Just for those keeping tabs on this place: I'm not quite dead yet, just busy woodworking and thinking about issues.

Think About It - Flight Of The Conchords


Some stuff literally hurts on sight.

Between Twilight and Harry Potter, it's a tough call which is working harder on grooming kids to Olympic levels of brat-ness.

On a related note, I saw New Moon about 4h ago, and my brain still aches… I fear permanent scarring.



While thinking hard about fiscal justice in a globalized-yet-uneven economical landscape…


Legal dress code.

After a couple trial runs at city level, Belgium is about to pass a law forbidding the public display of full-head veil in public spaces, and Frogland is next in line — according to the local ruling clique.

What strikes me as fairly dumb in both cases is the pretense under which such laws are pushed through, namely under the guise of protecting women and their humane dignity from oppressive traditions, when it's plain as day the real target here is militant Islam, perceived by some in both countries as a mounting peril for the local culture, and that rubs me the wrong way, as a matter of principle.

See, I'm a sucker for consistency, in game design or in public affairs, and despite my personal understanding of religion as a mental disorder, I can live with the fact constitutionally secular countries such as France or Belgium recognize freedom of faith, and even their endorsing religions to an extent, as long as it's under a principle of equal treatment.

And that's where I see some issues with the dress code laws…
  • Not all Muslim women routinely wear a face-covering veil, but almost all women who wear those (and insist on not removing it in public places) happen to be Muslim. As such, these laws  effectively target and punish people on the basis of their religious affiliation, which both in Belgium and France should be impossible under their respective constitutions.

  • The second argument is public safety, as in wearing a face-covering dress allows one to conceal his or her identity in public and therefore could be instrumental in the perpetration of criminal offenses, encouraged by the increased odds of getting away with it. This may have held at least shallow water, if not for the fact campaigning for those laws clearly revolved around the Muslim veil as topical item, so it's a serious case of 'too little, too late'.
  • The third point, the one the French supporters of this bill plan to hammer on to get it passed into law is the preservation of 'humane dignity' on behalf of the poor, oppressed burqa-girls (although what you mostly — and seldom — see in France is simple niqāb), and this angle qualifies as Broken, For Real™.  This last one warrants a bit of elaborating…
The 'humanist' argument hinges on the assumption women don't choose to wear a niqāb and are — explicitely or implicitly — coerced in doing so by mysoginistic and machist traditions imposed upon them by men in their families and communities. Furthermore, it posits forbidding the cloth will liberate these women and allow them to connect in a 'normal' way with society and with their inner feminist self, thus sapping the foothold Islamic bigots have gained in our precious secular democracies.

Right. This is going to end well, I'm sure.

  • If niqāb-wearing women are indeed victimized by their community and can't stand up to the pressure they're under to dress as told, they aren't guilty of anything and shouldn't be punished for it. Good luck finding a way to establish causality and fine the husband because of the wife's dress code — although this would probably be more effective and could be good fun. Fail.

  • Regardless, helpless-by-definition women (in this context) won't grow a pair because the law says so, so they'll simply stay at home or pay the fines (less likely), with a direct result of alienating them further for lack of opportunity to connect with 'normal' society (which seems to be the purported end goal here). Re-fail.
  • Conversely, if they actually are making a choice in how they dress and express their religious beliefs, then they aren't victimized, and thus there's no legal basis to oppose their behavior, (insofar as it doesn't cause explicit harm to others) unless one purposefully intents on persecuting Muslims, which — as pointed earlier — should prove unconstitutional in either France or Belgium. Triple fail.

Either the 'human rights' proponents of the niqāb ban are right, and these women really are hapless victims, or they're wrong, and the burqa is a matter of personal choice and religious expression… in any case the proposed bill is a non-sequitur.

My 2 eurocents ? Handle religions for what they are: a mental condition ranging from a harmless quirk of personality to a serious psychosis, depending on the severity of the delusional state, and treat it as such. 
Get the patients professional help, don't feed their neurosis by encouraging it, and when necessary, take the usual steps to protect them and society — starting with screening out overcompensating midgets lacking a super-ego *before* they get into presidential office.

For a different take, here's what the hive-mind has to say on the issue. 

My euro-tip: for consistency's sake, if we must harass and fine women to protect them from humiliating themselves as a result of peer pressure, can we outlaw boob enhancements first ? At least there is evidence of bodily harm, there.



Food for thought.

It just occurred to me that in the matter of credit attribution as to where we — as a species — are today, too much is given to our fabled neo-cortex, while way too little recognition goes to our palate and digestive tract's prowess.

So here it is: our gut smarts are underrated.

To clarify, I'm not about to go all redneck on you, and argue the case that guts know better than brains as a rule (even though it may happen sometimes), and I'll leave truthiness to whom it belongs: comedians, teabaggers and choking-on-pretzels ex-POTUS. 
Instead, I'll go out on a limb, as per standard protocol here, and tentatively argue: our guts play an under-appreciated yet decisive part in the historical making of our brains, both as a facilitating agent and enabling device.


Consider this: we humans come omnivores as a standard issue, and tend to embrace it unless constrained to a less diverse diet imposed by circumstances or personal/cultural biases. At face value, our gut would deserve praise if only for its ability to use almost anything we stumble upon for fuel — on the omnivore's radar, anything that is or was alive once could be dinner.
We partly owe to our guts to have survived and thrived in a variety of environments that non omnivorous species can only dream of, but I'd wage that's only half of it…

Opposable thumbs are cool, for sure, but they're of limited relevance if all you do is twiddle them: how and to what end you put those to work is what's key.
Our brains are a spectacular learning machine, a difference and inference engine that can find patterns in a chaotic wealth of information, derive meaning and build narratives or concepts to organize the universe, with us as its focal point. 
As it seems obvious a direct relation exists, between the diversity of experiences and stimuli we're exposed to and the opportunities we get to make new and smarter inferences, anything that helps us survive and explore new horizons is increasing our odds to have a eureka! moment, or its intuitive, less conceptual equivalent.

And just like our opposable thumbs, our guts enable us to explore and experience more, not only by keeping us fueled and clanking beyond the point where the Duracell rabbit would finally stop, but by providing us with the means to experience more. Non-omnivorous animals don't get the chance to try much of the gastronomical aspects of pleasure and discomfort, simply eat whatever limited selection of food they trust to process without falling sick, and won't even think about ordering off the menu, even when it sucks — ask any panda how they feel about their last meal(s) for a very fucked up perspective on this.


Long story short, being able to process diverse foods extends our biotopical reach and our ability to move around, yet also broadens our mental horizons and sense of aesthetics. Diversity of tastes, textures, shapes and colors all give our brain those little jolts that once in a while may spark a new and interesting connection, even though we may not always realize it at the time, and the same goes for those different landscapes, climates and environments we would never have dreamed of, had our omnivorous bowels not kept us alive through there.

Thus, I suggest you make today (which is whenever you happen to read these lines) your personal Gut Recognition Day and celebrate GRD by thinking hard about how much we owe our intestines for coping with our whims as they do, be thankful for that, and vow never to deny your guts their rightful part by ensuring you don't eat the same grub every day from now on, if you can afford it.

Your neo-corticoïdal bowels thank you in advance.




Cloud computing moves the computation and rendering entirely server side, albeit in some high-level, abstract fashion, where the server-side capacity is managed as an utility rather than as a finite asset.
This leaves the client with a fairly dumb terminal shaped like a smartphone, HDTV set or pretty much anything that can display a video feed received through a broadband connection (wired or air), and send out standard user input (key commands, motion sensor data, possibly voice and video in some applications) back to the cloud.

In a nutshell, it lifts most of hardware and software requirements currently associated with 3D gaming from the user end, thus enabling a myriad of cheap, everyday devices to perform suitably as HD gaming platforms.

On the server side, the high-concept tends to favor decoupling server ownership from operation and usage, and to move computing and rendering power towards a model akin to that of bandwidth brokering. Game operators are expected to rent both processing and rendering power by the metric ton just as they would rent bandwidth to serve the resulting video feeds to the end users' client devices.

Contrary to the console platforms, which by nature are subject to vendor lock-in, cloud-based gaming should allow developers to code for whichever suitable software environment they choose, as the server software is meant to be loaded seamlessly, on demand, onto the rented hardware.

On the business side of things, this is obviously an attractive proposition. Game operators will be able to serve a nearly limitless user base with a single core product version: cross-developing for different platforms will no longer be useful, and only minor resources will be devoted to maintaining compatibility, mostly on the interface side of things, to accommodate the variety of typical gaming devices (display layouts, standard inputs and such).

From a game developer standpoint this is a wet dream, with all the benefits of console development (well-known, controlled hardware/software environment) but none of the drawbacks (no vendor lock-in, unlimited processing and rendering power scaling gracefully on the fly), provided suitable business models are found to share the burden and the revenue associated with the server architecture.


Applied to R-POWs, cloud computing promises even more goodness by tackling, or at least mitigating, the infamous reverse-economies of scale that currently apply to customer support.

The more sophisticated and popular the game, the more diverse and complex the overall hardware and software client base becomes, and the more likely users will run third party 'helper' software alongside the game client. As a result, technical support gets proportionally costlier as the user base grows and as time goes by and the variety of more-or-less recent configurations to support increases.

A despotic control over the gaming platform, insulated from user interference, translates in enormous savings on technical support and a proportional increase in customer satisfaction — by way of less dissatisfaction.


Here be other entries tagged with CloudGaming.