Trouble Thinking

August 16, 2012

Hey Listen to All This Shit

HEY! Listen.

-Ben Sollee is a Cellist, he’s quite good! He’s a singer-songwriter who basically sings stuff that would be tired and a bit annoying if it was a dude with an acoustic guitar but sounds pretty awesome with a cello. He’s pretty neat! I’d check him out by clicking the thing below here:

-In Case of Emergency is a podcast! It’s cute! That’s really the main drive of my continued listening. In Case of Emergency is several of your friends having a silly conversation in the background of a party. It rarely gets me rolling on the floor, but the presentation and topics manage to consistently entertain and just generally feel like a cup of cocoa. It’s completely worth listening to all of them! All of the premises are equally funny, which is impressive! You’d think they would run out. Check it out here: http://icoecast.libsyn.com/

-Comedy Bang Bang is both a show and a podcast! But the podcast is something you can listen to immediately, so you should! It’s so good. I highly recommend finding any and all that include Paul F. Thompkins as a guest because he’s fucking amazing. The premise of the show is basically one actual guest, and one fake-person guest played by a comedian. They’re long, they’re consistently both in-character and out of character funny, and it’s just a good time to be had. It’s a great way to be introduced to a wide variety of comedic talent as well! Give it a listen at http://www.earwolf.com/show/comedy-bang-bang-podcast/ and in the meantime look at this clip from the show, it’s awesome.

-The Alex Bellegarde Trio is cool! They play well, also there’s a regular jam session thing that I guess I got to see without having any fucking clue what was going on. I distinctly remember being in the bathroom thinking “jeez, the sax is really loud” and coming out to find someone practicing right outside the door, getting ready to go on stage! It’s cool, you should go. Be more respectful than I was! I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have, I didn’t really understand it, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/alexbellegarde Also check out a neat thing on the Jam Sessions! It’s got a lot of music too.

That’s it! Listen to a bunch of neat stuff, have fun you crazy kid.

May 30, 2012

Is Racial Profiling Tough But Sensible? No. You Idiot.

So this is the best. Some class act named Sam Harris has a radical idea to “reduce waste” during airport security. You will never guess what it oh wait no you totally guessed it’s “only hassle Muslims!”. So this is the dumbest fucking idea. There are a ton of reasons why it is dumb. Thanks to his decision to engage in a debate with Bruce Schneier there’s now a complete rundown of all the reasons why! Luckily, like most people who are conceited as all get out, he can’t figure out when he’s getting schooled so he put the whole debate up online for people to laugh at. Seriously it is embarrassing. He’s just sort of shifting topics every couple of minutes and doing ridiculous point-scoring complaining while this patient man is slowly peeling away the layers of his moronic plan to fuck with a security system he neither understands nor cares to learn about because any new information can only confuse the beautiful simplicity of his shitty goddamn idea.

Smart people can convince themselves of basically anything. It is a real problem, and it’s pretty obvious that Sam Harris has fallen into the trap of being just smart enough to come up with a convincing picture of something and just scared and lazy enough not to actually investigate it.Also, smart people always forget that just being smart doesn’t meant they have any intuitive understanding of statistics. Everyone is convinced that the way statistics work is: there is a correlation between A and B and then I am right, the end. As though that’s the limit of our ability to investigate. It annoys me that someone who claims to be a rational goddamn thinker representing atheism against the godful hordes is this stone dumb.

In case you’re too lazy to read here’s the basics of the exchange:

Bruce Schneier:

The topic of this exchange, and the topic I’ve tried to stick to, is whether it makes sense to implement a two-tiered security system at airports, where “Muslims, or anyone who could conceivably be Muslim” get a higher tier of security and everyone else gets a lower tier. I have concluded that it does not, for the following reasons. One, the only benefit is efficiency. Two, the result is lower security because 1) not all Muslims can be identified by appearance, 2) screeners will make mistakes in implementing whatever profiling system you have in mind, and 3) not all terrorists are Muslim. Three, there are substantial monetary costs in implementing this system, in setting the system up, in administering it across all airports, and in paying for TSA screeners who can implement it. And four, there is an inefficiency in operating the system that isn’t there if screeners treat everyone the same way. Conclusion: airport profiling based on this ethnic and religious characteristic does not make sense.

And while you’ve objected to bits and pieces of this, the only argument you have made for this profiling system is that it’s common sense.

Common sense is code for “I am mad and do not want to think about shit”.

This faux-tough thing is everywhere in modern political and social discourse and it is of course complete fuckwit nonsense. People like to posture about how they’re being “tough but fair” or “tough, unfortunately” or “doing what’s necessary” when referring to cutting programs for the poor, eliminating civil liberties, torturing people, profiling, or bullying. And it always hides the same lazy, frightened, stupid shit. You want to torture because you don’t like thinking about what torture actually entails and you just want to win already so let’s cheat. You want to profile because you don’t like thinking about the actual consequences to security but this line is long and this is dumb and you’re very smart so. Any time someone tells you they’re just being tough, you are about to hear some childish shit.

Related: yo, is this racist?

 

May 16, 2012

My Brother, My Brother and Me is a Great Comedy Podcast

So I’m a comedy fan. Like comedy, like laughing. But I never really bothered finding comedy podcasts because I am lazy and it always seemed like amateur hour, you know? If the professional goddamn comedians on SNL can manage to be that dire, I wasn’t interested in seeing what the dregs of the internet were producing in their spare time. The exception to this was always The Bugle on account of John Oliver being the cutest.

I don’t remember how I found My Brother, My Brother and Me but thank you whoever showed it to me. It’s so fucking good. I need to share it with you.

Here is how it works: the three McElroy brothers, Justin, Griffin, and Travis take questions from the audience and from the venerable and insane Yahoo Answers service and provide advice. Sometimes that advice is within the realm of usefulness, many times it is either physically impossible or grossly illegal. But it’s always very goddamn funny.

They manage to keep a good pace going throughout their hour-long episodes in large part due to a semi-formal system by which real honest-to-goodness questions are interspersed with a sprinkling of Yahoo Answers questions. This means that whenever some comedy bit is flagging they can always just pull out a question like “I think I am in love with a goose?” and get both an instant laugh and a new direction to take the discussion. The fact that there are three of them also helps, as any brother speaking is giving the other two a second to think of something interesting to say as well as providing goof ideas. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re just genuinely charming guys.

When they do attempt to actually for-real help people, the fact that it’s a comedy show first and foremost actually really helps out. They get to, for instance, just straight up laugh at people for asking shit like “My girlfriend is moving away and didn’t tell me, bad sign?” I mean they don’t just make fun of the guy, but as their remit is joke-making they get to really dig into the fact that for fuck’s sake yes that is a hilariously bad sign. Just give up, man. They’re friendly, but they aren’t your friends. They’re allowed to give you some amount of shit for the stupid questions you ask. And that’s not to say they’re always mean, either. They’re usually very understanding about shitty high-school situations or troubles with long-distance relationships or other genuinely annoying shit, with the overriding message being that it’ll probably all work out so let’s laugh a bit. They may not give the most considered answer to every serious question they get, but they’re usually able to act as a sanity check for questions that maybe people don’t feel comfortable asking friends and they get some jokery out of it at the same time to help the medicine go down.

They’re really funny dudes, and I feel like you’d be well served by checking out their stuff. With over 100 hours recorded, you could get a hell of a lot of mileage out of enjoying them! Here are a couple of sample tracks to test the waters:

The Sampler:

Cake Boss:

May 10, 2012

Interesting Interview With The Guy Behind an $8 Million Kickstarter for a Goddamn Watch.

Filed under: Interesting Things, The Internet — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 12:00 am

Okay I don’t like watches, I ain’t got a need for a watch. I keep time the way a real man does, the sun and the stars and the sweat on my brow.

BUT I will admit this watch looks kind of neat. It just boggles me that people kickstarted the living fuck out of a …. it’s just a watch! It’s a cool watch, a little wrist-puter watch, it’s customizable… but goddamn.

And I cannot help but feel intense, blinding envy of this little shitheel. I mean he’s 25! What did I accomplish by 25? I’ll never tell you. For real though, I guess I am glad that ideas that apparently have a huge market behind them can get off the ground via kickstarter. God damn, those guys are just cleaning up though. They do take something like 15% off the top, so they’re rolling in it. I should make a longer post on Kickstarter, but for now:

Meet Pebble Founder Eric Migicovsky, the 25-year behind the nearly 9 million dollar Kickstarter campaign, the largest ever. According to Eric, Pebble is THE watch of the 21st century, allowing it to connect to your Iphone as well as download different apps and watch interfaces. Eric talked with Shira about how Kickstarter gave them an opportunity, making something people want and how awesome the Pebble watch is.

What made you realize that the Pebble watch would be something people want?

“At the end of the day….make something people want. Before we launched our Kickstarter, we actually emailed the product to all my friends, my parents, my relatives and they all really like what we were making, so we had a pretty good feeling.”

What advantage did going on Kickstarter give you?

“Kickstarter is really cool because basically you can chat with the community, talk directly to the customer and find out what they want, what they are thinking, and impress them.”

Seriously though, 25. Fuck you, kid. We’re all thinking it, forever. Best of luck fuck you.

April 19, 2012

Things You Didn’t Know You Needed To Know About But You Totally Do

So hey, sometimes you think you’re done looking at things, reading things, listening to things, whatever. You figure you’ve put in your time and you don’t really need to pay attention to anything ever again. I get that, but I have to break your reverie. I have to shatter it with excellent things.

-James Stokoe, who I fucking adore, is doing a Godzilla comic. It’s worth checking out because well. Look at this goddamn incredible artwork:

James Stokoe's Godzilla

I want to rub it on my face, feel the texturessss

– You should read this cute, sweet comic called Sweet Thing by Melissa Duffy. It’s also got some murder and violence so you know, it’s still cool.

– The Abbadon is a great comic that is basically Sartre’s “No Exit” but like, an ongoing series. It’s interesting and pretty to look at and creepy, you’re going to like it! Also, totally NSFW.

– 4thLetter’s David Brothers continues to write the only articles about comics worth reading. Addressing “Before Watchmen”, he talks about the actual shit that actually matters with regards to this comic, and asks why the entire media devoted to comics contains about .5 critical examinations of what’s going on, and 20 billion “hey look at this art the DC PR department gave us!” posts

– The various and sundry Kickstarter campaigns that have been heating up, mostly for large projects by established teams, there’s an interesting new one: Grim Dawn‘s Kickstarter is another by, yep, an established team (the guys who made the generally beloved Titan Quest) making a new Action RPG just in time to again be sadly forgotten as Diablo erases everyone’s memories with eldritch magic. They’re asking for a paltry $280,000 because they’re essentially done with the project, they just want to make two free-time dudes full-time and maybe hire an animator so they can get this thing polished and out the door. It really looks lovely, a deserving entry into a field that’s usually lay kind of fallow between Diablos, even though it’s pretty fun. Check out their awesome preview movie, you can see some basically complete gameplay! They’ve got nice features, too. Like an open world that you unlock at whatever pace you choose, and NPC factions. I’m hoping for ARPG Stalker. Oh man now I’ve made myself sad because nothing can be that awesome.

– I’ve started to really enjoy the musical stylings of Dr. Dog:

– And these German 60’s pop stars:

 

October 3, 2011

La Belle et le Petit Prince

Filed under: Interesting Things, Movies — Katherine Barclay @ 8:12 am

Now, first of all, let me start this off by saying that I love Beauty and the Beast. It’s always been one of my favourite Disney movies, and is probably going to remain one for a good long time. The characters are lovely, the music (both songs and background variety) is amazing and vibrant, the Beast’s animation team and Robby Benson do an astounding job of making him a truly compelling character. I even like the annoying kid character, and they usually drive me nuts.

But.

Well, I was watching Paw’s review of it the other day, and that inspired me to watch the movie again for the first time in years, and I noticed something that’s just completely shaken my entire concept of the Disney classic. It happens early on, and so fortunately doesn’t require me to summarize the entire film in order to get there. For the benefit of those of you who either have managed to live your entire lives without seeing the movie or, more likely, just don’t remember the specifics of a movie you haven’t seen since you were kids, I’ll let Wikipedia cover the necessary basics:

An enchantress disguised as an old beggar woman offers a young prince a rose in exchange for a night’s shelter. When he turns her away, she punishes him by transforming him into an uglyBeast and turning his servants into furniture and other household items. She gives him a magic mirror that will enable him to view faraway events, and she gives him the rose, which will bloom until his twenty-first birthday. He must love and be loved in return before all the rose’s petals have fallen off, or he will remain a Beast forever.

Ten years later, a young, beautiful woman known as Belle comes along …

And the story continues, la la la. Poor inventor’s father gets in trouble, Belle rescues him, Stockholm Syndrome sets in and is in turn replaced by the afore-required true love. We have conflict, and pouffy gold dresses, and the Mob Song which remains one of my favourite Disney songs of all time, and we all go home happy.

There’s just one little problem, and it mostly has to do with math. (more…)

August 8, 2011

Comedy! My Brother, My Brother, and Me is a Comedic Podcast That Is Actually Pretty Good.

Filed under: Interesting Things — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 12:43 pm

So you’re into comedy. Maybe you watch it on The Cent (as we in the know call Comedy Central) or you’re super into some British thing that you insist is great but then again who can tell when each season is 13 minutes long and primarily consists of awkward pausing and tooth decay?

Maybe you listen to podcasts, but probably not. Because podcasts are the castoffs of comedy. There are a thousand of them, and you don’t have the time in your busy day to go around making certain each and every one is actually just the worst thing. You’ve got stuff to do.

But you’ve got me! And I’ve got fuck all to do. So, after having reviewed all podcasts in their entirety over the course of the past week, I’ve brought you the single best comedic podcast: My Brother, My Brother, and Me. I will abbreviate to MBMBaM, pronounced “muh bim bam”.

What is MBMBaM? Well, as they put it:

My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advicecast for the modern era featuring three real-life brothers: Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy. For roughly five-sixths of an hour each week, with new episodes dropping every Monday, the brothers McElroy will answer any query sent our way, each fielding questions falling into our respective areas of expertise. We operate like a streamlined, advice-generating machine. It’s both terrifying and humbling to behold.

If you’ve got nerdy or boring parents, you’ll remember listening to Car Talk on NPR. It’s like that, but instead of cars they tack more to Dear Abby sorts of advice. Also, their jokes make someone other than themselves laugh on occasion. The brothers alternate between questions sent in by readers and Yahoo Answers questions asked by terrifyingly out of touch people in need of a lot of help.

The Brothers McElroy have a pretty good vibe going. The three of them have gotten comfortable riffing off questions, and using intervals of decent advice as a way of pausing to think about something that would be a much dumber and funnier course of action to advocate. They also have the good sense to actually plan ahead instead of relying entirely on bullshitting, which gives a bit of structure to the experience. Griffin has become the designated question-asker, and over the 65 extant episodes has become adept at pinpointing the down-slope of the riff track and cutting it off with a new question.

It’s the sort of humor that you can’t really pinpoint lines or quotes from all that easily because it’s just a flow looking for local minimums of humorousness, but it’s left me actually crying with laughter several times. It’s a bit like MST3K in that regard, but obviously much worse. I don’t want them getting big heads.

Anyways! I’ve got the sample track for you to listen to, and you can head on over to their website for more, with a new update each week!

Oh, and feel free to ask them questions too:

If you’re in desperate need of a bit of advice, don’t be shy! Simply send an email to mbmbam@maximumfun.org, or post on twitter with the tag #MBMBaM and we’ll take care of that for you.

June 21, 2011

Cupcakes For Breakfast: Awesome

Filed under: Interesting Things, The Internet — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 12:20 pm

I just found myself entranced by the idea of this Instructable:

Look at that. Delicious.

It’s a Breakfast Cupcake: Espresso chocolate, with a waffle and caramelized bacon topper.

If we could just manage to figure out the Lunch and Dinner cupcakes, we could start having the best days in the history of humanity. The cupcake days.

Seriously though having now tried one I can tell you they taste awesome, the bacon really goes with the cupcake. Plus, they get you a bit of a coffee buzz, which is lovely. You should make your own! You can’t have any of mine, I don’t have any extras. Get out of here! GO!

Go, and make as many as you can!

Also noticed: the Instructables site is a bit shit. I get that they need to monetize content a bit, but man do I hate “pay for this and you’ll get what you probably assumed was the basics” services. Really? I get to see all the steps on one page if I subscribe? Oh be still my fucking heart.

June 20, 2011

Bulgarian Superhero Graffiti is Awesome

Filed under: Comics, Interesting Things, News — Tags: , , , — Durandal @ 2:10 pm

This is kind of excellent. Apparently popped up overnight recently in Bulgaria, done by a guy people are calling “The Bulgarian Banksy” because Banksy is the only graffiti artist any of us know.

I guess there’s a history of defacing this statue, because it’s of Red Army soldiers “liberating” Bulgaria. A bit of a chill in the relationship following the fall of the Soviet Union has made people less than respectful of the old monuments to the victorious.

Below the statue is written “Moving with the times”, presumably some sort of statement about communism and western imperialism and something or other but I ignored it because holy shit haha Wolverine, the Joker, Captain America and Santa oh man.

(Via the Daily Mail)

The Smallest Possible RPG/Awesome Old Game Cover Generator.

Filed under: Game News, Interesting Things, The Internet — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 11:42 am

So I just saw this on BoingBoing and I’m shamelessly acquiring it.

Rob Beschizza has created an old-old-school RPG called TinyHack that is played via a 9×9 pixel screen. It’s pretty simplistic, but interesting! It’s neat to see what you can do in terms of UI with only a few pixels to work with. Check it out:

Yeah, you're the dot. No, the white dot.

But more importantly, it’s also got a “Cool Old Game Cover Generator” that provides randomized generic backstory.

One of my favorites:

Halberd of the Manticore

Are you bad enough to command the Stone? The City needs you, hero!

The island kingdom of eveut is in havoc and dragons destroy all who come before them. Search for the Sword of Ouroboross in the forest of auixeu. Locate the Shield of Dreams in the tomb of aoxafe. Collect the 16 golden lights and find the key of destiny to unlock the secret of the water fortress, where the evil Loki gathers forces for the final attack.

Enter a world of pulse-pounding gameplay and fortune with Halberd of the Manticore , the most gruelling and challenging game of 1978. Remember, hero: Loki threatens to conquer the City!

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