X-Tra Rant Taking Myself Way Too Seriously Since 1999


[Books] An amazing look at Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series

Isaac Asimov is the science fiction author that really turned me into a nerd. Sure, I read some Heinlein and Bradbury before I got my hands on Pebble In the Sky [Amazon.com], but it was reading Isaac Asimov's brand of science fiction that really set in motion the transformation of me from Jason, shy elementary school kid to Jason, budding giant geek.

The Foundation series of stories/books was always among my favorites. The robot novels (Caves of Steel, Robots of Dawn, etc) were also favorites but Foundation tackled big themes spanning centuries. Recently the blog io9 did an absolutely fantastic 7 part series on the books that make up the Foundation series - stories that started as smaller stories or novellas from science-fiction magazines to large novels by the end. If you're a fan of Asimov at all, or just want a great look at not only a fantastic series but one that spanned the author's entire lifetime, style and skill of writing, this series of posts is well worth the read.  The collection of different covers for the books that accompanies the posts is pretty cool too. If you don't have time to read them all, I recommend the ones in bold for a good overview of the whole 7.

  1. Foundation [io9]
  2. Foundation and Empire [io9]
  3. Second Foundation [io9] [And no, the author that brings it up is NOT the only one that crushed on Arkady as portrayed on the cover of the Del Rey 1989 edition]
  4. Foundation's Edge [io9]
  5. Foundation and Earth [io9]
  6. Prelude to Foundation [io9]
  7. Forward the Foundation [io9]

My praise and critique largely match the authors of these posts. In a larger sense, Asimov's fiction (and non-fiction and auto-biographies) really had an impact on who I am today not only because I'm a science fiction geek, but in my interest in facts and science, my critical view towards religion and in some aspects of my liberal views on things. I suppose it could be said that I'd be a drastically different person today if I'd really fallen in love with Heinlein and his messages moreso than Asimov's.

For more insight into Asimov the man [and some great stories behind his writing] I highly recommend his three autobiographical books:

  1. In Memory Yet Green ('79)
  2. In Joy Still Felt ('80)
  3. I, Asimov ('94)

I, Asimov is probably the one to tackle first, as it's not as rigidly chronological as the other two and he allows himself to go more offtrack on stories.

Finally, a thanks to my dad who introduced me to a world of robots that aren't killers, a future that can be seen through math and a world where puns, wordplay and small clever twists can make for a great story.

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Link Dump

so once again I've been gathering tabbed links in my browser with the idea of posting about them but it hasn't happened. So that means another Link Dump! You are excited, I can tell.

  • Apparently crime really isn't as bad as people perceive it. Maybe people will calm the fuck down about all this panic over a "crime asploshun!!" in Indianapolis that really isn't. Although I doubt it. Because even though The Star carried this story, it won't stop them from sensationalizing crime themselves and contributing to the problem.
  • I think I got about 100 IQ points dumber reading about the Scientific Proof For The Existence Of God!!!111eleventomgbbq!!. Really, if you have any sort of logical reasoning skills at all it's easy to decimate this thing into a million pieces. but I value my sanity FAR too much to actually read it again and do that in blog form. The best part is probably the uranium part. jeebus.
  • A great find, CJ notes the appearance of Indianapolis in a new Marvel comic! Too bad they based the art on an old picture of the circle with the now non-existent Market Square Arena visible. Oops.
  • God I hate the Pacers anymore. And not just because of horrible management decisions and blundered personnel. No, also because they still refuse to have any redheads on the dance team. Heathens!
  • Schadenfreude, thy name is Ted Stevens Getting Raided By The FBI. I really hope they showed up in a BIG TRUCK! In honor of this amazing news, I went back and found the Ted Stevens internet speech techno remix.
  • Nerds + Showbiz Pizza + The Rockafire Explosion + New Ms. Booty = AWESOME.
  • This REALLLLY deserves its own post but damn if I have the time right now. So Thanks Mitch! Because you caved to the property tax whiners (of whom so many are people who have been paying far under what they should have been for years - I'm looking at you Meridian Kessler District) and put off the new tax evaluations Marion County is going to have a $52 million shortfall. Don't worry, Indianapolis is only the economic engine for the state you pretend to represent completely (but in the end you just end up representing road construction companies and people who believe your fake accent). A big ol' hearty middle finger to Mitchie Rich The Amazing Midget Governor.
  • I've been posting more on CWAMB lately. I have a big post eventually planned for a what-if solution for the NBA: a 50-60 team league with three divisions and European-style relegation. Keep an eye out for it.
  • Couldn't agree more with this at Tapped. The way our politics work, the short sighted politician who only spends money in time of disaster instead of spending money when there is no disaster gets rewarded. The latter just gets yelled at for spending tax money and *gasp* maybe raising taxes. Heavens to Betsy, noooo!
  • This is horrifying. Dear Oklahoma, I enjoyed my time there for a national high school student council convention in 1995, but you are now dead to me.
  • Mega-Kudos to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. You couldn't be more right about the absolutely TERRIBLE broadband policy in this country. Making the link between this and the rampant media consolidation in the US is very nicely done.

I think that's it? I hope?



DailyLit is awesome. I just subscribed to "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" by Edwin Abbott. (via Wil Wheaton)


RIP Kurt Vonnegut

Indianapolis born novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. passed away. RIP. Player Piano is still one of my all time favorite novels.


Michael Crichton, I Used To Respect Thee

I used to like Michael Crichton. He was one of the authors my dad used to get me into reading. I loved (and still love) The Andromeda Strain and Sphere. Jurassic Park was great fun (and a fun movie). Congo was a fun read although weaker. But at some point he started going off the deep end, specifically as a Global Warming denier - to the point he wrote an entire book where the plot was that Global Warming was just a hoax engineered by environmentalists to get money. Yeahhhhhh Michael. Whaaaaaatever.

Well, now he's officially Dead To Me. When an author retaliates against a scholar who has criticized him by making him a character who is a child rapist in his latest book, that's off the deep end.

Too bad, I used to really respect his writing in a popcorn sci-fi/adventure sort of way.


Political Link Dump

Alright, work has been crazy this week so time for another link dump. This time it's political. Enjoy! ANd remember - Drinking Liberally: Indianapolis is tonight. be there or be a rhombus. 7pm-whenever at Spencer's Stadium Tavern (802 S. West St.)

Reason #3,4112 why the DC Consultant Class is bad for the Democratic Party


Help save 1-800-SUICIDE. It's a suicide prevention line that gets federal funding. Now the feds want to take away its funding and start its own program. I don't know about you, but I want kids to be able to to call a suicid help line without it being an arm of the federal government. This is an important issue for me.

I can't wait to go to a 'museum' that shows how humans and dinosaurs co-existed!! Wait... you mean it's supposed to be 'true' and 'science' according to a religious wacko? Oh. Um. Never mind.

"Visitors will leave knowing how to use the Bible to build their thinking in all areas."

And not knowing the first thing about science. Hooray for promoting ignorance of science in lieu of fairy tales and bogus charlatans! :\

Some dude wrote a book that supposedly proclaims George W. Bush as the Messiah. OyyyyyoyoyoyoY!


This really does deserve its own post, but I just don't have the time.

Diebold's voting machines are even less secure than previously suspected. Inspection of a Diebold machine by the open Voting Foundation revealed that all it takes to get a Diebold machine to boot a modified, crooked operating system is the flip of a switch, a task that can be accomplished in a brief moment using nothing but a screwdriver.

That, combined with how much Diebold was used in Ohio and teh questionable election results there in 2004..... I'm trying not to sound like someone on Coast To Coast AM, but let's just say I'm won't be comfortable with this upcoming election until it's over.

Electronic voting needs a verifiable paper trail and needs to run on open source code that is available to all and verifiable by all. This idea of proprietary voting software scares the bejeezus out of me.


This legislation that would legalize military tribunals sounds a tad broad - could it allow for secret tribunals of reporters for publishing something the Federal Government doesn't like? Republicans - is this this sort of small government you keep telling me about?


A new economics blog is going in my RSS Reader. Hosted at Tapped (The American Prospect's blog), Beat The Press is written by Dean Baker. Baker is the author of a book that I'm going to have to pick up very soon: The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. Sounds fascinating.


The Pennsylvania Green Party is running a candidate in the Senate race there. Okay, so on the surface that's no big deal. They have that right. But here' sthe kicker - nearly all of the $66,000 donated to the campaign came from Republicans. Please, Greens, tell me about integrity again. Oh how I miss those fanciful stories.


This would be funny if it didn't feel so close to the truth sometimes:

WASHINGTON, DC—In a decisive 1–0 decision Monday, President Bush voted to grant the president the constitutional power to grant himself additional powers.

"As president, I strongly believe that my first duty as president is to support and serve the president," Bush said during a televised address from the East Room of the White House shortly after signing his executive order. "I promise the American people that I will not abuse this new power, unless it becomes necessary to grant myself the power to do so at a later time."


Alas that is all for today. I promise i'll have my entry up about Pitchfork sometime. It's been one of those weeks.


Can’t Hardly Stand It

There's an interesting post over at the Freakonomics Blog about someone running an experiment to see if paying people a nominal amoutn of money will encourage more people to spay or neuter their pets. Not a bad idea. But what disturbs me is the mention of a similar program for...get this... crack addicts. That's right - paying crack addicts to get sterilized. Something about that really disturbs me.
Atrios asks a damn good question - why isn't the right all up in arms and frothing over Pakistan? Why isn't our government taking a tougher stance against them?

We're generally led to believe that Bin Laden is hanging out there along with some of his pals. It's a dictatorship with an unclear line of succession if that dictator ever accidentally gets in the way of an assassin's bullet. They have an active nuclear program. Their top nuclear scientist was handing out nuclear technology like candy on Halloween. The country promptly pardoned him for this and we didn't say a thing. Oh, and for the Malkins of the world THEY'RE ALL BIG SCARY MUSLIMS.

All hail those brave National Review Bloggers,  fighting a war that is as "equally consequential" as the ones our troops are fighting (and dieing) for in Iraq. We should organize a parade for the writers of The Corner. We can have a Jonah Goldberg float! And ribbons and rose petals for those brave, brave warriors.

Glenn Greenwald, once again showing why he's currently the best Left Blogofascistan has to offer. Iraq is a disaster:

So, to recap as dispassionately as possible -- Iraq is falling apart. There is apparently serious talk of dividing Baghdad, or even the country as a whole, along sectarian lines. Sectarian tension is at an all-time high, with continuous reprisal mass murders, and the government appears incapable of enforcing the law or maintaining even basic security, and worse, relies upon the good will of powerful, well-armed lawless militias and death squads just to maintain the level of chaos currently engulfing the country.

Meanwhile, for the very first serious crisis which arises in the Middle East, the Iraqi Government is on the opposite side of the U.S., condemning Israel's actions with increasing fervor. All the while, the government does not hide its intent to maintain strong alliances with Iran, the country we are told is now the worst threat to American interests and world peace. And all of this is occurring while we have 140,000 troops occupying the country and the Iraqi government is dependent upon them. Imagine what will happen in terms of Iraq's allegiances if we ever actually leave that country and that dependence no longer exists.

Is it safe to say "we're fucked"?

Mao's Cultural Revolution and the right's talking points have some eerie similarities when it comes to the problem of the universities. Leave it to General J.C. Christian to show us the way!

And some decidedly non-political fare.....

Eat a Philly Cheesesteak this week. RIP Harry Olivieri.

I love the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:

"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' - and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' - well do you, punk?"

Stuart Vasepuru
Edinburgh, Scotland


Congrats, dad.

Congrats to my dad for having one of his poems selected (50 out of 262) by the Arts Council of Indianapolis to appear in the IndyGo Shared Spaces/Shared Voices public art contest!


Behold The Gospel

The Gospel is here! Put on your pirate garb and head to your local bookstore for The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I'm going to pick up my copy this afternoon. May you be touched by his noodly appendage.



A Max Barry show on Sci-Fi?!!

Max Barry, author of a few of my favorite recent books (like Company and Jennifer Government) is apparently working on a proposal for a show on the Sci-Fi network!

Given how I love his writing style his "view" on things in his novels, it's boudn to be cool. Especially since his quick one sentance description goes something like this:

I mean, it’s got mentally deranged artificial intelligences and chicks with weird names and everything.

And he hopes the network asks him:

did I want the characters to have really big guns, or ridiculously big guns?

It sounds great already. :) And personally, I'd go with rediculously big guns.


Filed under: Books/Writing, TV No Comments