Links For December 14, 2014

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence | Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program

Nevertheless, such pressure, fear, and expectation of further terrorist plots do not justify, temper, or excuse improper actions taken by individuals or organizations in the name of national security. The major lesson of this report is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the Intelligence Community’s actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards. It is precisely at these times of national crisis that our government must be guided by the lessons of our history and subject decisions to internal and external review. Instead, CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.

The End of Imagination

It was sometime in the early 21st century that it happened. Culture had become so saturated with different versions of the future, something inside our collective imaginations just shut off. We forgot how to imagine the future. The ramifications were broader than we first thought. By 2015 the whole planet had lost the ability to imagine change. It didn’t happen all at once, like Gibson’s future, the loss wasn’t evenly distributed.

The Saddest Thing I Know about the Integers

When we tune an instrument, we would like for all our octaves and fifths to be perfect. One way to tune an instrument would be to start with a pitch and start working out the fifths above and below it it.... if we keep all our fifths perfect, the frequency of the C we get at the end is 312/212, or 531441/4096, times the frequency of the C we had at the beginning. You might notice that 531441/4096 is not an integer, much less a power of 2, so our ears would not perceive the C at the end as being in tune with the C at the beginning.... We can never get perfect octaves from a stack of fifths because no power of 3/2 will ever give us a power of 2.

The Hobbit: How the ‘clomping foot of nerdism’ destroyed Tolkien’s dream - and the fantasy genre

But that dream is what made Lord of the Rings so attractive to those who came after Tolkien, because for a certain kind of mind building an archive is so much easier than telling a story.... An entire generation of fantasy novels was predicated on the idea that a coherent world was more important than an interesting literary text, and in a society where our consumer habits have increasingly become our identities, there is a ready-made audience for books which reward the archivist reader.