Toddler jumps on airport conveyor belt, is conveyed to bag room

Hilarity fading to horror, like everything else on the internet. NBC News reports minor injuries for the little boy who found his way into ATL's bowels.

The small boy walked away from his mother at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport while she attempted to print out her boarding pass at a kiosk, according to an Atlanta police report. The mother told police she looked away from her son "for one second" and he disappeared. ... Eventually the boy reached a Transportation Security Administration baggage area where TSA immediately noticed him come through on the belt and a man picks him up off the belt and to safety. Emergency medical services treated the boy for a "severely swollen and bruised" right hand before he was transported to a hospital, according to the Atlanta police report.

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A brief oral history of classic point-and-click adventure The Dagger of Amon Ra

The 1992 point-and-click classic The Dagger of Amon Ra was a high point of the genre's 16-bit era: an intriguing and offbeat adventure with distinctive colorful pixel art and Sierra On-Line co-founder Roberta Williams overseeing the project. For the Campo Santo Review, Duncan Fyfe takes a deep look at a game "steeped in the aesthetics of the 1920s" and a major influence on the forthcoming Into the Valley of the Gods.

Like Laura Bow’s first adventure, the game progresses in an approximation of real time: Suspects move around the museum according to their own schedules, in pursuit of their own hidden agendas. It’s the player’s job to keep track of everything. Unsurprisingly it’s a difficult game, concluding in a notorious denouement where the player is required to prove that they have solved each of the murders, as well as a host of related crimes. The game doesn’t help the player with this at all. But the complexity of the task is leavened by the vibe, which can’t be beat: Wandering a museum alone at night, uncovering secret passageways and puzzles, accosting a haughty countess with accusations of murder, and eavesdropping on illicit dalliances between cops and flappers.

There were a number of titles in the late 1980s and early 1990s that took a stab at the "Clue" microgenre -- the murder mystery populated by NPCs following their own schedules, with a culprit that must be deduced rather than simply uncovered via an unfolding series of puzzles and plotlines. The era's technical limitations made modeling and presenting these sealed-off yet dynamic social systems difficult, but The Dagger of Amon Ra was one of the best thanks to its great art, well-defined characters and approachable gameplay. Read the rest

Rope removed from urethra

Shanghai Daily reports that one Dr. Dong successfully removed a knotted length of rope from an adventurous fellow's urethra. Read the rest

Sledding down an empty road in Birmingham, AL

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.

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10 days left to rescue out-of-print adventure stories from copyright limbo

[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!

Singularity & Co., the Brooklyn-based science fiction bookstore that a year ago launched the digital book club Save the Sci-Fi, is kickstarting a brand-new digital book club, Save the Adventure.

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

The Infinite Adventure Machine

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 with Joseph Campbell. Campbell seems mostly good for turning every hero into Jesus but with Vedic mysticism.

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.

The Infinite Adventure Machine [Glitch Fiction via Creative Applications] Read the rest

Get Lamp now available

Get Lamp, a documentary about text adventures, is finally available to order after years in development. [Getlamp.com] Computerworld's Ken Gagne interviewed creator Jason Scott. Read the rest