Monday, May 28, 2012

A Computer Game Thread

I wandered into a video game shop the other day (remember those?) and was looking at some of the slightly old bargains for games with robust online multi-player options. Since I think it is going to take a little while longer until Mr. Alex creates the "One game to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them," here are some things that I thought look fun and would not break the bank or likely require complete hardware upgrades to get into. Some of them have been blogged about here on Astromen! way back in the archives and some of you may have copies already laying around. The only deficiency I found was something with a strong "sandbox" element; these games may be way too twitchy for us to ramble on about art, politics, and programming at the same time. Post your computer game crushes in the comments. . .

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

That is one mouthful of a name. Really a super-geek title. I always was interested in Games Workshop hobbies but was overwhelmed by the high cost and outrageous time commitment just to get started, now for 10 bucks and a little bit of point and clicking, I could get blown away over and over again by people deeply steeped in the mythology and rule min-maxing of this complex squad combat war-game.


Chad-Roc seems to think this is awesome and who am I to second guess 87 bazillion tools of mayhem. . . maybe he would come out and play as well? All reviews say that multi-player is the best part of the game.

Dungeon Defender

Looks like a colorful update to the basic game premise of Guantlet, except with tower building and Bracers of Dexterity. Stresses teamwork to defend your dungeon, I imagine with us that hilarious failure would ensue. 6 bucks on Steam right now.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The d3.js library is capable of making interactive graphics of eye-watering beauty. [Link to an examples page, each tile leads to a live graphic.] I'm not Javascipt proficient, but things like these are very enticing. [Via.]
The library that I've been using for this kind of thing is matplotlib [Link.] which is well-organized, dependable, and produces attractive static graphs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Hirst like an absolute ruler must be utterly surrounded by a court of yes-people . . ."

If Hirst did not try to paint an orange accurately, no one would know he can't do it. But he has tried, at least I think it's an orange, and the poor sphere seems to float in mid air because of the clumsy circle of shadow below it. For a moment I thought this was intentional, then I realised it was a competence issue. Such issues abound. You look at a branch and it is obvious he has worked at it: equally obvious the work was wasted. At their very best these paintings lack the skill of thousands of amateur artists who paint at weekends all over Britain – and yet he can hire fools to compare him with Caravaggio.
The Guardian (Link.)


Pantomime Republics

More to the point, the salvation that Europe promised 26 years ago increasingly resembles a charade. As the Yale historian Timothy Snyder has noted, Spain and its kin in Southern Europe have effectively become “pantomime republics”: elected national officials defer to the unelected supranational European Union. In policy terms, this means subscribing to the pro-austerity agenda emanating from Germany. Last September, a majority in the Spanish Parliament amended the Constitution to include a deficit reduction clause; it was the first time the document had been touched since it was written in 1978.
The New York Times (Link.)

I know I have been kind of hammering away at this a bit, but this free-money-for-robber-baron-bankers, austerity-for-all, politics-of-pain, and sacrificing-on-the-altars-of-markets-and-confidence-fairies stuff is maddening. Long-standing, robust systems are being looted in broad daylight.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Monster Graffiti

My friends in New Orleans hold these monsters in high esteem. I really like them, too. They're like Phillip Guston on peyote.
"Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you one of us!" Tard Tard Magazine Street Monster

Friday, May 11, 2012

Surf This Book

[Link.] I never got "Steal This Book" because I'd feel like a phony buying it at Barnes & Noble, or wherever, and my reaction to the suggestion in the title was, "Don't tell me what to do." Anyhow, the text is on the Web, and it can be funny, light reading, such as the following passage:
Another good bit is to rent a safe deposit box (only about $7.00 a year) in a bank using a phony name. They usually only need a signature and don't ask for identification. When you get a box, deposit a good size dead fish inside the deposit box, close it up and return it to its proper niche. From then on, forget about it. Now think about it, in a few months there is going to be a hell-of-a-smell from your small investment. It's going to be almost impossible to trace and besides, they can never open the box without your permission. Since you don't exist, they'll have no alternative but to move away. Invest in the Stank of Amerika savings program. Just check out Lake Erie and you'll see saving fish isn't such a dumb idea. If you get caught, tell them you inherited the fish from your grandmother and it has sentimental value.
More subversive humor can be found at the archive. [Link.]

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I'm building a small website to show off my recent projects, so recently I've started thinking about applying a free culture license to the work I put up. (I am quite the navel gazer.) Creative Commons is the biggest name in this space. [Link.] It seems wise to use a more well-known license because the more obscure licenses might never be legally tested. I initially chose the attribution and share-alike caveats and put them in my templates. A couple of days later, I watched this video with Mark Hosler of Negativland talking about Creative Commons, and I realized that I hate rules too. Who am I to tell someone else what to do. Now I am leaning towards CC-Zero, which is the most permissive of the Creative Commons options. I'm still considering including the share-alike clause ... I am torn. The WTFPL is attractive also, for its bluntness and irreverence. [Link.]
[Link] to a quite good Mark Hosler lecture.

Edit: Does anyone know of a good resource that explains how the law views collage?

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Friday, May 04, 2012

GIMP 2.8 is out

[Link to the release notes.] [Via.] This is the first stable version to include single window mode, which is a massive improvement to the interface. (It's not on by default, look in the "Window" menu.) The application has become more tablet friendly, as well. I still prefer MyPaint for the responsiveness of its brush engine, and its infinite canvas feature. Ctrl+Paint is a digital painting resource worth mentioning here, as well.

In Ubuntu & its derivatives:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y install gimp

... Now about that name ...

Edit: Jason brought up a good point about being wary of PPAs in the comments. I thought I'd try rolling back to the version in the official repository to make sure I wasn't permanently breaking my system, and other people's, by installing version 2.8.

I ran:
$ sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
$ sudo ppa-purge ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp

And the old version ran just fine. So I can leave this post up guilt-free.

Jerry Saltz says, "Ugh."

I hate them for what they do to art, for the bad magic of making mysterious powerful things turn into numbers.