Diaspora by Greg Egan - a review

Diaspora, Breg Egan - book cover
Diaspora by Greg Egan is probably the most intense science-fiction book I've ever read. Intense in the way it brings highly detailed and technically difficult concepts and theories from the edges (and beyond) of current physics and presents them at length to the reader.

It's no surprise to me to see a large number of reviews for this book are mostly polarised into two camps; namely 'best book ever' and 'what the hell was that about?'

Personally, I lean towards the 'best book ever' camp, but not as forcefully as some! I enjoyed it and that is what matters.

This is a tough book for sure though. Even the opening chapters on the birth of a new digital mind will leave many people grasping around for just what on earth Egan is going on about.

To some, this has become an elitist badge of honour - those 'getting it' becoming reassured in their intellect and looking down on those that fail to see the joy in reading page after page of detail on the various processes and developments that go into creating new digital life.

I wonder how some of those delighting in their own excellence at being able to understand Egan's depth would fair with Mrs Dalloway or The Return of the Native? Perhaps the shoe would be on the other foot...

Anyway, it's not for me to say what people should and shouldn't enjoy and so this 'review' won't try to impress you with pity quotes and overeager attempts at grandiose statement. Instead, I'll just share with you how I managed to actually read this book.

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10 Reasons why Margaret Thatcher is Britain's most hated politician

Margaret Thatcher Photo with Union Flag

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, is one of the most divisive figures in British Political history.

Ever wondered why she is so hated by some and loved by others?

Unquestionably strong and successful in her political career, she has garnered love and hate in near equal measure, though some say she merely highlighted the divisions already present in society at the time.

Thatcher – Why is she hated?

I can’t hope to cover all of the reasons people hate Thatcher. I couldn't even hope to cover all the reasons why people don't hate her, and there are seemingly considerably fewer of those!

What I can do though is highlight some of the main reasons why Thatcher was hated, so below I've selected the ten main reasons most often cited. These 10 reasons go a long way to explaining the strength of feeling her legacy has left.

Jump to a reason…

Looking for a specific reason why people hate Thatcher? Click on a link below to jump directly to the relevant section…

  1. She supported the retention of Capital Punishment
  2. She destroyed Britain’s manufacturing industry and her policies led to mass unemployment
  3. She presided over interest rates of 15%
  4. She voted against the relaxation of divorce laws
  5. She abolished free milk for School Children
  6. She precipitated a Social Housing crisis still being felt today
  7. The Poll Tax
  8. She sowed the seeds of NHS Privatisation
  9. Section 28 – Thatchers quiet homophobia?
  10. The Irish Hunger Strikes

For a list of further reason, check out this post by Mike Harding on Facebook.

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Industrial Society and Its Future - an analysis

Industrial Society and Its Future cover
Thanks to Netflix I recently stumbled across the "Manhunt: Unabomber" series. I found the story fascinating, especially it's protagonist. Not because he killed people, but because he was certifiably a genius and he had much to say about modern industrial-technological society.

I don't seek to approve of his actions (they were abhorrent) but nor do I think that a mans actions necessarily disqualify his ideas from the potential of being insightful, worthy of thought and analysis - or even of being correct.

Is the Unibomber manifesto worth reading?

It's always best if one can make one's own mind up about something. The unique thing about this TV show was the possibility of going beyond the dramatisation (which certainly stood out as being overdone in many areas) and reading Kaczynski's 'Industrial Society and Its Future' firsthand.

To that end, you can find a copy of the manifesto in full at the link below:

Industrial Society and Its Future - Ted Kaczynski (PDF)

You can also cross reference this document with the original text published by The Washington Post, found at the following link:

Industrial Society and Its Future - original publication text - The Washington Post

Further, should the above links 'rot' (be removed from their original locations), the two are replicated below:

PDF | Text

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Learning Journal 001 - A New Series

This is a simple series that's primarily going to be focused on incentivising learning and documenting what I do outside of my main aims for this year (LPTHW and Odin Project with a touch of CS thrown in).

Essentially, I'm keeping a Learning Journal, hence the category name these posts will reside within.

Format

I'm writing this mostly to remind myself:

  • Short description or sentence on thing
  • Link if applicable
  • Short note on why it was useful if applicable
  • Further blog post if suitable
  • Photos where applicable

Learning points will be raised as separate headed sections within one daily coverage post.

Learning Journal - 2017.01.09

Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range (CBDR)

Well known in Nautical and Aviation circles. When two objects on different headings maintain the same relative bearing to each other - it will result in collision.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_bearing,_decreasing_range Related to this story:

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I hate sharing what I create, but I can't stop doing it

I need to create things. Usually by writing something like this. It's sort of an unstoppable compulsion really.

I love thinking up a new thing, trying a different take on something or just straight repeating something that has been done before just because it's cool and I want to have a go at doing it myself.

Why share at all

I want to make/do those things I do because I have to. There's also the secondary hope it piques the interest of someone else and, praise be, maybe inspires them to make something themselves.

Usually it's a blog post that's inspired me to do something so I fell it's my duty, you know today you, tomorrow me etc etc.

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Motivation is dangerous

It's been 9 months since I posted an update here. 9 months. I've done loads in that time. Moved house. Learnt lots of new things. Been to lots of new places. Even spent a month in the Caribbean with Team Rubicon to provide Disaster Response in the wake of the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

And in all that time I didn't find the motivation to write a post. Why?

Truth number 1

Motivation is built on the premise that you need a specific set of circumstances to be just right, or you need to feel a specific way, in order to undertake a task.

Motivation is lying to you. It's not the force for good you think it is. It won't help you when times get difficult, when routines are disrupted and inconveniences raise bumps in your road.

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Space X launches and lands a reuseable rocket

Yesterday, Thursday 30th March 2017 at 22:27GMT Space X launched a Falcon 9 rocket. This rocket had previously launched an orbital payload and successfully landed. Following the successful orbital insertion of a geostationary payload yesterday's rocket then successfully completed a boostback burn and landed on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic ocean.

Let's just take a moment to understand what happened, because it's unbelievable.

Space X launched and landed a rocket in one mission, then used it again in a second mission to launch a payload - then relanded the rocket again.

Let's let that sink in...

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Gravity Waves Detected!

LIGO from the air
Incredible.

One of the most astounding discoveries you'll see in your lifetime. The last tenet of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity confirmed.

Until now we've only seen the cosmos through the electromagnetic spectrum. From today we can hear and feel the eb and flow of space-time itself.

Just think of that, it's mind-bending! The very essence of what binds our universe together, that bathes and surrounds us, and now we can reach out and know it!

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