I have a personal log of culture consumed going back to 2003. This year was a particular low on many counts. I have been busy and I don’t ascribe the same value to consuming culture pure for the goal of consuming it anymore. Been there, done that.
I’ve read eleven books (see my Goodreads) which is more than I had expected but nothing compared compared to the bookwormy prowess of people like Hans or Kars.
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design by Ernest Adams & Joris Dormans
Play Matters by Miguel Sicart
Surface Detail by Ian M. Banks
The Hydrogen Sonata by Ian M. Banks
Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates
Der Tod des Iwan Iljitsch by Leo Tolstoy
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Certain to Win by Chet Richards
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Bold is recommended. It looks like this year I especially enjoyed non-fiction maybe because my fiction was limited to fairly mediocre genre stuff. I’m resolving that reading should not be painful (Russians were a good attempt, but too boring) and that it should also not be trivial (so no more genre fiction crap for me).
In movies I fared slightly better but did not manage to hit the one movie per week baseline with a meagre 23 of which only two in the cinema. I’m playing catchup now over the christmas break with eleven these views happening in December.
All are in my Letterboxed diary but since sites disappear I’m archiving them here as well. I am immensely pleased with almost all of the movies I have seen except for the two marked as shit.
The Imitation Game
The Raid 2: Berandal
Straigth outta Compton
The Fantastic Four 💩
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Princess Bride
Avengers: Age of Ultron 💩
I managed to avoid going to theater plays and went to one opera “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” in the Komische Oper which was delightful.
I guess I can in part explain this shift by my consumption of games. Even without owning a console there is more than enough stuff to play. Here are nineteen games I played for the first time in 2015. Some of them were played only once and some of them were played for dozens of hours.
I tried ignoring Secret Hitler but their design notes kept making their way into my twitter. I skimmed through them and found them to be well put together. The last one about illustration and graphic design however convinced me that the game goes well beyond just bad taste.
The problem is that the identity cards for fascist players in the game (shown below) display them als lizards where the liberal identities are shown as human. Fascists are inhuman, get it?
This is simplistic and immoral. If it’s not obvious why, here are three reasons:
Depicting certain groups of people like vile animals is a way of objectifying them and an excuse to exterminate them. One of the lessons of history is that we don’t produce this kind of propaganda.
Depicting the fascists as animals is not a reversal that makes it all right. The fascist of my fascist is still a fascist.
Depicting fascists as intrinsically different from other people and easily recognizable as such is a deeply wrong and misleading fantasy.
This way of thinking is part of an ongoing trivialization of fascism and spreading it is harmful.
As Rob Dubbin says in his piece:
There should be a high bar for invoking this person, and there should be such a thing as falling well short of it.
The people making Secret Hitler are obviously intelligent, skilled and have vast resources at their disposal. I can only guess why they would make a game about this topic and then do it so poorly.
I was tremendously hyped for Deutschland ’83 after hearing about it and watching the first episode. Now that it is finally airing in Germany it turns out that it is not doing that well. Viewership started out low and has been declining over the first four episodes.
People are attributing this to the fact that the average RTL viewer is stupid and only used to watch plain episodic series. That may well be true, but the decline of the series’s ratings closely mirror the decline of my appetite for the show itself. By episode four Deutschland ’83 is a slog and the only thing that got me to the finish line was an empty Sunday and stamina.
The plot devolves and loses whatever internal logic and coherence it had. The characters which are enigmatic to begin with become increasingly hard to empathize with and start doing random things. Worst of all, Deutschland ’83 tries to put a neutral spin on one of the most polarized conflicts of the last century which of course fails.
The one message that does come through is that everybody on the East side was evil and psychopathic and that the people on the West side were basically decent chaps. This is a laughable depiction of the world as it was back then (or as parts of the world still are). The violence and surveillance enacted by the Soviet bloc is hardly different from the stuff the Americans did and still do around the world. The only reason we get to ridicule the East Germans in the series is because they lost.
I’ve been running a live open streetmap edits view as a screen saver for a couple of years now and it never fails to draw the attention from people in the room (whether they know what OSM is or not). The OSM visualization is pretty cool and really comes to life when it is displayed full screen. It is also a great way to see a part of the world you might not have known existed. I used to browse atlases when I was a kid, so this is me indulging in virtual travel again.
Will attended me to the fact that I shot a video of it but I never wrote up the super basic process behind it, so here goes.
What it looks like:
This must have been the tweet by Thomas that started it all in early 2013.
@mrtoto That should be made quickly with a web view or not? I still use my Barbarian Group screenstagram.
After I read that I fiddled around a bit with making my own screensaver in XCode. That seems simple enough but building stuff on OS X is a bit of a pain if you’re used to iOS and definitely not something you’ll be able to finish in an hour or so. It turns out that there is a far far easier way.