Archive | July 2012

This. Is. Not. Acceptable!

I found this video via Lousy Canuck, and it is appalling. Amnesty International put together a video of what being hooded and tortured would be like. Just watch the video (unless you have undergone torture like this, in which case I am adding a trigger warning):

This. Is. NEVER. Acceptable!
If you think it is, like one shithead who commented by saying “America should do this to all foreign people”, then why don’t you volunteer as a test subject?

Attempted N00bery

This is a short story based around a grumpy comment I made about how some idiot should be arrested for “Attempted N00bery in a Private Web Forum”. Read More…

New from XKCD: What if?

XKCD is one of the best comics on the Internet. And it’s got even better! They’ve just put up a “What if” feature that they’re updating every Tuesday.

The first post is “what would happen if you could throw or hit a baseball at 90% of the speed of light”. The answer: a nuclear explosion. That’s awesome!

I’ve modded a game

This morning, I managed to create a mod for Freecol, an open-source clone of Sid Meier’s Colonization.

The game is written in Java, but mods are implemented using scripts in the Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is a bit more readable; somebody once remarked on the Freecol site that requiring Java to mod the game is like requiring a degree in mechanical engineering to get a driving licence.

Anyway, what I did was to change the picture for the Petty Criminal unit, and then tweak them so that they can generate more ore while mining – they’re on a chain gang! Another unit, the veteran soldier, is even better at fighting but costs more to hire in Europe. So far, these work perfectly. 🙂

Another thing I’m trying is a way to repair artillery. When the artillery are damaged in-game, they turn into another piece of damaged artillery, and they can’t be fixed. What I’ve tried to do is set the armoury in a town to be able to “educate” the artillery into becoming a normal piece again. I have no idea if this will work, because I haven’t got damaged artillery while testing it so far.

But hey, the rest of it works. That’s a pretty good start.

What makes comedy funny or not funny?

Elsewhere on the web, I recently commented on a discussion about stand-up comedians and why they are funny or not. Humour is inherently subjective, so I couldn’t hope to speak for everyone’s tastes. However, I can at least look at my own tastes and why I find them amusing.

Nothing is sacred
Frankie Boyle is one example that comes to mind: he spares nobody and nothing, not even himself or Glasgow. What makes this so funny is that he can be downright outrageous. Another great example was George Carlin: since I’m an atheist, I think his “Religion is Bullshit” sketch is quite accurate. God is supposedly all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful and all-benevolent…but he needs money! The humour in this case comes from somebody not being afraid to say out loud that something is completely absurd and why.

In the discussion I mentioned above, I also mentioned The Goon Show. While it was a radio show and not stand-up comedy, it is an example of extremely surreal humour, such as the “What time is it, Eccles?” exchange. Here it is. It’s so bizarre you can’t help laughing. Or take the Trololo meme: Mr Khil was so ridiculously happy while singing complete nonsense that it was hilarious.

Parody works by not taking the original work too seriously, and if done well, it can be hilarious. An excellent example of parody that comes to mind is the Trolling Saruman video. What made that so funny was that they were poking fun at the Lord of the Rings by using the Trololo meme, and also because they did a very good job of putting it together.

Gallows humour
Sometimes, you laugh at something because it’s better than crying about it. A lot of paramedics, firefighters and other such trades end up doing this, simply to stop the job from getting to them. Back in 2008 and 2009, a lot of comedians in Ireland cracked jokes about the economy going down the drain. Why is this funny? Because it can help to deal with whatever it is that’s just happened.

What a great birthday present – the Higgs boson!

CERN is planning to announce the possible discovery of the Higgs boson tomorrow – which also happens to be my birthday. What a coincidence! 😀

There’s a good summary of what the Higgs boson is here. Now, CERN have mentioned that they’ve seen something that is consistent with the Higgs boson, no the boson itself. However, they’re combining the results from two experiments that were within 4-sigma (i.e. four standard deviations away from the expected value, or a 1 in 16,000 chance of the results being a statistical fluke) to try and get 5 sigma, which means there is less than a 1 in 1.7 million chance of a fluke.

Either way, watch this space!