Thursday, October 11, 2007


And there's something about a chilly, rainy day that makes me want to goof off.

... even more than usual, I mean.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

from Stephen Colbert: "How are you supposed to protest an abuse of authority, when an authority figure has told you not to?"

And here's a bit more for context:

Last night, I told you all about the University of Florida student who asked John Kerry a question — and ended up with a sack full o' taser. I was particularly impressed by the response of his peers, who, at a moment's notice, sat back and watched.

Well, a student present at the tasering responded. One Sir D.W.D. astutely said, "Stephen Colbert stated we stood idly around, not helping. How could we help with police officers telling us to back off …"

My point exactly. How are you supposed to protest an abuse of authority, when an authority figure has told you not to? There is a reason you received that knighthood, "Sir" D.W.D .!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Burn Baby Burn

I confess, I have a particular hatred of resumés.  It probably started when I first had to create my own, but has long since gone beyond that.  The damn things just nauseate me, no matter whose they are.  It doesn't help that you can't spell it correctly without those wretched accent marks.  Ugh.  I can't even explain it.  It's like the cockroach reaction.  It doesn't make sense that they're any worse than any other vermin, but for some reason they are.  I see a resumé scurrying up my screen and I just want to knock it off and stomp on it until I can't tell what it used to be anymore.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bridge Over I-40

Here's a factoid about the recent disaster from the geniuses at Fox News.
The entire span of an interstate bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River during evening rush hour Wednesday, sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.

— A look at recent fatal bridge disasters in U.S. history:

• Bridge/location: Silver Bridge, Ohio River
Date: Dec. 1967
Deaths: 46

• Bridge/location: Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Point Pleasant, W.Va.
Date: May 1980
Deaths: 35

• Bridge/location: Schoharie Creek Bridge, Amsterdam, NY
Date: April 1987
Deaths: 10

• Bridge/location: Hatchie River Bridge, Covington, Tenn.
Date: April 1989
Deaths: 8

• Bridge/location: Zuber Creek Culvert
Date: Jan. 1983
Deaths: 5

• Bridge/location: Bridge over I-40 in eastern Oklahoma
Date: May 26, 2002
Deaths: 14
Note how every entry except the last one has some fairly specific information about where it is. You might also notice that, although the "bridge over I-40" incident had a higher death toll than any but the top two, it's last. If you think that's because they're in chronological order, then take a look at the "Zuber Creek Culvert" entry .

But that's not the funny part. It wasn't a "bridge over I-40." It was I-40. This is not just a couple of rickety boards over some culvert (in which case it would make perfect sense to leave the name out). It was an interstate highway over the ARKANSAS FREAKIN' RIVER, a waterway that crosses four states and is a major tributary of the Mississippi.


Monday, July 30, 2007


All I want are some frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams!

US 'plans stealth shark spies'
BBC News, Thursday, 2 March 2006, 16:44 GMT

Pentagon scientists are planning to turn sharks into "stealth spies" capable of tracking vessels undetected, a British magazine has reported. They want to remotely control the sharks by implanting electrodes in their brains, The New Scientist says...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blue Sky

The Sun is shining in the sky.
There ain't a cloud in sight.
It's stopped raining,
Everybody's in the play,
and don't you know
it's a beautiful new day!
(hey hey)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mundane Sci Fi

So I get this email from Mike:
Information on submitting for the upcoming "Mundane SF" issue of Interzone. At first I thought this was an interesting challenge and wanted to do it, but as I read more of the blog by the co-editors, their snobby attitude toward the rest of the genre gets more and more off-putting. I also increasingly hate that they keep saying that no one is writing about "big ideas" because the submissions are not about their pet causes (global warming, famine in Africa, Donald Trump allowed to breed unchecked, etc.). I mean, I agree with them on most of their little missions, but calling people unoriginal for not writing about what you expect them to write about is just asinine. If you want everyone to write about climate change, make it "climate change month" instead and stop being coy about it. They remind me of the hippies from that South Park episode with the hippy jam band festival, congratulating themselves on how they're changing the world when all they do is smoke pot and smell bad...
So I thought thought I'd at least check it out, and clicked on the link. Take a look at the sources they recommend. I did follow their advice by conjuring a random Wikipedia article and visiting the U.N. General Assembly site (I already keep up with Scientific American and occasionally RealClimate) which gave me a great inspiration for a story about some rogue peacekeeping troops who rampage through Somalia shooting otherwise-recyclable aluminum cans with their laser pistols while listening to the Four Seasons and complaining about all the hurricanes. One of the brave officers pursuing them is getting a divorce, and his son might have small pox.

Good thing I clicked that Wikipedia link or I'd never have learned about Bob Crewe, the lynchpin of the whole plot. And I can have laser pistols, according to the rules. There's no way space travel could ever be profitable, they tell me, but laser pistols are okay.

I would be tempted to try a serious one because, snobby editor-twerps aside, it really might be an interesting challenge, but I have a feeling that several big-name authors are also going to try their hand at this, and it'll turn out that the youngest contributor to the final product will be Reanimated Heinlein.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Equestrian Hedgehogs

So I'm looking up "chagrin" to make sure I understand the exact meaning, right? I had recently become fond of using because it's such a nifty patchwork of search engine, dictionary, and encyclopedia, so I went there first. The first part was pretty much what I expected, some good bits on the origins of the word, then, farther down, I find:

An evil spirit believed in by European Gypsies. It was said to have the form of a hedgehog, to be yellow in color, and to be about a foot and a half in length. Heinrich von Wlislocki stated: "I am certain, that this creature is none other than the equally demoniac being called Harginn, still believed in by the inhabitants of Northwestern India. Horses were the special prey of the Chagrin, who rode them into a state of exhaustion, like the Guecubu of Chile." ...

Wow. It's not just embarassment; it's a demonic hedgehog. How cool is that?

Monday, May 07, 2007

New Toys

Laying out RPG books with word processors was starting to drive me crazy. I started out using WordPerfect 10, but for some reason my version was producing a disturbing number of corrupted files and strange errors. The program itself may not have been responsible for this, but I switched over to OpenOffice anyway. OpenOffice is a very nice product (especially when you consider that it's free) but I was still working with a word processor and, while I can bend a word processor into something vaguely shaped like a layout program, it takes an awful lot of coaxing and prodding and screaming to get through a book-sized project.

So I figured it was time to find something that was actually made for what I was doing. The big ones, Quark and Adobe, are absurdly expensive. Also, Adobe has a long history of making software that irritates me, so I wouldn't be keen on that one even if it was affordable. Another small-press game designer recommended Serif's PagePlus, so I checked that one out. The price was reasonable, the reviews were good, and it looked from the tutorials to be pretty user-friendly. I bought it.

And I hate to sound like a commercial, but wow, it's perfect. I was making fresh progress on the Athebes layouts the same day. I was even able to pick up what I had done in OpenOffice and convert it because PagePlus opens and edits PDF files too. I'm actually enjoying myself again. Best investment I've made in a long time.

I also discovered AbiWord, which is a slimmed-down (and free) word processor that loads really fast. Nice for just writing when you've decided to do your heavy formatting work in another program.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Superwonderfulriffic Dark Chocolate

I found this chocolate at the grocery store that's like 65% cacao,
with cacao nibs mixed in on top of that, and it's the best thing ever.
It's like eating God. I'm going to go back and buy it all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Death to the Robots!

When I first read the headline below, I saw "leader" instead of "lander."

Lawmakers Rebuff NASA's Plan to Kill Robotic Lunar Lander
By Brian Berger, Space News Staff Writer

Colorado Springs, Colo.—House and Senate appropriators have pushed
back against NASA's proposed termination of a planned 2011 robotic
lunar lander mission, directing the agency to spend $20 million this
year to continue work on a follow-on to the 2008 Lunar Reconnaissance

Monday, April 02, 2007

Troll Hoot

Tom's summary (with pictures) of our latest trip is posted at Kopfy's Kreche.

Three of Swords

I finally replaced the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser hardback that my friend lost all those years ago.  Only cost $3.50 - barely enough to satisfy the Loch Ness Monster - thanks to the wonders of Amazon Marketplace.  Had been wanting to read those again, and my paperback originals threaten to fall apart every time I open them.  Last night I enjoyed, "Ill Met in Lankhmar", "The Circle Curse" (basically a bridging story) and "The Jewels in the Forest" once again.  Yaay!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cyber-Devil Made Me Do It

See how It plays with us?
BERLIN (Reuters) - Several German motorists have crashed their cars in recent months, later telling police they were only obeying orders from their satnavs....