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Allen Varney
1,848 followers -
Writer and game designer based for many years in Austin, Texas; currently in Ithaca, New York.
Writer and game designer based for many years in Austin, Texas; currently in Ithaca, New York.

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"I have not the least doubt that school developed in me nothing but what was evil and left the good untouched." -- Edvard Grieg (Futility Closet):

https://www.futilitycloset.com/2017/04/27/no-more-pencils/



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"If I had to give a short answer to the question 'Does English have the biggest vocabulary?,' I'd say 'Who cares?' English is a rich and beautiful language, not least because England has been conquered by Vikings and Normans, and has happily been open to foreign influence through its history. We know more of its wonderful rare words because English has been written for over a thousand years, and its many dialects are well described. That's good enough for me. We shouldn't need it to have the biggest vocabulary -- which can't be defined in any sensible way -- to enjoy it." (Economist, 23 June 2010):

http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2010/06/counting_words

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"It’s one thing to take a product that is already cheap and just fine and replace it with a vastly more expensive version that locks people into exploitative proprietary systems for years in exchange for giving them a 15-second hit of dopamine derived from Going Digital. I mean, Quip and Juicero and whatever Silicon Valley dildo company is selling dongs with DRM-equipped replaceable heads are actually fundamentally selling you a product. It’s a horribly, uselessly expensive product that could only be embraced by chumps, but it’s a tangible thing. The real next level is just inserting yourself into someone else’s transaction and collecting a % while offering nothing. (When this is a job, we call it 'consulting.') Why charge a lot for the blades when you can charge a lot for literally nothing?

"RentBerry ( http://gizmodo.com/bidding-website-rentberry-may-be-the-startup-of-your-ni-1793940693 ) is useful here because the word 'rent' is literally in the name. Here’s the value proposition that RentBerry offers. For landlords who are already raking in record profits, RentBerry provides a chance at making even more, as potential tenants must set upon each other in a dystopian nightmare auction system that compels them to ask, how much am I willing to pay to avoid sleeping in the park, really? For tenants, RentBerry offers -- well, the opportunity to pay more in a pre-existing housing crisis, the chance to make the process of finding an apartment an even more horrific exercise in stress and disappointment, a reason to hate faceless strangers with even more intensity, and more reason to view city life as a ceaseless Nietzschean struggle from which they will never escape. What RentBerry gets in return is, eventually, a % of your already hideously overpriced rent, for the duration of the lease. I bet you can’t wait to know a portion of your rent check is going not just to the landlord you hate but also to a company that did nothing beyond giving him the ability to take more of your money! Of course, if you live in New York, your 'landlord' might very well be a hedge fund that also funded RentBerry! Sweet, right?

"RentBerry will tell you that tenants might get a deal thanks to the auction system. Of course, it’s landlords who chose to use RentBerry, not tenants, and if landlords thought they were losing money on the deal they’d never use it, meaning the service’s very reason for being necessarily entails grabbing more and more tenant money. Details!

"Why is everything so expensive? Because Silicon Valley and Wall Street are taking huge percentages out of transactions they once didn’t. That’s why. The Juiceros make inexpensive and functional products far more expensive and often less functional; the RentBerrys cut out the middleman by just becoming middlemen. Dare to dream." (Fredrik deBoer):

https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/the-three-hot-trends-in-silicon-valley-horseshit-95cc5a85e8a4

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Long, interesting, highly informative article about the French Foreign Legion. (Aeon):

https://aeon.co/essays/why-young-men-queue-up-to-die-in-the-french-foreign-legion

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"We estimated rates of 'absolute income mobility' -- the fraction of children who earn more than their parents -- by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply reviving the 'American dream' of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution." (AAAS Science):

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/04/21/science.aal4617

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Culture wars have hit Mastodon hard. Too hard to summarize, and maybe not worth the candle, but this excerpt from Matthew Skala's long, long blog post portends the struggle: "In the Japanese language there are two terms ロリコン and 児童ポルノ. If you like ロリコン then you're a nerd, but that's not a big deal. It is legal and popular and sold in bookstores everywhere. I cannot emphasize enough that ロリコン is not only legal but really acceptable in Japan. It's merely nerdy. On the other hand, if you like 児童ポルノ then you're an evil sicko monster, and 児童ポルノ is highly illegal. It's also unpopular, as a matter of statistics; the number of people who actually are interested in 児童ポルノ is vanishingly small as a fraction of the Japanese population. Japanese see these as two completely and obviously distinct things. Both terms can be translated into English as 'child pornography.'" (Ansuz):

http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/entry/335

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"Books Like The Hobbit: 12 Epic Fantasies Worth Reading" (Dena McMurdie, Brightly):

http://www.readbrightly.com/books-like-hobbit-12-epic-fantasies-worth-reading/

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The Dwarf Fortress creators have arranged for others to continue developing the game after they're gone. Man, to have to think about such things! (Motherboard):

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/what-will-happen-to-gamings-most-ambitious-experiment-when-its-creators-die

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A rising tide sinks all homes. "Relative sea levels in South Florida are roughly four inches higher now than in 1992. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts sea levels will rise as much as three feet in Miami by 2060. By the end of the century, according to projections by Zillow, some 934,000 existing Florida properties, worth more than $400 billion, are at risk of being submerged.

"The impact is already being felt in South Florida. Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock. Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply. The area’s drainage canals rely on gravity; as oceans rise, the water utility has had to install giant pumps to push water out to the ocean." (Bloomberg):

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-04-19/the-nightmare-scenario-for-florida-s-coastal-homeowners

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