best when viewed in low light


Go M.I.L.O.! Go!

Wow, Rory.

This M.I.L.O game is pretty sweet.If Wired (via Ted Castronova) says you're "an excellent lead designer", then you must be!


In The Theme of Tornados


I'll admit to being the kind of dork that's awake at 2:00 am and looking for tornado video clips...But you must admit the nearly innumerable social status points you've been docked due to the creation of this clip. How long'd'it take you? Honestly?

I'd ride it, though. Guess that makes us even.


Elect THIS Woman!

Telling the truth, having a real opinion, and voicing the unspoken thoughts of others is a trait that is sorely lacking in these "United" States.

I watched a bit of "Verdict" - a show on MSNBC - last night where they thrashed Michelle Obama for hating America. That's about as clear an example of what she's talking about as I could ever hope to see.

It also made me realize how fucking genius Obama's campaign people must be. They get Michelle out there taking all the hits and Barack looks like a nice, inoffensive, uncontroversial, electable black man in comparison.

I'm ALL FOR being manipulated like this! Keep it coming!


Let's Get Sirius!

Thank goodness. Now, instead of supporting TWO financially unstable next-gen broadcasters, the FCC can regulate a monopoly. Martin can get his a-la-carte-pricing wad off.

Over the short term, the industry benefits from economies of scale and MAJOR network externalities. And, with one major player, it opens the door (provided the FCC will auction off additional DARS) to smaller, niche-focused Satcasters who can license space from XM/Sirius's satellite network.

Eventually, SatRad will replace terrestrial radio - it's got more capability, can disperse over a global area, and can beam any type of A/V data straight to your car/bus/truck/portable receiver.

Maverick McCain

Do we really need a post-modernist president whose ironic detachment and lack of sincerity will guide us through this corrupt and uncaring world?

Well, I don't care! Do you?
From the NY Times...

March 26, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
The Maverick and the Media

Amagansett, N.Y.

IT is certainly no secret that Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is a darling of the news media. Reporters routinely attach “maverick,” “straight talker” and “patriot” to him like Homeric epithets. Chris Matthews of MSNBC has even called the press “McCain’s base” — a comment that Mr. McCain himself has jokingly reiterated. The mainstream news media by and large don’t cover Mr. McCain; they canonize him. Hence the moniker on liberal blogs: St. McCain.

What is less obvious, however, is exactly why the press swoons for him. The answer, which says a great deal about both the political press and Mr. McCain, may be that he is something political reporters really haven’t seen in quite a while, perhaps since John F. Kennedy.

Seeming to view himself and the whole political process with a mix of amusement and bemusement, Mr. McCain is an ironist wooing a group of individuals who regard ironic detachment more highly than sincerity or seriousness. He may be the first real postmodernist candidate for the presidency — the first to turn his press relations into the basis of his candidacy.

Of course this is not how the press typically talks about Mr. McCain. The conventional analysis of his press popularity begins with his military service. If campaigns are primarily about narratives, he has a good and distinguished one, and it would take a very curmudgeonly press corps to dismiss it, even though that is exactly what a good portion of it did to Senator John Kerry’s service record in 2004. Reporters also often cite Mr. McCain’s bonhomie as the reason for their affection. As Ryan Lizza described it last month in The New Yorker, a typical campaign day has Mr. McCain rumbling from one stop to another on his bus, the Straight Talk Express, sitting in the rear on a horseshoe-shaped leather couch surrounded by reporters and talking “until the room is filled with the awkward silence of journalists with no more questions.”

The Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, citing the conviviality during the 2000 campaign, wrote that “a trip on his bus is, well, a trip.” And as the party master, Mr. McCain is no longer the reporters’ subject. He is their pal.

While other candidates have tried to schmooze reporters this way without success, what has made Mr. McCain’s fraternization so effective is that it comes with candor — or at least the illusion of it. Over the years, reporter after reporter has remarked upon his seemingly unguarded frankness. In 1999, William Greider wrote in Rolling Stone that, “While McCain continues examining his flaws, the reporters on the bus are getting a bit edgy. Will somebody tell this guy to shut up before he self-destructs?”

Imagine, reporters protecting a candidate from himself! But, then again, since the reporters on the bus liked Mr. McCain too much to report on his gaffes, he really didn’t need protection. His candor was without consequence. It was another blandishment to the press.

Yet however much his accessibility, amiability and candor may have defined the news media’s love affair with him in 2000, and however much they continue to operate that way in 2008, there is also something different and more complicated at work now. Joan Didion once described a presidential campaign as a closed system staged by the candidates for the news media — one in which the media judged a candidate essentially by how well he or she manipulated them, and one in which the electorate were bystanders.

By this standard, Mr. McCain’s joviality and seeming honesty with the press in 2000 constituted a very effective scheme indeed, until it came time to woo actual Republican voters. As Time’s Jay Carney once put it, “You get the sense you’re being manipulated by candor, rather than manipulated by subterfuge and deception, but it is a strategy.”

What makes 2008 different — and why I think Mr. McCain can be called the first postmodernist presidential candidate — is his acknowledgment of the symbiosis between himself and the press and, more important, his willingness, even eagerness, to let the press in on his own machinations of them. On the bus, Mr. McCain openly talks about his press gambits. According to Mr. Lizza, Mr. McCain proudly brandished an index card with a “gotcha” quote from Mitt Romney that the senator had given Tim Russert of “Meet the Press,” a journalist few would expect to need help in finding candidates’ gaffes. In exposing his two-way relationship with the press this way, he reveals the absurdity of the political process as a big game. He also reveals his own gleeful cynicism about it.

This sort of disdain might be called a liberal view, if not politically then culturally. The notion that our system (in fact, life itself) is faintly imbecilic is a staple of “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “Real Time With Bill Maher” and other liberal exemplars, though they, of course, implicate the press in the idiocy. Mr. McCain’s sense of irony makes him their spiritual kin — a cosmological liberal — which may be why conservatives distrust him and liberals like Jon Stewart seem to revere him. They are reacting to something deeper than politics. They are reacting to his vision of how the world operates and to his attitude about it, something it is easy to suspect he acquired while a prisoner of war.

Though Mr. McCain can be the most self-deprecating of candidates (yet another reason the news media love him), his vision of the process also betrays an obvious superiority — one the mainstream political news media, a group of liberal cosmologists, have long shared. If in the past he flattered the press by posing as its friend, he is now flattering it by posing as its conspirator, a secret sharer of its cynicism. He is the guy who “gets it.” He sees what the press sees. Michael Scherer, a blogger for Time, called him the “coolest kid in school.”

The candidates who are dead serious about politics, even wonkish, get abused by the press for it. Mr. McCain the ironist gets heaps of affection. In this race, though, it has forced some press contortions. While John McCain 2000 was praised for being the same straight talker off the bus as he was on it, John McCain 2008 is praised precisely because he isn’t the same man. Off the bus he plays to the rubes (us) by reciting the conservative catechism; on the bus he plays to the press by giving the impression that his talk is all just a ploy to capture the Republican nomination.

Yet the reporters, so quick in general to jump on hypocrisy, seem to find his insincerity a virtue. When an old sobersides like Mitt Romney flip-flops, he is called a panderer. When Mr. McCain suddenly supports the tax cuts he once excoriated, or embraces the religious right, or emphasizes border security over a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, we are told by his press acolytes that he doesn’t really mean it, that his liberal cosmology will ultimately best his conservative rhetoric. “Discount his repositioning a bit,” Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate, wrote two years ago, “and McCain looks like the same unconventional character who emerged during the Clinton years.” The article was subtitled “Psst ... He’s Not Really a Conservative.”

This suggests that love is blind. It also suggests that seducing the press with ironic detachment, the press’s soft spot, may be the best political strategy of all — one that Mr. McCain may walk on water right into the White House.

Neal Gabler is the author, most recently, of “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.”



n. 1. the fucking manufactured adhesive on the cigarette butt that always sticks to your lip.
adj. 1. the sensation produce by above-mentioned adhesive.


Storm Research

Soon to be appearing on the portal site for the SunChaser game, now in development.


IPL 2: We Are All Programmed

As I said last time, I went to this really interesting conference at the Interactive Performance Lab at UCF.

Right now, the Lab is developing something called a Storybox as a place to experiment - or, since the scientists in the room were so enraged by the implications of accuracy and specificity - let's say "explore" the subject of interaction.

Even more fascinating, perhaps, than what occurred in the Box, was what happened around the Box. Here's what I mean.

First workshop at the conference, we were given a quick summary of the Storybox's function, and a little commentary on its purpose by Jeff Wirth and Ken Ingraham. We were then tasked with developing a "script" for a story in the Box.

This is what my table came up with [and keep in mind that these are highly intelligent, highly accomplished brains in the gaming, interactivity and electronically mediated performance industries]:
1. Let's tell the Spectactor [the uninitiated person whose story is created in the Box] that they are dead. [Lots of opportunity for interaction there!]

2. Let's tell the Spectactor that they are on another planet! [Uhhh...]

3. Let's tell them they are dead AND on another planet! [...]

4. First, establish a subject or an object around which the story will form. Second, establish a temporal and spatial reality in the Box. Third, provide a physical or vocal cue to the Interactor [the initiated actors who create the story around the Spectactor].

The criticisms abound:
- It's unscientific. [True.]
- How is it different from improv? [What if it's not? And what if that doesn't matter?]
- The Interactors are making all the decisions. [That's your perception...]
- It's only about creating a good story. [If that's all you get out of it...]

The Storybox may NOT be a very scientific way to experiment with interaction, but here's what it does offer:
1. It breaks down interaction into three main parts - interaction within the self, interaction with others, interaction with technology.

2. If we "make sense" by creating narratives around events, whether we uncover scientific or unscientific observations from what occurs there, it can provide us with a vehicle for conscious storytelling. Conscious meaning that YOU must be conscious of how the story is created - and because we have been culturally trained to accept certain conventions, the Storybox is a place to deconstruct those assumptions and conventions.

3. We are all programmed to interact. Just because you run your interactivity program through a computer (or any other electronically mediated tool) does not mean it is scientific, creative or particularly good story. [Just saying...]


It Might Be Rhetoric, But I Like It!

On the day of September 11, 2001, I stood on my roof in Brooklyn watching the twin towers burn and fall. It was clear: we need to account for the wrongs we have done, and we need to move forward, together.

We were on the verge of a national, maybe even a global turning point. With honesty, straightforwardness and the desire to communicate, we could overcome the superficial boundaries we have built that separate us from others, from each other. By addressing the criticisms that this act represented, we could open ourselves to the contributions of seemingly conflicting opinions. Take a look at ourselves, our mythology, our rhetoric, and see how far from that image of ourselves we had come.

This was my hope. It was not meant to be. But it still can.

Sometimes just putting it out there is enough.

IPL 1: Another Old White Man Tells Me How To Be

I just returned from the first ever Interactive Performance Conference, hosted by the Interactive Performance Lab at the University of Central Florida's Department of Digital Media.

Our topic for the conference was "Interactive Narrative". I'll come back to this topic repeatedly as the week progresses. For now...

I walked into the keynote speech, given by an entertainingly disconnected Chris Crawford. I'm willing to accept that this guy may know a lot more about making computer games than I do, but his talk consisted of a number of broad [and, I would argue, completely fallacious] assumptions and some revealing rhetoric about control.

My "take-aways" from his talk:
1. Human beings can be clearly separated by their affinities for processing certain types of information - in this case, Emotion/Pattern-recognition and Intellect/Logic-building.

2. Only Emotion/Pattern types can be "creative" and/or "artistic".

3. Only Intellect/Logic types can be programmers, or at least, technical.

4. If you want to make computer games, you should be at least a 5 [on a scale of 1 - 10] on each side. That means, if you consider yourself an "artist", learn to program. If you consider yourself a programmer, enjoy your large salary and health benefits, and see if you can try to suffer enough to understand "art".

5. Collaboration only goes so far... far enough to let those idiots use their highly specialized skills on the parts of your game that they can't fuck up.

Mr. Crawford also presented his current project - assigning 0s and 1s to verbs - Storytron.

Problems with this line of thinking:

1. Programming is art. Just like everything else, it can be done with passion and a sense of elegance.

2. People that consider themselves artists or "creatives" [even better] - as if that is something separate from being human - are just looking for a way to be different. Boundaries don't help when it comes to interaction, human to human, or any other kind.

3. Old white man wants ego-petting, self-indulgence and absolute control. [There's a shocker.]

4. When you are too high up the ladder to step down and see what the noobs are up to, you have resigned yourself to a slow, steady irrelevance. Have fun with that.


Online Check-In

Thank you for telling me my business today. It's always helpful.

Couple things I need to address over the next few days

1. GDC 2008, *shrug*
2. My thesis topic. Fuck me I can't decide.
3. Academics. Politics.
4. Intellectual Property is an oxymoron.
5. Interactive Performance Lab ... rats.
6. Grrl games
7. Multiple identities
8. the future


Future Sex

Sweet! Progress?

I have yet to play Saints Row 2, but I'll thank the developers for a little consciousness:

"The character customization interface, for example, lets you create a highly unique character with the option of specifying the percentage of their gender. They can be 50-50 male-female, or 40-60 if you please (According to this post on Dimorphic 360 blog)."
I'll consider it real progress when this is possible IRL.

A Winding Road

Choose Your Own Adventure books and life. So similar.

It would be so awesome if you could map your life out ahead of time, then plan your route. Or not...cause of course, then we'd all have to make the "good" decisions, and that ruins more than half the fun.
Thanks, boingboing.

An observation I made while saving the above image: CYOA could also stand for Cover Your Own unfortunate, but paranoically successful strategy for life decisions.


Life Is A Game

Gamers are pattern-makers/breakers which is why we rule at life.
Harvard said it, so it's true*

*I can't be held responsible for the way you might interpret or define the word truth. I'm not Harvard.


Who Is Ms Roq?

On the thread of "sometimes it takes a while"...

I'd like to give my much belated respect to Ms Roq, especially her verse on Murder Ink (2001).

[*sigh* no pic of the mysterious ms roq available...not willing or not suitable for sexpot status? not that it matters, check]

Lyrics from...

[Ms. Roq]
Peeped all the stash drop and exchange of the dough
Lurkin through the turf, think how I'ma just work
Give em chase to the crib and yo he properly laced
Stepped out the car, put my steel, to the side of his face
Murder - this the fuckin Case, rob this nigga and shake
the fuckin spot cause in a few it's gon' be crawlin with cops!
Who's the bad bitch now, you crept on, paid the piper
Who'da thought a sexy bitch could be a murderous sniper
Detrimental to your health, shoulda learned yo' lesson
But it's too late nigga bye-bye, better count yo' blessings
I been watchin you watchin me, yeah you ballin
Was, nigga now you finger fucked and steady fallin
A thug wit no love, but bitch niggaz die fast
Thug niggaz die young - oh what you thought you would last?
Blast two shots to the dome, slide back to the pad
and jack my nigga off, til his dick get soft
Resume the wifey boo shit, cause yo my man don't know
that his bitch is straight ill, servin ass with fo'fo' {*KABOOM*}

I'm a motherfuckin MURDERAHHH


Life After the Death

Getting to know my new computer is like training a look-alike dog. I never remember how to set the finder window so that it always appears as a list instead of a bunch of huge, doofy icons. We'll get there, it just takes a minute.

And two of the joyful experiences of being human, and a woman:

1. Getting told exactly what you need to hear but don't want to see.

2. Conversations in groups of women that involve a lot of dialogue like this: "...and then this motherfucker..."

The (Big) Apple

The new hard drive has arrived, profiles restored, online data downloaded, and the new home - a 500 Gb Western Digital external drive - has been shipped.

Equilibrium has been reestablished.

Soon I'll be in New York for a bit. It's been a while since my last visit, and I can't wait to be back in the midst of all that trash and humanity.Midwesterners think of New York as a mean city, with rude, angry, impatient inhabitants who would just as easily knock you on your feet as say hello. But seriously, if New Yorkers will never do anything, it's say hello to someone they don't know...unless they think it's the easiest, low-cost way to get out of enraging a street talker.

(a street talker - not to be confused with street walker - is a crazy homeless person who babbles or yells incessantly in public spaces, and who might occasionally assault an unwary passerby who looks, perhaps, like someone from another universe who did something terrible to them in an alternate past)New York is honest.
That's what happens when the traditional barriers of society no longer apply. When I'm heading back to Gotham, I have to get real honest with myself. It's a truth serum.

There's a nice long list of people that have expressed the desire to see me: friends, exes, etc.

And there's a short list of one person that has not. And he's the one I want to see.


I initiated our relationship, and I've been the one who actively pursues it. I am highly expressive with my feelings - I call, I send gifts, I make vacation plans, I pay for dinner. I think about him a lot. I miss him. I even feel like I need him.

[This from the woman that needs no one...that is always the first to drop relationships that don't satisfy...who says no to the bullshit and drama that comes from indecision, ambiguity, ambivalence... A fool for love!]

And I left. I did it, ok! I did. When I was a young thing I thought that when the time came I would sacrifice anything, everything for love. But when the time came, I left. I gave up the chance to be with this man who makes me feel more my self than I do alone.

Fully confronting the consequences of that choice didn't hit me until I arrived here, alone, feeling that it could not be replaced by enthusiasm for my career.

When I was about 14, I had an intense dream that has stuck with me since. I don't remember what happened in the dream, but that's not important. What mattered then, and what matters now, is that I woke up knowing, completely convinced that I would choose to be alone forever.

For what? For the sake of my independence. For the indulgence of my fears. For ever.

Will I always make that choice?


Death Is A Blue-Grey Infinity

My hard drive died yesterday.

Much like the hilarity I derived from my own suffering when accused of gmail chat banality yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed both the excruciating pain of my loss and the simultaneous comfort in the fact that only digital data had been lost.

My laptop, fresh and new though it was, suffered not.
My thesis, only a green apple in my eye, survived in its entirety.
I still have phone numbers, calendar appointments and e-tickets stored safely in digital and neural ethereae.

Back up plan? Ha!

If, at no point in your life do you have the opportunity to say "Shit happened!", you have lost your freedom. So, when shit happens, I take it as the blessing (and bullet dodge) that it is.

I still have all my ideas.


A Real Stroke of Genius

So, this morning I was asked, indirectly, to be more authentic in my presentation of myself to the virtual world of gmail chat.

Rather than use other people's ideas, why not display more of my own?

Excellent question. In answer to that, I have three things to say:

1. My profile on gmail chat is one of those things that I maintain more for other people's entertainment than my own. Everyone else on my list seems to have things they want me to know about, and that's the way they choose to broadcast it. In response, I often post references to things that have come across my path in the same transient way. I will never remember these things, so investing a lot of identity and authenticity into constructing one for myself is totally unimportant and irrelevant.

2. My thoughts are not easily encapsulated in small spaces or pithy phrases.

3. Custom status messages are not a replacement for conversation. They are not an accurate way to represent how a human feels, thinks or speaks. If you want to know what's on my mind, ask me.

Meanwhile, in my own order of priority in the universe...

I've got a couple things on my mind that I am trying to find a cohesive way to address.

I did not get the IRTS Summer Fellowship after the final round of interviews, so instead of having an all-expense-paid trip to NY to conduct research on the internal organization of major media companies, I have to find something else to do.

I've accidentally discovered a Research Question, which is immensely inconvenient because I thought I had figured out a way to graduate without having to actually write a thesis! But now I really want to know whether females respond to the same emotional cues in games that men do. Or, probably better stated: What gameplay triggers emotions in women? How does this compare to the gameplay that generates emotions in men? Are we responding to the same things they are? If so, how can we make games that are fun for all genders? Or, how can we make games that serve the MASSIVE market of women gamers (without using the color pink to distinguish them)?

I just read my University's Intellectual Property Policy. Egads! Do these people think they're running an education of higher learning, or a communist work camp? The funny thing is, if the University is going to lay claim (75% to be exact) to the fruits of their students' labors, then shouldn't EVERYONE be taxed from the moment they graduate?

In the past...