Quick cache and dash while in the vicinity. Overshot the obvious parking place and so parked up the road at the premises of “Q Associates”. Figured they wouldn’t mind given than it’s Sunday. Plus their company has the same name as my surname, so I could probably claim it’s mine if anybody challenged me. Cool solution!
Easy find once I’d looked at the hint. Container very exposed; re-hid. Excellent log book, highly thematic! Thanks for showing me this spot.
I’m increasingly convinced that Friedemann Friese‘s 2009 board game Power Grid: Factory Manager (BoardGameGeek) presents gamers with a highly-digestible model of the energy economy in a capitalist society. In Factory Manager, players aim to financially-optimise a factory over time, growing production and delivery capacity through upgrades in workflow, space, energy, and staff efficiency. An essential driving factor in the game is that energy costs will rise sharply throughout. Although it’s not always clear in advance when or by how much, this increase in the cost of energy is always at the forefront of the savvy player’s mind as it’s one of the biggest factors that will ultimately impact their profit.
Given that players aim to optimise for turnover towards the end of the game (and as a secondary goal, for the tie-breaker: at a specific point five rounds after the game begins) and not for business sustainability, the game perhaps-accidentally reasonably-well represents the idea of “flipping” a business for a profit. Like many business-themed games, it favours capitalism… which makes sense – money is an obvious and quantifiable way to keep score in a board game! – but it still bears repeating.
There’s one further mechanic in Factory Manager that needs to be understood: a player’s ability to control the order in which they take their turn and their capacity to participate in the equipment auctions that take place at the start of each round is determined by their manpower-efficiency in the previous round. That is: a player who operates a highly-automated factory running on a skeleton staff benefits from being in the strongest position for determining turn order and auctions in their next turn.
The combination of these rules leads to an interesting twist: in the final turn – when energy costs are at their highest and there’s no benefit to holding-back staff to monopolise the auction phase in the nonexistent subsequent turn – it often makes most sense strategically to play what I call the “sweatshop strategy”. The player switches off the automated production lines to save on the electricity bill, drags in all the seasonal workers they can muster, dusts off the old manpower-inefficient machines mouldering in the basement, and gets their army of workers cranking out widgets!
With indefinitely-increasing energy prices and functionally-flat staff costs, the rules of the game would always eventually reach the point at which it is most cost-effective
to switch to
slave cheap labour rather than robots. but Factory Manager‘s fixed-duration means that this point often comes for all players in many games at the same
predictable point: a tipping point at which the free market backslides from automation to human labour to keep itself alive.
There are parallels in the real world. Earlier this month, Tim Watkins wrote:
The demise of the automated car wash may seem trivial next to these former triumphs of homo technologicus but it sits on the same continuum. It is just one of a gathering list of technologies that we used to be able to use, but can no longer express (through market or state spending) a purpose for. More worrying, however, is the direction in which we are willingly going in our collective decision to move from complexity to simplicity. The demise of the automated car wash has not followed a return to the practice of people washing their own cars (or paying the neighbours’ kid to do it). Instead we have more or less happily accepted serfdom (the use of debt and blackmail to force people to work) and slavery (the use of physical harm) as a reasonable means of keeping the cost of cleaning cars to a minimum (similar practices are also keeping the cost of food down in the UK). This, too, is precisely what is expected when the surplus energy available to us declines.
I love Factory Manager, but after reading Watkins’ article, it’ll probably feel a little different to play it, now. It’s like that moment when, while reading the rules, I first poured out the pieces of Puerto Rico. Looking through them, I thought for a moment about what the “colonist” pieces – little brown wooden circles brought to players’ plantations on ships in a volume commensurate with the commercial demand for manpower – represented. And that realisation adds an extra message to the game.
Beneath its (fabulous) gameplay, Factory Manager carries a deeper meaning encouraging the possibility of a discussion about capitalism, environmentalism, energy, and sustainability. And as our society falters in its ability to fulfil the techno-utopian dream, that’s perhaps a discussion we need to be having.
But for now, go watch Sorry to Bother You, where you’ll find further parallels… and at least you’ll get to laugh as you do so.
My 12th favourite and my 27th favourite YouTubers just did a collaboration and it’s brilliant. Also: I totally knew seven out of the twelve terms Dr Doe brought to the table and would have been able to guess at least one more (as well as, of course, knowing what TomSka meant by his British slang), so this video made me feel clever.
It all started out as a joke.
Last year, Robin Varley and his friend Sergio thought it would be an amusing challenge to pedal the 50-odd mile gap between Brixton and Brighton using only London’s colloquially-named Boris Bikes. The trip lasted just over 10 hours, including a brief photo op with Gatwick police, and set the pair back a modest sum of 40 GBP.
This year Robin enlisted the help of fellow adventure-seeker Magnus Mulvany, and while the duo kept the alliterative theme of the campaign they opted for a significantly more daunting circuit.
You heard about it here first, probably, but here’s Lime Bikes’ write-up of Robin and Magnus’s adventure.
Cyberattacks don’t magically happen; they involve a series of steps. And far from being helpless, defenders can disrupt the attack at any of those steps. This framing has led to something called the “cybersecurity kill chain”: a way of thinking about cyber defense in terms of disrupting the attacker’s process. On a similar note, it’s…
Bruce proposes a model to apply the cybersecurity kill chain to the problem of thwarting information operations of the types that we’re seeing day-to-day in the cyberwar landscape. Or at least, to understand it. Interesting reading, but – and call me cynical – I don’t know if it’s possible to implement some of the kill-stops that would be required to produce a meaningful barrier.
Applied mathematics at its… best? After predicting statistically that it would take 400-500 packets of Skittles before you’d expect to find the same permutation of colours, an experiment finds empirical backing for this answer at pack number 464.
Somebody get the Ig Nobel Prize folks on the line.
Turns out the glue I’d used had interacted badly with the material: wasn’t melting because of the heat (although that won’t have helped) but because of a chemical reaction on the plastic! Repaired and replaced, all good to go now!
Wow, this cache container really HAS been damaged by the hot weather. Removed for repair, back this weekend hopefully!
This week on Twitter, Maxime Euzière asked why people choose large frameworks over vanilla JS. There are quite a few reasons. Some of them are really valid. Many of them aren’t. Here are the ones I see most often (with commentary). Vanilla JS is harder. No, it’s often not. Modern vanilla JS has taken many…
I no longer add jQuery to a project as a matter of course (and in fact I think it’s been over a year since I deliberately added it to a new project), and that’s great.
Regular readers will know already that I’ve been a huge fan of comic author Tailsteak, ever since Ruth, many years ago, introduced me to his work. I’m particularly enjoying Forward, his latest webcomic: so much so that in an effort to work around its lack of an RSS feed I accidentally stole unpublished work from him earlier this year (oops!).
Anyway: a short while later I found a 20-page comic he’d made called The Escape Room: read it on Twitter or via Threadreader. It might be exactly the comic you’ve always been looking for, assuming that the comic you’ve always been looking for combines B/D, gay sex, and escape room puzzle mechanics. NSFW, obviously.
Suddenly I feel like the escape rooms I go to aren’t quite as good as I thought.
Added more-waterproof cache container. Improved clue. Note that old cache container may still be in place: wasn’t able to find it and was being watched by muggles; I’ll return to re-hunt for and remove the old container soon.
Added new cache container. Improved clue.
At last week’s Rocky Mountain Poly Living conference in Denver, Leanna Wolfe — a poly anthropologist and sexologist active in the movement almost since its birth in the 1980s — spoke on what she called the three historical stages of polyamory in Western culture.
Her Stage 1 was mostly male-centric (my paraphrase). She described it as running through the Oneida Colony and other utopian communities of the 19th century through the free-love beliefs and attitudes that exploded in the 1960s.
Stage 2 has been what we call the modern poly movement: strongly feminist in its origins and growth, born in the mid-1980s and running until more or less now. Its founders, organizers, media spokespeople, bloggers, podcasters, book authors and opinion leaders have been mostly women (the ratio by my count is about 3 to 1). Its ideology has been gender-egalitarian, communication-centric, and consent-based since before consent culture was a thing. Like Stage 1, Stage 2 has been something of a counterculture that sees itself apart from mainstream society.
The current Stage 3 is the mainstreaming of consensual non-monogamy (CNM) in its many forms, including polyamory, into the general culture. This shift is well under way and bodes to take over the conversation in coming years — for better and for worse, as I’ve been speechifying about since 2008.
Does this make those of us who’ve been doing polyamory for ages “poly hipsters”?
The Bodleian Digital Comms team is no stranger to developing out of the ordinary content. Want to represent all of the varied and gruesome deaths in Shakespeare in a fun and engaging way? We’re on it!
We manage almost all of the Libraries’ public facing digital ‘stuff’, from our main websites to social media and digital signage. When we tot it all up, it’s over fifty websites, a similar number of blogs, the full range of social media platforms, more than twenty digital screens, a handful of interactive experiences a year, plus…well, not actually a partridge in a pear tree, but there are unicorns in arks.
Whatever the platform, our team’s focus is on finding ways to engage the Libraries’ audiences — whether students, researchers, tourists or those around the globe who can’t actually visit in person — with our work and our collections.