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James Kozianski
Works at Google
Attended University of New South Wales
Lived in Sydney
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James Kozianski

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Smart billionaires are worried. They see their own their own futures being endangered by the dumb billionaires.  Those who got rich by paying attention to trends — like Silicon Valley entrepreneurs… and Warren Buffett… are starting to see a truly scary prospect on the horizon.  Torches and pitchforks. Or one word that says it all (look it up).

“Tumbrels.”

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html#ixzz35rZGi5zI

The dire, freedom-wrecking consequences of wealth disparity were discussed long ago by Adam Smith. They were the root cause of both the French and American revolutions — one of which resolved the situation with moderation, the other with pain. And the tradeoff is starkly portrayed in an article by billionaire Nick Hanauer, on Politico.

“Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.”  This kind of “smart billionaire” will be our secret weapon, in the fight for our Great Experiment to continue.
Memo: From Nick HanauerTo: My Fellow ZillionairesYou probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for...
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James Kozianski

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Short Movie Reviews: Edge of Tomorrow

It's good! Surprisingly smart and with a darkly humorous streak it's a time-travel movie that didn't at any point tell the audience not to think too hard about it, which is refreshing. The characters all acted intelligently and the suspense was maintained up until near the end where it kind of reverted to Hollywood action movie form, but it didn't detract from it too much.
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Short book reviews: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Incredibly violent, but rendered in such beautiful prose! The easiest comparison I can make is to Moby Dick, which I found similarly filled with virtuosic descriptions of otherwise mundane events (there is a lot of horse riding in this, as there was sailing in Moby Dick). However unlike Moby Dick there is no narrator to guide you through - everything is related with the detachment of a surgeon and we are never given any insight into how the characters think except through the bald descriptions of their actions. That, along with the insane brutality that is an ever present backdrop, make this a difficult read, but one well worth the effort. The Judge is worth the price of admission alone, but just riding along with this band of effortlessly evil men and watching the world wilt around them is horrible and fascinating. I also love I think every single line of dialogue in the book. In McCarthy's America everyone is a philosopher or poet, or both.
'Blood Meridian' is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the...
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Hi everyone! Does anyone here use their Brompton as a shopping trolley? I really love the idea of doing that but I'm just wondering if people find it practical. Also, would an R-type be necessary for that?
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Yup! Works great!
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Sigh! Damon Albarn is so cool.
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James Kozianski

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I disagree that the connections we make online are "just as good" as those in the real world. It's not that communicating online is bad, but I don't think I've had an online interaction that I wouldn't rather have had face to face. It's a textbook worse-is-better scenario; it's so much cheaper and more convenient to write someone a note online than to invite them over for dinner, or catch up over coffee, and so we do it more and more.

Besides, I don't think the majority of what people do on the Internet is connect with each other. I suspect it's mainly spent gorging on random snippets of news or memes. The existence of such movements is merely evidence that the Internet often serves only to distract us from what we'd really rather be doing (or what we should be doing). I doubt that the point is to try to live in a world without the Internet, but rather to re-establish the boundaries that ubiquity has completely destroyed. Anybody who's been to dinner with someone carrying on a conversation with someone else online can appreciate those boundaries.
The unplugging movement, which encourages us to disconnect from technology, is unsustainable and misguided.
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Have him in circles
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James Kozianski

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Short Non-Fiction Book Review: The Opium War by Julia Lovell

An almost unbelievable account of the first opium war between Britain and China. The sheer incompetence displayed by those in power in China and the moral smugness (not to mention callousness) accompanying the technological and military advantage held by Britain are amazing to behold. Lovell relates the sad story with deep insight and with a wry sense of humour and goes on to show how it has been warped to various political ends in the time since. Highly recommended.
<p>"On the outside, [the foreigners] seem intractable, but inside they are cowardly... Although there have been a few ups-and-downs, the situation as a whole is under control...
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James Kozianski

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This was at least three times as awesome as I thought.
 
Amazing video of young footballers duped by old man.
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Heh yeah, they probably just thought he was some weirdo with makeup.
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James Kozianski

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I saw them growing herbs under pink lamps at a sandwich shop in MIT. That's a pretty awesome way to get fresh ingredients which, incidentally, tasted amazing.
 
Indoor farming may be taking root. A grey warehouse in an industrial park in Indiana is an unlikely place to find the future of market gardening. But it is, nevertheless, home to a pristine, climate-controlled room full of eerily perfect plants. They grow 22 hours a day, 365 days a year in 25-foot towers, untouched by pests and bathed in an alien pink light http://econ.st/1mWTXrI  
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Short book reviews: The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball

They say you can't judge a book from its cover but I should have known with this one that it was going to try something clever. It's various stories intertwined within a story, within a story (etc), and every thread is completely without consequence. The bland prose describes a laundry list of events and characters, each picked up and discarded at will with a profound indifference.

The irony is that this "experimental" book with its overt appeal to cleverness ultimately makes for very linear reading. The disjointed set of random images proceeds as if on a slideshow and my brain was just clicking through "next", "next", "next". Every now and then an inner story refers to an outer story for a bit, as if the mere idea of doing so was worth the slog.

Ultimately I give this book a 1 out of 5, with a small disclaimer: I only made it about half way through the book. Is it the duty of a reviewer to read the whole book? Let's call this an experimental review, then I can do whatever's easier.
With his debut novel, <i>Samedi the Deafness</i>, Jesse Ball emerged as one of our most extraordinary new writers. Now, Ball returns with this haunting tale of love and storyt...
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Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :-)
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James Kozianski

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In New York I'm finding it hard to read any anger or malice into the constant honking on the streets, it's just far too frequent for that. Possible translations include:

- "Hello"
- "I see you"
- "I am here"
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James Kozianski

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I've been playing Hearthstone a lot lately. It managed to convert a potentially harrowing seven hour layover at SFO into a wonderful time filled with joy. That's got to be a plus, but this game has the unique ability to make me wonder if I'm being exploited.

The landscape of gaming continues to grow more complex as the medium matures. You have your Hollywood-style big action games like Call of Duty, you have your indie, "game-as-art"[1] type games that maximise abstraction and conceptual beauty, and there's the rising horde of mobile / casual games, from which you can see the "worse is better" banner being flown proudly. Hearthstone is the perfect example of the latter. It's boiled away much of the complexity of Magic and left a beautiful, modern game that also just happens to be extremely efficient at extracting money from its players.

It's this ability it has to extract money that makes it feel modern to me - times were you would just buy a game for like ten billion dollars and that got you a physical copy of the game which you owned completely. Within that economic structure the game designer is free to create an isolated experience that was as good as possible, and that's the whole equation - people pay money for your high quality piece of entertainment. This structure is nice because it keeps the economics clearly delineated from the art. It's a structure that has existed forever and has been working very well for books, music and movies.

But games are weird and malleable. Lately they have begun to experiment with different economic vehicles. Free to play games go from a game costing $X exactly to costing between $0-$Infinity. It's a genius concept, because it allows the richies to pay as much as they want, but it's saddening and deeply troubling to many who enjoy the barrier between the dollars and the gameplay established by the old economic model. So-called pay to win games seem obviously evil, because they make games not about acquiring skill and solving problems, but just spending money. They are like a blight on the player who gives more and more but gets less and less back.

I'm still trying to figure out if I am one of those people who laments the free to play model as reducing the craft of game making into the craft of making slot machines. Hearthstone in many ways bears a strong resemblance to a slot machine - the thrill of buying a pack of cards and seeing that you netted an epic or legendary card is surely the exact same thrill as the slot jockey gets when they win some money back from the machine. However, all you can do with slot machine winnings is put them straight back into the slot machine. With Hearthstone it's not so direct - you get an interesting card that gives you an idea for a deck you want to build, or you get the second copy of that other card that perfectly rounds out your current go-to deck, or something else entirely. The new cards create new possibilities for the game and breathe new life into it. It's an extremely rich, cerebral game and the fun is in losing yourself in it. The varying rarity of cards is an essential aspect of that fun, and the game would lose a huge part of its appeal if you just bought the game and all the cards came with it.

With this richness comes a sadness, too, and that is that you simply can't rise up the ranks unless you are willing to lay down money to get some better cards. You can in theory just grind those cards out, but it is, as one would expect, incredibly time consuming to do so. And once you've bought your shiny new rares, you go up a few levels, and then you plateau on the ladder around the people who have spent a similar amount of money to you. When someone smashes you with a crazy combination of rares the compulsion to go and buy more cards is strong.

I suppose at the end of the day anything fun has the potential to either destroy you or to enrich your life immensely. Perhaps the art is in walking the line between paying a good amount of money to make the game at least interesting, and spending all your dollars and time on it. So far I think I've walked that line pretty well, and Hearthstone has done a good job reminding me why I ever became obsessed with video games in the first place. Such a reminder is surely worth at least fifty bucks. Yes, that seems easy. I guess the real question is how much time is it worth?

[1] http://game.notch.net/drowning/#
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You're right - I place too high an emphasis on the rare cards (case in point I think TrumpSC did a thing where he started a new account and got to legendary rank with a 600 dust budget) but I find the deck building aspect to be most of the fun for me and with a super limited set of cards it is significantly less fun.

And it's true - earning decks by doing the quests and playing matches is really fun. Getting a new pack of cards is way better than leveling up in an RPG. Hearthstone is shaping up to be a very beautiful game indeed.
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Have him in circles
825 people
Dan Wheeler's profile photo
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  • University of New South Wales
    Computer Science, 2004 - 2007
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    Programmer, 2007 - present
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Great food and great service! Very friendly wait staff and the Malawa is delish. Would eat again.
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