Angry Robot

Gamasutra's Best of 2010

a listmas spectacular featuring top cult games, top iOS games, biggest controversies etc.

Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die

Patton Oswalt on the ‘apopcalypse’ – “A billion years after our sun burns out, a race of intelligent ice crystals will build a culture based on dialog from The Princess Bride.” (via What a Day That Was)

Banksy Says His Movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop” Is All True

but if people already think it’s fake, not sure they’ll believe him

The 10th Annual Year in Ideas –

YouTube – Father Christmas f***ed my p****

very NSFW

A Bayesian Take on Julian Assange

As churches crumble, communities fear loss of heritage

“60 per cent of the surviving churches in Quebec today will close within 15 years.” This would make a good doc.

Senate committee recommends killing the penny

about frickin’ time. Waste of space coin – “It now costs more to produce the penny — about 1.5 cents each — than the coin’s actual face value.”

‘45365′ takes inspiration from art, books, music albums

sounds like a fascinating non-narrative documentary

Make This Better: Ripper’s Valley

Broken City Lab’s latest project

WebTunes provides Web-based iTunes interface


Antony And The Johnsons cover “Crazy In Love”

great YouTube comment: “Pretentious thrash”

The Wire Character Alignment Chart

D&D style (via Funkaoshi)

William Gibson on Why He Loves Twitter, Thinks Facebook Is ‘Like a Mall,’ and Much More

“In 1981, I was a futurist, or at least I was a guy who put on a futurist hat occasionally and I wrote about the 21st century. Now I’m here in the 21st century and if I write about it, I think it makes me a literary naturalist. But I have the toolkit I was issued at the Science Fiction Academy and that’s actually a really good toolkit to have if you want to interrogate the 21st century and get a handle on this hot mess.”

One Foot Tsunami: Giant Pandas Are Poorly Designed

pandas are low-quality animals. (via

Richard Florida’s Monorail

“I’ve sold The Creative Class to Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook, and by gum it put them on the map!” (relive the magic)

Letter from Dublin

on the Irish economic crisis. Nutshell: the decision to bail out private debt with public money was disastrous

A Legend Lost: Toronto Mourns The Death Of Mark Dailey

meant to post this earlier, but have been pretty busy. I have such fond memories of his upcoming movie spots on City… and getting to work with him the odd time later in life was a real pleasure. The “one-take wonder.” RIP.

The 10 Most Ridiculously Entertaining Reads of 2010

it’s that time of year already… LISTMAS


honestly, I do believe, the single most important thing educators can do is to teach breathing techniques that regulate the autonomic nervous system and help up regulate parasympathetic response. This is at the heart of attention, social and emotional intelligence, and contributes to cognition. Further, educators can consider how reflection time might be integrated into the school day.

Then, there is this article from The Globe that in order to explain how nature makes kids learn better, gets into the difference between two kinds of attention:

The dominant idea about how nature helps kids learn is called “attention restoration theory” and is based on evidence that humans have two different kinds of attention. One is directed and takes effort and concentration. It is what students use when they do long division, what adults use to get a memo written at work.

“You only have a certain amount of it,” said University of Michigan brain scientist Marc Berman.

Directing our attention to a task is very different from having it captured by something in the environment, a butterfly flitting by the window or a car speeding down the street. This is involuntary attention […] Engaging the involuntary system allows the directed-attention system to rest and recover, and getting outside in a natural setting is a very good way to switch from one system to the other. Nature offers “soft fascination,” he said. It is interesting enough to engage us, but not riveting enough to absorb us. Urban settings aren’t as restful because they require more vigilance to avoid cars, buses or other hazards. Television, movies and computer games may be too absorbing to allow the circuitry involved in paying attention to recharge.

We have at least three mental states being discussed in these articles – directed attention, or concentration; partial attention, or multitasking; and involuntary attention, or just chilling out. None of these are new, but perhaps a good question is whether modern technologies are exploiting weaknesses in the human brain. From another fascinating Times article:

The results also illustrate an age-old conflict in the brain, one that technology may be intensifying. A portion of the brain acts as a control tower, helping a person focus and set priorities. More primitive parts of the brain, like those that process sight and sound, demand that it pay attention to new information, bombarding the control tower when they are stimulated.

Researchers say there is an evolutionary rationale for the pressure this barrage puts on the brain. The lower-brain functions alert humans to danger, like a nearby lion, overriding goals like building a hut. In the modern world, the chime of incoming e-mail can override the goal of writing a business plan or playing catch with the children.

“Throughout evolutionary history, a big surprise would get everyone’s brain thinking,” said Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford. “But we’ve got a large and growing group of people who think the slightest hint that something interesting might be going on is like catnip. They can’t ignore it.”

A few thoughts, perhaps not as thorough as I’d like (who can string an essay together anymore?). One, we have a sort of ecology of attention here, with concentration needed to perform tasks, but a lack of involuntary attention decreasing our concentration time. Two, we have new stressors (technology-enabled ‘alerts’) also interrupting our direct attention, exploiting weaknesses in how the brain perceives threats.

On the one hand, I’m wary of blaming technology for our own failures of self-control. The teen who blames Facebook for the fact that he can’t do homework only deserves sympathy for his failings in understanding and managing his own attention, a problem we all face – and have all faced for quite some time.

On the other, as we race into what some have termed the attention economy, it’s clear that some of these new attention sucks are rather cleverly designed to distract us. Cable news outlets slap ALERT on everything because it keeps eyeballs on their channel; game designers aim for addictiveness; application designers strive for stickiness. Commercials and trailers are stuffed with tits and explosions.

The storm of media we all brave every day is ever-changing, and we must adjust ourselves to it. But there will always be distractions. To counter them, we need to understand our minds better, and learn how to cultivate them – and it’s not easy work (that’s sort of the idea). Try this exercise:

We begin working on ourselves by counting the breath, counting each inhalation and each exhalation, beginning with one and counting up to ten. When you get to ten, come back to one and start all over. The only agreement that you make with yourself in this process is that if your mind begins to wander – if you become aware that what you’re doing is chasing thoughts – you will look at the thought, acknowledge it, and then deliberately and consciously let it go and begin the count again at one.

It’s hard at first. But it gets easier after a couple years.

The Saturnalia

is coming in a couple weeks! Get your pileus ready.

Fiction – Reality A and Reality B

Murakami: “Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put itin different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world.”


interesting part about “ephemeralization,” or the turning of real things into software

Nigeria 'to charge Dick Cheney' over alleged bribery

Second collapse at Pompeii triggers call for action