Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Russia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Ukraine

According to an article linked from the Pervasive Games blog, Dozor is a Russian team-based game that sounds Game-like. You'd think I'd be glad to hear about it. Except I'm not so glad. Because--why is this game in the news? The article is about some poor kid who died playing this game fetching something from on top of an electrical transformer.

Here is the article at Russia Today: Urban Adventure Game Kills Entrant.

Similar to the globally-known urban game ‘Encounter’, Dozor, which can be translated as 'Watch' [as in "night watch"], has been gaining popularity since its birth in 2005. The players from 175 cities in Russia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine form teams and carry out different tasks including night ground navigation, extreme and logic puzzles as well as role plays. The aim of each team is to collect ten so-called codes before the other contenders.

(Dear local GC folks: I never thought to thank you for the fact that you never hid a clue on top of an electrical transformer. Thank you.)

Labels: ,

Book Report: The Next Catastrophe

I'm going to Jury Duty today. Oh, gee. What if I get picked for a trial that goes on for three years? What if I'm sequestered? Does that mean no internet? What a catastrophe that would be. Oh hey, segue for The Next Catastrophe.

Why are we, as a nation, so unprepared for catastrophes? Why is FEMA riddled with incompetent political cronies? Why is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission slow to shut down poorly-managed nuclear reactors? The book The Next Catastrophe explains why we are doomed. It's difficult to tax people for a disaster-readiness organization. It's not "sexy". On the other hand, it's easy to pass yet another emergency aid bill for whichever region got hit by a major storm this year. Also, our recent government insists on spending money invading Iraq instead of on, say, setting up better fences around our local chemical plants.

This was a discouraging book. It probably won't do much good--the people who need to act aren't paying attention.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Against the Day


Labels: , ,

Book Report: First in Space

I am back from the No More Secrets Game, which was pretty excellent. I think it was excellent. My memories are pretty hazy. Since coming back, I've sent one piece of email and left one voice mail message with the contents "Sometime between Saturday and Monday I made a note that I should [email|call] you, but I can no longer remember why. Why am I contacting you? I bet it's pretty important." It turns out that being 29% of a 3.5-person team is pretty busy; it's not so conducive to note-taking and insightful reflection. I got pretty frazzled.

Speaking of doing fun things in spite of a lack of cleverness [cue segue], the graphic novel "First in Space" was fun.

Reading the Right Stuff, you see that airplane test pilots mocked early human astronauts "a monkey made the first flight." But this monkey was pretty impressive. Or, rather, Ham the Chimp was pretty impressive. This comic book, First in Space, is Ham's story. Hold your breath as Ham endures difficult tests! Wince when you find out that Ham's official name was "Chop Chop Chang"! Thrill to the glory of space flight! Wipe a tear from your eye as you contemplate the deeds of this brave ape.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: The Man Who Was Thursday

People keep telling me how great G.K. Chesterton was. So I read one of his books, The Man Who Was Thursday. It had some fun sentences, some witty banter, some good paragraphs, but the book overall was disappointing. There was philosophy, perhaps an attempt to make philosophy tangible? Bah. If someone tries to convince you to read The Man Who Was Thursday but you're dubious, you have my permission to skip this book.

Labels: , ,

Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Including the Googleplex

I am not a hardcore puzzler. I found out that even if the puzzles are great and fun and elegant, I go stir crazy if I try to sit in a conference room and solve puzzles for 24 hours.

Now some folks are setting up a sit-and-solve puzzle hunt at Google. In June. So that folks can sit inside on a nice day. And night. And then another nice day.

I'm glad you kids like puzzles so much. I hope you have a lovely time. Just don't forget to go outside and play amongst the trees occasionally, right? I worry about you.

In tangentially-related news, I think the phrase "Shoe's on fire", uttered with a proper calm, may approach the essence of mad science.

Labels: , ,

Link: We have Metonymy and They Are Ours

The Brain Fist webcomic is often funny.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: The Winter Queen

Ah, winter. Cold, snowy, icy, windy winter. What a great time of year for sitting inside and reading. The Winter Queen doesn't really have anything to do with the season, through.

This novel is by Borkis Akunin, translated by Andrew Bromfeld. It's a rollicking adventure story in which a dashing police detective zips across Europe on the track of a vast conspiracy. Fluffy good fun. Just the sort of book to keep you occupied inside when Jack Frost prowls without.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: The Making of the Atomic Bomb

I've read several books about the Manhattan Project. They all had a focus. New documents that had come to light. Focusing on one of the minor players. Family life. Now I realize why all of those books thought that they needed to focus on something, couldn't just provide the big picture. They assumed that I'd already read Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb. As well they should. It's a standard, it won the Pulitzer--and yet somehow it's also a good book. It's that same story of scientists able to see a few months ahead of their time--but, tragically, not a few years ahead of their time.

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Krakatoa

Krakatoa was a volcano that got bigger and bigger until it blew up.

Krakatoa was a book that got longer and longer until I just didn't want to hear any more about volcanoes, the Reuters news service, the history of theories of continental drift, pumice stone, or whatever.

Too bad. I like the author's book The Professor and the Madman.

Tags:  |  |  |

Labels: , ,

Book Report: A Secret Life

This book by Benjamin Weiser has interesting ethical choices, history, and spycraft.

A Polish navy officer became a traitor to Soviet-controlled Poland; which is to say that he arguably became a hero to the Poland-controlled Poland that lurked under the surface.

The Soviets made war plans. In these plans, huge numbers of Soviet troops marched from the USSR into Western Europe. Many of these troops would pass through Poland.

There were too many Soviet troops for the the West to stop them all. Unless the West used nukes. Where would the nukes fall? On Poland, of course--that's where the troops would be. Even if Poland wasn't invading anyone.

The Soviets tried to get the Poles to knuckle under to this plan. For the most part, that's what happened. One Pole, however, transmitted these plans to the West. He hoped to avert war; or if it was inevitable, that the nukes would fall earlier, when invading troops were not yet in Poland.

He talked with CIA folks. They did each other favors. They may have helped a little in gaining Poland its independence. That's a big favor to someone.

Tags:  |  |  |

Labels: , ,

Book Report: Smoke and Guns

Women in short skirts fire guns at each other. But it works. When does the movie come out?

Tags:  |  |  |

Labels: ,

[Powered by Blogger | Feed | Feeds I Like ]

home |