Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TyL: Apparently...

... I can still be mistaken for 18.

Maybe I should grow a beard. Do I get to be evil then?

Err... more evil?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TLU: Being "Old" Has an Over/Under

Female Floorie "Come on.", looks in my direction as I'm eating dinner in the common lounge, "Dave, she totally looks older, doesn't she?*"

Me: "Errr... I think I'm being drawn into a conversation I walked into in the middle of and totally haven't been paying attention to. What's going on?"

Instead, I went with: "Of course not!" Safe, right? No girl wants to be told they look old...

For future reference, apparently this is not the correct answer when the girl in question just turned 18 yesterday and has spent the last 30 minutes with the girls on how she doesn't look/feel any older. If looks could kill I'd have died 4 times over that day...

* this is what's called a Tip-Off folks. Have I mentioned I can be a bit oblivious at the best of times... err, yeah...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

TYL: Sooo.... There's a Hollywood Akira Movie in the Works...

Live action. How can we possibly fuck this up? Oh...
There are two major roles, and I'm told that for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been given the new script. For the role of Kaneda, the script has been given to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.
Err... disregarding the number of talentless pretty boys in there, aren't the two lead characters in Akira orphaned teen street punks? Yeah... why are we looking to cast people between the ages of 28 and 34?

Here's where we're likely to run into what I now dub the "Enders Game Principle": the reality that the source material contains elements that won't get past societal norms/beliefs and therefore must be purged to make it acceptable. As such, Tetsuo and Kaneda likely just gained 5 to 10 years to make them into the grizzled motorcycle gang members people are familiar with from TV.

Be prepared to find the film presented from that context.

LS: This made me giggle

2. While we appreciate Firefly as much as everyone else, Malcolm Reynolds has never been the leader of the Alliance.
While it can be hit or miss, The Daily Blink is frequently a pretty effective piece of satire.

CBC R3 Playlist: Spring 2011 Edition

A.C. Newman - Drink to Me Babe, Then
Caribou - Odessa
Colette Trudeau - I Don't Wanna Know
Great Lake Swimmers - Pulling On A Line
Jason Collett - A Beguiled Christmas in Sales
Jay Crocker - Falling Out of Windows
Jenny Whiteley - Indoor Lightning
The Mountains & The Trees - All Together Now (For The Holidays)
A Northern Chorus - Remembrance Day
Plants And Animals - Lola Who?
The Shilohs - Carolina
Shimmering Stars - Sun's Going Down
Jody Glenham - Snow In New York City

Mathew Joel - Where Are We?
Emm Gryner - Black-Eyed Blue Sky
Local Rabbits - Missing Out
The Liptonians - You Know I Did
Hey Rosetta! - A Thousand Suns
Stars - My Favourite Book
Lady Hayes - So Young
Laura Peek and the Winning Hearts - Stay Sharp
Selina Martin - Public Safety Management
The Love Machine - Love Is On Your Side
The High Dials - Fields in Glass
Elk - Shaking Hands
Pat LePoidevin - The Moonwolf Departure
Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy - True Love Killed My True Love's Love For Me
Imaginary Cities - Say You
Gramercy Riffs - Oh Linda!
Foam Lake - Die Fighting

Mostly pulling slower songs, or ones that began to grate like Trudeau's, and replacing them with more uptempo or experimental stuff leading to a slight increase to 83 songs and ~6 hours of playtime to be found, as usual, over here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rant: Hey, Lets Address that Prostitution Ruling...

... by licensing/building brothels/casinos on Toronto Island.


You know, I'd really like for society to sit down and have some rational discussion on the issues of the sex trade but... this...


Look, this is what's called a False Dilemma or Limited Options Fallacy. At best case, it's essentially setting up what has been, largely, a family park for years as the destination for something no one wants in their neighbourhood such that, when opposition mounts, you can fall back and go: "Well, I tried and if we can't put it there, well, we can't put it in our other neighbourhoods either!", knowing full well that your position never stood a chance to begin with.

Saying: "well, there's a nude beach out there now!", in a corner... generally out of sight of anyone who doesn't go looking for it... as justification is just wrongheaded as well because there's a pretty substantial line between the societal costs and risks of nudism vs. prostitution.

But the wrongness goes entirely past the social issues here. The Toronto Islands also stand out as a largely undeveloped tract of parkland:

View Larger Map

and what's really being proposed here is that we open up the park property, being quite valuable lakefront property, to massive redevelopment. That, for many people who've been fighting to keep the islands "pristine", or at least as much so as they can be with a small airport at one end, is the worst case scenario: that the Casino/Red Light district is just a means to that end. Because, once you've got zoning and political clearance to go ahead with plan A, it's quite easy to "give in" to public pressure and replace those brothels with Hotels, condos and other facilities. They're going to fight the development aspects of this suggestion tooth and nail and if they have to scream "SKANKS IN OUR STREETS!!!" to win they will.

Meanwhile, actual issues facing participants in the sex trade remain unaddressed.

TYL: OMG... There's Something Misogynistic in a Duke Nukem Game!!!!

So, I learnt from Penny Arcade that Duke Nukem Forever, the perpetual vapourware product finally come to life, includes a multiplayer mode in which the Capture the Flag is redesigned as "Capture the Babe"... and you'll occasionally have to slap the "Babe" in question on the ass when things get hectic 'cause she'll panic.

Allow me to get in line and shrug.

Here's the thing, the mode isn't going to live and die on whether or not people like spanking women (well, at least for those over the mental age of 13, members of the SM community NWS). For most of us, it's going to live and die on whether or not this mechanic is any fun; in the empirical "this provides something new that isn't entirely cumbersome" sense, not the "hah, hah, I like to beat women sense". If it doesn't... well, there's other modes and maps to play and it can rot.

As "Tycho" alludes, the reality of the original Duke Nukem is that, once you got past all the free press about breasts and swearing and "misogynistic" behaviour, the game was fun to play. In this regard, it pissed all over Quake despite that game being technically superior and me eventually having a Voodoo card installed due to it's influence on the genre as a whole. The world was more alive (single player was full of colourful and varied animated environments beyond the brown/green dungeons of the original Quake), while multiplayer was full of insane chaotic action and creative scenarios (god, I loved finding places where folks would tend to run blind into laser tripwire mines), driven by well designed maps and a list of weapons, and counters, that I really haven't seen surpassed in any game since. Maybe it's a "first love" thing, but that's honestly where it stands on the chart for me so the real question I want answered is can the new game provide any of that.

I say that because it seems like the focus in Shooters has shifted away from creating new and entertaining experiences towards replicating other game experiences resulting in cookie cutter weapon selection (Here's your pistol, your shotgun, your sniper rifle, your machine gun, and your BFG!), and an increased focus on seeing who can mouse-turn fastest and memorize the viable ways to move forward on the map. I mean, BF: BC2 is kinda fun but it's inarguable that some of the exploratory and problem solving aspects you'd find in OG Duke have been tossed in favour of the trend towards "Story Driven" content that makes single player play like a rail shooter. You simply move down a fixed path from objective to objective with the only real challenge before you being to kill the enemy before they kill you. (Which, as long as you put an object between yourself and them now and then, they can't on anything but the hardest modes.) The same thing can be said about CoD SP from my experiences with it too.

Meanwhile, multiplayer is frequently just a meat grinder in an effort to replicate that "reality" in "war". You just move forward through fixed defensive positions and hope you find the one the enemy hasn't blocked off.

So for me, the decision to play or not won't be driven by the "controversy ridden" game launch designed to generate free buzz regardless of the reality that the event in question frequently makes up 1/1000th of the total gameplay. I'll be making my choices when someone can tell me the rest of the game is reasonably fresh, fun and brings back that OG spirit of chaos or not.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan Quake: Plant Worker Update

I questioned earlier whether we might not have heard if the workers had been relieved - in the military sense, not the fired sense. The 50 who remain have not and only those who were "evacuated" from the plant earlier this week have gotten out. For the 50, that's seven days in a high stress situation, getting sleep when they can, running short of supplies, watching news conferences in which Corporate Bosses spin things and make them feel abandoned, and only now are resources being diverted to the site and maybe, maybe, they'll get to go home as, hopefully, people can step in and take over.

Fucking insane. Japan needs its own NEST Team. Last week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lazy Friday: My First Meltdown

Intended as an explanatory video for kids, it's almost funny... until you realize it's probably more accurate and emotionally neutral analysis than most major news network coverage of the events from this side of the Pacific.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Quake: Some Forward Looking Points

1) That Incident Report for the Fukushima reactor complex gets more potentially revealing with every day that passes. I suspect it will include extensive use of equivalent phrases to "Cognitive Lock", "Following Procedure", "Blind Spots", and "Fresh Eyes" as what, in any other situation, would be called a comedy of errors continues to pile up. How, exactly, does one lose coolant flow to the storage pools and then not remain aware of the situation to the point that the water is boiling off, the stored fuel is increasingly exposed, and the temperature is rising until the heat building up in the room sets the storage facility on fire?

Quite simply, it happens when you're so focused and confused by what's happening over here that the things going on over there just don't look that important and this blind spot in your troubleshooting becomes potentially devastating. This was essentially what happened at Three Mile Island: the operating team got more and more focused on and confounded by the reality that the reactor, and its coolant level, kept behaving in ways contrary to their efforts and what the instruments were telling them that they never noticed some odd behaviour coming from a Pilot Operated Release Valve (PORV) and it's subsystems; a safety device designed to reduce steam pressure in the loop that was stuck open and thwarting their every effort. It was only hours into the event, when the next crew showed up, that one of the engineers on that team began looking at the problem with a clean slate, noticed that the readings on the outlet pipe for the PORV in question were suspiciously hot for a valve that was supposed to be closed, and triggered the hard lockdown on the outlet: finally stopping the outflow of steam that had prior crew piloting the reactor in a death spiral and, ultimately, preventing the outright meltdown the station was on course for.

There's a lot of press right now about how the Fukushima crew are "Heroes" for staying on as things have continued to go to hell there and the radiation levels have reached dangerous levels and, to that extent, it's inarguable that they are. But, the reality is that they should have been cycled out a long time ago, "face" and "duty" be damned. We're now five days in and they need sleep and time to de-stress because running on adrenaline, fear of explosion (from the hydrogen), and cognitive lock from the reactor behaving in ways unexpected and gauges telling you things that seem incomprehensible leads to bad decision making and compound mistakes regardless of how capable the crew otherwise might be. The plants need a fresh set of eyes on site, not on phone, to start attacking what's going on there - perhaps from multiple angles and multiple crews to individually tackle the coolant pools and reactors because there's quite obviously not enough people at hand to manage the overall situation as is. There are 55 nuclear plants in Japan, many of which are of similar design, it's time to start drawing up a list of who's the "best available" and prepare swap crews.

That said, just to be perfectly clear, I'm not challenging the competence or bravery of these people, just the reality that human beings can get locked up in mental blocks if they focus on a problem too long. Hell, I've done it while programming: sat there staring at the screen trying to figure out why my code isn't doing what I'm telling it to... then stepping away, coming back to it and.... fuck I've closed this loop here by dropping an endline ; out of habit. Imagine having to troubleshoot like that for days with a complex machine where your only means of feedback are dials and gages you're trusting to give you the right answers, the consequences of miss-reading or them being wrong can be fatal, and there's a national tragedy going on all around you that may directly affect you as well. I'm not a big fan of psychology, but I suspect a majority of head-doctors would say it's inarguable that these people could and should have had relief by now unless they have and we've just not heard about it.

2) Rebuilding of the Tsunami afflicted areas poses some interesting questions because, while there will likely be some migration out of the effected areas, the overwhelming human mentality is to stay where "home" is. How best to enable that will likely be a lively debate because, given the total devastation in some areas, there's more than one way to potentially skin that fish.

You could double down and rebuild on site. This is the point in the movie where the Mayor delivers the arousing speech about how: "We'll rise again stronger!", and, really, this is frequently the most compelling option. There's a certain human tenacity (see also: New Orleans, Hudson's Bay Native Canadians living on flood planes), that favours the familiar and traditional attachments over change. The problem with this is that nature has a habit of kicking our ass when it wants to despite our best efforts to engineer around it. Japan built a large variety of Seawalls explicitly to try and prevent events like last Friday (also: to line the pockets of companies favourable to the government of the day/"stimulus"). Last week, they got crushed in pretty much every case.

You could argue that the solution to this is bigger seawalls but... waves in places of absolute destruction like Minamisanriku, where the structure of the bay served to channel the force of the Tsumani into a cascading wall of death, hit 60'(~18m) high. The second problem with seawalls is that, as studies of the 2004 Tsunami found, they're less effective than natural trees with deep roots that absorb and give with the impact to dampen energy. Unlike that situation, a seawall functions like clamping your fist on the drive shaft of an electric motor: if you're lucky, it might burn out but, more likely, it's just going to build energy until it overwhelms the obstacle and moves on. Such man made defences are also hugely expensive to build and maintain. There's an argument to be made that they're effective stalls to provide more time to evacuate... but the money may better be spent on better evacuation equipment and/or shelters.

Creating a community on stilts so that homes could remain above the force of the wave is another option but the key question will be: how do we do that, while accepting the reality of three story waves and still remaining earthquake proof? It's not an impossible conflict of features to overcome, but it's cognitively a hard sell (wait, you want me to build my house 20m off the ground???), and may simply not be cost or space effective as well.

The least popular, though probably most effective method in those areas where there's literally little of anything to return too, would be simply to move the residential areas of these cities and villages inland/onto higher ground and provide effective transit (that could double as evacuation vehicles), to the waterfront. Effort could then focus on reclaiming as much of the former cityscape as possible for other uses to compensate for the lost land elsewhere and strengthening safety features around those facilities that need to be exposed to the waterfront.

The problem with that is that it means walking away from history and physical attachment. Mankind as a whole has never been good at that, given any other option, so it will be interesting to see which, if any, communities choose to attack their rebuilding program from this angle.

Whatever they choose, parts of North-Eastern Japan are likely going to look substantially different in 5-10 years from now than it did on March 11th.

Edit: This video

shows the third problem with seawalls: they provide false security. In the town/area of Kamaishi, residents tell of those who stayed behind them with the expectation they'd be safe because the walls worked for smaller events before. This... did not end happily this time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TotD: Now, I've Really Got to Know if Skyline Could be Topped...

Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. Young women: If your date likes this movie, tell him you've been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart.
- Roger Ebert on Battle: LA

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Quake: When Waves Do The Unthinkable

Watch this video:

That's not a dyke that the water is overflowing, that's a seawall (you can see here on better days), designed to try and contain a tsunami and is normally back from the canal. This is from a town in northern Japan called Miyako far to the almost due north of the earthquake's epicentre.

At this point, you're probably wondering: "err... what's more interesting about this site than the others?" Well, take a look at a closer view of the area:

That's right: to hit Miyako the Tsunami had to do a 90 to 180 degree wrap around an archipelago and shoot downwards, almost in reverse, and sideways into a bay. When you try to approach this from a layman's idea of what a wave does - spreads consistently outwards from a point of impact - it seems cognitively confounding. At first glance, the area looks like it should avoid damage entirely because there's an entire landmass, including mountains according to the map (which, to be fair, may just be really big hills, but the point stands), that you'd think would act as an active buffer to the wave coming from the south.

The problem is that a Tsunami is not just a "wave", per-se: it's perhaps more accurately defined as water "seeking it's own level" in one of the most violent ways possible. The simplest way to look at what happened here is like this; fill a pot with water. Now, start throwing in potatoes. All of a sudden you've got waves on the surface but you've also got displaced water being carried over the sides by this action as it tries to find someplace else to be. This is what essentially is happening when a Tsunami is created: the Earth's crust is moving violently upwards or downwards, taking on the role of your potatoes, and displacing massive amounts of water by either pushing it towards the surface or sucking it towards the core. Either of these actions imbues the water involved with massive amounts of energy and it responds by trying to immediately move away or gets sucked in and then rebounds from the point of the event, respectively, and floods outwards forcefully to both expend that energy and find its "natural level" again.

Now, to go back to our analogy, if you were to ring that pot with a something to catch that water you'd be able to see just how much more readily it moves into some areas of that ring compared to others as the imperfections in your workmanship - dips, divots, angles - begin to show. Likewise, as Miyako stands as further proof, a Tsunami is going to, quite frighteningly, find its way into every nook and crevice of the Earth that the energy it's been imbued with will allow as it purges that energy and redistributes itself accordingly. That's a realization from this event that exists as a reminder of just how powerful nature is when unleashed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan Quake: Nuclear Realities.

With the collapse of the containment building due to an internal explosion today, the reactor is done. I'm amused at the "experts" who are shocked, shocked I say, at the reality that the country is essentially conceding this by bringing in seawater as a coolant prelude to neutron poisoning the core due to the reality that this would cause sufficient damage from corrosive effects to preclude a restart in the future. They say this in a way that gives you the feeling that they believe any alternative is somehow preferable as long as the reactor can be used again despite the reality that it's now covered in rubble. Literal conversation:

Expert: Well, there's a reason why flooding with seawater isn't part of any manual. It's...
Newscaster: But, will it work?
Expert: Well, um, probably but... <insert ramble about pipe corrosion and the reactor being a write-off here>
Newscaster: In that case, what would you propose as an alternative?
Expert: ... I'm not sure.

Sheesh... there's a point at which you've got to be prepared to cut your losses and get the job done folks: when the building falls in, we're there.

Over the next couple weeks there's going to be a lot of renewed hot-air debate as to the advisability of nuclear power after such an event, especially if a meltdown actually occurs and there's a substantial radiation leak. That's to be expected because, lets be honest, if Japan was powered entirely by windmills and there were to be video of blades shaking loose and wildly spinning through structures and people there would be folks would be going apeshit about that too. But, the technology is not going away. Reactors simply provide too much power/space with minimum, shall we say, "conventional" CO2 pollution output to be ignored as an energy source even against the reality that, as my dad once said, it's quite possibly the only industry we allow to operate where we know damned well that the consequences of running are the production of lethal levels of toxic waste with no effective means of disposal for centuries.

The prevailing argument ATM is that super happy fun question that's been popping up as a machine designed to win in a battle against nature runs smack into nature on steroids: "why would we ever build a nuclear reactor near a fault line/earthquake zone????"

Um... because we need electricity to run the modern world?

To be less glib, you need to consider the reality that Japan, containing a little more than 127M people in an area ~1/3 the size of Ontario, is one of the most densely populated land masses in the world (37th highest country in that regard. If you limited the list to those with more than 10M People, it'd be 8th. Move to 100M people, and it would be 3rd behind only India and Bangladesh), before you also note that much of it's population and infrastructure is coastal because the interior terrain is largely mountainous. The country can also stand with any in the world in terms of industrialization. It has huge power/land demands to service those realities and has for decades.

It also poses a very odd dichotomy upon the local decision makers when you think about it: Japan goes to extensive efforts to preserve both it's history and arable land to try and limit the impact of all these people on the environment and maintain some level of self-sufficiency but it's also singularly positioned to be quite aware of the dangers of the atom left unchecked. If anyone knew what they were doing here, and why they were doing it, it was the leadership of this country. So, they designed, doubled up on the checks, did everything possible to make it "safe"... and then ran smack into both the passage of time and Murphy's Law.

I say that because, by all current accounts, the reactor building did what it was supposed to do and held up to the force of the initial earthquake... and then the unplanned happened: a much larger Tsunami than anyone likely modelled came rolling through and took out the reserve diesel power generation for the coolant systems and left them with 8 hours of battery backup (which, would later be supplemented).

"Fuck" at this point would be an understatement.

So, more important than the usual sniping between those pro and anti nuclear is the post-mortem on this event which, given the consequences, must be thorough and impartial because Japan relies on this technology for upwards of 34% of their power and that can not be supplanted by other technologies easily when you consider that Japan also lacks for fossil resources save Coal. Questions like "were the diesel generators left too exposed", need to be addressed and alternatives investigated to prevent loss of backup power in the future. Just as importantly, in an country with access to internal and US military heavy lift equipment, why does it seem to be so difficult to get additional portable generation to the site? Finally, any mistakes that might have been made need to be identified to try and prevent this from happening again when the next combination quake/tsunami strikes.

I'm interested in what comes out of that discussion because the answers to how and why systems failed and how difficult the issues are to resolve will directly impact how Japan attacks their energy issues going forward.

Addendum: as I'm writing this, they're announcing that they're running out of the battery power packs they'd shipped in to maintain the coolant systems of the affected plant and there's increasing risk of meltdown. This apparent inability to identify and shift the necessary portable generating capacity to the site after almost two days is honestly confounding to me and I'm wondering what's going on.

Lazy Friday: Someone has too much free time on their hands...

edit: posponed from Friday for obvious reasons.

For once, it's nice that it's not me.

Also, because it's a special day, double bill!

err... NSFW. I feel his pain. During LK, I could've wrote a companion piece for Enhancement Shaman that insisted AGI gems were the way to go...

Friday, March 11, 2011

8.9 Mag. Quake in Japan

The news coverage of this is kinda interesting, if you'll forgive me using the term, in that seeing a Tsunami play out in real time on live TV is on the list of things you'd likely never think you'd see happen*.

That said, the first thing that pops into my head watching these waves wash mud and debris through northern farmland is that there's going to be a local need for food, short and long term. Current crops are gone, while future crops are going to require substantial remediation of fields due to the realty that they are now buried in an assortment of whatever gunk the wave has picked up in its travels inland (I'm currently watching a wave eat houses and buildings while, at the forefront, a small fishing boat is being carried along the crest). Rice futures are probably going to go nuts on the commodity exchange today. If our government or aid agencies are going to respond, this is likely the best area to target because, financially, Japan is capable of absorbing the damage.

No one has any idea what the casualties are going to be like yet but, judging from the state of this town up north - houses, facilities, hell... there's an airport flooded under up to about half way up the first floor and I'm really hoping there were no planes on the ground because the terminal docking portals are otherwise eerily vacant... it's not going to be a good day. Aftershocks are still hitting now about 2 hours after the event; hopefully that's all that happens and there's no followup Quake in the immediate future.

The Tsunami from the initial quake is now making its way across the Pacific with multiple landfalls expected in the next few hours. Hopefully with this lead time the local agencies are getting out the alert so that no more lives are lost elsewhere.

* I was surprised at how long it took CBC and CTV to get on this. I was flipping back to them to try and get another perspective fron them for almost an hour while BBC World and CNN have been covering before those former two got going on it at 3:00AM EST. It didn't even make the Ticker: which is striking in demonstrating just how unprepared the two news organizations were to handle something catastrophic happening outside their standard operating hours.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

TLU: Sometimes I wish I was on Twitter...

Her: the diet I'm on is super strict about how much protons I'm allowed

Me: You're on a negative charge diet? That might explain a lot you know...

WoW: Best patch note ever...

... until they throw up: "We've replaced the Archeology Gathering Mechanic with something more sane."
A dead player can now be resurrected by targeting them using the Party or Raid Frame even if they have released. No more hunting for corpses.
Finally. While somewhat less useful now that there's a res cap and of primary use when running with idiots who release in the middle of the battle: "because I thought we were wiping!!!", this was a true annoyance when you ran into it. You're trying to get someone in the middle of a fight and the dimwit's released so trying to use the Raid Frame results in an "Out of Range" emote and you're like... WTF???.... you fuckwit... where's your corpse in the room???* 'cause I can't see that on the map now either...

It'll also be nice out of combat when you're cleaning up corpses. I approve of this update.

* Inevitable Answer: underneath the bosses foot where you can't click on it...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

TotD: The more I see of Rob Ford...

... in action the more I get the opinion that he exists to delay Transit City long enough that the Tories can get elected this fall and cancel the whole kit and caboodle of transit funding for Toronto in an effort to trim the provincial deficit like they did back in the 90's.

At which point he can throw his hands in the air and claim it's all "The Province's" fault we've seen no transit infrastructure improvements of significance in this city in the last 20 years. Suggesting we blow billions on Subway lines to Scarborough when it lacks the population densities is part of this strategy - it makes it look like he wants to do something when he knows damned well no one is going to want to pay for his plan; least of all the private sector who, if they have any common sense, will be looking at his suggestion that they pay for the rights to build/run stations against splits of redevelopment money of the surrounding land and counterbalancing it against the Spadina Line north of St Clair station where you've entrenched residential owners who've fought any attempt to bring housing capacity to the areas around those stations tooth and nail and brought redevelopment to a snails pace. They'd be idiots to bet on being able to make their money back without city guarantees that they will, which we keep being told won't happen. Until it does.

Meanwhile, the lines that need to be built - particularly the long overdue Eglinton (hi 3 busses every 5 minutes at peak along low capacity roadways with no room for expansion within the areas of highest occupancy), and Downtown Relief Lines (the core is the heart of this city, we've largely successfully avoided the urban planning disaster of "hollowing it out" through multiple past initiatives, and we need to maintain ready access to it, the workplaces, and event facilities it contains) - continue to be overshadowed by largely Conservative pre-occupation with running lines out to residential Scarborough and its tracts of single dwelling households. You begin to get the idea that there's... "election funding"... tied to this from developers looking at cheap land, relatively speaking, and hoping they can go there instead of buying and/or redeveloping expensive buildings/properties nearer to the core. Which sounds great on paper, until you remember that the OMB lurkith like a troll waiting for them to cross the bridge and be consumed while existing residents close in from either end, furious with rage, to stop them escaping with pitchforks and fire.

The funny thing is, the Downtown Relief Line is already built - we need merely work with Private Enterprise and Go to take over the tracks and get TTC trains on them with a regular schedule. 4 lanes in and out of Union Station allowing for Express lines through the middle and Locals on the outers so we can whisk people into and out of the core as fast as they need to go or let them go 2 stops within the city. Before someone goes apeshit about no "First Class City" using rail... well, Tokyo's entire network is built on a combination of Surface and Subsurface trains, with the subsurface lines being largely internal to the city and the surface lines dual purposing as feeders from the surrounding towns. So, it's not like this has never been done before. For the most part, we need merely add more stations to existing lines and better connect existing Go Facilities with the TTC ones and we could have this sub-line operating out of Union in short order.

The primary problem will be working out how to deal with commercial traffic, in the form of shipping, that still needs to travel through the city. Do we have sufficient lanes to simply schedule around it, or would we need to work out a diversion line to take train traffic around the north end of the city instead of through the lower core. A key question that will also need to be answered is how much of that traffic still stops within the city itself, especially as the Harbour has become more playplace than Industrial Hub.

Finally, if we want Subways, maybe it's time we started bloody well paying for them instead of expecting other people to (the funny thing about Ford's stance on Transit City: the Province is footing essentially the entire bill and we've largely one man telling them to go fuck themselves. Gift Horse meet Mouth.). The city now has the power to levy special taxes, as evidenced by all the new ones that were introduced by the prior administration that the current one has decided to try and bankrupt us by cutting. So, figure out just how much of a tax is required to pay for X amount of new subway/year, legislate that the money from this tax be lock-boxed away from council and the TTC so it can't be lost into general revenues, and put the plan to a referendum and let the people decide.

We'll either decide we want to go forward with it, or we won't. But, either way, at least we'd have actually made progress towards deciding to do something other than tugging at Mom's leg like a 4 year old and throwing a tantrum when we're told no.

WoW: How to Make Archeology Better in One Swoop

Every now and then I look at the Stats just for curiosity sake which, this week, led to a bit of a shock... why'd 100+ people suddenly get interested in some random web users rant about Why Archeology Sucks? Ahhhhhh.... I've been Google found and linked from the official forums... hello new people! I hope you're finding my particular brand of sarcasm infused world view mildly interesting and I appreciate the, well, appreciation folks have given to that particular piece of writing.

Hell, maybe a "Blue" was even nice enough to read it and start running off every reason I was wrong!

I kid because I love folks. However, I'd hate to be "that guy" who just offers up negativity all the time without offering solutions so I'm going to take about 5 minutes and offer one; admittedly derived from my main issue with the prof so it will likely not appeal to everyone.

Here's the thing: my main issue with Archeology is largely that I have to spend tons (and by tons, I'm talking the equivalent of weeks to months), of time working on things I don't want/need to work on just to be able to work on those that I do. This is incredibly frustrating. Whereas with every other profession in the game, you can log in, go: "Gee, I need to go gather X to make/do Y", and then dedicate, say, an hour to do that, Archeology clouds this by creating the heavy duty mental block of putting 4 potentially pointless sites in your path. This becomes a participation hurdle when you consider that running around to those sites spread across a continent can easily eat up your "between raid/guild/pvp free time" window in short order just from travel.

So, how do we fix this? Simple: allow us to eliminate races and, interesting fact, the core mechanic to do so is already there. Hell, they just added it. Wait, "what are you talking about", you say? I'm talking about taking the 200 relic race cap and turning it into an off switch. That's right: instead of only keeping you from picking up more fragments of a race once you hit 200, stop those sites from spawning too. Now, you have a mechanic through which players can get to the point where they can log in and work on a specific race for a bit instead of feeling like they're being put through a low RPM meat grinder designed simply to see to it they experience the most pain possible in order to get things done.

That change is not without the possibility of consequences or potential decisions forced on the player as well. For one thing, I personally wouldn't suggest removing any existing sites from the map of a closed off race. Leaving these forces a decision on the user: do I free up some relic space so I can clear that/those site(s) out as to, hopefully, be able to maximize the sites popping up from the races I want or work with the number of sites I have "free" now? This is a bigger decision than you might think because, while having 1 Tol'Vir site available might be "good enough" considering how they're clustered, having one Troll or one Fossil or one Nerubian is likely to place you with no less travel time than before. So, by leaving the "dead" sites in, you force the user to play a little site elimination Jenga to balance out their fragment loads for those races while freeing up the most sites from the map at the same time.

Which, would be a bit of a PITA but still a significantly smaller one than the current mechanic and, in the end, will allow you to lock down on a specific race to a degree and work on it at your leisure. Most of us would happily make that tradeoff even against slightly diminished "drop rates" on the rares I suspect.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TotD: Ladies...

... and, to a lesser extent one supposes, Men:

"Smelling Good" is worthwhile.

"Smelling Good" from 5' away - especially when it persists when you leave, is cloying and stick in the back of your nasal cavity irritation inducing - is nose pollution. When we're hoping you'll stop pretending you don't fart in the faint hope the conflicting smells will cancel each other out, you're going equally wrong.

Test it first people. Preferably with a neutral third party who's not going to bullshit you because, when some chemicals simply produce stronger sensory reactions than others, not all "dabs" are equal. As it stands, some of you are walking around slathered in the fruity equivalent of methyl mercaptan blissfully unaware that most of us want you nearby just about as much as we want to stay in the building when that chemical does it's job of telling us the Natural Gas is leaking.

Please stop.