Thursday, July 18, 2013

Community: Great show, or greatest show? :)

You know what makes people different from animals? We're the only species on Earth that observes Shark Week. Sharks don't even observe Shark Week; but we do. For the same reason, I can pick up this pencil, tell you its name is Steve, and then go like this; *snap*


And part of you dies just a little bit on the inside.

Because people can connect with anything. We can sympathise with a pencil, we can forgive a shark, and we can give Ben Affleck an Academy Award for Screenwriting. People can find the good in just about anything except themselves.

Look at me: It's clear, to all of you, that I am awesome. But I can never admit that, because that would make me a jerk. But what I can do is see what makes Annie awesome. She's driven. We need driven people, or the lights go out and the ice cream melts. 

And Troy! Who cares if Troy thinks he's all that? Maybe he is. Do you think astronauts go to the moon because they hate oxygen? No. They're trying to impress their high school's prom king.

And Abed, Abed's a shaman. You ask him to pass the salt, he gives you a bowl of soup. Because, you know what? Soup is better. Abed is better.

You are all better than you think you are. You are just designed not to believe it when you hear it from yourself.

I want you to look to the person sitting next to you. I want you to extend to that person the same compassion you extend to sharks, pencils, and Ben Affleck. I want you to say to that person, 'I forgive you.'

You've just stopped being a study group. You've become something unstoppable. I hereby pronounce you a Community.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book review: The Magicians, Lev Grossman

One of the most important books I've ever read. It goes alongside Ender's Game & Shogun in terms of how often I bring it up in conversation

I literally find myself, time and again, drawing on this book (and those other two) for examples and metaphors to explain life, the universe, my thoughts, and everything to those who would listen :D

This is going to be a mega lazy review in that I have no intention of telling you much about the book itself

I will say that if Quentin's short-but-dramatic little Depression Phase hits a bit close to home for some people, just don't worry about it
-Remember Star Trek 2: The Genesis Planet ending?
-Remember X-Men, United: a certain character reflected on water as the @&#$^! Phoenix?!

"Life finds a way", baby!

And trust me, you will KNOW it, after reading this book. And better yet, you will have a shiny new collection of HILARIOUS Lore and Apt Anecdotes that apply to a million different situations in life and people you'll meet!

I love this book

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Driving is easy ;P

When teaching Lynn to drive, I plan to tell her Antonio Banderas' epic 2nd line

Now the question is, which am I saying?
(a) Driving is simple and can be understood in a few short mechanical steps

(b) The goal of driving is similar to swordfighting; score points, and tag opponents with the "pointy end"


Bonus note:
I'm really tempting fate by giving her this ambiguous tip!

Why? Well, even before she started the actual driving, and was preparing just for driving school...
-> Even then it was noted:

Lynn's going to driving school tomorrow? She's already *naturally* dangerous, and now they're arming her with modern technology. 'It's like giving a shark a sub machine gun!'

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Our world is getting exciting, Part 1

    On the first page of the book was a picture of a little girl sitting on a bench. Above the bench was a thing like a ladder, except it was horizontal, supported at each end by posts. Thick vines twisted up the posts and gripped the ladder, where they burst into huge flowers. The girl had her back to Nell; she was looking down a grassy slope sprinkled with little flowers toward a blue pond. On the other side of the pond rose mountains like the ones they supposedly had in the middle of New Chusan, where the fanciest Vickys of all had their ├Žstival houses. The girl had a book open on her lap.

    The facing page had a little picture in the upper left, consisting of more vines and flowers wrapped around a giant egg-shaped letter. But the rest of that page was nothing but tiny black letters without decoration. Nell turned it and found two more pages of letters, though a couple of them were big ones with pictures drawn around them. She turned another page and found another picture. In this one, the little girl had set aside her book and was talking to a big black bird that had apparently gotten its foot tangled up in the vines overhead. She flipped another page.

    The pages she'd already turned were under her left thumb. They were trying to work their way loose, as if they were alive. She had to press down harder and harder to keep them there. Finally they bulged up in the middle and slid out from underneath her thumb and, flop-flop-flop, returned to the beginning of the story.

    "Once upon a time," said a woman's voice, "there was a little girl named Elizabeth who liked to sit in the bower in her grandfather's garden and read story-books." The voice was soft, meant just for her, with an expensive Victorian accent.

    Nell slammed the book shut and pushed it away. It slid across the floor and came to rest by the sofa.

    The next day, Mom's boyfriend Tad came home in a bad mood. He slammed his six-pack down on the kitchen table, pulled out a beer, and headed for the living room. Nell was trying to get out of the way. She picked up Dinosaur, Duck, Peter Rabbit, and Purple, her magic wand, a paper bag that was actually a car her kids could drive around in, and a piece of cardboard that was a sword for killing pirates. Then she ran for the room where she and Harv slept, but Tad had already come in with his beer and begun rooting through the stuff on the sofa with his other hand, trying to find the control pad for the mediatron. He threw a lot of Harv's and Nell's toys on the floor and then stepped on the book with his bare foot.

    "Ouch, god damn it!" Tad shouted. He looked down at the book in disbelief. "What the fuck is this?!" He wound up as if to kick it, then thought better of it, remembering he was barefoot. He picked it up and hefted it, looking straight at Nell and getting a fix on her range and azimuth. "Stupid little cunt, how many times do I have to tell you to keep your fucking shit cleaned up?!" Then he turned away from her slightly, wrapping his arm around his body, and snapped the book straight at her head like a Frisbee.

    She stood watching it come toward her because it did not occur to her to get out of the way, but at the last moment the covers flew open. The pages spread apart. They all bent like feathers as they hit her in the face, and it didn't hurt at all.

    The book fell to the floor at her feet, open to an illustrated page.

    The picture was of a big dark man and a little girl in a cluttered room, the man angrily flinging a book at the little girl's head.

    "Once upon a time there was a little girl named Cunt," the book said.

    "My name is Nell," Nell said.

    A tiny disturbance propagated through the grid of letters on the facing page.

    "Your name's mud if you don't fucking clean this shit up," Tad said. "But do it later, I want some fucking privacy for once."

    Nell's hands were full, and so she shoved the book down the hallway and into the kids' room with her foot. She dumped all her stuff on her mattress and then ran back and shut the door. She left her magic wand and sword nearby in case she should need them, then set Dinosaur, Duck, Peter, and Purple into bed, all in a neat line, and pulled the blanket up under their chins. "Now you go to bed and you go to bed and you go to bed and you go to bed, and be quiet because you are all being naughty and bothering Tad, and I'll see you in the morning."

    "Nell was putting her children to bed and decided to read them some stories," said the book's voice.

    Nell looked at the book, which had flopped itself open again, this time to an illustration showing a girl who looked much like Nell, except that she was wearing a beautiful flowing dress and had ribbons in her hair. She was sitting next to a miniature bed with four children tucked beneath its flowered coverlet: a dinosaur, a duck, a bunny, and a baby with purple hair. The girl who looked like Nell had a book on her lap. "For some time Nell had been putting them to bed without reading to them," the book continued, "but now the children were not so tiny anymore, and Nell decided that in order to bring them up properly, they must have bedtime stories."

    Nell picked up the book and set it on her lap.


    The book spoke in a lovely contralto, with an accent like the very finest Vickys. The voice was like a real person's - though not like anyone Nell had ever met. It rose and fell like slow surf on a warm beach, and when Nell closed her eyes, it swept her out into an ocean of feelings.

Once upon a time there was a little Princess named Nell who was imprisoned in a tall dark castle on an island in the middle of a great sea, with a little boy named Harv, who was her friend and protector. She also had four special friends named Dinosaur, Duck, Peter Rabbit, and Purple.

Princess Nell and Harv could not leave the Dark Castle, but from time to time a raven would come to visit them...

    "What's a raven?" Nell said.

    The illustration was a colorful painting of the island seen from up in the sky. The island rotated downward and out of the picture, becoming a view toward the ocean horizon. In the middle was a black dot. The picture zoomed in on the black dot, and it turned out to be a bird. Big letters appeared beneath. "R A V E N," the book said. "Raven. Now, say it with me."


    "Very good! Nell, you are a clever girl, and you have much talent with words. Can you spell raven?"

    Nell hesitated. She was still blushing from the praise. After a few seconds, the first of the letters began to blink. Nell prodded it.

    The letter grew until it had pushed all the other letters and pictures off the edges of the page. The loop on top shrank and became a head, while the lines sticking out the bottom developed into legs and began to scissor. "R is for Run," the book said. The picture kept on changing until it was a picture of Nell. Then something fuzzy and red appeared beneath her feet. "Nell Runs on the Red Rug," the book said, and as it spoke, new words appeared.

    "Why is she running?"

    "Because an Angry Alligator Appeared," the book said, and panned back quite some distance to show an alligator, waddling along ridiculously, no threat to the fleet Nell. The alligator became frustrated and curled itself into a circle, which became a small letter. "A is for Alligator. The Very Vast alligator Vainly Viewed Nell's Valiant Velocity."

    The little story went on to include an Excited Elf who was Nibbling Noisily on some Nuts. Then the picture of the Raven came back, with the letters beneath. "Raven. Can you spell raven, Nell?" A hand materialized on the page and pointed to the first letter.

    "R," Nell said.

    "Very good! You are a clever girl, Nell, and good with letters," the book said. "What is this letter?" and it pointed to the second one. This one Nell had forgotten. But the book told her a story about an Ape named Albert.

The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson

Monday, June 24, 2013

Was she always wearing that big hat?

"See, I told you there's good in everyone"

The optimist, victorious again! :D

Oh, Dragons...

    "You wish to be a hero, but you do not know what a hero is. You think a hero is one who wins. But a hero must be prepared to lose, Quentin. Are you? Are you prepared to lose everything?"
    "I've already lost everything," he said.
    "Oh, no. You have so much more left to lose."
    The dragon was a lot scoldier than he expected. And disappointingly cryptic. Somehow in the back of his mind he'd vaguely thought that the dragon might want to be his friend, and they would fly around the world solving mysteries together. The chances of that happening now looked vanishingly small.

-The Magician King, Lev Grossman

Monday, June 17, 2013

This one's for Alonso

UnheardMarksman (4:39): lol never ends =p
Bukov (5:00): yup :(
UnheardMarksman (5:00): how do you even get such bad teams?
Bukov (5:09): DUDE
I freaking know, right?
it's like they're attracted to me
my friend used to complain
that he was right on the bridge point.
you know how LoL has leagues
silver league, gold league
well he was 
I don't know what the equivalent would be in Starcraft terms
gold to plat
in LoL
He was low plat, SC-wise
i believe
in LoL terms
UnheardMarksman (5:10): yeah
Bukov (5:10): he worked hard to get out of gold
so anyways
he was really good SC2 player
and so anyways after he finally placed into low plat
they'd still ALWAYS put him in playoff matches for his spot
against high lvl gold players
"I am not the stepping stone to platinum, blizzard!"
and that's my theory
What am I, Riot?
cause of the dang gold ribbon
or some hidden honor elo or something Riot must have
they're like oh, his positive influence
let's put all the darn trolls
with him
and he'll make them better players
UnheardMarksman (5:12): lol
Bukov (5:13): /headdesk

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Samoans... who knew, right?

Today I have a story that involves books (Ender's Game) and puppy dogs!

The story isn't about either of those things though. It's really about the psychology of player behavior in Online Games. There's also some stuff about smiles and Samoans :)

Alright, let's start with the game

Recently, I ended a League of Legends match with this result

2 quick explanations, for those of you that don't play the game-

1) What does "So did those 20 stacks get you very far, Orianna?" mean?
He's taunting me
-> I did well, but we lost anyways
--> 20 "stacks" of the item Mejais is very hard to get
---> Especially when every single person on your team dies more often than they kill (called "feeding")
----> It's considered particularly rude since it was the least helpful player taunting the most helpful one, then quickly leave the chat room

2) What's this "gold ribbon" I'm about to talk about?
The creators of the game have a very clever positive reinforcement system
-> It's called Honor, and it's in addition to the more usual negative reinforcement systems
--> The funny thing about positive reinforcement? Even if you're well aware it's being used on you, it still works! They even use it on olympic athletes [1] [2]
---> I've worked hard to earn the highest rank in their Honor system (a "Gold Ribbon", like I'm a dang labrador retriever ^.^ )
----> And having worked hard, I am now loathe to risk losing it ;)

Now let's bring in the book!

So the question that started all this off happened when I showed the above screenshot to my friend

He noticed my *extra* bit of politeness ("gg, you guys sure beat us good, you earned it") after the game. He commented on it. We'd just had a frustrating loss, and while that amount of "sportsmanship" or whatever might be a bit much to ask even of an *average* person-off-the-street, he knew it was *particularly* difficult for me

That's because he was well aware that in the old days, whenever I'd go 10-0-10 but my teammates are all like 2-8 at 20 minutes, I might end the game saying things like "I hope your house catches fire with you still inside it" <.<

And that brings us to the main point of this post. I'd like to tell you a story from the Ender's Game series now, in a book called Children of the Mind

The two main characters in this chapter, Peter and Wang-mu, are trying to get to a holy man on his holy island on the Samoan planet Pacifica. The information they'll get there may help save their own world, but they're being thwarted at every turn by a hospitable-yet-unyielding family of locals

What strikes Wang-mu as particularly odd is how polite the father has been to them all evening. He's a Samoan warrior, a huge and intimidating man, and he hasn't stopped smiling or laughing all night. What they have yet to realize is that they, an American boy and a Chinese girl, have been stepping on cultural and religious taboos all night long

    "And we can see him?"
    "You'd have to spend a week purifying yourselves before you can set foot on Atatua --"
    "Impure feet tickling the Gods!" cried her husband, laughing uproariously. "That's why they call it the Island of the Laughing God!"
    Peter shifted uncomfortably.
    "Don't you like my husband's jokes?" asked Grace.
    "No, I think -- I mean, they're simply not -- I don't get them, that's all."
    "Well, that's because they're not very funny," said Grace. "But my husband is cheerfully determined to keep laughing through all this so he doesn't get angry at you and kill you with his bare hands."
    Wang-mu gasped, for she knew at once that this was true; without realizing it, she had been aware all along of the rage seething under the huge man's laughter, and when she looked at his calloused, massive hands, she realized that he could surely tear her apart without even breaking into a sweat.
    "Why would you threaten us with death?" asked Peter, acting more belligerent than Wang-mu wished.
    "The opposite!" said Grace. "I tell you that my husband is determined not to let rage at your audacity and blasphemy control his behavior. To try to visit Atatua without even taking the trouble to learn that letting you set foot there, uncleansed and uninvited, would shame us and filthy us as a people for a hundred generations -- I think he's doing rather well not to have taken a blood oath against you."


So there you have it. Do you see now the connection I was trying to draw?

I'm the Samoan

Riot - the makers of the game - trained me like a labrador freaking retriever. And it worked! I am loathe to risk losing that silly gold ribbon, even though I know perfectly well what they're doing with the whole positive reinforcement thing

I've said it before and I'll say it again: They're kind of Evil Geniuses over there :D

Final bonus tie-in: Puppy dogs!

Bukov (6:34): In dog training we call that "mutually exclusive behavior" or something like that
i can't remember. contradictory behavior maybe. I can't remember the word
the idea is if you're a positive reinforcement trainer and want a dog to stop jumping on someone, for example
you can't beat the dog when it jumps on someone
that's negative reinforcement
(and, although effective, has many bad side effects. Thus the reason not to use negative reinforcement)
UnheardMarksman (6:35): exactly
Bukov (6:36): So, using the mutually exclusive behavior technique ("incompatible behaviors" iirc)
Instead, you train him whenever he see's an exciting new person, to SIT automatically
or to go get a favorite toy
or to go to a x taped to the rug
or whatever
UnheardMarksman (6:37): yeah
that's smart
Bukov (6:37): because it's *physically impossible* for him to both (a) be sitting and (b) be jumping on someone, at the same time
Thus, if I wanna keep my stupid, stupid, I-see-what-you-did-there-Riot-you-sneaky-russians-:P Gold Ribbon
I have to make myself be mega polite
to avoid old eric -mode
where he used to wish painful death on everyone who cost him the game :D <.<
UnheardMarksman (6:37): smart smart riot
Bukov (6:38): Iknoright?
Those evil bastards =)
It totally worked haha
UnheardMarksman (6:38): they're geniuses
Bukov (6:38): forserious



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Gate Thief, Orson Scott Card

    The Gate Thief shook his head. "He used to be clever," said Wad. "You made him stupid."
    "I made him believe that he was stupid," said Anonoei, "and then told him how to be clever. I hardly need to be a manmage to do that—learned people do it all the time."
    "But I saw your manmagery all the same," said Wad. "He practically worships you."
    "Most men do, if I want them to," said Anonoei.
    "Will he kill his father?" asked Wad.
    "He'll try," said Anonoei. "And because he really is clever, he'll probably succeed even without our help."
    "But you intend to help him."
    "Kill the man who defeated and humiliated Iceway? Yes, I think I will, unless you stop providing me with gates."
    "Remember how few of them I have," said Wad.
    "So passage through the Great Gate didn't increase their number?"
    "It increased how long they last, how strong they are, my ability to manipulate them, my sense of other gates and where they lead. But no, passage through a Great Gate does not add any new gates to my store."
    "Nor, apparently, does it make people any smarter."
    "It didn't improve your intelligence or mine," said Wad, "but we were already as clever as we needed to be."
    "As is Frostinch," said Anonoei.
    "Yet it didn't occur to him that he should find out what your magery is."
    "I didn't let him think of it," said Anonoei. "That's elementary. Whenever he became curious about me, I distracted him. Again, I barely needed magery to control him."
    "When he is Jarl of Gray, he won't be any smarter."
    "I don't want him smarter," said Anonoei. "I'm not going to use him to defeat Bexoi. Manmagery doesn't let me add new powers to my clients—they are what they are. He will be my puppet, but no match for Bexoi."
    "Who is?" asked Wad.
    "You," said Anonoei. "But I don't expect you to face her down, either. You're still too much in love with her."
    Wad recoiled at that. "She murdered my son."
    "The son you made with her. Remember what I am, and believe me, Wad. However much you hate Bexoi, you still have love enough for her that it will make you hesitate at the last moment, and she'll destroy you."
    "How will you bring her down, then? How will you defeat her? Do you think that you're manmage enough to make her your servant?"
    "Watch and see," said Anonoei. "When it's over, you'll be the only one who knows what I have done. But you'll agree that my victory was perfect and complete. I could find no better way to punish her."
    "And you won't tell me now?"
    "You would prevent me," said Anonoei, "even though you think you wouldn't. I'm not controlling you, but I do need to use your talents. Not knowing, you'll continue to help me, even though you know that if you knew my plan, you wouldn't."
    Wad smiled. "Or so you think."
    "You think that you would approve, and so you help me," said Anonoei. "I don't have to use manmagery on people who are sure they're wiser than they are."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Strategy vs Tactics in Game of Thrones

*** Heads up ***
The content of this post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones: Storm of Swords / The tv show: End of Season 3

Also, I curse a lot. That's because I've been bottling up this rant for 13 years, while I waited for you goobers too lazy to read the books to talk someone into making a TV show ;P
*** End heads up ***

Moving on...

A friend recently linked this picture. And I'm all like: "Story of my Life"

However, on a side note, I still haven't watched a single episode. I assume they're talking about the red wedding though. You fucking people have no idea how hard I've worked to not spoil that for you for the last THREE years ;P

Not that I wanted to spoil anything for spoiler's sake (Unlike meester Alonso). *I* just suddenly had a bunch of fellow story readers/watchers and wanted someone to bitch about the Injustice of it with. You fuckers needed to get to that part of the story faster, is all *I'm* saying

Fuck you Walder Frey! Fuck you so fucking much!!

Alright, now that I've got that out of my system, let's move on to the main part of this post:

<continue rant mode>

...and fuck YOU Robb Stark, you incompetent waste of potential! I wrote a whole essay on you in college. You make me so mad!

Read Shogun. Read the Art of War. Read any book by any old Asian wise dude. YOU CAN'T RUN A WAR WITH JUST SWORDS, even if you're REALLY good with the swords, you twat!

You NEED a fucking Counselor of War. You need a Littlefinger; a Tywin Lannister; or even a Tyrion. You need a Toranaga. You need Warriors and Masterminds

The official terms are Strategy and Tactics. Yin and Yang. "In all things, balance", motherfucker. "You know nothing, Jon Snow"

Ok, let me break it down. Put simply, Tactics are the individual battles, and Strategy is the overall war-long plan. Ever hear that phrase "win the battle but lose the war"? Tywin Lannister LIVES AND BREATHS that shit man. Like I said, check out the book Shogun sometime, it will melt your face off. Read what Toranaga writes about Mariko and a chess Queen. Oh boy...

Think about this: It all comes back to balance. You need BOTH. Otherwise, OTHERWISE, no matter HOW good the jerkoff Warriors and their 1-battle Tactics are, some far-thinking Strategist mastermind like Tywin is just going to be finagling behind the scenes with some gold-motivated treacherous asshole

Every. Damn. Time. This wasn't an isolated event. It wasn't "bad luck". It's the way of the world. You could practically call it the central theme of the entire Game of Thrones series. You could CERTAINLY call it a central theme of the Shogun series

Strategy. Tactics. Balance. One without the other = nono. Good job winning all those forest battles, King in the North. Too much drinking parties and patting yourself on the back afterwards. Someone laid a trap for you and you got caught. Every time

And you DON'T have to do it yourself. That's what kills me. Hire a BLOODY Consigliere. Your world is SWIMMING with them

Do you think there is any chance in the world Tom Hagen would have let Michael Corleone get caught with his pants down; that any Mastermind worth his salt wouldn't have pointed out the likelyhood - or had spies in place to give actual evidence - of Walder and Tywin schmoozing it up in their bloody little history-repeats-itself Castamere towers!?

Le sigh...

Had to add this gem from the above-mentioned Alonso:
If I had been Robb Stark I would have had the counsel, but still would have died at that red wedding next to a hot chick and not an ugly Frey

Friday, May 31, 2013

Vegetarians and Ginger Kids

A friend teasingly posted this on my (fellow vegetarian) sibling's Facebook wall:

My reply?
They're all against us, little sister.
But, no matter! One day we will come for them in the night, just like...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

This is why we can't have nice things



I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound—with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world. [1]

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tesla vs Edison

Lol, exactly!

Brilliant The Oatmeal explanation of what on Earth they're talking about :)
Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Magicians, Lev Grossman - #2

The class had twenty students, all in uniform, all looking like very ordinary teenagers trying very hard to look cooler and smarter than each other. Quentin knew that probably half the Intel Science Talent Search winners and Scripps Spelling Bee champions in the country were in this room. Based on what he had overheard, one of his classmates had placed second in the Putnam Competition, as a high school junior. He knew for a fact that one of the girls had managed to take over the plenary session of the national model UN and push through a motion sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons to protect a critically endangered species of sea turtle. This while representing Lesotho.