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[Comments] (5) Nontrivial Tests For Being Trapped In A Cultural Artifact #2: Product placement. If you live in a modern consumer society, yet lead a Soviet-like existence in which there's effectively only one brand of soda, one type of car, etc, you're probably in a movie or TV show.

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Posted by Brendan at Tue Feb 22 2005 10:54

Ah, is this why there's only one way to buy concert tickets? (Also, what was #1?)

Posted by Leonard at Tue Feb 22 2005 11:06

It had to do with time travel.

Posted by Josh at Tue Feb 22 2005 13:31

As someone who missed the first post (and uses a commentless RSS reader), this one was highly amusing. Not so much for the diagnostic presented, but for the implications of why that diagnostic would be useful.

Posted by Zack at Tue Feb 22 2005 23:03

James P. Hogan did a time-travel novel, Thrice upon a Time (well, a sending-messages-into-the-past novel) that assumed the exact inverse of your #1 - that the choice made with foreknowledge would always be better than the choice made without.

Mr. Hogan is a good writer, which means that his continual axe-grinding is not immediately obvious, but once you realize that he is axe-grinding, and furthermore that it's the same damn ax in everything he ever wrote and it's not even an interesting ax, you'll never be able to read his books again.

It now occurs to me that Thrice upon a Time is set in the past of Charles Stross' Singularity Sky. (Their two philosophies could not be more different.)

Posted by Susie at Wed Feb 23 2005 20:36

I think the reason time travel changes mess things up isn't that we made the best possible decision in our real time, but that a different decision in our current world wouldn't be in alignment. If we had made that decision in the real past, things would have thread themselves fine.


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