Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hold My Beer This Is Going To Be A Long One

Monday, 27 February 2017

Sharks And Such

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Little Gamier

Over at a site called Twenty-Sided they've spent a while, and 50 articles, looking at Mass Effect.

Apparently the last one was in June of last year so I'm a little late to the party. 

Mass Effect is interesting as a game as it straddles a couple of types of Bioware Role-Playing Games (more numbers based to more shooter-y based) and also has a controversial ending -- the games were all about the choices you made and how they had an effect in the game-world. The ending had you choose between three different-coloured buttons no matter what had happened before.

Twenty Sided is arguing that the problem with the ending has roots in the changing culture at Bioware and these problems are ingrained in the game much earlier than the last 2 hours or so (a full play-through of all three games is probably a minimum of 100 hours).

But then again, the ending of a lot of RPGs is to wade through a long tunnel of super hard enemies to make an arbitrary choice before the credits roll. I think people were upset by the implied promise of more, but Mass Effect was not an overly egregious offender in this respect.


Another party I'm late to is an Oral History of Day of the Tentacle. Tim Schaffer may have frittered away a huge amount of goodwill over his last few projects (DF-9, Broken Age, that hacking thing) and DotT is a touch over-rated but this is well worth a read.


Gaming Nostaglia is something Ron Gilbert seems to be an expert in. And if Thimbleweed Park turns out to be any good we'll forgive him for it (chances are it'll look nice).

Friday, 3 February 2017

Hanlon's Razor

Politico has a good article about how there probably is no genius about to emerge from the chaos and all is, more or less, as it looks.

But the pathology that’s animating these viral conspiracy theories is different. It’s a determinism of a far more granular sort: It assumes, quite improbably, that the Trump team knew exactly what sort of thing would happen after their every move, that they were only testing out the details. As if Jared Kushner could see through time, as if Stephen Miller could read our thoughts.

How Was I To Know?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

What's Wrong With "The Left"

Another day another million or so articles trying to pinpoint exactly where "The Left" got it all wrong. The Guardian has one here and probably a dozen more from today and will continue publishing them in a unending display of self-flagelation.

Often there's a pointing out that people see "The Left" as telling them what to do, what with all the political correctness and climate change business and letting refuges in to the country. Just look, the article linked to above is about "the intolerance of the left".

And, of course, that is the prevailing media narrative: Brexit, Trump, the FPÖ, etc. are all the result of the left losing touch with their working class base and the working class looking for someone or some party or some issue that they can make their own. From a distance this is true enough, in and of itself, except for a very small point. "The Left" may very well have deserted the working class, Tony Blair and his ilk sold their principles for power and, at the time, the hope was, I feel, that getting rid of the Tories was worth this bargain. It's not the left, the actual left and not the media boogie-man "The Left", that has deserted it's base. The mainstream parties that should represent the left have moved rightwards.

The left is now represented by the odd old school politician and various small parties scurrying to pick up votes that might go to more populist alternatives.

The problem with "The Left" is that it isn't the left. The left hasn't forgotten its roots. The left is its roots. It's there and there are problems with it but it hasn't lost elections because people are fed up with it. People are fed up with "The Left" offering paltry-to-no opposition.

Future Inspiration

From here.

I'm going to get this in a song one day...

Monday, 30 January 2017

Information Exchange Strategy Model

It turns out that words can be plastic.
[Plastic words] are incredibly malleable yet empty when it comes to their actual meaning. Plastic words have surreptitiously seeped into our everyday language and dictate how we think. They have been imported from the languages of science, technology and mathematics, and thus appear to be imbued with their authority.
I think this goes someway towards explaining my fury at words like "curate" and "artisanal". It's not that in a proper context they don't have meaning, it's more that that original meaning is sapped when used to mean something much lesser.

And, as the article says, when it happens to words like "safety" and "security" and "welfare" then it facilitates all sorts unconscionable behaviour.

As an aside: I used to say this, and will still say it occasionally, about "evil". There are many things that are unpleasant, nasty or just plain horrible but calling these things evil means we have no word for when something truly evil happens. Of course, when something truly evil does happen we will probably need no words.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sometimes When I Drink Too Much The Next Day I Can't Think

Over at Edible Arts, Wine Trends and Food Pairings,  they take a look at what people are drinking with dinner, find out it's beer and goes:
Mmmm. Perhaps they will grow out of it.

Elsewhere on the Internet some people are intent on helping the obviously confused: Beer with Dinner: The Basics of Pairing Beer and Food. In its own way this is almost as bad.

One the one hand it's true that wine often pairs better with much food than most beers. And the people in the survey probably aren't really that interested in finding harmonious combinations and synergies (I do find that synergy is often, but not infallibly, a bellend indicator). And that might be a pity. On the other hand fuck that noise. Drink what you want and enjoy it. If you want to find out more then Edible Arts and Kitchn will be there to give a helping hand.

He Will Surely Take Them Out On You

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Trump Trump Trump

Friday, 20 January 2017

Short Shorts Redux The First

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Idiots Are Winning

In some quarters there's a fast held belief that Trump will be the outsider to truly bring something new to politics. He will selflessly drain the swamp and wash away the taint of neo-liberalism as practised by Hillary and her ilk.

The father-made billionaire who has previously been happy to stiff contractors will now be the friend of the working man. Despite, you know, everything he actually said and did.

He has, of course, as expected, in line with everything known and reported about the man, surrounded himself with people as venal and incompetent as himself. Some candidates even have the added bonus of being ideologically incompatible with the roles they have been chosen for.

Trump hasn't brought anything new to politics, he's brought something very old. Although perhaps  the scale of all this self-regarding corruption is truly new.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Well Done, Mortal

Peter Molyneux may or may not be a pathological liar but this post-mortem of Populous is charming.

Say What?

This quote (“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.” if the pic isn't there) seemed to be ever present on Facebook for me for a while. I think someone had put it on a T-shirt and the algorithms had decided that I would want something like that.

I'm not entirely sure, though, that he ever said it. Doing a search on Zappa + Parachute only ever brings up the quote but no actually source -- a song, book or interview -- it just hangs there and we have to assume he said it because a lot of sites have dutifully copied and pasted it from a lot of other sites and every so often it gets propagated by signature. To me it sounds like the sort of faux deep bullshit that Ol' Francesco would have lampooned in one of his songs and, anyway, it turns out that an earlier usage is from the 1936 film Charlie Chan at the Circus. So there's a part of me that likes to think that, if Zappa did ever say it, he was ironically quoting Chan.

My immediate thought when reading it, though, is to come up with counter examples or, well, one counter example.
A mind is like a parachute. If you need to use it you're probably fucked already.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

What Next?

The Digital Antiquarian's USP is writing long, well researched, articles about computer games, their making and their makers, from a relatively narrow time (late '70s to very early '90s) and mostly about a specific genre, adventure games (Interactive Fiction, if you really must and if you must I have a graphic novel just for you).

This means he covers companies like Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls and Level 9 as well as Lucasarts, Sierra and Cinemaware.

If any of the above makes any kind of sense to you then know that the site's articles are both thorough and fascinating. Jimmy Maher, the site owner and author of all the articles, also seems to have cultivated a loyal and engaged commentariat that provide encouragement and extra information as well as pointing out his mistakes (errors of fact or simple spelling mistakes) and keeping him honest.

The latest article is about the end of Magnetic Scrolls and the creation of their last game, Wonderland. A Time of Endings, Part 4: Magnetic Scrolls is as readable as anything there and worth a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Too Late, Too Late

The Truth About Turmeric (Curcumin) & It’s ‘Benefits’

So, I'd suddenly noticed Turmeric is now a "thing" (see below, possibly) as even Interspar were stocking fresh tumeric roots and the moment I do an article comes along to cast doubt on it's thingness.

I'll Have A Skinny, Artisanal, Raw-Milk, Gluten-Free, Sea-Water Dough Pizza, Please

Jay Rayner has a list in the Guardian of "Seven things in food to stay livid about in 2017".

It confirms to all of my biases, even if I think he's a little late to the "artisanal" rage. That and "curate" are sure signs that who ever uses them, outside of their more specific meanings, is a bellend.

I did like this bit too:
Which brings me to all those who point at clumsy, ill-written, pseudo-science as proof that their desperate, self-aggrandising food choices are better than yours; people who don’t know the difference between a causal link, correlation and sheer coincidence. They make me really, really angry.
Stuff like this can't be said enough times.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Know Where Your Towel Is

Douglas Adams comes across a something of a fascinating bastard. You can imagine how great some of these early meetings and dinners could have been, the polymath nature of them and the enthusiasm for a project not yet started. But you can also imagine the frustration of  working with one of the all-time greatest procrastinators.

News Indistinguishable From The Onion

Junk food cravings are triggered by the mere thought of being low class

Just an "Area Man" short, I'd say.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

I Just Can't Resist Digs At QT

I was directed to this review of movies, A Savagely Partial Look At The Films Of 2016,  by Rock, Paper, Shotgun  whose "Sunday Papers" posts oftentimes have links to interesting articles that I wouldn't normally have seen. This one is worth checking out if only for the way it neatly encapsulates the problem with Tarantino:
The Hateful Eight was what we can presumably expect from Tarantino forever now, a sort of edit-yourself-a-film kit which comes with plenty of exciting materials but without a single decision in the box.
 It seems to be mostly in tune with me on the films that I have seen. So maybe I'll have to have a go at some of the movies that Nathan Ditum does like.

Want To See A Magic Trick?

Watch this video and see your respect for Penn disappear:

To be honest, once you get past the definition of Libertarianism ("I don't know what's good for me, so how can anyone else? Therefore government is bad") it's not all face-meltingly awful but the video never really recovers from it.

... So As I Was Saying

Obviously I wasn't saying much. And may still not but I thought I might give here a go again as I was reminded elsewhere that this is a "web log".

That is it's a log of things that interest me on the Internet and, well, for doing that Facebook isn't really fit for the purpose.