Archive for November, 2010


Probably the best thing Tom has ever done.


Johnny ‘Walker (2)

A little delayed but never mind… On to the Top 10!

10. Sarkhan the Mad

You wouldn’t like him when he’s mad. Well, you would, maybe not quite as much as when he’s just going under his boring regular name, but you’d still like him. In the context of Rise especially, you’d love him. In a format full of o/1 tokens sat around often not doing much, I know let’s make them into dragons. Yes please. Best experience playing with the crazy s.o.b. was on MTGO, getting my face kicked in by Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief only to turn her into a dragon. Seems odd, but worked out pretty well as I then made two of my own and killed Sarkhan off finding my bounce spell. Dark Confidant without the life loss or creature vulnerability + a steady supply of dragons is pretty powerful. Good times.

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A post about… Type 4

(Nb this post is not about the Magic format Type 4, of which I have virtually no knowledge)
This post is about evolution, it’s just something of interest.

This picture - almost entirely irrelevant.

So, my good friend Barret passed this essay on to me at the pub the other day, saying that it was probably something that I would be interested in – ‘A common inversion under selection in Europeans‘ – and indeed I was interested. I would guess that about 90% of the jargon went over my head upon first glance because, I should stress, I am not a scientist. Barrett however is a scientist (I don’t know if ‘revealing’ this information helps or hinders the image he jested I was portraying of him – as some sort of idiot savant). Anyway, he told me that the paper was a couple of years old and so a few of the things that they were saying / doing / using were out-of-date but that nonetheless, it showed something quite cool.

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I, Robot

Aside from Will Smith staring back at me from the cover of the copy that the Open University supplied me with, this has been very enjoyable.

Vastly superior cover.

You are makeshift. I, on the other hand, am a finished product.

Fairly obviously, I was familiar with Asimov’s work as a whole, and I think you would have to have been living a very ignorant life not to be aware of his three laws of robotics:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Now I was sent the book, as previously alluded to, by the OU as part of the course material for one of my last 10 points worth of study which takes the form of T184 – Robotics & the meaning of life: a practical guide to things that think, that whilst strictly being a course from their engineering department, obviously crosses some philosophical borders. The probably all too apparent issues that would arise should robots be given some degree of sentience and autonomy have been covered many times, by many authors, in many mediums (Skynet, anyone? Interestingly the catastrophically self-aware US defence computer system has a real life UK counterpart – Skynet, a military communications system). But it must be stressed that Asimov was arguably the first and the greatest to tackle such issues.

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The Intersection

This post title was originally about something completely different, but then I canned the idea and decided to just post some things that I have heard said or have read.

I just went out in the rain to get tin foil to roast a vegetarian haggis while listening to Shostakovich.

Life is an interesting beast.

I don’t really know whether to attribute these quotations to the relevant people, or whether it’s more important to conceal the identity of the speakers in question.

Depends on the context of the horse.

It’s been a pretty grim week, one way or another, I’m glad it’s the weekend but my brain is like a finely mushed grey soup. These semi-entertaining snippets will have to suffice.

Overkill enough.

Maybe you can invent a game around them: trying to fathom the context in which they were said, or perhaps imagining the speaker themselves.

Grim dark grimness shrouded in never ending darkness is grim, and in the 41st Millenium, there is only war.

Okay, that one obviously references Warhammer 40,000. Anyway I’m already boring myself with this rather insipid display of laziness. Here’s something I already knew but perhaps you don’t: the Portugese Man’o’War isn’t one creature, but a colony of four different types of living thing. Awesome.

No, I have no god damn idea either...

Johnny ‘Walker (1)

Except that this is not a list of the planeswalkers from Johnny’s point of view at all, rather that of Timmy and specifically in draft rather than any constructed formats. (If you are unaware of the gamer types – Johnny, Timmy, Spike, Vorthos and Melvin – I dunno, Google them or something).

Before getting stuck in, I should probably make it abundantly clear that this is just my own personal view – discussed at some length with Sean Isle – and that I have tried to compare the various planeswalkers’ powers both in the context of their own set, and some sort of imaginary draft format where they all exist or something. So just to recap: personal opinion + complete work of fantasy = this list.

Finally, due to the card pictures, I decided to split this into two parts to make it a little more readable.

19. Chandra Ablaze

Residing at the bottom of the list, unfortunately, is Chandra’s reboot that came in Zendikar (first rule of reboot: don’t mention the reboot). Her +1 often put you at a severe disadvantage, despite being a fairly powerful, her ultimate was pretty difficult to pull off for any amount of value without having some sort of monopoly on all the red spells at the table (with Burst Lightning as a reasonable first pick, unlikely), and her -2 was occasionally very good, occasionally very useless. Sitting at 6 mana did not help matters at all, and overall just far too underwhelming the vast majority of the time. More often that not, she was a 6 mana double-damage Staggershock that made you discard a card each time damage needed to be done. Disappointing.

Continue reading ‘Johnny ‘Walker (1)’

Robots and Radios

I have nothing of any great worth to talk about today, but here’s a pair of interesting videos. One is an updated version of a video included within my current engineering course with the Open university, of a pack mule-style robot developed by Boston Dynamics. This thing has a very unusual gait, and is perhaps a little creepy, but it’s also fascinating how well it regains its own balance whilst slipping on ice, climbing hills, even when given a hefty boot, etc. If you look around on the ‘Tube, you can also find videos of it on the beach and wading in the sea, which is kind of cute. Then they stuck horns on the front and played matador with it, which is kind of retarded.

The noise that thing made was admittedly somewhat annoying. Here is some noise that many would also find annoying (props to Dan Clough for posting this to Facespace originally, from whence I stole it). This is Tetsuo Kogawa with some live ‘radio art’ – noisy.

The only other thing to mention is to check out the links in the sidebar (both old and new) as I am lucky enough to include some very intelligent and interesting people amongst my friends.

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