Jimmy Breck-McKye

A lazy programmer

Review: Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman

Rutger Bregman thinks the time has come for Universal Basic Income: to replace all benefits and state support with a single, basic, unconditional wage, paid to every adult in our society. Rather than plunging society into idleness and poverty, the argument goes, humans would continue to work, but rather than idling their days in useless occupations, non-jobs that only serve consumer capitalism, they would labour for the causes that truly motivate them.

With shrinking manufacturing industry and the threat of automation as hot-button topics in the press, then, Utopia for Realists will be read eagerly by technosceptics, anti-capitalists and futurists alike. But how well will it satisfy them?

Slaughterhouse Five: Micro-review

Fighting for the US army in World War Two, Kurt Vonnegut was captured by the Germans and sent to a forced labour camp in Dresden. There he witnessed the famous Dresden firebombing, when Allied air raids levelled much of the city and killed twenty-five thousand people, mostly civilians. This experience affected him so profoundly, that he tried several years to write a novel that would find sense in it. Eventually he concluded none could be found and wrote Slaughterhouse Five instead.

Another Day in the Death of America: Micro-review

Take a typical Saturday in the USA, find every gun death that day, and tell the story of each. What you will get is not a book about gun control, but about victims: ordinary people struggling against the legacies of poverty, segregation and American history. Compassionate, sceptical, thoughtful and honest, Gary Younge’s work reminds us what great journalism looks like. It could hardly be more timely.

Politics and the English Language: Micro-review

Orwell believed diseased language was both a cause and effect of totalitarianism. Before he explored these ideas in 1984, his 1945 essay Politics and the English Language proposed that modern English, full of jargon and complexity, allowed politicians to conceal their intentions behind euphemisms and doubletalk.

Review - Wolfenstein: The New Order

I’m piloting an armed robot through a fictional concentration camp. I’ve seen men beaten, starved, murdered and eviscerated. I’ve scrambled out of a cart of emaciated, mutilated bodies – eyes cut out – and wrought revenge on my captors with vivid, pornographic violence. Now I’m trudging through the ashen rain with a heavy metal riff building in my ears, a Jewish Technology Wizard riding on my back whilst I cut through soldiers’ bodies with my oversized minigun and blast them into quivering lumps with an infinitely-replenishing rocket launcher.

Is it necessary? For sure it’s fun as a kind of power fantasy, but I’ve an unease aching in my stomach and a feeling of wrongness I don’t want to peer into too hard. The New Order’s tone is all over the place – it’s a game that really doesn’t know what it wants to be. It presents itself Doom-style ‘neo-retro’ FPS, but it plays like a cover-based shooter. It tells me serious, sentimental war story, but then throws me dual-wielded shotguns like a level of Quake. It laments the tragedy of war, but then there’s times when it looks a lot like a Nazi torture simulator. Ultimately, there’s a fun – if limited – game underneath, comprising some impressive set pieces and frenetic firefights – but as a unified whole it’s a bit messy.

The JavaScript Single Var Style Is an Antipattern

I hate the single var style in JavaScript. For the sake of clarity, I’m talking about this:

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var alpha = 1,
    beta = 2,
    gamma = 3;

It’s awkward to write, annoying to debug, misleading to read, and utterly unnecessary in 2017. Allow me to explain why.

Is Predator (1987) a Film About the Limitations of Masculinity?

The film Predator isn’t just some big, noisy, dumb action flick – it’s actually a clever film about the limitations of masculinity. The Predator kills men for excessive machismo, each in a way that specifically mocks the manner of his swagger. The only way a man can survive is if he accepts the limits of his masculinity.

I recently shared this idea over on Reddit and it seemed quite popular, so I thought I’d a) make a proper post of it and b) take time to develop the idea further.

Why I Live on My Own

I’d just moved to London after graduating, to a shared house in Leytonstone. I was sharing with a set of local students, most of whom were attending the University of East London, which had the unusual prestige of being the bottom-ranked institution in the country. These guys were all a bit weird, but one guy I particular made me uncomfortable.