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Posted by camestrosfelapton

So former Australian Prime Minister was headbutted yesterday by in Tasmanian by an anarchist DJ. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/it-was-nothing-to-do-with-samesex-marriage-anarchist-dj-who-headbutted-tony-abbott-speaks-out-20170922-gymu2z.html

The DJ Astro Labe said:

“was just a lifelong ambition to headbutt a fascist because I’m a skinhead that likes ska music and hates fascism. He’s an evil c—, I’m an anarchist and I believe in human rights.”

Now I must say that I disagree strongly with his actions. Do not headbutt Tony Abbott. It is wrong and lowers the discourse and although he is loathsome he isn’t a fascist.

However, the right keeps telling me that I’m not respecting DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT and that the test of freedom of speech is not how we tolerate ideas we approve of but how we tolerate ideas we find obnoxious or reprehensible. I’m also told that we need to respect “both sides” of a debate even when one of those sides if offering violence, advocating genocide or treating the humanity of others as some kind of special favour.

So here’s an idea. Why not put the issue of whether headbutting Tony Abbott is OK to the Australian people? Naturally, I’d vote no – we shouldn’t headbutt Tony Abbott. The government could spend several millions of dollars on a shonky survey and put the question of whether Tony Abbott should get the same basic rights as everybody to a vote – because apparently, that’s how rights work in Australia.

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Posted by camestrosfelapton


McEdifice Returns by Timothy the Talking Cat and Straw Puppy. For all rights reserved under both Common Law and Admiralty Law for ever. For the corporate shells known as TIMOTHY THE TALKING CAT and STRAW PUPPY.

Oh we should start this chapter with an excerpt from a future encyclopedia so we can do a subtle info-dump for background!

Planet Campus – the Boot Camp and Corporate Office Planet of Tau Bootes X. Straddled by a single ring-shaped continent that alternates in bands between lonely countryside fall of barracks and obstacle courses and dull looking office buildings full of out-dated office equipment.

The hyper-specialism of the galactic civilisation has inexorably led to planets that were just-one-thing: the desert planet of Sandy, the lumpy planet of Lumpus, the planet that just looks like Amsterdam all over of Damsterham, and the Sydney Opera House planet of Utzon-Jørn to name but a few. To resist the planetary monoculture creating a fundamental fragility to galactic civilisation, the ruling Galactical Confederation of Galactic Imperial Republics had instigated a controversial “Come on, Every Planet Has to Have at Least Two Things Guys” law, that mandated that every planet had to have at least a pair of signature things. The desert planet of Sandy for example also became the unfeasibly large worm planet whereas the lumpy planet of Lumpus tried to skirt the law by declaring itself also the Planet of Very Tiny Valleys planet.

Planet Campus of Tau Bootes X had already staked out a very stable niche as the planet of early 21st Century offices. In an attempt to preserve cultures of historical note and ways of life that might become extinct due to social and technological change, Planet Campus had been populated with low-rise office buildings and locked into 21st-century technology. Dealing with paperwork, and project management methodologies the planet had descended into urban warfare due to a quasi-religious conflict between traditionalist adherents to the church of Prince2 and ninja-heretics committed to Agile Methodology.  

Only after the civil war had consumed much of the planet was it revealed that the conflict had been orchestrated by histriosocioempiricists committed to Seldonism, who wished to see if 21st-century social media was the root cause of the factionalism witnessed on Earth at the equivalent time. After careful consideration of the evidence, they had absolved social-media as a root cause and had concluded in a lengthy report that the primary cause was that “people are just dicks.”

The Space Galactical Space Army landed in force as peace-keepers to end the conflict and to ensure that Planet Campus could return to its vital economic work of moving gradually towards the paperless-office by printing huge reports on the topic. After thirty years of a second civil war between the Space Galactical Space Army and the insurgents, a peace of sorts was brokered. The planet was divided into alternate bands – business zone/boot camp/business zone/boot camp etc. Thus successfully separating warring project management ideologies with military zones mainly filled with new recruits. The success of a planet with two signature things would be an inspiration for planets everywhere. – Extract from “What’s the Thing about Planet Campus of Tau Bootes X” Omnipancyclopedia Cosmosicos 3576

McEdifice stepped out of the post-orbital drop craft and looked around him. In the hazy distance he could just make out what looked like the central business district of a small town but surrounding him was green countryside, obstacle courses, barracks and a habit designed for cruel, demanding, sadistic and shouty drill-sergeants.

“Welcome to Bootcamp 17 of Planet Campus the Bootcamp Planet of Tau Bootes X.” said a particularly loud drill sergeant.

“Nooooooo!!!!!” cried McEdifice.

Tune in next time for another thrilling chapter!

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Posted by camestrosfelapton

Regular readers will know that I have some fondness for dysfunctional talking animals and I like cartoons and I like binge-watching Netflix. So yes, I’ve watched all four seasons of BoJack Horseman. You’ll note that while I’ve made passing comments about it that I haven’t reviewed even a single episode.

Mainly this is because I don’t know where to start or what the point of the review would be. So I thought I’d write two different pieces. This first one avoids big spoilers, talks more in generalities and focuses on what the show is like. If you haven’t seen the show, this review might give a sense of the show.

The second review will have more spoilers – if I write it. Part of writing about the stuff you consume is to debrief yourself and help articulate what you experienced. Season 4 of the show, in particular, has a lot to process.

Let’s begin. BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy aimed at adults about a washed up former sitcom star and his dysfunctional life. Simple. He is also a horse. The world he lives in is our world but also some people are animals. Some people are fish, some people are insects. BoJack’s agent/ex-girlfriend is a cat. Some people are humans. People still eat chicken but chickens are people and essentially chickens are people enslaved and kept docile to be eaten by people in what is a deeply disturbing nightmare scenario that isn’t a metaphor it is just how the world is.

The show is also very funny .

I love shows that have an inbuilt capacity to essentially do anything and BoJack Horseman is one of those shows. The core of the storyline is the life of a genuinely unlikable person. BoJack is conceited and cynical, he uses people and manipulates people. Not only is he unhappy but he takes active steps to sabotage the happiness of others. Narcissistic-yet-self-loathing and at best amoral, he operates in part as the antagonist of the show. When other characters make the move to get BoJack out of their lives, you cheer them on – it is always a smart move. When those same characters find themselves embroiled in his unpleasantness you feel sad for them.

Except…BoJack is also a sympathetic character. Which is hard and it is worth stating up front that having an emotionally abusive character at the centre of a show and also making him sympathetic is a problematic concept. Yet it works – it works because the surrounding characters are also sympathetically drawn even when some of them start just as one-note jokes. Also by making the audience feel sympathetic towards BoJack the cycle of emotional damage becomes intelligible. The ups and downs of his career, his occasional personal insights, the apparent missed opportunities for a better happier life put the viewer in the same position as those self-same characters that we think should just get FAR AWAY from the piece of shit that is BoJack. Except of course we also like those characters and want them to stay in the show and hence want them to stay involved in BoJack’s life and rationalise that maybe they are good for him… and once again the viewer ends up in the mindset of the person trying to be friends with a shitty person.

I’m not really selling this as a funny show.

It is a funny show. Talking animals is a basically funny concept. Taking that concept and then extrapolating it further makes it even funnier. Taking that concept and then occasionally delving into the implications of a world in which some people are literally animals and working out the mechanics of it, is both absurd and funny and pushes the show well into speculative fiction. If animals are people then what about sea creatures? Well, they are also people and live in giant sea cities and have a whole somewhat alien culture.

Showbiz, politics, sitcom cliches all get satirised both crudely and subtly. Sight gags and puns and wordplay keep the episodes sparkling with humour while absurd events send characters off on increasingly irrational sequences of events (e.g. the Governor of California having a hand transplant and getting lobster claws – also the Governor of California is a woodchuck called Woodchuck Couldchuck Berkowitz).

The humour is inappropriate and the events that happen to the characters are cruel but in general, what it avoids doing is making the humour pointlessly cruel. There are times when wordplay is both stupid-funny AND devastating to the character but it isn’t Seth Macfarlane or South Park nasty. There is a consistent current of humanity and sympathy throughout.

In part that is due to some amazing writing but also due to the cast. Will Arnett as BoJack is truly impressive but also in Season 4 Amy Sedaris as BoJack’s agent Princess Carolyn does some incredible and heart-wrenching acting. Alison Brie as writer/journalist/blogger Diane Nguyen is consistently good. Aaron Paul pulls off a different but similar trick that he did with Breaking Bad – taking an apparently shallow and uncomplex secondary character and turning them into the heart of the show. Paul F Tompkins as BoJack’s frenemy, the irrepressibly jolly Labrador Mr Peanutbutter also shifts a character who starts as a one-note joke (he’s a person who has the personality of a labrador) into a complex character.

I’m still processing Season 4 and that’s what I’d like to write about next because it was extraordinary and at times very upsetting. I don’t think there is a way to discuss it without spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show but intend to, don’t read that post.

(no subject)

2017-09-22 19:40
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Posted by Martin McCallion

I hate how Amazon Prime Video puts adverts in between episodes. And it always seems to be for The Tick.

(no subject)

2017-09-22 19:27
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Posted by Martin McCallion

Watching early Seinfeld. If I’m not very much mistaken he just made instant coffee! Yuck. The past was another world.

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Posted by Valve

Destination Ares is Now Available on Steam and is 10% off!*

You're the AI of a rickety colony ship, bound for the red planet. You have limited resources, a desperate crew, and an unknown fate awaiting you. Can you survive the journey across the Big Black?

*Offer ends September 29 at 10AM Pacific Time
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Posted by Paul McAuley

From an article about the facilitated adaption over on Motherboard:

"'From the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, we have influenced everything,' Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist at the University of Maine, told me at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston earlier this year. 'On some level, that's terrifying, but maybe it frees us up a little to be flexible with our thinking.'

"And that's where colorful creatures like mammoth-elephant hybrids, bleach-resistant coral, and other human-designed frankenspecies get thrown into the speculative mix. This idea, sometimes called facilitated adaptation, posits that damage done to the planet's wildlife can be managed, and even reversed, by manually retooling the genes of threatened species for survival. These genetically modified organisms would be tailored to optimize the health of collapsing ecosystems, merging the futuristic visions of fields like gene-editing, de-extinction, and synthetic biology to support wildlife conservation."

From Austral:
‘Ecopoets were mostly nomads,’ I said. ‘Always on the move. You see that picture? The mammoth? The first ecopoets resurrected them from elephant stock and traits clipped from the genomes of pygmy mammoths that once lived on an island in Siberia. They were used to transport stuff from place to place. They helped with the landscaping, too. Shifting rocks and such.’

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Posted by Valve

Today's Deal: Save 70% on Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Sunday at 10AM Pacific Time
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Posted by Valve

Raiders of the Broken Planet - Prologue is Now Available on Steam!

Download and play this FREE prologue to Raiders of the Broken Planet: 2 challenging missions that you can play 4 vs 1 or solo. Choose Harec or 4 other Raiders and help them rescue the legendary Lycus Dion from the claws of the Hades Division, or switch sides and play as an Antagonist.
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Posted by Valve

SteamWorld Dig 2 is Now Available on Steam!

SteamWorld Dig is back! Dig deep, gain riches and unearth the terrors of the underworld in this platform mining adventure influenced by classic Metroidvania style games.

Links Roundup 09/22/17

2017-09-22 14:00
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Posted by Natalie Luhrs

Islamic Geometry by Aziza Iqbal I’ve recently developed an interest in Islamic geometry, specifically the repeating pattern motifs. I’ve started trying to draw them, and while the precision required is challenging, it’s also very soothing. And it’s a practical application of math–the one kind of math I was really good at in school, too! There’s a lot going on at...


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Posted by Bruce Schneier

The Boston Red Sox admitted to eavesdropping on the communications channel between catcher and pitcher.

Stealing signs is believed to be particularly effective when there is a runner on second base who can both watch what hand signals the catcher is using to communicate with the pitcher and can easily relay to the batter any clues about what type of pitch may be coming. Such tactics are allowed as long as teams do not use any methods beyond their eyes. Binoculars and electronic devices are both prohibited.

In recent years, as cameras have proliferated in major league ballparks, teams have begun using the abundance of video to help them discern opponents' signs, including the catcher's signals to the pitcher. Some clubs have had clubhouse attendants quickly relay information to the dugout from the personnel monitoring video feeds.

But such information has to be rushed to the dugout on foot so it can be relayed to players on the field -- a runner on second, the batter at the plate -- while the information is still relevant. The Red Sox admitted to league investigators that they were able to significantly shorten this communications chain by using electronics. In what mimicked the rhythm of a double play, the information would rapidly go from video personnel to a trainer to the players.

This is ridiculous. The rules about what sorts of sign stealing are allowed and what sorts are not are arbitrary and unenforceable. My guess is that the only reason there aren't more complaints is because everyone does it.

The Red Sox responded in kind on Tuesday, filing a complaint against the Yankees claiming that the team uses a camera from its YES television network exclusively to steal signs during games, an assertion the Yankees denied.

Boston's mistake here was using a very conspicuous Apple Watch as a communications device. They need to learn to be more subtle, like everyone else.


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