The gentleman in this video claims to hit 30 mph while sledding down Birmingham's Crestwood Boulevard. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but knowing the intersection he's sledding past (I used to live right near there), it would certainly be a hell of a ride down a long stretch of steady grade. Other context that makes this video more fun: Crestwood is (as the "boulevard" implies) a multi-lane, divided small highway that's usually filled with cars going 55 mph in a 40 mph zone. The fact that this man is not hit by a car is a testament to how much the city has been shut down by the recent snow and ice.
Oh, and, finally, all those people going "wooo!" as he passes are standing outside of the neighborhood bar. Natch.
[I really want Save the Adventure to be a success! For just $25, you'll get a year-long (12-book) subscription -- Mark]
Only 10 days left, before it's too late!
Because they like what I've done with HiLoBooks's Radium Age Science Fiction Series (paperback reissues of forgotten sci-fi novels from 1904–33), the folks at Singularity & Co. have asked me to be Save the Adventure's founding editor.
The goal of Save the Adventure is to rescue out-of-print adventure stories from copyright limbo. Each month (assuming we raise sufficient funding), I'll choose an out-of-print but amazing adventure novel — at which point Singularity & Co. will track down the rights-holder, clear the electronic publishing rights, scan and proof the text, and make the novel available as an e-book.
The campaign deadline is November 9th. Rewards ship in December — a subscription to the Save the Adventure book club will make a perfect holiday gift.
Read the rest
David Benqué's Infinite Adventure Machine creates random folk-tales, and is itself an adventure in what he describes as an unsolved computer science problem: automatic story generation.
Tales and myths; the core narratives of human culture, have been transmitted for generations through various technologies and media. What new forms might they take through digital formats and Artificial Intelligence?
Based on the work of Vladimir Propp, who reduced the structure of russian folk-tales to 31 basic functions, TIAM aims to question the limitations and implications of attempts at programming language and narrative.
Because the program is unable to deliver a finished story, rather only a crude synopsis and illustrations, users have to improvise, filling the gaps with their imagination and making up for the technology's shortcomings.
Wikipedia's article on Propp has a lengthy description of his typology of narrative structures.
I've always been fascinated by the subtle movement these devices make, whereby a description of universal narrative elements is turned into a prescription for writing new stories. Every few years there seems to be another bestseller book, for example, telling you how to succeed in Hollywood using Jungian archetypes and Joseph Campbell. But I love these random generators all the same (and make my own). The bite-size mind-meld between culture and software they embody has a strange magic to it.