Ho ho, you are no match for the mage-knight and her enchanted spellblade! Best accompanied by some fitting 8-bit music.
(*secretly hopes someone busts out RPG Maker and turns this into a real thing*)
What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly switched off?
—Many, many readers
This is probably the single most popular question submitted to What If.
Part of why I haven’t answered it is that it's been answered already. A Google search for what if the Sun went out turns up a lot of excellent articles thoroughly analyzing the situation.
However, since my recent articles on sunsets, the rate of submission of this question has risen even further, so I’ve decided to do my best to answer it.
If the Sun went out ...
We won’t worry about exactly how it happens. We'll just assume we figured out a way to fast-forward the Sun through its evolution so that it becomes a cold, inert sphere. What would the consequences be for us here on Earth?
Let's look at a few:
Reduced risk of solar flares: In 1859, a massive solar flare and geomagnetic storm hit the Earth. Magnetic storms induce electric currents in wires. Unfortunately for us, by 1859 we had wrapped the Earth in telegraph wires. The storm caused powerful currents in those wires, knocking out communications and in some cases causing telegraph equipment to catch fire.
Since 1859, we've wrapped the Earth in a lot more wires. If the 1859 storm hit us today, the Department of Homeland Security estimates the economic damage to the US alone would be several trillion dollars—more than every hurricane which has ever hit the US combined. If the Sun went out, this threat would be eliminated.
Improved satellite service: When a communications satellite passes in front of the Sun, the Sun can drown out the satellite's radio signal, causing an interruption in service. Deactivating the Sun would solve this problem.
Better astronomy: Without the Sun, ground-based observatories would be able to operate around the clock. The cooler air would create less atmospheric noise, which would reduce the load on adaptive optics systems and allow for sharper images.
Stable dust: Without sunlight, there would be no Poynting–Robertson drag, which means we would finally be able to place dust into a stable orbit around the Sun without the orbits decaying. I’m not sure whether anyone wants to do that, but you never know.
Reduced infrastructure costs: The Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost $20 billion per year over the next 20 years to repair and maintain all US bridges. Most US bridges are over water; without the Sun, we could save money by simply driving on a strip of asphalt laid across the ice.
Cheaper trade: Time zones make trade more expensive; it's harder to do business with someone if their office hours don't overlap with yours. If the Sun went out, it would eliminate the need for time zones, allowing us to switch to UTC and give a boost to the global economy.
Safer Children: According to the North Dakota Department of Health, babies younger than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Without sunlight, our children would be safer.
Safer combat pilots: Many people sneeze when exposed to bright sunlight. The reasons for this reflex are unknown, and it may pose a danger to fighter pilots during flight. If the Sun went dark, it would mitigate this danger to our pilots.
Safer parsnip: Wild parsnip is a surprisingly nasty plant. Its leaves contain chemicals called furocoumarins, which can be absorbed by human skin without causing symptoms ... at first. However, when the skin is then exposed to sunlight (even days or weeks later), the furocoumarins cause a nasty chemical burn. This is called phytophotodermatitis. A darkened Sun would liberate us from the parsnip threat.
In conclusion, if the Sun went out, we would see a variety of benefits across many areas of our lives.
Are there any downsides to this scenario?
We would all freeze and die.
Just when you thought bakeries had FINALLY run out of those angsty Twilight photos:
"Hey girl, sorry my rippling pectorals are covered up by this Snuggie, but I want you to know that this lone wolf is educated now, and that means no more hunting chickens on the full moon, or shedding on the duvet, or turning in circles five times before I can take a nap. That's right, grrrrl; I'm a changed man! Look at this neckface: would I lie to you?"
Sharee N. tells me she found this in a bakery display window, so I guess that's one small step for recycling, and one giant leap backwards for those of us easily startled.
So... thanks a LOT, Sharee. [twitch]
Listen, I don't want to freak you out or anything, but I know everything you're about to say.
It's complicated. And kind of wibbly-wobbly.
Hey, you leave my mother out of this!
Now, look, we haven't got much time; the average internet-using adult's attention span lasts only... DUCK!!
Then he'd win the staring contest.
Like I was saying, we don't have much... AAAAH WEEPING ANGEL!
Anyway, guys, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. But it's up to you now.
So... what do you think of this cake?
I mean, it's clearly descending into a temporal rift. Or possibly the Swamps of Sadness. And I'm sure there's some kind of hidden meaning to "police = box." But more importantly: is it bigger on the inside, and if so, can I have a piece the size of a buffalo?
Or how about this one?
I've always thought the TARDIS could be a bit softer/squishier, so this groom's cake/ throw-rug is JUST the thing.
Brace yourself, for I sense there are dark times ahead for this next one.
Or maybe just for your bowels.
(You'd almost think the color of the photo was off, until you notice the top "light." Da heck?)
Anyway, like I said, it's up to YOU to rescue these cakes from a bunch of garden statuary playing Red Light Green Light. It's super easy, though. You just need some fish sticks, an extra bow tie, a Cthulhu mask with a Pokémon ball, a really, really long scarf, and ...
Thanks to Krista C., Rauha, Marielen, Valorie M., and Mairi R. for the time out. (And yes, that angel cake IS pretty dang awesome. And terrifying. But awesome. But terrifying.)
Love Letter falls into two unusual categories, the first of which is Games That You Are Convinced Won’t Work Until You Play Them. Often these are games that are so complicated that you can’t visualize how all the disparate systems could possibly come together into an organic whole, but sometimes you come across a game so simple that you can’t imagine how playing it would be any more intriguing than flipping a coin.
The second unusual class into which Love Letter falls is what I call Two-Minute Games — not because they can be played in two minutes, but because they feature such an economy of rules that they can be taught to others in that limited time frame. Love Letter is so simple, in fact, that I bet I can explain the core rules in 25 words or less. “Draw a card on your turn, then discard one from your hand. The discarded card takes effect. Have the highest ranked card at round’s end.” Done.
Were I actually teaching you the game, of course, I would open with the premise. Each of the 16 cards in the deck depicts a member of the royal household, which is composed of the Princess, the Countess, the King, two princes, two handmaidens, two barons, two priests, and five guards. In an attempt to woo the Princess, you have entrusted a love letter to one of these people, who has agreed to pass the missive along. Ideally your letter will be in the hands of the Princess herself by the end of the round; barring that, you just want your letter to be as “close” to the object of your affection as possible. Each member of the household has a rank from 8 (the Princess) to 1 (the guards), and you win by holding the highest ranked card at the end of the round.
Everyone receives a single, random card before play begins. On a turn, a player draws a second card and then discards one of the two from his hand. The discarded card has an effect, depending on the person shown. A Guard, for instance, allows you to name a player and a card; if the target holds the card you specified, he is out of the round. The Priest allows you to look at the held card of an opponent. And the Princess, the optimal card to own when a round ends, comes with a liability: you are eliminated if you discard her for any reason.
There are only eight abilities, one per role, and yet the interaction between them make for a tense game of bluff and deduction. Take the three roles described in the paragraph above, for instance. Discarding the Priest, a player could look at the hand of an opponent, and perhaps discover the Princess; if he holds (or draws) a Guard on his next turn, he could then single out the same player, “guess” the Princess, and force him to discard it (thus knocking him out of the round). But the other player will first have a turn to react, and may discard the Handmaid, thereby becoming immune to all attacks until his next turn, or the King, which would allow him to trade his hand with any other player, handing them the Princess (and possibly the victory) whilst weaseling out of the crosshairs.
Love Letter does not contain an abundance of game; play a round or two and you’ve pretty much seen the gamut. But that won’t prevent you playing compulsively, and enjoying every game. The design strikes a deft balance between subtlety and brainlessness, allowing you to play even while mentally fatigued from earlier, weightier games, or a bit hazy after that second margarita. Indeed, with its simple rules, compact size, and quick playing time, Love Letter is a near perfect bar game, so long as you don’t mind the stares of the other patrons as you howl with laughter at the reversals of fortune, and rage against the perfidy of your erstwhile “friends”.
Like a hapless suitor, pouring his heart into a billet doux, you will likely become quite enchanted with Love Letter. The infatuation may not endure, but you’ll be hopelessly smitten while it lasts.
Apparently some clods at Nintendo don’t really understand the meaning of fair use when it comes to Let’s Play videos, so this has kind of come up.
If you want to do an LP (or stream or any other sort of video recording) of one of my games—well, personally, I don’t really get the appeal, but—that is awesome and I would very strongly encourage you to go ahead! LPs are great for developers; they’re free publicity. In fact, if you’re a streamer with a large audience, you should absolutely contact me for review codes when Hate Plus comes out! I wanna make things easy for you.
I very, very strongly don’t agree with the idea that I or anyone else even has the legal right to grant anyone permission to make or monetize LPs of my games. So if you want to, please go right ahead. Anyone can. If Youtube is (wrongly) asking you for a permission slip from me saying that it’s okay, you can send them this way.
I’d super-hugely appreciate it if you included a link to buy the game with your video—it makes a huge difference in terms of sales for me—but I don’t have the legal right to stop you if you don’t, and anyone who claims otherwise is full of shit.
Just, you know, for the record.
BROSIE Goes Viral
I recently received an email from an anonymous fan sharing how she pulled a Hawkeye Initiative themed prank on her CEO to illustrate a problem with some artwork.
My personal compliments to her and her accomplice on a mission well done; they perfectly took the concept of The Hawkeye Initiative one step farther, and effected actual change. I hope this gives you as much of a laugh as it did me (the artwork is currently my desktop), and inspires you to be unafraid to stand up and take action in your own awesome way.
Now, excuse me while I go play my new favorite mech game. :)
I work with an all-female team of data scientists, in the gaming industry. This makes me the professional equivalent of Amelia Earhart riding the Loch Ness Monster.
I love my job. Our company in particular is great. Firstly, our game (HAWKEN) is beautiful and people love it. Secondly, half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed. Our gender awareness standards, compared to the industry at large, are top shelf. We are talking Amelia Earhart in Atlantis, at a five star resort, getting a mani-pedi from Jensen Ackles. I have it good.
For the last six months of my tenure at Meteor Entertainment, there has been only one thing I did not love about my job. This
Our CEO loves this picture. It is to all appearances his favorite piece of comic art for the game. He had it blown up poster-sized, framed, and displayed on the out-facing wall of his office. There, it looms over the front room like a ship’s figurehead. It is the first thing workers and visitors see when they enter the building and the last thing they see when they leave. This little lady’s undermeats have been the open- and close- parens to my work world for the last six months.
I loathe this picture.
Why do I loathe it? How, you ask, can I stay mad at a sweet young belle who has so obviously taken a break from her important welding to offer me a piping hot cup of coffee and/or a vigorous hand job? (And probably, given her apparent safety consciousness, simultaneously?) If you don’t already know the answer, you might want to check out things like #1ReasonWhy, and the Bechdel Test, and also this, and this, and this and this, and all these other things. (And while we’re talking you should check out this other bullshit right here.)
So at our office holiday party, while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards. Until, suddenly, it came to me: a vision.
And so it came to be that I approached Sam Kirk, a wickedly funny co-worker who shared my sentiment. Sam, turns out, is a very talented artist who can be bribed-slash-inspired using a medley of feminist indignation, hysterical giggling, and two $90 bottles of añejo tequila.
A month-and-a-half later, our vision was a reality. I give you:
Bro-sie The Riveter.
I want to make it completely clear that everything in this prank that required actual talent was done by Sam. Find this, and more of Sam’s art, at TheRealSamKirk.com.
We blew (ahem) Brosie up poster sized. We framed him. And then, at 7:30 on Monday, April 1st, we snuck into our CEO’s office and switched them.
I stood in the entryway, dizzy with joy. It was glorious. There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime, the post-apocalyptic breeze gently swaying his banana hammock. Brosie said, loud and proud: “Get ready, world! I am here to lubricate your joints and tighten your socket.”
I basically spend the next few hours having a joy-induced neurological episode.
As the morning progressed, Brosie (ahem) revealed himself to our co-workers. The air resounded with startled, suppressed gargles of mingled joy and horror. Some take pictures. Some instantly turn and flee. Several men blush and grin in vindicated solidarity. Several women ask us for prints. At this point I am in total rapture. This is the moment I have been dreaming about for six months.
Yet somehow everyone in the office manages to keep quiet about it. Until, finally, our CEO arrives.
We hear a loud: “What the hell is this?!” And then all goes quiet. Ten minutes pass. We panic.
We are both suddenly and painfully aware that we have, in fact, just punked the CEO of our company. He is by all accounts an awesome dude. He is also a late-50s ex-army guy who happens to determine our employment futures in an at-will state. Meep.
Twenty more minutes pass. And then our CEO comes up to my desk, taps me on the shoulder, and says this:
“That was a brilliant prank. You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side.”
Ruby Underboob and Brosie the Riveter, together at last
Yeah. That happened.
This wonderful experience has taught me two things that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and in gaming. It taught me this:
Lots of men (like Sam) are already sympathetic to the stupid, constant crap women put up with in gaming/STEM, and they are ready and willing to call that crap onto the carpet.
And, most importantly, many of the guys who are behind that stupid, constant crap are totally decent, open-minded human beings who just don’t realize they’re doing it. You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you and your girlfriend are talking about shoes or menstruation until some dude walks into the room? Well sometimes guys don’t realize how much they’re talking about titties.
We just haven’t been around enough for them to notice.
There is only one solution to that, ladies. Bust out your baby-Gap tee and your protective welding goggles, and let’s turn this damn industry into the environment we want it to be. It’s hard work, and yes, there are a couple genuine assholes along the way. But if Ruby Underboob can brave the occasional droplet of molten metal, so can we.
Speaking from experience, it’s worth it.
About our CEO, Mark Long:
Mark has a long and storied history with, among other things, research, games and comic art. He’s a partner in the RoqlaRue gallery in Seattle, representing “chick art.” Mark considers himself a feminist activist. He is proud to have created a graphic novel trilogy with Nick Sagan (Carl’s son) that features a female hero so strong, Hillary Swank is attached to star as her.
Mark and I are now in an open dialogue about gender in comics and gaming.
In a recent exchange I saw on facebook, one man was trying to explain why it’s appropriate for the church to have way more stringent modesty standards for women and girls than for men and boys. Many of the old, tired arguments came out, and when they were thoughtfully shot down one by one, he fell back on a statement that, by itself, will be hopefully quite shocking to most people these days.
“Well obviously some women have been unable to govern themselves appropriately. Thus the standards are given and more clearly defined for people who can’t dress modestly.”
Those women, flaunting all that bare skin.
Yeah. Bad, right? But underneath all the nice cloaking of our rhetoric about modesty, or women, or sexuality, this is one of the inevitable conclusions. Women are just bad, and they need to be controlled, and so we have to have all these rules to control them. Otherwise, they’ll wreak their terrible powers of seduction on the innocent, upright men and boys around them. Seductive Jezebels.
After all, aren’t they all descendants of that rebellious Eve?
These days, we don’t often hear this perspective of women taught outright anymore, though it was certainly common at another time, and still is common in some parts of the world.
The train of thought most modern Mormons hear now pins the evil and blame on men instead of women. Men are dangerous. Men are sex-crazed. They can’t control themselves. Their sexual urges are constant and everywhere and aroused all the time, and they can’t be held responsible for what they do when it happens. So to be safe, the (righteous, good, noble, wonderful, spiritual, asexual) women need to cover themselves, accommodate this weakness in men, and just accept that they need to be limited for their own safety. Because those terrible men just can’t be stopped or controlled.
Problem is (or rather, one of the million problems with that theory), this train of thought reduces down to the same old pin-the-blame on women narrative. It’s just as deeply misogynist as what that guy said on facebook.
In a Cracked article I recently read entitled “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women,” the author does a reasonably good job at bumbling his way through explaining some important feminist concepts like objectification and rape culture. And then he completely nosedives when he tries to explain why all these problems exist.
It’s not the institutional silencing of women’s voices, or gendered power structures, or anything like that. It’s that damn male sex drive. Men are just the worst. They want sex so bad, all the time, anywhere they can get it, that it drives them to do all sorts of crazy and bad things. He pretty much claims that men’s lust for women’s bodies can explain all of world history:
Do you see what I’m getting at? Go look outside. See those cars driving by? Every car being driven by a man was designed and built and bought and sold with you in mind. The only reason why small, fuel-efficient or electric cars don’t dominate the roads is because we want to look cool in our cars, to impress you.
Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too. All those sports you see on TV? All of those guys learned to play purely because in school, playing sports gets you laid. All the music you hear on the radio? All of those guys learned to sing and play guitar because as a teenager, they figured out that absolutely nothing gets women out of their pants faster. It’s the same reason all of the actors got into acting.
All those wars we fight? Sure, at the upper levels, in the halls of political power, they have some complicated reasons for wanting some piece of land or access to some resource. But on the ground? Well, let me ask you this — historically, when an army takes over a city, what happens to the women there?
It’s all about you. All of it. All of civilization.
So where you see a world in which males dominate the boards of the Fortune 500, and own Congress, and sit at the head of all but a handful of the world’s nations, men see themselves as utterly helpless. Because all of those powerful people only became powerful because they heard that women like power.
This is really the heart of it, right here. This is why no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace — it won’t matter. You’re still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.
Ah. So women are the ones being repressed, objectified, raped, murdered, trafficked, controlled, disenfranchised, etc., because they have so much….. power.
The problem with this theory–of uncontrollable male sexuality confronting inherent, inborn female purity–is that it comes right back down to the same story line as the more openly sexist statement I quoted earlier.
It’s women’s fault.
That war that happened? That was because of how sexy you are. The economic oppression that results from our system of global system of capitalist exploitation? You were just so irresistible that we were completely unable to help ourselves before your powerful feminine charms. We needed you so bad, baby. That’s why we had to send off those bombs. That’s why we had to buy that car. That’s why we had to conquer that city.
So we could finally get the chance to rape you.
We simply couldn’t help ourselves, because YOU are just so powerfully seductive.
Seductive enough, in fact, that you got the first man ever to give up paradise and follow your tail into mortality.
So it doesn’t really matter, you see, if you think women are naturally evil and rebellious and over-sexual (like guy #1), or if you think that they are pure and righteous and victims of men’s insatiable lust (like guy #2). It doesn’t matter if you blame women’s innate carnal natures, or men’s eternal lust for women.
In the final analysis, it’s still, all of it, our fault.
Hah, technology is so rad.
What's that you say? You want a Sunday Sweets post based on the greatest movies of all time? Or at least, the greatest movies of the '80s?
By Miso Bakes
As you wish.
That's right, buttercup, get ready for some eighties movie madness, starting with these sweets based on The Princess Bride - although I hope you've already figured that out by now.
It's just that I was looking for the DVD at a store recently, and the clerk literally said, "Ummmmm, is that the one with Anne Hathaway?"
But speaking of kids, I was sure that Jen had put this Little Mermaid cake in here by mistake, because I totally remember when this movie came out! It can't be that old.
Holy crab legs, this movie is 24 years old.
How crazy to think that we're now living in Marty Mcfly's future. And look, here he is!
The baker really captured him perfectly. I'd recognize that puffy vest and wispy hair from a decade away.
Plus, how awesome are the little fondant flames behind the DeLorean?
Almost awesome enough for me to forget that I still don't have a hoverboard.
Hey, are you a Tom Cruise fan? A Val Kilmer fan? An edible sunglasses fan? If so, then I've got the cake for you:
Such military precision! I'd expect nothing less from a Top Gun cake.
But I have bad news: the Terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.
Until we eat it!
By Mike, aka Flickr user psychobean
Made with a Wilton skull pan and a metric ton of talent. So clever.
And speaking of cyborg assassins ...
By Clares Cakes
Ok, fine, so Inspector Gadget isn't exactly the same thing.
(And not technically a movie, unless you count the live-action film from 1999 - which you really, really shouldn't. - Jen)
But I can't believe we've come this far without mentioning the most quintessential '80s movie of all, Gremlins!
At least, that's what I've heard. This movie may have traumatized me as a child; I still haven't even seen the entire thing. Great cake, though! His ragged little ears are my favorite - they're so cute and non-murderous.
Other things I ain't afraid of: no ghosts!
Submitted by Carey-Anne, made by Very Unique Cakes
Not with the Ghostbusters around, at least! I love that this cake is for a five-year-old. Who needs Spongebob when you can have Slimer?
But here's something I need: a teensy tiny topiary floating over everyone's favorite Goblin King:
How amazing is this? It would be an impressive cake if it stopped with the globe, but there are so many other great details, from Jareth's sneer down to the tiny arrows on the stone path. So cool.
You know what?
That last cake reminded me of the babe.
By Cake Central member Kayla1505
Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A beauty in black and white! Whit-whoo! (That was me typing out the sound of a wolf-whistle. Not as easy as you'd think).
Now, I'm not sure if this stunner inspired by The Neverending Story is a wedding cake or not ...
By Art Cake
...but I can't think of a better way to start a new life together than with a luck-dragon on your cake! Can you? In fact, we should probably just start putting Falcors on all our cakes. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, Falker Satherhoods. All Falcor-worthy.
And finally, the '80s movie cake to end all '80s movie cakes (and especially appropriate since yesterday was Star Wars day!)
The Millenium Falcon!
I don't know what's more amazing, the insane amount of detail on this cake, the fact that it was made with modeling chocolate instead of fondant, or, I don't know, that it freaking GLOWS?
I hope it rocked your universe as much as it did mine!
Have a Sweet to nominate? Then send it to Sunday Sweets [at] Cake Wrecks [dot] com! And be sure to check our Sweet Directory to see all the pro bakers we've ever featured in your area!
I cannot love this enough.
I’ve tweeted about these a bunch already, but I am still basically completely blown away by how gorgeous these paintings of *Mute are. By Muju.
Hate Plus: ~Mute’s Golden Days~
I’ve talked a lot about Hate Plus, but I haven’t really formally announced it in detail yet… so here I am! (No, this is not a joke.)
Hate Plus is a sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story that continues directly from the end of that game, and explores, over the course of three days, the events leading up to year 0. If Analogue was the backstory of *Hyun-ae, then Hate Plus is the backstory of *Mute. It’ll continue from your Analogue save file, so each ending will have its own route with equal focus. It plays similarly to Analogue, but instead of your AI companion simply showing you files they’ve picked, you’ll have to investigate yourself, and discover what happened together!
It features new art and costumes, an all new soundtrack (plus theme song “It’s Not Ero!!”) from Isaac Schankler, a whole new and improved UI, and more writing than Analogue did. It’ll be out summer 2013.
Please look forward to your sharing your hateful days with *Hyun-ae and *Mute!
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