Interesting links for further reading

Due to a combination of various factors including illness, an unexpected holiday and an abnormally slow Internet connection, I have been remiss in writing new posts this week. Here are a few links to some interesting items to tide you over:

  • China’s State Administration of Radio, Film & Television has effectively banned all plots involving time travel from films. The stated reasons are that such stories treat history frivolously and disrespectfully and time-travel itself is unrealistic bad science. The suspected real reason is that China does not want people to compare the society that they have now with living conditions in the past. I’d also hazard that China feels uncomfortable about exploring “what if” historical scenarios. Additional fun fact: the Hearts of Iron games are also banned in China because it depicts places like Tibet, Shaanxi, Yunan etc. as independent states.
  • Iphone and ipad users should be careful. Apparently Apple has been secretly tracking the movement of users of the devices. The devices seem to automatically log its geographic position together with a timestamp at irregular intervals and save the data to an internal file without asking permission from owners or telling them that it is doing so. As many Internet pundits have noted, if you’ve been having an affair or lying to your employer about where you have been, a look at the file will reveal all your secrets.
  • In the latest of many pages on the sins of the Catholic church, an investigative reporter has written a new book alleging that thousands of Vatican-based priests have illicit sexual relationships. The book tells stories of priests having families complete with children in secret, of paid sex with escorts and of gay priests partying in nightclubs in Rome. It also cites research alleging that up to a quarter of Catholic priests in the US are involved in heterosexual relationships with women. My take: it’s not the sex that is offensive, it is the hypocrisy that rankles.
  • Finally, I recently learned that Ted Chiang has a short story available for reading online. Exhalation was apparently made available for free when it was nominated for the Hugo Award for 2009. It won incidentally. It’s a fantastic story that successfully paints a picture of strange society of alien within just a few succinct paragraphs. Ted Chiang is probably my favorite writer of short science-fiction right now ever since Greg Egan’s quality dropped in the 2000s. My favorite story of his however is still Story of Your Life which examines free will from the perspective that language determines thought.

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