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Allen Varney
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Lives in Ithaca, New York
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Allen Varney

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Donald O'Connor (1925-2003), whose parents were circus acrobats, grew up in vaudeville and made his film debut at age 12. By the time he hit draft age in 1943, O'Connor had already completed a dozen films for Universal, including seven unreleased titles; the studio released these periodically throughout his two-year hitch, keeping him onscreen as one of their most popular stars. This dance-off number, "Applied Mathematics," is from the 1948 musical Are You With It? The bartender is O'Connor's dance teacher (and longtime Universal choreographer) Louis Da Pron; the guy in the hat is [EDIT:] Lew Parker. Note O'Connor's tablecloth stunt at 2:40 in this clip.

O'Connor was typecast throughout the 1950s as second banana to Francis the Talking Mule. He quit that film series in 1955, saying, ""When you've made six pictures and the mule still gets more fan mail than you do...." He made half a dozen more films and had many TV roles from the '60s through the '90s, including his own short-lived series in 1968. Today we remember him fondly as Gene Kelly's co-star in Singin' in the Rain (1953).

O'Connor died of heart failure in 2003, age 78. According to his family, among his last words were these: "I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pTxqb7nQEY
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I only really know him from Singin', so thanks for that clip and the brief bio.
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Allen Varney

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"Jeff Waters walked into a Bank of America Monday morning and attempted to cash a check for US$368,000,000,000. The check Waters had written to ‘Cash’ was reportedly from U.S. Bank of Idaho and issued in the '90s. Tellers at the Jacksonville bank were immediately suspicious." (Stuppid):

http://stuppid.com/florida-man-cash-360-billion/
JACKSONVILLE, Florida - Jeff Waters walked into a Bank of America Monday morning and attempted to cash a check for $368,000,000,000 dollars. The check Waters had written to ‘Cash’ was reportedly from U.S. Bank of Idaho and issued in the 90s. Tellers at the Jacksonville bank were immedia…
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That is, quite simply, priceless
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Allen Varney

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There is some explosive stuff in my new Author Solutions piece. I now have a Penguin Random House source who has shared some VERY interesting information about its partners, and how the whole scam works.
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"What happens when a 21st-century kid plays through video game history in chronological order? [...] This approach to widely surveying classic games clearly had an impact on him, and influenced the games he likes now. Like seemingly every kid his age, he loves Minecraft. No surprises there. But he also loves brutally difficult games that challenge gamers 2–3 times his age, and he’s frighteningly good at them. His favorites usually borrow characteristics from roguelikes: procedurally-generated levels, permanent death, no save points. [...]

"Eliot’s early exposure to games with limited graphics inoculated him from the flashy, hyper-realistic graphics found in today’s AAA games. He can appreciate retro graphics on its own terms, and focus on the gameplay. The lo-fi graphics in games like VVVVVV, FTL, or Cave Story might turn off other kids his age, but like me, he’s drawn to them. My hope is that this experiment instilled a life-long appreciation for smaller, weirder, more intimate games in him." (Medium):

https://medium.com/message/playing-with-my-son-e5226ff0a7c3
An experiment in forced nostalgia and questionable parenting
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We played my TurboGrafx, then moved on to pencil & paper rpgs, old-school style. 1st ed AD&D is still our favorite.
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Allen Varney

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NY Times reporter/corrupt Bush-Cheney administration warmonger-toady Judith Miller: The sin in journalism is not a wrong story. It's not going back to correct a wrong story. That's what I've tried to do both in my journalism and in this book.

Chris Hayes, MSNBC: The wrong story is a sin, too.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/04/21/chris_hayes_vs_judith_miller_on_way_she_media_reported_during_lead_up_to_iraq_war.html
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Allen Varney

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'When I was your age, we had one computer and one phone, and you could only use one or the other.'
'If I wanted a game and the store didn't have it, I never got that game.'
'I used to have to memorize my friends' phone numbers.'
'Back in my day we had to type our texts out with actual buttons. '
'I used to have to change CDs to listen to different artists.'
'Our Game Boys had no backlight. Try seeing your screen with only streetlights.'
'I had to WAIT for Saturday morning cartoons! And they were only on Saturday!'
'The cars didn't have fancy-pants AUX ports. We had to listen to the radio like goddamn Neanderthals.'
'Back in my day, we had nine planets!'
'Reddit once went down for 3 minutes and I almost went outside.'

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/33l0xf/what_will_be_millenials_i_used_to_walk_5_miles_to/
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I used to have to walk up 18 steps from my bedroom in my parents' basement to my parents' kitchen, just to get a snack!  It was the most horrible part about being 27.
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Allen Varney

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"Can someone Photoshop the Eiffel Tower under my finger?" (Pleated Jeans):

http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2015/04/24/man-asks-for-photoshop-internet-hilariously-responds-16-pics/
Unfortunately, asking for Photoshop help from strangers on the Internet almost never goes as planned. This guy just wanted a simple fix for his Eiffel Tower photo… [via reddit] Previously: 19 People Having a Really Bad Day
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"The real-world map of London makes a better fantasy setting than the fantasy map of Osgiliath. Looking at a map of London, you get this sense of a living, growing city that has a history and a reason to exist. It excites you about the possibilities of being someplace vibrant and a touch unruly. By comparison, Osgiliath feels sterile, like it always has been there and always will be, and never will it be touched by anything so puerile as history.

"When you are working to create maps for your fantasy setting, take lessons from real-world geography. Build your fantasy cities like the cities actually live. Found them in a location that makes sense, and then have the cities grow up over time around that city." (James Hinton, Worldbuilding School):

http://worldbuildingschool.com/real-world-maps/

(Via +Rick Klaw )
Over the past few years I’ve been introduced to a number of ways that gamers are using apps to turn real world maps into gaming platforms. The first example I ever encountered was a game called “Ghost Escape”. Essentially the game took a smart phone’s GPS and implanted “ghost sightings” on it. Players would use …
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+Jonathan Tweet In SM Stirling's Dies the Fire one character, a young woman, founds an order of rangers based on the Professor's work. They patrol and protect the area east of Portland Oregon, and make visits to local merchants and businesses to make sure they get payment when payment is due.
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"A faulty app caused American Airlines to ground dozens of its jets on Tuesday. The glitch caused iPad software, used by the planes' pilots and co-pilots to view flight plans, to stop working. The firm's cockpits went 'paperless' in 2013 to save its staff having to lug heavy paperwork on board. AA estimated the move would save it more than $1.2m (£422,770) in fuel every year. [...]

"American Airlines is not the only carrier whose pilots and cabin crew have switched from using physical charts and paper manuals to tablets. United Airlines was also an early adopter of iPads, while Delta has opted for Microsoft's Surface tablets instead. British Airways and Ryanair are among others still in the process of shifting to so-called Electronic Flight Bag-based systems. [...] There is competition between several firms to provide the software and support that make the technology possible. American Airlines pilots use an app called FliteDeck, which is made by the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen. A spokeswoman for the firm was unable to provide comment when contacted by the BBC."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-32513066
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Another field besides medical devices where bad coding could cost lives.
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Allen Varney

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Mark Twain, in his Autobiography, tells of serving as a river pilot on the Mississippi in 1857 ("or maybe 1856") under the pilot-master George Ealer. "He was a prime chess player and an idolater of Shakespeare. He would play chess with anybody; even with me, and it cost his official dignity something to do that. Also -- quite uninvited -- he would read Shakespeare to me; not just casually, but by the hour, when it was his watch, and I was steering. He read well, but not profitably for me, because he constantly injected commands into the text. That broke it all up, mixed it all up, tangled it all up -- to that degree, in fact, that if we were in a risky and difficult piece of river an ignorant person couldn't have told, sometimes, which observations were Shakespeare's and which were Ealer's. For instance:

"'Approach thou WHAT are you laying in the leads for? what a hell of an idea! like the rugged ease her off a little, ease her off! rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros or the THERE she goes! meet her, meet her! didn't you KNOW she'd smell the reef if you crowded it like that? Hyrcan tiger; take any shape but that and my firm nerves she'll be in the WOODS the first you know! stop the starboard! come ahead strong on the larboard! back the starboard! ... NOW then, you're all right; come ahead on the starboard; straighten up and go 'long, never tremble: or be alive again, and dare me to the desert damnation can't you keep away from that greasy water? pull her down! snatch her! snatch her baldheaded! with thy sword; if trembling I inhabit then, lay in the leads! -- no, only the starboard one, leave the other alone, protest me the baby of a girl. Hence horrible shadow! eight bells -- that watchman's asleep again, I reckon, go down and call Brown yourself, unreal mockery, hence!'

"He certainly was a good reader, and splendidly thrilling and stormy and tragic, but it was a damage to me, because I have never since been able to read Shakespeare in a calm and sane way. I cannot rid it of his explosive interlardings, they break in everywhere with their irrelevant 'What in hell are you up to NOW! pull her down! more! MORE! -- there now, steady as you go,' and the other disorganizing interruptions that were always leaping from his mouth. When I read Shakespeare now, I can hear them as plainly as I did in that long-departed time -- fifty-one years ago. I never regarded Ealer's readings as educational. Indeed they were a detriment to me."
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Allen Varney

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"The average US teen is [...] almost exclusively streaming very popular music. Even in the age of media fragmentation, most young listeners start their musical journey among the Billboard 200 before branching out. And that is exactly what happens next. As users age out of their teens and into their 20s, their path takes them out of the center of the popularity circle. Until their early 30s, mainstream music represents a smaller and smaller proportion of their streaming. And for the average listener, by their mid-30s, their tastes have matured, and they are who they're going to be.

"Two factors drive this transition away from popular music. First, listeners discover less-familiar music genres that they didn't hear on FM radio as early teens, from artists with a lower popularity rank. Second, listeners are returning to the music that was popular when they were coming of age -- but which has since phased out of popularity. [...] Even when we account for potential account sharing, users at every age with kids listen to smaller amounts of popular music than the average listener. Put another way, becoming a parent has an impact on your 'music relevancy' equivalent to aging about four years." (Skynet & Ebert):

http://skynetandebert.com/2015/04/22/music-was-better-back-then-when-do-we-stop-keeping-up-with-popular-music/
After sixty years of research, it’s conventional wisdom: as people get older, they stop keeping up with popular music. Whether the demands of parenthood and careers mean devoting less time to pop c...
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What a weird graph.
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Allen Varney

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Paging Dr. House: "Karanam’s tumor wasn’t just a tumor. It was a teratoma: a clump of bone, hair and teeth. A Frankenstein’s monster within Karanam’s own mind." (Washington Post):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/23/womans-brain-tumor-turns-out-to-be-evil-twin-complete-with-bone-hair-and-teeth/
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Stephen King is going to sue.
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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.
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Survived as a freelance writer for over 20 years, a nontrivial challenge.
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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
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Allen Varney's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.