MonthFebruary 2013

There Is No Way to Stop Space Rocks From Hurtling to Earth and Killing You

I just finished a new Psychetect track last night. Hopefully I’ll be able to share it with you before Space Kills Us All:

Space is out to kill you. There is no way to stem its aggression. But it’s usually an incompetent killer, so don’t freak out. […]

All the advanced air defenses that humanity has invested in? The interceptor missile that are (sometimes) able to stop an adversary missile from impacting? The early-warning monitoring systems that are supposed to give humanity enough time to plan a response? They are useless, useless against a meteorite onslaught. Do not believe the stories about the Russians shooting the cosmic rock down. […]

But there’s good news. Space rocks are lousy shots. The Earth is mostly ocean and uninhabited areas. The frequency of meteorite impacts is correlated with size, Weeden explains, and the smaller the meteorites, the more often they land. “But the places where people are is actually pretty small,” he says. Even the injuries that occurred at Chelyabinsk were mostly concussions and accidents from shattered glass, not from the meteorite itself. Close but no cigar, space: “Your odds of dying by a meteor are pretty damn small. You’re thousands of times more likely to die by car on way to work.”

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: There Is No Way to Stop Space Rocks From Hurtling to Earth and Killing You

Man, Space must really hate Siberia.

Short Sci-Fi Story: Search Engine

“Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben. This is what it feels like to be a professional blogger sometimes:

Half-heartedly, he scans his feeds for new information, walking his regular beats. The robot nurseries are quiet. The heliotronic mother-brains have just upgraded the consciousness models of sub-beta appliances to include the new FreeWill2.3 subroutines. The story will break next week, as people begin to argue sentient rights with their toasters and microwaves. For now, the nurseries’ PR departments are as dumb and empty as the newly-awakened machines. Besides, nobody wants to know about the nurseries. They don’t see the end of the curve the nurseries represent.

Humanity has built its own replacements. Here, at least, Vinnie is ahead of the curve. He knows what the AIs are planning, but nobody wants to listen: to get people to read his stories about the nurseries, he has to hashtag them as conspiracy theories, speculative memes. The truth is too unpalatable.

Over on the Worthing Media sites, he spawns a search daemon to whittle down stories about the honey-smuggling trade into something approaching a summary. He taps out a subdued Op-Ed about the latest attempts to clone a queen, and posts it to the mailbox of the Memesphere news page. It only takes three seconds for the automated e-rejection to ping his mailserver. He sighs his rattling, smoke-ravaged sigh again. If he is going to make any credit this week, he needs to tip the chemical balance back into his favour.

Full Story: Weaponizer: “Search Engine” by Bram E. Gieben

ImagiNation: An RPG For People Suffering From Depression

A personal game about depression and its effects intended to help people with invisible illnesses broach the subject and explore it in a way they can have power over it.

ImagiNation is set after the fall of mainland Britain to a strange reality breakdown. The barriers between imagination and reality, dreams and nightmares have shattered and strange things dreamed up by people caught in the event teem across the land.

Only those who are already ‘broken’ can hope to cope with exploring, understanding and combatting this strangeness for the sake of the huddled refugees that sit and wait and watch from the smaller islands around the coast.

A game of mental illness and art using The Description System (Neverwhere).

This game is available FREE so please promote, download, host and spread as far and wide as you can.

Full Story: ImagiNation

See also:

The Strange And Exciting World Of Nordic Larping

Study: Table Top Role Players Are More Creative

Leonardo Da Vinci Notebook Posted Online

Page from Leonardo Da Vinci's journal

The British Library has digitized one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks, and has put it online for the world to see.

The library has also digitized and posted the manuscript of Beowulf, the Harley Golden Gospels, the Silos Apocalypse, the Golf Book and the Petit Livre d’Amour.

You can find it all at The British Library’s Digitized Manuscripts page.

(via Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, who also spotted the face doodle image above)

History Of Marvelman Serialized At Comics Beat

Poisoned Chalice History of Marvelman

The Beat is pleased to serialize this of work of comics history by Pádraig Ó Méalóid, a known expert on things Alan Moore, British comics, and SF. In Poisoned Chalice he wades in to one of the strangest and thorniest knots of all of comics: the history of Marvel/Miracleman and still unsolved question of who owns this character. It’s a story that touches on many of the most remarkable personalities in the comics industry—Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlene, Joe Quesada and more—and one of the most fascinating. It’s a sad fact about the comics medium that only in the last few decades have its most talented and passionate creators been able to present their work with a guarantee of equity and ownership; I feel that it is no coincidence that since this began, the medium has risen in popular and critical regard. The story of Marvelman touches on the darker places of comics history, springing from the prehistory where greed ruled the day; it’s a tangled tale that I have occasionally attempted to untie myself, but Pádraig is far better equipped to do so, as I think the following will show, bringing the research and attention to detail the story requires. It’s a piece of scholarship that I am proud to present.

It’s my intention to serialize Poisoned Chalice over the next few months; but I would hope to see it published in a more complete form at some time. So with no further ado, let’s begin the story of Marvelman.

Full Story: Comics Beat: Poisoned Chalice: The Extremely Long and Incredibly Complex Story of Marvelman – Introduction

Eight Circuit Brain Course With Antero Alli Open For Enrollment

Every year Antero Alli offers an online course on the eight circuit model of consciousness. The eight week course starts next month and costs $210:

This 8-week course is the result of a comprehensive study and practice of dynamic techniques for accessing the states of consciousness symbolized by the Eight-Circuit model. This online course has been tested and refined over the past six years with over three hundred students. All eight circuits are covered, their specific internal vertical supports and, initiations into and out of Chapel Perilous.

Once understood and redefined in your own terms, the circuits can act as an open-ended system for precision tracking and interpretation of living signals within yourself, the world and beyond. The 8-circuit grid can be especially useful for those seeking context and integration of hyper-consciousness triggered by psychoactive drug use and/or the outside shocks of real-life traumas. If you are motivated to take on more responsibility for your own choices, your autonomy, and your integrity then, this course may be for you.

Eight Circuit course

Thomassons: Hyperart In Urban Space

a Thomasson

What is a Thomasson?

Have you ever seen … say, a telephone pole which no longer carries a line, but still stands on the sidewalk? Or maybe you’ve seen a second story doorway in the outside wall of a building that didn’t lead to a landing — or to much of anything — anymore. Ever seen a “stairway to heaven,” a staircase that goes nowhere, or awalkway that ends abruptly in midair? These are Thomassons.

More: Hyperart Thomassson Index Form

(via Interdome)

Remembering Dwayne McDuffie, And The Lack Of Black Creators In Comics

Dwayne McDuffie was one of the most prolific black writers in comics. He passed away in February 2011.

mcduffie-page1

mcduffie-page2

(via David Brothers)

See also: Outrage Deferred: On The Lack Of Black Writers In The Comic Book Industry

I feel a bit complicit in this myself. I read McDuffie’s Deathlok and some of the Milestone books as a kid, but haven’t followed his work since. It’s a reminder that if we want to see more diversity in the industry, we have to do more to support the voices we already have.

Like I said, I haven’t followed his work in ages, but last year after his death I discovered McDuffie’s collection of sample pitches, plots and scripts. What an amazing resource to have left behind for future generations of writers.

On King City’s Portrayal Of Women

King City

And for all Brandon Graham seems like an intelligent guy who really thinks about the portrayal of women in comics he’s still made a book that’s male gazey as hell. An important quote from the interview:

“Yeah I think that’s the big problem. It’s like, ok dudes, we’ve tended to your boners since the dawn of time. Can someone else have a turn?”

And it’s ace that he’s noticed things shouldn’t mainly be aimed at straight males. It makes me feel a bit bad for being all “ooh look at the objectification” as he comes across as a definite Force For Good in interviews but, well, the women in this comic still are totally aimed at that straight, male audience, aren’t they?

It’s an extension of that whole aspect of illustration that you see constantly on yr Tumblrs and Deviantarts and in grafitti and on music posters and such: young, straight men like drawing ‘badass’ idealised women in the kind of clothing they find attractive on a person. It’s for the male gaze and it’s not really subversive or new. Yeah, the line between ‘sexy’ and ‘sexist’ is a fine one, but I think this comic steps over the line?

Full Story: The Slow Bullet: Brandon Graham’s King City: My Continuing Adventures in being No Fun

(via Graham himself, who tweeted: “Here’s a article criticizing (in a lot of valid ways) the ladies of King city. I do still stand by the soap opera joke… Warheads is in a lot of ways me trying to grow past some of what I did in KC. I’m still cool with that stuff it’s just not where Im at now” [1] [2])

Dual N-Back FAQ

The Dual N-Back FAQ is a great resource compiling tons of research and advice on using the dual n-back test for improving working memory and/or general intelligence.

SHOULD I DO MULTIPLE DAILY SESSIONS, OR JUST ONE?

Most users seem to go for one long N-back session, pointing out that exercises one’s focus. Others do one session in the morning and one in the evening so they can focus better on each one. There is some scientific support for the idea that evening sessions are better than morning sessions, though; see Kuriyama 2008 on how practice before bedtime was more effective than after waking up.

If you break up sessions into more than 2, you’re probably wasting time due to overhead, and may not be getting enough exercise in each session to really strain yourself like you need to.

And as for frequency/spacing:

This study compared a high intensity working memory training (45 minutes, 4 times per week for 4 weeks) with a distributed training (45 minutes, 2 times per week for 8 weeks) in middle-aged, healthy adults…Our results indicate that the distributed training led to increased performance in all cognitive domains when compared to the high intensity training and the control group without training. The most significant differences revealed by interaction contrasts were found for verbal and visual working memory, verbal short-term memory and mental speed.

It also includes a meta-analysis of studies critical of n-back and found evidence for only one flaw: use of passive control groups, which accounts for about half of the improvement in IQ in some studies.

I found it via Brain Workshop, an opens source n-back application for Windows, OSX and Linux.

Previously: History of the n-back training exercise.

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