Shared posts

24 Oct 23:04

How much does it matter?

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post How much does it matter? appeared first on Indexed.

24 Oct 08:05

Set your table in time-honoured positions.The classic “use...

Set your table in time-honoured positions.

The classic “use cutlery from the outside-in” still holds, but I realised there’s a little more to it than that. And I learned what a charger is.

Amalgamation of tips from the cookbook I use most, the Joy of Cooking.

18 Oct 19:51

Bake The Squares And Scatter The Candy

by Zak Sabbath
So I was a judge on the awards jury at the Indiecade festival this year, which was neat. Although I've had stuff there in the past, and they do technically recognize all kinds of games, it's mostly a video game thing, so there weren't any tabletop RPG things nominated for an award this year.

There were, however, some games nominated that were RPG-relevant: I wanna talk about Jenn Sandercock's Order of the Oven Mitt.

The main gimmick is it's an edible boardgame. So far so good--I have always wanted to make an edible dungeon where you get to eat any giant gummi worms you kill--but it stacks more layers on from there.

At the bottom, there's a chess variant--4 players play knights, starting in the corners of a 5x5 board with occupying "NPC" pieces in each square. They're on teams of 2 players each. Each time you take a square, you get to slide the entire horizontal row or vertical column all the way right, left, up, or down to fill the space you created. This includes sliding anybody else's knight who happens to be hanging out on the same register. This in itself is already pretty cool as chess variants go--you're changing the board each turn.

On top of that--the host (probably the same parent who baked the board and pieces for the 10-year old chess club kids this game is optimized for) has scattered a series of special squares, each containing a different kind of candy.

On top of that, each time you take a piece with candy you of course get to eat it however each kind of candy has a specific ritual attached to it. So, like, with the gummi bear you have to eat the head first and with another one you have to jump three times, and one you have to like apologize to the candy or something and another you have to reveal something embarrassing, etc. Your teammate gets to eat a clone candy of the same type and also performs the ritual.
So that's the game. One thing I love about it is that it immediately gets your mind going toward variants. Can we do it with square-cut pizza? Can the rituals feed back into the board set-up? Can...

Now one thing that puzzled us a little at first was the win conditions: the rules say that it ends when all the candy is gone and nobody wins and you should cooperate. But then why are there teams? And what's my motive for thinking about how to shift the board if i can't win? Why not shift it arbitrarily?

But then, oh, duh, right--the reward is the candy.  Specifically two things about it: there's only one square per kind of candy and if you score one then your teammate gets to eat that same candy. (This may have taken us a minute to figure out because the build we were shipped to judge had--through no fault of Jenn's--really stale gingerbread squares, so eating the candy was kind of excruciating but the candy at the actual fest was way better.)

So the idea is: Kandy Korn kid's team tries to manipulate the board so she gets Kandy Korn, marshmallow kid's team tries to manipulate it so he gets a marshmallow, then they both struggle over the right to eat the Junior Mint etc. So there's no winning but there are rewards and goals, and the rewards and goals are scattered across the board by a game master at the beginning and sometimes these are shared and sometimes not, and some of them (licorice) don't even register as goals to anyone but are still there and the rituals of seeing other players get the candy they want are funny even if you're not eating it and the attempts of different people to get what they want changes the world beneath each player.

Which is kind of exactly how sandbox D&D should work.
And now, a word from our sponsor:
19 Days Left

18 Oct 00:00

Flood Death Valley

by xkcd

Flood Death Valley

Since Death Valley is below sea level could we dig a hole to the ocean and fill it up with water?

—Nick Traeden

Yes! We can do anything we want. We shouldn't do this, though, because it would be gross.

Death Valley is an endorheic basin[1]"Big hole" in California. The floor of the valley is about 80 meters below sea level. It contains the lowest point on land in North America[2]Excluding artificial points like mines. and is the hottest place on Earth.[3]If you're about to say "Wait, what about Liby—," then don't worry, I'm with you. Just hang on and read a few more words ahead!

Now, if you're the sort of person who's into world records, you might have heard that the hottest place on Earth was Al Azizia, Libya. Al Azizia recorded a temperature of 58.0°C (136.4°F) in 1922, a mark Death Valley has never come close to. So what gives?

It turns out Al Azizia has recently been stripped of its record. In 2010, an exhaustive—and definitely a little obsessive—investigation led by Christopher C. Burt convinced the World Meteorological Organization that the Libyan measurement was probably a mistake. This left Death Valley with the record of 56.7°C (134°F), set in 1913. Case closed!

Except it's not quite settled. Burt has raised questions about the 1913 record as well, and has gone so far as to catalog a number of historical extremes along with a credibility score for each. The "real" record is probably 53.9°C (129°F). This temperature has been recorded four times, in 1960, 1998, 2005, and 2007—every time in Death Valley.

These records were recorded with modern instruments and are considered reliable. They also make sense from a theoretical point of view. Geographers have calculated[4]This Army Corps of Engineers publication cites a couple of sources for this, including a 1963 paper by G. Hoffman. Unfortunately, that paper is in German, which I can't read, so I've just decided to trust that the Army Corps of Engineers writers Dr. Paul F. Krause and Kathleen L. Flood aren't pulling a fast one on me. that the highest possible temperature in ideal spots (in desert basins like Death Valley) during the 20th century is 55°-56°C, so 54°C sounds like a reasonable world record.

Now, back to Nick's question.[5]This is nowhere NEAR the record for "most boring digression into world record trivia." That record was recently challenged by IBM computer capable of producing millions of boring pieces of trivia per second, but the machine narrowly lost to reigning human champion Ken Jennings.

Since Death Valley is below sea level, we could, as Nick suggests, flood it with seawater. It would take a lot of digging, since there's a lot of Earth in the way. The lowest route to Death Valley is probably by traveling up the Colorado River watershed, along the Arizona border past Quartzsite,[6]Trivia: If you want to reach Quartzsite, Arizona from my school, Christopher Newport University, you just step out onto Warwick Blvd (Rt. 60) and turn left. That's it—Route 60 runs across the country, from the CNU campus in Virginia to I-10 just outside Quartzsite. then northwest[7]Possibly following one of the routes shown on page G34 in this report. past Zzyzx, which is a real place.

If you did all that digging, you could create a channel from the Gulf of California to Death Valley, and water would flow in. We can use this handy stream-flow calculator to figure out how wide we'd need to make the channel. A channel 20 meters deep and 100 meters wide should be able to fill it in a few months. A really wide channel—like the kind carved by glacial floods—could fill it in hours.

We know it's possible to create this kind of inland sea because we've done it before—by accident. In 1905, irrigation engineers working on the Colorado River made some mistakes. During a flood, the entire Colorado river broke through into the Alamo Canal and flowed directly into the Salton basin to the north. By the time they repaired the canal, two years later, the Salton basin had become the Salton Sea—one of the larger human-caused changes to the world map.

The Salton Sea is fed mainly by agricultural runoff, so it's become saline[8]"Salty" and hypereutrophic.[9]"Gross" Large numbers of dead fish, combined with algal decay and unusual chemistry, have created a smell that the US Geological Survey describes as "objectionable," "noxious," "unique," and "pervasive." The sea is a birdwatching hot spot, but also the site of a lot of mass bird die-offs, so kind of a mixed bag if you're into birds. In recent years, the water has been evaporating quickly, leaving behind dried toxic residue which is swept up into dust storms. Work to clean up and rehabilitate the region is ongoing.

All in all, the Salton Sea is a mess—and Nick wants to make another one.

Nick's Death Valley project would start off connected to the ocean, but without a source of flowing water at the Death Valley end,[10](It's a desert.) the channel would gradually silt up. The link to the ocean would eventually be broken, the sea would start to evaporate, the water would become saline, algae would bloom, and eventually the US Geological Survey would start complaining about the smell.

There would be one more consequence to all this. Thanks to the flood of cold ocean water burying the whole region, Death Valley would stop setting temperature records, and someone else would eventually claim to have broken their 129°F record. The Death Valley records would have to be compared to the newer candidates, which would probably use slightly different methods ... and that means one thing:

A World Meteorological Organization expert panel!

22 Oct 14:38

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Terrible News



New comic!
Today's News:

We are nearly sold out of tickets for BAHFest West!

21 Oct 07:00

rollick: Word of the Day

rollick: to move or act in a carefree, frolicsome manner; behave in a free, hearty, or jovial way.
17 Oct 07:00

nudnik: Word of the Day

nudnik: a persistently dull, boring pest.
19 Oct 14:10

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - An Important Distinction


Wow! I get so much more respect now that you're dead!

New comic!
Today's News:
19 Oct 21:19

Why it’s fun to like stuff before it gets cool.

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post Why it’s fun to like stuff before it gets cool. appeared first on Indexed.

13 Oct 05:19

Holidays & Days of Note for October 13, 2016*  ...

Holidays & Days of Note for October 13, 2016

*   International Skeptics Day

*   National Yorkshire Pudding Day (I assume England) There is also one in February!

*   Fontinaia (Old Rome) Fontinaia was the Roman festival for the veneration of holy wells, springs & fountains.

*   Columbus Tells a Lie Day. It was discovered that Columbus’ ships really landed on the 13th of October 1492, he was persuaded by Dutch sailor Piet de Stuini (or DeStynie) to change it to the 12th in the logs because he said that the number 13 might frighten sailors and future investors. The change was detected by an Italian study group called the Colombiani.

13 Oct 02:50

Mare is very practical.

12 Oct 22:29

Or political hero.

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post Or political hero. appeared first on Indexed.

17 Oct 04:00

Spider Paleontology

Whenever you see a video of birds doing something weird, remember: Birds are a small subset of dinosaurs, so the weirdness of birds is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs.
13 Oct 05:01

Boom Times End Times – DORK TOWER 13.10.16

by John Kovalic


15 Oct 07:00

ignominy: Word of the Day

ignominy: disgrace; dishonor; public contempt.
12 Oct 07:00

opuscule: Word of the Day

opuscule: a small or minor work.
09 Oct 07:00

stemwinder: Word of the Day

stemwinder: a rousing speech, especially a stirring political address.
11 Oct 17:00

More like, “I’m sorry I got caught.”

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post More like, “I’m sorry I got caught.” appeared first on Indexed.

08 Oct 07:00

stiver: Word of the Day

stiver: the smallest possible amount.
05 Oct 04:00

Will It Work

'Copy and paste from a random thread on a website' is the hardest to predict, and depends on the specific website, programming language, tone of the description, and current phase of the moon.
04 Oct 07:00

potboiler: Word of the Day

potboiler: a mediocre work of literature or art produced merely for financial gain.
03 Oct 07:00

druthers: Word of the Day

druthers: one's own way, choice, or preference
26 Sep 12:59

Encounter By TeraS

by TeraS

A little story on the Tale today which I managed to piece together with what time I had this week. Time and space and moments can be tricky, coming together in ways that bring us to unexpected moments. In our wondrous universe, one never knows who you might …


By TeraS


Throughout the universe, wherever there is life that calls itself intelligent by some description or another, there are certain places where events transpire which are unexpected: the sorts of things which those involved never could have seen coming or, when the moment has past, never quite understand what just happened. These are the sorts of things which a billion supercomputers, each extrapolating a billion variables in a billion ways, would never come close to predicting or ever being able to explain. In a vast and mysterious multiplicity of universes, these are the events which are sometimes called “miracles.”

In this case, the events occurred around him: a rather ordinary man, sitting alone in a mostly respectable nightclub watching life seem to pass him by; unremarkable to most, a shadow if he was to admit anything. No one paid much attention to him and the time he had spent so far, at the behest of a friend that had abandoned him some time ago, had been isolating. His eyes were focused on the half-filled glass of Diet Coke when she came into his orbit.

“Care for some company?”

There are some words which, when spoken in a certain way, capture one’s attention. That can be caused by the tone—the lovely purr; the hint, in the undertones, of seduction, power, and more—or by one particular tone of voice which offers a simple realization: this speaker actually means what is being said.

Doubting this—for, again, he was ordinary, unassuming, and, after all, even the waitress that had brought his drink had departed well over twenty minutes ago and not checked on him since—he turned his attention to the woman that had spoken. “I’m not really much …”

His reply was caught short by the vision that greeted him.

There are some women who have what is called a presence. Some describe it as how, when these women are in a room, all else kind of fades out into the background. They make, as the cliché says, a very good first impression. Whoever she was, she was very sure that she would do so.

The room didn’t fade out around her, it simply didn’t exist anymore. The glow from her red dress was brighter than all else around him. The light shimmering off her curves made it clear that it wasn’t just painted on, it was almost making love to her. That thought made his breath catch and, strangely, made him feel a little jealous. His eyes traced over her hips, along her legs. Her body was wonderfully perfect, and seeing her cleavage being cupped by the red fabric made it very difficult to continue to look upwards.

“A gentleman shouldn’t be left alone.”

The words seemed odd, catching him by surprise, and thus he found himself looking into a pair of deeply green eyes. All thought of refusing her request was dashed from his thoughts moments later. Being a gentleman, he stood and offered her a place where she could be comfortable. The touch of her hand on his arm brought him up short; the smile upon her soft red lips left a very positive impression. It felt right to bow to her, the offer being made deferentially.


She wasn’t what he expected, considering where he had encountered her. A place like this was filled with those looking for something, expecting something. Rather than taking her leave and ignoring him, she did something different: “Thank you kindly.”

A light peck on his cheek drew him to the booth with her, and he suddenly found himself nestled next to her. There was a scent of cherries in the air now which overcame the typical nightclub aromas. A delightful coincidence, really. Coming to his senses, he reached out for his drink and found it no longer on the table where it had been resting. She held it in one red-fingernailed hand, looking at it with seeming approval. Somehow that approval was important to him.

“Allow me.” She raised the glass towards him, bringing it close to his lips and then guiding him to sip from it. She seemed to know when he had enough, drawing it away and then, as he watched, she took a dainty sip as well before placing the drink back upon the table once more.

He wanted to ask her name, but that wouldn’t be gentlemanly. Instead he tried to come up with a suitable opening for conversation: “Lovely weather we’re having.” As soon as the words had escaped, he wished there was a way to pull them back. It was an idiotic thing to say, especially to a lady of obvious means and intelligence. The little bit of ego that had begun to form within him faded out, leaving him feeling small and foolish.

Her answer was, as seemed to be the one consistent thing about her, unexpected. “I rather adore a cool fall evening. It’s delightful to walk under the moon and share the stars with the right soul.”

What followed was, as he would try to explain in the future, a conversation in which he was the focus. The thoughts she shared were complex, delightfully so. He found himself challenged to think, consider, and express himself like he’d never done before.

Though the night that followed, she didn’t speak much about herself, however. There was an occasional oblique thought that seemed to bemuse her, an occasional flash of red in her ebony hair when the light passed over in just the right way, but nothing more. She was an enigma, and he found that captivating. She was a mystery, and yet, at the same time, he felt as if he had known her forever.

How much time passed didn’t really matter, but, over time, he felt the sensation of the moment coming to a close, the encounter soon to be passed. He found that troubling, and asked a question of her: “Do you come here often?”

“I come where I’m needed.” Again, a mysterious answer, but the words made sense for her, felt right for her. His thoughts were interrupted by her outstretched hand cupping his cheek and turning his eyes towards her.

A question came: “Will I see you again?”

“Close your eyes.”

He didn’t want to, but what resistance he had ebbed away, and the last vision of her was a bright smile and her so-green eyes. He felt her lips brush against his own, pressing lightly, rubbing passionately, taking his breath away.

When the kiss broke, her hand melted away, the scent of the club came back once more. The sounds of the club rushed back, having been missing while she was with him. His eyes opened in surprise, expecting to see her in the booth beside him—she couldn’t leave, after all; he was in the way. But the space was empty, her red a memory, the green of her eyes haunting. His eyes fell upon the table, seeing his glass was empty. But there was something more. Left behind on the table was a small silver card. Upon picking it up, he discovered a name written there. The name she’d never given him, but then he’d never given his name, either.


As he fingered the edge of the card, he wondered if he’d ever see her again. Turning the card over, he read the message written there.

You will … soon.

Three words that made him smile. As mysterious as ever, it seemed. As he slipped the card into his jacket pocket, he believed her promise and looked forward to the next time he encountered her. He liked being with her, listening to her attentively. Idly, a thought tickled his imagination and he chuckled to himself: what where the chances that she’d be interested in him for more than conversation, anyway?

As he left the club, his walk surer, a smile playing upon his lips, someone was watching him. In the shadows nearby, at the edge of a cone of light being poured from a streetlamp, Tera watched him, a thoughtful, yet bemused smile adorning her lips. He’d find out soon enough why he interested her and why it was, exactly, she had encountered him.

Encounters were but a step on the way to enlightenment, after all.

30 Sep 19:45

The S-curve.A remarkably common pattern for the evolution of...

The S-curve.

A remarkably common pattern for the evolution of many things. You see it all the time in the evolution of technical things, but also many systems in general.

When you start to reach the top of the limits of what one system can do you’ll start to see a focus on efficiency, cost reduction and small improvements and optimisation. This is great because it forces a new creative solution to arise in order to make any real progress. An image search gives a few examples.

Also, see some related sketchplanations: The long nose of innovation, designing for adoption, understanding the chasm.

30 Sep 15:05

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Getting High


To generalize, I am high on eukaryotes.

New comic!
Today's News:

Just a reminder that BAH West tickets are going fast! As of last night we'd already sold 1/4th of tickets, so we're now expecting to sell out a bit early. Buy soon to lock in a spot! It's going to be a great night!

PS: Guess who are keynote is?!

29 Sep 05:01

We Must Be Psychic – DORK TOWER 29.09.16

by John Kovalic


28 Sep 16:32

On being earthquake-proof.

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post On being earthquake-proof. appeared first on Indexed.

28 Sep 04:00

Fixing Problems

'What was the original problem you were trying to fix?' 'Well, I noticed one of the tools I was using had an inefficiency that was wasting my time.'
27 Sep 23:23

NOOOOO! Don’t go there!

by Jessica Hagy


Share and Enjoy:DiggStumbleUpondel.icio.usFacebookTwitterGoogle Bookmarks

The post NOOOOO! Don’t go there! appeared first on Indexed.

26 Sep 04:00

Moon Shapes

Whenever I see a picture of the moon where the points go more than halfway around, I assume it's being eclipsed by one of those Independence Day ships and interpret the rest of the image in light of that.