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Short story: “Death Plays A Game”

This was my response to this post on Reddit.


“A game, really?”

“Yes. Any game. You win, you go back…you lose…well…”

How does one respond to that? Better yet, how does one respond to Death? Not death, as in the end of life. Death as in the (un)living embodiment of the hereafter. This sure isn’t the way my day was planned when I woke up.

“So, what will it be?”

“Well, that depends. What are the rules? I’m sure this isn’t entirely fair.”

“Oh, to be sure, it is fair. 100%. No gimmicks, no gotchas. You call the game, we play. You win, I send you back.”

I study the…man? woman?…thing in front of me. It’s DEFINITELY not what you expect. Death, contrary to popular opinion, is not a skeleton in a black robe carrying a sickle. It’s hard to nail down, because the face is constantly shifting between masculine and feminine aspects. But the eyes…the eyes never change. Bright white, dark gray, and as deep as every ocean on every planet and moon in the universe.

“We’re wasting time here. You have to make a decision…we don’t have eternity here.”

“Ok. Seeing as I have nothing to lose, I choose Russian roulette.” A cocky choice maybe, but I’m dead already, I can’t die again here in Purgatory…can I?

“Interesting choice. I don’t think we’ve ever had anyone choose that before. Do you have a choice of weapon?”

I could have sworn I saw a look of concern cross Death’s ever-changing face.

“Well, my dad had a Colt Army when I was young. I would play with it when no one was around…until I shot a hole in my parents’ bedroom wall, and my dad started locking it up. That should do nicely.”

Before I could blink, the gun appeared on the table between us, a single bullet standing on end next to it. It was exactly as I remembered, as if it was my dad’s gun.

“It is his gun,” Death said, reading my mind. “Shall I load, or would you prefer to do it yourself?”

“I’ll do it thanks.” This is what I was hoping. I know this gun, know how the cylinder spins. I know exactly which chamber to put the bullet in. “Since you’re my host, I defer the first turn to you. It’s only proper.”

Death is taken aback. It’s as if he’s scared to pick up the gun from where I laid it on the table.

“Perhaps there’s another game…”

“Nope. You said it was my choice. This is my choice…pick up the gun, cock the hammer, and pull the trigger.”

Slowly, Death picks up the gun, studying it, trying to figure out a way around putting the muzzle to it’s temple.

“Don’t forget, you have to spin the cylinder.”

“Of course.”

Death spins the cylinder, and snaps it into position. I try hard to stifle the grin that’s creeping across my face.

“Whenever you’re ready…what was it you said, we don’t have eternity?” The grin is more than obvious on my face now.

“Fine.” Death places the muzzle against it’s temple, closes it’s eyes, and pulls the trigger.

I sit bolt upright in bed. I grab my phone, and look at the date. Son of a bitch…Death wasn’t lying. Next to my phone is a note, written in the neatest script I have ever seen…

“See you soon. -D”

What If? – Bouncy Balls

via What If?

Bouncy Balls

What if one were to drop 3,000 bouncy balls from a seven story parking structure onto a person walking on the sidewalk below? Should the person survive, what would be the number of bouncy balls needed to kill them? What injuries would occur and what would the associated crimes be?

—Ginger Bread

After falling from seven stories, the mass of bouncy balls would be moving at about 20 meters per second.

20 meters per second is about how fast an average person with a good arm could throw a bouncy ball. Therefore, to determine the result of an impact, we can make use of what Einstein called a gedankenexperiment, or “thought experiment”:

In science, it’s important that results be repeatable, so let’s try that again:

The tricky thing about this scenario is that 3,000 one-inch bouncy balls is not as many as you probably think—it’d be enough to fill a large bucket.

This bucket would weigh about as much as a small child, which leads us to another gedankenexperiment:

Of course, in reality, the average person can’t throw a small child as fast as they can throw a bouncy ball.[citation needed] Furthermore, they won’t all fall in one clump. If you poured the balls from a container, they would bounce around and spread out as they fell, and most of them would probably miss the target.

This effect was demonstrated in an experiment by Utah State University students, who poured 20,000 bouncy balls from a helicopter as part of their Geek Week. The balls fell as a cloud, rather than a single mass.

If you wanted to be sure of killing someone, you’d need a lot more balls. 3,000,000 of them—enough to fill a large room—would be be enough to guarantee that the target would either be crushed to death by the impact or buried too deep to dig themselves out.

To your last question, if someone just happened to walk underneath when you dropped the bouncy balls, and they were killed by the impact, you’d most likely be guilty of some form of manslaughter.

However, by asking this question, you’ve shown your intent to cause harm to the victim, demonstrating clear malice aforethought. By writing in to this blog, you’ve probably upgraded your charge to murder.

All in all, you should probably stick to gedankenexperiments.

The future of the CTC plugin

I’ll say this, it’s been a hell of a ride!

When I created my plugin many years ago, I never thought it would be come so popular. I figured I’d get a few downloads here and there, but as of this afternoon, it’s been downloaded 97,586 times…that’s amazing! It also makes what I’m about to say even harder.

As of today, Feb. 7, 2013, development is officially over (for me, anyway…more on that in a bit). The plugin was made to scratch an itch I had way back when WP first released the tag cloud feature. I’m honored that so many of you have downloaded and used this plugin on your sites. That said, with work and life being what they are, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to it any more. The plugin does what I set out to accomplish. Are there things I would like to see it do? Yes…people have asked for an exclude option for years, and I never got around to figuring out how to accomplish that…but by and large, it does what it’s supposed to, and IMO it does it well. But don’t worry, the plugin isn’t going away. I will leave it’s page here up as long as my site is active, and it will remain in the WP Extend repo, so it will always be available.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I would love to see someone pick up from where I’m leaving off. Someone who has the time to devote to make it better than it is. Do you think you’re the one for the job? Drop me a line and let’s talk… – Movie filmed entirely in Disney theme parks premieres at Sundance


‘Escape from Tomorrow’ is a film by Randy Moore shot secretly at Disneyland and Disney World. Part of the buzz around the movie is that no one can imagine Disney allowing the movie to be released.

To attempt to describe the plot of “Escape” is to go down a rabbit hole as disorienting as any amusement park ride. Basically, the film is about a down-on-his luck fortysomething father (Roy Abramsohn) on the last day of a Disney World vacation with his henpecking wife and their two angelic children. As he takes his children to various attractions, the father is haunted by disturbing imagery; he is also, in the meantime (and with his children in tow), tailing two young flirtatious French girls around the park. Airy musical compositions you might find in classic Hollywood films play over many of these scenes, giving a light shading to the darker moments.

Moore shot the movie over 25 days and said production was never stopped by anyone inside the park.

To make the movie, Moore wouldn’t print out script pages or shot sequences for the 25 days he was filming on Disney turf, instead keeping all the info on iPhones. This way, when actors and crew were looking down between takes, passersby just thought they were glancing at their messages.

Here’s a scene from the movie:

(via ★interesting)

Tags: Disney   Escape from Tomorrow   movies   Randy Moore

Mini Book Review: “WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook”

Got an idea for a WordPress plugin, but not sure how to start? Packt Publishing has you covered with their new release, “WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook” by Yannick Lefebvre. Through it’s 11 chapters, Yannick takes you from setting up your development environment through publishing your plugin in the official WordPress respository.

Using language anyone could understand, Yannick covers topics from the simple (creating the WordPress plugin header, so you plugin shows up in the admin interface), to the complex (setting up a web server on your machine to test your plugin). My only peeve would be the insistence upon using the NetBeans IDE. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s a personal preference thing. I love TextMate, and use it every day, but if I were writing a book, I’d make a mention of it, but not base large portions of text to it.

Overall, “WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook” is a worthy addition to your library if youre looking to get into writing WordPress plugins.

Book Title: “WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook”
Author: Yannick Lefebvre
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Cost: $22.94 (ebook only)/$40.49 (Print copy, ebook copy, and PacktLib access)

You can get a copy (either in print or any of several ebook formats, including epub and pdf) at Packt Publishing.

Disclaimer: Packt Publishing provided me with a promo copy of the book for this review.

Dave Winer – There’s so much to hate in Romney

via Dave Winer

A picture named wileECoyote.gifI watched the Republican convention last night. I’ve watched many of them, dating back to Nixon. I’ve voted Republican, always holding my nose, because I found the Democratic alternative so abhorrent. But last night was over the top. Here’s a guy who presents himself as a honest and honorable man who helps people, but the lies he tells, oh man. I just don’t know. His campaign is like a wish list. I wish the current President had gone on an “apology tour” so I’ll just say he did. I’ll say we lost jobs under his watch, when actually under any reasonable view of things he created jobs, a lot of them. He failed to lead, he says, without saying that the Republicans were willing to be led. They weren’t. Openly.

Our credit rating suffered a downgrade under this President because, unfortunately, the Republicans, who control one chamber of Congress openly toyed with the possibility of the United States not paying creditors. We had the money. Of course our credit rating went down. They must have had a meeting where they came up with the line they would use now, in the campaign, to make it sound like this was President Obama’s idea! These are seriously depraved non-America-loving people, who choose their words very carefully and know that most people aren’t listening carefully enough to understand what they’re saying, if there’s any truth to it, which lately there hasn’t. Why bother, these are just stories. Why not say Obama started World War III with our closest allies, Poland, Israel and England. Threw them under the bus! Great line Mitt.

It is so disgusting. To think the purpose of Republican obstructionism of the last three years was only to give this guy a better chance of winning. It’s such a bad punchline. How much suffering there was for this end. It tells us that net-net the United States can’t find its ass with both hands. All the grand talk about how great we are is belied by the evidence, starting us in the face, in the being of Mitt Romney. Is this the best we can do? Is this it? A venture capitalist is to be our new leader? I’ve worked at companies that were run by people like Mitt Romney. I’ve seen many more of them flushed down the toilet, dying a premature death, because the people at the top were tone-deaf to the actual people who made up the businesses they somehow accidentally ended up running. Usually into the ground. Fast.

On Twitter last night I said some things that, if I were a Republican, would sound horrible, and probably would cause me to unfollow. So be it. I should say them here too. I hate Romney. I want to see that stupid grin wiped off his face. I think he’s a condescending superior sumbitch, to steal a line from the Republican presidential candidate played by James Brolin in The West Wing television show. And, as on the West Wing, I seriously hope our current President mops up his ass in the debates. An America run by Mitt Romney is a disaster. And we just can’t afford any more disasters.

To Republicans who follow me, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t use my communication channel to say what I think about an election in my country. Some years I have totally pissed off Democrats. If you have to go, I’m sorry to see that. But I’m not going to sacrifice my principles and become an equivocating floppy noodle like Mitt Romney. That doesn’t mean the technology I create is only useful to one political persuasion. It is agnostic. I wish there were a way to create tech that Karl Rove or the Koch brothers couldn’t profit from, but I haven’t figured out how to do that and be open at the same time. If you figure that one out let me know. :-) – An oral history of the Dream Team


This history of the 1992 US Olympic basketball team might only be interesting to those who watched all those games. Which I did. And I am.

Chuck started Michael and Magic every game and then rotated the other three. Pippen would start one game, Mullin would start the next. Robinson and Ewing would alternate; Malone and Barkley would alternate. He was a master at managing. But in the second game against Croatia, there was never any doubt: He was putting Pippen on Toni Kukoc [who had just been drafted by the Bulls and had been offered a contract for more money than his future teammate]. Pippen and Jordan were tired of hearing about how great Kukoc was, because they were winning NBA championships.

You ever watch a lion or a leopard or a cheetah pouncing on their prey? We had to get Michael and Scottie out of the locker room, because they was damn near pulling straws to see who guarded him. Kukoc had no idea.

Tags: 1992 Summer Olympics   basketball   Olympic Games   sports