Sunday, February 26, 2012

Aesthetic fail

What I see:

What I think:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fighting Words

National correspondent for The Atlantic, James Fallows, delivers some sick burns to The Economist:

"There are certain English products whose quaintness is put on mainly for export purposes -- they're the equivalent of Ye Olde Tea Shoppe-style tourist traps, which the locals avoid. Something similar is going on with The Economist. The Economist now has considerably fewer readers -- and is strangely less influential -- in England than in America."

"Another key to the magazine's boom in America during the 1980s must lie in its sycophancy toward Ronald Reagan in particular and American culture in general. We are all so used to being sneered at by the French or Swedes. To hear someone who poses as a British aristocrat celebrating American vigor -- it's just irresistible! If it came from the Wall Street Journal or USA Today, we'd consider it plain boosterism, but it works from The Economist, since we imagine we're overhearing the foreigners' real views. I think the flattery is actually the most refined and vicious version of the old British condescension toward the colonies. These Yanks! They'll believe anything! Let's give them another dose of how the world looks up to them!"

Friday, February 24, 2012

Army of Two

I've mentioned to people before about my idea for a crossover game with Commander Shepard and Master Chief saving the world together. They will be an unstoppable force of friendship, sweeping aside all adversity.

Then I had a better idea.

It'll be a crossover game where you play as Wrex and Arbiter.

For instance, at the end of an early level, Wrex and Arbi will be fighting against impossible odds, consigned to a competition of who will die the most heroic death. Then in an FMV cutscene Chief and Shepard will burst in, assault rifles blazing, riding on the legs of a Reaper painted in N7 colours. After mopping up the enemy forces, they will give you a curt, "good work soldier" before riding off again to do what they have to do. All of this will be entirely unforeshadowed and completely unexplained.

In the next level you will sometimes see the trail of destruction that the other heroes have wrought in the background environment. Sometimes looking at a key item will trigger a FMV flashback sequence of them doing something amazing, something that you were not a part of. By the end of the level you will find the entire husk of the reaper previously seen, wrecked in a fierce battle. As you climb to the top of the wreckage, you will see a large explosion in the distance and a Pelican fly out of the fireball. As an Easter egg, if you zoom in with the sniper scope, you can see the Chief and Shepard give each other fist bumps on the open back ramp.

The cutscene proceeding the penultimate level will have you unexpectedly finding Master Chief and Shepard floating in space unconsciously. When they come around, they will tell you about their fantastic adventures and how the world's forces are making a big mistake. Then they will tell you to turn back to rally the fleet and while they borrow a shuttle and continue on ahead.

The last level will have you leading the largest allied armada ever assembled in the history of the universe into battle, yet against an enemy far superior. But as you approach the battlespace, a tremendous explosion at the heart of the enemy force occurs and the entire operation turns into a mop-up action. Your mission becomes a search-and-rescue mission as you attempt to retrieve Shepard-Chief in the melee. You fight through the wreckage of an enemy vessel to their last known positions, behind a closed door. You open the door and you find...nothingness...a wound into space. They are gone: missing, presumed dead.

This will leave an opening for a sequel.

The promotional art for this game will feature Wrex and Arbi staring in awe in the foreground as Master Chief drives a flatbed Warthog off a cliff in the distance and Shepard is standing in the back holding two swords.

Imagine: you've crucially managed to open the gates to the reactor core just in time so the other heroes can go in (by jumping a Warthog across a chasm) and clean house.

The overall feeling you should experience at the end of the game is that you've had a strong secondary role in saving the universe.


Did you know that:

Wizards of the Coast has a patent on turning cards sideways,

To denote a game state?


Monday, February 13, 2012


Let's say a gentleman will give you two cars for your garage. Any two cars you want. The presumption here being that you're not actually rich so you can't just buy your way out of the weaknesses in your choices.

Initially I was thinking a Tesla S and a Chevy Avalanche. The reason being that I thought it'd be good to have an electric for day to day but that means I need something gas for long trips and of course I need some space for carrying things and that left me with trying to find a pickup truck with a large cabin.


Problem is that, neither car is particularly speedy or luxurious and some redneck is going to steal the Avalanche in a week. So this isn't going to work. I'm going to need to re-frame this problem.

I've got it.

First choice will be a black Porsche Panamera S PHEV. The Panamera is actually the second most popular car in Porsche's lineup, even outselling the 911. Meanwhile, Aston Martin had to cut production of the Rapide because they can't sell them and BMW had to cut production of the M5 GT because they can't sell them. So clearly Porsche is onto something here. The Panamera PHEV of course has four doors, is very roomy, comfortable and dead silent day to day. Eco is hip these days, eco is smart and you'll fill its tank for mere dollars. But when you need it, it has a double clutch that can link either or both the ICE and the electric motor directly to the powertrain. Well, that ends the roadtrip problem. What's even better is that the ICE and the electric motor have torque curves that perfectly complement each other for seamless application of power. Oh and did I mention the ICE is a 4.8L 500bhp twin turbo V8? Oh yeah, that's good for karma.

Now there are a couple of shortcomings with the Panamera: it is a two-ton monstrosity, which hurts its performance and makes it hard to parallel park. But despite its size, the battery pack infringes in its trunk space reducing it by more than 100L. But that's okay. This is where the M3 Ute comes in.

The M3 will be good at going fast and carrying cargo. It's still 50kg lighter than the M3 convertible and has a targa top for hot summer cruising. Granted, it is not an Avalanche, but it still has a respectable 400 N·m of torque and trailer-hitch comes standard. It won't climb boulders, but it's perfectly suited to moving a grandfather clock, bringing home a deer carcass from your hunting expedition or towing a trailer for your OTTB. Plus you get the looks because it will literally be the only one of its kind in the world.

Update: Link and I would like to note that his picture is clearly not of a Panamera PHEV because it's not out yet; that's not even a regular Hybrid S. Totally different appearance, not even close.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Let me esplain you about torque

Say you have a car, when you make a turn the outer radius is going to be a longer distance than the inner radius. That means that the outer wheels are going to need to make more rotations than the inner wheels to make a turn. If you have a solid axle connecting them, then by necessity either the inner wheels are going to slip or the outer wheels are going to skid in a turn.

This is why we have differentials.

Differentials do many things,for instance they act as a reduction gear because your wheels don't spin as fast as your engine shaft (even coming out of the transmission), but the most important thing is that they allow your inner and outer wheels to spin at different speeds. I won't go into the details of how they work, but the key thing to know is the the engine is applying power by revolving the green gear (the purple is not directly connected with either the red or yellow shafts) and if there is unequal resistance coming from the shafts (e.g. in a turn), the green gear will also spin so the power goes the path of least resistance. There are more complex coupling mechanisms (like Torsen differentials which are super cool and I have no idea how they work really), but 99% of vehicles will be using these cheap, reliable and proven mechanisms here.

Let's talk about 4x4 vs AWD then. Apparently there actually isn't a straight forward convention with this terminology as it varies from manufacturer vs manufacturer, but this is how I use it consistently. 4x4 means that your entire powertrain is locked together. You see, because differentials transfer power to the point of least resistance. When turning, this is would be the outer wheels because they can spin more without slipping, but what if one wheel is on ice? Or if it's in the air? All the power is going to be wasted spinning that useless wheel while the differential ensures that no rotational energy is being imparted to the grounded wheel at all. So you lock the differentials and ensure that everything spins at the same time and all of that torque is going into resisting the ground. This does mean that your wheels will slip in a turn, but if you're climbing sand dunes in a Ford Raptor, the surfaces are slippery anyways so this is not a big factor.

You want AWD in a sports car because the main limiting factor in your acceleration isn't how much torque your engine is putting out, it's the amount of grip you have in your tires. So, power to 4 wheels equals 4 times the grip equals better acceleration. Now your R8 is expected to be driven on groomed tarmac, where all the wheels are always mated to a consistent surface, and you don't want to lose traction because your wheels are slipping because everything is locked down in a turn. That's why everything is on differentials and that's AWD.

Now say your Evo lifts off the ground. I believe that it uses a viscous couple mechanism, which submerges the mechanical connections between shafts in a shear-thickening fluid. So, corn starch and water right, if you move slowly through it, it flows around you but if you try to hit it, it acts as a solid. Same idea: if your shaft frequencies are too far apart the fluid solidifies, locking the shafts together. Maybe they use something else fancier these days, but the point is that if your Evo hits a bump, it doesn't shift torque by disconnecting the lifted wheels, it actually locks down everything so that you're not bleeding power through the diffs to a bunch of tires in the air: your AWD Lancer temporarily becomes a 4x4.

So when Richard Hammond breaks a diff in his Toyota, that's easy to understand. He just opens the diff box, severs the powertrain connections, presumably his front and rear are locked so he's not losing any power to a free-spinning shaft and his 4x4 becomes a 2x2. Simple. But when James May loses power to a single wheel, that is mysterious, because you look at that picture of a differential and tell me what parts need to have broken in what fashion in order to enable such a consequence. Any combination I can think of just seems absurd.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Optical Illusions

Here we see Kayne West rocking a bomber with what looks to be some kind of flame adornments but if you look closely they are actually rottweilers.

I like how

...nearly everyone on my Facebook who was so angry about SOPA a few weeks ago isn't making a peep about Bill C-11 now.

If anyone felt strongly enough to support Anonymous breaking things, they ought to feel strongly enough to send a letter to their government representative, you know, their actual government as opposed to the one in another country.

Caring about freedom my ass, more like jumping onto Reddit bandwagon of the moment.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


On November 5, 1995, Chrétien and his wife escaped injury when André Dallaire, armed with a knife, broke in the Prime Minister's official residence at 24 Sussex Drive. Aline Chrétien shut and locked the bedroom door until security came. It is said Jean was ready to defend himself with a sharp-edged Inuit carving.

You know, if Robin ever related this story on HIMYM, everyone would just assume it was a made-up joke.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Nicholas Cage

Okay, I've given this some thought.

If I were in a zombie apocalypse and I can pick 3 characters, real or fictional, to bring as sidekicks these would be my choices:

Autobot Hoist (Toyota Hilux tow-truck ver.) - Hoist is a good choice because in vehicle mode he offers moderate off-roading capability, is indestructible, can tow away epic loot and consumes no gasoline. He is also an expert on mechanical repair and can transform into a robot. Robots have a favourable matchup vs zombies because they have no brains and are made of metal.

Hayate Yagami (Force ver.) - Having a magical girl around is like the ultimate swiss army knife isn't it? Plus, having a healer is probably important in a post-apocalyptic landscape. I had also considered Hermione Granger, but felt that her load of useless art courses and clear inferiority in offensive magics would lessen her utility by comparison. <_<

Kirby (ice+spark) - I just really like the idea of having a refrigerator full of food around at all times.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

On Lambourghinis

I used to think that Lamborghinis were totally stupid and designed by brutes with no taste.

I still think the former.

But on further consideration, I think that the latter only seems that way because their redesign cycles are so long. Like the Murc, their previous flagship, came into production in 2001 and was just disposed of last year. So no wonder it looked rough by modern standards! But what was around in the same time? The Enzo? I think it would compare very well with its contemporaries.

So then, if I had to spend all my money on a totally stupid car back in 2001, it would've probably been a Lamborghini.

(It is implicit here that an M5 isn't totally stupid)

Enter now, the Aventador.

Here are some things I like about this car:

-Safety hatch for starter button
-"Thrust mode possible"
-Air brakes
-Air brakes
-Shutter shades
-Arrow tail lights

It just has overall better proportions and they've done away with tasteless bright brake calipers (which I maintain will only ever work on a white Panamera). Plus, the Aventador is about the closest thing you can get to a stealth jet on wheels, it's actually quite elegant in a very brash way.

(I still maintain that Paganis are totally stupid and designed by brutes with no taste)