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Comment Portal (Score 1) 172

Alta Vista decided to go the portal route, with a bunch of crap on the search page. Google came out with a simple look, with only the keyword field.


Comment Feather origin still unclear (Score 5, Informative) 47

(I was a grad student of John Ostrom's once upon a time.)

This may be "the first evidence of feather morphologies and distribution in a short-armed (and probably non-volant) dromaeosaurid" but this dinosaur says nothing about the origins of flight feathers. It lived 25 million years AFTER Archaeopteryx, so there were certainly flight feathers around for a very long time before it. This is really no more surprising than the fact that ostriches and emus still have feathers.

The real question, which remains unanswered, is the exact relationship between dromaeosurids and birds and whether flight originated from the ground up (use of drag to control running) or the top down (use of drag to create lift).

Comment Screenwriting (Score 1) 104

Despite different origins, there's a screenwriting theory that forces this process. The mini-movie method asks writer to create eight "stories" that as a whole are supposed to result in a satisfying movie. In brief:

  • Mini-movie 1: Our hero’s status quo, his ordinary life, ends with an inciting incident or call to adventure.
  • Mini-movie 2: Our hero’s denial of the call, and his gradually being locked into the conflict brought on by this call.
  • Mini-movie 3: Our hero’s first attempts to solve his problem, the first things that anyone with this problem would try, appealing to outside authority to help him. Ends when all these avenues are shut to our hero.
  • Mini-movie 4: Our hero spawns a more grandiose, more extreme plan. He prepares for it, gathers what materials and allies he may need then puts the plan into action -- only to have it go horribly wrong, usually due to certain vital information the hero lacked about the forces of antagonism allied against him.
  • Mini-movie 5: Having created his plan to solve his problem without changing, our hero is confronted by his need to change, eyes opened to his own weaknesses, driven by the antagonist to change or die. He retreats to lick his wounds.
  • Mini-movie 6: Our hero spawns a new plan, but now he’s ready to change. He puts this plan into action...and is very nearly destroyed by it. And then...a revelation.
  • Mini-movie 7: The revelation allows our hero to see victory, and he rejoins the battle with a new fervor, finally turning the tables on his antagonist and arrives at apparent victory. And then the tables turn one more time!
  • Mini-movie 8: The hero puts down the antagonist’s last attempt to defeat him, wraps up his story and any sub-plots, and moves into the new world he and his story have created.

I suppose it results in formulaic movies

Comment For how many people? (Score 2) 382

The "best" games depends on how many people you have to play, not to mention their tastes and time commitment.

Nothing beats Diplomacy, but you need seven people, a whole day, and people who can be bastards when required.

Other games I keep going back to are Civilization (the original board game that has nothing to do with Sid Meier), Kingmaker, Pictionary, Scattergories, and the Combat Mission series of digital war games.

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