Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon hits the panic over the Obama-corrupting-the-youth thing square on the head:
We laugh at the wingnuts pulling their kids out of school, and we point out that Obama’s speech is perhaps the most bland, inoffensive, apolitical thing he’s ever written. But that’s exactly what the wingnuts are afraid of. They can just imagine their kids sitting in a classroom, watching this man speak---a Democrat, a liberal, a “socialist” (so they’ve been taught), a black “racist” (so they’ve been taught)---and two things might occur to them. 1) Their classmates do not share their fear and hatred and 2) Obama is saying the same sort of things that anyone would say. In fact, the sheer normalcy of the situation is hard to deny, and kids who are eager to fit in with their peers are extremely unlikely to start insisting that up is down and this normal situation is scary and fucked up. And that might be the first step towards becoming a more open-minded, decent human being. No wonder their parents are scared.

As one who doesn't consider his life as an independently conscious entity to have begun until the day he left home for college, this resonated deeply with me.
Dig this crazy WWII propaganda poster gallery from Life magazine. I thought I was well versed in the genre - indeed, ol' Rosie is represented here, as is the famously gruesome "This is the Enemy" series - but I have never seen most of these before, including several from Axis powers.

I love the first page's poster where the artist - who signed the work with a Nazi SS sigil - caricatures the incoming Americans as being murderous lunatics headed by the Ku Klux Klan. Or this one, encouraging American soldiers to surrender now so they can score with the ladies later.

(Also: Life magazine still exists as a discrete entity? I did not know that. Good on them!)
I am pleased to announce the opening of the jmac.org video store, where you can buy DVDs of the first six episodes of The Gameshelf and Jmac's Arcade, respectively.

If you like the things I make, please consider buying a shiny discful of it! As it says on that page, your purchase helps me improve the state of game journalism and critique — and, by extension, supports quality amateur media from game-obsessed overthinkers everywhere.
Why was I not informed of this before? "Literal" version of the "Total Eclipse of the Heart" music video:



I like how the humor starts out at an eye-rolling, i-see-what-you-did-there level, but starts getting more comfortable and clever a little way in.

The whole series of these videos is pretty good, with several el-oh-el moments, if you're me.

Whee fun

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 11:18
This week is crazy; something happening every day to bust up my schedule, and with layers of crisis on top of that. Cannot complain because there are exciting opportunities afoot too, but it's frustrating not to be able to commit much time to implementation, especially since I still feel like I just got home from abroad.

I didn't do any work-work over the weekend because I needed to de-stress after the vacation, and I did this by producing another Jmac's Arcade. I haven't had the time to actually upload it anywhere, which sounds silly, but I wanna do it right and redesign arcade.jmac.org first. The site looks kind of terrible in the wake of the most recent jmac.org redesign. It'll get done soon enough, and you will like it.

Here's a couple of things I may attend this week:

I'll go to Post Mortem tonight if I can put a bit of a buffer between me and the enormous 8-ball rolling behind me, rumble rumble. (Feeling kind of pessimistic about this now. Boy I sure do love writing LJ posts. LA LA LA.) An upcoming opportunity on the Appleseed side of things encourages me to stir the local-game-doodz networking pot, but it's not like I can't do that anywhere else.

I am planning on attending the next Information Superhighway shindig at Harvard Square, this coming Saturday night. I had a lot of fun at the last one, and this one apparently has guests and speakers involving both homemade TV and the board game Diplomacy, both of which are relevant to my interests right now.
http://fjgallagher.wordpress.com/

Blog of Frank Gallagher, the dedicatedly brilliant personality who brought UMaine's student newspaper, The Maine Campus, to statewide prominence in the early-mid 1990s. He also made it an exciting place to work, enough to become the reason my undergraduate career took an extra year to complete.

Looks like he's joined the ever-growing crowd of people I know in Portland, ME, though he clearly keeps strong ties to his beloved San Fransisco.

In some ways he was the first real boss-slash-colleague I ever had, and I have been looking for this guy off and on for ages. He dropped me a LinkedIn invite just yesterday! I look forward to reading him once again.

Shorthand

Wednesday, 29 April 2009 18:43
This is a curious image of a reporter writing in shorthand, found by [livejournal.com profile] dougo.

My whole life I understood the word "shorthand" as a synonym for "abbreviation", not a complete and formal writing system that looks like alien script to the uninitiated. But the commenters on that photograph say it's so, and Wikipedia agrees, with yet more graphic evidence. Very interesting!

Army of Davids

Saturday, 18 April 2009 22:31
Excerpt from this past week's Gene Weingarten chat:
Alexandria, Va.: "We are heading for a period of indeterminate length where there will be insufficient eyes on our government, on business, and on the powers that be in, in general. Where official pronouncements will be accepted and printed as news. Where the heart-and-soul changing stories of human interest are going to remain unnoticed. I think it's bad, and I think it's going to take a while before we realize what we're missing."

Gene, you are so dead wrong about the effect of use of the Internet -- in fact, citizens are now armed with much more information about government, business and society than ever before. The only difference is that the WaPo, NYT and other major media are no longer the gatekeepers of information and have no monopoly on the questioning of authority. You should buy a copy of "An Army of Davids" and get ready for the new world.

Gene Weingarten: The army of Davids do not have people paid well to cultivate sources over years, people like Dana Priest, who will expose malfeasances via years of training as investigative journalists. With an army of Davids as protectors of the realm, I guarantee you Richard Nixon would have served two terms. Possibly succeeded by President Spiro Agnew.

_______________________

Gene Weingarten: I don't mean to overstate this, cause it sounds defensive, but: People who think we will be protected by bloggers really have no idea what they are talking about. David Simon made this point eloquently yesterday on WAMU.

He noted that when he recently broke a story about police malfeasance in Baltimore, he wasn't having to push past all the bloggers working the story.

This particular exchange has stuck in my head for several days. I find it very hard to dismiss, and rather chilling.
This SXSW talk from Merlin "43folders" Mann and John "Daring Fireball" Gruber has become my personal north star for the moment. (Here is a transscript.)

It boils down to this: If you wanna publish something awesome on the internet, figure out what really and truly obsesses you. Then follow it. Let your desire to be awesome lead you, versus your desire for ad clickthroughs. If you succeed, then further success shall come.

This is lining up to be my guiding principle for a lot of what I hope to do in the foreseeable future.

(Image credit: moleitau, after this.)

RaceFrak2009

Wednesday, 18 March 2009 13:19
This sounds too awesome (as in dude, that's) for reality, but it's clearly too weird to be parody. From an EW article about a BSG retrospective at the UN:
When one of the UN's representatives talked about how part of their mandate was to safeguard the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and station, Olmos got a little heated. "You never should've invited me here," he said, before blasting the UN for continuing to use race as a term of separation, of division among peoples. His voice rose, steadily, as if years of social activism was coming to a head on this night. Then, directing his attention to the high schoolers: "Adults will never be able to stop using the word 'race' as a cultural determinant....There is only one race: the human race. SO SAY WE ALL!"

I swear to you, everyone in that chamber shouted it right back at him. Because the Admiral asked us to.

And Mary McDonnell leaned over and gently wiped a tear from Olmos' cheek.
(Thx to [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie for linkage.)
After choosing to avoid direct exposure to RaceFail2009, I enjoyed this summary, by Mary Ann Mohanraj, of some of the key points that have bubbled up.

Much of this sounds rather familiar to me, and I recognize that this is directly due to some of y'all. I've been quietly reading your writing over the last year or three on, for example, what "white privilege" means, and what it doesn't mean, despite what people tend to infer from the term alone. If I've been tacitly absorbing all this, you can assume that many others are, too. So feel free to feel good about that!

(Oh, and please consider comments-reading on the linked post to be more optional than usual. Because: racefail.)
Gene Weingarten is my favorite active print journalist because of features like this [warning: disturbing subject matter]. This story is as gripping and engaging a read as it is a hard one, dealing with a horrifying subject. (And it is very different from the violinist-in-the-subway feature he won the Pulitzer for last year.)

I was witness to his thinking about this topic out loud in one of his weekly washingtonpost.com chats some months ago, so I was able to take the subject in stride as I began the story. I still had the wind knocked literally knocked from me by the note it closes on. I strongly recommend reading the whole thing through.

Linked again

Thursday, 4 December 2008 01:36
Art-game designer and blogger Auntie Pixelante, who linked to The Gameshelf a few months ago, has found Jmac's Arcade, and has challenged me in public to get my act together and produce some more. I hear a lot that they're entertaining or touching, which is great, but being told that they help provide an oral history of a nearly vanished subculture is new to me.

This is a kick in the pants, all right. Despite everything going on, I am led to consider that it may indeed be a good change of creative scenery for me to try pulling another one of these together. The whole point of these is that, unlike Gameshelfs, they're things I can make all by myself.

Bah. Not gonna be able to sleep tonight.
Via Making Light, a daily three-panel gag strip about Prometheus. Yes, that Prometheus. Enjoy.

(And here is every single strip so far on a single page.)

Th' junkie and I are gonna spend the day at the aquarium now. Laters.
prog: (monkey)
[livejournal.com profile] daerr just posted some interesting graphs that measure changes in the CPAN's activity rates over the last decade or so. (CPAN being Perl's distributed, internet-based archive of code libraries and other stuff, and approximately 51 percent of what makes Perl my favorite programming language.)

I'm interested to see that the number of new users started to drop off a few years ago, but the activity of existing users has been increasing so much that the archive's overall activity continues to trend upwards.

If I had to guess a single reason for this, it'd involve the community getting better over the last several years at corralling many hackers together into large, frequently updated projects, which then get stored in the CPAN under a single username (as that's a limitation of the system). I think, for example, of DBIx::Class's recent ascendency, and clear community dominance, over the thousand SQL-abstraction modules that came before it. So you have fewer instances of people creating new CPAN author accounts just to upload their own wheel-reinventions.
Those missing my liveblogging (coz I didn't watch the debate) can read Defective Yeti's take on it, or Todd Alcott's thoughts if you'd like less snark.

I played Wiz-War last night, by gar. It was the shortest Wiz-War game ever. I want to play it again.

Going to a physical therapy session in a couple of hours. What's this? Well, after we moved I detected something strange, and rather than whine in LJ about how it's surely a tumor, I broke tradition and went to the doctor first. Turns out it's some benign condition with a long name that makes me feel a pop-pop in my hip when I walk around outside. I was told that if I ignore it, it may get less benign, so I'm gonna have it stretched out of me. Bought some running shorts yesterday, just for the occasion. Woo.

Arr

Monday, 29 September 2008 20:15
I would like to briefly point out that stopping pirates who hijack freighters full of tanks (the shooty-shooty kind) is an example of the kind of American military action I can totally get behind.
I am tired of being angry and making all-caps subject line posts!! I demand that you look at these cute dolphins being adorable with wudda.


Yoinked from snopes, of all places.
Deletionpedia is a machine-generated website, built entirely from Wikipedia articles that have been deleted. It itself is not a wiki, even though it copies Wikipedia's page layout. The result is somewhat fantastic.

Its current featured article is this exhaustive list of all the weapons found in the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000, complete with what appears to be meticulously fan-made illustrations, many with labeled parts and exploded views. Someone put a hell of a lot of work into this. While I can see why the WP hivemind would give it the boot (WP is famously tolerant of nerdwank, but still has its limits), I'm oddly relieved to know that it's preserved elsewhere.

And there will be a lot of pages like this guy's, a short biography of "a British-based Starship captain, commentator on society and volunteer ticket collector on a steam railway". Or the sad tale of List of Films with Monkeys in Them, which was cut down before it could even grow past three items.

The list of magical things goes on, preserved forever. I am glad this exists.

Congrats, Phil

Monday, 4 August 2008 15:53
Congratulations to Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait for accepting the position of James Randi's intellectual heir, and the presidency of the JREF. This puts him at the head of one of the oldest and most dedicated organizations focused on stemming the tide against the world of pseudoscience, hokum, and self-delusion. They lead the fight in never giving an inch to creationists, global-warming deniers, and others who would reverse the flow of science for their own purposes.

I used to read of Randi's weekly column at randi.org regularly, and was familiar with his ongoing concern of not having any clear candidate for passing his torch on to. Recent shifts in my online newsreading habits led me to start reading Plait's stuff without getting around to re-subscribing to Randi, so learning about his new role was an unexpected but welcome surprise this morning.

Plait's explosive enthusiasm, which he's maintained over a solid decade of science (and anti-anti-science) blogging, makes for quite a counterpoint with Randi's grumpy curmudgeonliness. I look forward to seeing what emerges. (I don't know how much their age difference is a factor in their relative personalities, since I have only been familiar with the online writing of the elderly Randi. But based on what I know of his many decades of service to the skeptical cause, including his celebrated string of appearances on The Tonight Show during Carson's era, I suspect he's always rather been like this.)

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