Pathways: Selected Links

A Reservation-Based Intersection Control Mechanism

The main result of our work can be summarized with the following simulations. To run them, click on the links below.

The Mathematics of Preservation

It turns out . . . that a specific highway junction north of Baltimore — where I-95 and I-695 meet — is topologically unique, exhibiting something called non-trivial braiding. However, because of that structure's inefficiency as a traffic conveyor, the merging on- and off-ramps were going to be rebuilt, reconnected, and otherwise altered beyond mathematical recognition.

Its topology, in other words, would be ruined.

The World of Italian IF

But that's exactly my point: a good adventure game is a work of art, not an industrial product. If you build a reusable library, most of your game will be predictable; in other terms, you'd have done good engineering — and bad art.

Imperfect Sound Forever

One result of this is that modern CDs have much more consistent volume levels than ever before. But when is it desirable for music to be at a consistent volume? When it's not being actively listened to; when it's intended as background music. Sudden (or even gradual) dynamic changes in ambient volume disturb people from what they are otherwise doing (shopping, eating, working) by making them pay attention to the fluctuating sound rather than the task in hand. I only notice the air conditioning at work when it switches off ten minutes before I go home every day, for instance — for the previous eight hours, my brain tunes the hum out so I can concentrate. So it is with music too: it may grab your attention more effectively at the start, but it's ultimately easier to ignore. All music becomes background music if it's at one flat level, no matter how loud. And flat, hypnotic background music is a form of social control . . . .

File Sharing Safari

Shoppers immediately grasped the conceptual angle. Lithe French tourists hugged me, whole Asian families gathered round to have their portrait taken, cabbies stopped to collect a disc, radical hipsters raised a salute, and small children pointed and giggled.

Cassette Jam '05


Endless Ruins

Jutok Kaneko is not a name that will ring too many bells among lightweight cognoscenti of the Japanese psychedelic underground, but to those with sharper ears and deeper wallets the news that Tokyo's other black-clad guitar master has finally made a solo album is true cause for rejoicing.

The 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time

[Including the unsearchable Zelda (self-titled) (1982).]

Zelda, 2nd Quest

The stress is starting to get to me. Someone on #fefea just said that it was his birthday, and I immediately replied with the suggestion that he should eat dick.


Hey, can we talk about my penis?

Kid Icarus

Though the specifics of its level design can occasionally be infuriating, Kid Icarus uses the grand arc of its level progression and enemy design to tell a story in a way that few games before or since have done. Unlike its contemporaries, it has no ice world, no lava world, no tree world, no mechanical world. Rather, its stages are a logical progression from one area to another. It has no cut scenes or expository dialogue until you finish the game. Rather, the tale of the journey is told by the levels themselves.

Pit begins having escaped from his prison into the depths of the underworld. He is young, weak, and powerless save for a simple bow given to him by the captured goddess Palutena. He begins in the lowest level of the underworld, dead and brown, and progresses upwards. He gradually begins to see more greenery and signs of life as he advances, suggesting he is nearing the overworld. Once in the world of the living, everything is lush. He now travels a great distance (horizontally) which the game shows by day eventually giving way to night. Since the overworld is less under Medusa's control, there are many more shops and rooms to upgrade. At this stage, Pit is growing in technique and strength. At the end of the overworld palace, he once again ascends upwards — this time through the skyworld. There are even more examples of Greek-style architecture as he makes his way through the skyworld, letting you know that you are getting closer to your destination of the sky palace of Angel Land. Once he finally reach and make it through the final fortress, Pit equips himself with the three sacred treasures and becomes a flying badass. The final level is a set piece where he obliterates all opposition and makes short work of Medusa.

Adventures with an Ice Pick

On the operating table, she had second thoughts when she realised that her head was about to be shaved, and she would lose the curls that she was proud of. Freeman assured her that her curls would be saved; this was not the case, but after the operation, as Freeman himself noted, she no longer cared.

Below the Root

This was interactive fiction in the true sense, a Commodore 64 game with very little violence encouraged or allowed that somehow still managed to keep me on edge and and set my imagination on fire with possibilities for what danger lay in wait on the next screen. Perhaps it had to do with the black background or the fact that your character could be kidnapped by one of the two factions in the game and thrown in one of the prisons. Some elements of this creepiness and tension would likely not remain if this were to be remade as a modern game, and that makes it a perfect candidate for enjoyment through emulation.

Mother 3 Fan Translation

One of Itoi's quirks when writing the text for his games is that he says it all aloud. For example, during Mother 1 and Mother 2, he didn't know how to use computers, so he had to say the text out loud to an assistant sitting at a computer. He's also notorious for being unhappy with huge blocks of text and suddenly throwing them out and redoing them later on. Also, he intentionally writes the game's text entirely in the phonetic kana syllabary. This is because he wants the text to seem more like someone is speaking it.

This is a coincidence, because whenever I translate, I translate out loud until a line sounds right. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a world-class writer, and definitely nowhere near as skilled at English as Itoi is with Japanese, but I hope some of the text still retains at least some of its natural flow.

The Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River

Lake Lee

The Big Scam

Running trade routes, unlike mining, actually involved a degree of intelligence and acumen. The basic premise of a trade route was to bring low priced materials from one sector of the galaxy to another sector where they would sell for a high price. Buy low, sell high. With a big ship, the right kinds of goods, and the knowledge of which routes were profitable and which were dry, a person could make tens of millions of credits in a night's work. For a short while, I was one of those people.

7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Someone Named Dolores

Among writers I know personally, only one has a secretary to do mail. To me it seems a perquisite of the extremely successful, and of a magnitude of success that daunts me. Privacy to be with my family and do my work was of the first importance to me. So, when I began to need help answering my letters, I found it extremely difficult to convince myself that I needed it badly enough to justify my hiring someone, bringing a stranger into my study, setting myself up as a boss.


I have six fucking carpenters. I asked for this workshop to be built three months ago. You think anyone gets around to it? It's a ten minute job, but they're too busy to do it. Busy doing what, I don't fucking know, since without the workshops up they can't carpenter anything either. I have four miners, two of them apparently sleep 20 hours a day, one is so injured he can't walk, and the last claims to be the Retired Ruler of this place but he's the only guy who actually does any digging.

Pretty Much Everybody's Alabaster

A word of caution: while I had partial success inserting self-referential clotii randomly into the tree modus, some of the horseshoe nodes had to be replaced with butterfly nodes, which seem to be causing intermittent ruptures in the Marshall stack. If anyone knows a way to *crackle* *fizz* Inform 7 *fizz* be glad to hear it *fizz* *crackle* went after them with a tire iron but they're still coming out of the walls and I'm rapidly running out of muffins. End transmission.

Mysterious Deaths of Nine Skiers Still Unresolved

Baffled investigators said the group died as a result of a compelling unknown force — and then abruptly closed the case and filed it as top secret.

The Calutron Girls

She was one of a special group of young high school graduates hired and trained to do only what they were told to do without questioning and without discussion. She only knew she was doing something vital to her nation and was helping win the war.

So I Went to New York to Protest the War

I am not generally an activist at Oberlin.

I consider myself one of the apathetic many, dodging around socialist tables outside Wilder and signing [petitions] just so they'll leave me alone. I don't actually oppose the radicals, and I'm glad they're striving for things I vaguely agree with rather than things I detest, but it's nothing I've ever really felt relevant to my life.

But something's different now. I'm being told by my president that my country must attack a people unprovoked, because they hate freedom. I'm being told to disregard the will of the world, because my country is the only one whose interests count. I'm being told that an election year in a flagging economy has nothing to do with it, nor does oil. I'm being told that questioning is tantamount to unpatriotism and resistance is tantamount to treason. I'm being told that this is all in my name and already has my support.

It does not.

Maureen F. McHugh

At that point I came to feel excluded. It seemed to me that I wasn't in the books. That meant one of two things. Either I was incredibly boring and I wasn't worth writing about, or somebody just hadn't written those stories. And out of perhaps ego, perhaps terror that I was really a very boring person, I tried to write stories that I could see myself in.

Punched in the Mouth

I was mad at everyone that night, for some reason. Maybe because they were stealing my sort-of date without even trying.

Encounters with the Violent and Deranged

We had someone walk in, slap a $20 bill on the counter, and ask for a rum and coke. He was so drunk that he thought we were a bar. We thought he was kidding, until he got belligerent that we wouldn't serve him.

Bum Wines

In 1991, Cisco's tendency to cause a temporary form of inebriated insanity led the Federal Trade Commission to require its bottlers to print a warning on the label . . . .

Green Eyes and the Other Guy

Years ago in Seattle I met a woman named Julie who'd just gotten out of a long relationship with a guy named Chris Harper. It's a name that weighs heavy on my mind, because then it was shorthand for summarizing my most profound insecurities.

Blectum from Blechdom

They strive to look down on other less-knowledgeable musicians and musical-styles, while simultaneously feeling empowered by their own brilliant musicianship. By making music that's not main-stream they have successfully separated themselves from the average human being. Something very important in the '90s. Some people have said that they thought Blectum from Blechdom were more evolved than everyone else (bigger brains). Through many years of being in the biz they've come to appreciate the value of pushing other people aside in order to develop their own careers first. They are intellectuals who will teach you a thing or two if you are intelligent enough to be able to sit through their rigorously intellectual and challenging experimental performances.

Tim Follin (1998)

The thing I liked about computer music, especially on the C64, was that it was like playing an instrument in its own right. I also liked the fact that you couldn't be pretentious with something that sounded so unreal. But this is also its curse.

Simon's Quest

The vampire bits you're after are also encased in orbs that are indestructible to everything except an oak stake. This would be a problem if there weren't always guys hanging around a few feet away willing to sell you oak stakes for cheap. You'd think that whoever masterminded hiding Dracula's body parts in mansions and encasing them in nearly indestructible orbs would make a point of keeping oak stakes and oak-stake vending machines clear the fuck away, but these are the same villains who hide holy water and other vampire-killing tools in Dracula's candles. Good help is always hard to find.

The Thin, Distant Line

Screeners, as we were called, were the line of defense against those who would hijack planes. I know this because it was on the first film strip they showed us during training. Not a video. Not a film in a normal projector. Not even a slide. It was a film strip, and by turning the advance arrow, the strip curled downward one frame at a time through the projector. The next frame showed the enemy. These days the enemy would wear a rag on his head and have a swarthy look, but the company . . . had making profit . . . down cold, and so it displayed the real enemy of screeners — the FAA test items.


Greatgreen: I'm going to fail :(
NumberGuy: think positively
Greatgreen: I'm going to fail :)

Interview with Ralph Bagley, Maker of Religious Games

If you had made a serious game about Christianity, but presented it from the viewpoint of Satan, you'd be hailed as a cultural hero. It would probably inspire Wagner James Au to write one of his classic forbidden-fruity style essays for Salon in which he'd call Catechumen a post-post-modernist revisionist anti-fascist masterpiece and compare it to the works of Pier Pasolini. By deciding to align yourself with the Bible's protagonists, however, you're going to get nothing but snide dismissal from second-rate gaming sites. Ultimately, that's preferable to having Au mention you, but, still, you must know you're in for a world of hurt. What inspires you to keep going?

Favorite Quotations on Random Subjects

Ce qui fait la nuit en nous peut laisser en nous les étoiles. (Victor Hugo)


But the star performance comes from D Double. Seemingly battling multiple speech impediments, he expectorates glottal gouts of raw verbiage. As so often, there's that characteristic sense of involuntary utterance, like it's him who's being spoken through. Spitting is too decorous a word for his rhyme style; retching is closer. Witness Double's astonishing first six bars on Destruction, a gargoyle-like gibber closer to hieroglyphics than language, and seemingly emanating from the same infrahuman zone Iggy plumbed on Loose and TV Eye.

NES Screenshot Quiz


Physicists in Japan Plan to Create New Universe in Lab

While it sounds like a dangerous undertaking, the physicists involved believe that if the project is successful, the space-time around a tiny point within our universe will be distorted in such a way that it will begin to form a new superfluid space, and eventually break off, separate in all respects from our experience of space and time, causing no harm to the fabric of our universe.


The observable universe, from top to bottom.

Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame

The international chess community, which tracks Fischer's downward spiral the way astronomers track the orbit of a dying comet, has been monitoring his radio interviews since the first one aired, back in January of 1999. For the most part chess people have for years downplayed the importance of his outlandish outbursts, explaining that Fischer's raging anti-Semitism, acute paranoia, and tenuous grasp on reality are hyped by the media and misunderstood by the public. In the early 1990s Fischer's girlfriend at the time said, He's like a child. Very, very simple. A friend who spent a lot of time with him in the 1990s says, Aside from his controversial views, as a person Bobby is very kind, very nice, and very human. Another friend, asked how he could stand by someone so blatantly anti-Semitic, replies, A lot of people wouldn't care if Michael Jordan was an anti-Semite if they could play a game of Horse with him.

Fursuit Triptych


HP Lovecraft's Commonplace Book

Death — its desolation and horror — bleak spaces — sea-bottom — dead cities. But Life — the greater horror! Vast unheard-of reptiles and leviathans — hideous beasts of prehistoric jungle — rank slimy vegetation — evil instincts of primal man —
Life is more horrible than death.

Can playing Tetris reduce traumatic flashbacks?

All participants viewed a traumatic film consisting of scenes of real injury and death followed by a 30-min structured break. Participants were then randomly allocated to either a no-task or visuospatial (Tetris) condition which they undertook for 10-min.

Vadim Gerasimov on Tetris

Contrary to the claim attributed to Henk Rogers, there was no straightforward business arrangement between Pajitnov and myself. In the Soviet Union, where private business was outlawed and the concept of intellectual property was not defined, people could not make private business arrangements of this kind.

David Bowie

Police Department
Rochester, NY
3 25 76

A Gorgeous Hotel

I could no longer see my own hands, but in the brightness I sensed the expanse of tile and brushed metals and knew at once I was alone.

The Quiet Furies

The most interesting thing about this book, in my opinion, is the set of illustrations done by an artist named Edith Dines, about whom I can find nothing. They are imperfect but striking. Some of them are, as the kids say these days, nightmare fuel. I present them here with the case names they accompanied serving as titles.

Espacios Publicitarios

antirreumático-analgésico de amplia acción en todas las alteraciones esqueleto-musculares

The Point of No Return

I have forgotten birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and celebrations — both made-up by greeting card companies and those I helped to create through the amazing and fortunate successes in my previous life. The only people I can connect to are on-line, in chat rooms, in e-mail, on forums, since they are the ones that make the least number of demands to my time. I judge every possible experience as to whether or not it is taking away from the time I have to write.

Nobody Knows Shoes

I told them they would be proud of me, that they would count me AS AN EQUAL, as a friend, as a registrant and cosigner, as more than an equal, larger than a friend, perhaps even that I might come to rule over them in time, but that my royal class would be a pleasant one, something of valor, spoken of for ages in dulcet tones with eyes all aswim.

Tim Rogers on Mother 2

No, really, it makes me feel something. It really does. I'm hamming it up a little here, though I honestly, really do feel something.

Matt Ingram

The best music journalists aren't necessarily writing good prose but are responding intuitively to great sounds in a way that is more unmediated than the average person. That's why, on the most crass level, they're taste-makers. They're just simply attuned to the divine; in the Priesthood they're like Archbishops.

Our Little (One-Winged) Angel


Final Fantasy Crapthology

Whilst performing my morning routine of checking a list of popular RPG bulletin boards in alphabetical order, I once came upon an especially ignorant message which claimed that Final Fantasy V was a lost gem that not enough have experienced. After chuckling derisively to myself, I formulated one of my trademark incisive and intellectual responses. It's hardly the fault of true RPG gamers such as myself that the world is populated by contemptuous philistines, I wrote, and furthermore we should not have to suffer having our vibrant and stimulating online communities sullied by your misinformed opinions! Final Fantasy II is an infinitely rarer gem, and one of startling psychological and emotional complexity compared to the childish farce that was Final Fantasy V.

Jerry Lawson

One of the things the [Atari] guys were telling me was that kids were coming in with piezoelectric shockers and shocking the machine to give them free games. Or they would take in a wire and jiggle it down in the coin slot. So he said he would love to have a way where that wouldn't happen anymore.

What we did was take coins — it goes through the coin device and it hits a microswitch. It stays on the microswitch for a certain period of time before it drops down, right? We'd time that point of time that it would go through the microswitch, so the microprocessor on board would know whether it was a coin or somebody jiggling the switch. That was the way we had a coin defeat for it.

Insert Credit reviews Final Fantasy II

I give Final Fantasy II points for not lying to me. That battle against the Dark Knights in the beginning scene is less of a warning or a storyline injection than it is an accurate depiction — an attract mode, if you will — of what the game is going to be like in its closing stages.

A Belligerent Expert System

Rog-O-Matic plays the game by intercepting characters from the terminal stream, and sending command characters back to the rogue process. The input interface must convert a stream of characters designed to draw a meaningful picture on a CRT screen into a representation of the world state. This function is performed by the sensory module.

The Infocom Documentation Project

Iris, Whiz, Auda, Poet, Sensa, Waldo

The Z-Machine Standards Document

Infocom made six main Versions of the Z-machine and several minor variant forms. These are recognisably similar but with labyrinthine differences, like different archaic dialects of the same language. (The archaeological record stops sharply in 1989 when the civilisation in question collapsed.)

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

Recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered.

Public Service Announcement: Backups

When you back up to a drive, and that drive is sitting on your desk and mounted, you know when the drive has gone bad because your computer starts yelling errors at you. When you back up to a tape or a DVD, that media is just sitting on your shelf silently rotting and you won't know it's gone bad until that horrible day in the future when you try to read it.

Never, ever, ever back up to anything except a connected, live file system.

Sexy Losers

Gah! Isn't that Ishida? I thought she was dead!

Issei Sagawa

Sagawa served time in a French jail for the murder of the Dutch student Renée Hartevelt, a classmate at the Sorbonne Academy in Paris, France. On June 11, 1981, Sagawa, a 32-year-old student of French literature, invited Hartevelt to dinner at his 10 Rue Erlanger apartment under the pretense of literary conversation. Upon her arrival, he shot her in the neck with a rifle while she sat with her back to him at a desk, then began to carry out his plan of eating her.

Tweak: an efficient hex editor

Cutting, copying, and pasting within the file you are editing is extremely efficient. No matter how big the chunk of data you are moving around — even if it's a 200Mb section of a CD image — Tweak will always perform the operation effectively instantly.

Bitmaster Productions

Not long after, he released his own [editor], and it looked like an exact clone of mine, with the load and save buttons in the same places. I was mad at first but later completely lost interest in saved state editors and really didn't care.

Animal Crossing

I'm always trying to convert my parents to video games, however, and thought that Animal Crossing would be simple enough for them to get into. I let my mom set up a house, and she soon got into the game in a big way.

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

A computational process is indeed much like a sorcerer's idea of a spirit. It cannot be seen or touched. It is not composed of matter at all. However, it is very real. It can perform intellectual work. It can answer questions. It can affect the world by disbursing money at a bank or by controlling a robot arm in a factory. The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer's spells. They are carefully composed from symbolic expressions in arcane and esoteric programming languages that prescribe the tasks we want our processes to perform.

A computational process, in a correctly working computer, executes programs precisely and accurately. Thus, like the sorcerer's apprentice, novice programmers must learn to understand and to anticipate the consequences of their conjuring. Even small errors (usually called bugs or glitches) in programs can have complex and unanticipated consequences.

And It's William R. Eagan at the Wire

Jim's job was to find out if we could get permission to spread Dad's ashes at the track. A few days later, he called me and the news wasn't good.

The people at the race track said we need to get permission from the Board of Health. Forms need to be filled out. It could take time.

I say we just do it. He readily agreed.

Yesterday Once More

It was like some separated-at-birth thing, this shock of recognition that came when I heard From Here We Go Sublime. Willner had cracked I Only Have Eyes for You open like an egg, done away with the words — I knew they were extraneous — and turned up the wattage on that unnamable thing I heard glowing inside. Willner hears I Only Have Eyes for You on my wavelength; those thoughts and ideas and feelings I thought were transmitted to me alone, or at the very least figured were too obtuse to share with anyone else, he knows them too. And he found a much better medium for expressing them. On that score it turns out I was right all along: words fail. The sonic character of this single, with the huge wall of feeling looming behind it, is best explained with more sound. That big blue open sea, which had stretched before me for 30 years, this guy built a bridge across it.

Oxford, Summer Sometime, 1995

Essentially we were no different to a lot of reasonably smart, naïve young men. We thought we'd rewrite the rulebook. That life, when we got to it, would simply not be able to contain or resist us. Our charm and energy would sweep all before us. Instead, the moment University was over we both floundered, went into crisis, took on a series of badly paid jobs, drank even more, tried to figure out just how life could be so oblivious to our evident if unproven brilliance.

Nihil Rebound

More than anyone else, Joy Division turned this dourness into a uniform that self-consciously signified absolute authenticity; the deliberately functional formality of their clothes seceding from Punk's tribalized anti-Glamour, depressives dressing for the Depression (Deborah Curtis). It wasn't for nothing that they were called Warsaw when they started out.

Low-frequency noise is weird stuff.

Years back I noted that infrasound — sound pitched below the hearing range of most humans, which stops at around 20 hertz — can cause dizziness. Some recent research suggests it may do more than that. After taking spectrum analysis readings at a couple of U.K. sites repeatedly described by visitors as haunted, Vic Tandy and Tony Lawrence of Coventry University have argued that the presence of 18.9 Hz infrasound is responsible for the creepy feelings described. (In one case they concluded that a terrifying, seemingly paranormal experience of Tandy's had likely resulted from the whirring of a laboratory extractor fan causing his eyeballs to resonate.) And in 2003, the use of 17 Hz infrasound at London concerts of experimental electronic music correlated with audience reports of unusual experiences including nausea, momentary anxiety, tingling, and a sense of coldness.

Cotti and Cluekid

I don't know, man; we've just been cutting dubs.

The Pac-Man Dossier

Blinky in motion.

The Musical Aesthetic of the Atari VCS

One thing I immediately noticed was the prominence of flat seconds in the songs. Of the forty games analysed, fourteen of them had the odd characteristic of containing flat seconds, which at the time was very unusual in Western music. As Tagg notes, With the exception of a few rock songs from the early eighties which sported lyrics expressing alienation, hopelessness, and a sense of doom, no internationally popular music of this century has shown such a leaning toward [aeolian and phrygian] modes with their downward pulling minor sixths and/or seconds.


I tried wandering the anime stores in the Japantown mall today wearing my Atari shirt, but no one said, Hey, you're a geek! I'm a geek too! Let's be friends! so I guess it's back to the drawing board.

Nintendo's Genre Innovation Strategy

Over time, the game mechanics defining the genre become rigidly defined, the tastes of the genre addicts become highly sophisticated, and innovation within the genre is generally punished by the market place.

Mega Man 3, 4, 5, 6 — at the same time

The games Mega Man 3, 4, 5 and 6 are all the same. Eight robot masters are defeated and Mega Man steals their weapons. After some kind of distraction, Mega Man attacks Wily's fortress and it typically gets blown up. If you don't believe that's true, we offer this movie.

The Year In Film, 2007

There's no denying that much of Mr. Brooks is straight-up idiotic, starting with a scenario that has a serial-killin' family man (Kevin Costner!), his blackmailing apprentice (Dane Cook!), the voice in his head (William Hurt!), and a millionaire cop (Demi Moore!) all sharing screen space. And that isn't even taking into account one of the most ludicrous twist endings imaginable. But while writer-director Bruce Evans could've justifiably camped this movie up, or added some Brian De Palma-esque ironic heat, there's something admirable about how straight he plays it.

Mark Jones

As you can tell, the receptionist begins, this is a locker room. You look around and nod in agreement.

But what you don't know, is why this place is here. You nod your head in agreement again, still feeling in the wrong after showing up late.

The receptionist talks some more. In these lockers, workers who work at these facilities are required to wear lab suits. And when these workers are done working for the day, they are required to put them back in the lockers. Are you getting this?


What I find most hilarious is that there is an expiration date on the package. What could they possibly expect to happen to the product on this date that has not already occurred?!!!

What the F***?

The response is not only emotional but involuntary. It's not just that we don't have earlids to shut out unwanted sounds. Once a word is seen or heard, we are incapable of treating it as a squiggle or noise; we reflexively look it up in memory and respond to its meaning, including its connotation.

Masculine Pressure

And the first thing to say about grime is to acknowledge how much of its compelling aesthetic qualities and its sheer pleasure is related to the flexing of power and violence.

Tigers in a Spotlight

Alas, even Mumsie's kind eye would have to admit the inevitable: El-P's rhymes are as wack as a lumberjack swinging an ax made of wax from the ears of Tears for Fears after they drank all the beers and found Britney Spears in arrears for eliciting too many middle-aged leers and hipster sneers. On the other hand, instrumentally, he's good. Toyota commercial good.

A Room Their World

When Kawakami asked him to create [a plastic model car] for some children at a day-care center, two weeks later he gave her one, meticulously detailed and painted. He seemed so pleased, she said. It was as if he'd never been asked to do something for someone else before. He was sitting in his room all day where nothing was expected of him, and he did nothing to show his value.

Welcome to the Narrative

During his four years as a hikikomori, [Tatsuhiko Takimoto] produced three novellas or light novels. Even though he's only got three books to his credit, he's recognised as one of the rising stars in the post-Murakami Japanese literature movement, characterised by the advent of the light novel . . . a peculiar genre of literature that's linked to Otaku culture.

2ch Recreates FF10 for the Famicom


Bokosuka Wars T-Shirt


Save the War Children

I've been pretty pissed about the war but I never really give it much thought. Many people don't. We're so removed from it. Seeing pictures like these is a real eye-opener and makes the horrors our country has committed more real to me.

Keeping It Real

. . . One thing leads to another and Delbert eventually starts selling an MS contin cocktail outta 16 ounce soda bottles, which is grain alcohol mixed with MS contin, Haldol, and Talwin, which he gets from the Indians, who gave him the idea in the first place one day when I guess they run outta oregano. This shit's expensive, but the Apache clinics ain't regulated like normal pharmacies, so they get it pretty easy and for cheap. The thing is, the second time Delbert tries this, he substitutes the Talwin with Tigan — which is an anti-emetic — realizes what he done and tries to dilute the Tigan with a lot more MS contin. In any case, a couple of white kids drink this shit and they lungs fill up with phlegm and then they drop dead. Delbert's like, oh shit, oh shit, Chet, because two white kids is dead, and I'm like, yeah, oh shit is right, Delbert, you shoulda stuck with that ditchweed. Meanwhile, Chet's in a beef with this Apache called Vernon Nightpipe over some shit Vernon postin' in the OMM forums about this game Chet like, Operational Art of War. . . .

1930s-40s in Color

These vivid color photos from the Great Depression and World War II capture an era generally seen only in black-and-white.

Bill Joy

The people doing Emacs were sitting in labs at MIT with what were essentially fibre-channel links to the host, in contemporary terms. They were working on a PDP-10, which was a huge machine by comparison, with infinitely fast screens.

So they could have funny commands with the screen shimmering and all that, and meanwhile, I'm sitting at home in sort of World War II surplus housing at Berkeley with a modem and a terminal that can just barely get the cursor off the bottom line.


Here's the basic problem: you're writing a text editor. Stop doing that.

Kieran Healy

Even if TextMate 2 drops from the sky fully-formed and marveled at by all, Emacs will still be there, waiting. It will be there when the icecaps melt and the cities drown, when humanity destroys itself in fire and zombies, when the roaches finally achieve sentience, take over, and begin using computers themselves — at which point its various Ctrl-Meta key-chords will seem not merely satisfyingly ergonomic for the typical arthropod, but also direct evidence for the universe's Intelligent Design by some six-legged, multi-jointed God.

Intelligent Design Sort

The probability of the original input list being in the exact order it's in is 1/(n!). There is such a small likelihood of this that it's clearly absurd to say that this happened by chance, so it must have been consciously put in that order by an intelligent Sorter. Therefore it's safe to assume that it's already optimally Sorted in some way that transcends our naïve mortal understanding of ascending order. Any attempt to change that order to conform to our own preconceptions would actually make it less sorted.

The 100 Greatest Records Ever

The potential pitfalls one has to avoid [in compiling a list like this] are many. You can't be needlessly obscurantist for one. That's difficult because the spice in these lists are the things that are slightly more obscure, the records you're hipping people to. It'd be so easy to make a list of minor gems, but if you're presenting a Best 100, you can't do that. One of the other major pitfalls is trying to be comprehensive, picking records for what they represent, rather than how good they actually are. It would have been tempting to insert token Bhangra records, token South African Jazz records, token Punk records for instance. Another error is what I'd call taking a left-turn into someone's catalogue . . . .

On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning

Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?

Ridiculous. I'd sound like an insurance salesman.

Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?

No, this is just as ridiculous. I'm not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who's going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.

No, she wouldn't believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me.

Happy Heterosexual Stories

In the fall of 2001, I had sworn off men. I had just gotten in a fight with my best friend over a guy we both liked at the time, and I had decided it wasn't worth it anymore. I wanted to finish up my undergraduate degree and get on with my future. At that same time, I had just opened an account on LiveJournal at the insistence of a high-school friend of mine. Lo and behold, someone added me from England. He had hit the random button and brought up my journal. He thought I was funny, so he added me.

We got to talking and he offered to call sometime, and it wasn't too long before I figured I really liked this guy. . . .

I proposed by hacking Chrono Trigger

On October 17th, 2008, I proposed to my (now) fiancée. Originally I wanted to return to the site of our first date, Mount Baker, near Bellingham, Washington. Sadly, there was no discreet way to get her out there.

Drivey: a road slightly less travelled

That is not to say that I think modern games are so great. In fact I consider most of them overly complicated, expensive, and demanding. So what Drivey is supposed to help me explore is that zen point between realistic and symbolic representation, some concept which might engage your brain in the same way that perhaps a graphic novel might, giving the reader only the visual essence of a world, and letting imagination do the rest, leading (hopefully) to a more engaging experience.

The UNIX-HATERS Handbook

If the automobile had followed the same development as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year killing everyone inside. (Robert Cringely)

Mario Soup

This piece examines the unpacking of a Nintendo game cartridge, decoding the program as a four-color image, revealing a beautiful soup of the thousands of individual elements that make up the game screen.


I had a book called Mapping the Commodore 64 when I was a teenager and it told what every location did. I hooked-up Radio Shack photo-transistors to my paddle-port and relays to another port. I floated aluminum foil in our pool, bounced infrared-light off of it and could detect waves.

On the Commodore, you made sounds with waveforms.


It struck me that, at least in theory, organ pipes should generate quite primitive sound waves. If so, how come a church organ doesn't sound like a chip tune, which is also built up from simple waveforms? Well, actually it will, if you remove the church. And if you connect a Commodore 64 home computer to a loudspeaker in a large hall, it will sound like an organ.

New Zealand Is Droning

Apparently this sound (which I can only hear through headphones) is causing quite a stir in the northern districts of Auckland. The sound is so maddening, it seems, that it's inspired some residents to take drastic action — which, in one case, means purposefully deafening oneself with the roar of chainsaws.

In fact, for those who can hear it, the sound is the bane of their lives.

Why Americans Don't Like Jazz

The current market share of jazz in America is a mere three percent. That includes all the great ones like John Coltrane and the terrible ones like Kenny G (OK, this is just my own opinion). There are many organizations and individuals like Wynton Marsalis who are tirelessly trying to revive the genre, but it does not seem to be working. Why is this? Is there some sort of bad chemistry between the American culture and jazz? As ironic as it may be, I happen to believe so.

Personal Chemistry and the Healthy Body

Morality, I suppose, is the wisdom that prevents sacrificing long-term happiness for short-term happiness. In the case of health, we need some simple morals because our brain is the first organ to degrade when our health deteriorates. Not only do we feel bad, but we can't apply our brain to the problem because it's in trouble too. But because it's in trouble, it's not likely to see that it's in trouble. When the brain starts to falter, the owner is always the last to know.

The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art

Brain City

Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance

When Limb, who is also a jazz saxophonist, asked the musicians to improvise music while in the scanner, he found diminished activity in sections of their brains associated with self-censorship and planning, and increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is linked to self-expression and individuality.

Sam Kabo Ashwell's Comp04 Reviews


Girl Talk, for a Theoretical New York Magazine Kind of Audience

If Girl Talk has done anything, his dead-end project is a reminder of how fiercely dominant Western pop music has become. This is a capitulation, an audio essay even, of the last 25 years of American pop music: loop-based, interchangeable parts that, turns out, are more similar than maybe we'd like to admit.

Empty the Shelf: How to Destroy Your Music Taste

I wanted to hear something new. I wanted to have heard nothing.

Don't Mention the Dubstep

I bet you don't sit down and say I'm going to make a dubstep track.

No. Because that word is a genre name that has come about, and the sound has crystallised around that. That's how things grow.

But this is a sound you've helped to grow and create.

But as usual, when something becomes clear in your windscreen you have to start swerving away from it! Everything has to be smeared. The minute it becomes clear it risks boredom.

The struggle to surpass Infinite Jest

In 2004, [Wallace] wrote to Jonathan Franzen that to get the book done he would have to write a 5,000 page manuscript and then winnow it by 90%, the very idea of which makes something in me wither and get really interested in my cuticle, or the angle of the light outside.

Shintaro Sato

I'm fascinated with the colors and light at night. Also, I think in these pictures we can see everything, whereas in daytime maybe we cannot see like this. We can see dark and light at the same time. And color has more variety at night than in the daytime. For example, the sky appears red, a dark place like the top of a building has a bluish color, the signboards are more vivid than in the daytime. And from the flow of light or the light coming from each of the windows, we can see signs of life more clearly than we can in the daytime, even though actual people cannot be seen in the photos.

Nine Hours

It's 12:10, and I live in fucking Las Vegas. I'm going home to grab my camera. You're going to see what I see.

Nocturnal Illusion

And even the people who know that I'm telling the truth still don't believe that I made love to Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid. I guess that's understandable, but I know what I saw, and I know what I did, and if people don't believe me, then there's nothing I can do about it.

IF Name Generator

Softporn Grief
Gourmet U.K.
Beginner's Cave Your Own Romance

How to Bootstrap Your Indie Art Needs

No, the Xenli Sorceress has four silver spikes on her bosom armor, not two. It is completely wrong!

Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships

He yelled at me, right there in front of everyone, how could I disrespect him so badly? I questioned myself as he yelled, how could I change my behavior so this would never happen again? Then it came to me. Nothing. Nothing I could ever do would change these situations and nothing I could ever do would make him completely happy and I was tired of trying.

The Man Who Stabbed Lions' Brains

They can try.
But he's figured out where their brains are.

(why the lucky stiff)

Stopping Spambots

In theory, it is possible for a spambot to defeat any of these measures. But in practice, bots are very stupid, and the simplest trick will confuse them. Spam prevention doesn't have to make it theoretically impossible to post spam, it just has to make it more difficult than most of the interesting forms on the internet.

The Sal Wise Fraud

I am sal wise but not the sal wise you have been talking too... dont be fooled by more emails by him because were ever he is he might try to email you but i allways will type to you with italic letters this way you know its me!

Text Sects

The idea that consciousness is a distinct, persistent process separate from the unconscious mind is not required to explain its apparent continuity. All that is necessary is for the parallel processes of the brain to constitute the elements of consciousness when necessary.

In the Beginning Was the Command Line

I had signed up to take a computer programming class at Ames High School. After a few introductory lectures, we students were granted admission into a tiny room containing a teletype, a telephone, and an old-fashioned modem consisting of a metal box with a pair of rubber cups on the top. (Note: many readers, making their way through that last sentence, probably felt an initial pang of dread that this essay was about to turn into a tedious, codgerly reminiscence about how tough we had it back in the old days; rest assured that I am actually positioning my pieces on the chessboard, as it were, in preparation to make a point about truly hip and up-to-the minute topics like Open Source Software.)

Conway's Game of Life in one line of APL

Dijkstra: APL is a mistake, carried through to perfection.


One day, a friend of mine asked me why I liked Scheme. Well, it was simple, clean and yet powerful. It didn't force you weird limitations or ad-hoc rules, and you could express your idea straightforward in the language.

Then he asked. If Scheme was such a nice thing, why people didn't use it?

Alligator Eggs

Then, that alligator dies.

Why Mathematics Is Easy and Life Is Hard

The prisoner is told that he will be hanged sometime this week but on a day when he isn't expecting it. So he thinks to himself: well it can't be on Sunday, because if I hadn't been hanged by Saturday then I'd know that it had to be Sunday, so I'd be expecting it. So it has to be Saturday at the latest. But then it can't be on Saturday, because if I hadn't been hanged by Friday and it can't be Sunday, then I'd know it was Saturday and I'd be expecting it. So it can't be Saturday ... so it can't be Friday ... or Thursday ... or Wednesday ... or Tuesday ... or Monday — which means I won't be hanged!

And then on Monday he is hanged, and he really isn't expecting it.

West Norwood Cemetery Catacombs

The coffin lift made Bramah & Robinson was installed in 1839. It was worked by hydraulics, which made its operation silent — a distinct advantage considering its use.

Phantasy Star 3

Since I stopped playing RPGs, I've had more time to do more productive things. Like play shooters. And dance games. Oh how I play the dance games.


Hi-Leg Fantasy

Super Play Magazine interviews Ted Woolsey (1994)

I was given just 30 days to translate the Secret of Mana text. This meant that I had to fly out to Japan for a month with my wife and kids and just get on with translating the original scripts practically just as soon as they were completed. There's really no time to do justice to these games.

Matt Carey on IFComp '06

I used to watch a lot of TV in the '80s, so until I lived in a city I thought it was quite plausible that if I ever went into an alley, six black guys would pop out of nowhere and be like, yo, yo, yo, looks like the white boy wants to play tough!


Another thing that I miss about the eighties is that people were just giving drugs away left and right, as in this screenshot. I remember my first experience with illicit substances — arms spread, I was running around in dizzying circles on the sidewalk outside my tenement building, going NEEEEERRRRRRRRR KAK-A-KAK-A-KAK and imagining scores of innocent villagers fleeing my invincible Death From Above, when a seedy-looking sixth-grader came up and said Hey kid. You really wanna fly? Well, duh.

Really, Really, Really Belated Comp02 Reviews

This reminds me of the Sesame Street of the '70s, back in my youth when the big city seemed a wonderful and exciting playground full of exotic structures and undreamed of wonders at every corner. Yes, there was a time when, living in the suburbs, I was enthralled by the idea of traffic lights. I think a lot of it had to have been the way they were photographed — the photography was wonderful in some of those picture books — but there was genuine magic in it. So yeah, at one time I thought being a kid on my own in the big city would be fun and not, you know, incredibly dangerous. It's a pleasure to relive that feeling.

Well, that didn't last long. I just got sentenced to life in prison for jaywalking. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Boxxle: Warehouse: Evening: of Tears

OMFG this game looks so crappy!! I know this game is for that Disk System thing and it was made in 1986, but wow guys, you need to put some more work into it!!

When the Marketing Machine Breaks Down

They actually felt compelled to put Animation and Synthesized Sound on a list of the game's features. Note that they only got to the fourth item before they had to resort to that, and then they gave up.

Never Used Again: Final Fantasy II

. . . It was a tough job translating at that time, says Moriyama, who worked as a translator for several Squaresoft games in the early 1990s, including Final Fantasy IV and Secret of Mana. We had so very limited memory capacity we could use for each game, and it was never really translating but chopping up the information and cramming it back in.

Welcome to the Future

So now let's go a little further in time, to April 2000. Pokémon Gold and Silver had been out in Japan for five months, and wouldn't be in the U.S. for another six. New translation groups like Vida Translations and PR Translations scrambled to be the first to rectify this cruel injustice of (admittedly) lengthy localization delays by bringing these new games to a new audience (with entirely made-up dialogue and five-letter names), while even dumber groups like DB Translations, Magecraft Translations, Game Bleak, Colosseum Translations, Spun Web Translations, xabbott and xmaverick, ROM Trek, and Anarchive Translations thought that translating lost title Pokémon Green was a good idea.

Linux Audio: A Graph

Why Linux is failing on the desktop

While Microsoft and Apple were able to start from scratch on their graphics systems, Linux struggles to get compositing graphics to work reliably. This is completely understandable. I'm frankly amazed at what they've been able to do with extensions to X. But there is no extra credit given for effort, and Linux is falling further and further behind on the desktop as the task of grafting modern features onto an aging architecture gets harder and harder to maintain.

Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened — the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.

World's tallest building may be causing earthquakes (2005)

But the sheer size of the Taiwan skyscraper has raised unexpected concerns that may have far-reaching implications for the construction of other buildings and man-made megastructures. Taipei 101 is thought to have triggered two recent earthquakes because of the stress that it exerts on the ground beneath it.

Lego Death Star

By the time I'd finished the first quadrant of the superstructure, my fingertips were numb and it was 10pm.

Objects of Fandom

There are some works that attract obsessive fannish behaviour and some that don't — and this seems to be independent of popularity. To take an example from LucasProduct, both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars are hugely popular movies, but only the latter has developed a significant fan base. Why? My theory is that for something to attract fans, it must have an aspect of truly monumental badness about it.

Dear Dr. Laura

I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

Bio Monster Jesus

How does one foster a personal relationship with Jesus? The best way for me was to translate it.

Long, long ago in a mindset far, far away I decided to translate a Famicom game by the name of Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster. Despite all the difficult aspects of both translation and ROM hacking, I managed to create a patch that (I hope) carries across much of the feeling of the game.

al|together 2005

Of the few westerners who've even heard of visual novels, most seem to have damaging misconceptions based on certain vendors picking awful examples and selling them in America under misleading names like hentai and dating sims. The works we present here are not like those. These are worth your time.

Def Jam: Fight for New York Cover Gallery

Cover #23: Bonecrusher

Dragon Quarter

This game is an absolute ego crusher in several respects, most notably in its emphasis on skill and foreknowledge. There aren't many games out there that require the skills necessary to beat the game right from the start, along with the full knowledge that, hey, no way are you beating this one on your first attempt. Wrapping your head around the fact that you have to lose in order to win and that you consciously have to pull the trigger to reset your party isn't the average gamer's cup of tea.

al|together 2006

GENUFLECT OR DIE! Now, finally, the lunatic novel game that received enthusiastic applause from (an incredibly small number of) rabid Japanese fans comes to invade the English-speaking world! This piece will have you going OMG, WTF, and OTL all at once.

Obscure, Unknown, and Underloved

One of the great joys of [Runes of Virtue II], at least for me, is the minimalism, both of graphics and of design; the game has a relatively small library of sprites, and while a switch will always be a switch or a troll a troll, many of the objects in the game function differently depending on context, like a puzzle where pushing vases into special nooks causes doors to open, or an underground altar that causes gold to appear when touched. You have to interact with things to find out what they do.

Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface

Because of these intertwined design challenges, the design of excellent manipulation software is unbelievably difficult, and mustn't be underestimated. Fortunately, for an enormous class of software, manipulation is not only largely unnecessary, but best avoided.




Just another page about Nintendo.

The Ultimate Minus World Guide

It is for this reason that the really long platforms . . . exist — to make you scroll the screen enough to get the data loaded.

Gaming Fanatics Show Hallmarks of Drug Addiction

Maressa Hecht Orzack, who founded a computer addiction service at McLean Hospital in Boston, agrees that the condition has a lot in common with other addictions. What makes it tougher is that gamers cannot simply abstain from using computers — they are now an integral part of our lives. In that sense, it has to be approached in the same way as an eating disorder, she suggests.

Keita Takahashi

What hardware are you using?

My refrigerator is a SHARP SJ-XW44S. The door can be opened from either the right or left. Cool.

La Vida Robot

Oscar Vazquez was a born leader. A senior, he'd been in ROTC since ninth grade and was planning on a career in the military. But when he called to schedule a recruitment meeting at the end of his junior year, the officer in charge told him he was ineligible for military service. Because he was undocumented — his parents had brought him to the US from Mexico when he was 12 — he couldn't join, wouldn't get any scholarships, and had to start figuring out what else to do with his life. Oscar felt aimless until he heard about the robot club from Ledge, who was teaching his senior biology seminar. Maybe, he thought, engineering could offer him a future.

TM: Tiny eMacs

All I wanted from the exercise was some experience with DOS and 8086 assembler, and possibly a simple, convenient editor with familiar Emacs key bindings. The more features I added, the more useful it became; the more I used it, the more I wanted new features. Drawing me on was the challenge of adding the more complicated features while remaining below the hallowed 4K barrier — once upon a time a common cluster size on the primitive computing devices of the day. TM took on a life of its own. It grew and grew and eventually consumed me. As I write these words now, I am but a hollowed-out shell of the man I was before I first caught the bug of superoptimization.

Why I Became an Emacs User

My curiosity was also piqued by the idea of any piece of software (besides possibly AutoCAD) going through nearly 20 major revisions. What was this thing?

My Quest For The Perfect Window Manager

I heard that Fvwm was boundlessly flexible, and had hidden delights to offer those who could tame it. I heard that it was scriptable beyond the dreams of mortals. I even heard that, despite the contrary evidence of almost every Fvwm screenshot in existence, it could actually look good.

What Do You Believe Is True Though You Cannot Prove It?

We sometimes say that adults are better at paying attention than children, but really we mean just the opposite. Adults are better at not paying attention. They're better at screening out everything else and restricting their consciousness to a single focus. Again there is a certain amount of brain evidence for this. Some brain areas, like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, consistently light up for adults when they are deeply engaged in learning something new. But for more everyday tasks, these areas light up much less. For children, though, the pattern is different — these areas light up even for mundane tasks.

I think that, for babies, every day is first love in Paris. Every wobbly step is skydiving, every game of hide and seek is Einstein in 1905. (Alison Gopnik)

Einstein's Theory of Relativity in Words of Four Letters or Less

Rays all move the same. We call how fast that is: c. So, you can see how fast the rays go by you, and how far off that is from c will tell you how fast you move! Hell, you don't even need the sun for that. You can just have a lamp with you — the one by your bed that you use to read by. You can have that lamp in your hand, and see how fast the rays go by you when you turn it on. The lamp will move with you, but the rays will move at c. You will see the rays move a bit more or less than c, and that will be how fast you move.

Takeshi's Challenge

As a kid, I had dreams. Nothing big. Nothing unachievable. I just wanted to be a race car driver. I figured there were so many professional drivers out there racing in so many leagues that I'd fit in somewhere, anyway.

It sounds weird to say now, but I spent years mentally preparing myself to be a mediocre race car driver. I didn't need to grab the checkered flag every time, I figured, but if I could manage to be just good enough to keep my sponsors happy, I could probably race cars for the rest of my life.

Just Doing Some More Thinking

I think I discovered the magic of emulation in 1996. And it fascinated me. It was more like a dream come true than anything; ever since I rented Dragon Warrior IV from the local video store and the following years in which I never saw it again, I had always had a secret stupid wish that it would be ported to PC, which at the time was the only way I could have played it. It's funny that even when I first found out about ROMs and whatnot, Dragon Warrior IV wouldn't even be emulated properly for two more years.

Unicode in Japan

Around the mid '90s the general anger of the Japanese IT and typography community seems to have shifted away from JIS and toward Unicode, which perhaps reflects the increasing irrelevance of new JIS standards.

The Online Video Game Atlas

Magic Temple (Rainbow Drop)

How to Write a Great Game

Like last year and the year before that, there were too many games where it was obvious from the first few turns that they weren't going to be great, and it seemed like it was time to address the issue.

The Big List of RPG Plots

All of the plots here can provide a tried-and-true, simple structure, and structure is all you need a plot for in a roleplaying game. Remember to play to the strengths of the medium — most all of which are about character, not plot. Only in an RPG can you experience a fictional character on a personal, first-hand level. Outline your adventures to make the most of that.

So You Want to Be a Pixel Artist?

Ah yes, the grass tile. Generally the first tile anyone does, because hey, if you're making an RPG, and you plan to have it take place on a world, you're probably going to need grass.

Nathan Rabin interviews Redman

Yeah, I smoke weed. Nah, nigga. Were you willing to do a movie about it, motherfucker? Were you willing to talk about it on every album you do and represent it? Were you ready to be looked at as a marijuana representative?

And I think that's a big fucking difference.


Other musicians say to me, Oh, you're an arrogant dickhead, because you say you're the number one entertainer in the world. How can you say that? My response to that is, If it's not the best, then why should I waste people's time? If I can't say that it's good, that it's worth seeing, then why should I expect people to pay me money? Isn't it worse to be like, Here's some shit I made, but you're going to buy it because you're an idiot?

Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives

I don't buy the argument that the economy caused Circuit City's failure. Take one look at its competitors, and you know that the market for consumer electronics and computer equipment remains strong, even in this economy. You can walk into any Apple Store and see large crowds of people lining up to buy computers and iPods. But enough has been said about how wonderful Apple is. I want to tell you about another first-class consumer electronics retailer — a much smaller business you probably haven't been to, unless you live in New York City or are a professional photographer or an avid hobbyist.

Joe Nishizawa

In order to shoot [the nuclear power station], I wore three-layer protective [gear] and the camera was wrapped around with plastic and tapes. Also I was told that this power station has to stop for a full month — in case I accidentally dropped the camera. This totally freaked me out, so I had to put an extra camera strap around my neck, attach the camera firmly to the tripod leaning extra cautiously over the fence with the PR personnel from the power station holding my legs tight . . . .

Akiyoshi's Illusion Pages

Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately.

Everything You'll Ever Learn

Ebbinghaus showed that it's possible to dramatically improve learning by correctly spacing practice sessions. On one level, this finding is trivial; all students have been warned not to cram. But the efficiencies created by precise spacing are so large, and the improvement in performance so predictable, that from nearly the moment Ebbinghaus described the spacing effect, psychologists have been urging educators to use it to accelerate human progress. After all, there is a tremendous amount of material we might want to know.

David Foster Wallace in the Believer

We live today in a world where most of the really important developments in everything from math and physics and astronomy to public policy and psychology and classical music are so extremely abstract and technically complex and context-dependent that it's next to impossible for the ordinary citizen to feel that they (the developments) have much relevance to her actual life. Where even people in two closely related sub-sub-specialties have a hard time communicating with each other because their respective s-s-s's require so much special training and knowledge. . . . It might be that one of the really significant problems of today's culture involves finding ways for educated people to talk meaningfully with one another across the divides of radical specialization.

The Emacs Problem

The whole nasty configuration problem becomes incredibly more convenient in the Lisp world. No more stanza files, apache-config, .properties files, XML configuration files, Makefiles — all those lame, crappy, half-language creatures that you wish were executable, or at least loaded directly into your program without specialized processing. I know, I know — everyone raves about the power of separating your code and your data. That's because they're using languages that simply can't do a good job of representing data as code. But it's what you really want, or all the creepy half-languages wouldn't all evolve towards being Turing-complete, would they?

Thoughts on Editors

One problem is that both Emacs and I are growing old. For Emacs, it means that its complexity is progressively increasing, and for me, that this ability to understand complex things is slowly melting.

Behind the scenes with why the lucky stiff

What hardware are you using?

I sip from a peach-colored ring mottle glass lo-ball. The ice cubes I use are semi-circular, and the ice tray itself is a misty blue plastic. My freezer allows 3 trays vertically. The strength of the freezer goes up to 5, but I am personally satisfied with leaving it at 2.

A Little Anti-Anti-Hype

The thrust of Eckel's article appears to be that hyper-enthusiasm is diminishing the Ruby camp's message, and it's spoiling a good gentleman's argument. Those darn hyper-enthusiasts are focusing relentlessly on how cool Ruby is and how much they like it, when what's really needed here is a balanced, objective, neutral, moderated, standards-based, point-by-point, academic discussion of Python vs. Ruby, in which we can all make well-informed decisions, and may the best language win . . . .



Classic Rm2k/3 Games

Craze had one month to produce a quality game or he'd have to wear a dress. He failed to do both, but what he did produce is available here.

ika: a game engine

ika offers what we feel is the ideal midway point between the flexibility of completely programming a game from scratch and the ease of using a program that handles all programming-related tasks for you. You'll have to program everything such as text boxes, but ika provides the boring engine-related tasks such as how to draw things on screen, the map engine, and gives you a much friendlier language in Python.

A Place to Start for the Future Programmer

. . . I spent half of my time just trying to come up with fun, interesting exercises. Boring exercises absolutely kill any desire to program, while the perfect exercise creates an itch the new programmer can't help but scratch.

Lightweight Language Ring


Building Communities with Software

IRC users organize themselves around bot warfare because the software doesn't let you reserve a channel. Usenet threads are massively redundant because the original Usenet reader, rn, designed for 300 baud modems, never shows you old posts, only new ones, so if you want to nitpick about something someone said, you had to quote them or your nitpick won't make sense.


The author's profile said he lived in Kyoto. Neat, so do I.

Nyanco 100


Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena

As Purkinje put it: Illusions of the senses tell us the truth about perception.

Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972

We received a lot of letters about the underhand ways in which Fischer was trying to influence Spassky's mind. Starting with some sort of power source allegedly installed in a submarine somewhere or in the Keflavik and finishing with the idea that a generator has been installed in Fischer's chair. And every time he got up he shifted the chair, and the generator would come on and this would direct rays at Spassky. Then Fischer would return to his chair, sit down again, and the device would be switched off.

Fluorescent Field

Realized in February 2004 while he [Richard Box] was Artist-in-Residence of the Physics Department at Bristol University, the project involved over a thousand fluorescent bulbs planted underneath high voltage AC transmission lines. Unwired, the bulbs drew energy from the surrounding electromagnetic radiation and lit up, making for what must have been a marvelous sight.

Gold Stars 1992-2002

The people you would really fall in love with will almost always fail half of what you thought were your tests.

Mersenne Primes

It was obvious to Mersenne's peers that he could not have tested all of these numbers (in fact he admitted as much), but they could not test them either. It was not until over 100 years later, in 1750, that Euler verified the next number on Mersenne's and Regius' lists, 231-1, was prime.



No Resistance

Socialist writer and textile artist William Morris said, You can't have art without resistance in the materials.

Fast Antialiasing

When I read through SIGGRAPH proceedings and other state-of-the-art computer-graphics material, all too often I feel like I'm dining at a four-star restaurant with two-year-old triplets and an empty wallet. We're talking incredibly inappropriate technology for PC graphics here. Sure, I say to myself as I read about an antialiasing technique, that sounds wonderful — if I had 24-bpp color, and dedicated hardware to do the processing, and all day to wait to generate one image. Yes, I think, that is a good way to do hidden surface removal — in a system with hardware z-buffering. Most of the stuff in Computer Graphics is riveting, but, alas, pretty much useless on PCs. When an 80x86 has to do all the work, speed becomes the overriding parameter, especially for real-time graphics.

Origin of Quake3's Fast InvSqrt()

Given the amount of math it does, and its accuracy, and not requiring a table, it is a pretty great piece of code.


Rinia is the slow but hardworking android. On some jobs she does very well, on others she would spend lots of time and effort but still fail. . . .

Minotaur China Shop

In the game you, The Minotaur, must navigate your new shop, delivering various items to a stream of fantastical (but paying!) customers. However, being a big, clumsy minotaur, this is easier said than done. You will often find yourself knocking over and breaking your own precious inventory. Break enough and you will enter minotaur rage, a crippling psychological condition. Fortunately, your insurance covers any damage done while enraged.

List of films ordered by uses of the word fuck

Chopped into Timy Peices

The language you allow is very inappropriate and you give a bad name to the internet in general.

Imaginary Girlfriends

With an Imaginary Girlfriend, you can carry on a completely fictitious, yet authentic-looking relationship with the girl of your choice.

The Nice Guy

The Nice Guy is a bold philosophical statement for the new millennium; a work of unrivalled insight in the field of internet comic strips. It takes the time to not only formulate, but objectively prove its radical and challenging hypothesis: If you are single, it is everyone else's fault.


That was Arachnor. He says he'll be here in fifteen minutes.

Audio in Linux is awesome

[Step 17:] Look at the Ardour interface. Decide that (1) it's not what I want, and (2) dear god that is ugly. Is that Tk? Motif? Holy hell. Run away.

Why is Tk still the standard GUI toolkit in so many languages?

There's more to this discussion than Tk is ugly and outdated.

How to Write a GNOME Application

You must have a g somewhere in the gname. Extra credit if you can make it a gn. If you can use gnu or gno or gna you are gnawesome, and your app is already worth using. Make sure the name of your app bears no relevance to what it actually does. Also, never document if the g is pronounced with the hard-g sound.

E-mail Addresses It Would Be Really Annoying to Give Out Over the Phone

Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?

In thinking about how computers and people interact, I find some older, pre-computer movies to be more relevant — the ones where people who work with machines and automated processes become subservient to the rhythm of the machine. I'm thinking of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), where an odd feedback system requires people to run the machines by responding to their commands. . . .

Although these scenes are often played for laughs, they seem to reflect our fear of being forced into a dehumanizing relationship with a machine that imposes its jerky digital rhythm on our normally analogue souls. These encounters leave an imprint on both minds and our bodies. In I Am a Fugitive from a Slave Gang (1932), a convict who is set free from the chain gang walks away still shuffling his feet as if his ankles are still bound with the chains. Similarly, four years later in Modern Times, Chaplin walks home from work with his arms still twitching in the rhythm of the machine.

my wrists and welcome to them

For several years I had pretty severe wrist pain, and it terrified me. I had these visions of me with withered stumps at the ends of my arms, trying to limp along using speech-recognition software, and my career being over.

Ergonomic Workspace Planner

Follow the three steps below when planning your workstation. The values displayed will help you place your equipment for optimum ergonomic comfort.

Great Streets, Campuses, and Pedestrian Nostalgia

Something I think about more and more lately is the possibility that Americans get as nostalgic as they do about college — identifying themselves as graduates of certain universities to a degree, and with a passion, that I genuinely think is alien to most cultures — whatever that means — not simply because college represents the only four years in which they might have pursued their real interests, but because, in the United States, college is a totally different lifestyle.

You walk everywhere.

The campus where you live and study has trees, and paths, and benches to sit on. It's really nice.

No wonder you miss it.

Final Fantasy Maps

The Castle of Ordeals

David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College

The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

True Porn Clerk Stories

We thought Mr. Stiff was just a pain in the ass at first. He always needs to restate everything: how many days he gets to keep his movies, what each will cost individually, what the total will be, what specials he's eligible for, and that, yes, he will in fact get them. After a few visits, I realized that he's just covering his retardation really well. He wants to make sure he understands everything, and I think he does it in the angry, pain-in-the-ass tone of voice because it's better than being vulnerable.

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

Faith, Reason, and Doubt

Has it been too long since the resurrection of Jesus? Would it help if there were one resurrection per century, or one per generation? What about geographical remoteness? Would it help to have one resurrection per generation per hundred square miles? Would it be enough to have a team of doctors and scientists attest to each death and resurrection, or would each skeptic have to witness the events in person?

Any Excuse for a Party

Steely Dan on winning a Grammy

The Onion: How does it feel to go to the Grammys and sit with a whole new generation of music-makers who weren't even around then, let alone during the '70s?

Walter Becker: We wouldn't know, because we had Tony Bennett on one side of us and Hugh Hefner on the other.

The Onion: Did they put you in the old-guy section?

Walter Becker: I'm beginning to wonder.

The Grand Old Trade of Basket-Making

The one expression that I was not familiar with is the old trade of basket making, which our poor young hero was forced to return to. Obviously his trade was not basket-making but pickpocketing, so this does not make immediate sense. . . .

William Bowers interviews Mr. Lif

In my sophomore year, I was in whatever fucking office it was where I was supposed to pick my major, literally watching kids just slip through the curriculum guidelines, just pointing at something on a list and saying, I guess this is what I'll do for the rest of my life. It's just fucking sad. And people in college are the fucking alleged privileged people anyway. There's other people out there, their fucking family fell apart or whatever; they're working at a place at fucking 14, 16. You just get locked in.

The Long Walk Home

Scraping by and making just enough to pay the bills every month gets old fast. It doesn't do much when you wanna get married. It ain't gonna put a kid through school. Won't help you take care of your parents or any of the other shit you're expected to do. 'Specially here.

You can take care of numero uno. Get yourself up to your ass in debt. Buried in house bills. Seven credit cards chaining together a nice 80,000 yuan debt like an ernai living off the government through her minister lover. The guy who keeps telling her they will get married and have a baby next year but drops her when she hits 29 and her looks go.

Still, Though, I Worry

There is a stunning bi-racial daughter in there, being pursued by a hip-hop mogul supreme, and a Hollywood lawyer and a tyrannical father and on and on. It's ridiculous. It's transparently ridiculous. There is a character named Jett Diamond, and he is a male model fresh from Italy. I have read I never thought it would happen to me-style pornography with more respect for the reader's credulity.

The End of the Story

In this respect, Jordan put romance novels to shame: the Wheel of Time without a doubt holds the record for inexplicably extended rhapsodies over brocaded silk, embroidery, hemlines, and necklines.

Good Fun, with Plenty of Cleavage

Tina's American, so that means she's blond, wears cowboy hats, and has gigantic breasts. I mean, gigantic by even Dead or Alive standards. These babies are a sight to behold. Oh, and she's always a really strong character in the fighting games. That's why I use her. Yeah.

The Classic Gaming Expo, 2002

I'm fully aware that this article is as dorky as hell. That's kind of the point. It has to be. We're traveling across the country to see a show about old video games, for chrissakes. Just cringe and bear with me, please.

The King of Kong, continued

The story didn't end with the movie, though: Billy Mitchell, a successful restaurant owner and hot-sauce mogul in Florida, unsurprisingly took umbrage at the way he was portrayed. Though the beginning of the film paints him as a hard-working businessman who bettered himself via the same principles that made him good at gaming, it quickly casts him as a man who (a) may have sent minions to examine his rival's game console, (b) won't face a worthy opponent in a live match, (c) may have cheated to keep his title, and (d) is generally self-absorbed and awful. To what degree those things are true is a matter of debate. While Mitchell claims to this day that he hasn't seen the movie, he insists (in the few interviews he's given) that he was portrayed unfairly, and that the film is inaccurate. That's where The A.V. Club was willing to leave things — with an excellent documentary that, like all documentaries, can't possibly paint a completely accurate picture. Until about a week before the DVD release of The King Of Kong, when Billy Mitchell called our office.


It is still my feeling that it is completely unacceptable to go around laying hands on random strangers, and I am particularly enraged by the sense of entitlement that this guy exhibited — Okay, she says she doesn't want me to hug her, but that doesn't compute, because I want to hug her, so I'm just going to keep asking in increasingly manipulative ways until she capitulates.

But! Here is the thing. As much as I feel this to be true, I also recognize that spontaneous touching can be a good thing. And I have no idea how to establish a code of touching etiquette that allows for good spontaneous touching and filters out the bad kind. I don't like it when things are all Antioch College with the constant permission-asking — there have been occasions when people have intuited that I wanted to be touched, and just gone ahead with the touching, and it has been really nice. Sometimes it is freeing not to have to give permission and assess the okayness of things all the time.

Junichi Uekawa's Canadian Travelogue

My plan on the plane was to enjoy myself alone on the aeroplane but since the guys sitting next to me on the plane are chatting well something makes me nervous, and weary. I should have had more luck. Alone is not the best way to travel.

I have placed a personal ad. I feel ashamed.

I hate wide open spaces and do not feel comfortable unless I'm surrounded by walls, elevated subway lines, or gigantic buildings.

Derek Walmsley interviews Kode9

There's an interesting quote by Friedrich Kitler, the German media theorist, and this is written in the '80s, at the height of the Cold War period, and it's something like discos are preparing our youth for the reaction speeds necessary for World War 3.

Paul Autonomic interviews DJ Chef

One day . . . Skream was working on some different sounding shit and I said to him why don't you make some slightly grimier sounding stuff, just throw the odd gunshot sample in there (laughs) and it would be just as good as any grime producer if you tried, he weren't too keen on the idea but the same night I got a call on my phone. It was Skream and he played me Request Line down the phone, I was like heeeaaaavy. I said to him there and then on the phone that this tune will be the tune that gets you out there and recognised, I'll never forget that moment and neither will he, I even said to the girl that I was linking at the time to remember this tune because it's going to be big.

Dan Shiovitz on Blue Lacuna

. . . It's important in a way most recent games aren't: if you're interested in IF as a genre, you should play Blue Lacuna, and there's nothing I'd rather say about a game than that.

Best of SpeedIF

SpeedIF games are often overlooked or denigrated, and usually with good reason: with only two hours to code a game, the results can be rather shoddy. Buggy. Plagued with read-author's-mind problems.

But not always. Here are a few SpeedIF games that I found enjoyable or stylistically interesting enough to qualify for a Best of SpeedIF list.

List of Unusual Deaths

1871: Clement Vallandigham, U.S. Congressman and political opponent of Abraham Lincoln, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered in court while representing the defendant in a murder case. While Vallandigham was demonstrating how the murder victim could have inadvertently shot himself, the gun, which he believed to be unloaded, discharged and mortally wounded him. The defendant was acquitted.

The Politically Incorrect Alphabet


What Are Tax Day Tea Parties Protesting?

So are the majority of the protesters worried about taxes that won't affect them? Perhaps when the tax-day protesters worry about higher taxes, they mean to protest anticipated future taxes that will result from higher present debt. (I'm certainly concerned about that!) But I'm not sure a protest in favor of the abstract notion of Ricardian equivalence has the same drama as a protest against higher taxes.

What's Wrong with Libertarianism

At this point some libertarian readers are pumping their hands in the air like a piston, anxious to explain that their ideal isn't Rothbard or von Mises or Hayek, but the Founding Fathers.

Nice try. Everybody wants the Founders on their side; but it was a different country back then — 95% agricultural, low density, highly homogenous, primitive in technology — and modern libertarianism simply doesn't apply. (The OED's citations of the word for the time are all theological.)

Заброшенная библиотека

Когда-то здесь стремились к знаниям. Теперь же лишь весенний ветерок гуляет среди книг.

How to Dry a Wet Book

These procedures are for drying one or a few wet books, and should be used in the evenings and weekends when the Preservation Department is not staffed. When the Preservation Department is staffed, bring wet or damp books immediately to the Conservation Lab for drying under controlled conditions.

Bootgod's NES Cart Database

PCB Front

PSP Loading Times

You can see from these specifications that the PSP has a memory of 32 MiB, and that UMDs have a transfer rate of 11 Mbps, so it's possible to completely fill the memory from disc in only 23 seconds. Anything noticeably longer than this is an sign that the developers could have done better.

Final Fantasy Tactics

As a strategy game . . . FFT has double the problems and pitfalls of Tactics Ogre; the nice, interesting job system from FF3/5; and problems with the job system that FF5 did not have. In my honest opinion, though there is an interesting variety of jobs and abilities, FFT is not a very playable game.

Ghosts 'n Goblins in 21:45

I asked the employee if he had seen the new Super Metroid speedrun. He said no, but had I seen the one where the guy beats Ghosts 'n Goblins in 23 minutes?

Zero's Impossible Fortress

For years Emperor Zero the terrible has been trying to snatch the fair maiden. But every time, the hero has foiled his plans by traversing his elaborately designed, but not impossible, fortresses and jumping on his head — thus saving the fair maiden.

But not this time. Zero has had it. The hero has foiled his plans for the LAST time. This time, he's just going to neglect to add the platforms to his carefully designed fortress and watch as the hero haplessly falls into the pit over and over until it's game over — on the first level!


Book World

Enter a new world.

Radiskull & Devil Doll Fan Art from Ayano Koshiro

Hello, I'm Ayano from Japan. I love Radiskull and Devil Doll very very much. I really enjoy watching R&DD everyday!!! Devil Doll is so cute, especially his dance!

Great Soul LPs

I wouldn't want to live without . . . Curtis (Curtis Mayfield): Awesome, positive soul that makes you believe you can do anything.

My History with Forth & Stack Machines

Look at the chips he's making. 144-core, but the cores (nodes) are tiny — why would you want them big, if you feel that you can do anything with almost no resources? And they use 18-bit words. Presumably under the assumption that 18 bits is a good quantity, not too small, not too large.


If you haven't run across it, one day you will. The game with fonts or graphics nothing can view or edit. Maybe it's 7x8, 14x18, 16x11 or some other insanely inefficient size. Maybe it just happens to have an incredibly jacked-up byte ordering. Or maybe you just want to edit graphics the way they look without playing Humpty-Dumpty in a limited, tile editor workspace.

Rule-Based Programming in Interactive Fiction

. . . How am I really using Inform 6? I'm not looking at objects and then deciding what methods to override. Rather, I'm thinking up conditions, and then working out what objects and methods I6 wants me to attach them to. I feel like I'm designing my game and then porting it to I6.

The question, then, is what language am I porting it to I6 from?

How Did We Get Here?

With the eventual popularity of HTML and the web, it is easy to forget the contemporary formats and systems that informed its design. Andrew? Intermedia? HyTime? And HyTime was not some rinky-dink academic research project; it was an ISO standard. It was approved for military use. It was Big Business. And you can read about it yourself — on this HTML page, in your web browser.

A Brief Introduction to XULRunner

The best analogy to explain XULRunner is to imagine the Firefox web browser, stripped of its user interface. That means, Firefox without anything the user can see, touch, or interact with in any way. On the surface, this sounds like Firefox just goes away in a poof with a press of the delete key. But really, that's all the Firefox part of the application is: the user interface. The hidden engine that makes it all come together as Firefox is XULRunner.

フェニックス3.5 / Phoenix


Instructions for Simple Origami Swan

Think about this for a minute. You are learning a new SYMBOL LANGUAGE!

Peter Norvig on SICP

Donald Knuth says he wrote his books for the one person in 50 who has this strange way of thinking that makes a programmer. I think the most amazing thing about SICP is that there are so few people who hate it: if Knuth were right, then only 1 out of 50 people would be giving this 5 stars, instead of about 25 out of 50. Now, a big part of the explanation is that the audience is self-selected, and is not a representative sample. But I think part of it is because Sussman and Abelson have succeeded grandly in communicating this strange way of thinking to (some but not all) people who otherwise would never get there.

How to Stop Procrastinating

I'm a very rational guy, and one would think that it wouldn't be difficult for me to say to myself, Rationally, your life will be much better if you pay your bills now, instead of waiting a few weeks, and force myself to do it immediately. But it doesn't work.

A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages

1964 — John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz create BASIC, an unstructured programming language for non-computer scientists.

1965 — Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964.

Unfamiliar Beatles Tracks

It's fascinating to investigate the micro-history of this Ur-vocal-drone. The Beatles were mad about The Everly Brothers, as was La Monte Young who loved their intonation and their intense sine-wave vocals. Who's working with La Monte in New York, years before Lennon had heard of her? Yoko Ono.

Uschi Obermaier

Obermaier moved from Munich to the Berlin-based Kommune 1 after Rainer Langhans had become her boyfriend. Obermaier and Langhans talked openly to the media about their relationship, becoming symbols of the sexual revolution. Some commentators in Germany claim that John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among others, followed their example.

Reasons to Be Cheerful

In true burnout style, nobody in these scenes bothers too much with appearance: The doom dudes tend to be bearded fuglies, the noiseniks often look like they crawled out of a sewer, and dubsteppers are mostly whey-faced British boys in nondescript street wear. Nobody even knows what Burial looks like (except his label, Hyperdub). These underground sound-boys and noise-girls reject modern pop's subordination to the visual, its iconographic culture oriented around photo shoots and videogenic charisma.

Georges Simenon

He adopted the disguise — never more than when he was promoting one of his books — of the dapper writer, puffing on his pipe, and obscuring himself with phenomenal statistics. The figures associated with him are so extravagant that he seems a victim of them — the numerous novels, the 500 million copies sold, the fifty-five changes of address, and his often-quoted boast that he bedded 10,000 women. (His second wife put the figure at no more than 1,200.)

Writing in the Age of Distraction

The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn't help my writing.


What's more, a manual typewriter is a powerful antidote to authorial dawdling, that propensity to continually re-edit a sentence or a paragraph — thereby imparting the feeling of working without really working — instead of continuing to write new sentences or paragraphs instead. Unlike word processors or even the simplest text editors, manual typewriters don't allow you to easily re-edit, insert and revise a sentence once it's been committed to paper. This makes for an entirely different writing experience: the ideas come first, and the act of finessing them, of word-smithing, comes after all the ideas have been set to paper.

The Typewriter-Keyboard Conversion

In a regular keyboard, each keypress completes a circuit. There's a little circuit board in there and I mapped all the connections from one terminal to another. This was then replicated inside the typewriter by wires going from the circuit board to strips of adhesive lamé, which contact their counterparts when a key is pressed. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that . . . .

An Illustrated Guide to Cryptographic Hashes

One iteration within the SHA-1 compression function.

What makes mathematics hard to learn?

I asked a younger child how much is 15 and 15 and she quickly answered, I think it's 30. I asked how she figured that out so fast and she replied, Well, everyone knows that 16 and 16 is 32, and then I subtracted the extra 1's.

Traditional teacher: Your answer is right but your method was wrong: you should add the two 5's to make a 10; then write down a 0 and carry a 1, and then add it to the other two 1's. (Note that the child's method is not wrong, and is not an approximation.) The traditional emphasis on accuracy leads to weakness of ability to make order-of-magnitude estimates — whereas this particular child already knew and could use enough powers of 2 to make approximations that rivaled some adults' abilities.

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

At the University of Illinois in the 1970s I, along with my then graduate student Carol Diener, asked 60 fifth graders to think out loud while they solved very difficult pattern recognition problems. Some students reacted defensively to mistakes, denigrating their skills with comments such as I never did have a good rememory, and their problem-solving strategies deteriorated.

Others, meanwhile, focused on fixing errors and honing their skills. One advised himself: I should slow down and try to figure this out. Two schoolchildren were particularly inspiring. One, in the wake of difficulty, pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips and said, I love a challenge! The other, also confronting the hard problems, looked up at the experimenter and approvingly declared, I was hoping this would be informative! Predictably, the students with this attitude outperformed their cohorts in these studies.

Appendix has purpose

The function of the human appendix has long been a matter of debate, with the structure often considered to be a vestige of evolutionary development despite evidence to the contrary based on comparative primate anatomy. The appendix is thought to have some immune function based on its association with substantial lymphatic tissue, although the specific nature of that putative function is unknown. . . . We propose that the human appendix is well suited as a safe house for commensal bacteria, providing support for bacterial growth and potentially facilitating re-inoculation of the colon in the event that the contents of the intestinal tract are purged following exposure to a pathogen.

Ten Reasons Why Beer Is Better

Beer Consumption in Major Countries, 2004

All regions except for Oceania have demonstrated growth, boosting the worldwide consumption volume. The growing Asian market has pushed the world consumption volume up, and is coming close to Europe, which is the largest beer market.

The Physics of Medieval Archery

It is sobering to combine these facts with some historical data. Henry had approximately 5,000 archers at Agincourt, and a stock of about 400,000 arrows. Each archer could shoot about ten arrows a minute, so the army only had enough ammunition for about eight minutes of shooting at maximum fire power. However, this fire power would have been devastating. Fifty thousand arrows a minute — over 800 a second — would have hissed down on the French cavalry, killing hundreds of men a minute and wounding many more. The function of a company of medieval archers seems to have been equivalent to that of a machine-gunner, so in modern terms we can imagine Agincourt as a battle between old-fashioned cavalry, supported by a few snipers (crossbow-men) on the French side, against a much smaller army equipped with machine guns.

Perl, Haskell, and the forthcoming age of enlightenment

There is a [version control system] named darcs, which is much more flexible, but is specced using quantum physics language and written in a scary language called Haskell. So, I spent one month doing nothing but learning Haskell, so I could understand darcs. Which worked well; I convinced a crazy client . . . that Perl 5 is doomed because it has no [copy-on-write] (which, surprisingly, it now has), and to fund me to develop an alternate library using Haskell.

Mihai Budiu interviews Brian Kernighan

I honestly don't know why the functional languages don't succeed. For instance ML, which is arguably the best combination, perhaps the one that ought to succeed: in spite of being a very well designed language, thought hard about by a lot of good people over a very long time, embodying an enormous amount of effort of compiler technology, still does not seem to be broadly used. I will oversimplify a lot, and probably offend my friends, by saying that the only thing people do with ML is to make ML compilers.

IF Decompilers

This page contains my decompilers for several interactive fiction VMs. They are in various stages of (in)completion. All are written in Haskell.

Tour de Babel

So if you don't like what I'm saying about about C++, go become an expert at a better language . . . and then you'll be armed to disagree with me. You won't, though. I'll have tricked you. You won't like C++ anymore, and you might be irked that I tricked you into disliking your ex-favorite language. So maybe you'd better just forget about all this. C++ is great. Really. It's just ducky. Forget what I said about it. It's fine.

Your Band Name Sucks

45. Arctic Monkeys

I regret to admit that the word monkey, & the concept of monkeys in general, have been so milked of their fun & awesomeness, that by the time this band came around, it had already run dry. So how do they remedy the situation? By putting the monkeys in a hilariously different climate! Also, it's generally a good idea to not call your band something that sounds like it should be getting shot at by Mega Man X.

Replacement Docs

Capcom Game Pak Instructions

Dabblers and Blowhards

All of these statements are wrong, or dumb, or both, and yet they are sprinkled through various essays like raisins in a fruitcake, with no further justification, and the reader is expected to enjoy the chewy burst of flavor and move on to the next tidbit.

Progress Quest

Progress Quest belongs to a new breed of fire and forget RPGs. There is no need to interact with Progress Quest at all; it will make progress with you or without you.

Webcasting Legality

One of the more absurd things about this system is the triple-billing that occurs. Consider the scenario of a retail store that has the radio on. That store is expected to pay ASCAP/BMI for the privilege of playing music. But here's what you get when you do the math: ASCAP/BMI got paid when the radio station bought the CDs; ASCAP/BMI got paid again when the radio station paid their broadcasting license fees; ASCAP/BMI got paid a third time when the store paid their broadcasting license fees.

Kid Kameleon

Please, download, distribute, Limewire, Kazaa, SoulSeek, bittorrent, whatever the mix to as many people as possible. That's how good music spreads.

Indian Music Part Two

If you're looking for deep contemplative music, something to run alongside the subterranean streams of electronica, then with Indian classical music you're sorted. The music is elegiac and sweetly uplifting, even divinely fulfilling. Recovering from the scariest trip of my life (the point at which I vowed, successfully, no more drugs!) . . . listening to dub reggae threatened to suck me into another aspect. It was L. Subramaniam's violin playing and Pannallal Ghosh's flute, so squarely and honestly expanded, open to the infinite spiritual horizon, that gently grounded me, without denying the logic of trans-dimensional experiences. Woah!

The Turkey City Lexicon

Let's get out of here, he said, urging her to leave.

Compiled 2010. Home. Contact. Privacy Statement.