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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Meme Transcendant

Sometimes, in a piece otherwise intended to be humorous, some deep truth is exposed. And as all things on the internet are, it is seen by many but then forgotten almost as quickly as it appeared. But because it is special, it remains, buried deep within each of us, until at some future point someone looking for a pithy way to express something dredges it up and turns it into a meme.

I watched such a thing happen today. This piece at Wonkette, while funny in itself, is a callback to one of those great internet things that was both universally experienced and nearly forgotten.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Onion ran a number of spot-on pieces that captured the anger, sadness, confusion, and absurdity of the terrorist attacks. They were all good, but by far the most touching was this article. I'd say to go read it, but you already have. I just re-read it and it still makes me misty.

The title, plus the emotional weight of the article, made it perfect for memetization - but it was too soon. And "too soon" after 9/11 was a long time. But now, over a decade later and with bin Ladin dead and al Qaeda largely in tatters, a window has opened. All that was needed was for someone to remember - to reach back and pull that headline from the recesses of our national memory back into the daylight. Doktor Zoom was that man,1 and I personally thank him for reminding me of what might have been the best thing to come out of the post-9/11 media storm.

"Not knowing what else to do," is the perfect way to hold up a floundering response to a terrible event for the ridicule (or at least the examination) it deserves. I hope we continue to use it for a long time to come.

1 Okay, the Onion AV Club did this half a year ago, but I didn't see it, and plus, it doesn't count if the Onion does it.

Posted by Dave at 4:31 PM | Comments (0) | Tags: life, media, web

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Podcast is go.

I Podcast Magic Missile.

We've got eight episodes up and a backlog of 12+ that will go up gradually as I clear it. Most of the start is kind of random, but it's gradually settling down and getting more structure.

Posted by Dave at 12:38 AM | Comments (0) | Tags: blog, console, games, life, media, science, tabletop, web

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life stuff (good news abounds)

So things have been going pretty well lately. At first, it was really weird because my brain kept telling me it couldn't be right and the bottom was about to fall out, but after a day or two of that not happening (and some encouragement from friends), awesome just seems to have become the new normal. Here's a brief rundown of stuff that has happened lately:

Posted by Dave at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | Tags: games, life, media, tabletop, tech, web

Monday, April 16, 2012

Eight Commandments for Allies

As a friend of mine would say: "I has a sad." It's nothing serious and nothing personal, so don't worry.

No, it's sort of a "I hate to see two friends fighting" type of thing - mostly having to do with this post, its author's awesome blog (which I link to a lot), and the community he represents (people of color in tabletop gaming); and this guy, his incredible group blog, and the community he represents (speculative fiction writers, editors, and publishers).

Both of these folks and their respective communities are very progressive. They routinely advocate for equality both in their hobbies/industries and in the larger society. By all rights, Deeper in the Game and Making Light should be staunch allies. And yet, the authors and their communities don't get along. This mostly stems from an incident ignominiously dubbed "RaceFail '09".

... Read all of "Eight Commandments for Allies"

Posted by Dave at 2:55 AM | Comments (0) | Tags: activism, games, media, web

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fictional languages and real linguistics (plus a plug - scroll down)

Some authors - especially those in the speculative genres (sci-fi, fantasy) - create fictional languages for their stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) was one of the first authors to do this and probably still the most famous. Tolkien created two or three nearly-complete elven languages (loosely based on Finnish, Latin, and Welsh) as well as fragments of others for the dwarves and orcs. You can hear samples of elvish in the recent film trilogy.

Other examples of fictional languages made famous in film are Klingon (Star Trek), Na'vi (Avatar), and Dothraki (Game of Thrones). Novel artificial languages like Esperanto, Interlingua, and Lobjan have been created for real-world use, though the most successful and widely-spoken artificial language - Modern Hebrew - is a reconstruction from ancient texts.

... Read all of "Fictional languages and real linguistics (plus a plug - scroll down)"

Posted by Dave at 11:16 PM | Comments (0) | Tags: language, media, web

It simply never occurred to me.

One trending topic on the web is the abuse that women get for simply expressing their opinions in public. Abi at Making Light has posted a rant about it.

Seriously - go read it. It's not new or anything. Here's another recent example. There are hundreds. What struck me about Abi's post was this paragraph:

If you don’t believe it happens, gentlemen, I dare you: choose a female name and log onto a gaming board, or a deep geek IRC channel, or a heated political discussion. Disagree with the common herd and see what you get back. Then do the same with a male name. And then remember that you’re being kicked on undamaged flesh; it’s much worse when there’s already a deep bruise there from all the charming things people do in meatspace, too.

Here's the thing. I have no problem playing any gender or sexuality in virtual space. I routinely gender-bend in tabletop and computer games. But what Abi is suggesting never even occurred to me. It blows my mind that it didn't.

... Read all of "It simply never occurred to me."

Posted by Dave at 3:14 PM | Comments (0) | Tags: activism, web

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm off Facebook.

I haven't logged on in months. It's better to just let the account die than have people thinking I'm not responding to them. Karen pulled the plug on her own account a long time ago.

It's kind of nice, actually. Not thinking there's something out there I should be monitoring/updating, that requires me to be on a computer for even more time in the day.

... it's not like someone who wants to find me on the internet is going to have a problem.

Posted by Dave at 12:26 PM | Comments (0) | Tags: web

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Everyone is switching to Chrome

Except me. I like my bookmarks. I have all my favorite sites. I always keep my bookmarks open in the sidebar in Firefox or IE. When I want to check the weather, it's one click. When I want to see what the latest news is, it's one click. I sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day. My web browser is my portal to the rest of the world. When I want information, I want it now.

The only way to get to your bookmarks in Chrome is through a menu-like interface. I would rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty nail than navigate menus every time I want to visit a page. I just want to click on something. Is that too much to ask?

I'm not the only one who feels this way either. Just do a Google search for "Chrome bookmarks sidebar" and you'll see that it's the obstacle keeping a lot of people from switching to Chrome. And yet, the Chrome teams seems pretty insistent on not fixing it - or even putting the machinery in place to allow third-party extensions to add a sidebar. It's a bit maddening.

Google is usually pretty good about letting people work the way they want to - unlike, say, Apple, where they expect you to do everything their way. This is a weird, inscrutable exception. Why is the Chrome team being so stubborn?

Posted by Dave at 10:12 AM | Comments (2) | Tags: tech, web

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skill sets

This post is going to be a bit meandering - bear with me. It was triggered by a bunch of things that have happened in the video game world lately, but I'm going to start with this column by Yahtzee at The Escapist.

Yahtzee has a brilliant, biting weekly video review series called Zero Punctuation. But his written columns, which often run along the lines of, "here's something they should put in a video game", are awful. Not one of his ideas is ever any good. In fact, not only would they not appeal to anyone but Yahtzee, they wouldn't appeal to him if somebody actually put them in a game.1

... Read all of "Skill sets"

Posted by Dave at 11:13 PM | Comments (2) | Tags: activism, console, games, media, web

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fontage

So one of the things about my blog is that I hate being limited by what fonts and font families are available on different people's machines. When I did the styling for this site, I picked fonts and fallbacks which I felt would be most readable and least obnoxious across all browsers and computers.

Which in retrospect was an odd choice, because we live in the future and you can totally embed whatever fonts you like in web pages now. So now (when I have some free time) I will be trawling Font Squirrel and the Open Font Library for free/open source fonts to replace what I'm currently using, especially for titling.

I expect the most difficult part of this to be analysis paralysis, as there are tens to hundreds of quite similar fonts in each of the various categories. Body text will probably have to remain in a very generic, Unicode-friendly group of font families, if only because of the difficulty finding an attractive font which supports the full range of phonetic and CJK symbols.

Recommendations are welcome, as always.

Posted by Dave at 6:58 AM | Comments (0) | Tags: blog, web

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