a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
MattholomewCup's profile
MattholomewCup

x 17

stats
following: 12
followed tags: 9
followed domains: 0
badges given: 0 of 1
hubskier for: 3183 days

I'm a programmer, a fan of tabletop roleplaying games, Steam, and comic books (or, when I feel pretentious, "graphic novels"). Sci-fi and fantasy are my favorite genres. I'm also a skeptic, a humanist, a feminist and a lover of science. I also enjoy history, sociology and psychology, and always like to know more about them! Art too! I like a lot of things. Oh, and music! Lots of kinds! I like everything! I like you for reading this. Unless you're a jerk. But everyone's a jerk sometimes. I forgive you.

recent comments, posts, and shares:
MattholomewCup  ·  3113 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: In Some States, Gun Rights Trump Orders of Protection

So why can't we just say, force the gun owner with protective orders against them to give up their guns for 6 months, a year, two years tops depending on their history? Do we really choose the strictest possible interpretation of the second amendment over "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for people who are quite possibly the survivors of violent, toxic relationships?

    “Once a person has an injunction issued against him, he is already a prohibited person. He cannot, under the Fifth Amendment, be forced to disclose whether he is in possession of firearms, because that would be tantamount to forcing him to admit a crime.”
What? I really don't understand this one, and it sounds incredibly defensive on the part of the gun-rights advocate speaking. Why is being forced to disclose your firearm possession tantamount to admitting to a crime (unless even the advocates are suggesting that gun ownership has a negative, criminal connotation)?

Why is this a radically anti-gun idea? It sounds like common sense - take guns away from people who have a history of violence while they are in an emotionally distraught part of their lives. Given how frequently the shooters in these stories seem to proceed to kill themselves, it seems like it's for their own safety just as much as for the victims'.

MattholomewCup  ·  3113 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: China Is Engineering Genius Babies | VICE United States

Interesting ideas. I particularly thought this was a curious observation:

    We have ideological biases that say, “Well, this could be troubling, we shouldn’t be meddling with nature, we shouldn’t be meddling with God.” I just attended a debate in New York a few weeks ago about whether or not we should outlaw genetic engineering in babies and the audience was pretty split. In China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!” There’s a big cultural difference.
I wonder why this is? Could there be a theme of self-perfection in their culture that we don't have? Perhaps there's the western desire for almost chaotic individuality which causes us to fear what would happen if we all had "the smart gene." I think saying 'religion!' and calling it at that is over-simplifying it a lot. Some people probably do believe we shouldn't mess with their deity of choice's plan, but I'd bet that there's a lot more to it than that.

That said, I think China's idea isn't bad and I see the value in genetic engineering, but diving in with "Intelligence" as your first test case seems like it's jumping the gun. As the article says, "intelligence" is a really difficult thing to pin down genetically, and there are so many variable factors. We can't even decide on what intelligence is, and there are so many different ways one could be an intelligent person. Seriously, if we want to start trying out genetic engineering on humans any time soon, we should work on things with clear genetic indicators which are not highly dependent on environment - basic physical features, ability to digest milk, height, and perhaps most importantly, genetically-transmitted diseases. Not that I don't believe we could make intelligence work as a goal for genetic engineering, but with our current abilities, we'd risk doing more harm than good.

MattholomewCup  ·  3116 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SimCity mod demonstrates the possibility of indefinite offline play

Are you familiar with Dwarf Fortress? It's been out for public consumption since about '06 and is frequently updated. Still technically in alpha, if I'm not mistaken. It randomly generates a world which is somewhere between the size of a small metropolis and all of Maine, millions and millions of tiles, spread through around 150 layers of depth by default, a history that generates and changes the entire map one year at a time for potentially hundreds of in-game years, collections of civilizations, a population of up to about 200 dwarves by default (if I'm not mistaken) with I think no specific upper limit of animals, not to mention NPC traders, invaders, monsters, bandits, and so forth, and the numerous moving parts involved in many mechanisms and traps, weather effects, and flowing water.

I guess what I'm getting at is yeah, fuck EA's excuse. If a one-man project of love from the early parts of the 2000s can handle that, there is no good reason the calculations for sim city couldn't be handled on one's local machine. And this mod has proven that hypothesis.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Bergoglio Chosen Pope | CNN

Oh, an old white guy? Who picked him, M. Night Shyamalan? 'cos I'm surprised.

EDIT: To avoid this comment being equal to a low-quality reddit comment, I will also add: His race actually doesn't matter terribly, but I'm not convinced he's going to actually be any different than his predecessor, whether he's from Argentina or not. His track record isn't particularly liberal, that's for sure. A Jesuit is a pretty interesting choice though, they do have a tendency to favor education quite a bit. Perhaps we'll see a rise in scientific and educational standards among Catholic institutions soon, which would be exciting. I don't have high hopes though.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SimCity mod demonstrates the possibility of indefinite offline play

This is like trying to tell a kid that they have to go to bed at 9 because there's a witch that eats kids who stay up after 9 - but all you want is an extra hour in your day to not deal with them. It's a bullshit explanation that makes exactly no sense.

If SimCity offloaded "a significant amount of calculations" are performed in their server cloud, their server cloud would inevitably crash under the weight of even a few hundred or thousand players at once. What calculations could Sim City possibly be doing that it can't handle on a local PC? I understand that there's a lot of stuff going on but modern computers are really quite good at lots of calculations. Having to send the requests to the cloud servers, wait for the server to do calculations, and then send back the results would only succeed at making the game lag to an absurd degree. It's nonsense, and if anyone actually tried to design a mass-market game like that, their software design is broken.

If the game they make is so complex that it needs teraFlops of processing power from their servers, then by mighty Thor's beard they should be dedicating their servers to solving the the mysteries of the cosmos, or the cure for cancer, or whatever, not trying to process things for SimCity.

But no, obviously it's just DRM and they're trying to cover their asses.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who else here is legitimately excited about Google Glass?

People have expressed a lot of concern, and I can respect that but it's so cool! So cool guys.

I'm hoping this leads into a new trend of ever-better innovation with this tech. I would think it's insanely awesome for a lot of applications. How about an app that allows glass to highlight certain elements. This seems small and pointless, but imagine if you could make a tool that has Glass highlight all the nouns on a page as you're reading. If it can do that, it can do a lot more, too, I imagine. Maybe a programmer can keep a whole development environment attached to their head that can follow snippets of code or take blocks of it and keep it in front of your face if you move to a new file.

Or how about Google Glass 2, throw on some EEG meters and you can visually track your brain states in a HUD? That would be super rad I think.

I'm not getting it day 1 because even though I have the spirit of the early adopter, I also know that first-run new tech is often buggy, broken, overpriced and too weak compared to the inevitable new model. So, I will wait for this to get the most out of it.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Waiting for Bergoglio

Laugh or cry? I think I'll go with smile. It's exciting to see that much public access to technology to save big moments, and to see that much penetration of technology in under a decade. It is interesting that now that the tech is in everyone's hands all the time and convenient, it's so much more common to record with these devices than it ever was with camcorders, even if the quality was generally better. I guess people care a lot more about convenience than raw quality, though.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What's your far-fetched dream?

If it's an improvement over normal human biology, I can probably learn to live with it.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What if there's no fix for high unemployment?

That's probably true. I know it's been a common theme for a long time and it was just striking to me that I felt like I've seen this conversation crop up many more times in the last month on Hubski and the last year in general than ever before. It could also just be that I'm more aware of it and paying attention to the idea.

I guess what I should really say isn't that I'm hearing more about the idea but more acceptance of the idea. It's easier to see it come up as a mainstream conversation rather than some kind of radical leftist fantasy. Unless we are fostering the radical leftist conversation, I suppose.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What if there's no fix for high unemployment?

It has been a strikingly common topic the last couple of weeks, hasn't it? I wonder if this is only on Hubski or if there's been a wider social grappling with this that wasn't there until very recently. I mean obviously people had been thinking about it but it was a discussion about the hypothetical future, not a looming, plausible reality.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: This Man Thinks He Never Has To Eat Again

Why would any of these body parts go by the wayside? Teeth aren't muscles and don't require exercise, so it's not like they'd atrophy. His stomach, liver and intestines are all involved in the digestive process which is still required for the body to synthesize useful proteins out of the things he's ingesting, whether it's "real" or not. Kidneys are involved with waste removal which, true, wouldn't get as much use as a result of him not taking in as much waste material, but he's clearly still going to have waste material from his body, albeit perhaps not as much. Even if you drink nothing but water the body still filters it out as urine which is a major function of the kidneys. Do you think it'd be detrimental to the body to only ingest his concoction? Why?

He can still eat socially, he says so in the interview. That said, does one need to eat in order to socialize with friends and family? You can still sit around drinking nutrient-slush and enjoying company every bit as well as a roast turkey and potatoes, couldn't you? As for bringing his own... what do vegans do? What do people with allergies do? Peoples' lifestyles are already a lot more varied with regards to diet than they were a few decades ago. Can we really fault him for not just eating what everyone else eats?

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: This Man Thinks He Never Has To Eat Again

This is fascinating. If it's sustainable in the long-term - and across a variety of people (everyone has a different metabolism and therefore different nutritional needs, of course) then this could be the killer thing that can change food forever. Turning eating from a necessity into a recreational or social activity could have a major impact on economics, health, world hunger, entertainment, plumbing, everything.

When you think about it, what are the things that every person works to have at baseline? A house, and enough food. If we could mass-produce enough of this cheap substance it could completely eliminate at least one of those needs from an economic perspective. Cost of living would go down dramatically - groceries, kitchen stuff, food preparation, these all take a lot of time and money out of households.

I'm not fully ready to give up my lifestyle of eating 2 or 3 solid meals a day, but I am prepared to accept evidence as it surfaces from health experts and the medical community. If drinking a cheap, mostly-tasteless nutrient slush a few times every day is enough to sustain an average person, or even provide health benefits then I would happily give it a go. I'd still probably eat "real" food but that's mostly because I like the taste and not for any particular philosophical reason.

MattholomewCup  ·  3117 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Men Who Spy On Women Through Their Webcams - Ars Technica

I figured we were closer to the same page than it looked from your first comment, but I had to call out the wording of it for the sake of clarification.

I agree - the most troubling thing about this is that it seems like anyone could break into your computer (I am not going to refer to this stuff as 'hacking' because I see it as an insult to people who actually have the talent to hack) and worse, no one seems to expect it. People do need to be made as aware of the security threats to their computers as they are of the security threats to their homes. If we got more articles like this on major news networks, people might begin to understand the appropriate level of paranoia, self-defense, and even education about computers. What we have today is that the majority of users are either blindly trusting or blindly fearful of these magic boxes on their desks or their laps.

Long story short: To me, it seems the greatest tool to keep your computer safe is education and awareness. After reading this article, I'm sure many of us will guard our computers much more carefully. Now if we can get it published in the New York Times, maybe the people who don't necessarily read Ars Technica can get the same kinds of benefits. Would-be intruders will always up the ante in the security arms race, but good security companies can at least give users a fighting chance. And even if you aren't going to take more steps to defend yourself, you at least know the risks you're taking and take steps to minimize the damage of an intrusion.

MattholomewCup  ·  3118 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What's your far-fetched dream?

My previous far-fetched dream was being a professional game developer. Then I realized that while it's really hard it's far from as implausible as building yourself an Antarctic radio tower. So that's actually part of my attainable dreams list - my current far-fetched dream involves cybernetics, either getting or creating them. Specifically I'd like cyber-eyes the best, but I'd settle for cyber-limbs instead.

I don't think we could disagree more about movies. I loved LotR and thought every Star Wars prequel was uniformly awful and boring.

It's not even Hayden Christensen's acting. He's perfectly fine, really. A bit wooden but he did all he could with the writing he was given. They spend the whole movie telling us what a great guy Anakin is and how he and Obi-Wan are best pals and how much Padme loves him, and meanwhile he is nothing but a selfish, violent, whiny prick to everyone the whole time with nothing redeeming about the character at all, in an ostensibly character-driven plot about him. And they cap it all off with boring CGI video game cutscenes of battles that mean nothing and utterly break all the characterization in favor of flips. It's amazing that Lucas somehow made lightsabers boring.

MattholomewCup  ·  3118 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Men Who Spy On Women Through Their Webcams - Ars Technica

I don't disagree with you, wiffleaxe, but I think a more apt analogy would be like saying "Well I'm glad peoples' houses are being broken into - they should really start thinking about their homes being part of the public sphere." Most locks are about as effectual as most computer security systems - dedicated intruders will get in, and when they do is it okay that they rifle through your shit as though it were just lying there? They did get in, after all.

How should we treat our computers more like they are in the public sphere? Not keep personal or private documents on them? Put tape over our webcams just to be sure? Should we really be expected to think about doing our taxes or or making our self-shot pornography or writing our novels as all being done "outside" and in public? What would you suggest to remedy the countless intimate, personal, and financial matters most people do all from the same machine?

The problem with this line of thinking, as I see it, is that it negates basically all privacy or property rights, period. It sets a precedent whereby, if someone can get at something, it's the same as though they had free access to it all along. The thugs 'hacking' computers like this are no better than someone 'lockpicking' your door by kicking it in.

MattholomewCup  ·  3119 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Best movie villain ever?

Good? Your mileage will vary incredibly. I thought it was pretty great but I like weird things. What I can assure it is, is visually stunning and aesthetically pleasing in most every regard. That matters a lot to me - film as a work of art.

MattholomewCup  ·  3119 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Best movie villain ever?

How about Grand Moff Tarkin? In A New Hope, Vader is just following orders, and it seems (to everyone, the movie goers and the characters) that Tarkin is the real ring-leader here. Hell, he's the one who makes the call to blow up Alderaan after getting the (supposed) location of the rebel base, just for the hell of it. The man single-handedly wipes a planet from existence for shits and giggles (and to torture Leia more). Honestly, if that doesn't put him in the running, I don't know what does. Also dem cheekbones.

MattholomewCup  ·  3119 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: SimCity - legendary game. Latest version badly crippled by DRM

It's because the people who make the games at EA are not the high-ups in the company. The businessmen are, and even with the greatest creative minds in the industry, the corporate culture comes from the top down, not bottom up. It ties the hands of a lot of the no-doubt excellent designers and creative types in the business. We're seeing the backlash of that culture's impact on what's being released - either stagnant creativity or poorly-planned DRM that only hurts legitimate consumers while protecting the software from exactly 0 pirates. There are so many better methods it boggles the mind why this bullshit is still let through.

One model I admire quite a bit for its forthright honesty is including some means of recognizing whether the software is pirated or legit, and if it is pirated just a simple screen saying "hey, if you're enjoying the game, consider supporting the creators by paying for a full copy or donating so that we can make more games!" It sounds absurd but very often, just letting people download your game (at least if you're indie) has improved sales, at least in the short term. I think big publishers are underestimating the potential of treating their players like people, and not like criminal scum.

Of course, 60 dollar, million-dollar-budget epics with huge teams might not be able to just give it out like candy, but the point isn't to give it away - the point is to have regard for your players and know that you're creating art to be consumed. Strategies that rely on mutual respect, I think, produce better feelings, better regard and rapport between the creator and the consumer, and isn't as futile as trying to stop the rise and fall of the tides.

1990: Back To The Future III (I have not seen a lot of the apparently great movies from 1990) 1991: Terminator 2 (oh my GOD yes) 1992: Toss-up between Reservoir Dogs and My Cousin Vinny (what? Don't look at me like that.) 1993: Groundhog Day 1994: Leon The Professional... is what I would say if Street Fighter hadn't come out that year. 1995: Toy Story 1996: Space Jam even though it's not a very good film. 1997: Princess Mononoke 1998: Following 1999: Star Wars Episode 1 has brought me a lot of amusement but it's mostly been mocking the film, so I'll say The Matrix instead. 2000: Memento 2001: Pretty decent year but I'm going with the majority on this and saying LotR: Fellowship 2002: Star Wars episode II was too bad to even mock for fun. LotR: Two Towers 2003: It'd be Kill Bill if it weren't LotR: Return of the King 2004: The Incredibles 2005: Serenity 2006: Pan's Labyrinth 2007: Sunshine 2008: Am I going to be the one who says The Dark Knight? Is that too obvious? It was good. 2009: Up 2010: BWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG (Inception) 2011: The Cabin In The Woods 2012: The Avengers

Some years were hard because I liked a lot of them. Some were hard because I didn't see many from it. I chose a lot based on how much pleasure they brought me, either from the film itself or from joking about it with friends or online, not how good the films were.