Northwind, The Contributor

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10/30/2020 5:07 PM

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Northwind is professor for various disciplines at various universities in various countries. He is the author of a number of books (although nothing that you would have read) and quite a lot of technical papers. You might have seen reporting about his work in National Geographic, Time and The Wall Street Journal.

He prides himself on a number of technical skills that are almost entirely useless outside his own imagination. These include extinct martial arts, programming languages (both ephemeral and antiquated), quaint webdesign, obscure algebra and the ability to make sense of almost everything

He spends his time on mysterious online sites run by a bunch of weird enthusiasts.


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Please check out my short stories below:


I really like the following storygames by others authors:

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The Covid Assignment

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It is the end of January 2020. You are a network scientist who is asked to advise on possible responses to Covid-19, a new infectious disease that is just emerging. At this early stage much is till uncertain, but know what needs to be done. Can you get your numbers straight and will others listen to your advice at all?  

I have refrained from political commentary as much as possible and steered around some partisan issues. As a result all characters are purely fictional, and the game needed to be fairly linear. Nevertheless there are important choices and three different endings. 

Play this as a quiz about maths, epidemiology and communication skills. 

Recent Posts

Racist or Rapist? on 10/28/2020 2:46:49 PM
The End justifies the means

Racist or Rapist? on 10/28/2020 1:31:07 PM
Your cynicism is misplaced. We are on this planet together and an unstable US or one with dictatorial leanings is bad for all of us. In this case the alternative is so bad that I would even vote for an elderly lawyer (if I could). I heard too many people talking about the "global baroque" recently and don't have much desire to live through it.

Racist or Rapist? on 10/28/2020 6:18:36 AM
Texas does look unusually close this time round.

Does this government make sense? on 10/27/2020 2:43:49 AM
Really looking forward to this now.

Does this government make sense? on 10/24/2020 5:33:27 PM

Wow, that sounds fascinating. I already love the setting.

It sounds very believable. Particularly motivating a thieves guild is hard, and sometimes one just has to suspend disbelief. In fantasy worlds thieves form guilds all the time because thieves guilds are fun, that's reason enough. But if you are looking to poke holes or looking for inspiration here are some questions that I would ask:

  • So military power is centralized in the guard. Why do they see the need to follow the nobles? In the real world the nobles in feudal societies legitimize themselves by military strength. If they don't command the military strength themselves, what keeps the leaders of the guard from becoming the new nobles.
  • What keeps the church from deciding they should be in charge? If their deity is real would it not be natural to use their power to seize leadership. Is there a religious doctrine against it?
  • So over time the Royals increase in numbers. One could guess that in a reasonably stable world they could double every 25 years (medieval dynasties did), so in 250 years their numbers would increase a thousandfold. How do they deal with this, or have they suffered great losses in the recent past?
  • So the royals vote? Have they all equal votes? Why don't the more powerful ones think they should have more influence?
  • Reading that part again, you say the factions vote, if there is an equal vote on policy what role do the nobles play at all?
  • One result of coalition theory is that a three sided power balance always decays into a two against one situation. Basically the risk of being the isolated party is so great that one just has to conspire with one of the other two. The outcome is normally that the two weakest parties band together against the stronger one. So that would mean ...
  • How does the thieves guild actually work internally? If they disagree on policy, how do conflicts within the guild get resolved?
  • The same question could be asked for the merchants. So likely there are internal power dynamics. Why don't the leaders of the merchants use their power to increase their profits. (And then use their profits to increase their power). Or do they?
  • The psychology of the thieves guild's role is interesting: They basically vote by blackmail, but the most efficient form of blackmail would be to target the actual delegates of the other factions that cast the votes. But then, I guess, at least the delegates of the guard could never vote with the thieves guild, because they would seem to be corruptly influenced, which would undermine their standing in their own organization. Any thoughts on this?

Need funny Bill ideas for President simulator. on 10/22/2020 3:41:41 PM

OK here are some more allegedly real laws that I found:

  • $500 fine for using a nuclear weapon
  • Illegal to have a skunk as pet
  • Make it illegal to eat friend chicken with knife and fork
  • Black cats must wear a bell on friday the 13th
  • Make advertising on tombstones illegal
  • No dancing to the national anthem
  • Companies must provide ample supply of toilet paper in coal mines
  • Can't keep a skunk as a pet
  • Donkeys can't sleep in a bathtub
  • Make it Illegal to honk near a sandwich shop after 9pm
  • It's illegal to for a woman to marry the same man more than 3 times
  • Ban giving rats as presents
  • Idiots are banned from voting (yes, actual law NM, not my cynical commentary)
  • Illegal to trick-or-treat when you are over 14

Need funny Bill ideas for President simulator. on 10/22/2020 3:17:23 PM

Why not just use real laws that actually exist? Makes a nice insider joke.

Funny US laws are imminently googlable. Of course the most fun ones are state and local laws your president can make them federal laws.

For example, I had no idea that it is illegal to mispronounce Arkansas.

For good measure I'd throw in the 3rd amendment.

Possible to update on 10/22/2020 3:10:14 PM

If you want feedback on your story before it is finished you can enable the sneak peak feature and ask people to look at it.

How Do You Make Friends? on 10/17/2020 5:23:11 AM

You can make friends fast or slow. What matters is how many experiences you share.

Most people remember "fiends from school". School is in itself a disruptive experience that you share with your classmates and happens during a phase of life when many things are still new and you do many things for the first time. But some people get unlucky and end up in a class of people they don't want to be friend with. That's ok, better no friends than bad friends.

Another great opportunity is when you start university. Again everything is new and you are together with a group of people who share your interests and are in exactly the same situation. So "friends from university" is a thing.

Starting a new job is not quite a good opportunity as starting university. For you everything is new but for your colleagues is the same old. So you many new experiences but they aren't really shared with your colleagues. What may happen is that you get trolled a lot by older colleagues, and the best is to see this as a misguided attempt to create shared experiences. The grinding culture that abounds in tech firms is self-destructive in the long run but also a way to make friends. Working day-and-night together to get a project over the finish line is a great shared experience.

Some people go out drinking to make friends. After all, crashing completely is a shared experience, though rarely a pleasant one, and a great route to addiction.

In adult life we have too few new experiences unless we actually go out of our comfort zone. Everything that provides shared experiences will do. Join the red cross take a language course, go to a demonstration, or play a team-based game such as ingress.

Hatter's Sketchbook on 10/12/2020 2:36:58 PM
Really good work!