Category Archives: Games

Expertise

“Everyone is ignorant, just in different subjects” – Will Rogers

I sometimes commiserate with other workers in the service sector of our corporate reality, that allegedly brilliant lawyers, stockbrokers, even policy-makers cannot seem to find a book or order a sandwich intelligently to save their lives. I am not implying that this invalidates their other skills, just illustrating how none of us are as smart as we think we are.

This phenomenon can be illustrated by the way people interact with my room. One friend of mine, amidst party-goers and video-game players, managed to effortlessly peruse my vinyl collection (even pointing out a miscategorization) and select three musical gems in succession. Others would not have been adept at operating a record player, no matter how new. Different people react differently and with varying levels of interest, curiosity, and affinity to my eclectic bookshelf. Even more counter-cultural types will be drawn to the sticker wall, perhaps recognizing a street art hero or adding to it themselves.

I noticed that a recent visitor, compatriot and video-game enthusiast who stayed on my couch was immediately familiar with the whirring sound an XBox makes while the controller is left in to charge. He unplugged it before drifting off to sleep, but others would’ve (and have) been confused, not knowing the sound’s origin, how to stop it, or been mistaken as to its utility. Compare this to the complex usage of remote controls on my system, which is nearly impossible for anyone to master.

At this point, my girlfriend knows nearly everything about my room, its contents and workings. I’m really not all that complicated.

Even the video games themselves offer a microcosm of the diverse talents, skill sets and interests available to the general population. Many require Halo or some other FPS to really excel and be entertained. My girlfriend and many others only seem truly fulfilled by Action/Adventure RPGs, such as Skyrim, Fable, or Fallout. Almost everyone has some patience for a good puzzle game, like Braid, but with their own level of competency. Throw in a classic copy of MarioKart, however, and you really start to see some sparks fly. A rare few seem able to dominate any gametype. And most people who visit, ‘hang out’ or party have no interest or skill in video games at all.

The possible extrapolations of which really have me thinking. It’s not that Jamie Dimon is an idiot, I’m sure he’s very skilled and competent at dominating and cheating the system. He just has no patience and knowledge of how ridiculous he looks lying in front of Congress. It’s not that Mitt Romney misspeaks when he alienates the “lower classes” using Ivy League, Ayn Rand 1% rhetoric. He just doesn’t understand, he isn’t experienced, and can’t comprehend what America means to most Americans.

This does not excuse them, of course, from pretending to know what’s best for everyone, while really only serving their own self-interests.

Whether they are attempting to preach economists (while refuting the top economic analysts), make claims about science (while contradicting leading scientists), or speak for the American people (in spite of the protests of their constituents and customers), the authoritarian types can’t seem to stop “being experts” on everything! It’s really quite remarkable, what with all the information that’s out there, that any one person could make such a claim, and assume they are 100% correct.

If I came over to your house and started rearranging your kitchen utensils based on my own knowledge of culinary efficiency, I would be in no proper context at all. I am neither a chef, nor am I as intimately familiar with your organizational comfort level and and ease-of-use as you are.

Whenever the rich, the pundits, the legislators, the lawyers, the demagogues, the elites, and the corporate mouthpieces try to appeal to authority, make sure you ask, on whose authority, anyway? More often than not, they’re speaking out of their ass, scientifically speaking.

Status Impossible

I have long thought about the status bars in my life, and the appropriate relative comparisons made to video games like the Sims and Grand Theft Auto. And beyond some simple Tetris effect, as we enmesh with technology even more concretely, these descriptions become even more applicable and important.

Jesse Schell (When games invade real life) has made some excellent points about this, as well as NY Times technology blogger Nick Bilton, in his book I Live in the Future & Here’s How it Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted.

Game achievements and status completion in games can reflect what we do in our newly augmented reality; downloads of content, how much of the entertainment you have consumed, work progress, to do lists, all of it can be broken down into percentages and infographic representations. At one point, I even made little bars for my bookshelf, so that I could be reminded how many of those books I had read, and how many I still needed to crack open.

At the same time I think about my purposefully created memories in this temporary experience:

I have formed my memories by accident.
Though some I have made my own.
They stick out in a swampish sea floating like bouys against a throng
A waving flag in front of the Federal building in Pittsburgh, PA
As I was about to sign my life away
The yellow halo of a girl’s auburn hair
knowing she could never be mine but in that moment didn’t care
The evening I lost my virginity, the look in her eyes
And not knowing the role I would be doomed to reprise
Stuck in a ditch on a field trip, mud sucking at my shoe
hoping to not get caught, my friend not knowing what to do
A tree during recess, its sun-dried leaves pockmarked and empty
the hard carcasses of bugs left as the wind grew cold and wintry
A stolen toy, an unfelt guilt, a growing phobia, unheard accusations
Maroon and brown, like wood grain,
pulpy wet and bright, popping, blaring pain, light.
Or perhaps I’ve never remembered them, but simply a broken reference link,
I’ve fooled myself into remembering that I did remember them.

and how your free-roam experience in sandbox games is sometimes enhanced most by mere urban exploration. And though the work of these video game designers today is mind-boggling, it still pales in comparison by many orders of magnitude to the level of detail still available “IRL”. Geocaching, foursquare, and yelp are all allowing us to interact in new ways with terrain, businesses and environments that may have previously been background, to see more of the NPCs that make up our cities and staff its shops and restaurants.

With the nearly endless number of businesses, buildings, and public spaces in your metropolitan area, how could you ever hope to traverse them all (of those allowable), or even provide a statistic or percentage? Subdivide your map and think about how many you might reasonably explore and learn, so that when you walk by them in the future, they may each hold a particular experience or fleeting memory of this experiment.

Could you traverse or trespass every square foot? How long would it take you to fill that bar? To get that achievement?

Because after all, it all may turn out to have been a video game experience all along…

Bits

2010-09-04

We’ll gather every bit in this modulated tribute to video game chiptunes and gloriously remixed heroes of yesteryear (the 1980’s) by they mysterious elves, robot boys, vampire killers or Italian plumbers.

PLAYLIST
RADIx – Mountain King – RADIX
Bit Shifter – The Uncertainty Principle – Life’s a Bit Shifter
Sergeeo – Blue in Green – Kind of Bloop
8-Bit Operators – The Robots – Tribute to Kraftwerk
Vangelis – Blade Runner (End Titles) – Blade Runner Trilogy
Rush – Subdivisions – Chronicles
Anamanaguchi – Blackout City – Dawn Metropolis
Brian LeBarton – Threshold – Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
8-Bit Weapon – Crazy Comets (Orbital Decay Mix) – Confidential 2.0
Beck – Gameboy/Homeboy (Que’ Onda Guero) [Remix by 8-Bit] – GameBoy Variations (Hell Yes Remix)
Astroboy – Bubble Bobble Remix – OCRemix
The Laziest Men on Mars – Invasion of the Gabber Robots
Koji Kondo – Super Mario Bros.
Minibosses – MegaMan 2 – Minibosses
The Protomen – The Sons Of Fate – The Protomen
Metroid Metal – Sector 1 – Varia Suite
Powerglove – So Sexy Robotnik – Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man
Residents – Love Leaks Out – Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Mas…8Bitpeoples – Hidden Dangers – Rawk Hard
McVaffe – Undergroud Riddims – OC Remix
Slim Thug & Mike Jones – Still Tippin’ – Ocarina of Rhyme
Army of the Pharoahs & King Syze – Bloody Tears – Ritual of Battle
MC Chris – Robotussin – Life’s a Bitch and I’m her Pimp
Extended Famm – Line Drop – Happy F*ck You Songs
Zee-roh – Galaga Galagzee – OC Remix
Group X – Mario Twins – Stepping on the crowtch of your americain presidaint

Stranger in a Strange Land 2010-09-04: Bits by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

THEORIES

2010-04-24

Call and tell me about the mysteries of the world around you, and perhaps we can try to unravel them together. What are the differences between news, gossip, general knowledge?

Sound clips from Ron Paul, Jesse Schell, and some great tunes…

PLAYLIST
Marimba Bells – In The Hall Of The Mountain King
Mother Earth – Apple Green – The People Tree
Buckethead – Ghost Riders in the Dub – Bootsy Collins and the Japanese Connection
Santana – Latin Tropical
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Lenny – Texas Flood
The Illinois Speed Press – Hard Luck Story – The Illinois Speed Press
Bo Diddley – Bad Trip – Where it All Began
Al Anthony – Ebb Tide – Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 6: Rhapsodesia
Suzanne Vega – Blood Makes Noise – Reaction
Fleetwood Mac – Tusk
Rotary Connection – I Am the Black Gold of the Sun – Nuyorican Soul
The Doors – Love Street
Wanda Robinson – A Possibility (Back Home) – The Doors of Perception
Pretty Lights – Switch Up – Taking Up Your Precious Time
Jamiroquai – Cosmic Girl – Cosmic Girl – EP
US3 – Much 2 Much – Hand On the Torch
Dudley Perkins – Flowers – Peanut Butter Wolf’s Jukebox 45s
Kosma – Atlantis – Early Works
Parov Stelar – If I Had You – Seven and Seven
Fugees – Zealots – The Score
Superscientifiku With Peter Um – Scientifik Jazztet – How We Gonna Fail Now
Lemongrass – Journey to a Star
Bonobo – Shadowtricks – Animal Magic
Amon Tobin – Nightlife – Permutation
Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombone – Swordfishtrombones
Hardy’s Jet Band – Selected Sound
Tin Hat Trio – Hotel Aurora – Book of Silk

Stranger in a Strange Land 2010-04-24: Theories by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

The Big Lebowski Game

YOU WILL NEED
vodka (or rum)
cream, milk, or half & half
Kahlua or Tia Maria
ice
‘Old-Fashioned’ glasses
that good Sasparilla root beer
PBR and Miller High Life beer
weed rolled into joints
In-n-Out Burgers

must drink a Caucasian whenever the Dude does
must ‘do a j’ when the Dude does
must sip either beer or that good Sasparilla when ‘the Dude’ is said
when ‘fuck it man, let’s go bowling’ is said
when ‘shut the fuck up, Donnie’ is said
whenever someone says ‘Johnson’ or ‘Marmot’
whenever someone gets a strike
must make ‘one hell of a Caucasian’ when Jackie Treehorn does
must eat In-n-Out burgers when they appear on screen

In the order of the resolution of some climactic suspenseful cliffhangers:

So I finally have a job. I will be working in a bookstore, which is something that SHOULD have happened to me eight years and thirty-six days ago, already. Oy! And with the kvetching, even! And to let you ease back off the edge of your seat; yes, I found a website with cool games. http://pixeljam.com/ They only have a couple for now, but they’re pretty addictive.
But that’s not what you were really expecting me to talk about. You all expected me to talk about.. birefringence. So without much further ado (ado? a doo? adieu? fais do-do? hm):
AMAZINGLY TRUE FACTS ABOUT BIREFRINGENCY!!
1. Birefringence is a property of birefringency.
2. Birefringency results when isotropic materials are deformed such that the isotropy is lost in one direction
3. To be a little more quantitative, since the index of refraction of a material is defined as the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to that in the material, we have for this case, ne = c/V| | and no = c/V^ for the velocities of a wave travelling perpendicular to the director and polarized parallel and perpendicular to the director, so that the maximum value for the birefringence, Dn = ne – no.
4. More generally, birefringence can be defined by considering a dielectric permittivity and a refractive index that are tensors.
5. The effects of birefringent material result from its anisotropy, which often shows a strong temperature dependence, vanishing at the nematic to isotropic phase transition.
6. Birefringency may arise from molecular organisation of the material (form birefringence.), alignment of molecules due to tension (stress birefringence.) or alignment of rod like particles in flow (flow birefringence).
7. If the material has a single axis of anisotropy or optical axis, (i.e. it is uniaxial) birefringence can be formalised by assigning two different refractive indices to the material for different polarizations.
8. High birefringence induced by elliptical air hole photonic crystal fibers (EHPCFs) is analyzed numerically using the finite-element method. Ellipsometry can also be used to measure the phase change in birefringent materials
9. Applying a magnetic field can cause a material to be circularly birefringent.
10. Birefringence can be observed in amyloid plaque deposits such as are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s victims. Modified proteins such as immunoglobulin light chains abnormally accumulate between cells, forming fibrils. Multiple folds of these fibers line up and take on a beta-pleated sheet conformation. Congo red dye intercalates between the folds and, when observed under polarized light, causes birefringence.
11. Biaxial birefringence, also known as trirefringence, (or alternately, trirefringency), describes an anisotropic material that has more than one axis of anisotropy. For such a material, the refractive index tensor will in general have three distinct eigenvalues
12. Birefringency and related optical effects (such as optical rotation and linearly birefringent uniaxial crystalline materials characterised by having a unique optic axis of symmetry, or circular dichroism) can be measured by polarimetry.
13. Birefringency is a property of birefringence.
14. Needle aspiration of fluid from a gouty joint will reveal negatively birefringent urate crystals.
15. In biochemistry, flow birefringence is a hydrodynamic technique for measuring the rotational diffusion constants (or, equivalently, the rotational drag coefficients. The equilibrium between two processes as a function of the flow provides a measure of the axial ratio of the ellipsoidal particle.
16. Crystals possessing birefringence include hexagonal (such as calcite), tetragonal, and trigonal crystal classes exhibit birefringence, and are known as uniaxial, the oft cited example is rhombohedron calcite. Silicon carbide, also known as Moissanite, is strongly birefringent.
17. Birefringent materials are often prone to cleavage
18. Colchicine alters the nerve birefringence response.
19. As a wavelength gets shorter, more stringent tolerances are required for low residual index inhomogeneity, anisotropy, and birefringence.
20. Applications of birefringency include retinal birefringence scanning (RBS), methods for compensating the birefringence of optical polymers by doping them with inorganic birefringent crystals, the birefringence of an isotropic material estimated when observed and/or photographed in a polarized light microscope, but in seismic applications, birefringency presents two opposing aspects.
21. Inducing stress in a material that exhibits birefringence can indicate molecular orientation.
22. A constraint related to time of flight is birefringence.
23. Violating birefringency can erase linear polarization as a wave propagates, hence measurements of polarization constrain the relevant operators.
24. Birefringency and birefringence are interchangeable terms.
25. The broadening and depolarization of pulsar average profiles may be due to the birefringence of the plasma above pulsar polar caps.
BIREFRINGENCY… AND YOU! Here are some websites to help you in your long and embattled journey through the labrynthine logic and migraine-inducing topography of BIREFRINGENCE!!
Oh. And I’ve decided to join a bunch of online dating services, stop paying taxes on the basis that there is no tax code at all, join the Flat Earth Society, and accept the moon landing as fake. (Just wait til they hear my theories on the Holocaust!)

meh

I wish I knew some cool internet games.

Nobody on the whole world-wide web will play Toki Toki Boom with me.