Truffle, Frimaire, 228: A short post on vanishing states, sieges and maths.

Short one this week, thankfully. It’s been a week of slogging it through Christmas events and feeling the extra 10 bpm added to my heart rate in hangovers. Augury got a nice mention in an article in WIRED dot com magazine from Ben Vickers and Hans Ulrich Obrist. I don't know if it's just me and my own filter bubble but the amount of tech and occult work in current circulation seems to have shot up over the last twelve months.

I’ve been reading Vanished Kingdoms which I’ve had sat around for a while. It’s a dense book on the forgotten histories of forgotten states or particularly short ones. I just finished the chapter on Burgundy of which there were 16 different incarnations over a thousand years. The history is list-like, interspersed with quotes from contemporary sources. The whole thing is book-ended with sprawling descriptions of geographic features, or, as is the case with Burgundy, critiques of the way we remember these forgotten states in media. I'm struggling a bit with it because of the density and pacing which I suppose is a hangover of mostly consuming history through Wikipedia and podcasts.

I also bought and started playing This War of Mine which was on sale on Steam. It's a really nicely designed survival platformer focusing on resource management in a war-torn city. I have yet to win a game, it's super difficult and full of curve balls and depressing plot developments.

Things I Learned This Week

  • Thanks to This War of Mine I delved into a Wikipedia hole on the Siege of Sarajevo (from which the game takes inspiration.) The Bosnian conflict is one that I know vanishingly little about and is one of those ones that is so complex that it's hard to hold it in your head all at once. The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest-lasting siege of the modern age. 
  • A colleague at UAL writes a thing called the 'Digital Transformation Brief' every Monday for staff. It's a really nice thing. This week he posted a link to this story from Brigham Young University about scalable water rendering. There's not a lot there on the process but it's a super interesting development when it comes to artificially simulating 'noisy' physics like water surfaces which normally take a bunch of calculations. 
  • Check out the lineup of writers for the latest issue of Continent. Loads of stuff on tech and magic. Talking about tech and magic is cool now.

Channel Recommendation

I recommended maths YouTube channel Three Blue One Brown a while ago which uses really smart python animations to demonstrate complex mathematical ideas, this is another maths one, this one a bit more personality-driven: Standup Maths from Matt Parker. It's very geeky and often quite puzzle-based and involves him talking to other people more often than not. Check out this one on the Frog Problem:

I'll see about doing another post next week. I have a lot of reading and writing that I'm avoiding so this might give me an excuse to do that.