“Jack Kirby’s writing is not the subtlety of Hemingway, it’s the scream of myth.”

The King’s Gambit. Comics legend Jack Kirby invented the villains of Justice League in one of the wildest experiments in superhero history.—Abraham Riesman, The Vulture

“Y’know,” the late Jack Kirby told his assistant, Steve Sherman, “I’m competing against myself.” It was 1970, a little over three decades after Kirby stopped being Lower East Side street brawler Jacob Kurtzberg and became a professional writer-slash-artist under his percussive nom de plume. In that period, he had dreamt up much of the visual vocabulary and dramatis personae of the American comic book. His art style was explosive: foreshortened punches smacked into the reader’s eyeballs, and impossibly detailed sci-fi machinery littered his scenes. His genius for superhero storytelling was unparalleled: Along with Joe Simon, he had created Captain America in 1941; along with his frenemy Stan Lee and scattered others, he had spent the 1960s dreaming up stories that introduced and developed most of the Marvel pantheon, including the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, Doctor Doom, Black Panther, and even the anthropomorphic tree-creature Groot.

But Sherman recalls the so-called King of Comics feeling dissatisfied at age 52. “I’m competing against myself because I did all these characters and stories,” Kirby mused, “and now I need to come up with something different.”

So he did.

“It would be nice if I could just say, ‘Go back and read the original Mister Miracle. But if you straight read it, it’s like sticking your head into the id of the country. It’s like you get drowned under the ideas of it. Jack Kirby’s writing is not the subtlety of Hemingway, it’s the scream of myth.”

Expedition

Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game from Fabricate may be of interest, and is available as a physical copy as well as a no-cost print and play version.

Fast, Fun and Endlessly ENJOYABLE

We created Expedition so that anyone can enjoy roleplaying, whether this is your first RPG or you’re a D&D veteran.

After years of playing traditional RPG games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, we realized that roleplaying shouldn’t have to take forever. It shouldn’t need hundreds of pages of rules, and you shouldn’t need a math degree to create a character.

Roleplaying should be about having fun together.

If you agree, you’re going to love Expedition: The Roleplaying Card Game.

“There’s a universal desire to imagine that the powerless can prevail, and kick their ass with a spinning kick.”

The “Lord of the Rings” of Chinese literature is finally being translated into English—Isabella Steger, Quartz

The world imagined by Chinese writer Jin Yong is one which celebrates loyalty, courage, and the triumph of the individual over a corrupt and authoritarian state—carried out by no less than heroes who fly through trees and deliver deadly blows to their enemies with a single finger.
It’s a world familiar to many readers of wuxia (martial-arts related fiction) writer Jin Yong, a pen name for Louis Cha, the best-selling author in the Chinese-speaking world. Though Cha’s fantasy worlds rival J.R.R. Tolkien’s every bit in creativity, breadth, and depth, his works remain relatively unknown to English readers because of a conspicuous lack of translations. Now his Condor Trilogy (1957),arguably the most celebrated of the 93-year-old writer’s works, is finally getting translated into English.

“In an age of the Paradise Papers and everything, people can appreciate when the people in power are after the money and not the well-being of the everyday man,” said Holmwood. “There’s a universal desire to imagine that the powerless can prevail, and kick their ass with a spinning kick.”

Weave

Weave is a storytelling, roleplaying game from Monocle Society with cards in a minimal style, inspired by Tarot, that may be of interest.

HALF TAROT. HALF ROLEPLAY. ALL STORY.

Weave is a 21st century storytelling platform for everyone. With just two decks of cards and a handful of dice, you and your friends can create adventures in any genre, from sci-fi to high school comedy. When combined with the free companion app, Weave provides all the power you’ll need to discover new worlds, imagine amazing characters, and save your stories online in minutes.

“we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom”

The Web Began Dying in 2014, Here’s How—André Staltz

Before the year 2014, there were many people using Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Today, there are still many people using services from those three tech giants (respectively, GOOG, FB, AMZN). Not much has changed, and quite literally the user interface and features on those sites has remained mostly untouched. However, the underlying dynamics of power on the Web have drastically changed, and those three companies are at the center of a fundamental transformation of the Web.

What has changed over the last 4 years is market share of traffic on the Web. It looks like nothing has changed, but GOOG and FB now have direct influence over 70%+ of internet traffic.

The Web and the internet have represented freedom: efficient and unsupervised exchange of information between people of all nations. In the Trinet, we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom. Many of us will wake up to the tragedy of this tradeoff only once it is reality.

“Suddenly, it becomes all too clear that Google, Facebook, and Twitter might not actually be particularly good for democracy.”

Betrayed by the giants—LibrarianShipwreck

Of course, in keeping with the thriller example, there’s usually a mix in the audience of those who are genuinely caught off guard by the betrayal and those who saw it coming. Alas, betrayal isn’t something that only happens in thrillers. Rather, real people place their trust in a range of other people, institutions, beliefs, and technologies – and when that moment of betrayal occurs it sends them reeling.

To witness the angry face of the betrayed look no further than the exchanges between members of the congressional intelligence committee and the lawyers from Facebook, Twitter, and Google (Alphabet).

Companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are more than just businesses – they are the real world manifestations of a powerful ideology. This is a worldview in which Internet connected technology represents the promise of a happier today and a brighter tomorrow.

Suddenly, it becomes all too clear that Google, Facebook, and Twitter might not actually be particularly good for democracy. That they might be more interested in pecuniary values than social ones. And that they might have invested more resources in detecting nipples than in detecting nefarious bots. These companies have grown massively in their short lifespans, they have largely escaped oversight and regulation and it seems that one of the explanations of that is because many of those tasked with regulating them thought these companies were basically “on the right side.” And it not only members of Congress who feel as though their trust has been violated: a user can make peace with Facebook Reactions or a 280 character limit, but what are they to do when that platform has been caught happily disseminating divisive propaganda for a few rubles?

“it’s a good time to remember we shouldn’t trust everything we see”

The era of easily faked, AI-generated photos is quickly emerging—Dave Gershgorn, Quartz

Until this month, it seemed that GAN-generated images that could fool a human viewer were years off. But last week research released by Nvidia, a manufacturer of graphics processing units that has cornered the market on deep learning hardware, shows that this method can now be used to generate high-resolution, believable images of celebrities, scenery, and objects. GAN-created images are also already being sold as replacements for fashion photographers—a startup called Mad Street Den told Quartz earlier this month it’s working with North American retailers to replace clothing images on websites with generated images.

Nvidia’s results look so realistic because the company compiled a new library of 30,000 images of celebrities, which it used to train the algorithms on what people look like. Researchers found in 2012 that the amount of data that a neural network is shown is important to its accuracy—typically, the more data the better. These 30,000 images gave each algorithm enough to data to not only understand what a human face looks like, but also how details like beards and jewelry make a “believable” face.

The era of easily-faked photos is quickly emerging—much as it did when Photoshop became widely prevalent—so it’s a good time to remember we shouldn’t trust everything we see.

“Put simply: Is Facebook too big to work?”

Does Facebook Even Know How to Control Facebook? Under intense congressional scrutiny, the social giant will have to answer questions about whether it can rein in its own product.—Alexis C Madrigal, The Atlantic

There was so much chaos and misinformation on these platforms in the run-up to the election, it probably would be hard to disentangle the independent effects of Russian agents from all the scammers, hucksters, self-made pundits, opportunists, conspiracy theorists, activists, citizens, and partisan media businesses.

But that should make us step back and enlarge the question: If this is what electoral campaigns look like online, and especially on the largest social platform, Facebook, then what can be done about that?

Put simply: Is Facebook too big to work?

“We know that AI terrifies us in the abstract sense. But can AI scare us in the immediate, visceral sense?”

MIT researchers trained AI to write horror stories based on 140,000 Reddit posts—Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz [see also]

The team behind Shelley is hoping to learn more about how machines can evoke emotional responses in humans. “The rapid progress in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has people worried about everything from mass unemployment to the annihilation of the human race at the hand of evil robots,” writes researcher Iyad Rahwan by email. “We know that AI terrifies us in the abstract sense. But can AI scare us in the immediate, visceral sense?”

Shelley, named after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is interactive. After the program tweets a few opening lines, it asks people on Twitter to continue the story, and if the story is popular, it responds to those responses.

Using information from 140,000 stories from Reddit’s r/nosleep, Shelley produces story beginnings that range in creepiness, and in quality. There’s some classic “scary stuff,” like a narrator who thinks she’s alone and then sees eyes in the dark, but also premises one can only imagine are Reddit-user-inspired, like family porn.