The 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years

October 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Guardian’s list of the 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years has an interesting, if European centric, set of advancements. From castles to The Plague they make some very compelling arguments. The one that really hit home for me, however, was the invention of the future.

There can be no doubt that technology hugely changed the ways in which we lived and died in the 20th century. However, it also masks changes that are arguably even more profound. In 1900 few people seriously considered the future. William Morris and a few socialists wrote utopian visions of the world they wanted to see, but there was little serious consideration of where we were going as a society.

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The man behind the smallest V-12 engine in the world

September 22nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

30 Hours on the Cam Shaft alone.

(via Kickstarter Newsletter … weird right? but they have some good links)

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Oculus Rift + Roller Coaster

September 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

As with all Virtual Reality demos it’s impossible to get the full effect without actually being in a, you know, virtual world but the idea seems pretty cool. Head over to Vimeo for the HD version.

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Dwarf Fortress: A video game on display at MOMA

August 13th, 2014 § 1 comment § permalink

Dwarf Fortress looks like a color version of ASCII art. Needless to say it is not on display at MOMA because of it’s aesthetics. Yet it is indeed a work of art. When you start the game it first takes a few minutes to generate the world. When I say world I don’t simply mean the physical landscape but the entire world. Set in a Tolkien like middle earth it generates a couple hundred years of lore and it doesn’t stop at large scale conflicts between Orcs and Dwarves. The game dives deep into it by creating individuals that have their own history that begin and end before you even start playing. The detail is so deep that the mod community has created tools that allow you to dig through the lore of your randomly generated world. It’s like your own personal Wikipedia. If you were to gamifiy The Silmarillion I expect it would looks something like this.

For more watch this screencast as some folks from Polygon stride into war atop a cave dragon in Dwarf Fortress.

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David Simon | Robin Williams: A brief encounter

August 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

My favorite screenwriter David Simon talks about his brief encounter with Robin Williams.

This is a grievous thing to say aloud, much less think, but I wish that the suicide of Robin Williams made less sense to me than it somehow does. I say that with very little real knowledge of the man, his inner being, or the whole of his life. I encountered him only once, twenty years ago, but the memory is distinct. I found Mr. Williams good-hearted, hilarious, talented, and remarkably, indescribably sad.

He goes on to talk about Mr. William’s involvement in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets saved the show that allowed Mr. Simon to move from a career in journalism to creating the best show ever made, The Wire1.

After you read the article check out this clip from the episode of Homicide where Mr. Williams grapples with the murder his wife.

  1. don’t even try to debate this []
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First-person Hyperlapse Videos

August 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Developed by Microsoft Labs Hyperlapse Videos use clever video editing to speed up and smooth out first person videos.

We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyper-lapse videos, i.e., time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.

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Race/Sex-ism: what’s a guy to do?

August 7th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve often heard (white) men bemoan their feeling of helplessness in the current battle over white male privilege. Wading into the debate is often met with anger on both sides as “bros” call us libtards and activists point out everything we are doing wrong. I understand the urge to stand up and say something. When a (hopefully) minority segment of your demographic gets an outsized portion of the spotlight it makes the rest of us look bad. When a feminists says “why do all men believe they have the right to comment on our beauty” or a black woman says “why do all white people dismiss me as an angry black woman” my first thought is “hey, that’s sexist/racist, I’m not like that”.

Then I remember that I should just shut the fuck up and take my lumps. It’s been true for thousands of years, they get to have some moral indignation.

While I have a responsibility to do my part in this war on privilege it is not as a vocal leader. That role is reserved for those without privilege. Freedom has to be taken by those who deserve it, not given by those who have withheld it (see also: war on terrorism). My job is to be support the activists in the places where they aren’t able to be heard. In those moments where it’s “just the guys” and we feel like we can really let it all out. Call out the joke as racist; point out when someone objectifies an attractive woman; ask why the resume from Kim didn’t even get a second glance; stop saying “that’s gay”. Most of all, raise your children to respect people of all genders, colors and sexual orientations. There are lots of fucktards out there but it has nothing to do what’s between their legs and everything to do with their fucktard parents.

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Sequelitis – ZELDA: A Link to the Past vs. Ocarina of Time

August 4th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Egoraptor, of Mega Man X is FUCKING AWESOME fame, takes a look at the Zelda franchise with the same keen eye towards game design. He spends most of his time completely tearing apart one of the sacred cows of gaming lore, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, while also finally making clear to me why I was unable to finish Skyward Sword.


Shigeru Miyamoto once described his idea for Zelda as coming from a feeling of wanting to explore caves near his house as a child. Which led to an amazing game where you explore caves and dungeons and found wondrous things. The irony is that when it came time to make sequels Nintendo cared more about the things that were found, rather than the mystery itself. There is no mystery in modern Zelda games.

Dopy figure representing Zelda Skyward Sword

Hey man! I’m mysterious


(turns red with anger) GOD, SHUTUP! Seriously. You want all this attention like you care, like you really gave it your all in a “new innovative Zelda experience” but instead you led Zelda into a frustrated monotony. You know what started the franchise was this sense of wonder and what has this far concluded the franchise is a sense of formality. A predictable, time consuming mess that asks you not of your sense of your sense of adventure or even your wits but instead on your ability to listen andfollow directions. You ask us of our ability to point something [wii mote] at something else and walk towards it. You ask of us to get another bow & arrow and fight another boss with a giant glowing eyeball. Gee, I wonder how to FUCKING beat it. I fucking WONDER Skyward Sword.

Also, now I really wish I could play A Link Between Worlds.
(hat tip: Kyle Starr at

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Executions should be by firing squad, federal appeals court judge says

July 24th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski on the use of lethal injection to kill inmates as reported by the LA Times:

“Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III.

“But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

To my mind your support of the death penalty should hinge on one question; how many innocent people is it ok to kill in the name of justice? For me that answer is zero but those that disagree should not be able to mask the brutality of state sanctioned murder behind the euphemism of lethal injection.

Again Judge Kozinski:

I personally think we should go to the guillotine, but shooting is probably the right way to go.

(source: The excellent Next Draft newsletter)

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You’re probably using the wrong dictionary

July 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

If you value the crafting prose or the study of language then you certainly need to read this post by James Somers; since you are probably using the wrong dictionary.

But somehow for McPhee, the dictionary — the dictionary! — was the fount of fine prose, the first place he’d go to filch a phrase, to steal fire from the gods.

He then lays out some beautiful examples showing how a dictionary can not only be source of inspiration but also of nuance and character.

Notice, too, how much less certain the Webster definition seems about itself, even though it’s more complete — as if to remind you that the word came first, that the word isn’t defined by its definition here, in this humble dictionary, that definitions grasp, tentatively, at words, but that what words really are is this haze and halo of associations and evocations, a little networked cloud of uses and contexts.


Most important, it describes a word worth using: a mere six letters that have come to stand for something huge, for a complex meta-emotion with mythic roots. Such is the power of actual English.

Who is the author of this beautiful book of prose that happens to define words as well? None other than Noah Webster; a man who’s name has become synonymous with definition.

Noah Webster is not the best-known of the Founding Fathers but he has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” There’s actually this great history of how he almost singlehandedly invented the very idea of American English, defining the native tongue of the new republic, “rescuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits.

“[R]escuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits. Hehe.

Mr. Somers also goes into some detailed instructions for setting up your Mac to use Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828) but I prefer this simple installer from the Convert Webster’s github project. If you want to install it on a Kindle or Mobile device see the Appendix for details.

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