Dartmouth Prof Creates Recession Videogame

layoff_02jpgIn a sign the global financial crisis may have finally jumped the shark, Mary Flanagan, a Dartmouth “digital humanities” professor, created Layoff, a videogame that challenges you to fire as many workers as possible. The game isn’t as mean as it sounds: Flanagan intended Layoff to be “part dark humor, part grim portent.” In other words, it’s a joke. There’s a ticker flashing accounts of unscrupulous corporate decisions and you can hover over workers and get their bios (before you fire them). My favorite part: “The fired workers are replaced by new ones, including suit-wearing bankers and financiers, who cannot be laid off.” How do you play the game? According to The Chronicle of Higher Ed:

The gamer is presented with an 11-by-8-inch grid populated by tiny workers—some wearing hard hats, some wearing glasses, some reading books, and some holding spare tires. The objective is to shuffle these characters into groups of three of a kind, at which point they can be banished to mill aimlessly about the unemployment line (a pen that resembles a prison yard below the grid).

After the jump, more screenshots! Read the rest of this entry »

IvyGate Guide to That Ivy League Look

c-15The Ivy League look came about as a result of an odd confluence of factors, the Cold War not excluded, but it exists today for one reason: looking out of place and loving it. A number of trends have ebbed and flowed through campuses throughout the Northeast in recently years—and more problematically through the parts of the country that don’t include the Ivy League—wherein kids are wearing coral-colored pants embroidered with little whales and cable knit everything else. Throw in a tweed jacket for guys or a cardigan (worn over-the-shoulders of course) for girls, and it’s a trope.

This isn’t the place to judge style or taste. But it’s the perfect place to judge people. A curious blog found its way into our inbox recently—curious because we thought it was a joke for a solid 2 days—that’s focused entirely and specifically on Ivy Style. Forget tips for women, though, because in the good old days, the Ivy League was only for the dudes, the dudes with the money. It’s just like this posted poem song, “The Ivy League Look,” from Princeton’s Triangle Club written in 1957:

Corduroy slacks disgust me
Black leather jackets are vile
Long greasy hair and blue suede shoes
Transform my blood to bile.
If you want everyone to accept you
As a modern American male
You must dress the way the magazines say
They dress at Harvard and Yale

Now, it wouldn’t be as interesting if the editors of this blog weren’t totally serious. It also would be less hilarious if the founder of the blog hadn’t graduated from the University of California-Fullerton. In fact, none of the very short list of editors ever attended an Ivy League school, but they all do live in Cambridge and spend a lot of time watching the Ivy League happen.

Read the poem song in full, see some pictures of fur coats and ugly jackets, or just get some pointers on how to dress after the jump.

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Ragtime Wednesday March 18, 2009: Lung darts, comix, Petraeus, and more!

Brown Scientists Pioneer Robot-Human Interaction, Nothing Like Blade Runner

A few days ago, Brown Robotics made headlines around the world for announcing their achieving the long fantasized goal of creating robots that could interact with humans. It’s not what you think. The robot, based off of iRobot’s PackBot model, can respond to basic gestures that signal for the robot to “follow”, “halt”, “wait”, and “door breach”. Throw out your Ridley Scott fantasies and Wall-E dreams because as the video confirms, the manifestation of this scientific breakthrough is more boring than it sounds.

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Now, to imagine what the robot could someday do. The paradox of robot invasions at Brown has been a long time coming. (Does the hippie Brown image and the robot warrior thing seem more like paradox or perfection?) Since this particular project received funding from the military and exhibits apparently military-like actions—note the same “halt” gesture seen in Saving Private Ryan—it’s not long before it gets cannon arms. This prediction is definitely supported by the fact that the robot does not yet have arms, and it’s creepy that way.

Or maybe the new robot can take care of awkward social lives on Ivy League campuses.  Read this:

“We want to foster natural human-robot collaboration in the long term and the kind of interactions that you can get between people,” said Loper, who was responsible for creating the gesture-recognition component. “That a person could interact with a robot in the same way that a person can interact with a person.”

Yes, you do sir. And ladies, if you’re not busy this weekend, Mr. Loper is an idea man. See some pictures of our favorite robots that are much cooler than Brown’s after the jump.

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IvySports Roundup: March 13th – March 15th

VV9053Once again, it’s time to recap the weekend in Ancient Eight athletics. Determining this week’s ranking order of schools was a difficult task, as the winter sports have concluded Ivy League play, and most of the schools are on spring break. But in spite of these difficulties, an order has been established and presented below. What’s even better is that there is little to no mention of the Ivy League fringe sports, like the Cornell polo team or the Dartmouth racism decathlon.

1. Yale

Holds bragging rights over: Harvard and Penn

Yale’s men’s ice hockey team showed Harvard the proper way to beat the second-worst team in men’s collegiate hockey. Tip number one: score goals. The Bulldogs eliminated Brown from the ECAC Hockey playoffs in straight games, scoring six goals on the weekend. That’s six more than Harvard scored in their series against the Bears last weekend.

And in good news for bad Yale teams, the Elis beat Penn in men’s lacrosse on Michael Karwoski’s ovetime goal. By law, a loss to Yale in lacrosse must be accompanied by a ten point drop in ranking. Of course, with Quaker lacrosse being equally bad, a different Penn institution had to take the drop. And thus summarizes Penn’s latest excuse for Wharton falling in the business school rankings.

2. Dartmouth

Holds bragging rights over: Cornell

The Big Red may have the Ivy League men’s basketball title, but the Ivy Player of the Year resides in Hanover. The Big Green’s star forward Alex Barnett became the first Dartmouth player to win the award since 1981. Dartmouth also is home to the Ivy League women’s basketball Player of the Year, Brittney Smith. Barnett won the award in part due to his Ivy League leading 19.4 points per game, but mostly due to the fact that he looks like the Predator.

The remaining six after the jump.

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We Got Us in This Mess and We Can’t Get Us Out

ozymandias-and-timTonight, the audience of a free student showing of Watchmen in Cambridge erupted in applause at a line that Nixon actually sort of did deliver:

“Let’s see those bastards at Harvard figure a way out of that one.”

Oh crap, it’s coming true. The movie is f’ing long, almost an hour per upcoming year of recession according to one Harvard drop-out. At least this country’s last depression was also Prohibition, and anyone with gumption could run rum for money.

What are recent graduates supposed to do now? There are absolutely no jobs, and don’t even think about grad school. Finance positions, Ivy gravy until painfully recently, are down more than 70 percent. Which is poetic justice: the hotshot genius “quants” were playing Jenga with the world economy, and they were drunk. And yet, who is supposed to save us? Harvard’s Larry Summers and Dartmouth’s Tim Geithner (among others). Maybe that explains why Geithner’s own government is pulling the rug out from under him. That, or they know the truth.

The Watchman reference makes more sense after the jump.

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The Great Ivy League Snob-Off, Part III:
Ann Coulter Will Talk To Liberals (If They Graduated from Arts & Sciences)

bill-maher-steve-irwinThe recent Cornell major-legitimacy dustup between Ann Coulter and Keith Olbermann lit more than a few contempt-fueled fires.  To recap, Coulter calls herself an Ivy Leaguer because she’s a Cornell alum, but Olbermann is not because he’s a Cornell alum.  Olbermann responds on “Countdown” by stating that he is indeed an Ivy Leaguer because he’s a Cornell alum and how dare you?  So obviously, somebody’s not getting invited to somebody’s St. Patty’s Day Party.

But what are Ms. Coulter’s feelings about that other arch-liberal, smug Cornellian television host, Bill Maher?  Well, Maher graduated from Arts & Sciences, so he’s an Ivy Leaguer by her standards.  The two of them yesterday concluded a three-day speaking/debate tour in three cities and The New York Times reported that they may even be “tight.”

In a predebate telephone interview, Mr. Maher said that he and Ms. Coulter were good friends — “Not dating, as people try to say on the Internet, but friends” — and that he respected her resolve. “Unlike so many people in America, she was not afraid to get booed,” Mr. Maher said.

Ms. Coulter likewise said that she respected Mr. Maher’s bipartisan approach to “Politically Incorrect.” “Unlike most snoozefest political shows, Bill booked guests who didn’t all agree with one another[.]”

If nothing else comes out of this, the Maher-Coulter-Olbermann holds the slot the most polarizing, ear-splitting, and self-congratulatory Ivy love triangle so far this month. Now for the Brown alums to chance to take the spotlight. C’mon Jim Axelrod. You know you want to say something regretable.

James Franco Clearly Unimpressed with Columbia Lectures

This shot of James Franco snoozing through class has been making its way around the Interweb. While Columbia freshman have been losing sleep and getting giddy from the thrill of walking around Morningside Heights with Spiderman’s best friend, it looks like the MFA pursuit has been pretty breezy so far. After all, just a week ago, press releases announced that Franco’s first book, a collection of short stories, would be published by Schribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

In other Franco-Columbia news, further details from last year’s rumors of James starring as a young Allen Ginsberg in the biopic “Howl” have been confirmed. Last year, the New York Observer reported on the role and also Franco following in Ginsberg’s footsteps at Columbia:

According to Hollywood Reporter, the film will focus on the obscenity trial surrounding the 1957 American publication of Ginsberg’s most famous poem, “Howl.”

Hopefully Mr. Franco will not go overboard in his attempts to mimic Ginsberg: if he goes too far he might end up getting kicked out of Columbia, where he enrolled in an MFA program this fall.

Since Franco enrolled in classes at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Columbia last fall, it’s been a waiting game for him to do something special. The book deal is OK, falling asleep is boring, but interacting with the freshman cats-in-heat would be downright grand. (Obscenity now!) Keep your cell phone cameras ready for his next move.

RagTime Thursday, March 12, 2008: Avoiding food fights and geek fests this Spring Break

Yale Student Wants $1 Million from Airline for Missing X-Box

Yale junior Jesse Maiman is taking US Air to court over a an X-Box that he says was stolen from his luggage. If the $1400 he insists the console was worth seems inflated, the $1 million Maiman is claiming in “non-economic distress” is actually incredible. Maiman’s sage began last December when the film studies major flew home to Cincinnati airport. Noticing the lightness of his suitcase after picking it up at the baggage claim, Maiman immediately opened it to discover that the (would be) world’s most expensive Xbox was gone.

As the blogosphere quivers with activity over another jackass on a me-mission, Maiman will have to play Wii drunk, again. Without its a less perfect avatar system and his favorite Halo 3 challengers from Moldova. As Gawker points out, it’s not just about having the best platform to play Rock Band on:

“That thing was my DVD player,” Maiman, a junior film studies major, said. He was the 2006 Madeira High co-valedictorian.

Worse than fearing a future of watching Herzog films on his laptop, Maiman is also seriously annoyed by the “unconscionable runaround” of trying to track down his precious box of fun. If only he’d had the chance to experience the real world outside of New Haven, like these two.