Black Mirror S04E04

Black Mirror S04E04

I’m slowly working my way through the newest season of Black Mirror. I got to say, this was a beautiful episode. Click below to reveal my thoughts (which include spoilers).

Show spoilers Close spoilers
The episode starts (like most Black Mirror episodes) without any backstory, and you’re thrust into the middle of someone’s awkward blind date. The two go back to what seems liks a hotel to have sex but you later find out that these are more like apartments that you get put into for however long the relationship is going to last.

The two main characters joke about the possibility that they might be in a simulation and that the “coaches” are part of that simulation system. It’s a short mention and I forgot about it until the end when it’s revealed that it actually was a simulation—and that it was the 1000th. So in the end, the story was about a super-advanced version of Tinder, right? The tragic thing for me was that over the course of the episode, we’re shown how real the simulations are for the people in the simulation. Since I’m of the mind that artificial life is still life, it would seem that this system is torturing these people for the benefit of someone else (even if they are based on those people). On one hand, it’s a cute love story about two people bucking the system and running away together—it’s also a horrible portrayal of a cruel digital simulation that makes people live through an awful years-long experience of terrible relationships that ultimately ends in their “deletion”.

w3schools Exercises & Tutorials

It’s possible some of you may already know about these but w3schools has a bunch of exercises and tutorials to help you study web technologies. Could be old hat, but I’m sure someone will find these useful.

Replacing Video Games


I have loved video games ever since I was a little kid, but over the past 12–18 months, I’ve been replacing my video game time with tabletop games. It started back with Secret Hitler, I think. I backed the game on Kickstarter, they provided a print-and-play version during the campaign, and one night I got 5 or 6 friends together and we played for five hours. It was a blast, and from that, my newfound love of tabletop games began. My little group of friends is filled with Game of Thrones (and A Song of Ice and Fire) fans. One of us bought Game of Thrones: The Board Game and we played it every weekend for a few months. The issue we ran into was that it required at least three players but unless you have 5 or 6, the game gets a bit stagnant. In order to fill a gap where we couldn’t play anything with just two players, I bought A Game of Thrones LCG. At first, we just played with one core set, but as I began to see the strategy avialble if you had multiple core sets and all the expansions, I quickly bought into the rest of the game.

For times when we need to accomdate large play groups or people not into Game of Thrones’ world, I picked up a few other games like Salem and Tortuga. Salem is very similar to Secret Hitler, but actually has a bit more strategy involved (and more understanding of English required). Tortuga is a fun game for large groups that has an element of strategy and social deception, but has relatively simple rules and is easy to teach to new players (but once again, the cards require a lot of English reading skills). I mention English because I live in Japan and if we include non-English speakers in our game days, things like English comprehension have to be accounted for.

A game I played recently that doesn’t require any language knowledge and has some elements of social deception (something that I love) is Saboteur. If you’re looking for an inexpensive card-based social deception game, it’s a good choice.

My New Favorite Pants

I’ve been a huge fan of Bluffworks’ clothing for a long time. I wear their khakis every day to work. They’re built as travel pants, so they’ve got lots of zippered pockets and security pockets, but they are also lightweight, quick-drying and very breatheable, so they are great everyday pants, especially in muggy Japanese summers. Last year, Bluffworks created a blazer that I have loved wearing, and this year, they created matching suit pants to turn the blazer into a real suit. I received the Gramercy pants on Christmas Day and I’ve gotta say they are the best pants I’ve ever worn. The fit is amazing—even better than the suit pants I actually had tailored at Macy’s last year. If you’re looking for a technical fabric suit, the Gramercy is pretty awesome.

Getting back to the things I've learned

A long time ago, I used to log one new thing I learned each day. I’d save up this 365 line list for publication on January 1st of the following year. I stopped doing it because it became cumbersome to keep up with-but I have come to miss the practice. When I couldn’t readily come up with something I had learned that day, I went out of my way to find something new to learn about. Usually this involved a cursory glance at the top page of Wikipedia, but at least I was learning something new-which is never a bad thing. So, I’m bringing it back. No, not for this upcoming January 1st, but I will be starting the logging of new things learned this New Year’s Day. So be on the lookout for another list of learned things next year.