That underlying angst made M.O.O.N.’s songs a perfect fit for Hotline Miami. Created primarily on Ableton by tinkering with presets and splicing loops, his contributions center around dissonant melodic intervals and bass-heavy BPMs that increase the player’s heart rate, a key part of the soundtrack’s efficiency. A song like “Hydrogen” helps players sharpen their focus while simultaneously ratcheting their anxiety, egging on a desire for revenge. On difficult levels, the sheer repetition of techno helps detach you from the unsettling feeling of bashing someone’s skull with a baseball bat or shooting a guard dog with a machine gun before it attacks you. The Hotline Miami soundtrack doesn’t just sound cool; it’s a stylish aesthetic-turned-mindset that intentionally helps players numb the problems around them.
“Rather than get you cognitively engaged, techno is actually trying to—as one neuroscientist said—free you from the ‘dominance of reality’ and let your mind drift off into other places without worrying that you’re going to miss something,” explains Berklee professor and music psychologist Dr. Susan Rogers. When overlaid with the game itself, the music’s effect becomes a delicate balance of repetition, cross-modal perception, and synths as a unique neural reward for imagination, urging players to disassociate in a fun way. “In the case of electronic music, it’s not cognitively taxing,” she continues. “We don’t have to think about it in order to enjoy it.”
In addition to bolstering the 2010s indie-game surge, Hotline Miami helped popularize the trend of pairing adrenaline-pumping electronic music with fast-paced combat, vibrant color schemes, and stylish kills. In recent years, that combination appears in games like 2022’s Rollerdrome or 2019’s Project Downfall. Perhaps it’s because they already signed Hotline Miami, but video game publisher Devolver Digital has a keen eye for high-octane games with this dynamic in particular. Ruiner is a brutal 2017 cyberpunk shooter set in the future, and Katana Zero is a 2019 neo-noir about an assassin who must kill enemies and manipulate time to dodge attacks. Both games boast icy techno soundtracks that were pressed to vinyl. Then there’s My Friend Pedro, the creative 2019 side-scroller shoot-em-up that went viral thanks to its inherent GIF-ability. That game’s ominous score sounds like Trent Reznor hosting a Blade rave.
“Those games all elicited strong emotions, be it laughter, excitement, or just incoherent yelling,” recalls Robbie Paterson, a representative from Devolver. The cross-modal perception that comes into play with all of these games tends to reward sensory overload—bright colors, fast movement, loud music that keeps you alert while getting you to focus—which is what gives unrelenting games that distinct rush. Paterson boils it down even more: “Generally, if a game pops up that looks weird and feels good to play, we’re interested.”
Nicholas Weaver wrote an excellent paper on the problems of cryptocurrencies and the need to regulate the space—with all existing regulations. His conclusion:
Regulators, especially regulators in the United States, often fear accusations of stifling innovation. As such, the cryptocurrency space has grown over the past decade with very little regulatory oversight.
But fortunately for regulators, there is no actual innovation to stifle. Cryptocurrencies cannot revolutionize payments or finance, as the basic nature of all cryptocurrencies render them fundamentally unsuitable to revolutionize our financial system—which, by the way, already has decades of successful experience with digital payments and electronic money. The supposedly “decentralized” and “trustless” cryptocurrency systems, both technically and socially, fail to provide meaningful benefits to society—and indeed, necessarily also fail in their foundational claims of decentralization and trustlessness.
When regulating cryptocurrencies, the best starting point is history. Regulating various tokens is best done through the existing securities law framework, an area where the US has a near century of well-established law. It starts with regulating the issuance of new cryptocurrency tokens and related securities. This should substantially reduce the number of fraudulent offerings.
Similarly, active regulation of the cryptocurrency exchanges should offer substantial benefits, including eliminating significant consumer risk, blocking key money-laundering channels, and overall producing a far more regulated and far less manipulated market.
Finally, the stablecoins need basic regulation as money transmitters. Unless action is taken they risk becoming substantial conduits for money laundering, but requiring them to treat all users as customers should prevent this risk from developing further.
Read the whole thing.
Stanford University's IT department created a list of offensive terms and phrases accompanied by alternative recommendations. Until recently, the list was publicly available, but the university's website has made it password-protected after significant criticism.
"The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) is a multi-phase, multi-year project to address harmful language in IT at Stanford," notes the list. "The goal of (EHLI) is to eliminate many forms of harmful language, including racist, violent, and biased (e.g., disability bias, ethnic bias, ethnic slurs, gender bias, implicit bias, sexual bias) language in Stanford websites and code."
The list, which was recently discovered—and ruthlessly mocked—by The Wall Street Journal will feel familiar to anyone who has ever encountered universities' microaggression reporting protocols. It includes somewhat outdated expressions with problematic racial origins that hardly anyone remembers, like "low man on the totem pole" and "long time no see." It also features many words and phrases that are inoffensive but could possibly be perceived as racial or gendered if you squinted at them long enough: "white paper," "webmaster," etc. The term "American" is disfavored on technical grounds, since not all Americans are denizens of the U.S.
Then there are a bunch of expressions to which the IT department objects because they are too vivid, including "beating a dead horse" and "take a stab at it." I would say that being against these terms is stupid or crazy, but both "stupid" and "crazy" are on the list as well.
The list also includes at least a few terms that were themselves preferred over supposedly more offensive options until very recently. A good example is "survivor," which used to appear as an acceptable substitute for "victim" but is apparently out of fashion: The IT department now prefers "person who has been impacted by." This is a good example of how attempts to make language more politically correct almost always involve making it more cumbersome.
But the list's runaway winner for most baffling inclusion is: "Karen," a term that only recently entered the cultural lexicon. Instead of saying "Karen," the IT department would like people to say "demanding or entitled White woman." (The latter strikes these ears as significantly more derisive, but I am not a Stanford guy, er, person.)
The Wall Street Journal story went viral—as entries in this category tend to—and was widely covered in conservative media. As always, one must note that neither Stanford nor other campuses are forcing students to stop saying these words. It is true, however, that dozens of schools have set up tip lines that explicitly permit students to report each other—and their teachers—for using harmful language. Unsurprisingly, Stanford is among them.
The post Stanford Seeks the 'Elimination of Harmful Language' Like 'American,' 'Stupid,' and…'Karen' appeared first on Reason.com.
There are these.