May 2018 news

May 2018 gwern.net newsletter with 3 essays, links on genetic engineering/heritability/human evolution, politics, psychology, advertising, and 1 book and 1 movie review. (newsletter)
created: 10 May 2018; modified: 31 Aug 2018; status: finished; confidence: log; importance: 0

This is the May 2018 edition of the gwern.net newsletter; previous, April 2018 (archives). This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with my Changelog & Google+; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.

Writings

Media

Books

Nonfiction:

  • The Cat in Ancient Egypt, Malek 1997 (some nice full-color images; Malek’s accounts are fairly speculative, and could have used a basic discussion of the conventions of ancient Egyptian art, which he often appeals to in interpreting the cat images and explaining why something is/isn’t important, but never explains.)

Film/TV

Live-action:

  • Conan the Barbarian (Got around to watching after reading an amusing tweet summary: An underappreciated thing about the Conan the Barbarian movie is how low-key informed it is by 1970s California beach culture. It’s basically about a Muscle Beach bodybuilder & his hapa surfer buddy doing drugs, having casual sex & battling a cult that exploits rich hippies. Having already watched Pumping Iron, which shows Arnold Schwarzenegger not long before while still trying to transition from bodybuilding to film and his milieu, I was intrigued by the comparison. And Stentz’s summary is… dead on. It’s so easy to see them as Californian bodybuilders bumbling around, having a good time, distracted by a hippie Californian Asian/human-potential cult - complete with longhaired acolytes twirling flowers and meditating, and hilariously homoerotic dialogue, which as The Power and the Gory, takes pains to remind us, was a big part of the bodybuilding scene as even straight bodybuilders would whore themselves out to gay men for money or access to controlled steroids/drugs. I was further surprised by how slow-moving and mild it is - it repeatedly pulls punches and takes more peaceful ways out than its bloody reputation would suggest (even the Seven Samurai-homage set-piece features possibly less bloodshed than the original), right up to the climax. Of course Thulsa Doom is going to transform into a giant serpent and fight Conan, right? Nope! And then all the cultists just quietly disperse.)

Music

Misc:

  • Leonardo (Il Giardino degli Specchi; Oltremare {2018}) [post-rock]