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"Pfft, how hard can that be, any two year old can do that" - words that would haunt roboticists through the late 20th and 21st centuries. (The usual answer involves five years, a big grant, and a lot of researchers sitting in corners twitching.)

Consider "easy" tasks like "pick up the red ball, without dropping or crushing it, and throw it to this other person." (ohgod)
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An Imgur gallery demonstrating how various silent films pulled off their effects - with forced perspective, matte paintings, etc

Of course, for at least one of the examples with Buster Keaton, there is no trick; he just did it, and they filmed it.

I have a sudden urge to bridge time and space so that he can co-star in something with Jackie Chan.
No insurance company would cover the production, but it would be amazing.


Jan. 1st, 2017 12:02 am
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My resolution is simple:
Get through it.

yeah, that's where we are now.
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2016, ancient and bearded, lies upon his deathbed. The crowd gathered to observe his passing is larger than for most years, and while the range of sentiments displayed is typical, the proportions are not - the genuine mourners are fewer, those waiting for the end with bitter or hateful anticipation more numerous. Most common of all, this time, are those who appear anxious and uncertain; they are all but silent in their collective dread, as the outgoing year breathes his ragged last.

It is to one of the latter that the year raises one withered claw of a hand and beckons. Nervously, the witness approaches the bier and, at another gesture, leans closer. Cracked lips move almost soundlessly; the listener's eyes widen, blood draining from their face, and they straighten and step back. Then, with a choking spasm, a sigh and a rattle, the old and much despised year finally expires... with what can only be described as a look of unholy triumph on his deeply lined face.

"What did he say?" someone asks.

The horrified witness turns to the multitude. "He said... 'now, it gets worse.'"

Somewhere, in a darkened nursery, there is a crib. And within, peering through the bars, two points of red light like hot coals.
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"quick, do something! ... not that!"

well, damn

Dec. 27th, 2016 12:26 pm
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I kind of figured, as soon as I first heard the news. Since then, I've just been waiting.
Any other year, I might have held out hope, but...
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Today I learned where "ipecac", as in syrup of - a word that a friend says always makes them think it's reversed or rot13d or something - actually comes from: a Central and South American plant, which means of course that its naming doesn't follow any of our rules. (By contrast, one of the alkaloids in it, "emetine", does exactly what you'd expect if you know any Greek and/or Latin; that is, blaaaaaarf.)

So here we have a plant which actually succeeds in making humans sick, as opposed to all the ones that we laugh at and say "nice try", then grind up and put on our food. But we've found another use for it - controlled self-poisoning to make the body expel other, potentially worse substances. (Or, as the article notes near the bottom, small doses to keep prisoners too nauseous and/or weak to cause trouble. Ick.)
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From the comments of the latest Wilde Life:

Pascalle Lepas
I think most pro bbal players are actually 7,000 feet tall. Please don't quote me on this, as I am not an expert.

Pascalle Lepas
Prove to me there isn't a 7,000 foot tall bbal player!

Holding a teapot?
wait, no, that'd be a foul.

I am, of course, referring to Bill Russell's Teapot, which may or may not exist somewhere between half-court and the three-point line.
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(regarding yet another "Internet of Things" exploit)

[Meagen] You know the funny thing?
[Meagen] Back when people were predicting ubiquitous surveillance, it was a chilling thought because everyone sort of assumed it would be done *competently*.
[Meagen] I mean, if you wrote a dystopian sci-fi novel in the 90s and have your protagonist do this exact thing, people would've said it's unrealistic because who in the world would just make all cameras be unsecured internet access points?
[Meagen] I mean, hacking into a camera to make it turn off or tamper with its footage, sure.
[Meagen] But hacking into a bunch of cameras to use them as launch points for an attack on someone else? Come on. Why would cameras even be able to *do* that?
[PyroWork] Sad truth: The future doesn't belong to megacorps. It belongs to the technology equivalent of the double glazing firm.
[seebs] "double glazing firm"?
[PyroWork] They will sell you double glazing for your house!
[PyroWork] It will be installed wrong, and leak.
[PyroWork] When you attempt to seek remedy for this it will be to the discovery that the company does not actually exist anymore, but there is a new double glazing firm with a different name operating out of the same yard with the same phone number.
[PyroWork] They will also attempt to sell you double glazing.
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"English isn't a language, it's three languages stacked on top of each other wearing a trenchcoat."

-- des-zimbits @ tumblr
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So... I'm browsing sci fi shorts on youtube. And I came across one, set in the near future, where a woman is upset that her partner pays more attention to his augmented-reality overlay than her.
One of her complaints is that he takes pictures virtually, while she does it with an old Polaroid. She romanticizes the chemical process, the silver salts, the grain of the picture, claims that it has "life", etc.
Thing is, I'm old enough (just barely) to remember when instant cameras were the new thing to be sneered at. Now they're hip, retro, and authentic. Go figure.

(if you were really committed to your art, to the scene, you'd be grinding your own pigments and making your own canvas and brushes, not buying those from a store or, worse, letting a machine capture a sterile image for you at the touch of a button. :p )
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(context: Civilization VI)

[PyroICFF] Goddamn Norsemen showing up and converting my cities to their heathen god!
[PyroICFF] I don't want to hear any good news about their stupid Jesus.
[me] I don't care if it rains or freezes / long as I got my Viking Jesus
[me] nailed to my sturdy longboat's prow (hey hey hey)
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Today's Google doodle reminds us that this would be the 384th birthday of that Dutch guy who squinted into a drop of water and discovered that absolutely everything is covered in BUGS bugs BUGS.
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Been a while since I had an anxiety dream involving nuclear war.
What was surprising about this one was how completely and absurdly British it was, including how it almost immediately became silly self-parody.
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The fall of the Roman Republic is full of examples of a system not designed for the size and scope of what it was facing a hundred or two years later, and people breaking unwritten norms to address immediate struggles between conservatism and liberalism without considering the long-term effects.

Not that it could ever happen here.

time begins and then time ends
and then time begins once again
it is happening now
it has happened before
it will surely happen again
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(other poster) Yeah, all of [Grant] Morrison's stuff is gold.

(me) But the gold is dusted with LSD, so handle it with gloves, and don't lick it.

(other poster) Look do you want to understand the comics or not

(me) Now I'm imagining a page of UNDERSTANDING COMICS that has cartoon Scott McCloud holding a floppy-cover labeled 'Grant Morrison', looking up at the reader a few times and then back at the comic, and finally just setting it down on the table and walking out of frame.
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I haven't kept up with things D&D, so to speak, in years; my last solid point of contact was looking over the new books and noting the irony that, in an attempt to recapture market share, they were transforming the mechanics to make the game play more like the massively-popular computer games which were originally inspired by it. (Very snake-eating-its-own-tail, there.) I gather that a more recent edition has since dispensed with this and gone back to something more traditional, but that's about as much as I know.

But today, as a result of a friend's offhand mention of a bit of background from the official Pathfinder setting, I had cause to consult a wiki for same. And I was much amused, after a bit of wiki-walking, to learn that this fantasy world (yet another analogue for Earth, where the continents are differently shaped but all in the right places, and the cultures are likewise fictionalized but familiar) has had several starships crash-land on it.

It's so very Blackmoor, y'know? (See also Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, et al.) Forty years on, and we're still handing out laser pistols to barbarian warriors and having them make saving throws to point the right end at the monsters, some of which may be "metal men."
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It sounds like their category list is having some... problems tonight:

[Wonderslug] Under the heading "Crime Movies": What Women Want, 50 First Dates, Maid in Manhattan...
[Wonderslug] "Kid's TV": Jackass 2.5, White Chicks, Scary Movie 2...
[Wonderslug] Ah yes, and the well known British movie, Sixteen Candles.
[Wonderslug] Under "Thrillers" we have The Little Rascals and Winnie the Pooh.
[Wonderslug] I am weeping.
[littlepinkbeast] that's pretty impressive
[sptrashcan] That's one heck of an off-by-one error...
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Seen on a message board - tw: tolkien nerdery ;)

(poster 1)

No one else is gonna step in here? Okay.

Sauron did not craft the Silmarils. You're probably thinking of Morgoth, who was once Melkor, the Great Enemy to whom Sauron was a mere lieutenant. However, while youd then be closer, you'd still be incorrect. It was the Elf Feanor who crafted the Silmarils to capture the light of the Two Trees in Valinor. Morgoth became obsessed with possesing them and eventually stole them - which is what lead to the Elves leaving Valinor and basically every awful thing that happened from then on.

(poster 2)

And in doing so, and then refusing to part with them when their destruction could have saved the Trees of Valinor, and then letting his thirst for revenge for their theft consume him utterly, more or less caused everything else that would come later.

If you ever feel like a complete fuckup, take heart - no matter how much of a disaster you have caused, no matter how many lives you ruin, you can at least take consolation on this one fact: you will never fuck up as hard as Fëanor son of Finwë fucked up.
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Overheard from a passing group of fellow bikers just now:

"Eugene* has two seasons, Winter and Construction."

(* and by extension, the rest of the Willamette Valley)

Me, I tend to describe them as Cold Rain, Cool Rain, and a month or so of OH GOD THE BURNING.