Omnium Gatherum: February 17, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 17, 2019

  • Paradox Teasing a Potential Third ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ Game” — Mike Wilson, Bloody Disgusting

    “But now, it appears that the series just might get a third entry from developer Paradox Interactive.

    The questions in question involve some pretty not-so-romantic things, such as images of a bloody wall, a smiling clown, or some maggots, with the question asking you which image you identify with the most. Another question asks you about your blood type, and another your interests. Some of those interests include the Illuminati, Epicurus, thanatology, the unknown, chaos magick, sorcery, and demonology.”

  • Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Starter Set by Wizards of the Coast, from Hasbro

    Hasbro Wizards of the Coast Stranger Things Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set

    “The Stranger Things Dungeons & dragons starter set contains everything players need to embark on a Stranger Things adventure including the essential rules of the roleplaying game. It’s a great way for new as well as seasoned Dungeon & Dragons players to experience the D&D adventure Stranger Things character Mike Wheeler has created for his friends. … Prepare for just about anything, because the game just got stranger.”

  • AI can write disturbingly believable fake news. Elon Musk’s OpenAI is keeping a tight lid on the technology.” — Jon Fingas, Engadget; from the Infinite-Monkeys dept. [also]

    “AI is getting better and better at writing convincing material, and that’s leading its creators to wonder whether they should release the technology in the first place. Elon Musk’s OpenAI has developed an algorithm that can generate plausible-looking fake news stories on any topic using just a handful of words as a starting point. It was originally designed as a generalized language AI that could answer questions, summarizing stories and translating text, but researchers soon realized that it could be used for far more sinister purposes, like pumping out disinformation in large volumes. As a result, the team only plans to make a “simplified version” of its AI available to the public, according to MIT Technology Review.”

  • Apocalipsis: Harry at the End of the World [also], a video game by Punch Punk Games, from Klabater, with Nergal

    “In Apocalipsis you play as Harry, for whom the loss of his beloved was the end of his world. Now he has to venture out into the strange, unwelcoming lands to get her back. On his journey he will meet fantastical creatures, straight from the minds of artists from the 15th century Europe, and ultimately conquer his own, personal demons. Featuring the narration by Nergal, leader of the band Behemoth, with the added atmospheric new rendition of Behemoth’s music, it will be a journey to remember.

    Apocalipsis shares with the Middle Ages its artstyle and the game’s world itself is inspired by Book of Revelation and steeped in medieval philosophy and beliefs, with the story taking cues from Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”. Every location and character in Apocalipsis was inspired by classical woodcuts by 15th and 16th century artists such as Hans Holbein, Michael Wolgemut, and Albrecht Dürer. This pairing of medieval art and philosophy with video games creates something unique, like you’ve never seen before.”

  • In the age of fake news, here’s how schools are teaching kids to think like fact-checkers” — Annabelle Timsit, Quartz

    “The authors explained that fact-checkers practiced ‘lateral reading,’ meaning that they checked other available resources instead of staying only on the site at hand. That, they concluded, is a practice at odds with available fake-news checklists, which focus on the outward characteristics of a website, like its ‘about’ page or its logo, and don’t encourage students to look for outside sources.

    … the checklists available to teachers often focus on abstract skills like critical thinking, which Wineburg says is not the right way to go. ‘The people who say ‘all we need are critical thinkers,’ I’m sorry, I could […] raise Socrates from the dead and he still wouldn’t know how to choose keywords, and he would know nothing about search engine optimization, and he would not know how to interpret the difference between a ‘.org’ and a ‘.com.’’

    Ultimately, as Petrone writes, 21st-century citizens need more than a checklist—they ‘need a functioning bullshit detector.'”

  • Peeqo – A robot that responds only through videos & GIFS by Abhishek Singh; about an ongoing crowdfunding effort for a DIY RasPi robot kit

    “Meet Peeqo, a delightful little personal robot that responds entirely through GIFs and videos.”

  • Turing Tumble

    “Turing Tumble is a revolutionary new game where players (ages 8 to adult) build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. It’s fun, addicting, and while you’re at it, you discover how computers work.”

Omnium Gatherum: February 10, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 10, 2019

  • Tweet by Patton Oswalt

  • Ursula K. Le Guin Was a Creator of Worlds” — Julie Phillips, Humanities; about the documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin by Arwen Curry [HT Arts & Letters Daily]

    “… Le Guin chose this ‘despised, marginal’ genre, she once said, for a reason she couldn’t acknowledge to herself at the time: Because it was “excluded from critical, academic, canonical supervision, leaving the artist free.””

  • Sex Robot Cuddle Party by David Raffin

    Raffin Sex Robot Cuddle Party

    “Sex Robot Cuddle Party is presented as a lost novel by the son of the author, a pornographer and a communist. He infuses his creative work with political discourses.

    It tells the story of RainyDay Tranquility, captain of the corporate surveying vessel Queen of Space, as she travels with her crew visiting dead worlds. In the future human touch has been rendered deadly.

    Later, she is transported inside her favorite book, Cuddle Party, which she loves because, in it, two people fall asleep touching.

    Sex Robot Cuddle Party is a comedy of loneliness, desire, and longing; and a tragedy of love requited.

    A loving homage to new wave sci-fi, absurdist theater, and erotica of the early seventies; featuring existentialist philosophy, Atheism, Greek Gods, artificial intelligence, and the miracle of fungi, in which all things are possible dreamt or un-dreamt.”

  • Neuroscientists close in on the brain signature for consciousness” — Rich Maridy, New Atlas

    “The research involved over 150 subjects, who were studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Some subjects scanned were patients in diagnosed vegetative states, while others were healthy individuals. The researchers ultimately discovered four specific neural activity patterns that could distinguish a person’s place on a spectrum from conscious to unconscious.”

  • Fish pass self-awareness test for the first time, raising questions about animal consciousness” — Michael Irving, New Atlas

    “It might not seem like a big deal, but the ability to recognize that the face in the mirror is your own makes us part of a pretty exclusive club in the animal kingdom. Humans obviously can do it (from about 15 months of age), and so can apes, monkeys, dolphins, elephants, and some birds. Now a fish species has passed the mirror test for the first time, which may suggest that the animals are smarter than we give them credit for.

    While these results suggest that fish are self-aware, the team isn’t jumping straight to that conclusion – perhaps they’re using other mental processes to figure it out. The fact that the fish have aced the mirror test is so surprising that the researchers are now questioning the validity of the test itself.”

  • “Immigrant Song” (Live) – The Cybertronic Spree

    “Robot rockstars in disguise, The Cybertronic Spree pay tribute to all time greats, LED ZEPPELIN. Talk about a bunch of bots who like to stay topical am I right?

    The Cybertronic Spree is a band of Transformers who perform classic cartoon, videogame, and anime theme songs at full volume.”

Omnium Gatherum: February 5, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 5, 2019

  • Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs” — Linda Kinstler, WIRED

    “Every morning, Lena Forsen wakes up beneath a brass-trimmed wooden mantel clock dedicated to “The First Lady of the Internet.”

    It was presented to her more than two decades ago by the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, in recognition of the pivotal—and altogether unexpected—role she played in shaping the digital world as we know it.”

  • Tweet by Dick King-Smith HQ

  • Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA” — Andy Greenberg, WIRED [HT Geoff Manaugh]

    “… a group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it’s possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer.”

  • Secrets of Silent Streets by Monte Cook; due in February, is, afaik, the first component for Invisible Sun that’s available for purchase separately as a digital download, and not even the game itself is available separately from the premium Black Cube [also]; also due in print in March

    Cook Invisible Sun Secrets of Silent Streets

    “Secrets of Silent Streets is a guide to this vast, rich, and unique city—the epicenter of the orders of magic and, to many, the very center of the Actuality. Visit the Great Observatory of Zuin, where mystical astronomers equate the movement of the stars with the ebbs and flows of magic. Meet the Phalanx of Liquid Granite, who have turned absurdity magic into a martial art. Enter the Citrine Court, a secret conclave of vislae devoted to transforming themselves—physically and metaphorically—into famous novels from Shadow.

    These are just a few of the experiences you’ll discover as you travel the seventeen districts of Satyrine and beyond, each detailed through dozens of points of interest and illuminated through its own unique atmosphere, social expectations, and traditions. Along the way you’ll find scores of plot hooks, NPCs, creatures—and of course plenty of magic.”

    “Like any metropolis in any realm, Satyrine isn’t one city but many. Fartown, the Marquis Quarter, the Strangeglass District, the Hollows, and the vast abandoned stretches—all offer different experiences and moods as well as unique landmarks, resources, denizens, and dangers. Secrets of Silent Streets is a guide to this vast, rich, and unique city—the epicenter of the Orders of Magic and the very center of the Actuality. Travel the seventeen districts of Satyrine, each detailed through dozens of points of interest and illuminated through its own unique atmosphere, social expectations, and traditions. And along the way find scores of plot hooks, NPCs, creatures, and of course loads of magic.”

  • Humble RPG Book Bundle Numenera by Monte Cook Games is in its last day, and includes, even at the $1 tier, both of the very recently crowdfunded Discovery and Destiny core books, and lots more. Honestly, I know I probably won’t ever play Numenera, but it was tempting enough to grab these to add to what I already have. I came for the Discovery and Destiny core books, and stayed for Shanna Germain’s Love and Sex in the Ninth World

    Monte Cook Humble Bundle Numenera

    “You’re invited to the world of Numenera, a tabletop roleplaying game of exploration and discovery set a billion years in the future. The game is easy to learn and fun to play with this bundle of digital corebooks, adventures, bestiaries, maps, guides, and more. The Ninth World awaits you!”

  • Sunless Skies [also] by Failbetter Games has released

    “SAIL THE STARS. BETRAY YOUR QUEEN. MURDER A SUN. Sunless Skies is a Gothic Horror roleplay game with a focus on exploration and exquisite storytelling for PC, Mac and Linux.”

    Failbetter Games Sunless Skies