2014/7/24

Adrienne LaFrance - How the Moon Became a Real Place

On a clear night and with the right telescope, if you know just where to look,
you will find the cup-shaped crater called Draper. It’s pocked into a
vast plain of volcanic moon rock that humans once believed, from afar, was
a lunar ocean. The mile-deep Draper aperture was named for physicist and
astrophotography pioneer Henry Draper, the man credited with taking
the first photograph of the moon through a telescope in the mid-1800s.

Those first photographs were as stunning as they were anticlimactic. For a
celestial body that was thought to host bizarre extraterrestrial life, it
looked, from afar, like something rather ordinary. “In truth, a common
photograph of the moon does bear a striking resemblance to a peeled orange,”
wrote The County newspaper of Missouri in 1881. And yet moon
photography was instantly popular—and people began collecting the images the
way they sought out photos of popular actresses, newspapers reported.

Adrienne LaFrance - How the Moon Became a Real Place

On a clear night and with the right telescope, if you know just where to look, you will find the cup-shaped crater called Draper. It’s pocked into a vast plain of volcanic moon rock that humans once believed, from afar, was a lunar ocean. The mile-deep Draper aperture was named for physicist and astrophotography pioneer Henry Draper, the man credited with taking the first photograph of the moon through a telescope in the mid-1800s.

Those first photographs were as stunning as they were anticlimactic. For a celestial body that was thought to host bizarre extraterrestrial life, it looked, from afar, like something rather ordinary. “In truth, a common photograph of the moon does bear a striking resemblance to a peeled orange,” wrote The County newspaper of Missouri in 1881. And yet moon photography was instantly popular—and people began collecting the images the way they sought out photos of popular actresses, newspapers reported.

Incidental Comics - The Problem of Perception

2014/7/23

The Japan Times - Buffalo Daughter calls on some ‘konjac-tions’ for its newest album

Be hyped y’all!

Via birds
Cat and Girl - Spooky Tales of Helvetica

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

— Philip K. Dick

I’d put it that, reality means you can stub your toe in a dark room.

Cat and Girl - Spooky Tales of Helvetica

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

— Philip K. Dick

I’d put it that, reality means you can stub your toe in a dark room.

2014/7/21

Jeremy Parish - Tomodachi Life and Emergent Heartbreak

“The baby grew up and moved out,” I texted to Cat.

“No. No, no, no,” she replied. And as soon I landed back home the following evening, I let her watch the slideshow. She didn’t say anything as the pretend milestones of our pretend family’s pretend baby’s pretend life flickered past; we simply sat in mute disappointment.

I found myself surprised by the visceral reaction we both had to the game rushing our Mii’s baby through to maturity. It’s not like we really thought the caterwauling digital child was real. Maybe it was a mistake to give her such a meaningful name, but even so we’re clear on the lines between fiction and reality. We didn’t even see it as some kind of omen.

I think, in part, the letdown came from the game simply hitting too close to home. We’d like a real family, but we’re not getting any younger, and it gets difficult once you reach our age. Having this little digital infant arrive only to take off mere days later hit a little close to home, too reminiscent of the times we’ve thought, “Maybe this time,” only to be let down.

Cf. Jenn Frank’s “The Map Is Not the Territory:

Tomodachi Life is a game about avatars.

More important, it’s about the avatars you create. It’s entirely about how you choose to remember others.

The problem with nonfiction writing—the problem with remembering anything, ever—is that, with each act of remembering, the photograph might fade. With enough remembering, the mental image dissolves completely.

With enough remembering, I am left with an oversimplification, an abstract map of a memory. I am left with a mess of so many sentences about a person, with just a cartoon of a face.

I cannot remember my birth father’s face.

That’s a fair enough critique of Tomodachi Life, but I think Jeremy’s story illustrates the opposite point: sometimes the map is the territory. The simulation of Jeremy and Cat’s life was a part of Jeremy and Cat’s life.

Moreover, nonfiction writing about your life is not just a map to your life: it is (a part of) your life.

Jeremy Parish - Tomodachi Life and Emergent Heartbreak

“The baby grew up and moved out,” I texted to Cat.

“No. No, no, no,” she replied. And as soon I landed back home the following evening, I let her watch the slideshow. She didn’t say anything as the pretend milestones of our pretend family’s pretend baby’s pretend life flickered past; we simply sat in mute disappointment.

I found myself surprised by the visceral reaction we both had to the game rushing our Mii’s baby through to maturity. It’s not like we really thought the caterwauling digital child was real. Maybe it was a mistake to give her such a meaningful name, but even so we’re clear on the lines between fiction and reality. We didn’t even see it as some kind of omen.

I think, in part, the letdown came from the game simply hitting too close to home. We’d like a real family, but we’re not getting any younger, and it gets difficult once you reach our age. Having this little digital infant arrive only to take off mere days later hit a little close to home, too reminiscent of the times we’ve thought, “Maybe this time,” only to be let down.

Cf. Jenn Frank’s “The Map Is Not the Territory:

Tomodachi Life is a game about avatars.

More important, it’s about the avatars you create. It’s entirely about how you choose to remember others.

The problem with nonfiction writing—the problem with remembering anything, ever—is that, with each act of remembering, the photograph might fade. With enough remembering, the mental image dissolves completely.

With enough remembering, I am left with an oversimplification, an abstract map of a memory. I am left with a mess of so many sentences about a person, with just a cartoon of a face.

I cannot remember my birth father’s face.

That’s a fair enough critique of Tomodachi Life, but I think Jeremy’s story illustrates the opposite point: sometimes the map is the territory. The simulation of Jeremy and Cat’s life was a part of Jeremy and Cat’s life.

Moreover, nonfiction writing about your life is not just a map to your life: it is (a part of) your life.

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2461

2014/7/20

Partly for domestic political reasons (1980 was a presidential election year) and partly to counter perceptions that America itself was flagging (the Iran hostage crisis was a continuing embarrassment), Carter wanted to make a show of drawing a line in the sand. Along with plenty of oil, the Persian Gulf region had plenty of sand. Here it seemed, prompted by the successive surprises of the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was the place to draw that line.

Neither Carter nor his advisers foresaw what awaited 10 or 20 years down the line. They were largely clueless as to what lay inside the Pandora’s box they insisted on opening. But what they and their successors in government found there prompted them to initiate a sequence of military actions, some large, some small, that deserve collective recognition as a war. That war continues down to the present day.

Look closely enough and the dots connect. Much as, say, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the invasion of Grenada (among many other events) all constitute episodes in what we call the Cold War, so, too, do seemingly disparate events such as the Beirut bombing of 1983, the “Black Hawk Down” debacle of 1993 and the Iraq invasion of 2003 (among many others) all form part of a single narrative. Acknowledging the existence of that narrative — seeing America’s War for the Greater Middle East whole — is a prerequisite to learning.

Let me state plainly my own overall assessment of that war. We have not won it. We are not winning it. And simply pressing on is unlikely to produce more positive results next year or the year after — hence, the imperative of absorbing the lessons this ongoing war has to teach. Learning offers a first-step toward devising wiser, more effective and less costly policies.

Andrew Bacevich - Lessons From America’s War for the Greater Middle East

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - Girl FLY Day

The mushroom that sprouts in the morning and dies by evening doesn’t know the difference between night and day. The locust doesn’t know the difference between spring and autumn. These are examples of short lifespans.
In the southern part of Ch’u, there is a tortoise called Dark Spirit for whom spring and autumn each lasts five hundred years. In high antiquity, there was a large cedrela tree for which spring and autumn each lasted eight thousand years. These are examples of long lifespans.
Nowadays, Progenitor P’eng is famous for his more than seven hundred years of longevity. Isn’t it pathetic that people try to emulate him?

— Zhuangzi, Carefree Wandering, tr. Victor Mair

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - Girl FLY Day

The mushroom that sprouts in the morning and dies by evening doesn’t know the difference between night and day. The locust doesn’t know the difference between spring and autumn. These are examples of short lifespans.

In the southern part of Ch’u, there is a tortoise called Dark Spirit for whom spring and autumn each lasts five hundred years. In high antiquity, there was a large cedrela tree for which spring and autumn each lasted eight thousand years. These are examples of long lifespans.

Nowadays, Progenitor P’eng is famous for his more than seven hundred years of longevity. Isn’t it pathetic that people try to emulate him?

Zhuangzi, Carefree Wandering, tr. Victor Mair

2014/7/19

“Ohhh, I wore a fifteen pound beard of bees for that woman, but it wasn’t enough…”
Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2460

I basically did this once. Sarah was mad.

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2460

I basically did this once. Sarah was mad.

2014/7/18

More important than
an understanding of
philosophy is
a philosophy of
understanding, and
more important than
both is the
recognition that
there is always a
third consideration
looming over the
other two like
a disappointed
father, some of whose
breakfast is still
on his pajamas and
who was about to
crack a joke before
he noticed you
and your little sister
scrolling through
his text messages.

Aaron Belz - More Important Than (via Prufrock)

PHD Comics - The Spiral

It’s a kind of optimism to blame this problem on grad school and not life itself.

PHD Comics - The Spiral

It’s a kind of optimism to blame this problem on grad school and not life itself.

2014/7/17

Aevee Bee - Arrangement of Omission: Fire Emblem

Breakdown of how the best game of 2013 is really a potboiler:

Fire Emblem isn’t any more or less designed than any other narrative but it is designed with respect to the technology of a video game. It has all the important story beats—there’s a mysterious rival, there’s a Maltese Falchion, there’s an ancient evil, and reasons to get involved keep piling up. Everyone’s trying to prevent the war, but something keeps pulling them in at the last minute. You can even see how narratively important it is to have the Avatar character, how they are able to make the commentary and observations and ask the questions that Chrom and the others can’t. Fire Emblem’s plot is bare bones, so much so that the sparseness of it it is noticeable. A villain appears, is defeated, leaves a clue to what they’ve got to do next, etc. It provides enough hook for the player to be genuinely interested in what’s going to happen in the next mission. There’s building drama and high stakes for the characters involved, but it’s skeletal, and only a few characters are actually at any point present in it.

That is on purpose, and it’s also barely noticeable in practice, because the characters are so very present in their support conversations. What Fire Emblem gets to do, as it is a game, is write a fairly bare bones, page turner plot as vehicle for an enormous cast of individual characters, the interactions between which comprise far more of the game’s word count than any of the events that they actually star in. This is what the game is “really” interested in, what the game is about, and the specific choices of the plot revolve entirely around supporting that emphasis. Fire Emblem: Awakening is actually a super neat case study—like if someone completely dissected the character development from the plot and rearranged it in four dimensions.

Such a good game, y’all.

Aevee Bee - Arrangement of Omission: Fire Emblem

Breakdown of how the best game of 2013 is really a potboiler:

Fire Emblem isn’t any more or less designed than any other narrative but it is designed with respect to the technology of a video game. It has all the important story beats—there’s a mysterious rival, there’s a Maltese Falchion, there’s an ancient evil, and reasons to get involved keep piling up. Everyone’s trying to prevent the war, but something keeps pulling them in at the last minute. You can even see how narratively important it is to have the Avatar character, how they are able to make the commentary and observations and ask the questions that Chrom and the others can’t. Fire Emblem’s plot is bare bones, so much so that the sparseness of it it is noticeable. A villain appears, is defeated, leaves a clue to what they’ve got to do next, etc. It provides enough hook for the player to be genuinely interested in what’s going to happen in the next mission. There’s building drama and high stakes for the characters involved, but it’s skeletal, and only a few characters are actually at any point present in it.

That is on purpose, and it’s also barely noticeable in practice, because the characters are so very present in their support conversations. What Fire Emblem gets to do, as it is a game, is write a fairly bare bones, page turner plot as vehicle for an enormous cast of individual characters, the interactions between which comprise far more of the game’s word count than any of the events that they actually star in. This is what the game is “really” interested in, what the game is about, and the specific choices of the plot revolve entirely around supporting that emphasis. Fire Emblem: Awakening is actually a super neat case study—like if someone completely dissected the character development from the plot and rearranged it in four dimensions.

Such a good game, y’all.
A Softer World - I’ll Just Assume Its Both

人間心理は底知れずに深い。

A Softer World - I’ll Just Assume Its Both

人間心理は底知れずに深い。

2014/7/16

Daniel J. Wilson - Super Moon

John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12

No man hath seen God at any time.

Here’s what all the scientists and astrologers can’t tell you: Every moon is a super moon.

Daniel J. Wilson - Super Moon

John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12

No man hath seen God at any time.

Here’s what all the scientists and astrologers can’t tell you: Every moon is a super moon.