30 Dec 2009
Miscellaneous Links 2009-12-30

Some random things I’ve run across the last few days:

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

A quote from the commentary on the third law:

Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation – or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.

 

If you like the Stupidity grid, you may also be interested in Jerry Pournelle’s “The Pournelle Political Axes“; then try out “The Political Compass“, a test whose result may well annoy you: see their FAQ.

McMatch

You could of course program this, but it wouldn’t be nearly so dramatic.

You are going to build a matchbox robot [loh: yes, real matchboxes or any small containers] and teach it to play Hexapawn so that it always wins. To start with your robot will make random moves and will lose many times. But each time it loses you will discipline it and teach it strategies so it will ultimately win every time.

 

Atomic Rocket

If you’re into science fiction, you’ll find this site a great time sink.

This site was mainly intended for science fiction authors who wanted a little scientific accuracy. But anybody who is interested can play with the toys contained within, designing their own Planet Rangers Rocketships. It is assumed that the reader has enough knowledge to know the difference between a star and a planet, high school mathematics, and enough skill to use a pocket calculator. Computer spreadsheet and computer programming skills are a plus, spreadsheets in particular will make your life much easier.

 

Lots of interesting links, fascinating facts, and nostalgic book and magazine covers, movie and TV stills, and quotes.

The Language Construction Kit

If you want to go so far as to give your aliens (or future Earthlings) a language, check out Mark Rosenfelder’s site:

This set of webpages (what’s a set of webpages? a webchapter?) is intended for anyone who wants to create artificial languages— for a fantasy or an alien world, as a hobby, as an interlanguage. It presents linguistically sound methods for creating naturalistic languages— which can be reversed to create non-naturalistic languages. It suggests further reading for those who want to know more, and shortcuts for those who want to know less.

 

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