Week 292: Ignite, GSL, pre-trip prep

I’m sitting here at Beijing Airport writing these too late weeknotes on their free WiFi which is an oddly implemented but still excellent service.

Last week was mostly spent with a scattered brain working on my ignite an various proposals. We had a studio meeting at Praxis to discuss recent developments and issues.

Smashing sun on the terrace

Thursday night I gave the Ignite to a packed Supermarkt Berlin. Thanks everybody for attending and listen to me rave about games for five minutes. Also fantastic to meet everybody in Berlin who I hadn’t caught up with for ages.

On Friday I finished off most of my paperwork before the trip. That night we went to see Werner Herzog read with the studio.

Trying out the GOMPlayer - 케이윌 (K.Will) 이러지마 제발 (Please don’t…)

The next morning I got up at seven to see the market build up and watch the GSL Code S final together with Mustafa Işık and a colleague of his. You are either mildly serious about watching this or you are not. I’d already set up and tested the GOM Player before. That’s the bit of KPop you see above.

It was rather exhilarating to see a GSL event streamed live and I’m glad my light season ticket entitled me to view it. I’ve recently gotten into Star Craft because of Frank Lantz’s excellent “Drinking Man’s Guide to Watching Star Craft” and am greatly enjoying it as a highly complex, dense and therefore less boring alternative to most spectator sports.

Life v MVP - GSL final set one

Games on Ignite Berlin #3

Last week I presented at the Berlin Ignite. I had been present at the last one and greatly enjoyed, so I looked what I could add to the mix.

I threw most of the thinking in the studios for the past 1-2 years on the floor with post-its and distilled the pertinent threads from that. As it happens ‘New Games for New Cities’ was the title of a presentation Kars gave some time ago to which I had contributed but had forgotten about.

Leafing through the older presentations, it is good to see that the thinking has evolved over the years. The old points still hold, but time and experience has refined our opinions and forced us to refocus here and there.

Putting the presentation together was a fair amount of work (and not something I was particularly looking forward to the week before a holiday) but all of the positive responses were more than worth it. I can highly recommend Ignite for the mix of topics it touches on, the fun and light delivery and the varied and open crowd it attracts.

Conquest of the Useless

Yesterday we went to see Werner Herzog read from his own work in ‘Erroberung des Nutzlosen’ at the Volksbühne. While an impressive display of authorship my enjoyment of the performance was hampered by me having no knowledge of his movies and a recent aversion towards the theater.

With some heavy German, Herzog reads his diary notes from the production of Fitzcarraldo (trailer below), a massive undertaking to make a movie of a massive undertaking. The whole protracted shooting in the jungle sounds a lot like how Apocalypse Now was made.

The passages Herzog reads are gripping and contain lots of absurdities and events that happen when you are shooting a motion picture in the jungle (also rather reminiscent of También la Lluvia) as well as reflections on the nature of being and emotional turmoil.

The evening is turned into theater by adding evocative background projections of jungle scenes (nice!) and music by a jazz improvisation duo, a Sardinian choir of men and a Senegalese singer. They interject protracted bits of singing in between Herzog’s reading turning the whole thing into something like a Werner Herzog mixtape.

The music is where I lost it. Firstly: I keep forgetting how much I loathe jazz improvisation until its too late and I’m already in the middle of one. It may be fun to do, but I don’t see improvisations go anywhere dramatically. Added to that the music doesn’t fit well with Herzog’s reading. This created a lot of dissonance for me that forced me to interpret all of the musical intermezzi as kitsch. Funnily after Herzog was done reading —during the encore— the music was far more enjoyable.

This is probably a must-see (another probably sold out show tonight) if you’re into Herzog and/or improvisational jazz and/or world music. I couldn’t check those boxes but still enjoyed seeing the man read.

The Selim Varol Collection

Last Saturday I made it out to the penultimate day of the exhibition of the Selim Varol Collection in the me collectors room here in Berlin. I’m glad I did. This was one of the most complete and stunning collections of contemporary toys and subversive art on display anywhere.

Most of the fun is in the sheer completionism of certain walls and cabinets. Acquiring everything past the point of simple fun. Add to that trying to recognize what everything is about, what the references and twists in the various works are.

What adds to the power of a well done private collection such as this one is its lack of fear. It doesn’t need to be backed up artistically, there’s no curator hedging their bets or trying to cultivate relations, it isn’t afraid not to be taken for full and in short: it isn’t uptight (modern art take note).

One room of the Selim Varol collection. Striking, subversive and contemporary stuff. Thanks for the tip @thewavingcat!

Obey Atatürk (‘o bey’ also means ‘that gentleman is’)

Selim Varol collection - toys

photo 2.JPG







Week 290: projects finished, visa, JSconf

For every office its proximity to food (here 20 steps)

Brief weeknotes for last week: closed off Pig Chase with the prototype test in the stables. I got to start building a playable prototype for sake, more on that later.

Hunting for sun in the mornings #wander

A large part of the rest of the week I spent in various states of bureaucracy trying to get everything in order to be able to request a visa for China. I think I’ve spent about as much time getting the requested papers as I will be in Beijing proper.

Drizzly Berlin

During the off hours of this week I started a small project to check the Dutch laws into github over at Staten Generaal (write-up).

Some nice responses to that:

But the real work has only just begun and we need to figure where the project should actually go to.

Printed out a go board

The Beestenbende project page went online, an iPhone game I coded: http://whatsthehubbub.nl/projects/beestenbende/

And I got added to the Praxis Berlin website which is the web presence of my current studio.

And I spent quite a bit of the weekend at the JSConf parties. It was fun to meet lots of people I hadn’t seen in quite a while and the conference was quite excellently organized.

Always nice if part of the tribe touched down in your hometown for a bit. #wander

Highlights from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (until chapter 85)

I recently discovered the fan fiction Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by the esteemed Eliezer Yudkowsky (I used to read his friendly AI stuff back in the day) and having never read any Harry Potter I still immensely enjoyed this.

In science our powers wax by the year.

I don’t want to rule the universe. I just think it could be more sensibly organised.

Star Wars was the only universe in which the answer actually was that you were supposed to cut yourself off completely from negative emotions

everyone in the wizarding world is completely stupid.

That your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality

“If you have not dealt with journalists before, take it from me that the world gets a little brighter every time one dies.”

But then human beings only understood each other in the first place by pretending.

and so it might not have occurred to you that to respect the truth, and seek it all the days of your life, could also be an act of grace.

So why would anyone possibly think any thought so silly as that death is a good thing? Because you’re afraid of it, because you don’t really want to die, and that thought hurts so much inside you that you have to rationalize it away, do something to numb the pain, so you won’t have to think about it –

I’m certainly becoming a bit frustrated with… whatever’s going wrong in people’s heads.

The Earth was what made the stars significant, made them more than uncontrolled fusion reactions, because it was Earth that would someday colonize the galaxy, and fulfill the promise of the night sky.

As though there’s something in science like the shine of the Patronus Charm, driving back all sorts of darkness and madness, not right away, but it seems to follow wherever science goes.

That was what it meant to be used by a friend, that they would want the use to make you stronger instead of weaker.

I see little hope for democracy as an effective form of government, but I admire the poetry of how it makes its victims complicit in their own destruction.

A lot of common wisdom like that isn’t just mistaken, it’s anti-epistemology, it’s systematically wrong.

Or rather, cheating is what the losers call technique

He’d been struck, even then, by an essential emptiness in the indignation of politicians – though he hadn’t had the words to describe it, at that age – a sense that they were trying to score cheap points by hitting at the same safe target as everyone else.

How very sad, how very hollow the indignation, of those who refuse to say that money and life can ever be compared, when all they’re doing is forbidding the strategy that saves the most people, for the sake of pretentious moral grandstanding…

Hogwarts students don’t actually know enough cognitive science to take responsibility for how their own minds work.

And you have already witnessed, I wager, that their fondness vanished like dust in the wind once it was no longer in their interest to associate with you…

And now it’s waiting until new chapters arrive, a pleasure and torture at the same time.

Berlin Inefficiences: 1/2 Cents

Just to start a series here about ways in which German society could be organized more sensibly.

1 euro cent

When we switched to the euro in the Netherlands I hardly ever remember seeing the one and two cent coins. I think they were there in the beginning, but popular consensus soon decided that those were too small money amounts to justify bothering with and dispensed with them. They are still legal tender so occasionally you will be given change in those coins at some odd shop in the outback. Everybody knows though that people who do that are douchebags.

Here in Germany these coins still abound for some mysterious reason. Everybody hands them out and their tiny copper presence clutters pants pockets and wallets everywhere. Maybe you can buy beer in some remote part of Germany for 3 cents and that’s why it is imperative that these coins remain in circulation. I honestly don’t know.

These coins should be abolished. I am positive that doing so will simplify at least one interaction per day per person in Germany.

Highlights from Common Sense

I read this pamphlet (at Gutenberg) by Thomas Paine a while back on a mountain. However short it may be it packs a massive punch and is brimful with powerful rhetoric. It also contains a rather definitive argument against monarchy. Highly recommended.

First, Because it tends to the decrease and reproach of all religion whatever, and is of the utmost danger to society to make it a party in political disputes.

And the very publishing it proves, that either, ye do not believe what ye profess, or have not virtue enough to practise what ye believe.

We fight neither for revenge nor conquest; neither from pride nor passion; we are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor ravaging the globe for plunder.

that either the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favour of it are too numerous to be opposed.

No going to law with nations; cannon are the barristers of Crowns; and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit.

I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking, the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting.

To unite the sinews of commerce and defense is sound policy; for when our strength and our riches play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external enemy.

For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law OUGHT to be King; and there ought to be no other.

where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.

England consults the good of THIS country, no farther than it answers her OWN purpose.

In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet

there is something very absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.

This is my favorite:

Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who CANNOT see; prejudiced men, who WILL NOT see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves;

The first king of England, of the present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the Peers of England are descendants from the same country; therefore, by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.

we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England)

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach;

her motive was INTEREST not ATTACHMENT; that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT, but from HER ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT, and who will always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT

Week 289: moving out, moving on and some small events

Last week I built a new version of the Pig Chase client for the final test in the stables (more on which later).

Spent some time writing proposals. Setup my own personal tent at: https://alper.tent.is/ for whatever good that may be.

I also managed to catch the last day of PIVOT at leap and wrote something brief about it.

Let's try this again. Nice and cozy.

Also because it was the end of the month I finally moved all of my stuff out at the old office. Friday night there was another digital salon at the HIIG offices. I don’t think people like us are the target audience of these events. The discussion focused mostly on the incredibly mundane aspects of digital technology.

Outside in

Friday night was also the opening of work by Casey Reas at [DAM] Berlin. And after that a birthday party at Panke which for me felt like a more accessible/steampunk version of cbase. Anyway.

Circuit boards

I started doing some game design of myself. And built an election game using Game-o-Matic: The Emile Game.