Sonnet: Against Entropy

August 30, 2012

Seen on Tor.com during Poetry Month: Sonnet: Against Entropy, by John Ford.

Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.

Be sure to read the comments on the post too — the origin of the sonnet is pretty cool all by itself.

This is my favorite of the poems posted during Poetry Month, but there are a few other good ones too:

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Superstruct

August 30, 2010

Saw this image while reading about Punk Rock Mathematics:

http://travelogue.betacantrips.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/wpid-superstruct_threats.png

Apparently this was part of a project called Superstruct, which is apparently now quite defunct, but at the time was some kind of experimental game, aiming to (as far as I can tell) brainstorm solutions to the world’s problems in some form of social networking/alternate reality schema.

Q: How do I play Superstruct?

A: Superstruct is played on forums, blogs, videos, wikis, and other familiar online spaces. We show you the world as it might look in 2019. You show us what it’s like to live there. Bring what you know and who you know, and we’ll all figure out how to make 2019 a world we want to live in.

It’s really interesting to look at some of the entrails of this particular beast. They put up a wikia, with a page called Superstruct Powers, which begins:

Note: By necessity this page will start out with crackpot theories, wrong ideas, and untested hypotheses. The goal is to identify the difference between theories that should be tested, and case studies of actual superstructing that can be evaluated. It’s fine to theorize, but try to protovate your theories as much as possible. Remember your scientific method: 1) Observe, 2) Make a hypothesis, 3) Make a prediction, 4) Test, and back to 1) Observe.

I personally love this kind of future-dialect that assumes you know more than you can know. Also interesting are the Plot Updates, which reflect the above image:

Under pressure from its largest client, Google, the leaders of the energy haven of SeaStar, which offers a combination of abundant clean energy (from wave, wind, and solar power), year-round aquaculture, and high-bandwidth connections to the global Internet, voted today to end efforts to declare SeaStar an autonomous national entity, accepting instead a status of protectorate of the United Kingdom.

The wiki has another page called Screaming 3D Bootstrappers, apparently an in-game clan.

All of this makes for utterly wonderful flavor text — but it isn’t clear what the game mechanics, if any, are. Sure, we can brainstorm solutions. But to see which solutions are the easiest to implement, or the most effective, or the most cost-effective? There’s a video, but right now my bandwidth is not sufficient to watch it. Anyone want to clue me in?

Also, be aware that there’s a "sequel", called Evoke, which is a little easier to grok.

The goal of the social network game is to help empower young people all over the world, and especially young people in Africa, to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems….Players who successfully complete ten game challenges in ten weeks will be able to claim their honors: Certified World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010.

The missions (here’s one) tend to encourage exploration of problems and a focus on "innovation".

Your objective: Describe the biggest challenge to food security in your own local community or country — and an innovative solution that is already underway.
Document your local insight with a blog post, video, or photo.
Your objective: Take action to increase someone’s food security near you.
Document your effort with a blog post, video, or photo.

But it’s hard for me to feel like this would be 1. fun (since it feels like a junior-high-school homework assignment) or 2. impactful (since solutions and ingenuity do not seem to be in short supply in the world). Nevertheless, it’s better than underage drinking.

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a few words about a live clip featuring the beets

February 25, 2010
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Maybe this is stupid, but I live for moments like these (seen via Sumana).

Well, I stumbled across it somehow, I’m not sure how, and I watched it, and I had one of those experiences you have sometimes with a band you’ve never heard playing a song you don’t know. One of those transformative reaffirming experiences, which you then get religious about, even if religious isn’t exactly the word you’d use but trust me it’s the word you actually mean: you start thinking, everything should be like this all the time, anything that’s not like this is a ridiculous waste of time, I want peak experiences and only peak experiences because life is all about peak experiences and people who consent to have less than constant peaking epiphanies all the time are missing out, etc., etc., all infantile nonsense of course but as feelings go a bracing & pleasant one. The permanent reoccurring 19th summer is a nonstarter as a governing aesthetic stance, but as a tool in the kit it’s not without some merits. I have a lot to say about this, actually, but it’s complicated, and hurtful to people whose 19th summer left such a profound impression on them that they think it’s the meaning of life or something, so, you know, whatever. It doesn’t matter much except when it does….

Did this clip have a press blast sent out twice a day via email to everybody? Maybe, probably, I don’t know, but by the time I saw it, it was just something hanging around, ready to be ignored, preemptively ready to be ignored, even. It’s like a good plumber: you didn’t catch his last name and you’ll forget he was even at your house by this time tomorrow, but if he hadn’t been there, you’d be up to your neck in your own shit, which is, I think, what I am trying to say. That without this clip of the Beets in your life, you are drowning, drowning forever in a river of your own excrement. Not in any way that might seem heroic or tuff or remarkable. Just unpleasantly.

I guess in a sense this was my PyCon experience. Expect to see a bunch of posts in the near future regarding the neat stuff I saw there.

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Searching for Truth in a Wild Blue Yonder

January 14, 2010

I heartily recommend the short story Searching for Truth in a Wild Blue Yonder, published the other day on Tor.com. Four pages. Ten minutes of reading, fifteen max. You won’t regret it.

Ten years after my parents died, my therabot, Bob, informed me that I should seek help elsewhere. I blinked at his suggestion.

"I’ve already tried chemical intervention," I told his plastic grin. "It didn’t work." I scowled, but that did nothing to de-brighten his soothing, chipper voice.

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The Gentle Seduction, by Marc Stiegler

January 5, 2010

Seen on JWZ: a short story described as "The Rapture of the Nerds from the perspective of a non-nerd", The Gentle Seduction.

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Revelation #1

December 6, 2009
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From Morta Jxurnalo de Totoro: Revelation.

I make bad decisions under pressure.

That’s it. There’s a simplicity here that I find appealing, the cleanness of finding a truth about yourself.

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