Algernon_Asimov's recent activity

  1. Comment on What are you reading these days? #24 in ~books

    Algernon_Asimov (edited ) Link
    I'm reading 'The Dragon Throne' by Jonathan Fenby. Coincidentally, just after I told @cfabbro that I need to read more about Chinese history, I finally unpacked my books after moving house a...

    I'm reading 'The Dragon Throne' by Jonathan Fenby. Coincidentally, just after I told @cfabbro that I need to read more about Chinese history, I finally unpacked my books after moving house a couple of months ago - and found this book in my "to read" pile. :)

    However, I'm a little disappointed. I didn't expect great detail from a book that's covering over 2,000 years' history of Chinese emperors. But the writing itself is a little strange. It needed a better editor than it had.

    Most annoyingly, the author has a habit of repeating himself. For example: in a chapter I just finished, he talked about an emperor who converted to Buddhism and tried to join a Buddhist monastery three times, but was talked out of it by his advisers each time. That story started a digression into how Buddhism gained a foothold in China. The digression ended with the author explaining, as if for the first time, that Buddhism became so mainstream that one Chinese emperor of the time tried to join a Buddhist monastery three times - only two pages after he told us exactly the same thing. This has happened a few times. It's not a callback. The second mention of the event makes no reference to the first mention of the same event. They're both treated like the first time the author is presenting this information. It's as if each section was written by a different person and they didn't read each other's sections.

    Another thing the author does is to jump ahead in time, to say how such-and-such a characteristic or trait was celebrated in communist China. It's quite disconcerting to be reading a history of the Chinese court in 50AD, and then be reading about Chinese revolutionaries 2,000 years later. I'm reading to learn about the history of China, not about current Chinese attitudes to that history.

    I'm also desperately missing the presence of any maps in the book. The author assumes we all know the geographical layout of China, and where the regions and cities he's talking about are in relation to each other.

    It's good enough as an introductory text for the cheap bargain price I paid for it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else.


    EDIT: Whenever I talk about a book I'm reading, I include a link to the GoodReads entry for it, just in case anyone wants to check it out. But I don't usually read those GoodReads pages. However, I browsed this one, and it seems someone else thought the same thing as me:

    It would also benefit from better editing. The prose often went on tangents, later coming back to an earlier point seemingly without realizing that point had been partially addressed before. This resulted in a jumbled chronology and sometimes made the book difficult to follow.

    And someone else:

    But what's up with the editing? Often, information is repeated as if it hadn't been given a few pages ago. Once, the information is actually repeated word-for-word in the next paragraph.

    Funny!

    3 votes
  2. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    I see from the helpful "Stalk AJ" section of your website that you moderate only one subreddit, with no activity. This explains why you don't know what we're hiding from. Moderators attract a lot...

    But I'm not sure what the people in this thread think they're hiding from.

    I see from the helpful "Stalk AJ" section of your website that you moderate only one subreddit, with no activity. This explains why you don't know what we're hiding from.

    Moderators attract a lot of attention. I used to get death threats when I moderated /r/AskHistorians and political discussion subreddits. I've read about other moderators who have had photos of their children and/or their homes sent to them, with direct threats being made.

    As a former moderator on Reddit, I can tell you that some people get very angry when you remove their racist or bigoted or Holocaust-denying posts. At the time I was getting death threats, I didn't realise I was dealing with some alt-right types, but I've since learned about the alt-right and how they work. And there is no fucking way I want those people to have any idea who I am or where to find me. They're scary enough when I'm anonymous and unable to be located. I don't want photos of my home being sent to me by the type of person who would actually commit violence because I removed their anti-Semitic post denying the existence of the Holocaust.

    That's what I'm hiding from.

    2 votes
  3. Comment on In the future, will there be considerations of having in-house wiki pages for groups? in ~tildes

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    Just to add to @Whom's great explanation... I do not expect that we will have a ~humanities.biblical.academic sub-group. I originally requested a ~humanities group in order to cover the various...

    Just to add to @Whom's great explanation...

    I do not expect that we will have a ~humanities.biblical.academic sub-group.

    I originally requested a ~humanities group in order to cover the various branches of the Humanities discipline:

    • Theology Religion (people don't like me using the formal term)
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Linguistics Language (people don't like me using the formal term)

    (I figure the arts are covered by ~creative and ~books and ~tv and ~movies and ~music.)

    As such, I expect the first level of sub-groups in ~humanities to be:

    I then further expect that the next level of sub-groups would include:

    A sub-group about an academic study of the Bible would then fall somewhere under ~humanities.religion.christianity.

    (Of course, it's possible that some of these sub-groups would become top-level groups in their own right, but the overall principle will probably still apply.)

    4 votes
  4. Comment on Potential new recruits? in ~tildes

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    It's not just about interests. It's also about personality types. I've noticed that Tildes has a big problem with literalism. I can't be even slightly non-literal without someone jumping on me to...

    It's not just about interests. It's also about personality types. I've noticed that Tildes has a big problem with literalism. I can't be even slightly non-literal without someone jumping on me to ask me about my multiple personality disorder or to pull me up on not knowing how cancer treatment works. I'd like a few more people here who understand metaphors, analogies, rhetoric, humour, and other non-literal language.

  5. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    That's what I figured! ;)

    I'm sure much of my tone here comes from my own worries.

    That's what I figured! ;)

  6. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    Out of 5 facts (country, gender, age, beliefs, class), you got 3 wrong (based on you calling my belief system "spiritual" instead of "atheistic" - and atheists aren't exactly a tiny minority in...

    First thing I notice is your location, which limits the search area to a country of only 25 million people. From your posts, one finds: your gender, your approximate age (late 20s), your spiritual beliefs, possible social class of your parents (academic), interests, etc.

    Out of 5 facts (country, gender, age, beliefs, class), you got 3 wrong (based on you calling my belief system "spiritual" instead of "atheistic" - and atheists aren't exactly a tiny minority in Australia).

    Google also lists your account on a chat site (probably could mine its logs to get more info)

    I don't say anything on a chat site as "Algernon" that I wouldn't say in public - and I carefully curate what I say in both situations.

    and some stack-exchange sites.

    I know. In fact, there's less personal information about me on StackExchange because of the nature of the website: it doesn't encourage personal interactions, only direct answers to questions posed.

    If you check https://haveibeenpwned.com you'll find you already have leaked data about you out there.

    For my Algernon email account: "Good news — no pwnage found!"

    For my real-life email account, which I use to sign up to all sorts of crappy sites, and for receiving spam (and which is not connected to Algernon): "Pwned on 2 breached sites and found no pastes". One of those "breaches" is just the presence of my email address on a spam list. The other is for a minor website I must have signed up for, but never used.

    Next?

    1 vote
  7. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    But that would require correlating things that don't necessarily exist. As I pointed out elsewhere in this thread, I spend most of my online time as "Algernon". The only profile which uses my real...

    But that would require correlating things that don't necessarily exist.

    As I pointed out elsewhere in this thread, I spend most of my online time as "Algernon". The only profile which uses my real name is on Facebook, with privacy settings appropriately enabled so random passers-by can't just scrape my posts for data. And I rarely post on Facebook anyway. So it's going to be very difficult to correlate my activity times for those profiles. It'll also be difficult to get the necessary data to compare writing styles.

    And I have never ever ever mentioned my real name on this Algernon identity. Ever. Anywhere. I haven't even hinted at it. I even created an alternate email account to verify this account where necessary - so if someone hacks Tildes' or Reddit's database, they'll find an "Algernon_Asimov" email account attached to my account.

    Your prediction isn't quite as reliable as I first thought. That's good to know.

  8. Comment on Firearms register, halved gun license durations, and more announced for tranche two of New Zealand gun reform: "firearm ownership is a privilege and not a right" in ~news

    Algernon_Asimov Link
    Oh no! They're treating guns like cars or mobile phones! It's the end of the world! Seriously: we already have government registers which link motor vehicle engine serial numbers with owners, and...

    The Government is seeking cross-party support the latest reform effort, but already resistance to the a firearm register – a contentious measure linking gun serial numbers to licence holders – is fomenting.

    Oh no! They're treating guns like cars or mobile phones! It's the end of the world!

    Seriously: we already have government registers which link motor vehicle engine serial numbers with owners, and any mobile phone can be tracked to its original buyer via its IMEI. Doing the same for guns is not going to bring about the apocalypse.

    7 votes
  9. Comment on Potential new recruits? in ~tildes

    Algernon_Asimov (edited ) Link Parent
    Tildes doesn't exactly lack programmer types. EDIT: Grammar.

    Tildes doesn't exactly lack programmer types.

    EDIT: Grammar.

    6 votes
  10. Comment on Foreskin reclaimers: the ‘intactivists’ fighting infant male circumcision in ~health

    Algernon_Asimov Link
    This reminds me of an online conversation I had some years ago. I was a member of a private Facebook group with people from all around the world (long story!). We discussed anything and...

    Why do it? The most common response is custom: because dad did.

    This reminds me of an online conversation I had some years ago.

    I was a member of a private Facebook group with people from all around the world (long story!). We discussed anything and everything.

    One day, one of our members came to us with a question. His son had just been born, and he wanted input on whether he should get the baby boy circumcised or not. For context: he's American, and living in America, and he himself was circumcised.

    Discussion on the topic was, shall we say, animated and lively (we were a talkative bunch!), and there were opinions on both sides, but the majority leaned towards "no".

    In the end, the father decided he would get his son circumcised - despite a majority of the people he asked saying "no". The reason he gave was that he didn't want his son to look different to the other boys and men in locker rooms and public showers. That was his only reason. Basically, it was indirect peer pressure: he wanted his boy to be the same as everyone else.

    1 vote
  11. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    I'm not understanding something. I get the whole "data mining" aspect of your theory. I don't understand your statement that "all your identities will be tied to your legal name". How will my...

    I'm not understanding something. I get the whole "data mining" aspect of your theory.

    I don't understand your statement that "all your identities will be tied to your legal name". How will my comments as Algernon on Tildes or Reddit be linked to my real name?

    2 votes
  12. Comment on How do you handle your different online identities versus your real life identity? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    On what do you base this prediction?

    All your identities will be tied to your legal name and publicly searchable within the next decade

    On what do you base this prediction?

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Any candidates to take over "What are you reading currently?" threads in ~books? in ~tildes

    Algernon_Asimov Link
    Have you considered using the automated scheduling script created by @hungariantoast? As another method for finding candidates, why not ask in ~books itself? Or you could add a request in the next...

    Have you considered using the automated scheduling script created by @hungariantoast?

    As another method for finding candidates, why not ask in ~books itself? Or you could add a request in the next post, where people who participate in those threads are more likely to see it.

    Also, there's no need for you to participate in the threads. You can just take a couple of minutes to post them, and then leave them. The last thread seems to have a lot of activity, despite your lack of participation. All people need is for you to post it.

    Just some options for you to consider.

    6 votes
  14. Comment on Opinions on “grammar nazis”? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
    Ironically, you can't take this quote literally. It's intended to be an over-emotional, over-the-top, extreme response to make a point. She doesn't literally mean that we should all revert to...

    I've seen this quote before (may well have been from you), and it really confuses me in this context.

    Ironically, you can't take this quote literally. It's intended to be an over-emotional, over-the-top, extreme response to make a point. She doesn't literally mean that we should all revert to pointing and grunting. She's making the point that we have a versatile and flexible language, and it can do more than just convey the most basic information in the simplest form.

    When we write, it's not just about transmitting a datum from A to B. However, if all you're aiming for is to say something in as simple and basic a method as possible, then none of us need learn any language beyond primary/elementary school. Why do we need fancy words like "conversation", for instance, when we could just use "talk"? If someone is going to reduce their communication style to the mere minimum of "but u know what i said", then most of the English language is superfluous. We could use something like George Orwell's Newspeak, where language is simplified to its utmost, and only the most rudimentary plussimple concepts thinks can be conveyed sayed. This level of language can be mastered by any child. Adult-level language is therefore unneedful.

    Why do you use punctuation? Or capital letters? If your goal is merely to convey information as simply as possible, then punctuating and capitalising are redundant. you can just type the words you want without the extra bits. well know what you mean so why does it matter.

  15. Comment on Star Trek: Picard | SDCC Trailer in ~tv

    Algernon_Asimov Link
    Well, there go my fantasies of "a show about Federation Ambassador Picard, with an ongoing mission to visit trouble spots". And the people who clamour to see the Borg in any incarnation of Star...

    Well, there go my fantasies of "a show about Federation Ambassador Picard, with an ongoing mission to visit trouble spots".

    And the people who clamour to see the Borg in any incarnation of Star Trek will be satisfied.

    Also, I'd be more surprised if characters like Riker and Troi did not make a cameo appearance. However, I am surprised about them including Data and Seven of Nine (not that I'm objecting!).

    I noticed one tiny detail (due to an annoying glitch in my computer while playing the video): the scene with people in red jumpsuits being watched over by guards on walkways above them includes a sign that says "This facility has gone 5483 days without an assimilation". That's a quirky way of showing they're Borg captives!

    Overall, I'm kind of neutral about this trailer. It didn't excite me, but it didn't put me off. I'm disappointed that all the sets and backgrounds are black and dark and gloomy. That doesn't bode well for the mood of this series. However, it's Picard.

    And Patrick Stewart got old!

    6 votes
  16. Comment on Opinions on “grammar nazis”? in ~talk

    Algernon_Asimov Link
    I'm continually reining in (not "reigning in"!) my tendencies towards grammar pedantry (I refuse to use "nazi" in this context), because I've learned that most people just don't care if they're...

    I'm continually reining in (not "reigning in"!) my tendencies towards grammar pedantry (I refuse to use "nazi" in this context), because I've learned that most people just don't care if they're writing correctly or not, and any attempt, however diplomatic, to point out an error merely raises their hackles.

    The most common response is something like "but u understood what i meant so why does it matter!" - to which I want to reply, quoting famous pedant Lynne Truss:

    "Is conveying a gist the highest aim of language? Correct me if I'm wrong, but cavemen pointing and grunting got the bloody gist!"

    The second most common response is something like "but its only the internet". Yes, it may be only the internet, but when you're communicating in a text-only medium, that text is the only thing you're presenting to other people - so why wouldn't you present yourself in the best way possible?

    In short, writing errors online bug me, but I've learned not to say anything.

    5 votes