Sunday, May 31, 2020

On Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and The Matrix as "cozy revolutions"

How RuneScape is helping Venezuelans survive by working as gold farmers

Mat Ombler for Polygon:

Ninety percent of Venezuelans are now living in poverty, and one of the most extreme and sustained periods of hyperinflation ever recorded means that people working minimum wage jobs are earning the equivalent of $5 a month.


RuneScape was originally released in 2001 by British developer Jagex, but it’s only in the last four years that a growing number of Veneuzelans have started depending on the game as their main source of income.


There’s an abundance of online websites that specialize in the buying and selling of RuneScape commodities. It’s a fiercely competitive marketplace, with several websites taking out Google Ads to appear at the top of search listings. At the time of writing, 1 million RuneScape gold sells for 63 cents.


My first ‘job’ was smelting [runite] bars at the blast furnace.


When these power outages first occurred last March, they caused an economic crisis in RuneScape that dramatically impacted the prices of heavily farmed items such as dragon bones, Zulrah’s scales, and black chinchompas. As scarcity came into play, RuneScape players quickly discovered what happens to their game’s economy when you suddenly remove a large proportion of players from the game.

Today's funny posts

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Keanu at the protest?; Wicked Musical regrets a post; lessons learned from covering Hong Kong protests

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Instagram filter blurs people

"Civil War-era witch bottle found by archaeologists digging along I-64 in Virginia"

From February:

To history experts, the scenario goes something like this: A Union officer stationed on enemy Southern soil drops a handful of iron nails into a bottle, adds some personal effects — clippings of his hair or fingernails, maybe some urine — corks it up and buries it near his hearth.

He likely offers up a fervent prayer that he’ll survive the Civil War and return home to Pennsylvania. And the bottle of nails was his good luck charm.

A century and a half later, in 2016, archaeologists excavating the remains of a Civil War outpost on a broad highway median in York County before widening work unearthed that bottle. The lip was broken off, the nest of nails badly rusted.

The artifact was cleaned up and cataloged as a sort of makeshift storage container. Then, six months ago, experts in ceramics and folk ritual recognized it for what it is: a witch bottle — part of a tradition of folk magic that stretches back to the Middle Ages.


At first, archaeologists at WMCAR thought there were perhaps only 12 known witch bottles in this country, compared to a couple hundred in Great Britain. But
The Wikipedia entry on witch bottles:
Witch bottles began as countermagical devices used as protection against other witchcraft and evocation.

eChallenge coin with interactive challenges

The waitlist is here:

What is it?
The is the eChallengeCoin. It is a challenge coin with 3 interactive challenges you solve using the LEDs and touch sensors, 3 story challenges you solve through the UART interface, and a bonus to unlock.

It comes fully assembled and ready to challenge your skills! It uses a standard CR2032 coin battery (included) and comes in a protective coin case.

Everything about the eChallengeCoin provides clues and misdirection.

It even has 3 demos to help you pass the time when you are not working on the challenges.

Why did you make it?
I was familiar with the traditional challenge coins which signify a group of individuals or a significant event. But what about today's advanced technology groups, InfoSec, or cyber security? Their challenge coin would be more than a static object. Their challenge coin would be electronic and have its own challenges!

That was the genesis of the idea to create the eChallengeCoin.

What makes it special?
The eChallengeCoin is about the size of a traditional challenge coin and is designed to be carried around in a pocket. It's just 44mm in diameter and the case only adds 10mm. It is very energy efficient and will run off a standard CR2032 coin battery for weeks or even months.

It's also just the first!

The eChallengeCoin includes a story from The Adventures of Sara Cladlow. In the story, Sara encounters challenges which you must solve to continue.

There will be more eChallenge objects and each will have interactive challenges and a new adventure with Sara Cladlow with new challenges to solve.
The companion site is here.

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The best wargaming miniatures of the week

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Slick Neon Genesis Evangelion short film for a smartphone that comes with a tiny Spear of Longinus

More information here.

Murder Most Puzzling: 20 Mysterious Cases to Solve

Available for preorder at Amazon:

Murder Most Puzzling is a gorgeous and witty book that invites readers to play detective and solve a series of absorbing, murder-mystery-themed puzzles.

Readers are cast as the faithful sidekick to amateur sleuth Medea Thorne in order to solve 20 puzzling cases.

Meet a cast of colorful characters—from ghost hunter extraordinaire Augustin Artaud, to Leonard Fanshawe, a competitor in the Annual Perfect Pickled Foods Festival.

• A witty riff on the classic whodunit that brings out everyone's inner detective
• Each mystery is sumptuously illustrated.
• The mysteries require different deductive tactics, making them a good brain exercise

A body in the topiary garden, a death at a clairvoyants' convention, and the mysterious accident of the boating lake—prepare for a whirlwind adventure, laced with humor and a dash of the macabre.

This book will delight fans of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edward Gorey.

"Amazon sellers are marking products as ‘collectible’ to get around price gouging rules" (Quaranzine)

The Verge:

The seller with the $1,275 dumbbells was also selling a Coleman SaluSpa inflatable hot tub for $1,400, which is also, allegedly, collectible. Back in March, it was going for $359. Other sellers were offering “collectible” Cuisinart bread makers for $239 ($82.76 two months ago) and $279.99 “collectible” Nintendo Switch games that previously went for $79.99. Amazon removed the listings I asked about, but other examples are still abundant, including a “collectible” $450 barbell bar and a “collectible” USB cable for $259.99.


The opacity of Amazon’s price rules, and the difficulty of coming back after getting suspended for violating them, is exacerbating shortages on the site, McCabe says, as sellers decide to sit out the pandemic rather than risk running afoul of the algorithm. “To avoid that whole nightmarish scenario, most people understand that it’s better just not to risk it in the first place, which means the quantities of the items offered for these kinds of products will be lower,” he says.

“It’s not well defined on Amazon’s part, there’s no clear definition of what a pricing ceiling is or how it gets calculated,”

A collection of funny posts from Tumblr

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7 steps to creating a rich role playing character

(By Kayla Ancrum.)

GTAV with cyberpunk mods (video game roundup)