10 Years Of Civilization II: 1700 Virtual Years Of Hell

Some people form serious attachments to a particular game. Take Reddit user Lycerius, who has been playing the same game of Civilization II for the last ten years.

For the uninitiated, Civilization II, first released in 1996, is a turn-based strategy game in which a player attempts to create an empire using any of 21 different civilizations. In this case, Lycerius picked the Celts.

It is now 3991 AD in Lycerius’s game and the world has become a war-torn hell. The three remaining superpowers — Lycerius’s Celts, the Vikings, and America — have been locked in a three way stalemate that would make George Orwell proud. 1700 years of near constant war. A few highlights from this virtual dystopian nightmare:

-The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.

-As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it’s peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn’t any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.

-The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. This would delay my attack and render my turn and often my plans useless. And of course the Vikings would then break the cease fire like clockwork the very next turn. Something I also miss in later civ games is a little internal politics. Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire. But of course the people hate me now and every few years since then, there are massive guerrilla (late game barbarians) uprisings in the heart of my empire that I have to deal with which saps resources from the war effort.

The main post is full of comments advising Lycerius on how best to end this conflict though, even more interesting, is that Lycerius plans to upload the save, meaning that whoever chooses to may try their hand at breaking this centuries old stalemate.

Via reddit : Thanks to 90% of my Twitter feed.

Where Have You Gone, Lando Calrissian?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s another insightfully inciting essay from Jeffrey Wengrofsky, who is currently co-starring as Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York City in Speakeasy Dollhouse, a real life, vice-filled murder mystery set in a former speakeasy on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Directed by Cynthia von Buhler, the production’s cast has also included Edgar Oliver, Kate Black, Edgar Stephen SNAFU, Katrina Galore, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Katelan Foisy, Dana McDonald, Ali Luminescent, Heather Bunch, Porcelain Dalya, Russell Farhang, Amber Baldet, (Silent) James Lake, Rachel Boyadjis, Justin and Travis Moore, Syrie Moskowitz, Maria Rusolo, and Josh Weinstein, to name a few. Everyone we know in NYC’s been going gaga for this production, so please check it out and report back!

New York as Cloud City. Photo by Heather Allen.

“Suddenly everything became clear!
This was the…Atlantis of Plato…There it was before my eyes,
with undeniable evidence of its catastrophic end!” – Jules Verne1

After DJing at the Coilhouse Black & White & Red All Over Ball last August, I came down hard and fast. As a resident of lower Manhattan, I winced at the oncoming anniversary of 9-11 and braced for the immediate impact of Hurricane Irene. Media experts speculated that my neighborhood, barely three feet above sea level, would soon be under the swelling East River, and I imagined New York City’s primordial industrial artery oozing green across my lobby like that scene in The Shining when the blood comes out of the elevator. After a trip to the local store for batteries, canned goods, and bottled water, I got on my elevator with a veteran of Burning Man who shared information about high tides, planetary formations, and the Mayan calendar, bringing together science, new age pontificating, and classic Lower East Side pessimism to pronounce absolute DOOM on the city, the United States, Western civilization, and the world as we know it.

In the least it seemed certain that my building, only a block from the river, would join New Orleans, Indonesia, and Bangladesh as places where people waited atop roofs for relocation by helicopter. My dear friend and fellow Coilhouse contributor Angel Polacheck, herself an evacuee from New Orleans, appealed to her personal experience of relocation and invited me to travel with her to Pittsburgh, but after weighing my fears and imminent responsibilities (my fall semester teaching responsibilities beckoned from the coming week), I resolved to go down with the city. Having been born only a few blocks from where I now live, I imagined myself reclaimed by this land, neck deep in slimy muck with the likes of Jimmy Hoffa and the wrecks of old sailing ships on the gooey bottom of the East River. Hatches were battened in defiance. My computer was fastened to the National Weather Service for constant updates. Rain fell hard against my windows. Waters swirled and rose. As I drew a bath for future use, I stared at the water – my nemesis. What could be more innocent than water and who was I to defy it? Conscienceless, unconscious nature seemed poised to dish out death with the blank remorselessness of the bear in Grizzly Man. I compiled plaintive dispatches from the new Atlantis and contemplated the worst.

Damn the clichés: will rising tides sink all ships?

As it turned out, Irene did not tuck New York into its riverbed with a long “goodnight.” Instead, she spat her guts out all over New England and upstate New York, flooding several towns and small cities. New York City incurred minimal damage, but the hours of anxiously awaiting my fate left an impression on me. Shortly thereafter, my building, like much of the Northeast, undulated during an earthquake possibly attributable to natural gas fracking in Virginia.  In the past ten years, a sense of looming cataclysm—whether from ecological disaster, nuclear conflagration, terrorism, martial law, biological contagion, or economic implosion—has settled on people I know, forming a sad, silent backdrop to our lives. We are resigned to our coming undoing, but we do not yet know what form it will take; so we grin and grind and grunt toward a collective future that none of us will have consciously chosen.

While one of the conversion points of the left and right of the political spectrum may come at the oft-professed fashionable desire to see New York City destroyed, such an event would drown the entire global economy, which would be more than a merely “inconvenient truth.” Besides, rising sea levels will inundate every coastal city and small town in the world and the millions of soggy, displaced persons washing up on every door will make a mess not easily absorbed by any society or economy. And if, somehow, you are still savoring some schadenfreude, then contemplating the water shortages, heatwaves, tornadoes, earthquakes, or forest fires soon to be visiting the hinterland should stir the embers of empathy in your Grinchly heart.

To paraphrase Joe Strummer: New York is sinking and we all live by the East River.

Where have you gone, Lando Calrissian?

  1. Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Trans. A. Bonner. (Bantam Books, 1962). p. 256.

"Hoping an inch of good is worth a pound of years" (RIP, Ray Bradbury)

It is late in the week, and by now most of our readers know that Ray Bradbury, one of the last of the Golden Age of Sci-Fi’s grand old men, died Wednesday morning at the age of 91. The tributes have come from everyone from the White House to his colleagues. There is little one can say here that hasn’t already been said. The man was acclaimed for a reason. Pick up The Illustrated Man, The Golden Apples of the Sun, Fahrenheit 451, or any of his other classics, and you’ll see why.

The outpouring of tributes are a testament to Bradbury’s amazing imagination and reach. But few sum up the sheer humanity of his outlook more than the one above, released by the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, of him reading “If only we had taller been” while Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke look on. The future had scientists; Bradbury knew it needed poets.

In stories of implacable void and burning books, Bradbury pioneered bleak dread in our ideas of what the future could be, but despite his own temperamental times, his sense of wonder remained invincible.

It powered his work until the end. “Take Me Home” came out just before his death, in the current issue of The New Yorker. In it, a young boy readies for the future, devouring stories and launching fire balloons, watching as they float “across the night among the stars,” far beyond the horizon.

Photo via AP

Farewell, Ray Bradbury. (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012.)

Mister Rogers Remixed by John D. Boswell (aka MelodySheep)

When PBS Digital Studios reached out to video mash-up artist John D. Boswell to ask if he’d give Fred Rogers the “Symphony of Science“/”Glorious Dawn” treatment, they discovered that Boswell is, in fact, “a huge Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fan, and was thrilled at the chance to pay tribute to one of our heroes.”

Warm fuzzies.

[via amanicdroid]

No Globes, From Dorothy

From art collective Dorothy (previously featured on Coilhouse) comes No Globes, sale the anti snow globe. This is actually fairly old, clinic designed in 2009 for “Ctrl.Alt.Shift in anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.” Still, I love this one. A simple idea, perfectly executed.

Via who killed bambi?

All Hail Queen Grace

The inimitable Grace Jones, performing “Slave To The Rhythm” at the British Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert. Whilst hula-hooping. For the entire freakin’ song.


Long may she reign.

[Via Wren Britton]

Dutch LOLcat Drone is GO!


If anyone can translate this mind-boggling WTFery into English for us, that’d be amazeballs. Thanks.

(Although, frankly, it’s already plenty amazeballs as it is.)

[Via @M1K3Y, Justin Pickard, Anne Galloway.]

Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus

It’s official: New York Times confirms that that immediately after entering office, Obama ordered the development of Stuxnet, a computer worm. Shortly its deployment, the government lost control of the worm, which targeted Iran’s nuclear facilities.

If you’re unfamiliar with Stuxnet, the video above, created by Patrick Clair, explains it pretty well. Using slick typography and motion graphics, “Anatomy of a Computer Virus” is an excellent primer on cyberwarfare – and a beautiful animation in its own right.

Welcome to the future.

Meshu.io: Jewelry Made of Maps, Data and Lasers

South America earrings. Model: Bad Charlotte. Hair: Lorenzo Diaz. Makeup: Meeks Baker. Photo: Nadya Lev.

Meshu is a company that turns location data into jewelry. The brainchild of data visualists Rachel Binx and  Sha Hwang, Meshu allows you to enter locations (places you’ve lived, bars you love to go to, cities you’ve visited) and, based on those locations, it generates a graphic of interconnected coordinates overlaid on a map. That shape, called a “meshu,” gets laser-cut or 3D-printed out of wood, acrylic or metal into earrings, a pendant or cufflinks, and mailed to you.

US National Parks Meshu

Thus, all the places where you went on fun dates in a city can become a pair of earrings, and all the places you’ve been arrested can turn into an elaborate pendant. You can also connect to the site with Foursquare and create meshus out of your checkins. The site aims to keep the connection between the object and the information alive, and each meshu you make has a unique url (for example, here’s Racheland Sha’s trip to Iceland.) “Whether or not wearing a map is your thing,” writes Mark Wilson at FastCoDesign, “I can imagine a future where, more and more, the things we buy and wear depict something abstract and personal about our lives.”

San Francisco Neighborhoods pendant. Model: Enid Hwang. Hair: Lorenzo Diaz. Makeup: Meeks Baker. Photo: Nadya Lev.