Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BBC News - "Heart-healing virus" trial starts

BBC News - Gene therapy: 'Heart-healing virus' trial starts:

'via Blog this'

We really are living in the future. Or at least there are days with headlines like this that feel like it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Rose of Saturn

Everything looks so much more sublime on our star system's ringed world. Even massive hurricanes.

Reconstructed true color:

False color:

Images courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  

Disruptive tech: Accelerating revolutions

We're entering into an age of transformative turbulence. Software and robotics automation continue to destroy middle- and working class jobs, and new technologies like 3D printing-based manufacturing loom on the horizon. This new wave of change begs the question will we succeed in creating centrist answers early on, or will extremists again have their day at the level of nations and wars as they did during the Industrial Age with communism and Nazism?

Nightmare future states are a possibility, but before looking them, there's an even more urgent factor to consider: Namely that the pace of technological development is accelerating. One revolution is upon us, and others look like they might arrive hard on its heels.

Or maybe even overlap?

The current series of novels I'm working on features a dual bio-nanotech revolution that hits even before the upheavals of the current information revolution have been fully dealt with. That raises the interesting question of could our societies handle that much chaos? In book setting human nations fail to adapt, and leave their descendants to confront the same questions out among the stars that their grandparents failed to answer on Earth.

Ideally in a world where one wave of technological change follows close after another, our societies would learn to surf--to display the adaptability and skill needed to constantly adapt and move ahead. Which is something I will be looking at in the next States and Nations 3.0 article. Of course, in such a fluid environment some polities will go down hard That holds some interesting story-telling possibilities, along with looking at the struggles of those groups that succeed in learning to ride out the blue crush.

But still there are all those potential dystopias out there, and they're also worth taking a look at.

Old Dilemmas and New Questions

During the industrial age the Nazis and Soviets had trains, factories, telephone networks, and the instruments of mechanized warfare to use in their attempts to carve new orders from an unstable world. What would similar nightmare societies look like, if they had intelligent software agents, big data, automated fabrication technologies, macro and micro robotics, and the ability to reshape humanity through gene engineering and brain augmentation?

Would future ideologues change human nature to conform with new technological and economic realities in a way that Soviet's bank-slate New Man model never could? What if the Nazis had possessed the ability to transform the rest of humanity into Aryans? Would they have done it, or was their worldview so split into us-versus-them that the only solution they could hit upon would still be a final one, though carried out with swarming, self-replicating weapons of mass destruction? Or, what if the possibility of 'purifying' and 'uplifting' the many peoples whom they hated ultimately split the Nazis and shattered their unity?

Damn, I felt a little queasy just writing 'purifying' and 'uplift' in that context. Those are some truly ugly possibilities.

At any rate, the above are all fascinating thought experiments, but I'm not interested in pursuing them. In part because communism and Nazism were the products of old social dilemmas. Also, science has pretty much trampled the notions of meaningful racial differences into the dust. Anyone with enough biology to manipulate genes also knows that 'innate' superiorities and inferorities that 19th and 20th century racial ideologies subscribed to were boneheaded fictions. Ones constructed by groups who had agendas but no knowledge of what a gene is, let alone how allels operate to produce a human being in conjunction with the environment.

Instead of looking back, in the next Dystopias article we'll be looking forward at failed technological states as well as future strains of totalitarianism that are the products of upheavals and new technologies. Ones that will also pose new questions to each society they confront.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More on big data

For those interested in an in-depth look at big data beyond the brief overview in last week's Disruptive Tech post, I recommend the following Foreign Affairs article:

The Rise of Big Data | Foreign Affairs:

'via Blog this'

As the authors point out, big data represents the Information Age approaching a milestone of maturity. A nexus of processing power and access to data sets so vast as to offer insights on societies and economies unavailable from any other viewpoint. The 90s may have been decade when we bandied about the term "information revolution," but those were very early days in a process of transformative development that may well stretch out over several decades.

Then there's that question of the worth of human intuition in the new data environment.

Me, I like human intuition. It's a powerful tool that quickly keys in on information in noisy natural channels, and lets us make life or death decisions in heartbeats. It's unparalleled in its ability to analyze and sport patterns hidden in social situations involving small to medium groups. It also lets us make important real world choices in situations when there's very little information to go on.

All the same, it's of limited value when making large scale choices, or when confronted at with huge sets of data. When it comes to the abstract and the big, intuition is often harmful, imposing what we expect or desire to see on chaotic information.

There's a reason statistical analysis is a critical component of experimental design in science.

So, will we change ourselves to make human intuition relevant to the new economy?  What does that mean anyways? Augmenting our focus and memory; deadening the desensitization that takes place when looking through page after page, screen after screen of raw data? Tweaking our pattern recognition filters? Adjusting our emotions to find nuts and bolts minutia of big data inherently fascinating?

All interesting possibilities. Or will we rely on machine agents to analyse and explain the findings of big data analytics? Also a very real possibility, and one deserving of exploration.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Natural Born Killers" - GQ Magazine

United States Military Women - May 2013: Newsmakers: GQ:

'via Blog this'

GQ has a good article up with stories of women in battle in the US armed forces. It's a good piece of follow-up reading for anyone interested in the issues discussed here about women in combat a few weeks back.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In case you haven't seen it already

Life in micro-gravity must be mind-blowing. Absent gravity's hand, all sorts of pure physical laws make themselves felt in the otherwise ordinary actions of daily living.

That's one of the reasons I'd love to travel in low orbit. Aside from the view of everything and everyone (seeing the Earth from above) there's a total reordering of perspective. Adapting to a place with no up or down, and where the shape of liquids are governed by surface tension must be like stepping into an Escher drawing, or being an infant again. Maybe both.

What impact would such a frame of reference have on  individuals who grew up in it --leaving aside the physiological and radiation issues? How would it shape a society of such people and color their assumptions about the universe?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marine versus sleep deprivation

The things people do to stay awake when faced with empty hours and little sleep.

via Terminal Lance

One of my better memories from the Balkans is of walking the perimeter of a large and very muddy airfield at about three in the morning. A newly pinned sergeant, I was going from guard tower to guard tower in the fog, carrying a thermos of coffee and a thermos of hot chocolate to see how the younger scouts standing post were holding up. I'd give them a chance to take a bathroom break and get caffeinated, while checking the integrity of the fence line in the process.

After two months of everyone's sleep cycle split by the necessity of the guard shift schedule -- sleeping for three hours in the morning and two or three in the evening -- we were all getting a little loopy in the pre-dawn hours when the human endocrine system drags its sorry circadian ass across the floor. Especially on nights when we spent hour after hour staring into the void of sensory deprivation that is an enveloping dome of blank winter fog.

Everyone had their strategies for coping with those early morning hours. Some saner than others, and some funnier than others. As I trudged through the mud and mist, I heard a god-awful shrill keening up ahead from the next tower. Think Mike Tyson, freshly kneed in the groin, trying to belt out the lyrics of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication". No, think Mike Tyson newly castrated and utterly incoherent.

After a few seconds of wondering if someone was having a medical emergency -- maybe a psychotic break from reality or schizophrenic hallucinations -- I picked up the pace and jogged to the base of the guard tower. Not even the heavy thud of my boots on the wooden stairs was enough to interrupt the singer.

It turned out to be a combination of two days without sleep, supplemented by two six-packs of Diet Coke. Which had worked just fine until the soda ran out and the caffeine crash set in. At that point the only thing keeping Joe Snuffy conscious was a combination of musical atrocity and occasionally banging his Kevlared-helmeted head against the windowsill of the tower.

Like I said, some saner than others, and some funnier than others.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The state of the art

Back in January Publishers Weekly released its summary of the publishing industry for 2012. Not surprisingly, it was another year of decline for literary science fiction. A rather sharp one, down by 21%.


That's coming on the heels of more or less twenty years of stagnation.

The top-ten best sellers list in the genre was dominated by five Star Wars and HALO franchise novels. Four slots were taken up by classic novels: Enders Game, Dune, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and an ultimate edition of Hitchhiker's. There's only a single new work of original, non-franchise science fiction on the list. Ernest Cline's awesome and rollicking Ready Player One.

None of this comes as a surprise. Well, maybe the sheer size of the drop in sales, but not the fact that it was another year of decline; not the domination by franchise tie-ins; and not the fact that the one new work on the list that connected with readers has drawn lot of flack in the creative community. I've long since lost track of how many disparaging comments I've seen posted online about Ready Player One's content, writing style, or its 'pandering' to audiences by delivering an upbeat ending.

Having recently finished Player One, I'm not surprised in the least that it's done so well with both our former readership and people who normally don't read science fiction. At its heart, it's not just a science fiction novel about 1980s culture. It is an 1980s science fiction novel, with 80s-style emotional beats, plot progression, and character development. It's sci-fi from before the genre started down it's long path of stagnate sales and cynicism.

Erase, Rewind

Normally I'm opposed to going back in order to move forward, but at this point I think we really could use a whole raft of 80s-style science fiction novels. Bright books with a hope for progress, and an exploration of what we might become and how we might improve, rather than mourning what we are. Something to re-engage our ex-fan base and hopefully draw in a new generations of readers who grew up on wildly popular young adult novels with heroic themes and that made use of science fiction and fantasy tropes. 

From there we can move forward -- try to follow alternate lines of development, rather than the one written SF took during the 1990s. 

Science fiction during the 80s certainly wasn't perfect. It often felt slightly childish in a way that I have a difficult time putting my finger on. Many novels presented clear-cut views on there being a single correct path forward as far as politics or economics. Lots of books focused on a lone technology changing the world, rather than a fuzzy package of vaguely related technologies, like the one that drove the Industrial Revolution.  

There was also a lot of time and page-space spent describing settings and technology, which, in my opinion could have been condensed down. Then again, maybe that's a very present-day view. One written at time when many science fiction concepts have been around for several decades and no longer require long-introductions. 

At any rate, politics wasn't the only thing that felt oversimplified in 80s science fiction. There were a lot of flat, cardboard characters back then. Not that cardboard characters are always a bad thing. A blank-slate protagonist can be an effective means of engaging the readers, particularly if the author isn't above using a little wish fulfillment to hook them on an emotional level. Still, as with the simplified politics and technology, there was a sense of realism that was often missing from characters and their behavior. 

Likewise character dialog was definitely Pre-Whedon: flat and often lifeless. 

Which Direction?

Not one but possibly many. There are several potential developmental pathways that science fiction could have followed during the 90s. Neal Stephenson was a bright spot for sales in an otherwise dark decade, so it's worth revisiting his novels. 

My ideal from that period is The Matrix. While the characters were largely archetypes, the first film incorporated action and mind-blowing philosophical and technological concepts in near seamless weaves.* From this past decade, the Mass Effect series hit many of the same notes as far as its story-telling style. Until it nuked the shark in the final ten...

You know what? I'll shut up about Mass Effect. I've probably ranted the ending to death at this point. 

Anyways, long answer short, those are two alternate pathways that I like, but there are several others. I'm curious what you, the readers think. If you could go back and redirect the course of literary science fiction in the late 80s or early 90s, which directions would you chose?

*Yeah, human batteries, not very plausible, but whatever. I'd have gone with our machine overlords using our gray matter to run immense non-linear calculations or complex simulations that draw on the power of human imagination.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dystopias: Disruptive Tech

Technological revolutions kill. They cause social upheavals, throw millions out of work, and displace tens of millions more. The resultant conflicts over how to responded that kind of chaos can shape the lives of generations and define a century with a long chain of wars, human misery, and hard-edged activism. Then, if we get it right, we learn how adapt our societies to the new technology through broad packages of laws, entrepreneurship, regulations, and business practices.

Or we don't. There are several regions around the world that have never managed to successfully adopt industrial manufacturing for reasons both external and internal. Most of these are not fun places to live. Then there are the nations where manufacturing has taken root, but the wealth produced by it is so concentrated that much of the population lives in the kind of poverty and pollution associated with Charles Dickens novels.

So what's in store for us during the next hundred years?

First off, the normal caveats. Historical analogies and reasoning by analogy can be hazardous to both good judgment and civil debate. In other words, saying the future will be like X period or Y event in the past is one of those things that people not only get het up over at the drop of the socially constructed hat, but also drives them to make sweeping predictions based on a single incidence or one off event.

That said I'd like to take a worst case look at how some emergent technologies could trigger the kind of long chain of economic transformations and accompanying social chaos that shaped the West and spread to rest of the globe during the Industrial Revolution.

Software Automation

Automation through robotics has already had an impact on the working class here in the US, playing a role in driving down wages over the past thirty years, alongside the export of much of the American manufacturing base to East and South East Asia. Even as the replacement of blue collar jobs in manufacturing and warehousing continues to accelerate, the middle class is starting to feel the heat as jobs requiring critical thinking and education in fields like finance, health care, and business operations are taken over by expert software systems.

It's a process hastened by the recession of 2001 and the long one starting in 2007, when companies shed jobs and turned to technologies that allow them to do more with fewer professionals. Particularly when it comes to repetitive tasks like scanning x-rays and MRIs for signs of tumors, or reviewing vast spreads of finical information for irregularities. The adoption of automation has become widespread enough that not only have recoveries from the recent recessions failed to match the jobs lost, but well over 50% (the numbers reach up to 85% depending on whose stats you look at) of college graduates since 2007 remain either unemployed or underemployed, working low-paying service sector jobs. In other words, job growth has remained below population growth for sometime now.

In the near future, job automation may well reach into the cutting edge of creative thought. Cornell's Eureqasoftware expert system has been able to derive known scientific laws from raw data and psychical measurements in physics. It's also created new a mathematical equation that accurately describes a biological system's behavior, leaving the human staff of researchers baffled as to just how the equation manages to do so.

To date, the information revolution has not produced a wave of new types of employment sufficient to replace lost positions. Historically, that's not surprising as it took several decades during the Industrial Revolution to create new types of jobs on a large enough scale. That and a system of minimum wages and wartime unionization to put enough money in the hands of consumers to make it worthwhile for manufacturers to produce the kind of consumer goods associated with the modern middle class over a long period of several decades.

The current decline in wages and stagnation of professional salaries outside a handful of industries is similar to the earnings shrinkage or collapses during the Industrial Revolution that came with automation and increases in efficiency. Farmers saw their ability to make a living off the land collapse in successive waves during the late 1800s in the United States as modern agricultural tools, pesticides, and powered equipment sent food production soaring. Likewise in Europe, skilled weavers, the manufacturing vanguard of the middle class since the medieval period, were replaced by garment factory workers whose wages were so low that successive generations lived with chronic malnutrition during a century filled with revolutions and riots.

 Big Data and Augmented Reality

Two related, and newly emerging technologies may help extend the reach and impact of software automation. Big data--in one of its applications--is the use of software to search and organize vast arrays of information in order to spot and make use of patterns that are normally invisible to humans. Mostly because we people don't possess the ability to hold millions or even hundreds of millions of data points in mind.

It's much too early to say with any certainty what kind of an impact Big Data will have on employment. Hopefully in the long run it will serve as an augmentation for researchers, but we'll have to wait and see. It may well lend expert systems a kind of perspective that human analysts will either be unable to match or not be able to make effective use of.

Augmented reality, meanwhile holds the potential to have a much bigger effect on the way we live. The ability to search large volumes of data at a desktop computer has already changed the way many of us work and learn about the world. Now that same capability is about to become integrated, if not seamlessly into our lives, then to an even more intimate degree.

Possibly with humorous effects.

Video by Seattle-based comedian Dartanion London, whose YouTube channel can be found here

At first glance, augmented reality looks like it will be an accelerator of current trends. Being able to purchase everything from books to electronic goods at home has wreaked havoc on the big box stores and traditional retailers here int the US. Having the capability to impulse shop in a coffee shop or at a bus stop while wearing something ubiquitous as a pair of glasses could make online shopping more attractive or even easier than it already is. And as we've seen with Amazon and Internet travel services like Expedia, even a marginal increase in convenience can shift another significant market segment from brick-and-mortar to digital firms who employ far fewer workers.

Beyond that first-blush look, I'm not at all certain how augmented reality might alter our economy. Its potential uses in the civilian world are something that I'm just starting to address in my reading and thought experiments.

3D Printing 

This could be the big one. The technology with a truly radical impact on how we live and structure our societies. Over the past few years we've seen 3D printers go from turning digital designs into crude plastic novelty figurines to printed weapons components and ultra-light car chassis of ridiculous strength. As the technology continues to improve, it could become common to download a design for consumer goods, then print them out at home or in a local fabrication shop.

I realize that sounds like a bit of a jump. Current household goods incorporate a wide variety of materials. Something like 32 different types in the contents of the average living room, ranging from wood to flavors of plastic, to steel, and the rare earths incorporated into the batteries of electronic devices.

That's almost certainly not going to pose a problem.

In part because there are already 3D printers that can work with metals, layering them on droplet by droplet, and then switch back to plastics or resins. But also because of carbon. We're getting good at making damned near everything out of carbon, from high-strength carbon graphite boat hulls and car bodies, to casings for consumer electronics, to batteries.

In the long-run, the use of carbon could potentially liberate us from our the vast sprawling infrastructure of resource extraction and refinement. How? Buy pulling construction material out of the air.


As I type this, I'm looking out my front window at a typically Western Oregon urban array of firs, pines, Japanese maples, cherry trees, and copper beeches. Some of these are impressive specimens, reaching up to two-hundred feet or so, with one one particular giant topping out at around 300 feet (about a 100 meters). That's a whole lot of carbon biomass, and as trees have been doing for hundreds millions of years, it's been largely sucked out of the air through a combination of fractal leaf/pine geometry and organic chemical reactions.

Of course there are a number of technical hurdles in need of jumping through before atmospheric carbon harvesting becomes a viable source of material. Appealing as it is, the vision of living in a city where goods are printed locally from raw material absorbed from the sky by artificial trees is a long ways off.

Even so, 3D printing will be a viable for manufacturing in the near future. Both as the printer designs improve, and as designers and artisans continue to improve their methods and grow adept at working with the most economic materials. The social and infrastructure impact of retail or even home manufacture-on-demand is hard to gauge, as It potentially could affect almost every aspect of our industrial-based societies.

In my most starry eyed moment I like to think that 3D printing will reverse the centuries long-trend towards working outside of the home. That at some point, power harvesting and storage, along with 3D printing will restore a level of self-sufficiency to average households that hasn't been since the medieval period.

Even that rosy scenario would have a heavy short-term, costs for the millions around the globe who labor or work professionally in resource extraction. Back home in Nevada, there are working class men and women who enjoy middle class prosperity and access to health care because of copper mining and refinement.

We may well reach a better future in which our children's children have more options in life than we do, and in which the process of designing and making things does not demand the high cost on us, the environment, and our societies that industrial technology does. Maybe such a tomorrow will require the same kind of artificially structured regulatory economies that created the long post-war peace and prosperity in the US, Western Europe, and parts of East Asia. Or the new technologies may approximate a libertarian's paradise of increased self-sufficiency and reduced interdependence. Either way, there's going to be turmoil between here and there, as the current emerging technologies continue to develop and as new ones like bio and nanotech leave the shadows of theory and step into the world of actuality.

If it's anything like the past, that turmoil will shape our lives and kill or impoverish some of us. And without foresight, alertness, and a knowledge of past technological transitions, there's little likelihood that any of our societies will get it right.

Next: Software Nightmares

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Springtime in the Garden

Portland's Classical Chinese Garden - Lan Su

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brain art in gold leaf and ink wash

Greg Dunn Design

I came across some mind-blowingly gorgeous artwork via I09 a few weeks back, which fuses science and aesthetics on a level that I've never seen anyone come close to. Neuroscience PhD graduate turned artist, Greg Dunn, uses gold leaf and classical Japanese in wash techniques to create compositions that fairly glow with activity. Other pieces on his site are closer to traditional minimalist scroll and screen work, that show little but suggests much in structure and animation.

It's very much worth checking out Mr. Dunn's site as it will be most beautiful five or ten minutes that you spend online today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Military Humor

The Internet and Web 2.0 have democratized publishing. Which mean's there a lot of funny shit stuff out there these days, from webcomics to online magazines like The Onion. Sadly, it's taken a long while for military humor to find its way to the World Wide Web. The actual blistering, rough-edged laugh splatter that soldiers and Marines tell one another.

That void has finally been filled during the past six months. A series of publications have popped up, mostly produced by surly veterans. The language is harsh (except for those effete Air Force comics) and the humor ranges from deadpan irony to the bluntly profane, as befits a cultural context of extreme emotions, life and death experiences, long stretches of sleeplessness, and years spent away from civil society and loved ones.

It should go without saying that these are all massively Not Suitable For Work, and individuals with delicate sensibilities will find themselves reeling.

Three favorites

The Duffle Blog. It's The Onion for the military. The articles cover all the Armed Forces, ragging on everyone from Navy Seals to linguist students at the Defense Language Institute. My favorite is the one about Chinese intelligence operatives traumatized by their online contact with US service members. Because, you know what? It's entirely possible.

Chinese Hackers Complain About Perverted American Military

Terminal Lance: No one is as bitter about the Marine Corps as a former Marine, and no one is as proud of having served as an Ex-Marine.* It's one of those dichotomies that former Lance Corporal Max Uriarte captures perfectly. That and a lot of the standard Marine phallocentric  humor.

Seriously Marines, what's up with all the dick jokes and graffiti? It's enough to make the rest of us wonder.

Doctrine Man. An anonymous Facebook feed, Doctrine Man covers the absurdity and heartless bureaucracy angles of life at the Pentagon. It's definitely officer humor, but you know what? We all need to show some tolerance now and then. Even for...well...one of them.

*Yeah, I know. There are no Ex-Marines. Deal with it. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Bomb for Dave and Ben Wolverton

Ben Wolverton, the sixteen-year old son of author David Wolverton, was involved in a long-boarding accident last week, that left him with multiple injuries, including a severe brain trauma. Now his family is facing some astronomical medical bills as they fight to keep Ben alive. With that in mind, today an organized Book Bomb is taking place on amazon.com, with fans and well wishers purchasing copies of Dave's YA fantasy novel Nightingale or his non-fiction book Million Dollar Outlines.

Dave has been paying it forward on the behalf of others for years. Both as a Writers of the Future contest judge, and as veteran professional who has offered advice and hard-won wisdom on the craft to newcomers like me. So if you've got a few bucks and are interested in either YA fiction or how to write a solid novel outline, you may want to consider purchasing one of the books mentioned above. Or, alternatively, make a donation for Ben on the Kickstarter-style medical funding site Go Fund Me.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Lasers. Frickn' Lasers

The Navy is rolling out its first ship-mounted laser, practicing burning up drones and incinerating speedboats. Which is rather impressive because the hazy, humid environment of the sea is a lousy area as far as lazing goes. All of those natural pollutants and obscurants have made it difficult during the development of laser technology to deliver enough power to kill soft targets. Apparently, however, the tuning software and optics has reached the point where it's not only doable, but deployable.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sunset II

Group two of a set of photos I shot at Indian Beach, Cannon State Park in January. Not quite as good as the first group, but still worth posting.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Apologies for the long silence

The end of the last school term and a lot of fiction writing ended up taking up most of my time these past few weeks. A's were earned, and good revisions made to an existing work in response to thoughtful criticism by an insightful  beta reader. So it was productive stretch, but this poor blog sat neglected as a result. With the start of a new term, things should get back to normal. Which will hopefully not include regular apologies.

Also, the delay in posting wasn't entirely due to productivity run rampant. A play through of the entire Mass Effect trilogy during the last two weeks of school and spring break didn't help either. On the other hand, being a broke-assed student once again, it was the closest thing I got to a road trip or other form of actual vacation, vacation, and it was relaxing. Or rather, it was amazingly immersive and created a wonderful sense of transport. Of actually being someplace exotic and beautiful and...well...elsewhere.

I still dislike the trilogy's ending. Even with a year's distance from the initial impression, and the explanatory extended cut tacked on, the story still feels like it goes massively off the rails in the last ten or so minutes. Without getting into details, it's like someone tried to stitch the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey on to the final minutes of Return of the Jedi, but with none of the setup, character development, and threaded themes that prepare film-goers / game players for a cerebral finale.

Ginger Femshep crooks an eyebrow at your ending (From ME2)

What I enjoyed about Mass Effect 3 this time 'round was the recently released Citadel DLC. The new content added some much needed lightheartedness to second half of the game, and a sense of emotional closure that was absent from previous iterations.


Lastly, a tip of the hat to whoever hacked my account  for this blog and left a cryptic message in a draft article about "making the unit look good." It's certainly thematic, with all of the writing these past few months on cyberwafare issues, and a little flattering. That said, I'd appreciate it greatly if you didn't try and go for a lot flattering

Mass Effect 2: Best of Photos

Some favorite screenshots from the ME2 play through. Sadly, EA has not allowed in game photos in its Origin software overlay, so I've got nothing for Mass Effect 3. Which is a shame, as it's a beautiful game aesthetically.


Dodge Ball

Shepard, I think a major plot point got cut somewhere between the second and third games...

Guns. Lots of them. 


Hudson School

Shepard Commander!

Breath, aim, release, squeeze 

Psychics at War. Oil panting. 

Riding off into the sunset brown dwarf