Authorial remuneration in transition:
Amazon’s letter to writers who publish through its Kindle Select program explained that the formula was changing because of a concern “that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers.” Amazon is being clever: While the authors of big, long, and important books felt that they were shortchanged by a pay-by-the-borrow formula, they probably didn’t expect that Amazon would take their proposal a step further. Instead of paying the most ambitious, long-winded authors for each page written, Amazon will pay them for each page read.
A lot of people are going to be rushing to moral-political judgment about this (whatever the precise technical details of their arguments — which scarcely matter). Denunciation, predictably, will be institutionally selected for. Inconsequentiality will be total.
There’s an industrial revolution taking place, now at the level of culture. The most sensible judgment at this stage would be restricted to: this is interesting.
(‘Faster please’ is also an endorsed response here.)
Something disturbingly intense this way comes:
… while a great deal has been written on the subject of serial killers, very little has been written alongside them, approaching them as they approach us: without recourse to any of the usual courtesies or mercies, taking what they want, leaving behind new signatures in what remains. The point here, then, is not to construct further taxonomies, or to pin these killers down like so many zoological specimens, but to put their logos and their methods to use, to open them up not merely to observe their workings, but in order that we might fearlessly climb inside.
June July (Machine Philosophy, ~ 50,000 words)
August (Abstract Horror, ~ 20,000 words)
September (Abstract Horror, ~ 35,000 words)
Is this ‘insane’? It seems at least thermodynamically plausible:
Nathaniel Rich’s 2013 NYRB story on saturation diving begins:
The first dive to a depth of a thousand feet was made in 1962 by Hannes Keller, an ebullient twenty-eight-year-old Swiss mathematician who wore half-rimmed glasses and drank a bottle of Coca-Cola each morning for breakfast. With that dive Keller broke a record he had set himself one year earlier, when he briefly descended to 728 feet. How he performed these dives without killing himself was a closely guarded secret. At the time, it was widely believed that no human being could safely dive to depths beyond three hundred feet. That was because, beginning at a depth of one hundred feet, a diver breathing fresh air starts to lose his mind. …
Urbanomic digs into the Yijing (2005): here, here, and here.
(Using the yarrow stalk method of ‘divination’ significantly affects the probability distribution of the hexagrams.)
The abstract of a peculiar paper:
In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen’s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston’s collection of documents.
We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.
We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen’s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.
We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.
Wikipedia describes his death (via):
After the War of Succession with his brother Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb (1658-1707) emerged victorious, killed his former adversary and ascended the imperial throne. He had Sarmad arrested and tried for heresy. Sarmad was put to death by beheading in 1661. His grave is located near the Jama Masjid in Delhi, India. Aurangzeb ordered his mullahs to ask Sarmad why he repeated only “There is no God”, and ordered him to recite the second part,”but God”. To that he replied that “I am still absorbed with the negative part. Why should I tell a lie?” Thus he sealed his death sentence. Ali Khan-Razi, Aurangzeb’s court chronicler, was present at the execution. He relates some of the mystic’s verses uttered at the execution stand:
The Mullahs say Ahmed went to heaven, Sarmad says that heaven came down to Ahmed.
“There was an uproar and we opened our eyes from the eternal sleep. Saw that the night of wickedness endured, so we slept again.”
[See original for notes]
A little more of this (to cheer everyone up):