flail doyou ?

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Friday, August 29, 2003


In 1995, Brian Rapp posted a
description of his visit to the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. I copyrightviolationed it to my website, because I wanted to not lose it. I just noticed that the Museum itself is now linking to that description.

I remember a time when I thought I could hide from the Internet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

So. Bryant shares another of Warren Ellis's dark visions. I can't participate because I lost the camera to my Sidekick a month or two ago. I'd replace the Sidekick with a color Sidekick, which has an improved camera, but it's pricey, and the fact that I've lost the phone to this Sidekick 3 times (I recovered it the firsst two times) makes me want very much to have a phone with an integrated camera. So there are four requirements to get me on a new device: integrated 640x480 camera, phone, browser/email/instant messenger, full keyboard (qwerty works, but Dvorak is better), and a color screen. If it can't provide those, I won't spend money on it.

Which brings me to my actual point. Full keyboards on mobile phones are a must. Warren Ellis spells out why, implicitly - he wants you to email him at "dadatag@aol.com" - dadatag is easy to type on a cellphone. If mobile phones don't get full keyboards soon, the following letters will disappear from the language: bcefhiklnoqrsuvxyz. I'll miss u and i the most, obviously.

UPDATE: Obviously, there are SEVEN features I need on a new device. Those mentioned, plus a calculator and spell-checker. Psy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Captain Urine update: He managed to dredge up two new shirts, so far this week. Maybe last week was just a bad time for laundry. He got called on to go over the first case on Monday, and was pretty incoherent. My favorite parts:
  • Concerned that the class might not comprehend exactly what he meant by "defendant fired a gun," he turned to face the class and mimed firing a shotgun.
  • Presented with a question he could not answer, he helpfully supplied, "I'm not doing very good at taking notes; I didn't have to do it much as an undergrad."
  • When pressed, he pointed out that he was trying to take notes, he just wasn't very skilled at it.
  • He was sufficiently intimidated by being grilled in front of class that he barely spoke at all afterwards.

Sadly, he was only intimidated as long as that professor was in the room. As soon as the next class began, he set a new record - 4 stupid comments in 40 minutes. (Class was only 40 minutes long - I'm not taking an abbreviated sample to make him look worse.) I think what's the most irritating is the fact that many of his questions are the result of simply not paying attention, or perhaps not understanding what he's trying to pay attention to. The balance are stupid hypotheticals. Today, the professor actually pointed out that it's normally the professor's job to provide "weird hypotheticals."
One stat I'm not tracking in my notebook is how many classes he goes up to talk to the professor afterwards. So far, it's 100%, and I expect it to remain that way.
The hell?
Pop stars and punk bands alike are piping their voices through the hardware, which corrects and improves their vocal pitch during concerts and on records.

I'm sorry, I know I generally argue against broad "You're not really punk if..." categorizations, and I'm as tired of "What is punk?" arguments as anyone, but fuck.

If you're faking being in key, you're not punk. Call them whatever you want, but punk is the wrong word.

Still, the newer punk bands, such as Sum 41 and Good Charlottes, would sound awful if they weren't corrected with an autotuner.

Fuckers. They're all fuckers. The bands for participating in this bullshit, and whoever it is out there that had the gall to suggest there's anything wrong with a "punk" band sounding awful.

I can almost forgive a pop singer for doing this live - nothing makes Britney's discerning fans crankier than 439Hz at 130dB, I'm sure. Doing it on a CD, I can live with, as long as it clearly sounds like overproduced bullshit to begin with. But for a "punk" band to do this live? I just hope they don't honestly believe that they're punk.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Friday, August 22, 2003

Heard on NPR this morning - Rev. Louis Sheldon, leader of the Traditional Values Coalition:
Socially, and on the moral issues, I'm convinced that, Arnold Schwarzenegger may very well be a worse villain than any he's ever faced in his movies.

Nevermind the fact that he's comparing an ostensibly live human being to fictional characters in one of the least realistic Western media since the acknowledgment of three-dimensional perspective. Put aside the fact that some reasonable people believe that homosexual marriage is not immoral. Let's take a few villains, and see how Arnold stacks up. I've tried to put them in descending order of villainitude.


Wants to control/destroy...

And thereby...

GovernatorA moderately powerful political office in the state of CaliforniaIncrease and preserve access to abortions and civil rights of homosexuals; balance budget without raising taxes or cutting spending
SatanThe earth and the heavensSubjugate mankind
T-1000John ConnorSubjugate humanity for all time to the will of the machines
Thulsa DoomBarbarian tribes and anyone else who gets in his waySubjugate mankind
A group of terroristsAn atomic bombKill Americans; inspire terror
CohaagenMarsDo evil stuff, I guess
The PredatorHumansDestroy humans
AriusLatin American countryWho knows? Raise taxes, probably
Vincent BenedictWhatever he can get his hands onEnrich his life at the expense of others
Myron LarabeeA toyMake his kid happy
SteroidsWeightlifter's testiclesGive weightlifters bitch tits

So. Maybe Rev. Louis has only seen the PG titles from my list, in which case I can see how he might rank Arnold at the top of the list. Even Vincent Benedict, for all his lack of morality, was strictly small time. But nearly every R-rated villain on the list sought to dominate not just a state but a country, planet, or humanity itself. Arius might have been in favor of some limited separation of powers in the government of lovely Latin American Country, perhaps a parliament he could dissolve at will or something, but nothing on the order of the limitations applied to the office of Governor of California. I am willing to cut The Predator and the T-1000 some slack - it's an open question whether a non-human seeking to destroy/dominate humanity is moral. (q.v. Genesis 6:17)

Still. Can we all at least settle on the fact that SATAN might possibly be more evil than abortion on demand and gay marriage?
Wow. I've come a long way. I'm now only 33.25% pure. I remember a time when I was 66.6% pure (500 question test, I think) and deliberately refrained from sullying myself further to maintain the score. I think my score has improved more on the 1000 question test than on this one, though.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

People who have engaged in behavior that inconvenienced me today, and how they can mend their ways:
  • Guy who threw a lit cigarette on the highway in front of my car: You caused a small explosion of fire in front of me. It was not innately dangerous, but it spooked me. If you must litter, at least have the courtesy to extinguish your debris.

  • People who designed the majority of Blogger and Movable Type templates: I'm not questioning the validity of your CSS, but it's generally unusable on small monitors like the Sidekick. If you deludedly believe that you cannot communicate information without specifying exactly where on the page that information will appear, at least consider smaller pages, or suck it up and use a damned table.

  • People who decided that the student lounge should have a vending machine that sells Snickers ice cream bars: There's no way I'm going to lose any weight over the next four years. How about a pickled egg vending machine, huh?

  • That guy in all my classes: When the professor says "That's a great question" and everybody coughs, it's because they want him to stop lying to you. Shut up. Oh, and by the way - your undergraduate years were your chance to establish your individuality by wearing the same shirt on three out of four days of the week. It's time to suck it up and conform, or at least wear less distinctive tee-shirts.

  • Guy who decided to stop boxing me in at the bottom of a hill: My dopey car has a lawnmower engine, but when you move over I feel compelled to pass. Move over at the top of the hill, so gravity can help me pass you.

  • Skinny Puppy: What the hell? Did my CD player skip just now? I have no way of ever knowing. Maybe you are one of the fifty worst bands of all time.

I was trying to look up the full context of "...sound and fury, signifying nothing..." (It's the second time I've had to do that, I don't know why I can never remember it.)

But I couldn't remember which play it was from. (I never really got Macbeth. There's a hole in my mind where a unified concept of what Macbeth is like should be. I've read it a couple of times, but it never sinks in.) So all I had to go on was the text I was trying to remember.

Go have a look at
this. It's ridiculous. This isn't a "Google should have taken me directly to Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5" rant. Wasn't the phrase hackneyed after the first 20 times it was used as a title? If I lock it down in quotes, it only takes to page 3 before I find Macbeth, but... Argh. Don't people write their own metaphors any more? Rip off Shakespeare in the article body, and I won't gripe. But write your own damned titles, please.

Actually, I guess I shouldn't get upset. It's still less popular a title than this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Spent more time on this than I should have, so I might as well share. It occurred to me to do this because I noticed that the blues on Bush's website were remarkably dark for a campaign - I'm used to candidates brightening up the red and blue a great deal. I went through the Democrat sites, and for the most part it seems to be the same story - dark seems to be in, or at least more in than I recall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I finally understand why it's important to watch movies like Eraserhead.

When you see things in life that make no sense, it's soothing to imagine you're in a movie.

Like when you're sitting by a small (bigger than a soccer field, but not by much) pond, and you hear a dog barking. It just keeps barking, but it doesn't seem to be getting any closer. And then you see - it's swimming across the pond. The long way. It's hard to describe how surreal this is, because it's hard to give a sense of how long it takes this dog to swim 150 meters. The barking is just a constant. You just keep waiting for something to happen, for it to start making sense, but it's just a dog going for a very loud, very leisurely swim.

Eventually, it made a little more sense - I finally noticed a guy walking up to the edge of the pond, and the dog came over, and the guy put the dog on its lead, and they walked off together. So I guess it's a thing they do. I guess it's just my experience with Caillech, Missy ADHD, that makes me expect that normal dog behavior would be to jump in the pond, splash around, run back out, jump in, get back out, run around in circles, and run off somewhere. I cannot imagine her going for a prolonged swim.

Update: The dog.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Monday Mashup 5
Right! Time to mash up the Fantastic Four! The Fantastic Four are notable among superhero teams for a) being a family and b) being the most blatant example of Jack Kirby's "use the elements as inspirations" rule ever. It's kind of a difficult mashup in that the characters are key to the concept, so you'd almost need to use pregen PCs. Perhaps we're talking convention games, here.

Well, first off, the only real constraint would be that the characters have to be family. Well, and the patriarch has to be a dork. So here's my burst of insight - the patriarch is an NPC. Everybody has totally free reign in creating their characters, except that their backstory has to all work out to being a family. The various dynamics of the specific Fantastic Four family are what make it interesting, but they're not what make it the Fantastic Four - any interesting family would do. The real fun comes from the fact that they're stuck with each other, in more ways than one, but they don't get along that great. I can generally depend on any three players to come up with at least two inter-player conflicts - maybe I'm just blessed. They can all create non-superpowered characters, and then they each get their new powers tacked on. (This is another great reason to make the dorky patriarch an NPC - he gets the dorkiest power, unless he's planning a career as an adult film star.)

Having made the task easier, I'm going to make it harder again - I'm going to put the Fantastic Four in the world of Elfquest. The PCs will all be Sun Folk. I can hear my players whining already. That's alright, I only want three of them, so this will help thin out the numbers. Some sort of catastrophe (possibly involving cosmic rays) wipes out the respected elders of the tribe. The dorky patriarch of our PC family is technically the eldest member of the tribe, but he's something of an outcast - useful to have around, but not a candidate for "trusted leader" by any stretch of the imagination. Thus, leadership of the tribe passes to some other elf - one who has a grudge against the patriarch. Of course, the same accident that destroyed the tribal leadership has also given our family astounding (fantastic, even) new powers. Eventually, the patriarch will be accused (possibly correctly) of having caused the accident intentionally, for whatever reason - he definitely didn't expect it to make him a dorky superhero.

And then, of course, the Wolfriders appear. I think what would be really fun at this point is if the new tribal leaders - sort of Gen X elves - were hell-bent on befriending the Wolfriders, but Mr. Fantastic Elf, trying to prove his worth, convinced his family to harass and eventually outright battle the invaders. I think a lot of crazy things, though. So maybe that part would tank. In fact, the only thing I'm really willing to stand by here is that I don't have much respect at all for Reed Richards.

Come to think of it, the patriarch obviously knew about the Wolfriders before they showed up, and the accident was part of his crazy scheme to destroy them. For some reason, I'm just not feeling very long on specifics, this week. I reserve the right to come back to this one if further inspiration strikes.
Well, today was the first day of real class. Property I. Johnson v. M'Intosh.

So, I'll be straightforward here. An embarassing portion of my knowledge of the events surrounding the conquering of the Americas comes from Lies My Teacher Told Me. So, I'm guilty of adhering to a sole, tertiary source and it's a biased one at that. But the story it tells is internally consistent. Native Americans don't mysteriously transform from clever farmers to savage beasts in the space of a few pages. Our text is no help:
At least some Indians professed bewilderment at the concept of owning the land. Indeed, they prided themselves on not marking the land but rather on moving lightly through it.

Our text doesn't follow this any further, but it's recognizable as the beginning of the "Indians didn't understand that they were selling absolute property rights to Manhattan when they sold it for $23 worth of glass beads" story. Johnson v. M'Intosh itself establishes, however, that it was the Europeans who were confused about property rights - because the Europeans were the first discoverers of the Americas, the current inhabitants were assigned the right to use the land, but not the right to (say) transfer it as they wished, or legally defend it against conquest. Funny, that sounds like exactly what we're told the Indians believed.

Anyway. I was seething by halfway through class, but I managed to mostly restrain myself. My only other option would have been an apopleptic fit - "Be quiet! Stupid things are coming out of your mouth faster than I can correct them! Please just go read this book before you open your mouth again." Which would have been stupid on my part, anyway, since I haven't been any more responsible in investigating the facts than they have, I've just read tertiary accounts of more recent and distinguished pedigree.

Friday, August 15, 2003

You Are A:

Chaotic Good Half-Orc Barbarian

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Huh. In both these articles, all the language is in the past tense. I don't see any indication in either whether the power has been restored. As far as I know, it hasn't, but reading the articles it's very easy to get the impression power has been restored. I would have expected a "as of /timestamp/ power had not yet been restored."
I'm sure this is up somewhere else already, but this is the most awesome group of professions I have ever seen. My favorites are in bold, but what's more interesting is what's in italics - those are the ones that SHOULD be outstanding, but just can't compete at this level.

Actor, Adult Film Actress, Air Pollution Scientist, Analyst, Artist, Attorney, Author, Banker, Brakeman, Business Analyst, Business Executive, Business Intelligence Analyst, Business Owner, Businessperson, CPA, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Cigarette Retailer, Civil Engineer, Civil Rights Lawyer, College Student, Columnist, Comedian, Community College Teacher, Consultant, Consumer Business Attorney, Contractor, Custom Denture Manufacturer, Director, Discrimination Complaint Investigator, District Attorney Inspector, Educator, Energy Consultant, Engineer, Entertainer, Entrepreneur, Environmental Attorney, Environmental Engineer, Executive, Executive Recruiter, Farmer, Father, Fathers' Issues Author, Film Maker, Film Writer, Financial Investment Advisor, Financial Planner, Firefighter Paramedic, Gay Rights Attorney, Golf Professional, Healthcare District Director, High-Tech Entreprenuer, Information Technology Manager, Journalist, Labor Official, Laborer, Law School President*, Lawyer, Lecturer, Lieutenant Governor, Marijuana Legalization Attorney, Marketing Coodinator, Mediator, Medical Doctor, Middleweight Sumo Wrestler, Mortgage Broker, Mother, Musician, No Ballot Designation Requested, Nurse, Paralegal, Parent, Photojournalist, Physician, Planning Commissioner, Prizefighter, Producer, Property Manager, Psychologist, Public Policy Strategist, Publisher, Radio Producer, Railroad Switchman, Real Estate Appraiser, Real Estate Developer, Realtor, Restaurant Owner, Retired Businessperson, Retired Meatpacker**, Retired Police Officer, Salesman, Satellite Project Manager, Scientist, Software Engineer, State Hearing Officer, State Senator, State Tax Officer, Structural Engineer, Student, Tax Attorney, Teacher, Television Writer, Tribal Chairman, University Chemistry Instructor, Used Car Dealer, Writer

* - exceptional only because he declined to list his full profession, normally given as Law School President/Bounty Hunter. Come on! You're up against a Middleweight Sumo Wrestler, and you can't admit to being a Bounty Hunter?

** - I love this one because it wouldn't be out of the ordinary anywhere but California.

Note about the construction of the list - anyone who had a / got divided into two professions, and everything went through sort -u. Some extremely similar titles have been combined.

A final thought - Governor: The Role-Playing Game.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Oh. Yeah. So class last night was actually broken up into two bits - first a bit from the Professional Responsibility professor, which was just a sort of light "this is what you're in for" session. Then we had the "Structure of the Judiciary" lecture - federalism, anatomy of a civil case, hierarchy of courts, et cetera. In the first class, we got some readings from How Not to Succeed in Law School, including this bit:
During the first year, the law students quickly divide into three groups:

The Active Participants: Overconfident geeks who compete with each other to take up the most airtime pointing out that before law school, when they were Fulbright Scholars, they thought of a question marginally relevant to today's discussion. Their names appear on the class' "Turkey Bingo" cards, a game you win if five people on your card speak during one class period. The Active Participants stop talking completely when first-semester grades come out and they get all C's.

And in the second class, we didn't even make it an hour in before getting exasperated with our Active Participants. On the plus side, the class was fairly outgoing about expressing its exasperation.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Friday, August 08, 2003

WISH 59: Games for Non-Gamers
Name three games you might use to get someone who has never roleplayed before into roleplaying.

I don't know what perspective I can really bring to this one, since my first response to roleplaying games was one of unbounded enthusiasm. Part of that was because I was really into fantasy settings when I was first exposed to D&D, though, so I can only imagine that the best way to get someone into roleplaying is to find a game with a setting that excites them. It's my experience that most systems can be hammered into something playable at an introductory level, assuming there's only one player who's new to the system, so mechanics shouldn't be an obstacle. So if it's "let's try to get Nick's girlfriend involved in our gaming group," then any system should be do-able, just as long as Nick's girlfriend likes the setting.

On the other hand, I think the best way to get people involved in roleplaying (or any new social experience) is to throw them into it with a group of other newcomers - use an experienced GM, definitely, but don't have other experienced people around that will cause some of the newcomers to clam up or feel like they're "doing it wrong." Whether I'm right or wrong in that observation, any time when all the players are new to roleplaying, it's just not worth it to try to soften up a game with inherently complicated mechanics. I'm really no expert on what mechanics are easy to learn, though. I don't think that games with somewhat involved character creation are necessarily paralying, incidentally - there are times when spending a long time creating a character lets players get more of a feel for the game without feeling like they're being put too much on the spot. It also lets each player get some individual attention from the GM before play starts, of the "Well, would you like to be one of these?" variety.

Another huge plus for a game is having an entertaining rulebook - well-written, with great illustrations and humour. Something that will entice the players to read it cover-to-cover.

Teenagers from Outer Space is my first pick. Easy mechanics to deal with, a fun rulebook, and somewhat open-ended character creation that doesn't take too much effort. (I love "pick a few powers" style games because they make it really unlikely that you'll suffer from "party full of fighters" syndrome, or worse "party full of fighters only one of whom has a strength higher than 16, and he's got an 18/00" syndrome.) It's also the sort of game where the GM can lead the players around by the noses if need be, and still be fun.

Someone else suggested Toon, but I swear I was going to mention it before I saw that. Same reasons, exactly, as TfOS, although I think the rules in Toon were a bit harder to pick up.

I'm tempted to mention Nightlife as an alternative to WoD for a crowd that's really into the whole "urban horror" setting, but it's impossible to find, so... It's a shame, the system and theme are a lot more accessible to new players, in my opinion.

I never got to play it, unfortunately, but I wonder if a card-based system like Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game might be a good idea? Cards give more of a visual element to the game than dice do - that might help hook some people in.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

This is a dangerous tool. It makes you feel better about yourself, but worse about your species.

(For those who click through without hovering, it takes you to a random livejournal.)
So, the Monday Mashup is fun, but it's even more fun to imagine what it will be like when it jumps the shark and Bryant just doesn't care anymore:

Ok, last weeks takes on Cheers were great, so I figure we'll take it one step further this week. Frasier.

So, let's see. Niles is a glitter boy, Frasier is a cyber knight, and it pretty much writes itself from there, doesn't it? Great.

And let's see. Next month, I wanted to do a theme month - works of fiction immortalized in song by Rush. I've got A Nice Morning Drive, Anthem, and Kubla Khan, so far, but I'm stumped for one more. Anyone?

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Monday Mashup #3: Narnia
Your inspiration this week is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Go.

The PCs are a group of children in a large house during a particularly cold winter - either a relative's home or an old house that's been converted into a daycare. The Responsible Adults step outside, "only for a moment," and don't return for hours or even days. The windows of the house are thick and old, and the addition of a thin layer of ice makes it impossible to see out or open the windows. The outer doors are similarly stuck.

First one, then another child discovers a hidden door somewhere in the house. Passing through the door, each emerges outside, but in an adult body. They will eventually discover that their new bodies also feature superhuman abilities. Outside, the children discover a terrible ice storm that has sealed off houses and imprisoned people in their cars. One of the children will happen across what they take to be a police officer, who will have pity on them and not deliver them to the Ice Witch per his orders, while the other child will be delivered to her and seduced by her magical charms/desserts.

Eventually, all the children make it out of the house as a group, each in a new adult body with new powers, and now they find themselves looking for allies against the Ice Witch and her mysterious akmost-human armies. Although many humans are entombed or within the Ice Witch's thrall, some still remain free. There are rumors of a great hero, returned from across the ocean; he is said to fight with the strength of a lion, but will he fight for the children? For all the power of their new bodies, our heroes are still immature children inside, and one in particular is constantly scheming to turn his friends over to the Ice Witch herself.

I thought the most interesting challenge would be to overlay Narnia with the regular world of the protagonists. In particular, I look forward to the protagonists as adults rescuing their caretakers, and then realizing that they either have to explain everything, or beat the caretakers back to the house and become children again. I don't think the caretakers will be inclined to believe any explanation, even with all that they've seen happen. Obviously, this could be set in any four-color superhero system. I think it would make the most sense to place the action on an island, something somewhat urban, but nowhere near as big or populous as Manhattan. Even so, it's hard to explain why the Ice Witch isn't being immediately crushed by some responsible nation or other. A giant wall of ice encircling the island is goofy, but might pass. Another problem I had was working Aslan into it. I'm still not sold, but then, I don't recall being too happy with Aslan in the first book, either. I remember being in such awe when Mr. Beaver said, "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good," and I don't recall that awe being justified until halfway through the series. It will be a challenge to make the lion in this story a menacing figure as well as a redeemer.
A few nights ago, we didn't end up with enough hot sauce from Taco Bell. So, even though I had already formulated the metric that Taco Bell should never be combined with honest, hard-working Tex Mex, I busted out my favorite salsa and dumped a little on the tostada. Once again, I was astonished at how much worse it made the whole experience. That's the problem with self of the present - he never really trusts self of the past. "Well, sure, it's not the best use of salsa, but the salsa is so good. I like salsa with beans and corn and lettuce and cheese, and that's what a tostada is. How can salsa possibly make it worse?" But it does.

It's one of the singular characteristics of Taco Bell food. Although it is, in its way, tasty, it is not like other food. There is nothing that goes well with Taco Bell food. You can wash it down with something, but even that takes away from the experience - you only do it because you have bits of bean and tortilla stuck somewhere in your mouth. There's simply nothing in the world that can embellish the experience. I guess it's because it's not really food. I don't know. I wouldn't be so suspicious of this if it weren't for the sauce component of Taco Bell. You know, you go to Wendy's and you get some fries, get home, and they didn't give you any ketchup - well, that's fine, just grab whatever you have out of the fridge. Or grab some steak sauce. Not enough salsa on your Chipotle burrito? Grab some out of the fridge. But Taco Bell sauce isn't like anything else. There are no substitutes. When I was eating it regularly, I had a tupperware full of extra sauce at home just to be safe.

Kraft Dinner is the same way. It's alright, it's edible, but it's at a local maximum of taste - if you move in any direction, if you add or delete anything (except black pepper, naturally) it becomes worse. I get stroganoff mix, and I make it better by adding canned mushrooms. I get a frozen cheese pizza, and it's better with some artichoke heart quarters. Ramen, I don't even bother with their spice packets - I've got what I need in the cupboard. Sure, the shiitake mushroom risotto is nice, but wouldn't it be better with some fresh grated parmesan? But nothing improves Kraft Dinner. Not even ketchup, as I was dismayed to discover back when I was young enough to think ketchup improved everything.
This is a bomb threat?
[Expletive] you. Stay the [expletive] out of my bag you [expletive] sucker. Have you found a [expletive] bomb yet? No, just clothes. Am I right? Yea, so [expletive] you.

Sure, everyone knows you're not allowed to say the word "bomb" within a mile of an airplane. So with that knowledge in mind, it's a stupid thing to do, whether or not you agree with the rule. So, yeah. Kid gets what's coming to him. But, once you make it past the profanity, the message clearly says "There is not a bomb in this bag." How the hell is that a bomb threat? Sure, put him on trial for being insulting to a Federal employee. Get him for, I don't know, obstructing an investigation into hypothetical terrorist activities. How on earth can you say it's a terrorist threat, though?
Yeah, this is all over the web already, and I'm probably the last person on earth to see it, but it's funny enough I have to keep it around.

Date: Tue, 05 Aug 03 08:40:01 GMT
To: coward@flail.com
Subject: DWG Needed tx


I'm a time traveler stuck here in 2003. Upon arriving here my dimensional warp generator stopped working. I trusted a company here by the name of LLC Lasers to repair my Generation 3 52 4350A watch unit, and they fled on me. I am going to need a new DWG unit, prefereably the rechargeable AMD wrist watch model with the GRC79 induction motor, four I80200 warp stabilizers, 512GB of SRAM and the menu driven GUI with front panel XID display.

I will take whatever model you have in stock, as long as its received certification for being safe on carbon based life forms.

In terms of payment:
I dont have any Galactic Credits left. Payment can be made in platinum gold or 2003 currency upon safe delivery of unit.

Please transport unit in either a brown paper bag or box to below coordinates on Tuesday August 5th at (exactly 5:00pm) Eastern Standard Time on the dot. A few minutes prior will be ok, but it cannot be after. If you miss this timeframe please email me. I will not be there prior to 4:45pm EST, so do not transport before then.

Item is to be delivered at (out of service tennis court) located at: Latitude N 42.47935 & Longitude W 071.17355 and the Elevation is 119.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SEND IT SO THAT THEY CANNOT REDIRECT IT??? If in doubt do not transport actual unit until your method of transfer can be confirmed as a success. You just might need to send a intergalactic courier to deliver item safely to me. If so be VERY careful at how they approach me IN MY WHITE CAR.

After unit has been delivered please email me at: info@federalfundingprogram.com
with payment instructions. Do not reply directly back to this email.

Thank You

lbkiyg eplx zydn ymyw

Monday, August 04, 2003

Sunday, August 03, 2003

I'm only two songs in, and I already feel as though buying Dusk Till Dawn: The Best of Capercaillie was an excellent idea. Much more rewarding than the latest Tricky album, which is alright, but doesn't live up to Blowback.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Huh. So here's a letter from a Congressman. The part that shocked me is this:
...As a free and open society, we are vulnerable to catastrophic attacks by those who see no moral or political "red line to constrain them. Sept. 11, 2001 was a wake-up call from hell. On that day, quaint Cold War doctrines justifying action only against clear and present dangers died with the 3,000 innocent men, women and children in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Emphasis mine. So, I'm absolutely certain I'm reading way too much in to this, but my favorite quaint doctrine preventing action against dangers which are not both clear and present is this one. And you know what? I rather treasure that doctrine. I'm sure Shays is referring to this clear and present danger, though, and it's not supposed to be the veiled threat I initially took it as.
So, yeah. I went to the dentist for the first time in many, many years, a few weeks ago. Teeth were perfect, gums needed some help. Flossed more, brushed better, used the horrible, evil mouthwash they use to punish people who don't take good care of their gums. Came back in yesterday, gums were looking much better, didn't need to do the deep cleaning, just a little more scraping, a bit of polish, and send me on my way. Except! I asked about this ridge I could feel on my rear upper molar. Seemed suspicious. I had noticed it few months ago, but then it went away. Now it was back. Looks as though the gums had risen over it, and the brushing had pushed them back down. Turns out, gasp it was a cavity. I'd never actually felt a cavity before, kind of creepy. So back in this morning to get it drilled and filled.

The actual procedure was nowhere near as bad as I remember from the last time I had a cavity. I remember the "small pinch" for the anaesthetic being worse, and I definitely remember the drill sending terrible messages directly into my brain. Nothing like that, this time. The anaesthetic has since worn off, though, and I've never had this happen before, but it's very sensitive to hot and cold. Lunch (hot) was a prolonged throb. Bottle of water (cold) is a sharp stinging that lasts just long enough for me to get thirsty again and take another drink. It's not that bad - I have a pretty easy time blocking out pain in my teeth, for some reason, unlike headaches or bad throats or what have you. But it's just irritating enough for me to blog about.
Wish 58: Metaplot
What do you think of metaplots (plots developed in the rules and supplements published by the game company)? Are they good, bad, or indifferent? Have you played in a game with a metaplot? What was your experience?

In some circumstances, I like that they're available. If the players and the GM disagree in expectation of how much they'll be used, that can be a recipe for disaster, and it would be better if they just didn't exist at all. It's bad enough arguing over the rules; arguing over the metaplot is enough to make me want to shoot myself in the head. I'm going to make a prejudiced, sweeping generalization, here: The most prominent example of a game with a metaplot, WoD, has such a strong metaplot because its target audience needs the crutch of a metaplot. There are plenty of imaginative people out there who want to be undead, and they can be great fun to play WoD games with, but you just have to look at how strongly people identify with their "chosen clan"; how many times have I heard someone describe themselves as a Malkavian? None in the past year, thankfully, because I've learned to avoid people like that. People like metaplots because they want to participate in a story larger than themselves, but creating that story takes time and effort that isn't always available. When you do have a group of people who are all so uncreative that not a one of them can imagine an epic storyline all their own, metaplots are great - they provide some hope of keeping the game from being the basest of dungeon crawls, and preparing those people to graduate to playing with adults.

So. When do I actually like metaplots? When there honestly isn't time to create anything epic. They're great for one-shots - everyone sees the big picture from the get-go. They're also serviceable when the GM and the players aren't afraid to mangle them beyond recognition - although I'm not certain they actually provide value at that point. I imagine they'd be handy if you had a truly massive gaming group, with multiple GMs and no consistency of characters between sessions - not that I've ever seen something like that attempted, or have any faith that it would work if it did. If they end up restricting the game from going in the direction (almost) everyone wants it to go, though, then they're just pointless and damaging.

I'm curious, though, what exactly constitutes a metaplot. I mean, what's going on with WoD right now definitely is. Is it important that the plot actually advance from supplement to supplement? Or does something like Paranoia count?
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