Sunday, April 23, 2006

What's behind mysterious booms?

Here's something that may make for some interesting background in your next conspiracy/fortean RPG campaign.

What's behind mysterious booms?

"Life can serve up a good mystery every once in a while. Weird things happen that defy explanation, that make us wonder how much we really know about the world.

"Something of the sort happened in San Diego County shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, and so far no one has come forward with an explanation.

"Whatever it was, it caused a woman's bed to shake in Lakeside. It created waves in a backyard pool in Carmel Valley. It set off car alarms in Kearny Mesa and rattled windows from Mission Beach to Poway to Vista. At various spots throughout the county, people reported a rumbling sound or a booming noise.

"Scientists insist it wasn't an earthquake. The Federal Aviation Administration has no record of any planes producing a sonic boom by breaking the sound barrier.

"Camp Pendleton officials say no activities on the Marine base could have created such a disturbance. There were no large explosions in San Diego County that day, and no meteor fireballs were reported in the sky that morning.

"What was it, then?" [via Boing Boing]

Out of the Box: State of the Industry 2005

"At this year's GAMA Trade Show, I managed to score a second copy of Comics & Games Retailer's annual State of the Gaming Industry; my first copy arrived in the mail while I was in Vegas. This will come in handy, because the bitter, salty tears one weeps when reading the State of the Gaming Industry can really wreck a magazine. And the good people at F&W Publications (who apparently purchased Krause Publications, the home of CG&R, way back in 2002) deserve better than to have their fine, fine magazine turned into a moist towelette.

"Sadly, their State of the Gaming Industry numbers still don't deserve much statistical respect, still deriving as they do from self-selected retailer surveys, which is to say, in harsh scientific terms, from nothing whatsoever. But, risible though they are, they are pretty much all the numbers we have, unless we also have the ICv2 Retailers Guide to Games, which as it just so happens, we do, or at least I do, because I snaffled that up at GTS as well. ICv2 gets its numbers from asking around, which although a different kind of statistical noise, is still not what the prudish or the pedantic would actually call 'data.' Still, it is what it is, and that's all that we've got. Both sets of numbers are pretty much solely concerned with the 'core hobby games market,' which excludes sales of games to mass-market outlets like big-box toy and book stores, or Wal-Mart or wherever else people buy games who aren't reading this column."

Out of the Box: State of the Industry 2005

Please Help Save Palladium from Going Under

Edit: I've given this some thought, and in light of Palladium's seemingly ongoing snarkiness towards its fanbase (both from Kevin Siembieda on the Palladium forums...and from Maryann Siembieda (or whatever her un-married name is now) regarding Kevin's snarkiness on RPGnet) I really can't justify to myself continuing keeping up a link to this farce.

So, the original post that was in this space is now gone...never to return.

I just want it known that I don't wish ill upon Palladium, its owner, or its employees. I enjoyed the years of entertainment that I got via my various Palladium games. I just don't think that it is right to outright beg from your fanbase out of one side of your mouth...and then bash parts of them out of the other.

I guess that some fans are better than others, huh Kevin?

It is quite sad, but after this the Dorkland! blog will no longer post anything of support to the company. Let the dice fall where they may.

Whatever: The 2006 Stupidest FanFic Writer Award Gets Retired Early

Yeah, there's got to be an award of some sort in this one. At the time that I posted this, the book was still available on Amazon. Its mind-boggling. Check it out while you still can.

Whatever: The 2006 Stupidest FanFic Writer Award Gets Retired Early

"Via Nick Mamatas, I learn of Lori Jareo, who has written up a Star Wars fanfic novel, published it without the expressed, written consent of George Lucas, and has it listed for sale on Amazon. Oh, but she's not worried about the massive copyright violation; Indeed, let's see what she has to say about it in her 'author interview.'

"Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

"No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.

"Let me repeat this, just to savor the juicy cluelessness of it: 'Yes, it's for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it's there.' I feel myself getting stupider every time I read that line, but the good news is that I have a long way to go before I would be actually stupid enough to say that line myself.

"For those publishing novices out there, let me, as a public service, outline all the many ways Ms. Jareo's statement above is ill-informed and/or ignorant and/or just plain idiotic."

The part in italics is a statement by the author of the fanfic in question. This whole thing has a trainwreck quality to it, and it should be fun to see what happens once George Lucas finds out about it. I'm surprised that he hasn't already. [via Jonathan]

Saturday, April 15, 2006

ATF rids Univ. of ninja threat

You know, I wish it were Ninja Day. That would make this story even more powerful.

ATF rids Univ. of ninja threat

"ATF agents are always on alert for anything suspicious — including ninjas."

[via Boing Boing]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blackmask Online : Hey, I'm getting sued!

"The good people at Conde Nast/Advance Magazine Publishers have finally decided to take care of the last Doc Savage and Shadow holdout, because they've become aware of the crisis in boys books, attained new respect for the graphic novels market scored a movie deal.

"Now, given that Variety is an Elsevier publication, Conde Nast could perhaps be excused for not understanding the basic realities of the film business. So, they don't grasp that the plethora of comic book and video-game based flicks on our screens these days is the result not of Hollywood's respect for modern-day representations of the Jungian hero archetype, but rather of studio executive's bets on success in producing content for a pre-existing market. CN also don't get that destroying said pre-existing market is unlikely to produce much success at the box office, if the film even gets greenlighted.

"Maybe someone needs to do a 50-word feature on the topic for Lucky.

"Whatever, in CN's defense, they've got a new law firm, and their attorney was mostly professional--apart from his choice of Christmas Eve as an appropriate night to drop bombs, of course. They even sent me rewewal notices on all 506 Doc and Shadow titles.

"The deal offered was, remove the ebooks, stop printing, no harm done. Just walk away. And of course I've got the green books and the pink books and the yellow books, as well as other black books...

"Needless to say, I turned them down. Cold. The deadline for settlement was yesterday (April 7), and we did not settle."

Blackmask Online: Hey, I'm getting sued!

A Fish with Fingers?

An interesting article from the Time Magazine website:

A Fish with Fingers?

"People who doubt the truth of Darwinian evolution love to claim that there are no transitional fossils—no remains of ancient creatures that have the characteristics of two different kinds of organism, mixed together. If evolution were true, you'd expect to see them.

"Actually, you do: transitional forms like Archaeopteryx, a lizard-like bird, have been known for many decades, and more pop up all the time. But casts from a newly discovered fossil, slated to go on display at the London Science Museum tomorrow are, by all accounts, the most impressive example to date of a transitional form. They come from a remarkable creature, mostly fish-like but with some clear adaptations that let it operate on land. It fits perfectly with the conventional tale told by evolutionists the epochal moment when animals first began to emerge from their ancestral ocean." [via Daily Illuminator]

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Self-Referential Loop

Came home from work today to discover that Boing Boing printed my comment about the Triple XXX restaurant in Lafayette.

Boing Boing: Yet another '50s kitsch restaurant called "XXX"

We used to go there a lot back in college, usually in the middle of the night. It was a pain in the ass drive getting to there and back to Rensselaer but it wasn't like there was a lot else for us to do. The place always had an interesting mix of people in the middle of the night -- students like us, cab drivers grabbing meals, truck drivers coming off of deliveries and the second shift getting off while the third shift was eating before work.

It was (still is) spitting distance from Purdue and while there were better places to eat up the street...I wouldn't trade my days and nights "On the hill but on the level" for anything. Those were some good trips. Sometimes I miss those late nights...eating fries or chili and sitting there just talking and drinking coffee. That was when coffee was still good (and cheap too) before there were fancy coffee places on every street corner.

I'm glad to see that the Triple XXX is still around, and still serving that great old dinner food. Some things need to stay around and remind us of when things were simpler.

Yeah, a part of me misses those days but I wouldn't want to go back to them either. Nostalgia makes for interesting hind sight, but it always leaves out the parts of things made up up jagged nights and broken glass. I am glad that I am where I am...just like I am glad that I've been where I've been.

After all, it was the journey through nights like those spent at the Triple XXX that brought me to where (and who) I am today. And a lot of the time I am glad of who I am today.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cleveland Gamers: Game Day

Edit: Here is a link to the group's email list:

New Edit (4/15): We have added a new game to the line-up, there will now be a Starship Troopers RPG event being run at noon. Check out the line-up and sign up for events now.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

South Park's Chef takes his chocolate salty balls and goes home

A little late, I know, but I found this blog post particularly interesting. Very well researched and most likely with more than one grain of truth to it. The article is worth checking out, if only for the links provided.

South Park's Chef takes his chocolate salty balls and goes home

"Many media outlets including Reuters are reporting that Isaac Hayes, voice of Chef on the TV series South Park, has quit the show:

'In ten years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslim, Mormons or Jews,' Stone said in a statement issued by the Comedy Central network. 'He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show.'

"Hayes is a long-time Scientologist. He's quoted as saying 'There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs ... begins.'

"It may appear on the surface that this is simply a principled, personal stand by the man beneath the hat, but there's likely more to it than that.

"A Wikipedia article says 'In a radio interview a week prior to the announcement on the XM Radio show Opie and Anthony, Hayes said he was not particularly offended by the episode because of the level of satire people have come to expect from the show.' So why the sudden turn?

"The 'intolerance and bigotry' line echoes Scientology's treatment of its critics. A Church-related site called paints critics of the organization as anti-religious extremists, bigots, and dangerous terrorists. The Church teaches that anyone who'd oppose Scientology has hidden crimes, and is an anti-social personality."

In Taipei You Can Live In A Blog

I found this photostream via a link on Boing-Boing. As the latest installment of Asian cultures appropriating words that they think sound cool (regardless of whether or not they know what it means or not) you can now live in a condo named "Blog"!

In Taipei You Can Live In A Blog

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Boing Boing: Marvel Comics: stealing our language

Boing-Boing is one of my favorite web-sites out there on the ole' intraweb...however, I think that they can, and do, get themselves worked up into a frenzy over the wrong things from time to time.

This, I think, is one of them.

Did DC and Marvel Comics create the term super-hero? No, probably not. However, did they not invest a lot of time, money and effort into the development of the concept of the super-hero? Certainly. Very much so, I think, and without any sort of argument. Yes, there are other comic book companies out there and, yes, they do super-hero books. However, if it hadn't been for the effort of those two companies over the last three-quarters of a century or so there really wouldn't be the concept of "super-heroes" as we know it for other sources to "exploit." I think that this deserves them more than a little consideration on the topic of trademarking the term super-hero.

Personally, I have no trouble with it and no issues at all with those companies owning a trade-mark on the word. Will this stop others from making super-hero comics? Let's ask Charlton, Fawcett, Image, Dark Horse, Valiant, and all of the multitude of greater and lesser known Independent Comic Publishers out, I guess that they can still make super-hero comics. With or without being able to directly use the term super-hero.

Frankly, the argument put forward by Cory Doctrow in this post is less than engaging. And I find it a bit asinine to be completely honest. In this case ownership of a word does not equal ownership of that concept. Whoever owns the word, it will not mean that super-hero comic books, movies, novels or role-playing games will fade away (or even be oppressed).

Don't they have something valid and worthwhile to argue about, like Sony and their draconian DRM measures?

Boing Boing: Marvel Comics: stealing our language

"Marvel Comics is continuing in its bid to steal the word 'super-hero' from the public domain and put it in a lock-box to which it will control the key. Marvel and DC comics jointly filed a trademark on the word 'super-hero.' They use this mark to legally harass indie comic companies that make competing comic books."

I am sure that this will end up being an unpopular post (if it is noticed at all in the great noise-to-signal ratio of the Internet). However, this last sentence that I quoted above is complete and utter horse-crap. Do I care if my saying that pisses folks off? Not in the least...the nice thing about the world today is that we still have the voice with which to speak up on dissenting viewpoints. I'm not usually this ranty but this post just struck me as dumb-headed and naive.

[By the way, if you decide to comment on this post...please, please, please do so. This blog is Moderated, but that is only because I receive so damn many spam comments that it is the easiest way to combat them. I never delete a comment because I don't agree with it.]

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Real World Is Always Stranger

Beat that, oh setting designers of the RPG world!

SmartFilter, BoingBoing, and Adult Baby - Diaper Lovers.

Well, you might just find this post a little odd in regards to the sorts of things that I normally post. Well, its my blog so that allows me to define what is and what isn't dorky.

Here's the thing, there's a company called SmartFilter who creates and maintains web filtering software that is used by a number of corporations and even a foreign country or two.

So, basically I am throwing up a link to the sort of clearing house post on this topic that Boing Boing has put up on their site. Good, bad, indifferent...whatever it is that your take is on this subject, things are moving in a certain way in the world.

The question that I have to ask is, are there multiple standards at work in what should and should not be blocked? Due to alleged interests of the point man (I'm assuming that its a man...hard to tell from the name) it looks like certain fetishistic behaviors that some parents, corporations and foreign countries would like to have blocked...aren't being blocked by this software.

SmartFilter, BoingBoing, and Adult Baby - Diaper Lovers.

All that I think I can really say is, read the linked article and read through some of the links that are in it (if, of course, your filtering software will allow you to do this) and make your own decisions.

It is a big, weird world out there and I, for one, would like to keep it that way.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Modern Mechanix : The Gas That Makes You Laugh

"This is a Popular Science article from 1949 which teaches budding young chemists how to make nitrous oxide. It even helpfully explains that the gas produces 'a feeling of exhilaration when inhaled'."

Modern Mechanix: The Gas That Makes You Laugh

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

CitizenPod - SXSW 2006

The folks running the SXSW music festival are offering torrents of free music for performers at the festival. Check them out (over a thousand MP3s) and expose yourself to some new musicians.

CitizenPod - SXSW 2006

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Anagram Map of Montreal

We've all been folowing the recent Anagram Map meme at RPGnet. After offering InvaderZul at to host his own Anagram Map on my blog he came through with a finalized version. So, here it is and enjoy.

Good work, Zul!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

RIP, Octavia Butler, "genius" science fiction writer

"Octavia Butler, the brilliant science fiction writer, reportedly died on Saturday following a fall that gave her a fatal concussion. Butler was the incredible writer who was the first genre author to win the MacArthur Foundation's 'Genius' grant. She was the first prominent African-American woman in the field, and her novels and short stories were an inspiration to a generation of writers of all backgrounds and both sexes (I was ready to give up writing after a five-year bout of writers' block in my mid-twenties when I read the introduction to her short story collection in which she recounted her own block and decided to keep trying)." [via Boing Boing]

Nightstalker and Christmas Story Star Dead at 83

Nightstalker and Christmas Story Star Dead at 83

"McGavin, 83, died Saturday of natural causes at a Los Angeles-area hospital with his family at his side, said his son Bogart McGavin.

"McGavin also had leading roles in TV’s 'Riverboat' and cult favorite 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker.' Among his memorable portrayals was Gen. George Patton in the 1979 TV biography 'Ike.'

"Despite his busy career in television, McGavin was awarded only one Emmy: in 1990 for an appearance as Candice Bergen’s opinionated father in an episode of 'Murphy Brown.'

"He lacked the prominence in films he enjoyed in television, but he registered strongly in featured roles such as the young artist in Venice in "Summertime,' David Lean’s 1955 film with Katharine Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi; Frank Sinatra’s crafty drug supplier in 'The Man with the Golden Arm' (1955); Jerry Lewis’s parole officer in 'The Delicate Delinquent' (1957); and the gambler in 1984’s 'The Natural.' He also starred alongside Don Knotts, who died Friday night, in the 1976 family comedy 'No Deposit, No Return.'"

2nd hand electronics sales will soon be illegal in Japan

"The customer is not always... well, rarely, right in Japan, and manufacturers don't really care about them. The second hand marker flourishes over here, and most people take good care of their equipment, so used goods are usually in a very good condition and are sold easily to be replaced by new goods. It's easy to strike a good deal when buying these second hand goods. But that's exactly the big problem for manufacturers, because this grey market is not generating them any profit, and they would like to get rid of this phenomenon. The first ones to talk to the government about this were the car manufacturers, and they convinced the government to enforce a rule that used cars have to go to the technical inspection after 3 years, and this is a costly matter since a check costs between 1500 and 3500 EUR. Once you're in the system, you have to get your car checked every 2 years, and once your car is 10 years old, you need to go there every year. This is a reson why the Japanese change cars quite fast, usually before the car is 3 years old. Important aspect is that you have no control whatsoever on the cost of possible repairs, because after the technical check, the car is driven to the garage and they do the repairs that the technical check asked them to do, you just get the bill with your car. A very nice rip-off... and this system is being envied by a lot of other domains, like the electronics domain at this moment. So from April 1st 2006, ALL electronic products sold in Japan before 2001 will be prohibited from the 2nd hand market! This means that for example a PC like the Vaio U1 (PCG-U1) will be soon not vailable [sic] on the Japanese market anymore, since it was sold in April 2002... and you still have about a month to get a Vaio C1! It also seems that a 5 yeas old product (made after 2001) will Face the same problem in the futur. [sic]"

2nd hand electronics sales will soon be illegal in Japan

Saturday, February 25, 2006

More Anagram Transit Maps!

Now, you don't have to just live in London to have an Anagram Map of your city's transit system. Yippeee!! One for Cleveland!

Boing Boing: Anagram transit maps for Cleveland, St Louis (x2), BART, and Singapore

There are also links to: Toronto Anagram Subway Map, Amsterdam Anagram Metro Map, Chicago Regional Transit Authority Anagram Map, Maps for Manhattan, Oslo, Boston and Atlanta, Vienna U-Bahn Anagram Map, DC Metro Anagram Map, Stockholm Transit Anagram Map, LA Red Line Anagram Map.

Enjoy the weirdness! [Via Boing Boing]

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze

Since this came to my email Inbox by way of John Kovalic, I figured that it was worth passing along. It is certainly a good comic that deserves (and needs) the support.

Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze

Hello, everybody.

I've never sent a mass email asking friends to consider subscribing to a comic book before, but this is a very special case. Eric Shanower's award winning 'Age of Bronze' - a 10 year project retelling the story of the Trojan War - needs subscribers to keep the book going.

You've probably heard me praising this work. It's the perfect way to tell this sometimes complex story because this comic illustrates the period costumes and architecture, carefully researched. Unlike the Homer novels some of us have read, Eric leaves out the fantasy elements of the gods and concentrates on people and politics. The gods' only influence is through the people who worship them - and interpret their will.

It's our oldest recorded adventure story retold. Fans of 'Lord of the Rings' type stories, especially, will enjoy it.

Here's how to order:
1. There are two collected volumes out in affordable softcover that start from the beginning of the story.
2. The comic itself is bimonthly. You can jump on now and soon be up to speed, if you'd like.

I consider my subscription a worthwhile and fun contribution to the fields of literature and art. It's important to keep history alive for future generations. Once again, it's available at

Gary Beatty

Monday, February 20, 2006

The New Orleans Public Library Seeking Book Donations

Because I think that this is something important, and because dorks and geeks usually have more books than they actually need anyway, try to send some in the direction of someplace that really needs them.

The New Orleans Public Library Seeking Book Donations

"The New Orleans Public Library is asking for any and all hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages in an effort to restock the shelves after Katrina. The staff will assess which titles will be designated for its collections. The rest will be distributed to destitute famil! ies or sold for library fundraising. Please send your books to:

Rica A. Trigs, Public Relations
New Orleans Public Library
219 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70112

"If you tell the post office that they are for the library in New Orleans, they will give you the library rate which is slightly less than the book rate."