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Welcome to Polytopic Reflections

An introductory post.

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This is a group blog for the South Bay Area rationalist meetup. The name reflects our intention: To discuss, indeed to reflect upon, multiple rationality-adjacent topics. As a baseline, we plan to post weekly chapter-by-chapter reviews of books, focusing on what the characters are thinking and how they make their decisions – good or bad. We are eclectic in our tastes, and will tackle both kinds of literature – fantasy and science fiction. In addition we will post on economics, history, philosophy, and other rationality-adjacent topics, as we find inspiration and time.

The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 28-29

We continue to read “The Curse of Chalion”. This week we do the final chapters, 28 and 29, in which Cazaril finds a new equilibrium. As we are now at the end of the book, there can be no more spoilers in it, and since it’s uncertain whether we’ll reread the sequels, I’m lifting the spoiler policy for them too.

Continue reading “The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 28-29”

The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 26-27

We continue to read “The Curse of Chalion”. Some of us are new to the book, so no spoilers anywhere, please – including the rest of the Chalionverse books. This week we do chapters 26 and 27, in which Cazaril lays down his life for the second time.

Continue reading “The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 26-27”

The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 24-25

We continue to read “The Curse of Chalion”. Some of us are new to the book, so no spoilers anywhere, please – including the rest of the Chalionverse books. This week we do chapters 24 and 25, in which Cazaril realises he has made a Vast Mistake.

Continue reading “The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 24-25”

Collective nouns considered insufficiently meta

The other day I had occasion to speak of several buckets, and discovered to my dismay that buckets do not have a collective noun; I ended up with “bunch of buckets”, which is unsatisfying but at least alliterative. (Collective nouns are those words for groups that apply only to specific objects, originally animals but more recently also people; a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, a wunch of bankers.) Worse, I was later compelled to rename my buckets, a clear and satisfying metaphor, into the bland and generic ‘groups’, which doesn’t have a collective noun either; thus I came to write, in my clarifying comment, the unedifying phrase “a collection of groups”. So I began to think; firstly, why don’t we have collective nouns for generic collections? Probably the phrase “an org chart of teams” would be understood, but it’s not conventional in the sense that “a pride of lions” is, not fixed in the language. And then again, why don’t we have collective nouns for collective nouns? Suppose I wished to speak of several prides of lions; why can’t I refer to them as “an arrogance of prides”? And going another meta up, “a hubris of arrogances”? Some more suggestions:

  • Murder of crows -> spree of murders -> genocide of sprees
  • Implausibility of gnus -> incredulity of implausibilities -> impossibility of incredulities
  • House of senators -> town of houses
  • Knot of toads -> denial of nots -> confusion of denials

Support the metafication of the English language!

The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 22-23

We continue to read “The Curse of Chalion”. Some of us are new to the book, so no spoilers anywhere, please – including the rest of the Chalionverse books. This week we do chapters 22 and 23, in which Cazaril realises the rabbit hole is deeper than he’d thought.

Continue reading “The Curse of Chalion: Chapters 22-23”