Gasland

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Jun 102010
 
Fox holds a lighter up to a kitchen faucet to demonstrate the tapwater's flammability

Today’s “Fresh Air” featured an interview with Josh Fox, whose new documentary “Gasland” airs on HBO tomorrow night. You can listen to the audio here.

When filmmaker Josh Fox discovers that Natural Gas drilling is coming to his area—the Catskillls/Poconos region of Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, he sets off on a 24 state journey to uncover the deep consequences of the United States’ natural gas drilling boom. What he uncovers is truly shocking—water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the US all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation well blowouts and huge gas explosions consistently covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies. These are just a few of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. – Official site

May 312010
 

Papa Neutrino is the most interesting homeless man ever.

Poppa Neutrino or William David Pearlman (b. 1933), a native of Fresno, CA is a philosopher, raftbuilder and musician.  He has built several rafts out of donated and recycled materials on which he has lived and sailed. In 1997 Poppa Neutrino sailed one of his homemade rafts from North America to Europe becoming the second person to sail a raft across the Atlantic and the first to do so on a raft made from trash.  Betsy Terrell, his wife, was the captain and navigator on the crossing.

Inspired by a documentary he saw when he was twelve years old, in which Australian aborigines periodically burnt their homes and walked away naked, free to start a new life, he teaches cooperation, anarchy, antiestablishment and empowerment to people trapped by the concept of job and rent.  Thus Poppa Neutrino builds his own homes out of discarded materials on free space (public waterways) and supports himself by public speaking and playing music in a band, the Flying Neutrinos.

I highly recommend the documentary Random Lunacy, watchable for free at the time of this writing at hulu.

Welcome to North Korea

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May 282010
 
North Korean museum tour

Welcome to North Korea, by Peter Tetteroo and Raymond Feddema. YouTube, 60min.

The winner of the 2001 International Emmy award for Best Documentary, Welcome to North Korea is a grotesquely surreal look at the all-too-real conditions in modern-day North Korea. Dutch filmmaker Peter Tetteroo and his associate Raymond Feddema spent a week in and around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang — ample time to produce this outstanding film.

Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World

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May 252010
 

1983 was one of the Cold War’s warmest years: amid unusually-high diplomatic tensions, the Soviet military feared (and in some corners expected) a preemptive attack by the US. America’s Minuteman ballistic missiles could strike a target anywhere in the world in less than 30 minutes, and its medium-range missiles in Europe were only 8 minutes from their Soviet targets. The USSR in turn relied heavily on “Oko,” its satellite-based launch-detection system to provide the first warning of an attack.

On September 26, 1983, Oko was in the hands of lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov when the sirens went off in the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow. In the following minutes, Petrov made what is arguably the most single important decision in the history of mankind…

You can find many more news stories and videos here

D&D Engine for Microsoft’s “Surface” Tabletop Touch-Screen

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May 202010
 
D&D on MS Surface

D&D on MS Surface

This makes me want to weep.  But, you know, in a good way.

“These games tend to be the domain of geeks is that they require math, and lots of it. Line-of-sight for attacks; variables for cover and concealment; modifiers for things like how much weight can be carried and whether your character is currently on fire–all these can make the game a laborious process for those who don’t have a love of such things.Then I heard that some whiz kids with Carnegie Mellon’s SurfaceScapes team had been developing just what I wanted: D&D for the Surface. After a few e-mails, I got word that the team would be showing it off for the people at Microsoft and that Yours Truly, living in Seattle, would have a chance to try it out. You’d better believe I was excited.

And not just because of the novelty. The Surface did indeed live up to its potential as a gaming platform. There are no cumbersome character sheets with stats, abilities, and so forth; all that stuff is handled in the game’s brain so you’re free to shoot magic missiles at orcs.”

Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem

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May 202010
 
promo art of Duke Nukem

Gary referred me to this excellent article from Wired Magazine about the life and death of a game notorious for delays.  The eagerly-awaited sequel to the 1996 hit “Duke Nukem 3D” was delayed time after time as the lead designer repeatedly tossed the graphics engine and started anew, until the company finally ran out of money.  The resulting story is a cautionary tale that will no doubt be covered in project management courses for years to come.