Divestment

I am, to the best of my abilities, divesting myself of fossil-fuels, monetarily. I don’t have any money invested anywhere (or much full stop), but that doesn’t mean that what little money I do have can be used by others for ill.

So far I have cancelled my bank accounts at Halifax, Natwest and Lloyds (which is particularly bad), and moved completely over to The Co-Operative, which is the only high-street bank which has an explicit policy of not investing money in “any business or organisation whose core activity contributes to global climate change”.

The next step is to check what USS invests its money in, and remove any of mine which is supporting malign corporate interests.

I am more-or-less following The Guardian’s ongoing series on personal divestment.

Autonets

In cyberpunk worldbuilding irl news, here's something which Jasmine alerted me to.

Dark cloaks with small blue lights and electronics woven in.

Local Autonomy Networks (Autonets) is an artivist project focused on creating networks of communication to increase community autonomy and reduce violence against women, LGBTQI people, people of color and other groups who continue to survive violence on a daily basis.

...mesh networked electronic clothing with the goal of building autonomous local networks that don’t rely on corporate infrastructure to function, inspired by community based, anti-racist, prison abolitionist responses to gendered violence.

The street finds its own use for things.

Magic the gathering is Turing-complete

I just mentioned Conway's Game of Life as an example of a Turing-complete system.

Though it's called the "Game" of Life, and some people describe it as a zero-player game, it's not really a game in the traditional sense of the word.

For an unexpected example of an unambiguous game which is also Turing-complete, check out Magic: The Gathering. It has been shown that a Universal Turing machine can be constructed inside Magic, and hence that it is Turing-complete.

I played a lot of Magic in high school, though it's too expensive of a habit to keep up for long. If, like me, you remember Magic fondly, but don't play it so much any more, might I recommend Mark Rosewater's Drive to Work podcast?

Life in Life

Conway's Game of Life is a well-known cellular automaton in which, every tick, the state of each of the cells on a giant grid is determined only by the states of its immediate neighbours in the previous tick. Despite its extremely simple definition, it is famously Turing-complete, which is roughly to say that it can compute any computable function.

And so, of course, someone has written a Life emulator, in Life.

Perhaps it's Life all the way down...

VideoBrains

Near London? Like thinking and talking about video games? You should check out VideoBrains. It's a monthly meet of games journalists, developers, academics and other enthusiasts which takes place in an esports bar near-ish Kings Cross.

Each event features panels and talks by smart people, who so far have had only interesting and thoughtful things to say. If it sounds like your thing, you should really check it out.

Also, previous talks are posted on their Youtube channel, so you can get a flavour of what it's like. But if you do watch them, consider throwing the organiser a dollar or so; he puts a hell of a lot of effort into making it as good as it is.

Glitch Pigeon

Screenshot: Glitch pigeon in a painted autumn sky.It's been a pretty horrifying couple of weeks on Twitter, hasn't it? At least it has on my timeline. Two unrelated, awful events in particular came right on top of each other, each whipping up a social media storm. First the violent incursion of militarised police into peaceful democratic protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Second the eruption of sickening misogyny and violent threats directed at female game makers and games journalists, in particular Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.

In both cases, my Twitter stream did what it always does. First came the reports from those directly affected, amplified and retweeted by other journalists. Fear, indignation, outrage, disbelief, heartbreak. Then came the wave of initial commentary. What does this mean, why now, how did things get like this. Then came the meta-commentary. Actually things have always been like this, privilege blinkers those not directly affected, look how existing power structures even suppress discussion, which sources can we really trust.

Endless echoes in endless voices of an event, now refracted in endless dizzying facets and meta-facets and ironic subtweets.

It was in the midst of thinking this, and my own feelings of helpless-but-mustn’t-look-away, that I encountered Glitch Pigeon, a little prototype crafted by Hannah Nicklin and George Buckenham at the Oxford Playhouse. Continue reading