There is a growing subset of vocabulary built to accommodate our communication evasions, many of them phone-based: It’s the cutesification of misanthropy. There are “slow fade” and “ghosting,” zingy slang that makes these things sound more like legitimate techniques than what they actually are, which is indifference expressed through avoidance. To consider oneself “friend-zoned” is not just an expression of misogynist entitlement, but often a passive refusal to be frank about one’s feelings. “I can’t even” and an all-capped “NOPE” are concise and funny GIF-and-link accompaniers, but they’ve also become shorthand for “I can’t or don’t want to express my discomfort with this situation or person more thoroughly.”
Gorillas is a classic computer game in which two King Kong-sized gorillas standing at a distance on top of skyscrapers attempt to destroy each other with explosive bananas. I spent many many hours as a kid playing this game and its companion, Nibbles, which shipped bundled with the QBasic programming language. I was too young at the time to care that their source code was available to me, but I’ve found a tribute written in Python a useful demonstration of that much more useful language.
A few months ago, Derek Arnold unveiled @GorillaCities, a Twitter bot which uses a stripped-down edition of Python Gorillas to generate and share empty cities. I was immediately taken by this idea and wanted to play along; incredibly, my first stab at a joke was rewarded with two perfect and unclaimed Twitter names. I immediately snatched them and started following the cities but my joke ended there, half-complete.
Finally, a few months later, I’ve ported a similarly stripped-down edition of Python Gorillas to CoffeeScript and now @LeftGorilla and @RightGorilla are endlessly interacting with @GorillaCities, hopping on each skyline in sequence and messing everything up.
This was a fun excuse to play with game programming and Twitter—the pair together comprise only my second Twitter bot, after @EverywordCup. And having borne them out of a browser, they also double as a captivating attract mode!
It took a few failed attempts before I ended up with a finished product. I started by hacking away at Gorillas.py, refactoring the code and removing interaction as necessary. I found myself disinterested in Python and decided to port my new code to Ruby, my language of choice in most endeavors, but couldn’t find any graphics libraries as easy to use as PyGame. After a few hours getting nowhere in a web of dependencies, I threw my hands up and started writing some HTML. This was also a good excuse to finally start playing with PhantomJS, which captures the frames of each turn as a PNG and saves them to disk. I then use gifme to turn those sequences into GIFs and a simple Ruby script on Heroku to post to Twitter and keep track of Tweet IDs (the first turn is a response to the corresponding @GorillaCities tweet; every turn thereafter responds to the previous one).
The people sharing these images are perpetuating an ongoing assault. The people gleefully looking at them are witnessing and enjoying an ongoing assault. When you have been asked by victims of a crime like this not to exacerbate the pain of that crime and you continue to do so anyway, you are consciously deciding that your enjoyment, your rights and perhaps even just your curiosity are more important than the safety and dignity of the people you’re exploiting.
As my family settles into the seats of the “Magical Express” coach that conveys us back to the Orlando airport, the long-range RF transmitters and the copper antennae that wind around them cease to communicate with Disney’s receivers. They become souvenirs from Dataland, the big data equivalent of a die-cast monorail toy.
Family is super cool. Going home to one girl every night is super cool. Just going home and getting on the floor and playing with your child is super cool. Not wearing a red leather jacket, and just looking like a dad and shit, is like super cool. Having someone that I can call Mom again. That shit is super cool.
The snow in the wolf diorama at the American Museum of Natural History is “anything but white.” It’s a wide range of colors of crushed marble, here arranged by Stephen C. Quinn, to not only create artificial shadows but “conceal” and “consolidate” the real ones, created by five spotlights that shine opposite the “moonlight” in the scene.
In fact, he prefers to let his songs come to him; his usual songwriting process involves letting an instrumental demo play in his apartment and then freestyling sounds and melodies and, eventually, words—whatever he feels in the moment. So when he tells me about how “Repeat Pleasure” hints at the ideas of German philosopher Georg Hegel, he laughs a little bit, as if he just realized the connection himself.
And here again, in the minutes it had taken to pay this bill, the value of bitcoin was too elusive to nail down the exact cost of my meal. Somewhere in Boston, there’s a waiter who was stiffed out of twenty-seven cents of his tip by the dawning of a new economy.
It’s not clear exactly what was said, but Dax can remember that damn thing like it was yesterday. While in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Big Boi was approached by Britney Spears who said she was a fan. Before she could even get out another word, Big Boi leaned in and whispered something in her ear, inaudible to both of their entourages. “He said some freak player shit and she wasn’t ready for it,” Dax says. Britney’s jaw dropped, while Justin Timberlake was off somewhere writing “Cry Me a River.”