when a bunch of old white men told us what to think every night.

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Consoles are over (not really)

Ages ago, when Sony released the original, PlayStation 3, I remarked on the snowballing size of their consoles by suggesting that the PlayStation 9 would end up being the size (and shape) of the Jupiter monolith from 2001. Then, because I was on a roll, I predicted that Sony would only build one, and that it would beam the games directly into users’ minds.

All of which means I can claim that I totally called this: Sony Computer Entertainment is buying the cloud gaming provider Gaikai, which might allow it to stream next-gen games to current-gen consoles. I just wish I could decide if I was happy about it.

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