Matthew Gifford

Weekend notes: April 14, 2018

It’s been over five months since I last posted a list of interesting (to me) things. Anyone who knows my family on a personal level knows why I haven’t found the time to do something so trivial. But things are calming down a bit, so here we are.

Number Systems of the World

This list of the world’s number systems, ranked by how difficult it is to count, is fascinating. Some of the systems seem so strange and arbitrary. I wonder what in each culture’s environment and history caused them to think in these ways.

This is a perfect example of what makes the web great. There’s so much amazing stuff out there, if people would just venture outside of the social networks.

Watch the world’s oldest board game, The Royal Game of Ur, being played

The best games often have few rules, but deep strategy. That is definitely the case for the Royal Game of Ur, the world’s oldest board game. You can make the game for yourself in just a couple minutes, if you have a piece of paper, a pencil, 7 checkers (or buttons, coins, etc.) of one color, and 7 of another color.


Go is another simple, yet complex, ancient game. My first real exposure to Go was the March 2016 match between Lee Sedol and Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo. A coworker and I had the video stream running in the background while we were working. This documentary about the match tells a good story while examining issues related to artificial intelligence.

Critical Role

For about a year, I’ve been thinking it would be fun to start playing Dungeons & Dragons again. I played a lot in elementary school and a little in high school.

I recently started watching campaign 2 of Critical Role, where a group of voice actors play a long-running D&D game. Now I really want to start playing again.

Is anyone I know in a group that’s looking for players? If you aren’t, would you like to start a group with me? (I think Angela is interested in playing, too.) I could DM, but would rather play a character, which is something I’ve not done before.

Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin — It is One Thing to Read About Dragons and Another to Meet Them

Like most geeks, I’ve read a good deal of science fiction and fantasy. Somehow, I never read anything by Ursula Le Guin. This article written after her death got me interested in her work. Over the past week, my son and I have been reading A Wizard of Earthsea before his bedtime. Even though it’s written for children twice his age, he’s hooked.

I noticed that he loves looking at the map in the front of the book, which leads me to…

The Largest Early World Map is Unveiled For the First Time

It’s like a map out of a fantasy book. But for the real world. I could look at this for hours.

The Tyranny of Convenience

Angela says I always find the most difficult way to do things. She’s not necessarily wrong about that. But now I can tell her that there’s virtue in it.

April 14, 2018

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