Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Links!

The links are very, very strong this week.

Leading off, and this is a stunning read, it's Ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter Takes On The World's Most Sadistic Endurance Race. On a side note: I covered 155 miles in 77 hours once on an expedition run when I was 21. I will not be doing it again.

Eli 17.2 was blown away (for the creativity as much as the skill): The Winning Routine at the World Championships of Magic Might Fry Your Brain Like an Egg.

This is a fantastic read: How Harley-Davidson's All-In Bet on Its Past Crippled Its Future.

Bask in the utter quality of C. Lee links:
Download Famous Art in High Resolution
This Stuff Is Cheaper If You Buy It Under Another Name
Under poaching pressure, elephants are evolving to lose their tusks

From DQ Guitar Advisor David Gloier, and it's terrific: Tenea, the lost ancient city built by Trojan prisoners, is found for the first time.

From Wally, and here's a wonky wargamer alert: Games Versus History: An Exploration of the Battle of Nagashino in War Games. This looks fascinating: 'Human brain' supercomputer with 1 million processors switched on for first time. This is fantastic: SO YOU WANNA BE A CHEF — BY BOURDAIN. Very, very clever: The Fictional Foods We Wish Were Real. This is an absolutely magnificent article about the business of hot sauce (hmm, seems self-evident): Saucy Business.

From Geoff Engelstein, and this is delightful: Here Is What Happens To Werewolves On The Moon, According To Geophysics.

Ken Piper sent in the first part of this last week, and here's part two: Dude, Where's My Money? Part Two: Divvying up the Loot.

From Tim Jones, and it's excellent: Martin Amis on Space Invaders: how games criticism was born.

From Steven Davis, and this is just fantastic: The Hoax Art Movement That Fooled the Art World Establishment (twenty years from now, there will be a similar article about string theory oh no I'm joking I swear).

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Quite A Riveting Sequence

While watching last week's Michigan State--Ohio State game, this happened:
--Michigan St. has fourth down at the Ohio St. 33. Michigan St. lines up to go for it, then calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls timeout.
--They line up again. Michigan St. is in the same formation. Ohio St. calls ANOTHER timeout.
--They line up for a fourth time. Michigan St. tries to draw Ohio St. offsides, then calls timeout.
--Fans storm the field and murder the coaches. Okay, this didn't happen, but it should have.


Football coaches are such incredible control freaks that this probably seems entirely reasonable to them, but it's killing the entertainment value of the game (it's the first time I've seen four in a row, but I've seen three several times this season).

Dear Coaches,
Rules we need because of you:
--no consecutive timeouts. If a team calls a timeout, no timeouts by either team can be called until after the next play.
--no timeouts in the last ten seconds of the play clock. If you want to ice a kicker, tough. It's stupid and you're a bad person. If your players can't get lined up in the right formation, or can't snap the ball in time, then you're a bad coach and you need to work on that, not call timeouts.
--while we're at it, you're not getting three damned timeouts anymore. You get one, just like hockey. Use it any way you want. Live it up! Then let your players play the game and get over yourself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


It's been a while, it seems. Photos first, then captions.

Excuse me, sir. SIR!

Number nine, number nine, number nine. Now with fries.

The only man in history who has even been angry while on The Price Is Right.

Daily production quota for artisinally crafted energy bars: four.

Zen master.

Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football

Longtime DQ reader Shawn Wignall has taken the plunge and started his own game company--GoldenCrest Games.

That's big news, by itself, but bigger news is that their first game is now in Early Access on Steam. It's called Desktop Dynasties: Pro Football, and you can get it here: Desktop Dynasties on Steam.

I'm looking forward to trying it myself in a few hours. Shawn is a very talented guy, and I've consistently been impressed by his approach to development and his conviction to start his own company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Costume Count (Day Two)

Sometimes, the descriptions ask more questions than they answer.

This year, before we go to the top ten, etc., a salute to the descriptions that made me want more, as well as some outlandish costumes that are entirely delightful. So here's to you, Canada Post Mailbox. Thanks for coming, Jay Cutler (this had to be Jay Cutler himself. No other answer makes any sense.). I like your style, Princess With A Battleaxe. And let's not forget Subtle Vampire.

They all pale in comparison, though, to the crowning description of the costume decade: "Rambo But Warm."

470 costumes total.

Top Ten:
Princess (24)
Ninja (16)
Unicorn (14)
Skeleton (13)
Cat (11)
Fairy (11)
Vampire (11)
Harry Potter (10)
Witch (10)
Cheerleader (8)

I will be very happy if, before I die, the number of little girls in Wonder Woman costumes (3), exceeds the number of Princesses (24). There's a long way to go.

Like I said, the reporters with the 100+ costume numbers were very low this year, although I did hear one phenomenal story that I'm hoping to get permission to use.

On the rise this year: Ninjas, and Unicorns.
On the decline: Minecraft characters, and Pirates.

I was going to post an entire data dump, but it's formatting strangely, so here's an extraction of the most creative/oddest costumes:
Canadian Tire Leaf Bag
Cheeseburger (okay, not that creative, but will we see a quesadilla next year? Hmm.)
Dogfish (this was a costume on a dog, and it made me burst out laughing)
Detroit Piston player (America's loneliest costume, besides Jay Cutler)
Spy vs Spy (always a classic)
Sumo Wrestler With a Cowboy Hat
Ted 2 (not the original Ted, mind you, which spawns a hundred questions)
Weatherman blowing in the wind

Thanks to everyone who contributed. Even with a smaller number of costumes this year, it was still fun, as always.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Costume Count (day one)

This is an unusual map, since I put Denmark over much of the southwestern United States. That's because Odense, Denmark sent in a costume count and the southwestern U.S. didn't. Take that, Arizona and Southern California!*
*and maybe others. Not exactly sure what's out there. Sand, red dirt, cactus, etc.

Anyway, here's the map of respondents:

We were definitely light this year on the count. I'm thinking it was around 500 (still tabulating). We still had a strong number of respondents, but only one person reported 100+ costumes (we normally get at least three of those, if not more), and there were quite a few sub-20 submissions.

In Grand Rapids, the weather was perfect, and we had 52 trick-or-treaters in total.

I noticed something different this year, too. For the first time, we didn't have five of any costume. Four ninjas, three cheerleaders, and after that, it was all ones and twos.

I like that. Lots of different ideas.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Friday Links!

There are a bunch of very, very strong links this week.

Leading off this week, from Brian Witte, and this is a beautiful and poignant piece of writing: My Grandfather Thought He Solved a Cosmic Mystery.

It's been a stressful week, for many reasons, and I think we could all use more of this: Soothing photos of donkeys who haul lambs in pouches.

Also in the soothing (and riveting) category is a link from Chris Meadowcraft: Woman makes set of bamboo furniture with hand tools.

From Ken Piper, and this is an excellent breakdown of development costs and Steam, and how it's even more difficult than it appears to make money: Dude, Where's My Money? Part One: The Science of Steam.

From Wally, and this is just the coolest thing ever: This Artist Can Draw You As If You're A Character In A Disney Pixar Movie. This is mesmerizing: Steampunk Computer build thread. This is a wonderful story: A Store Had to Move Thousands of Books. So a Human Chain Was Formed.

From C. Lee, and this is terrific: Bottoms Up -- How Japanese Whiskey Conquered The World. This is a stunning story: Mystery Math Whiz and Novelist Advance Permutation Problem. This is both clever and thoughtful: Our fridges, ourselves. This is a very good read: On a trip to the National Gallery, looking for art that doesn’t imitate life.

It genuinely stuns me how many people still do this: Stop! Hitting! Your! Kids!.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Unknown Nemesis

[Sorry, I was going to do costume count today, but it's going to be on Monday now.]

I found out today that I have a nemesis at the YMCA.

I've seen this guy once before. He's about 6'4", 240+, big guy. Balding. Big tattoo on the left bicep. He always uses the elliptical machines in the row in front of where I ride the stationary bike.

Now, I will freely admit that he doesn't fit into the traditional mold of a nemesis. He's not trying to kill me, or kidnap me, or take me to his secret lair.

He does, however, clear his throat. Kind of a throat clearing half cough.

Every five seconds. Into perpetuity.

It's the sound of a desperate man's last attempt to reach that handhold on the ledge before he's swept off the mountain.

Oh, and yes, it's loud. So, so loud.

Today, I was working out, not paying attention to much of anything, and suddenly, there it is. I look up and he's right in front of me. Like a true nemesis, appearing out of nowhere.

I've still got fifteen minutes to ride, too, to hit my distance goal (a really shitty goal compared to ten years ago, but it's still a goal). But if I listen to this guy channel Boris Becker and a tuberculosis patient, I may lose my mind, and what good will goals do me then?

I consider all this, and then I do the only logical thing possible: I crank up the resistance on the bike, so high that I may be approaching the speed of a rocket sled. And I hit 100 RPMs at that resistance, because I'm going to get to my goal, but I'm going to do it before I lose my mind.

I'm really starting to sweat after about a minute, because this has gone from a leisurely, book-reading ride to political revolution intensity, and I will not be denied my freedom.

I start to shout "Viva la revolution!" at my nemesis, but all I can really see is his ass. This is how some revolutions end, probably, but not this one. I ride and ride and ride and look down at the distance readout.

And suddenly, I'm free.

When the Snow Comes, It's a Relief

I swear there are thirty-seven leaf blowers operating at full power within hearing distance right now. Maybe more.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018


I went to the dentist this morning for a checkup and to get my teeth cleaned.

"OH, HI! HOW ARE YOU?" said the receptionist.

"I'm fine, thanks," I said.

"I'LL TELL EVA YOU'RE HERE," she said.

I sat down in the waiting area. It's small.


I felt like I was standing at midfield while a marching band was playing the halftime show around me.

Evil Me very much wanted to start shouting back, to see if I could get her to amp it up just a little bit more. I didn't, though. I just smiled while her speaking volume sandblasted my face.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day (a political post)

Please go vote and stop this shit. Thank you.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Works for Kidnappers or Lunch

"I'm going to Twin Dragon to pick up some Chinese for Eli's lunch," Gloria said. "Do you want anything?"

"No," I said. "That is terrible Chinese food. Shitty, even."

"Oh, it's not that bad," she said. "I've gotten used to it."

"Stockholm Syndrome," I said. "Or, in this case, Shanghai Syndrome."

Cliff's Cliff's Notes

"I think I have 'Pride and Prejudice' figured out," Eli 17.3 said.

"Oh, you do?" I said. "Well, let's hear it."

"In every scene," he said, "there are three characters. #1 is outraged by something #3 has done. #2 says what #3 did was totally reasonable. #3 says they couldn't care less what #1 or #2 thinks."

"Did you tell your English teacher that?" I asked.

He laughed. "I did," he said. "She said 'Well, you're not wrong'."

Moonlighter (update)

Moonlighter is coming out for Switch today, so I thought I'd give you an update, as I finished the game last week.

The game, in general, was a real treat. The core gameplay loop was deeply fun, the little town where the game takes place is bright and full of personality, and the first four dungeons were challenging and interesting.

Then the wheels come off a bit.

There's a fifth dungeon, and there's nothing leading up to it that makes you think it will be any different from the previous four (except for Foozle being there). However, this is a very, very abbreviated experience, because it's essentially just a boss fight.

I was all geared up for the last fifth of the game, I thought, but got the last twentieth of the game instead.

I still enjoyed my time with the game, and I'm glad I finished it, but the ending is a bit of a letdown.

Get Those Costume Counts In!

If you haven't submitted yet, please do so. Summary coming on Wednesday.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Friday Links!

Halloween Week Edition.

Excellent links from C. Lee, as always. This is an absolutely magnificent read: Discovery, Interrupted: How World War I delayed a treatment for diabetes and derailed one man’s chance at immortality. A legendary translator: Anthea Bell, deft translator of Asterix comics and literary classics, dies at 82. This is terrific: How a Vortext Helps Dandelions Fly. This is quite amusing: The Indian City With An Audacious Attitude. This is an excellent read: Mass media and democracy in prewar and postwar Japan.

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: Giorgio de Chirico Copied His Most Popular Works to Mess with His Collectors. Next, and this is mesmerizing, it's America's Iron Giants - The World's Most Powerful Metalworkers.

From Meg McReynolds, and this is fantastic: How Writers Map Their Imaginary Worlds.

From Wally, and these are very, very cute: The 10 Commandments of Baby Halloween Costumes. This is so, so clever: This Artist Can Draw You As If You're A Character In A Disney Pixar Movie. This is thought-provoking: Survival of the Richest. Be aware: 'Fortnite' Scams Are Even Worse Than You Thought.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Puzzler (more responses)

Only one person chose "wealth", but it's one of my favorite, most thoughtful e-mailers, and their description of how they chose is so eloquent that I'm sharing it all:
It’s an interesting question, especially since the choices are mutually exclusive (meaning, for example, no kids if you choose a spouse or wealth). Assuming a spouse or children doesn’t equal a life of penury, and accepting that all three choices are potentially imperfect, I’d choose wealth.

One major drawback to choosing wealth is missing out on being a spouse or a parent. But it’s worth noting again that all the choices are potentially imperfect; there’s no reason, for example, why your spouse or children might not die before you due to illness or accident. (Of course, I think a survivor can miss loved ones and still feel grateful for time spent together and changes wrought in their lives. And, needless to say, wealth can also be lost through misfortune or one’s own mistakes.)

Some drawbacks to wealth off the top of my head: 1) You’ll constantly be feeling obliged to accomplish great things, as opposed to blowing your money on frivolities; 2) you’ll instantly become a mark for people who want your wealth; and 3), as a result, your freedom will necessarily be restricted, since you’re now a target for robbery/kidnapping. Your days of merrily backpacking around the country are over; it’s all Hiltons and security details from here on out.

The upside? You can use your money to do things ordinary people can’t. Wealth can create possibilities.

Consider your friend who chose a spouse. Imagine that he or she dies and leaves a pile of medical debts. Your mutual friends who also chose spouses or children can do nothing but commiserate. But you, who chose wealth, can make a concrete difference to your friend’s family; you can spare them hardship and misery. That bright kid who would’ve cured cancer if only she’d been able to afford a top college? You can pay her way now. Those children starving on TV? You can help them now. All those rich assholes making the world a worse place? You can counteract their malice.

Sure, wealth might just end up being a monkey’s paw for you, with all your good intentions yielding nothing but the taste of ashes. But that’s true of choosing a spouse or a child as well. The fact is, you’ll never know until you try, and while the personal sacrifice is great, the potential upside is also tremendous.

Now, here's one volley from the "kids" choice:
Before I had kids, I probably would have gone for wealth.  I would have been happy being single and dating - especially with the advantages having money brings.

Now, there's no question.  Kids 100% of the time.  And I had mine fairly late, too.

Before, the joys and frustrations of parenthood would never have appealed to me. Now, though, I don't think I could imagine a life without my kids. 

For me, I think having a child has impacted me, much more, than anything else. It didn't happen right away, but after a couple of years, I started to grow up. I never understood what being "grown up" even meant, but Eli showed me.

That may sound backwards, but that's how it happened.

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