Archive for December, 2009

CrossFit and Coding (and Meat)

10:28 31 Dec 2009

In 2009 I achieved some significant things that weren’t on my list of goals, although they’re not concrete achievements in the same sense.

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2009 Goals Review

17:43 29 Dec 2009

I had eight goals for 2009, and all of them that I’m going to get done I’ve already completed. Time to review.

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Favorite Posts of 2009

17:37 28 Dec 2009

My best pieces this year. If I write an outstanding post in the next three days, I’ll cheat and add it to this list later.

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Favorite Books of 2008

06:42 27 Dec 2009

I read 75 books in 2008, just managing to hit my target. (This year, I won’t make my target of 80, or even get close.) Some excellent books were among those 75.

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Happy Holidays 2009

12:35 25 Dec 2009

To all my friends, even those who don’t read this blog: love and best wishes for the season[*] and the coming year.

I hope we see more of each other in 2010, and that we make our time together as meaningful, focused, and fun as possible.

[*] Just like last year, this covers the solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus, Yule, (FSM) Holiday, and any other wintertime around-now holidays that I’ve missed.
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Music Construction

05:54 24 Dec 2009

Dodgy misogynistic lyrics, proprietary software—but still absolutely fascinating. Via MetaFilter I found this YouTube video on how to make The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” using Ableton Live:

Given this, I start to think that the key lyrics are actually “change my pitch up”.

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The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good: Duke Nukem Forever

04:08 22 Dec 2009

Duke Nukem Forever is the vaporware king of games, a game that was promised for so long that its release was a punchline even in the late 1990s. At one point it and Daikatana were frequently compared to each other; Daikatana was also extremely late and ultimately a failure—but it came out in 2000.

Wired has a long look at what happened, and it seems fair to conclude that one of the problems was a lack of limits.

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Some Python Tips and Tricks

05:08 21 Dec 2009

Python Tips, Tricks, and Hacks at Siafoo is an excellent overview of useful Python knowledge. I was familiar with most of it but still think it’s worth reading over. I did learn a couple of new things, too.

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Gizmodo on Space Battle Physics

08:06 20 Dec 2009

This article is an excellent overview of how near-future space combat might actually work, and also points out plenty of things that depictions of far-future space combat have gotten very wrong.

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Twilight Imperium Review

18:32 18 Dec 2009

I’ve only played this game twice. That accounts to something around twenty hours of gameplay, however, so reviewing it on that basis seems acceptable.

Twilight Imperium is a board game of galactic domination set in the aftermath of the collapse of an empire; players control races seeking to become the new Imperial rulers.

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More on Health Care “Reform”

17:45 17 Dec 2009

I wrote about this in early November, and I think things have only deteriorated since then… from a fairly bad starting point.

Arthur Silber has another take on it, and Who is IOZ also covers it.

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RPGs I’ve Played

09:03 15 Dec 2009

While talking to my friend Jeff recently, I realized that I’ve played quite a few different roleplaying games—by which I mean Sit Around The Table roleplaying games, and not MMORPGS, LARPS, or computer ”RPGs” like the Final Fantasy series—and my list-making tendencies more or less decided at that point that a blog post would have to be made.

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Tiger Woods and His Sponsors

09:04 14 Dec 2009

Upon typing that title, I realized that it sounds quite like a modern fairy tale or children’s story. Of course, if it were a fairy tale, then the faithful sponsors would stick with Tiger as he attempted to slay the foul beasts of public opprobrium and frenzied media—but instead at least one major sponsor, Accenture, is walking away.

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How Not to Spell “Gibraltar”

23:57 13 Dec 2009. Updated: 01:09 14 Dec 2009

Proofreading appears to be appreciated less and less, a trend I’m not fond of in the least. I’m all for more democratic and widespread content production, but I still think that professional publications and media outlets should distinguish themselves at least in part by having good copy editors and proofreaders.

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Serena Williams’ Fine

15:09 11 Dec 2009. Updated: 18:59 12 Dec 2009

Serena Williams was recently fined $82,500 by the International Tennis Federation for the actions leading to her exit from this year’s US Open. The ITF fine is in addition to the $10,500 she was fined by the USTA soon after the incident.

The fine from the ITF is the largest ever in tennis, and there’s significant controversy over the whole affair. I’ve read quite a few claims that racism and sexism are key drivers for the decision to fine her so much. I’m somewhat skeptical of those claims.

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Facebook Astroturfing

16:06 10 Dec 2009

Naturally, as soon as it became popular to use Facebook to promote political causes, it became attractive to distort the practice. The ease of online ”participation”—clicking a button or, at most, filling out a form—makes it rather difficult to judge just how committed to their causes participants are.

Furthermore, if it’s easy to click, then it’s also easy to persuade people to click, which is not always a good thing.

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GPS, URLs, Math, Python, Featuritis

23:53 08 Dec 2009. Updated: 01:43 09 Dec 2009

Earlier this evening Gever suggested a service dedicated to shortening URLs that had geolocation data in them. My immediate responses were that a) this was a great idea, and b) that I wanted the shortened URLs to still be human-readable in some sense—specifically, I wanted a person to be able to look at two URLs returned by this service and have some idea of how close to each other they were.

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Consider Taking Vitamin D Supplements

16:16 07 Dec 2009

I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice.

I am, however, currently deficient in Vitamin D, and apparently so might many of you be—particularly those of you living in less-sunny climes.

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NaNoWriMo 2009 Fifth Check-In: Admitting Defeat

22:37 06 Dec 2009. Updated: 15:11 07 Dec 2009

Yeah. Unlike the five previous times I’ve attempted to set a month-ish target for myself, it’s just not working.

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“Symphonies of the Planets”

20:57 04 Dec 2009

I’d never heard of this before until randomly coming across a Gizmodo post on it. I’m curious about how much postprocessing they did to make it more palatable, but regardless I like the result. Our solar system is into organic dark ambient, apparently.

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Bullying: Just a Hunch

15:39 03 Dec 2009

I’ve come across what feels like another wave of articles related to bullying recently. I previously wrote about my thoughts on institutional responses, but this time my focus is on some of the causes, as well as how technical rules are unlikely to eliminate the problem.

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Dominion Game Review

15:26 01 Dec 2009

Last Saturday I finally got to play Dominion. I gave it to Monika as a present around eleven months ago, but she didn’t deign to play it until now. Thanks to Mike Pollard for showing us how to play. It’s not a particularly complicated game, but almost all games are far easier to learn from someone who’s played them before than from written instructions.

Dominion is a four-player card-based game with a medieval theme; the object of the game is to have the most land at the end. It has some innovations I hadn’t encountered before:

  • Players build their decks as they go along; deckbuilding isn’t a pre-game phase of play but is integral throughout.
  • All players build from a shared card pool each game, and this card pool is potentially different every time, meaning that each game can have quite a different feel.


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