November 30, 2009

coventry v. everton, 1970

[A rather unique goal, scored by Coventry's Earnie Hunt after Willie Carr flicks it into the air, via the Times Online]

November 29, 2009

exactly right, part two

You might think (quite reasonably) that a post entitled "How Glenn Beck Can Save the Right" would be horrendous and error-strewn, but you'd be wrong, at least in the case of this post by E.D. Kain:

As the Obama administration pushes its expensive healthcare reform agenda, tackles global warming head-on (sort of), and moves forward with its various stimulus projects and bailouts, the president also took the time to sign into law the most expensive defense budget since World War II...

All told, [the budget is] $855.8 billion dollars - approximately $8 billion more than the Senate healthcare bill would cost Americans in ten years. And this is the defense budget for fiscal year 2010 alone. If we only pay this much for the next ten years, Americans will have spent nearly $9 trillion on defense in a decade - or just over $8 trillion dollars more than we'll spend if we pass healthcare reform.

This is a symptom of empire-building. America is not imperial in the traditional sense, of course. We are not colonists. We have little interest in actually conquering territory. But we do have an overabundance of faith in the ability of our military to insure our security and our economic interests across the globe. Our military foots the bill for the defense of Europe and our Asian allies, allowing those countries to spend their own tax revenues on lavish safety nets and top-notch education programs. Meanwhile, Americans pay for Leviathan. Or at least the Leviathan with the guns.

I refer you back to this visualization.

exactly right, part one

Conor Friedersdorf on an inherent contradiction in Andy McCarthy's recent complaint about the ICC:

Though I can understand why [the ICC's claim to jurisdiction over American actions in Afghanistan] would trouble Mr. McCarthy, who presumably wants powerful international actors to be legitimate and accountable to the populations subject to its coercive power, it is difficult to square with his simultaneous belief that the United States has "jurisdiction" to snatch up anyone in any country on earth, fly them to Gitmo, present no evidence that they are guilty of anything, and hold them until the threat of international terrorism is gone, which is to say, forever.

[Apologies for quoting almost the entire post, but it's a short one]

November 25, 2009

benny olsen

olsen.jpg

[Thanks, Ben. For live soccer experiences so far, the perfect hattrick is second only to beating Mexico in Columbus, though watching you get in Wells Thompson's face as he was lying on the ground after you'd shoved him out of the way for the tying goal against New England wasn't bad either, and was one of the few bright spots in a miserable season.]

November 23, 2009

November 22, 2009

November 21, 2009

November 20, 2009

November 19, 2009

on video games

love.jpg

The New York Times magazine has a nice article on the proliferation of indie games and their meaning; I particularly agree with this statement from Passage designer Jason Rohrer:

"People are starting to realize that games can't survive on narrative and character... It's not what video games are meant to do. It doesn't explore what makes them unique. If they are going to transcend and have real meaning, it has to emerge from game mechanics. Play is what games offer."

I don't play too many video games, but one that I've spent a fair bit of time with is Football Manager; the narrative of which is rather unlike that of most other (video) games, which typically adopt the conventions of other forms of storytelling -- the novel or the comic or the film -- in order to weld a story onto a game, to give pre-determined meaning and significance to the challenges the game presents. The narrative of a game of Football Manager, though, emerges exclusively from the gameplay itself. The game doesn't tell you what events are significant, but, in simulating a real-world sport around which fans inevitably build narratives, it creates a world of events and decisions that one naturally strings together into a narrative. It's exactly the sort of emergent narrative that Rohrer describes, though it isn't aimed at the sort of lofty themes (mortality, the sublime, beauty, etc.) which the games discussed in the Times article are. So while a couple of Bioware's story-focused role playing games (Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic) are among the few games I've found time to finish since graduating college (and I thoroughly appreciate the care which Bioware puts into the development of those stories and characters), I'm not at all convinced that developing stronger and more complex narratives is the best way to realize the storytelling potential of the medium (though it seems possible that there's some future technological point at which emergent narrative and presented narrative might come to co-exist).

[image: early development screen shot from Eskil Steenberg's Love]

eduard imhof

imhof-1.jpg

[Swiss cartographer Eduard Imhof's "Mount Everest or Chomolongma", from the Schweizerischer Mittelschulatlas, editions 1962-1976; see also the hand-drawn hillshade which underlies the final atlas version; via but does it float]

November 18, 2009

the nine nations of china

A fascinating interactive map by Patrick Chovanec at the Atlantic Monthly splits China into nine distinct sub-regions; while there are, as Chovanec explains on his blog, any number of other ways to split China, none of those have really penetrated deeply into Western consciousness, in my experience (I've always been vaguely aware that China was a really, really large nation with geographically and culturally distinct sub-regions, but I've never had any kind of understanding of what those sub-regions might be).

[via James Fallows]

November 15, 2009

November 11, 2009

shellac::end of radio

The live version of which includes the extra lines: "This microphone converts sound into electricity/which travels down this wire/which travels up a hill/and is broadcast out into space/Into motherfucking space!... Distant alien civilization/can you hear this snare drum?"

ascension island

simon-norfolk-1.jpg

[Concretized hydrology; "Water catchement system built by the British military... in order to supply water to the troops who man [Ascension Island]", from photographer Simon Norfolk's series on that island; via The BLDGBLOG Book]

November 9, 2009

smoke break after the apocalypse

chernobyl.jpg

[Bumper car ruins in Prypiat (site of the Chernobyl disaster), via io9; great collection of photographs of Prypiat in this old English Russia post]