Back once again with the renegade master.

Weekend Reading CC

by uber

How We Built /r/place

Sadly, I missed this because I was driving across America (from Virginia to California), but /r/ireland did a plucky job.

Museum of Failure

I hope I don’t end up as the creator of an exhibit. On the other hand, in one sense, isn’t a spectacular failure at least notable for its magnitude?

Medieval Hazing: Freshman Orientation in the Middle Ages

An Oral History of Something Awful

These were heady days, my friend. I remember when userfriendly and Penny Arcade were funny, when AYB was fresh, and when you knew a meme was cold because you saw it on slashdot.

A History of Drunk Jurors

Herodotus tells us that the Persians made decisions drunk, and confirmed them sober. Who are we to think the ancients unwise?

Weekend Reading CXCIX

by uber

How Spotify Shuffles Songs

Humans are so terrible at stochastic processes, it’s so random.

A very long way from home: Byzantine Artefacts around the World

A very long way from home: early Byzantine finds at the far ends of the world

The silk road is reborn as the ‘one belt, one road’ policy. A train from the UK is on its way to China.


D’Annunzio brought theatre and ritual to national politics, he dressed the stage not just for the fascists, but for modern political theatre. The current incumbent is not the first showman to parley his way onto the Oval Stage, but he seems less separated, less inured from the darkly whispered stage directions than others.

Weekend Reading CXCVIII

by uber

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity. Until I found her

    There are <a href="">4,542 people</a> with the same name as the Author in the US. There are approximately two hundred and forty million adults in the USA. They don't merely share a birthday (1/365 chance) but year as well.
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The Best Art

The computer queries the universe and uses an algorithm to objectively calculate the best art for any given moment in time. The human executes the commands.

This art is only objectively sourced within the constraints of the Algorithm’s Bias. That said, I think these are executed with a pleasing sense of humour.

Why F.E.A.R.’s AI is still the best in FPS

The preference for mass zombie hordes has not been a good trend for FPS. Even the classics such as Half-Life and Thief both disappointed by breaking out of interesting tactical fights into mindless alien/undead mobs.

An Off-grid Social Network

The unusual profiles of some prolific open source contributors gives it that frontier edge that is still kind of enchanting.

Weekend Reading CXCVII

by uber

Remember Zip Disks? These Election Departments do

I lived out of (several) Zip disks for the duration of my undergraduate career. The click of death of a drive chewing a disk still stalks my nightmares.

Primitive Technology

This fellow builds huts and traps and other things in the Australian wilderness from scratch. It’s real-life Minecraft; I bet the Australian Creepers are poisonous as well as explosive.

The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built

The US Spends more money than the next seven biggest military budgets. It’s a truly astonishing amount of money, almost impossible to comprehend.

Random Observations about America

by uber

I moved to the Bay Area* at the end of January to take up a job in the dreaded private sector. I am no longer nestled in the ivory towers of academe. It was a rather extended process for me to get over here, including a several-month-long process of obtaining permission to work. That in itself is worthy of exegesis, but probably not one that lives on the internet for perpetuity.

I had expected a degree of culture shock, despite the apparent total immersion in American culture that we undergo in Ireland. One of the most obvious elements is language: I struggle with ‘aubergine’, ‘cinema’, and I still -ise those words that need it (Oxford be damned).

I’ve moved into an apartment, and there are no halls, or corridors inside. The direct entry reminds me of the strange feeling seeing doors into living rooms that I would get from watching TV. There’re a lot of things that work like that: the eggs really are white; the milk comes in giant bottles.

I have a social security number, but it turns out the number that really matters in the US is the credit score. It takes six months to generate enough data to have a score. Before then you have to pay additional fees, deposits, or don’t even have access to a wide variety of services. Proof of resources is not enough: the computer says no.

The area around here, but I feel the culture in general, is very dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed into shops and other public places in a way that would be unusual in Ireland. This is also a relatively walkable place, for a suburb. That said there is still a pressing need for a car to unlock the potential. Walking isn’t really a form of locomotion here, despite amply evidence of running, hiking, cycling and other active lifestyles.

So far, so good. I will report back further if anything else strikes me.


Your Correspondent in the Americas

* In California, in these United States. I know, who would have guessed?