October 1, 2010

QotD: Principles versus positions

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 17:56

As I was explaining to an attractive young woman the other day, most of my views — my basic political commitments — have not changed in twenty years: I support freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, equal rights for women, etc. and so forth.

Twenty years ago my views were called left wing and these days my views are called fascist.

Nicholas Packwood, “True Colours”, Ghost of a Flea, 2010-10-01

Freakonomics trailer

Filed under: Economics, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 16:23

Since reading the book(s), I often find myself in discussions using the term “incentives” (especially in the sense of perverse incentives: those which produce the opposite of the desired effect). I think there’s much value in this approach to problem solving, and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.

Update: I guess I’ve gotten out of the habit of seeing movies at all. Freakonomics is in the theatres now, but I seem to have uninstalled the movie theatre information app on my iPhone . . . it figures: it doesn’t appear to be playing anywhere near here.

“No pressure” . . . BOOM!

Filed under: Britain, Environment, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:08

I have to imagine that this little propaganda number was put together by the anti side rather than the pro side:

You don’t agree with this program? No pressure . . . we’ll blow up your kids. James Delingpole thinks it’s great (but not for the cause it supposedly represents):

But with this new monstrosity, truly the great Richard Curtis has excelled himself. It’s so bad, it makes his previous shimmering masterpieces of emetica – Love Actually, The Girl In The Cafe, The Boat That Rocked – look like Battleship Potemkin. It makes the Vicar of Dibley look like a collaboration between Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare. It’s so deliciously, unspeakably, magnificently bleeding awful it makes you wish that the man could be given a ticker tape parade in every major capital city, in gratitude for the devastating damage he has (unwittingly) wrought on the eco-fascist cause.

Update: Apparently, James isn’t the only one who thinks this is sending exactly the wrong message — the campaign is trying to recall the clip:

That, at any rate, is what they keep trying to do — cancelling it whenever it appears on You Tube, pulling it from their campaign website and so on.

Unfortunately their efforts are being frustrated by people on the sceptical side of the climate debate, who keep peskily insisting on reposting the video where everyone can view it. And rightly so. With No Pressure, the environmental movement has revealed the snarling, wicked, homicidal misanthropy beneath its cloak of gentle, bunny-hugging righteousness.

I don’t think any of us will ever be able to look at another Richard Curtis movie in quite the same way ever again. It may even be that we will now never, ever be able to enjoy another episode of the Vicar of Dibley, because all we’ll be able to think about is Dawn French with a Panzerfaust beneath her cassock ready to blast off the heads of any members of her congregation who don’t believe in Man Made Global Warming. What a sad day this is for us all.

Update, the second: Iowahawk thinks this may well be a great subject for a Harvard Business School case study. Using the principles of “new journalism”, he carefully recreates the situation, constructing dialogue to fit the theme:

London, sometime earlier this year: The 10:10 Project, a nonprofit NGO focused on reducing carbon, convenes a high level meeting in their posh modern conference room. After reviewing PowerPoint on the results of their latest government grant proposals and white-liberal-guilt fund raising campaigns, the 10:10 marketing team reports that previous communication efforts have not been proceeding as expected.

“Perhaps what we need is a fresh new campaign,” offers one of the conferees. “Something different, provocative… something edgy. Something that will really get our message across.” This is greeted with great excitement. The finance director pours through spreadsheets and identifies a budget source. An executive screening committee is appointed who develop timelines and begin scheduling meetings with London’s top agencies and independent film production firms.

Several weeks later, after sitting through a half dozen agency presentations that have yet to meet their standards, 10:10’s highly paid executive brain trust arrives at a meeting at the sleek offices of London’s hottest agency Splodey, Youngblood, Gutz & Bones. After introductions, small talk, and pastries, SYG&B’s creative director — winner of 5 British Clio awards — strolls confidently to the television monitor at the front of the room and walks the 10:10 clients through a scene-by-scene video storyboard pitching a new promotional mini-movie that will solve their communication dilemma. The smoothness of the presentation masks the hundreds of late night man-hours and debating the SYG&B creative department spent in crafting it — but it was worth it.

“Brilliant!” exclaims the 10:10 executive committee chair, to the enthusiastic nods of his colleagues. “Add one more exploding child, and I think we have a winner.”

Read the whole thing, as they say.

How to encourage co-operative play in MMORPGs

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:20

I’ve only played Guild Wars, so it was a huge surprise to me to hear that other MMORPGs had a lot of problems with getting players to co-operate. From this article, it’s clear that Guild Wars 2 will have the same useful mechanism to encourage co-operative play:

In Guild Wars 2 we’re fully committed to the concept of rewarding players individually. This is more or less a quick way of saying that we don’t want to design a system where players argue over loot settings, turn to external “out of game” systems to decide who gets what upon downing a boss, or risk spending hours in a dungeon with nothing to show for it due to bad rolls or a ninja looter that hijacked all their treasure.

In the case of distributing general monster loot or opening dungeon end-chests, this principle means that each player gets their own roll, so it’s alright if you are soloing and someone begins fighting alongside you. This won’t cause the loot you would receive to degrade in any way, as long as you actively participate in that combat. Likewise, when you get to the end of that big dungeon with your group, you each get to individually open the chest and receive your own personal reward.

In the case of gathering materials from things like ore nodes, plants, and the like, this means that when you gather from that resource you use it up for yourself, but not for others. In Guild Wars 2 there is no need to race to beat other people to the same resource node. Take your time ripping that bear’s head off, because no one can walk up and steal that copper node in the back of its cave from you. You may be helping others in your world reach that copper safely, but rest assured that you’re not just clearing a path for a node ganker.

I could go on and on with the examples of how we employ this philosophy, but really what I’m getting at is that our overall goal is for players in your world to be seen as a boon to you to help you overcome bigger challenges and larger foes, and therefore earn greater spoils for your time spent in the game. We’d much rather that everyone in the same world felt a common bond in their shared land and saw each other as potential allies. If players find themselves with leftover aggression that they would normally take out on node gankers or ninja looters, we’d recommend they step into World vs. World and kick themselves some otherworldly player butt.

You think you’re struggling with the burden of old debts?

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Germany, History, WW1 — Tags: — Nicholas @ 09:07

Consider the case of Imperial Germany:

First World War officially ends
The First World War will officially end on Sunday, 92 years after the guns fell silent, when Germany pays off the last chunk of reparations imposed on it by the Allies.

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.

Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.

H/T to Jon, my former virtual landlord, for the link.

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