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How *did* Vikings evolve into modern Scandinavians?

I guess someone finally translated the gibberish and felt bad about it.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2016, 11:54 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Profile raised

If nothing else, at least Bernie's run for president means that he now makes headlines (granted, in The Hill) when he says the same sort of thing he's been saying for years prior.

By fnord12 | August 17, 2016, 1:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

Copyright means you can't have nice things

This remake/remastering of Metroid looks pretty cool. And i'm not a Pokemon guy, but as a fan of the SNES Zelda, i think the look and feel of this game is pretty nice. Unfortunately, both fan-made, distributed-for-free games have been made unavailable because Nintendo is enforcing their copyrights.

By fnord12 | August 16, 2016, 12:02 PM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games | Comments (0) | Link


If it was a band, i'm sure it would suck.

By fnord12 | August 12, 2016, 4:03 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

The Sub-Mariner's Not Going to Like This

Canadian mining firm Nautilus Minerals says it plans to lead the way with the world's first commercial deep-sea mining project, scheduled to get underway within the next few years off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
Only recently has deep-sea mining become technologically and financially feasible, thanks to using remotely operated subs and other technologies developed for deepwater oil and gas production. Proponents say higher ore grades mean deep-sea mining would be more cost-effective than land-based operations, with a smaller ecological footprint that would be less visible.

But these are uncharted waters, says Cindy van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. "We do not know where the tipping points are with regard to how much damage deep-sea systems can sustain and still maintain the health of the ocean," she says.


One likely test case is Nautilus's Solwara 1 Project, which will target a massive sulfide deposit 1,500 meters deep in the Bismarck Sea northeast of New Guinea. Nautilus estimates the site could produce more than 72,500 metric tons of copper and more than 4.5 metric tons of gold. The copper ore grade--the concentration of a valuable mineral within an ore--averages nearly 8 percent, compared with 0.6 percent on land in 2015, says Nautilus chief executive Mike Johnston.

To collect this treasure Nautilus has designed a trio of huge, remote-controlled underwater machines that would not look out of place in a Terminator movie. Two "cutters"--weighing 308 and 250 metric tons, respectively--will crawl across the seafloor on tank treads and grind the ore into slurry using spinning toothed wheels. A 2,200-metric-ton collecting machine will feed the slurry into an enclosed pumping system to the surface. Operators in a support vessel control the cutters and collecting machine using joysticks, sonar and live streaming video. Onboard the support vessel the slurry will be drained and transferred to another ship for processing in China. The wastewater will be filtered of impurities and pumped back down to the seafloor.


Richard Steiner, a conservation biologist and former University of Alaska professor who is not involved in the Solwara project, is unconvinced. "There's no question this will pose massive environmental impacts," he says--from bright lights, noise and potential toxic leaks to sediment plumes that could clog the filters many kinds of sea life use for feeding. The deep ocean is the largest and least understood biological habitat on Earth and deep-sea vents--discovered as recently as 1977--may be one of the rarest of all ecosystems, says Steiner, who heads up the conservation consultancy Oasis Earth. Only about 300 vent sites are known and estimates of the total number that exists range between 500 and 5,000.

Impact reports that use land-based mines as a benchmark are comparing apples and oranges, Steiner says--and our environmental track record in deepwater oil and gas recovery is not exactly inspiring. The deep ocean is unforgiving, even to experts; in 2014 Woods Hole's Nereus robotic sub imploded in the Kermadec Trench, a 10-kilometer-deep rut in the Pacific Ocean floor where two tectonic plates meet northeast of New Zealand. "There's a dangerous combination of ignorance, arrogance, greed and very poor scientific understanding," Steiner says. "Humans are terrestrial primates; we just don't get underwater."


As seen with fracking, we are experts at pulling things out of the ground and then pumping water back into the holes without incurring horrible consequences. And it's all totally contained. No worries. What are the chances anything could leak out?

By min | August 11, 2016, 8:43 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

Italian Government Not Keen on Vegan Parents


An Italian official is calling for new laws that would punish parents who put their children on vegan diets, or force "reckless and dangerous eating behavour" on them with a sentence of up to six years in prison, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported.

The legislation would "stigmatize the reckless and dangerous eating behaviours imposed by parents... to the detriment of minors," the outlet quoted Elvira Savino, a deputy of the center-right Forza Italia party, as saying.


In the introduction to the bill, Savino warned that the view of a vegan diet "resulting in significant health benefits" was becoming more widely accepted in Italy.

The suggested base penalty for parents is one year, but it could be longer if the child is under three years old. In addition, if a child becomes ill due to the diet, the sentence could be lengthened to 2.5 - 4 years, and if the diet results in a child's death, parents could be put behind bars for up to six years.


Calls for the anti-Vegan law came after several high-profile cases of children suffering from severe malnutrition as a result of veganism emerged in Italy.

Last month, a one-year-old boy weighing 5 kilograms with blood calcium levels barely sufficient to survive was removed from his parents in Milan.

In June, a two-year-old toddler was hospitalized in Genoa and had to be treated for vitamin deficiency as the result of a vegan diet.

I love that the Italian official warned people about the dangerous idea that veganism has "significan health benefits".

Hopefully science will win out.

However, the president of the Italian Society of Food Science responded to Savino, telling La Repubblica that a diet containing excessive sugar and fat could do much more harm than vegan diets.

I'm all for arresting idiot parents, but it's got nothing to do with them being vegan. Their kids were malnourished because they weren't feeding them properly, not because they weren't letting them have meat and dairy. Yeah, making sure a kid gets all the nutrients they need on a vegan diet is work. If you can't manage that, don't have kids. Please. It would be a favor to everyone.

By min | August 10, 2016, 10:12 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

More Important Than the Olympics

While almost everyone seems focused on who will be the fastest swimmer today, Brazil's first female president is being impeached for what some might say are less than legit reasons. Here's Sanders is getting his two cents in.

Sanders yesterday denounced in harsh terms the impeachment of Brazil's democratically elected president. As the Brazilian Senate heads toward a final vote later this month, Sanders described his position, set forth in a statement posted on his Senate site, as "calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office." He added: "To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d'état."

Sanders also condemned the unelected center-right coalition under Michel Temer that has seized power during Rousseff's suspension and is now trying to install themselves through 2018. "After suspending Brazil's first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern," he said, " the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights" and "replaced a diverse and representative administration with a cabinet made up entirely of white men." They are now attempting to implement radical policies that could never be democratically ratified: "impose austerity, increase privatization and install a far right-wing social agenda."

Sanders' statement comes as Brazil's elites - virtually unified in favor of Dilma's impeachment - have taken extraordinary (and almost comically futile) measures during the Olympics to hide from the domestic public, and the world, how deeply unpopular Temer is. Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, last month was caught manufacturing polling data when it claimed that 50% of Brazilians want him to stay (in fact, their own poll showed a large majority (62%) want Temer out and new elections held and the paper's Ombudsman harshly criticized them). Brazilian media spent months hyping the prospect of Temer's election in 2018 without mentioning the rather significant fact that he's been banned by a court for running for 8 years because he violated election law (they were forced to mention that last week when the São Paulo prosecutor called attention to this fact in the wake of a new media movement to have Temer run).

Originally, Dilma's impeachment hinged on an accusation that she did some sketchy bookkeeping to hide government debt. The Brazilian Senate investigator's report then said there was no evidence of this. "Shockingly", this didn't stop the impeachment proceedings.

In just over 30 days since his installation, Temer lost three of his chosen ministers to corruption. One of them, his extremely close ally Romero Jucá, was caught on tape plotting Dilma's impeachment as a way to shut down the ongoing corruption investigation, as well as indicating that Brazil's military, the media, and the courts were all participants in the impeachment plotting.


Now you may go back to watching your sports.

By min | August 9, 2016, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link

It is Beastly

Emphasis mine

I think when people are young they ought to do an honest job of work. There are lots of beastly things that have to be done, like working in towns in offices. I don't think anybody ought to shirk that side of life."

-- Gervase Robertson, Pastoral

Also, she feels that 7-8 years is a sufficient amount of time to not shirk this beastly duty, so everybody can go retire now. WOOO!!!

By min | August 9, 2016, 12:05 PM | Boooooks | Comments (0) | Link

"The Kid"

Obligatory: Juggernaut isn't a mutant.

By fnord12 | August 4, 2016, 9:37 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Classic Sci-Fi Genderswapped

An interesting experiment.

"Will you draw the curtain, Commdora. Young man, there's a little knob just near the snap. Will you move it upward, please? Go ahead, it won't hurt you."

The boy did so, drew a sharp breath, looked at his hands, and gasped, "Oh!"

From his waist as a source he was drowned in a pale, streaming luminescence of shifting color that drew itself over his head in a flashing coronet of liquid fire. It was as if someone had torn the aurora borealis out of the sky and molded it into a cloak.

The boy stepped to the mirror and stared, fascinated.

"Here, take this." Marion handed him a necklace of dull pebbles. "Put it around your neck."

The boy did so, and each pebble, as it entered the luminescent field became an individual flame that leaped and sparkled in crimson and gold.

"What do you think of it?" Marion asked him. The boy didn't answer but there was adoration in his eyes.

Oh the times i rolled my eyes reading Asimov's characterization of women in his novels. To be fair, the only characters i thought he wrote well were Giskard and Daneel.

Hines discusses his goals for this exercise in Part II.

Authors sure spend a lot of time describing a female character's appearance, down to clothing and hairstyle. Weird. I couldn't objectively say if this happens disproportionately to female characters or not since my method of reading involves skimming the descriptive paragraphs until i get to the next bit of dialogue. I almost never know what a character looks like.

The important take-away isn't that we should despise older works, but that newer ones should look at themselves through this lens and not make the same mistakes.

By min | August 4, 2016, 9:15 AM | Boooooks | Comments (0) | Link

Tunneling Through a Singularity

What the hell does that mean? Physicists seem to think they can just casually throw that out there as if it explains something.

"We found that the universe passes smoothly through the singularity and out the other side. That was our hope, but we'd never really accomplished this before."
"We know that in the first 50,000 years the universe was essentially just filled with radiation," says Anna Ijjas, a physicist at Princeton University who was not involved in the research. "The normal matter we see now was not really very significant. I think a scaleless early universe is actually very much suggested by our current measurements."

Under those conditions Turok and Gielen found that the contracting universe would never actually become a singularity--essentially it would "tunnel through" the worrisome point by hopping from a state right before it to a state right after it. Although such sidestepping sounds like cheating, it is a proved phenomenon in quantum mechanics. Because particles do not exist in absolute states but rather hazes of probability there is a small but real chance they can "tunnel" through physical barriers to reach locations seemingly off-limits to them--the equivalent, on a microscopic scale, of walking through walls. "The fuzziness in space and time and the matter conspires to make it uncertain where the universe is at a given time," Turok explains. "This allows the universe to pass through the singularity."

They're talking about the fuzziness of space and time and matter. And this somehow makes it possible to just skip over that annoying part of the calculation that can't be solved. It totally sounds like cheating. Although, most of quantum physics sounds like cheating to me, so shows what i know.

Of lesser fantasticness to me is the main thrust of the article which is the theory that the universe didn't start with a bang, but initially contracted before expanding out.

But an underdog idea posits that the birth of this universe was not actually the beginning--that an earlier version of spacetime had existed and contracted toward a "big crunch," then flipped and started expanding into what we see today. Now a new study suggesting a twist on this "bounce" scenario has supporters excited and inflation proponents newly inflamed over a "rival" they say they have repeatedly disproved, only to have it keep bouncing back.

By min | August 3, 2016, 9:15 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

At Least He Knows Which Bright Ball in the Sky is the Sun

I guess. Link

At the award-winning seafood restaurant in downtown Cleveland that The Atlantic rented out for the entire four-day Republican National Convention, GOP Rep. Bill Johnson turned to me and explained that solar panels are not a viable energy source because "the sun goes down."


The event was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhilips.

Johnson, a climate denier and influential member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, spoke of a future when American scientists "solve these big problems" and "figure out how to harness the sun's energy, and store it up, so that we can put it out over time." His hypothetical invention, of course, is called a battery, and was invented over 200 years ago.


Both congressmen went nearly unchallenged by the moderator, The Atlantic's Washington Editor Steve Clemons, who said he wasn't able to find an opposing speaker, but went ahead with the event anyway.

I sympathize with Clemons. I'm sure it's quite difficult to find anyone in the entire world who could possibly have an opposing view on climate change.

Evidence of human-made climate change is so conclusive that it's wrong for journalists to treat its denial like a reasonable point of view.

And now i get to post this link to a Wonderella comic about the media's need to present "both sides" when one of those sides is coo-coo and also factually wrong.

By min | August 2, 2016, 9:24 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

Now Who's Gonna Get the Tall Stuff for Me?


According to a new study, American men were the third-tallest people on the planet a century ago but now rank 37th in the league table of tall--and some researchers think height would be a better tool for measuring sustainable human development levels than the standard economic indicators.
The researchers found that Dutch men are tallest today, followed by those from Belgium, Estonia and Latvia. Latvian women rank highest in stature, with Dutch, Estonian and Czech women also standing tall. The biggest increase among women was in South Koreans, who have shot up a whopping 20.2 centimeters, whereas Iranian men have grown the most, adding 16.5 centimeters. The gap between the tallest and shortest women has stayed constant, at 20 centimeters and the gap between men has increased by four to 23 centimeters.

Height is still increasing in some Latin American and southern European countries but it has plateaued in many other places in the last few decades. North America was the first to stop growing, around 30 or 40 years ago, and the U.S. has experienced the smallest increase of any high-income country (five centimeters for women, six centimeters for men). Other countries that have leveled off include the U.K. and Japan.

Arggh! The metric system! Theoretically, i can picture a centimeter in my mind, but once i start having to compare lengths, forget it.

The team compared changes in height with changes in risk of dying between ages 50 to 70, finding that countries that had grown most tended to have declined most in risk of premature death. "In the case of men, countries that gained 10 to 12 centimeters in height had about [a] 20 to 30 percent decline in risk of premature dying," Ezzati said. "Slightly smaller for women, about 10 to 20 percent, but those are big changes."
It also found that the U.S. plateaued earlier--and shorter--than many European countries. "The west European welfare state creates the best conditions for optimal growth of the human organism," says Komlos, who was not involved in the Imperial College-WHO study. "That's a major finding of this research."

Komlos has also studied obesity--and has found that not only are Americans falling short, they are also getting wider. Given there is no shortage of access to food in the U.S., studies like these suggest that, in high-income countries, it is not quantity so much as quality of food that matters. Komlos also suggests that financial inequality matters across the board because rich children increase in height less than poor children decline--so more inequality may mean a shorter population, especially if there are more poor children. "The U.S. has fallen behind because of the delivery of medical care; a large segment of the population is uninsured, and doesn't get good nutrition and health care early in life," Komlos says. "The U.S. has the greatest poverty rate in the developed countries: about 20 percent of children grow up in poverty; in the Netherlands it's probably about half that." Height has also been linked to educational attainment and higher incomes and Komlos says links to both health and wealth are consistently found. "There's no exception: higher income--taller population; higher mortality rate--shorter population; more inequality--shorter population," he says. "It's undeniable."

By min | August 2, 2016, 8:53 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

Good Thing We've Got a Dem in the White House

Cause a Republican might do something crazy like bomb Libya. It well so well the first time, afterall.

The U.S. launched a major new military campaign against ISIS on Monday when U.S. planes bombed targets in Libya, responding to requests from the U.N.-backed Libyan government. Strikes took place in the coastal town of Sirte, which ISIS took in June of last year.

The strikes represent a significant escalation in the U.S. war against ISIS, spreading the conflict thousands of miles from the warzones in Syria and Iraq.

All of these attacks took place without Congressional authorization or even debate.

"We want to strike at ISIL anywhere it raises its head," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. "Libya is one of those places." He said the airstrikes "would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them," and that they do not have "an end point at this particular moment in time."

Yeah, big surprise. There's never an "end point". We can't manage to find the funds necessary to make sure people's water isn't contaminated, but we always have money for more bombs.

By min | August 2, 2016, 8:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Chomsky's Argument for the Lesser of Two Evils

The broader lesson to be drawn is not to shy away from confronting the dominance of the political system under the management of the two major parties. Rather, challenges to it need to be issued with a full awareness of their possible consequences. This includes the recognition that far right victories not only impose terrible suffering on the most vulnerable segments of society but also function as a powerful weapon in the hands of the establishment center, which, now in opposition can posture as the "reasonable" alternative. A Trump presidency, should it materialize, will undermine the burgeoning movement centered around the Sanders campaign, particularly if it is perceived as having minimized the dangers posed by the far right.


While i can see the merits of the argument, i'm still pretty much feeling that everyone can go eat a shit sandwich. Yes, she's the lesser of two evils, but at some point there has to be a line where their policies are just too far removed from your own that you can't choose either.

Trump says he doesn't believe in climate change so his support of fossil fuels is a less horrible action than Clinton's support of fracking when she does acknowledge climate change is real (the caveat being you can't actually believe anything Trump says he thinks or doesn't think). One is the action of a crazy moron. The other is a calculated action that says "Fuck you. There's profit to be had."

The one and only thing that i get hung up on is the impact on the most vulnerable. But then Clinton was shilling for her husband's the Welfare Reform Act in the 90s and i think "the most vulnerable will be in trouble no matter who wins."

Also, i'm super full of rage, so judgement impaired.

By min | July 29, 2016, 2:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (8) | Link

Who's pirating now?

I like the karma.

By fnord12 | July 28, 2016, 12:13 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

Where are the Eisenhowers of Yesteryear?

1956 Labor Day flyer

The GOP was encouraging union membership!

In August of 1956, the Republican Party gathered in San Francisco to re-nominate President Dwight D. Eisenhower as its candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

The party that year adopted a platform that emphasized that the GOP was "proud of and shall continue our far-reaching and sound advances in matters of basic human needs."

This included boasting that Eisenhower had overseen a hike in the federal minimum wage that raised incomes for 2 million Americans while expanding Social Security to 10 million more people and increasing benefits for 6.5 million others.

Today's Republican Party has made weakening labor unions a priority, but the 1956 platform noted that under Eisenhower, "workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions."


Eisenhower cut the military budget by 27 percent following the Korean War, and used his bully pulpit to highlight the tradeoffs of military spending. "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed," he said in a 1953 speech.

In his farewell address in on January 17, 1961, he highlighted the rise of what he called a "military-industrial complex" -- a war industry that he cautioned could exert "undue influence" on the government.

Something that wouldn't change under a Clinton presidency either.


By min | July 22, 2016, 9:17 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

Handle Your Oatmeal Cookies With Care

Just going through first level cleric and magic user spells to convert for our steampunk session and i came across this (emphasis mine):

By means of this spell, the magic-user changes a volume of water to a volatile, flammable substance similar to alcohol and likewise lighter than water. If this substance is exposed to flame, fire, or even a spark, it will burst into flames and burn with a hot fire. Each creature subject to firewater flame will suffer 2-12 hit points of damage. The firewater created will evaporate and be useless within 1 round, even if it is securely contained and sealed, so it must be utilized (ignited) within 10 segments of its creation. The material components of this spell are a few grains of sugar and a raisin.


By min | July 20, 2016, 12:02 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

Strawberry-Picking Robots

Fnord12 just last night told me they couldn't yet make robots that could do the work of harvesting delicate produce. I say to him "Fie on you, sir!"

Most agricultural robotic systems still require some form of human management, whether it involves watching over a swarm of bots to ensure nothing goes haywire or turning a strawberry-picking robot around once it has reached the end of a row.


But unlike the SciAm article, this Carnegie Endowment op-ed makes the opposite argument - robots will indeed take away the jobs.

Worries over new technologies destroying jobs have become chronic -- and up to this point, unfounded.

Thanks to new technologies, new industries emerged that created more jobs than were destroyed and increased not only productivity, but also workers' incomes, something the economist Joseph Schumpeter predicted in 1942. He called this phenomenon "creative destruction" -- a "process of industrial mutation ... that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

His theory has held true. Until now.

There are those who believe this time is different and that the job destruction created by technological advancements is of unprecedented speed and magnitude. As economist Eduardo Porter recently wrote, "new technology does seem more fundamentally disruptive than technologies of the past."

The worry is that new industries and occupations that will potentially be created won't come in time and won't be enough to provide jobs and incomes for the millions of workers displaced by new technologies.

Universal basic income? Anyone?

Recently, Switzerland held a referendum vote to decide whether the government would give citizens about $2,500 a month for doing absolutely nothing. Although the vote didn't pass and was never expected to, it may be a significant precursor to an emerging global trend.

In fact, many countries are already testing the idea of giving their citizens a minimum, no-strings-attached income. In Finland, the government will choose as many as 10,000 adults at random and will give them between 500 and 700 euros a month with the purpose of measuring the effects the money has on their propensity to work and on their life decisions. If the trial is successful, the Finnish government could implement the policy at a national level. Similar experiments are taking place in Canada, the Netherlands, Kenya and other countries.

The problems and defects with this idea are obvious. Having a guaranteed income could discourage work. Giving someone a material compensation without something of value produced in exchange is questionable from economic, social and ethical standpoints. The risks of corruption and political favoritism in the selection of beneficiaries are high. And, of course, this isn't a cheap initiative. These types of subsidies could turn into a huge burdens for the state and create enormous chronic deficits in public budgets.

And yet, despite all its defects, a minimum income guarantee may well become an inevitable policy. There is no doubt that globalization and new technologies have created infinite new opportunities for humanity. From reducing global poverty to medical advances and empowering historically marginalized social groups, progress is obvious.

But the negative effects are also obvious. Increasing inequality, the destruction of jobs and shrinking salaries -- especially in the U.S. and Europe -- all have some link to globalization and new technologies. And all these negative effects feed into the populism and toxic political extremism that we see taking hold of many countries today.

By min | July 20, 2016, 8:56 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1) | Link

Steam Horde

When i got my Bones Kickstarter, there were a bunch of figures that had guns and the like. And since i've been running a pure fantasy setting for years, i just put all those figures in a separate bag, figuring i'd never paint them. But now Min is going to run a campaign in a steampunk setting, and i thought it would be good for us to have miniatures that fit the campaign. The characters i picked aren't necessarily steampunk, per se, but they are closer to it than most of the swords and sorcery type miniatures that i have.

The first group are the most steampunk. The guy has a high tech gun and a weird power glove while wearing vaguely Victorian looking clothing, and the lady is dressed like a mechanic and has high tech looking boots in addition to the gun.

These three are just wild west gunslingers, but when we were trying to describe the steampunk genre to those that hadn't heard of it, the most mainstream example we could think of was Wild Wild West. Min's campaign will take place in England, but there's no reason that characters couldn't come from America. The guy in the middle is a pretty good ringer for High Noon Yasuo from League of Legends, so that works out even better (i considered kit-bashing a sword in place of one of the guns; maybe i'll do it if we keep playing). The lady needed a bit of de-nudification; apparently the designers thought that female players would like to play a gunslinger whose boobs hung out.

These two characters were from a set that were obviously meant to be some kind of space marines. But i painted them a combination of brown, tan, and bronze, hoping that they could pass as steampunky suits along the lines of the Big Daddies from Bioshock.

Finally, some more modern looking characters. The one on the left was warped at the base. I tried to do the old 'dip them in boiling water' trick, but i was holding her with a pair of pliers by the head and i guess i let the head get too close to the water and it melted and now permanently has groove marks from the pliers. So she's a little deformed and probably isn't usable except as a scarred NPC. The one in the middle is obviously meant to be used in a modern horror setting, but who's to say that you couldn't have a steam-powered chainsaw? The third guy fits the campaign just fine.

By fnord12 | July 19, 2016, 3:47 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

Straight from your steampunk campaign

It's Professor Wrigglesworth! We saw this guy while flipping through channels at a friend's house and were very impressed. Especially since he was showing off his skeletronic exo-skeleton, which is entirely human powered and so could be used in a steampunk era (you can use it at fancy dress parties, and for reaching fruit!).

But a google search reveals that the guy is more stand-up comedian than electrical engineer, and that makes him a lot less interesting.

And before you say it, Frank Zappa would never wear that ascot.

By fnord12 | July 18, 2016, 5:21 PM | D&D & Science & TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link

Great acheivements were acheived

Broke out the Intellivision last week and got further than i ever did before. Never got to the guys with the stun staffs before. They take 4 (!) hits, and kill you instantly. I did manage to take out a few before dying.

By fnord12 | July 18, 2016, 5:19 PM | Video Games | Comments (2) | Link

Ranger Danger Horde

Whenever i'm taking a break from my comics project i try to tackle the pile of miniatures that i got from the Bones kickstarter. But i wasn't really feeling like painting, so i actually just picked out some of the least interesting figures, figuring that i'd just knock them out and it didn't matter if i wasn't feeling particularly inspired. I deliberately picked out figures that could be painted in similar color schemes (for the most part) to save time and thinking. So that worked out to be three rangers and a few others randos. Actually, four of these figures are not Bones; they were given to me by a friend.

Here are the rangers. The two with the round bases are not Bones. As usual, the Bones are frustrating in the way the detail smushes together; the third Ranger has a blob for a face.

Here are two bards. I actually painted the halfling a little earlier and gave him more attention because i'm playing a halfling bard in a campaign run by a (different) friend. The other bard is posed like a rock star and has a lute that looks more like an electric guitar, but i didn't take the bait and i painted the instrument brown. I did let her have some punk rock stripes in her hair. This picture came out a little blurry but i've already noted my apathy.

This is probably the most nice looking figure in that she's standing on a giant dragon head. Of course, that's not very useful in a game. Does she drag that head around with her the whole time, reminding people how awesome she is because of that time she beheaded a dragon?

Another non-Bone. Another blurry pic, but he's got a cool looking face, and armored guys are always easy to paint.

The final figure (excluding the scorpions, who aren't worth a close-up) is also a non-Bone. And he's pretty interesting, actually. He's got a normal barbarian human kind of body, but his face is some sort of insectoid thing. Not sure if it's meant to be mask or if he's some kind of insect-man hybrid. He'll work either way.

By fnord12 | July 8, 2016, 1:46 PM | D&D | Comments (4) | Link

Media Failure to Examine Brexit Thoughtfully

This will make fnord12 happy - a Brexit discussion that doesn't oversimplify the argument to "ignorant xenophobia". But it's Glenn Greenwald, so in the end, no one will be happy.

Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting their own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-Leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of Western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object.

The Los Angeles Times's Vincent Bevins, in an outstanding and concise analysis, wrote that "both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years"; in particular, "since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt." The British journalist Tom Ewing, in a comprehensive Brexit explanation, said the same dynamic driving the U.K. vote prevails in Europe and North America as well: "the arrogance of neoliberal elites in constructing a politics designed to sideline and work around democracy while leaving democracy formally intact."

In an interview with the New Statesman, the political philosopher Michael Sandel also said that the dynamics driving the pro-Brexit sentiment were now dominant throughout the West generally: "A large constituency of working-class voters feel that not only has the economy left them behind, but so has the culture, that the sources of their dignity, the dignity of labor, have been eroded and mocked by developments with globalization, the rise of finance, the attention that is lavished by parties across the political spectrum on economic and financial elites, the technocratic emphasis of the established political parties." After the market-venerating radicalism of Reagan and Thatcher, he said, "the center left" -- Blair and Clinton and various European parties -- "managed to regain political office but failed to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy, which ­became empty and obsolete."

By min | June 29, 2016, 12:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (6) | Link

Yeah, that's what we mean by "rocks"

Well then you suddenly got a lot less interesting, Mr. Joe Cool Dinosaur. And what's with the bait and switch? You're obviously eating some kind of actual rock thing in the first two panels, and then suddenly you're handing out poor man's gummie fruit candies. In 5 awesome fruit flavors, all distinguishable only by the finest of palates, since they're all apparently purple.

One thing that is historically accurate is that in the 90s there were so many dinosaurs going around in letter jackets that they were only interesting if they had unusual diets and/or handed out candy.

By fnord12 | June 29, 2016, 10:53 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Who Would You Choose to Save?


A self-driving car carrying a family of four on a rural two-lane highway spots a bouncing ball ahead. As the vehicle approaches a child runs out to retrieve the ball. Should the car risk its passengers' lives by swerving to the side--where the edge of the road meets a steep cliff? Or should the car continue on its path, ensuring its passengers' safety at the child's expense? This scenario and many others pose moral and ethical dilemmas that carmakers, car buyers and regulators must address before vehicles should be given full autonomy, according to a study published Thursday in Science.

The study highlights paradoxes facing carmakers, car buyers and regulators as driverless technology accelerates. Most of the 1,928 research participants in the Science report indicated that they believed vehicles should be programmed to crash into something rather than run over pedestrians, even if that meant killing the vehicle's passengers.


Yet many of the same study participants balked at the idea of buying such a vehicle, preferring to ride in a driverless car that prioritizes their own safety above that of pedestrians.

Ofc. "Who cares about some random kid? Save me!" People are great.

By min | June 28, 2016, 9:45 AM | Science | Comments (6) | Link


autochthonous [aw-tok-thuh-nuhs]


  1. aboriginal; indigenous
  2. of or relating to ideas that arise independently of the individual's own train of thought and seem instead to have some alien or external agency as their source
  3. (of rocks, minerals, etc.) formed in the region where found

By min | June 28, 2016, 9:21 AM | Good Words | Comments (0) | Link

Oh... it's over?

We enjoyed Netflix's Voltron despite the fact that they only say "And I'll form... the head!" once the entire season (and mostly as a joke). But i do agree with this from IGN's review (warning: video will autoplay):

It's also worth mentioning that Legendary Defender is tailor-made for binge-watching, and feels less like a TV show and more like one, big movie. Like a lot of Netflix Original Series, Voltron's episodes don't really have "endings"; they just kind of stop and go into the next one, which really makes the season fly by. Unfortunately, that's also a byproduct of the finale, which cuts off right in the middle of a big action scene. The ending is so jarring, in fact, that I had to double-check to make sure it was the last episode...

I've been thinking a lot about how decompression has increasingly affected television the way it's already affected comic books, and we now seem to be a post-season finale society, where the final episode of a season doesn't necessarily have to result in a climax or, in this case, even really feel like an ending at all. Unlike, say, Walking Dead, the Voltron series did have an actual plot each episode, so the fact that the season ends on a cliffhanger doesn't feel like as much of a cheat as shows like, again, Walking Dead, where things only seem to happen in the first and last episodes and things still end on a cliffhanger.

By fnord12 | June 21, 2016, 9:58 AM | TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link

Cheese 3-PO

C-3PO's tell-all memoir about the prequels is out:

By fnord12 | June 21, 2016, 9:45 AM | Star Wars | Comments (0) | Link

Feminist Frequency - Lingerie is Not Armor

Just yes to all of this.

And not just in video games. Fnord12 and i just watched the Batman: Assault on Arkham animated movie and the outfits for Harley Quinn and Killer Frost were ridiculous when compared to what the male team members were wearing. An acquaintance tried to make the argument that they needed to be half undressed for ease of movement. Right. Because Deadshot and the Black Spider didn't also rely on agility. And that's in addition to the plan that for some reason required Killer Frost to be nude from the waist up and the various shots of both women from behind as they employed extra hip movement to their walk. There's a FemFreq video on that, too, btw.

By min | June 21, 2016, 8:52 AM | Comics & TeeVee & Video Games | Comments (3) | Link

Action Figures Nobody Wanted

They made a special edition Walking Dead 2-pack of Negan and Glenn which includes a "Smashed Glenn head".

Why? WHY???

By min | June 21, 2016, 8:47 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

Thank you Bernie

By fnord12 | June 8, 2016, 11:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link


By fnord12 | June 3, 2016, 12:28 PM | My stupid life & TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link

More Super-Deformed Marvel Horrors

They're not playing in an orchestra, but they're still pretty darned cute. I'll take these guys over the X-Babies any day, and a crossover wouldn't be unwelcome either. I'm still not sure about the long haired non-monster, but maybe the wolf insignia on his belt will be a clue for someone. Or the fact that he's on a dinosaur. Or the fact that it's now clear that he's not wearing a shirt under that harness thing. Update: It's Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars. See the comments.

By fnord12 | May 26, 2016, 2:11 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

Defensive Flooding

This is something i've almost worked into an entry or category description on my Marvel Timeline project a few times, but it's too big for the category pages and too general for any specific entry, so i figured i'll just put it here. This is from a coffee table book called Marvel: The characters and their universe, published in 2002 for Barnes & Noble:

In 1987 Marvel was bought by an entertainment company called New World, and that same year Tom DeFalco took over as editor in chief, replacing Jim Shooter. Marvel's fortunes at this time were greatly improved by the success of two movies, but ironically they were not Marvel movies.

"The Batman movie and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie came out and helped to promote comics by bringing people into the comic book stores," explains DeFalco... "Marvel didn't have any movies coming out, so we came up with a defensive publishing plan, figuring that everybody's going to be coming into these comic book stores looking for Turtles and Batman. DC didn't do a lot of publishing behind the first Batman movie, and Turtles didn't have a lot of extra publishing either, but we got a lot of stuff out, so when people came into the comic book stores, having seen the movies, the only thing they could buy was Marvel product."

This flood-the-market strategy may have started specifically in reaction to the Turtles and Batman films, but it clearly remained in effect, with Marvel's output continuing to expand each year. 1987 was peanuts compared to 1992, which saw the launch of over a dozen new titles. There was always something to be "defensive" about, be it additional movies or the new line of Image books. But i'm sure Marvel realized they could use this strategy offensively too. When we wonder why Alpha Flight never got canceled or how Silver Sable or Nomad merited their own books, this is probably a big part of the explanation. This of course wasn't a surprise, but it's nice to got confirmation from the editor in chief at the time.

By fnord12 | May 19, 2016, 2:40 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

They Made a Babelfish


The device is called The Pilot system and Waverly Labs is the company behind this brilliantly simple yet potentially groundbreaking idea. When it hits the shelves in September, the system will allow the wearer to understand one of several foreign languages through real-time in-ear translation. A handy app will allow you to toggle through the languages you want, and the selection includes French, Spanish, Italian, and English. It'll retail for $129, and you can pre-order one here. Or you can just keep talking to people really loudly and slowly in English. Good luck with that.

Is it as good as Google Translate? Cause if it is, i foresee the ensuing of hilarity. Or better yet, is it as good as the Hungarian Phrase Book?

By min | May 17, 2016, 10:24 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

Recap 73

It was a disappointment to all that we faced Takos, Not Tacos.

By min | May 13, 2016, 3:26 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

Can we agree that they're terrifying?

Somehow, the Gin-Gins never caught on like the California Raisins. And are they eating ginger candies? I'm pretty sure that's cannibalism, and against the rules.

By fnord12 | May 10, 2016, 8:27 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link

We're doing what now?

Fight drug dealers AND bullies with candy!

I'm not sure if i ever saw Shock Tarts, but if i had known they were sent from the future i might have tried them, and i certainly would have worn those sunglasses.

I'm not sure what i like better, the idea of sending kids out on the streets to fight drug dealers (excuse me, "dealer types"), or telling kids to eat little round pill-shaped candies as a way to convince them to NOT get into drugs.

By fnord12 | May 3, 2016, 10:19 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Rescue Wolverines


A pilot project out of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Kroschel Wildlife Center aims to replace rescue dogs with rescue wolverines in the search for those buried under the snow.

Clocking in at about the size of a standard poodle, the stocky animals are known mainly for their ferocious natures and remarkable hunting abilities - deer, caribou, and lynx are standards on the wolverine menu, and there have been reported incidents of the creatures tussling with black bears over kills. All in all, it might not sound like the furry face you want to see digging you out of a snowbank, but it's partly the tenacious predator's hunting skill that makes it a good candidate for rescue duty.

A good candidate until the hunting instinct takes over the rescue training, that is...

By min | May 2, 2016, 1:22 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.