Shared posts

26 May 20:24

"Ablaut reduplication" explained

by Minnesotastan

I can't find the original, so* I'll embed this screencap of a ?newspaper article for a quick summary.  More details are available in the Wikipedia article on apophony.  Via the discussion thread at the Interestingasfuck subreddit.
"It's a terrible thing to teach language learners, they'll try to agonizingly remember and apply a rule that is complete and totally instinctive even for natives. Same goes for most grammar "rules", which imho are not rules handed down by grammarians so much as patterns they have noticed."
*A tip of the blogging cap to an anonymous reader and to Paul Parkinson, whose comments led me to the source in a BBC Culture column.  And the book from which the cited text was excerpted is "The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase," which I've requested from our library.
25 May 00:11

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Damsel

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Worse, he tied her to a track that is proposed to later be part of a high speed rail line that is currently being studied.

New comic!
Today's News:

If you *are* a pre-orderer, please sign up here to receive your rewards. If you don't buy before launch day, you aren't eligible for the nifties!

24 May 23:18

Who?

Gonna feel even dumber when I realize that all this time he's been talking into a bluetooth thingy and we're not actually friends.
23 May 00:15

Relax at the end of a long day with a visit to Modular Café

by Edwinder

Builder Brandon wyc has put together a wonderful LEGO café — a tranquil oasis in the middle of a bustling city scene. The lighting adds to the atmosphere, but what’s most impressive are the details depicting everyday life both inside and outside. The café itself features a kitchen with a bakery, and pretty much everything you need for the business to run all day, including cosy corners for a quiet book read, or a simple dinner date for two. The pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the junction is all nicely-placed, giving the scene a real sense of activity.

LEGO Modular MOC - UiL Cafe "Mingle with the night"

LEGO Modular MOC - UiL Cafe "Mingle with the night"

LEGO Modular MOC - UiL Cafe "Mingle with the night"

LEGO Modular MOC - UiL Cafe "Mingle with the night"

LEGO Modular MOC - UiL Cafe "Mingle with the night"

The post Relax at the end of a long day with a visit to Modular Café appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

20 May 20:51

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Phone Sex

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Telegraph me baby. Dash dash. Dash dash. Dash dash.

New comic!
Today's News:
20 May 04:54

Doctor Visit

According to these blood tests, you're like 30% cereal.
19 May 20:35

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Logical Fallacies

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
I will never NEVER apologize for this.

New comic!
Today's News:
Hey US-based geeks! Did you know that if if you preorder Soonish for $24, you can sign up to receive about $27 worth of SMBC eBooks!?

 

 

 

Here's our pitch:
 
 
19 May 05:04

We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents

by Jennifer

If you watched PBS’s Joy of Painting back in the 80s and early 90s, you’ll probably recognize BrickinNick‘s most recent creation. If not, I’ll give you a few hints. This icon was known for his soft voice, his permed afro (which BrickinNick captured perfectly in LEGO brick), and his positive outlook on life. Bob Ross also taught me that there’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.

CoolStoryBob

The post We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

15 May 20:40

Rental Car

Technically, both cars are haunted, but the murder ghosts can't stand listening to the broken GPS for more than a few minutes.
14 May 20:58

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Gamification

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
In the future, you'll pay to chop wood, but it's not real wood.

New comic!
Today's News:
12 May 22:47

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Stochastic Tax

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
I'm a quadruple threat. I can go geeky, dorky, nerdy, and now wonky.

New comic!
Today's News:

All I'm saying is, if you don't get a copy of my pop science book, well, that's just one more thing you and Commander Hadfield don't have in common.

12 May 01:36

How a Hacker Remembers a PIN

by Elliot Williams

If you have more than a few bank cards, door-entry keycodes, or other small numeric passwords to remember, it eventually gets to be a hassle. The worst, for me, is a bank card for a business account that I use once in a blue moon. I probably used it eight times in five years, and then they gave me a new card with a new PIN. Sigh.

Quick, What’s My PIN?

How would a normal person cope with a proliferation of PINs? They’d write down the numbers on a piece of paper and keep it in their wallet. We all know how that ends, right? A lost wallet and multiple empty bank accounts. How would a hacker handle it? Write each number down on the card itself, but encrypted, naturally, with the only unbreakable encryption scheme there is out there: the one-time pad (OTP).

The OTP is an odd duck among encryption methods. They’re meant to be decrypted in your head, but as long as the secret key remains safe, they’re rock solid. If you’ve ever tried to code up the s-boxes and all that adding, shifting, and mixing that goes on with a normal encryption method, OTPs are refreshingly simple. The tradeoff is a “long” key, but an OTP is absolutely perfect for encrypting your PINs.

The first part of this article appears to be the friendly “life-hack” pablum that you’ll get elsewhere, but don’t despair, it’s also a back-door introduction to the OTP. The second half dives into the one-time pad with some deep crypto intuition, some friendly math, and hopefully a convincing argument that writing down your encrypted PINs is the right thing to do. Along the way, I list the three things you can do wrong when implementing an OTP. (And none of them will shock you!) But in the end, my PIN encryption solution will break one of the three, and remain nonetheless sound. Curious yet? Read on.

The PIN Solution

So first the solution to the bank card problem: write your PIN encrypted with a secret that only you know. Instead of needing to remember a four-digit number for each new card, you’ll just need one four-digit number forever. The key is to choose an encryption scheme that’s easy enough to undo so that you won’t look too strange when asked to type the PIN in at the bank teller’s window. This is the classic use of the OTP — an encryption that you can undo in your head.

First, randomly select a secret four-digit number. Then, subtract that number from your PIN and write the result on your card. To get your PIN, when standing in front of the bank teller, simply look down at the card and add the secret number back. The teller will think that you’ve written your PIN on the card. Feel free to feel smug, because you’ve used an unbreakable encryption scheme.

Instead of normal addition and subtraction, with the carrying and borrowing across digits, you will want to use modulo-10 math — adding or subtracting ten from the result any time it gets outside the range 0-9. We’ll talk about why below, but for now, here’s a working example.

Suppose the PIN is 1234 — it has to happen so someone, right? — and my random secret number is 1337, naturally. Let’s encrypt. Subtracting 1 from 1 gives a zero, so I write that down. Subtracting 3 from 2 gives -1, which is where the modulo-10 arithmetic comes in. In this case, -1 turns into 9 by adding ten. 3 – 3 = 0, and 4 – 7 = 7, mod-10. My card now has 0907 written on it.

Now let’s decrypt. Looking down at the card, I see a 0 and add 1. 9 + 3 = 12, however, so we’ll need to subtract ten to get 2. (That’s the reason to choose addition for the decryption stage, it’s easy to just drop any leading 1s.) 0 + 3 = 3 and 7 + 7 = 14 -> 4<. I type in 1234, and the money is mine!

Once you get the hang of adding your secret number to any other number, digit-wise mod-10, you’ll be surprised how quickly it will work. Try it out and see if you get good at it within ten minutes.

One-Time Pads

A one-time pad is both the simplest symmetric encryption scheme and also completely unbreakable. It has three crucial features, two of which were demonstrated above, and getting any of them wrong can be catastrophic.

The most important feature of an OTP is that the password needs to be random, and the same length as the text that it encrypts — hence the four-digit secret for the PIN. In an OTP, everything revolves around the secret, which is also its Achilles’ heel. For a four-digit number, keeping a four-digit secret is no problem. But imagine that you want to send gigabytes of encrypted photos of your vacation to a friend. That’s a lot of key material to keep on-hand and secret.

Original by [Matt_Crypto], Public Domain
Second, the method of combining the message with the secret has to be similar to the modulo arithmetic, in that the set of encrypted characters and the set of plaintext characters — the PIN in our example — have to map one-to-one. Mod-10 ensures this easily: both are in the range 0-9. Maybe you’re familiar with using the XOR operator on binary data, which is the same thing as either addition or subtraction, mod-2. ( 0 + 0 = 0, 0 + 1 = 1, 1 + 0 = 1, and 1 + 1 = 2 -> 0. QED.) You can also use letters and wrap the alphabet around at “z” like the Caesar cipher or ROT13, which is just mapping the alphabet into numbers and doing math mod-26.

Third, and maybe this is a corollary of the first, you shouldn’t re-use the secret in a one-time pad. You’d think that this was obvious, since it’s even in the name of the encryption method, but it’s hard to do in practice. And in fact, my PIN-encryption scheme breaks this rule by using the same secret across multiple keys. We’ll get into that soon.

Messing up the Perfect Encryption

Why is a OTP unbreakable? Breaking most encryption schemes often boils down to probability and statistics. For instance, if you encrypt a text with the Caesar cipher above, each letter in the plaintext is mapped to another single letter every time it occurs in the ciphertext. If you know that the original text is in English, where the most commonly used letter is “e”, it’s a good bet that if “q” is the most common letter in the ciphertext, it stands for “e”. That is, we find statistical similarities between the plaintext and the ciphertext, and use them to make a bridge between the two.

Using a secret key that is as long as the plaintext, and randomly chosen, breaks any statistical relationship with the ciphertext. Given a specific ciphertext written down on my card, every PIN from 0000 to 9999 is possible, and if the key was chosen randomly, is equally likely. There is no information about the plaintext in the ciphertext — that’s essentially Claude Shannon’s proof (absolutely classic PDF) in a nutshell. And that’s why an OTP is unbreakable.

DIANA One-Time Pad [US NSA], Public Domain
This is actually the key to understanding the field of cryptography: it is an attempt to scramble up the information about the plaintext during the encryption process so that even though a shorter key is used, no statistically relevant traces of the plaintext remain. This desire for short keys isn’t just a matter of convenience either: imagine that you and Hackaday had to previously exchange 500 KiB of random data just to download this article and read it. Imagine the length of the WiFi password that you’d have to write down for guests! This is the sense in which the OTP is trivial and uninteresting — it may be unbreakable, but the secrets are just too long for most applications. Real crypto is about finding algorithms that break the statistical relationship with a minimum of key material.

With that in mind, you can screw up an OTP implementation by using a short or non-random password. Imagine using 1 as your password and repeating it as necessary; our ciphertext would read 2345, and the PIN would be guessed on the second try. You also want to use a random password; picking 0000 because it makes the math easy is the only thing worse than the above. (Although, strictly speaking, I’d re-roll if I got 0000, 1111, 9999, 1234, 4321, or similar.) Anyway, don’t use your birthday. Old phone numbers of childhood friends might be acceptable.

The role of modulo arithmetic is a little more subtle. Whatever function is used, the set of possible characters in the plaintext has to map one-to-one with the ciphertext. Why? Imagine that you used simple addition instead of mod-10 addition. To get the last digit of our PIN ciphertext, we used 4 – 7 = -3 -> 7 and decrypted with 7 + 7 = 14 -> 4. If we wrote down -3 instead, an attacker would know that our last digit couldn’t be greater than 6 because adding 9, the maximum value, gives only 6. We’ve leaked information by having a larger set in the ciphertext than in the plaintext.

And that leaves the last way to mess up: re-using the “one-time” pad. Obvious, right? Wrong.

Lorenz Machine, Public Domain

On one hand, reuse is a definite liability. Re-using a password in a very similar encryption scheme broke “Tunny”, an important code during WWII. A 4,000 character encrypted message was sent but not received correctly. The sender re-sent the message, with the same secret but made small changes in the text, using different abbreviations and so on. This gave the Allies enough to break Tunny and reverse engineer the machine that encrypted it. Game over.

Here’s the math that made the Tunny decrypt work, and should convince you to almost never reuse a key. If we encode the messages A and B with the secret key C, and someone overhears both, they can just mod them together to get (A mod C) mod (B mod C) = (A mod B) mod C mod C = A mod B, where mod is the bitwise or number-wise modulo operator that we’re now used to. Since taking the binary modulo is its own reverse, the result is something that’s related to both plaintexts, and independent of the secret key.

From here, comparing smart guesses for A and B and comparing them with the A mod B result can break the code. So if you’re pretty sure that “attack” appears in both texts (crypto types always encrypt “attack at dawn”), then you can try modding “attack” together in different positions until you get a match with A mod B.

A Surprise Ending

But here’s the final twist! We can get away with reusing the secret key across all of our bank cards, even despite the above math. Why? Because the PINs themselves are random. In contrast to the natural-language messages sent during wartime, A mod B is just as random as A mod C if both A and B are random PINs.

So this is how a hacker remembers PINs: by learning a lot about the one-time pad, how to break it, and how it’s nonetheless useful if the message it needs to protect is short. And how, for particular messages, you can even break the rules.


Filed under: Featured, History, Interest, Original Art, security hacks
10 May 20:16

I’ve been super busy with the upcoming book The Electric State,...















I’ve been super busy with the upcoming book The Electric State, so I have neglected my Tumblr. I’m sorry for that! Anyway, here’s an update on what I’ve been up to. 

More at:
www.simonstalenhag.se

10 May 20:14

You are go for launch with LEGO Ideas 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V [Review]

by Caylin

The Saturn V moon rocket is a masterpiece of engineering and remains the largest rocket ever successfully launched. Between 1967 and 1973, thirteen rockets left earth, taking us to the moon and building Skylab, the United States’ first space station. So it’s fitting that LEGO Ideas 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V is the largest Ideas set produced to date, clocking in at a massive 1,969 pieces in an homage to Apollo 11. When countdown ends and the rocket set launches on June 1, 2017, it will retail for $119.99. Included is the Saturn V rocket in three stages, the command and service module, lunar lander, and command module with floatation device.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The Box (and instructions)

Like other Ideas sets, Saturn V comes in a black box, with the model on the front and the LEGO Ideas branding. Unlike other Ideas sets. the box is not made of the thicker, sturdier cardboard, likely due to the size, nor does it have a hinged lid that opens and reseals easily. Our box, sadly, arrived a little worse for the wear.

The box features a beautiful picture of Earth below and a starry sky above. The front has blue schematics of the model made to mimic blueprints, giving the scale and physical size of the model. The back of the box shows the model in its finished sub-models, along with a launch sequence and iconic pictures from Apollo 11. A map of the moon shows where each Apollo mission landed.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The instruction book is just as beautiful as we’ve come to expect LEGO Ideas books to be. It’s bound like a book and 182 pages long. The cover features a white-line drawing of the rocket leaving Earth.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

When you open the cover, you are greeted by historical photos from NASA of Saturn V, the command module, the moon rover, and members of the crew in front of a training lunar lander. The opposite page contains a brief history of Project Apollo, focusing mostly on Apollo 11 with brief mentions of the other missions. Turn the page to see the LEGO version of the rocket broken down into each of its parts, giving names for the engines, stages, and modules. Included are photos from the rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building, along with descriptions of how the command and service modules docked with the lunar lander.

The following pages give a visual timeline, from launch to lunar landing of an Apollo mission, complete with photos (where available) of different stages along with more photos of the program. Flip the page one more time to learn about fan designers Valerie Roche and Felix Stiessen and LEGO designers Michael Psiaki, Carl Thomas Merriam, and Austin William Carlson.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The Build

This is a long, luxurious build. Overall, the model took more than 5 hours to construct, and each moment was spent uttering things like, “oh, that’s clever” and, “Wow. Really? In an official set?” Practically the entire rocket makes extensive use of some of the most complex SNOT techniques to ever grace an official set.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The set comes with 12 bags: Bags 1-8 make up the first Stage (the business end of a Saturn V); Bags 9 and 10 make up Stage 2. Bag 11 contains Stage 3, while Bag 12 completes the rocket with the launch escape system, command module, service module, and lunar lander.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The rocket comes together from the bottom up and inside out, then circles back around: most of the first Stage is complete before adding on the F1 engines that the entire rocket rests on. Despite being a 39″ tall tower, the model is bottom-heavy and relatively stable. A good push will knock it over, but its sturdy enough to stand alone while building.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

One point of difficulty comes from attaching some of the sub-builds to the core of the model: the tolerances for getting studs lined up is very tight and on more than one occasion, I had difficulty snapping pieces together. This is particularly noticeable on Stage 1, since the sub-assemblies are so long. Part of the issue included a mistake I made early on: the instructions were unclear on precisely which studs the sub-assembly was supposed to attach to. This was due to the point-of-view angle in the instructions, resulting in my sub-assemblies being misaligned by one stud. This was the only place there was an issue; all other instances of attaching long sub-assemblies had easier visual references.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

A number of unorthodox techniques are at play in holding the exterior panels in place, including brackets turned at 45° angles, as well as clips and Mixels ball joints. In some instances, the designers have even exploited the geometry of unusual parts like the 1×2 plate with vertical bar (in green) to hold segments in place.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The Parts

Like all Ideas sets, there are no stickers to be found around here. There are tiles that say “United” and “States”, printed 2×3 curved slopes with U, S, and A, along with four printed curved slopes with American flags on them. There’s also a single 1×8 white tile with black rectangles to add detailing. Additionally, there are printed elements on the lunar lander and command module, as well as the 1×2 clear tile with the flag used for the vignette of the lunar lander.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The set comes with four micro astronauts (one is an extra). They are all identical, so it’s up to you to choose who gets to be Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Michael Collins.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

Saturn V does not feature any new element molds; it does, however, feature some parts in new colors. My favorite part in a new color goes to the half large barrel, appearing in Pearl Dark Grey for the first time. The texture on it works perfectly as the F1 engines. It also includes the new 1×1 round tile with bar (aka inkwell) in both black and white. White is currently only otherwise available in the Collectible Minifigures Series 17 Dance Instructor, while black has only just shown up in the Speed Champions Bugatti Chiron.

You’ll also get 144 2×3 curved slopes in white, not counting the printed ones, plus 144 brackets in various styles and colors.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The Finished Model

This model is stunning. It’s impressive to behold, standing 39 inches tall. The iconic black and white checkered patterns stand out, with enough details worked in to help the rocket avoid looking like a bland pillar. Putting your micro Neil Armstrong at the base of the rocket gives a sense of just how massively large these rockets really are.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V
21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

Once assembled, the rocket fits the lunar lander above the third Stage. Unfortunately, the landed command module does not fit inside the finished rocket.
21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V
21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The very top of the rocket is made up of the service module, command module, and launch escape system. There are a number of changes here from the original fan model to the set, most noticeably on the launch escape system. The fan model used a 2x2x5 lattice support brick in white, which has been changed to columns of white taps here. The overall look is streamlined, and works quite well on the final model.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

Each stage is connected using clips, creating a very sturdy connection that’s still easy to separate for transport or display. Stage 1 uses four sets, while the other stages use two sets each. Much of the most complicated SNOT work is used to put the clips into place in such a way they stand up to the force necessary to separate the stages.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

This is a big set, and I knew that after reading the press release, but nothing quite prepared me to stand next to the finished model. The large Stage 1 section stands taller than my cat.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V
21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

For reference, here’s Saturn V standing next to 10231 Shuttle Expedition. The shuttle has 1,230 pieces, and stands an impressive 17.5 inches tall, and was formerly the largest NASA LEGO set. It includes the fuel tank and booster rockets. The shuttle and rocket are not quite to scale with each other, but they’re close, with the shuttle being just 3 inches shorter than it would be at the rocket’s 1:110 scale. Nevertheless, the shuttle looks tiny compared to its predecessor in manned spaceflight.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

With all this talk about large rockets, let’s not forget about the smallest of the builds: the command module and the lunar lander, the reason for the rocket’s existance. After all, that giant rocket is merely the propulsion system for this tiny lander.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The lunar lander is adorable and instantly recognizable. It’s a simple construction, without using many parts.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

A printed 2×2 round boat tile is used to great effect as the hatch.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

Smallest of all is the command module, floating in the ocean after returning to Earth. The whole thing uses just 10 pieces, with eight orange hinges for the floatation ring. The ring simply rests snugly around the module with no official connection.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

The Verdict

The set will appeal on many levels: it’s a solid build with excellent techniques. It’s got a good selection of parts, and it’s a scale model of the most iconic launch vehicle of the 20th century. The Saturn V deserves a place on any LEGO or Space fan’s shelf. Plus, even if you just want it for the pieces, it’s a bargain at just over $0.06 per part, roughly 40 percent lower than most LEGO sets average.

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V

21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V will be available June 1, 2017.


The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The post You are go for launch with LEGO Ideas 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V [Review] appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

10 May 20:12

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Blood of the Bayesian

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Also one about a werewolf who uses statistical methods to determine he's actually an insane man experiencing a prolonged psychotic episode.

New comic!
Today's News:
09 May 21:07

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - PhD

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Jorge has this interesting artistic he calls 'shading.' It's a little avant-garde for my taste, but I hope you like it.

New comic!
Today's News:

True story - long ago when I was on the dating market, every time I talked to a grad student who found out I was a cartoonist, she'd say "ARE YOU JORGE CHAM?" More and more, I regret that I always said no.

Anyway, you should check out his book!

09 May 21:06

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Chosen One

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Honestly, even when I'm sober, I'm a little stabby.

New comic!
Today's News:

Tuesday Book Reviews! 

(archived here)

The Righteous Mind (Haidt)

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I’ll recommend it to you. There’s a lot here, so I won’t try to unpack it all. But, the basic core here is that it’s a book about moral psychology, or what you might call an empirical look at human morality.

The author argues that different cultures and groups (he puts especial focus on liberals vs. conservatives vs. libertarians) often disagree because their moral frameworks emphasize different aspects of shared moral values. This is interesting on its own, but Haidt adds an argument about how and why humans tend to view their personal moral value system as the only true one, which results in uncooperative “righteous” behavior. This is an interesting approach, especially in that it turns what most people would call “outrage” into “righteousness” which reframes it in a way that’s interesting to consider.

I’m not sure I’m down for all of it. In particular, there’s an argument about group selection that (like a lot of arguments about multi-level selection theory) seems to me to be semantic to a large degree, and perhaps to overplay the idea that group selection is some sort of scientific heresy. At least in my experience talking to biologists, the general view has been “there’s a version of group selection that, if defined the right way, we all accept.” But, maybe that’s my limited view as someone who wasn’t a biologist in the 70s, and who hasn’t ever picked a fight with Richard Dawkins. But, Haidt does a great job of offering a pathway to understanding each other in an increasingly polarized political climate. That, and all the interesting facts and arguments, make this a very enjoyable read.

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Neufeld)

I really enjoyed this comic book. Before I get into it, let me just say by the way that, as a cartoonist, I appreciate Neufeld’s dedication to drawing gorgeous and detailed backgrounds. There’s no cheating in this book, from an artistic perspective. This is all the more impressive given that the book is really a piece of reporting. It’s not attempting to be literary or exactly beautiful. Rather, it’s a pretty high fidelity retelling of the stories related by seven people of different backgrounds who survived Hurricane Katrina. That said, it’s not without great moments. For instance, there’s a part where the characters trapped in New Orleans find that the only people maintaining order and keeping thirsty people alive are the “thugs” who are willing to rob local stores to supply water.

The almost science fictional seeming militarization of the city is also very striking. One scene describes a man in a boat coming to a hospital to ask for help for his baby. He is turned away by guards with guns, although people on the upper floors of the hospital throw food and water to him before he goes on his way. I usually have a gripe about memoirs that present bare facts rather than trying to make sense of it all, but A.D. is really more of a report than a memoir, and on those terms it succeeds fabulously.

Till We Have Faces (Lewis)

Confession: I didn’t enjoy the Narnia books.

In fairness, I only read two before I felt I’d had enough. But, there it is. The characters seemed ludicrously non-reactive to the extreme circumstances they faced, and the plot (as I recall) seemed to be a grab-bag of whimsy that more or less went nowhere as you waited for Aslan to show up. In fairness, I was not raised as a Christian, and I was only later told about the apparently blatant use of Christian imagery. So, perhaps part of my confusion about the books’ popularity came from, you know, entirely missing the point. Then again, perhaps this is why the old religions (it seems to me) are so much more adept at creating compelling epics. What meaning is there in Gilgamesh’s questing or Odysseus’ journey if there is a single omniscient abstraction orchestrating the whole thing?

Till We Have Faces still carries plenty of Christian imagery. In fact, the main character is torn between her local pagan religion, with its funny smells and magical irrationalities, and the skeptical atheistic tradition embodied by a Greek advisor to her family. Of course, she ends up more drawn to something vaguely related to Lewis’ vision of Christianity. Fine.

Now, set that all aside, and realize that this is a wonderful book. The main character, an old woman telling her own history, is absolutely fantastically crafted. There is a richness of understanding in this book, which Lewis contemplated his whole life only to write in his old age. Everywhere is profundity - in the politics of the world, in the various characters, in the way passing time twists understanding of previous events. I, who am not generally a fan of CS Lewis, adored this book. Considering its relative shortness, the emotional depth is remarkable.

09 May 07:52

Bearded tit having a drink

by Minnesotastan

Credit Edwin Kats.
09 May 07:52

"The domino defect"

by Minnesotastan


"It didn't work out as some Leavers thought."

Cartoon credit Thomas Taylor via Twitter.
08 May 06:49

Lunch Order

GO FOR LUNCH, REPEAT, GO FOR LUNCH.
07 May 20:34

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Pascal's Other Wager

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Hey baby, if you sleep with me tonight, there's a finite chance of infinite pleasure.

New comic!
Today's News:
07 May 05:23

This doesn’t work btw



This doesn’t work btw

06 May 03:59

Good question - updated

by Minnesotastan

Via the LateStageCapitalism subreddit.

Addendum:  Here's the contrarian point of view, as expressed by one of the readers of this blog in his comment (some typos corrected):
"This is only slightly government related. It's actually representative of the lack of personal responsibility born by a society that feels government is their to bail them out. This was a century long effort from Marxists types, under the guise of progressives, to undermine America's individualistic pride and change personal determination to succeed from hard work to a lackluster lifestyle of pleasure funded off of others.

Go Funders, you'll find, did not buy insurance as the responsible person did as soon as he/she fell off their parents policy. These same people went on vacations that others could not afford, bought cars, and did other things with their money instead of the responsible thing.

The government forcing insurers to cover pre-existing conditions is more encouragement toward lacking of responsible behavior."
And now I'll close the comment thread because I don't have the time to curate the shitstorm of replies this comment will probably engender.
05 May 23:56

Code Quality 3

It's like a half-solved cryptogram where the solution is a piece of FORTH code written by someone who doesn't know FORTH.
05 May 23:55

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Wisdom

by tech@thehiveworks.com


Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
The true wisdom can only be had from judgmental comic strips.

New comic!
Today's News:

Just three weeks left to get in your proposals for BAHFest Sydney!

04 May 21:48

LEGO Cassini Huygens is a dead ringer

by Elspeth De Montes

The unmanned Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has been in the headlines recently as she sends back “swan song” images of Saturn’s rings after a mission lasting over 19 years. Strictly speaking, only the Cassini orbiter portion continues to travel, as the Huygens lander successfully landed on Saturn’s moon Titan back in 2005. Chilean builder Luis Peña has built a LEGO version of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, seen here superimposed over an actual Cassini image. This is a pre-2005 version of the craft with the orange Huygens lander clearly visible, and I love the technique used to build the low gain antenna at the font.

Cassini-Huygens and Saturn

A look at the other side of Luis’ LEGO version shows considerable attention to detail – this is very much a 3d model of Cassini-Huygens. The two 445 Newton engines are depicted using ice cream cone parts, while a pair of Technic gears depict the three radioisotope thermoelectric generators.

Cassini Huygens Spacecraft LEGO Model

Due to a dwindling fuel supply, the spacecraft has entered the Grand Finale phase of its mission before a kamikaze pass through he gap between Saturn and its inner ring, before its intentional self destruction within Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15, 2017.

The post LEGO Cassini Huygens is a dead ringer appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

03 May 20:35

Photo Library Management

A good lifehack is to use messy and unstable systems to organize your photos. That way, every five years or so it becomes obsolete and/or collapses, and you have to open it up and pick only your favorite pictures to salvage.
03 May 20:29

Shake a tail feather and head to Ray’s Music Exchange

by Elspeth De Montes

When two brothers, Jake and Elwood Blues, reform their band in the movie The Blues Brothers, they have high hopes of saving the orphanage in which they were raised from financial ruin. One slight issue is the requirement for musical instruments, and this leads the brothers to Ray’s Music Exchange where R&B genius Ray Charles has a cameo as the store owner. Nate Flood has built a perfect LEGO version of the infamous store, complete with a fantastic ‘LEGO-ized’ version of the famous mural.

LEGO Ray's Music Exchange

Nathan’s build is not just an exterior though, as inside we can see Jake and Elwood strutting their stuff, with Ray Charles at the piano and the guys shaking some tail feathers with their guitars and saxophones.

LEGO Ray's Music Exchange

 

The post Shake a tail feather and head to Ray’s Music Exchange appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

03 May 20:29

To boldly go and explore the final frontier

by Elspeth De Montes

Imagine a time when the Dominion war is over and the Borg threat has been defused. In this timeline Starfleet will return to its primary mission of exploration. Ben Smith has created the USS Utah, a survey vessel designed to orbit promising planets and use her expanded sensor capabilities to extensively map their surfaces. She is a beautiful ship with those red and yellow highlights and the grey greebles visible just to the rear of the bridge. I love the two shuttles launching from the large central shuttle bay, jetting off to explore the unknown.

USS Utah NCC 46277 Starfleet Survey Vessel

Ben’s inspiration for this ship actually stemmed from a piece of concept art of a ship called the USS Iowa by Ryan Dening.

USS Iowa Concept Art

The post To boldly go and explore the final frontier appeared first on The Brothers Brick.

02 May 21:49

You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you

by Matthew Inman
You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you

This is a comic about the backfire effect.

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