||the Fifteenth of December, 2002|
a low-overhead crypto-heavy micropayment scheme currently being
fermented, which claims to make transactions of under a dollar
perfectly feasible and lovely. Presumably
the low overhead will be offset by merchants having to hand over a
big pile of money to use the service, but it's promising stuff, all
the same. Due to go live early next year.
|Hours of Inform has begun - "The adventure must be set on a cruise ship. It must involve Jesus, a cat, a mini-skirt and a weather balloon."
|I'd assumed that the practical joke industry had remained pretty much
unchanged over the past thirty years, selling off the same dusty old
merchandise all along ("Surprise, that boiled sweet I just gave you has
been sitting in a poorly-stapled box on a toy-shop counter display since
1983!"), but no, someone came up with the viciously cruel idea of
lottery scratchcards at some point in the past decade.
"Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the
man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a
lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most
dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the
first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller."
Chesterton has a weblog - window-sized chunks of his writing,
with links to the full texts where they're available online. Good.
|Good to see the existence of a walkthrough
for The Man From DEFRA, my submission for the first Hours of
Inform. Nicely written; taking the time to do the things I gave
interesting responses to, rather than just barrelling through with a
dull, optimal solution.
|It's time for a second 24
Hours of Inform - non-consecutive, this time, with
contestants using no more than 1440 of this year's remaining minutes to
write a complete text adventure, around a sealed-envelope theme suggested
by a third party. It'll start tomorrow, arbitrarily - if you want to sign
up beforehand or during (or, indeed, wish to be that third party); click link.
'As I said in my speech': I told him, 'your new middle name would consist of a noun, the name of a flower or fruit or nut or vegetable or legume, or a bird or a reptile or a fish, or a mollusk, or a gem or a mineral or a chemical element -- connected by a hyphen to a number between one and twenty.'
Gripped by the arbitrary-middle-name societal-restructuring of
Vonnegut's Slapstick, and struck by
its hazy similarity to inane Smurf-Name generators (and the brief
senses of familial connection that their coincidences can generate, on
message board communities), I have recreated its archive-burning assignation computer.
And am now off down the Thirteen Club.
|Be sure to prototype your folded-paper-snowflake designs with careful computer-aided mockups before hacking away with scissors, this year. The site includes instruction in the dark arts
of folding proper hexagonal ones.
|Great Gifts -
£17 to immunise
a child, thirty quid for a piglet;
a friend or relative of your choice gets no Christmas gift, just a card
telling them where the money went instead. It certainly puts arbitrary
boxed-set-DVD Amazon wishlisting into cold, stupid perspective. [via
But the whole business of getting pocket change across the world seems
endlessly two-sided and uncertain; I'm always very leery of where aid charity
money actually ends up, how much of it gets absorbed or lost along the way,
and how lasting and effective the end results actually are. Quoting from a widely and
lucidly scathing interview with a Peace Corps
volunteer, which argues against foreign charity aid as a whole:-
"What you don't do is go back in five years and see
what's happened to those pipes. Well, what happened to it? A couple of
tough guys in the village came and took over the water system, and
they're selling water to people. I've seen this happen over and over
again. The poor people in the village aren't getting any water, and
they're still walking down to the damn river and drinking awful water,
because you're not looking at the political context into which you put