Four years. That’s how long I’ve been working on these maps. My first “commit” to the git-repository that set me on this journey, a tool for calculating and performing projections from one projection to another, was on December 31st 2012 [0], but I remember that I started working on the code in October or November. Any way — Four years! A lot can happen in four years. I’ve changed jobs twice, and am now working with maps as part of my work as a software developer. This is not something that I would have expected, but it is welcome, and I really do feel that what I’ve learned by mapping Tau Ceti has helped me with my work. Thinking about the balance of aesthetics and information content, the merits and drawbacks of different projections — these are important considerations for what I do today. I’m still an amateur in the field, but an amateur with some confidence built from experience, and who knows something of what questions to ask, even if I don’t have the answers. Four years is also the time that Dr Grijndvar has been away on an extended expedition across the Atlantic, but he returned safe and sound yesterday — welcome home, dear friend!

So what have I learnt, and what have I done all this time? Before getting to that, I would like to start with my usual advice to the reader, that this text is very long and mostly written for my own sake: should you wish to skip directly to the maps, then please do so – no hard feelings! I have also compiled a list of the tools I have used at the end of this article, which may be of interest to some – all are free (as in free speech) and open source, and available for anyone to download and use.

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American election made simple:

Imagine that there’s a competition in Christmasland for “most popular Christmas character” where everyone gets to vote. The winner gets to sit at the top of the Christmas Tree for four years, and gets all the tinsel they can stuff into their pockets. Two main groups of people are arranging this election.

One group suggests Santa, because he’s popular, he promises a lot of gifts to everyone, and so on. Others in the same group suggest Baby Jesus, or Rudolph, or the Archangel Gabriel, or a gingerbread man or whoever.

But this same group has a whole bunch of Grinch-supporters, and they decide that the Grinch is a much better candidate for “most popular Christmas character” than Santa is for reasons that are unclear to everyone else. So they do everything they can to sabotage all the other candidates, and in the end, this group runs with the Grinch as their candidate.

The other, quite distinct, group has misunderstood what the whole competition is about, for some reason decide that their candidate is going to be the Abominable Snowman, because he has the best snow, and while his hands are small, his feet are ENORMOUS, and that has to count for something, doesn’t it?

So suddenly, the people of Christmasland find that instead of any of the popular, well-known Christmas characters like Jesus and Santa, they only get to chose between the Grinch and the Abominable Snowman.

The Abominable Snowman then does his best to put his oversized feet in his mouth on a regular basis throughout the election season. The Grinch-supporters watch him in bewilderment, and smile gleefully to themselves. This election is theirs! The partridge is practically *in* the pear tree already! They don’t need to prepare anything or try to make the Grinch more likeable or even try to butter up to the people who had rather voted for Jesus or Santa.

No, the Grinch-supporters instead go for the winning strategy of putting all their eggs in one basket. The Abominable Snowman is a monster! Don’t vote for a monster! Sure, the Grinch may have stolen Christmas once, but at least the Grinch is a Christmas character and not just a random snow-related thing in a crazy wig. Also: a vote for Santa is magically and mysteriously a vote for the Abominable Snowman, even though no one understands how.

The Grinch-supporters then sit back and wait for election day.

Now, the founding fathers of Christmasland were morons, and had no idea how a democracy should work. But for some reason that no one understands, these same idiots are so revered by the people of Christmasland that their idiotic system can never be changed. So instead of just doing the reasonable and simple thing and just count all the votes that the people of Christmasland has handed in, they have a combination of twelve drumming drummers, eleven piping pipers, ten leaping lords, and nine dancing ladies, who look at the piles of votes and then decide among themselves who should win the election. So even if most people in Christmasland vote for one of the candidates, the other one may win because of how the system works.

So when election day comes around, the people of Christmasland have a difficult choice: they don’t really like either of the two candidates, but because of corruption, this is the choice they are left with. Some try to vote for Santa anyway, and these are the people who will be bedeviled by the Grinch-supporters when they inevitably lose.

Because, you see, even if the Abominable Snowman isn’t really a Christmas character at all, and even though he’s said that he’ll get rid of all the gingerbread people and has made a series of lewd remarks about the eight milking milkmaids throughout the campaign season — well, the Grinch *did* steal Christmas, after all… And instead of trying to give the people of Cristmasland a reason to vote *for* the Grinch, the Grinch-supporters have relied on a strategy of smugness and bullying and just assumed that of course no one will vote for the Abominable Snowman, because by Jove he’s got the word “abominable” in his name. It’s *right there*. Just use your eyes, sheeple!

Meanwhile, the Abominable Snowman has gone around Christmasland showing off his five golden rings and promising people that he’s the only person who *really* understand how to get that damn partridge into the pear tree, despite the fact that partridges are by nature ground-living birds and that having one in a pear tree makes no damn sense at all. He’s relied mainly on the fact that *his* fur is white, and snow is white, and white is sort of a good colour for Christmasland, and that’s what it all comes down to in the end, isn’t it? The house where the Christmas Tree is placed is called the *White* House for a reason, you know…

Slowly the votes start coming in, and gradually it dawns on the Grinch-supporters that their tactic of doing *fuck all* to get the Grinch to become popular in Christmasland is remarkably having no effect whatsoever. It seems that the Grinch-supporters have misunderstood the people of Christmasland entirely: arrogance and pomposity is *not* what makes you endearing! What a revelation!

And so, in the end, the Abominable Snowman wins the election, and gets to sit at the top of the Christmas Tree for four years, during which he’ll be doing unspeakable things not just to the gingerbread people and the milkmaids, but probably to the a-laying geese and all the other weird stuff they put into carols.

The Grinch lost the election, as had been predicted by the people who supported Santa and Jesus from day 1, yet mysteriously it is the people who supported Santa and Jesus that will somehow get the blame, because the Grinch cannot see beyond the tip of her own nose. And we all know what a small nose that is.

Hope this made it easier to understand!

I do not want to date you

A friend of mine is going through a divorce, and for some reason this has caused a lot of her male friends to start hitting on her. After the fifth facebook-post about this, and how she most definitely do not want people to hit on her or suggest they should date, I wrote this song for her. I doubt it will help in any way, but still: Continue Reading »

Nicklas Disputationssång

Hade den äran att vara toastmaster tillsammans med Skyman på vår vän Nicklas disputationsfest, och skrev då den här sången, som på ett korrekt och ärofyllt sätt beskriver hur det kan vara att vara doktorand i kemi. Nicklas hade återkommande problem med en ugn under hela sin doktorandtid, och det tog jag fasta på:

Melodi: Kungssången


Ur ugnens djup tar Nicklas ut
En liten olikformig strut
Helt fylld med något bös
Han väger den på alla sätt
Och märker att den är för lätt
”Här måste någonting gått snett;
Jag måste köra om!”


Han dyker bakom ugnen ner
Då plötsligt Nicklas felet ser:
En slang har sprungit läck!
Han svär och river i sitt hår
Sen rådigt ner till vaktis går
Och hämtar tejp ifrån en lår
Och lagar slangen snabbt.


Vid ugnens lucka vankar han
Som bara Nicklas vanka kan
Båd’ sömn och mat glöms bort.
Och varje modelejon ser
Att tålamod och skor slits ner
Snart orkar Nicklas inte mer
Han somnar där han står.


Han vaknar, ser att nå’nting hänt
För ugnens lucka står på glänt.
Med fasa ser han in.
”Vid alla djävlars vassa spjut!”
Han skriker fly förbannad ut
För labtomten har vält hans strut,
Och allt har blivit gas.


Den ugn som länge var hans vän
Den vilar nu i himmelen
För Nicklas gick bärsärk.
Han köpte sig en stor harpun
La’ an, och räkna’ till tju’sju,
Sen sköt han ugnen mitt itu
Och skratta som besatt.


När ugnen dra’tt sin sista vals
Då får man inga data alls:
Vad ska man göra då?
Nå, Nicklas skiner som en prins,
Han rådet från KEM01 minns:
Det är ju därför slumptal finns!
Och det går lika bra!

Please Stop Donald

The melody of this song is “Waiting for Margret to Go” by Chumbawamba, which can be found here: Link


The sun rises up o’er a country once great

Where blue, white, and red stands for greed, faith and hate

A second-rate state with designs to be best

And one man has dreams that are worse than the rest


The breadth of his knowledge is mainly a gap

Can’t find his arse on a high-detail map

Armed with his prejudice charging the field

To people like Donald his ignorance’s a shield


Not very different from people you know

Waiting for Donald to go

With God on your side you must give ‘em a show

Waiting for Donald to go

Oh, waiting for Donald to go


Launched a ridiculous birther attack

Can’t stand the fact that the president’s black

Hates the Hispanics because of their race

Thinks people of colour should stay in their place


Look with suspicion on those you should love

Waiting for Donald to go

Gladly obeying dictates from above

Waiting for Donald to go

Oh, waiting for Donald to go


Happily pouring more oil on the fire

His “War on the Other” will never expire

For empathy’s nothing to those who are strong

Showing that even the rich can be wrong


Snitch on the muslims when Islam’s a crime

Waiting for Donald to go

The new Middle Ages – a horrible time

Waiting for Donald to go

Oh, waiting for Donald to go


The sun slowly sets on a country once great

The dream still is dreamt, but the hour is late

Eight years of fascism with Donald on top

“Loving thy neighbor” has come to a stop


If he wins, back to the 40s we go

Please stop Donald from having a go

If he wins, back to the 40s we go

Please stop Donald from having a go

Please stop Donald from having a go



I just checked whether the star system I named for a kickstarter board game ever got in, and yes it did! Continue Reading »

So, I finished the 3d tech-demo nicknamed “Brandmateriel” nearly a year ago now, but for various reasons (mostly work related) neglected to post it. A screencast of the demo is shown below.

Red aircraft flying over landscape with huts and firing indiscriminately before escaping up into a star-field.

Screencapture of my tech-demo. Yay! (CC: BY-NC-SA-2.5-SE)

As always with these tech projects you learn a lot, and as is often the case you land somewhere with enough new ideas that you would rather start over than take it forward. All in all though I’m very happy with it: the controls are smooth, I like the looks and the particle effects, and from a technical perspective I really like how the shadow turned out in the end (‘cos in my primitive renderer that was a major head-ache!). The stuff I would improve are mostly to do with the lighting model. My model is too general for what I use it for, and I could possibly save a few million trigonometric calculations per second if I used that. The demo runs smoothly in up to 800×600 (actually, resolution isn’t much of an issue in this kind of renderer: it is mostly limited by polygon count, but I’ve limited the screencast to the lowest resolution to conserve bandwidth), but if I were to add more (and more complex) models in order to make an actual game out of it, I expect that this would be an issue before long.

To try the demo four yourself, it’s easiest to go to clone the repository. Since Gitorious is closing down (though it’s staying up as a museum of sorts) I’ve migrated it to GitLab. If I decide to work on it, I will probably do it there, or maybe I’ll move development to GitHub. Whichever way, since I consider the project finished enough both of these repositories should be equally up to date for the foreseeable future.



For more on my inspiration for this endeavour (and for a really inspiringh and awesome talk about the technical challenges of early realtime 3d and how it was overcome), see this great Classic Game Post-Mortem from GDC 2011 by none other than Elite’s and Zarch’s own David Braben!

As you may know, I love audio plays as a storytelling format. I have the good fortune of being acquainted with the magnificent Dirk Maggs, who is a real champion of audio plays, and has produced more than you can shake a stick at. Some high-lights include the tertiary through quintessential phases of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, adaptations of Adams’ Dirk Gently books, several DC superhero stories, a very entertaining UK version of the events in the film Independence Day (appropriate, since ID is a remake of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, a story of great importance to audio play-history), and a an adaptation of Stephen Baxter‘s touching story of a mission to Mars; Voyage.

Last year, Maggs cooperated with Neil Gaiman to bring Gaiman’s Neverwhere to BBC Radio 4. Neverwhere actually started at the BBC, as mini-series on television, but in my opinion (and despite good performances by among others Peter Capaldi in the TV-version) the radioplay is much, much better. Apparently the collaboration was a success, and this year the two teamed up with Gaiman’s co-author Terry Pratchett, to work on a radio adaptation of their joint work Good Omens (which, by the way, I have a signed Swedish edition of!). All right, we’re getting there… To commemorate this, artist and cartoonist Ray Frisen drew a portrait of the production team as cartoon characters, which I thought prompted the need for a comic about the production. Two months (?) later I got around to making it. Hope you like it!

Dirk Maggs in Work Gently

A comic about the production of Gaiman’s and Pratchett’s Good Omens for BBC Radio 4. Characters based on designs by Ray Frisen.


A 42-cube, which reads 42 from three directions, a project I have wanted to realise for fifteen years, but until recently I thought it was impossible. Then I realised that given appropriate rotations combined with an appropriate font, it could be done.

This quick mockup was made using NumPy, SciPy and Mayavi. Ultimately, I would like to have it in physical form, but there remains some tweaking for that to be feasible.

Rotating 42 cube.

Rotating 42-cube.

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Så oskyldigt

Another political song, once again — surprise, surprise! — directed mainly against the People’s Party in Sweden (surprise, surprise! ^^ /skymandr). The leader of this party is currently in charge of educating our kids, and he hardly had time to put on his minister hat after the recent election before he started his campaign to make primary school education more similar to what it was when his ideology was really in vogue — the 19th century.

The melody is perhaps not as well known as the one in the previous songs. It is “Balladen om dagen efter” by Bengt Sändh, which I cannot find on YouTube, but there are CDs with this melody (I have one), so it is available.

Unlike the other songs, however, this is written together with S. I wrote one verse, and challenged him to write the next, and so on.
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