Our legal system actively excludes jurors with expertise from cases–we want the experts to be testifying and the jurors to be blank slates, pure reasoning machines without bias that weigh only the facts presented in court. I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering whether this is ever a good idea, but I’m particularly convinced that it’s a poor idea for technical matters. People who don’t understand the difference between copyright and trademark shouldn’t be in the jury for a copyright infringement case, and people who apparently don’t understand that public-key cryptography and secret-key cryptography have about as much in common as a gamalan performance does with Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway shouldn’t be deciding a crypto patent case. Continue reading
I don’t usually participate in any of the Lego group builds/theme builds for a number of reasons. A lot of them don’t call to me, and the ones that do tend to be the more involved ones, and I just don’t have the time. But this year Nnovvember rolled around, and an idea struck me: I’d been wanting to do something in the style of the Galaxy Squad bug ships but hadn’t figured out what. I was thinking a beetle, but that doesn’t fit the requirements of a Vic Viper—then it hit me: stag beetle! It has the two forward spars. And I can use the wings and shell for the Vic Viper’s requisite structures!
Thought of the moment: I don’t think I’ve ever paid any real attention to album covers.
Even as a kid, when all we had was LPs, I don’t recall ever caring what was on them. And there are only a couple albums whose covers I can summon to mind right now (some from childhood, some more recent). I’ve done the “just listening to an album” thing–not doing anything else, just listening. But it never occurred to me to have a visual component to that activity.
I just sorta realized that the experience I’ve heard lots of other music fans describe–of examining the album cover/liner in detail while listening to a new album–is not something I’ve ever done. In fact, if I really want to listen, it’s in the dark. This is probably why the emphasis on “cover art” in iTunes (and elsewhere) has never been helpful for me. Even before I started buying music digitally, before album art went from a square foot to less than a quarter of that, I didn’t pay any attention to the covers of my albums.
For me, album art has always been a useful-but-secondary bit of information. It’s decoration, not a mnemonic. I keep my music in alphabetical order, and I find an album by scanning the titles, not by looking for a familiar image. (It doesn’t help that often the color firmly lodged in my mind as associated with an album is not the color that’s on the spine of the CD case–and sometimes not actually a significant color on the cover, either.)
Thinking more about this, I *do* pay attention to book covers and cover art. I can quickly pick books out on my shelves based just on their spines, and I can describe the covers of favorite books. In fact, I couldn’t find a book that I’d misplaced on my shelves for months, despite doing book-by-book visual searches of the shelves multiple times, because I was looking for the green of the cover and didn’t realize the spine was white. Somehow I simply skipped right over it, mentally, without ever reading its (very clear) title.
With CDs (and LPs, and cassettes) I read the title to find it, and then I might admire the artwork. With books I use some combo of reading the title and recognizing the art to locate a book. Odd.
I Have Superstrength Because
Just a quick thought here. I’ve been working on writing up guidelines for character creation in Four Colors al Fresco. Unlike most RPGs, balance and point costs aren’t really a concern–but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. Because unlike most modern supers games, not just anything goes–if your character doesn’t fit into the pseudo-period setting, it can be jarring. However, in my experience, both creating characters and watching others create them, the hard part is not fitting into the setting, it’s worrying too much about “logic”.
I was digging through some old notes I’d made to myself, and came upon this snippet.
What if you could always choose whether your character succeeded or failed at any given thing in your RPG?
And I’m not just talking about when you have narrative authority, or shifting the game mechanics to the level of gaining/losing that narrative authority. This idea doesn’t really make sense in games where character success isn’t a goal or currency–this is not for games like Fiasco (and Fiasco already does something a lot like this–but, even then, it’s tied up with narrative authority, so you only sometimes get to decide whether your character succeeds or fails).
No, this idea is very much for games that are about character skill and competence and success. Games in the vein of D&D or Fate Core.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence: “No, sir.”
Apparently he forgot to finish the sentence: “No, sir, we don’t collect ‘any type of data at all’, we’re very selective. We only collect just one specific type of data–well, maybe two types, three tops.”
Look, why are we getting so much coverage of who and where Snowden is, and so little coverage of why and how and what the NSA is doing? Other than allegations that the info is fabricated–and so far there have been none–the leaker is irrelevant.
Probably the central conceit of the dice part of the rules in Four Colors al Fresco is that it’s the step size between the dice, not the actual sizes of the dice, that matters. But is this true?
Four Colors al Fresco isn’t a number-cruncher’s dream system, but I still want the rules to actually do what they supposedly do and thus stay out of the way. I’ve played some “story-oriented” RPGs (and even some that were actually concerned with the math) which didn’t stand up to scrutiny, so I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. So here is where I show my work.