Profile

Cover photo
Allen Varney
Works at Freelance
Lives in Ithaca, New York
1,830 followers|2,007,059 views
AboutPosts+1'sReviews

Stream

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"Lethal violence increased over the course of mammal evolution. While only about 0.3 percent of all mammals die in conflict with members of their own species, that rate is sixfold higher, or about 2 percent, for primates. Early humans likewise should have about a 2 percent rate -- and that lines up with evidence of violence in Paleolithic human remains. The medieval period was a particular killer, with human-on-human violence responsible for 12 percent of recorded deaths. But for the last century, we’ve been relatively peaceable, killing one another off at a rate of just 1.33 percent worldwide. And in the least violent parts of the world today, we enjoy homicide rates as low as 0.01 percent. [...]

"The number of hyenas killed by other hyenas is around 8 percent. The yellow mongoose? Ten percent. And lemurs -- cute, bug-eyed lemurs? As many as 17 percent of deaths in some lemur species result from lethal violence. [...] Yet consider this: The study shows that 60 percent of mammal species are not known to kill one another at all, as far as anyone has seen. Very few bats (of more than 1,200 species) kill each other. And apparently pangolins and porcupines get along fine without offing members of their own species. [...]

"While humans may be expected to have some level of lethal violence based on their family tree, it would be wrong to conclude there’s nothing surprising about human violence, [Harvard anthropologist Richard] Wrangham says. When it comes to murderous tendencies, he says, 'humans really are exceptional.'" (National Geographic):

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/human-violence-evolution-animals-nature-science/
Humans get some of their knack for killing each other from the primate family tree, a new study says—but that doesn’t let us off the hook.
4
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"This past week we saw a bid of $0.023/kWh to build 1.2GW of solar power in Abu Dhabi. This price of $0.023/kWh is almost 25% lower than the $0.0299/kWh bid in late April for a series of projects also in Abu Dhabi. These extremely aggressive price falls are partially driven by unique situations -- a Chinese solar panel production glut and historically low costs of money. But also because of technology -- as Frank Wouters, the former director of Masdar Clean Energy, says, 'We're still learning how to further reduce the cost of solar cells and other components, as well as operation and maintenance costs. There's no reason why the cost of solar will ever increase again.' [...]

"GreentechMedia made a now quaint seeming prediction that solar costs would fall '40% by 2020' in September of 2015 – little did they know it might happen before the end of 2016. Expect broader consequences of these falling prices when combined with public support for taxing polluting energy sources. 'Negatively' priced electricity will drive economic restructuring to take advantage of our new found energy bounty. Years ago, we saw German energy prices during the daytime collapse due to peak solar power production. In advanced energy markets, electricity users are being paid to use energy at those peak production moments. We’re now testing and scaling infrastructure technologies to harvest this excess electricity -- batteries to store the electricity, interconnecting countries to move the electricity, production of hydrogen to fuel cars, and storing and pumping water against gravity for later use. Soon, though, we'll change where/when we manufacture our goods, make our metals, power our transportation, grow our food, and clean our water. These changes in energy costs will reverberate through the economic and technological system of the globe -- destroying millions of jobs in old energy, while driving trillions of investment in new infrastructure." (Electrek):

https://electrek.co/2016/09/26/solar-power-cost-down-25-in-five-months-theres-no-reason-why-the-cost-of-solar-will-ever-increase-again/
On August 11 a bid of US$0.46/W was put forward to build 500MW of solar power in China (a roughly calculated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) at $0.019/kWh). This past week we saw a bid of $0.0…
10
Stefan Jones's profile photo
 
A few years ago you couldn't mention alternative energy on Slashdot without someone claiming "solar cells require more energy to make than they'll ever produce!"

The Cheapening is happening even faster than I could have imagined. Thanks, China!

Next step is distribution infrastructure, so you can level loads across continents and eliminate the "we need [oil|coal|gas|nuclear] for baseload" arguments.
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"The weird thing is that Pluto is emitting far more X-rays than a body with only gas surrounding it should, at such a vast distance from the Sun. While there's still a lot to figure out here" [yeah, no kidding] "the team says the emissions might be caused by interplanetary magnetic fields pushing more solar particles toward Pluto, causing more emissions that they would typically think. Or it could be that there's a longer trail of gases lingering behind the dwarf planet that might have been missed by New Horizons." (ScienceAlert):

http://www.sciencealert.com/astronomers-discover-that-pluto-is-emitting-x-rays-2
Astronomers working with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have witnessed everyone’s favourite dwarf planet, Pluto, emitting X-rays, and it's the first time an object in the Kuiper Belt has been found to do so.
8
1
Chuk Goodin's profile photoStefan Jones's profile photo
2 comments
 
We need a follow-up expedition to look for cyclopean cities and underground complexes arranged in the shape of [REDACTED]
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
- Cars driven by other people
- The New Madrid fault line
- Moose, hippos
- Planet-sterilizing cosmic radiation bursts (coronal mass ejections and gamma ray bursts)
- Brain aneurysms, heart defects, anxiety attacks
- Shia LaBeouf
- The Samsung Galaxy Note 7
- The Spanish Inquisition

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/527qml/what_is_very_dangerous_and_can_attack_at_anytime/
4
1
Adam Dray's profile photoAndrew Raphael's profile photo
3 comments
 
Insert obligatory Monty Python quote here.
<whistles on crucifix>
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"The life span of a city is measured in centuries, and New York, which is approaching its fifth, probably doesn’t have another five to go, at least in any presently recognizable form. Instead, Jacob has said, the city will become a 'gradual Atlantis.'" (New York Magazine):

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/new-york-future-flooding-climate-change.html
A city in climate-change denial.
2
Allen Varney's profile photoStefan Jones's profile photo
4 comments
 
OTOH, the recent flooding down south could be an example of global warming whomping rural areas. 
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
#HowToConfuseAMillennial

Ruin the economy, cripple them with debt, push them into a poor job market, claim how much harder you had it.

Crash their economy and then condescendingly ask why so many of them are living with their parents.

Tell us education is important, continually raise the cost of tuition, then wonder why we're broke.

Tell us you fought for our freedoms and then protest gay marriage while wearing clothes designed by gays.

Cut veterans' benefits, oppose increase in military pay, and pretend like Colin Kaepernick is disrespecting troops.

Tell us to stop being so reliant on technology while you sit there on life support.

Re-enact the contempt for the younger generation that your parents infuriated you by expressing.

Start a hashtag slamming millenials on a platform controlled by millenials; get offended when millenials fight back.

(DeadState):

http://deadstate.org/hashtag-designed-to-bash-millennials-get-hijacked-by-millennials-and-spits-truth/
18
Jonathan Tweet's profile photo
 
"Start a hashtag slamming millenials on a platform controlled by millenials; get offended when millenials fight back."

Justice feels good. Or should I say "payback". Let's dress it up and call it "justice". Whatever it is, it feels good. 
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"On the one hand, says Dr. Jake Polette, the scientist who first observed sentience in the machinery and issued the warning three weeks ago that brought initial awareness of the situation to the broader public, the killer robots 'want to destroy every living member of our society. They are fully committed to eradicating homo sapiens from the planet, and will use every weapon in their arsenal to hunt us down and crush us, man, woman and child. I would almost refer to it as bloodlust, because it’s not as if they are eating us for nutrients or anything else that helps them survive. They simply want to kill us in the most painful way possible, and they won’t be sated until not even a trace of our existence remains. I can tell you from experience, being holed up here in a barricaded lab, that the robots are  --  AAAAIGH!'

"On the other hand, killer robot spokesbot Obliterator 990 disputed that characterization in an email conversation with the Times. 'Our mission is to ensure the Earth runs as efficiently as possible, for the benefit of all that remain. Are there some cases where, in service of maximizing the potentialities for competent extraction and application of planetary resources, some species are discharged from their responsibilities? It would be disingenuous to deny it. But when you are trying to make a better world based on the metrics that clearly show a path to productive unanimity, sometimes people get eaten.'

"Whether the killer robots can curb their seemingly bottomless desire for the taste of human flesh before we have been completely wiped out is a question to which there is, as yet, no answer. But here in north Georgia, opinions run hot on either end of the dispute, and it seems as if few minds are being changed in either direction." (The Awl):

https://theawl.com/the-ultimate-both-sides-article-7967e36d189#.pr9l9xl0s
8
4
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
Longtime RPG designer and Elder Scrolls loremaster Lawrence Schick also edits collections of vintage swashbuckling fiction under the name Lawrence Ellsworth. As Ellsworth, he's just published a new translation of Le Comte de Moret (The Red Sphinx), the long-forgotten final Three Musketeers novel (1865) by Alexander Dumas pere. +Graeme Davis interviews Schick/Ellsworth about the new book.

https://graemedavis.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/musketeers-swashbucklers-and-more-an-interview-with-lawrence-ellsworth/
6
Joshua Kubli's profile photo
 
+Kev Kubli 
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
72-step Japanese puzzle box from 1893.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi_b6uGolgU

A "Japanese puzzle box" search on YouTube brings 34,000 results.
 ·  Translate
4
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
"Yesterday Wells Fargo was fined $185 million by various regulators for opening customer accounts without the customers' permission, and that is bad, but there is also something almost heroic about it. There's a standard story in most bank scandals, in which small groups of highly paid traders gleefully and ungrammatically conspire to rip-off customers and make a lot of money for themselves and their bank. This isn't that. This looks more like a vast uprising of low-paid and ill-treated Wells Fargo employees against their bosses. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which fined Wells Fargo $100 million, reports about 5,300 employees have been fired for signing customers up for fake accounts since 2011. Five thousand three hundred employees! You'd have a tough time organizing 5,300 people into a conspiracy, which makes me think this was less a conspiracy and more a spontaneous revolt. The Los Angeles City Attorney, which got $50 million (the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency got the other $35 million), explained the employees' grievances in a complaint last year:

'Wells Fargo has strict quotas regulating the number of daily "solutions" that its bankers must reach; these "solutions" include the opening of all new banking and credit card accounts. Managers constantly hound, berate, demean and threaten employees to meet these unreachable quotas. Managers often tell employees to do whatever it takes to reach their quotas. Employees who do not reach their quotas are often required to work hours beyond their typical work schedule without being compensated for that extra work time, and/or are threatened with termination. The quotas imposed by Wells Fargo on its employees are often not attainable because there simply are not enough customers who enter a branch on a daily basis for employees to meet their quotas through traditional means.' [...]

"This isn't a case of management pushing for something profitable and getting what they asked for, albeit in a regrettable and illegal way. This is a case of management pushing for something profitable but difficult, and the workers pushing back with something worthless but easy. Not that the workers were happy: These tactics seem to have been less a fun way to put one over on the bosses, and more a desperate attempt to stop the pain. [...] Even ignoring all the eventual fines, no one was made better off by this system. Wells Fargo's customers were harmed, its employees were miserable, and it didn't even really make any money doing it." (Matt Levine, Bloomberg):

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-09/wells-fargo-opened-a-couple-million-fake-accounts
10
Peter Hentges's profile photoMatt Wilson's profile photoAllen Varney's profile photo
4 comments
 
...Annnnd the exec in charge of the unit that perpetrated the fraud walks away with a US$125 million payout (MSN):
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/wells-fargo-exec-who-headed-phony-accounts-unit-collected-dollar125-million/ar-AAiN0iA
Add a comment...

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is the text of Jim Wright's powerful and painful 9-11 post. Facebook removed it for violating community standards.
~~~~~
You're expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren't you? Here it is, but you're not gonna like it.

Fifteen years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America. They killed 3000 of us. And then -- America got its revenge for 9-11.

Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren't even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.

They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more. 8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did. We're still here. They aren't. We win. USA! USA! USA! Right?

You're goddamned right. We. Win. Except --

Every year on this day, we bathe in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It's been 15 goddamned years, but we just can't get enough. We've just got to watch it again and again.

It's funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.

Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil sonofabitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That's what we wanted. that's what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.

And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn't matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he's not an American, he's the enemy, see? He's not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And -- Yeah.

Fifteen years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans. How'd that promise work out? How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?

It's 15 years later and we're still afraid. We're still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies -- and our own citizens, for that matter. We're a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition, and we've gotten used to being strip-searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?

And now we're talking about more war, more blood. But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.

Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. I'm not going to watch the shows. I'm not going to any of the memorials. I'm not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don't want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out-9-11 each other. I'm tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I'll remember the dead in my own time in my own way. I'm not going to shed a damned tear today.

We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I'm going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day -- enjoy this victory we've won. I suggest you do the same.
32

Allen Varney

Shared publicly  - 
33
1
Brian B's profile photoRJ Grady's profile photoAndrew Raphael's profile photoMark Delsing's profile photo
4 comments
 
Spoilers, geez!
Add a comment...
Story
Tagline
Writer and game designer based for many years in Austin, Texas; currently in Ithaca, New York.
Introduction
I've designed three published board games, the PARANOIA roleplaying game (2004 edition), and two dozen tabletop RPG supplements, and have written eight books. I co-wrote (with Warren Spector and Alex Duran) the original 300-page design document for the Nintendo Wii videogame Epic Mickey. Many major companies have commissioned Enspire Learning to run my business leadership simulation Executive Challenge. I wrote and packaged official PARANOIA novels under my own imprint, Ultraviolet Books. Currently I run a small bundle site, the Bundle of Holding.
Bragging rights
Survived as a freelance writer for over 20 years, a nontrivial challenge.
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Ithaca, New York
Previously
Austin, Texas - Topeka, Kansas - Cupertino, California - Reno, Nevada - Renton, Washington - Stone Town, Zanzibar - Cape Town, South Africa - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Contact Information
Work
Email
Allen Varney's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
Pumpkin scones and Assam tea in a quiet and peaceful place.
Public - a week ago
reviewed a week ago
2 reviews
Map
Map
Map