Ls&Cs: Irony; Banning Books

The most significant item I have today, which I saw a couple days ago, was via a Facebook post by Moshe Feder, who helpfully copied it in its entirety: an article on New Scientist, by Annalee Newitz, which is not available to non-subscribers.

Here’s the New Scientist link: Tech companies don’t get science fiction – and that’s deeply troubling, by Annalee Newitz.

Tech is an industry nobody has ever accused of nuanced self-awareness. But I don’t think this cluelessness is because techies don’t read. I think the problem runs far deeper: it is that tech executives have no sense of irony.

The first step in understanding irony involves holding two contradictory thoughts together and navigating the dangerous, sometimes absurd ambiguity that lurks between. When I was a professor teaching cultural studies at the University of California, Berkeley, this was one of the hardest lessons for my students: a story can have two contradictory meanings, both of which are “correct”. Often, that is the point.

The Metaverse in Snow Crash is cool and useful; it also makes its users vulnerable to corporate manipulation and madness. Sometimes cool things are awful at the same time.

But in the Boolean logic world of Silicon Valley, there is no room for ambiguity. A thing is cool or not, and we measure it in how many users or dollars the thing attracts.

This is a point that I have not yet taken into account, but it fits into my provisional conclusion about how humans interpret everything as stories. Some simple, some more complex.

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One more for today.

Book Riot: All 850 Books Texas Lawmaker Matt Krause Wants to Ban: An Analysis

Unsurprisingly for people who want to ban books, the list of 850 titles seems to have been chosen without much coherency. There are some obvious very specific targets: things or people conservatives don’t like: about human rights, sex education, and LGBTQ people. But, as the articles goes on, there are repeated titles, notable titles, some obvious books that *aren’t* on the list, and so on. You have to conclude that the authors of these lists haven’t read any of these books — they simply reject the idea that books containing some ideas should ever be exposed to their children.

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Today another cardiac therapy session, working the air bike and the treadmill. Y came with me, so that afterwards we drove to the eye shop where he had ordered new glasses.

I’ve been working to set up and expand the Reviews/ pages on this site. Doing the nonfiction page first; but setting up the Science Fiction page today. Three summary descriptions there now.

I think the next thing I need to do is transfer my Pinker notes about RATIONALITY into a blog post, and then a brief directory page summary.

And tonight cooking turkey tetrazzini.

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