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December 22, 2006

Insignificant worm, don't you know it's the holidays?

We're off from work for a week, so we won't be posting anything on the blog (not that we, ummm, post on our blog while we're at work!). I've left MODOK in charge of things around here, so don't screw around.


By fnord12 | December 22, 2006, 3:00 PM | Comics & My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link



Racism Abounds, Bring Back the Nazis

So, it's bad enough we got this joker in the Senate:

A Virginia congressman will not apologize for writing that without immigration overhaul "there will be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Quran," his spokesman said.

Republican Rep. Virgil Goode's letter to constituents also warns that without immigration overhaul "we will have many more Muslims in the United States."

Spokesman Linwood Duncan said Goode's letter was written in response to complaints his office received about Minnesota Rep.-elect Keith Ellison's request to be sworn in using the Quran.

I noticed there's not a huge uproar denouncing Goode's remarks or a push from the Republicans to either get Goode to retract and apologize or to distance themselves from him. That's not a good sign for the non-racist populace. Not only that, they are letting crackpots on MSNBC talk about how "strange" it is that the focus should be on Goode's remarks as opposed to Ellison "creating" controversy. Cause he's the one "making a big stink", not the racists. Nice spin. Democrats and liberals, take notes.

But now, people are actually taking plays from the Nazi handbook.

When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phone lines jammed instantly. The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us."

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans."

At the end of the one-hour show, rich with arguments on why visual identification of "the threat in our midst" would alleviate the public's fears, Klein revealed that he had staged a hoax. It drew out reactions that are not uncommon in post-9/11 America.

I'm surprised this guy was able to do this on his radio show without Clear Channel types deciding they needed to fire his "anti-American" ass. He goes on to discuss how disturbed and disgusted he was with people's reactions.

"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL, which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland.

"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.

"Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."

It's just shocking and disturbing that we've gotten to this point. All the times the neo-cons and Evangelists used the term "nazi" to describe someone who was a feminist or who was opposed to invading Iraq or the NYT for blowing the whistle on the illegal NSA wiretapping, we were disgusted by their casual and unwarranted use of the term. Now we have 39% of the people polled actually embracing the very same idea the Nazis had in WWII. Tattoo them. Put them in camps. They are the other. They are a threat to us. We are superior. We are good.

Where can we run? Where can we hide from the madmen?


By min | December 22, 2006, 3:00 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Remind me to read this later

This post isn't really for you, but you can also read Dave from Dave's Long Box talk about Thor if you want.


By fnord12 | December 22, 2006, 2:52 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



D&D Humor

These are old stories but they're still pretty funny*.

The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo (link)

...In the early seventies, Ed Whitchurch ran "his game," and one of the participants was Eric Sorenson. Eric plays something like a computer. When he games he methodically considers each possibility before choosing his preferred option. If given time, he will invariably pick the optimal solution. It has been known to take weeks. He is otherwise, in all respects, a superior gamer.

Eric was playing a Neutral Paladin in Ed's game. He was on some lord's lands when the following exchange occurred:

ED: You see a well groomed garden. In the middle, on a small hill, you see a gazebo.
ERIC: A gazebo? What color is it?
ED: (Pause) It's white, Eric.
ERIC: How far away is it?
ED: About 50 yards.
ERIC: How big is it?
ED: (Pause) It's about 30 ft across, 15 ft high, with a pointed top.
ERIC: I use my sword to detect good on it.
ED: It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo.
ERIC: (Pause) I call out to it.
ED: It won't answer. It's a gazebo.
ERIC: (Pause) I sheathe my sword and draw my bow and arrows. Does it respond in any way?
ED: No, Eric, it's a gazebo!
ERIC: I shoot it with my bow (roll to hit). What happened?
ED: There is now a gazebo with an arrow sticking out of it.
ERIC: (Pause) Wasn't it wounded?
ED: OF COURSE NOT, ERIC! IT'S A GAZEBO!
ERIC: (Whimper) But that was a +3 arrow!
ED: It's a gazebo, Eric, a GAZEBO! If you really want to try to destroy it, you could try to chop it with an axe, I suppose, or you could try to burn it, but I don't know why anybody would even try. It's a @#$%!! gazebo!
ERIC: (Long pause. He has no axe or fire spells.) I run away.
ED: (Thoroughly frustrated) It's too late. You've awakened the gazebo. It catches you and eats you.
ERIC: (Reaching for his dice) Maybe I'll roll up a fire-using mage so I can avenge my Paladin.

At this point, the increasingly amused fellow party members restored a modicum of order by explaining to Eric what a gazebo is. Thus ends the tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo. It could have been worse; at least the gazebo wasn't on a grassy gnoll.

The Head of Vecna (link)

Many years ago (back when we all were still playing D&D), I ran a game where I pitted two groups against each other.

Several members of Group One came up with the idea of luring Group Two into a trap. You remember the Hand of Vecna and the Eye of Vecna that were artifacts in the old D&D world where if you cut off your hand (or your eye) and replaced it with the Hand of Vecna (or the Eye) you'd get new awesome powers? Well, Group One thought up The Head of Vecna.

Group One spread rumors all over the countryside (even paying Bards to spread the word about this artifact rumored to exist nearby). They even went so far as to get a real head and place it under some weak traps to help with the illusion. Unfortunately, they forgot to let ALL the members of their group in on the secret plan (I suspect it was because they didn't want the Druid to get caught and tell the enemy about this trap of theirs, or maybe because they didn't want him messing with things).

The Druid in group One heard about this new artifact and went off in search of it himself (I believe to help prove himself to the party members...) Well, after much trial and tribulation, he found it; deactivated (or set off) all the traps; and took his "prize" off into the woods for examination. He discovered that it did not radiate magic (a well known trait of artifacts) and smiled gleefully.

I wasn't really worried since he was alone and I knew that there was no way he could CUT HIS OWN HEAD OFF. Alas I was mistaken as the Druid promptly summoned some carnivorous apes and instructed them to use his own scimitar and cut his head off (and of course quickly replacing it with the Head of Vecna...)

Some time later, Group one decided to find the Druid and to check on the trap. They found the headless body (and the two heads) and realized that they had erred in their plan (besides laughing at the character who had played the Druid)...The Head of Vecna still had BOTH eyes! They corrected this mistake and reset their traps and the Head for it's real intended victims...

Group Two, by this time, had heard of the powerful artifact and decided that it bore investigating since, if true, they could use it to destroy Group One. After much trial and tribulation, they found the resting place of The Head of Vecna! The were particularly impressed with the cunning traps surrounding the site (one almost missed his save against the weakest poison known to man). They recovered the Head and made off to a safe area.

Group Two actually CAME TO BLOWS (several rounds of fighting) against each other argueing over WHO WOULD GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF! Several greedy players had to be hurt and restrained before it was decided who would be the recipient of the great powers bestowed by the Head... The magician was selected and one of them promptly cut his head off. As the player was lifting The Head of Vecna to emplace it on it's new body, another argument broke out and they spent several minutes shouting and yelling. Then, finally, they put the Head onto the character.

Well, of course, the Head simply fell off the lifeless body. All members of Group Two began yelling and screaming at each other (and at me) and then, on their own, decided that they had let too much time pass between cutting off the head of a hopeful recipient and put the Head of Vecna onto the body.

SO THEY DID IT AGAIN!... [killing another PC]

In closing, it should be said that I never even cracked a smile as all this was going on. After the second PC was slaughtered, I had to give in (my side was hurting)...

And Group Two blamed ME for all of that...

*If you're a big geek.


By fnord12 | December 22, 2006, 9:41 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



December 21, 2006

Random Lyrics Thursday

Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I'd like to smash every tooth
In your head

Oh ... sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking
When I said by rights you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, oh
As the flames rose to her roman nose
And her Walkman started to melt
Oh ...

Bigmouth, la ... bigmouth, la ...
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
In the Human race

Oh, bigmouth, ha ha ... bigmouth, la
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
In the Human race

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, oh
As the flames rose to a roman nose
And her hearing aid started to melt
Eek !

Oh, bigmouth, la ... bigmouth, la ...
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
With the Human race
Oh ...

Bigmouth, oh ... bigmouth, la ...
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
In the Human race

And now I know how Joan of Arc felt
Now I know how Joan of Arc felt, oh
As the flames rose to a roman nose
And her hearing aid started to melt
Oh !

Oh, bigmouth, oh ... bigmouth, la ...
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
In the Human race
Oh ...

Bigmouth, oh ... bigmouth, la ...
Bigmouth strikes again
I've got no right to take my place
In the Human race
Oh ...

Bigmouth



By min | December 21, 2006, 1:46 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



December 20, 2006

What the hell do we need him and his conditions for?

Bush says he'll support a minimum wage increase, if Democrats will also include a tax cut. Screw him - no one needs to make deals with him at this point. Let him veto a bill raising the minimum wage. We'll see if those approval ratings can go any lower.


By fnord12 | December 20, 2006, 4:38 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Finally, A Use for Shakespeare

Because Shakespeare had poor grammar, reading his works stimulates your brain. Your brain has to work harder to figure out what the hell he's talking about, so in essence, reading his stuff is good for you. Who knew?

"The brain reacts to reading a phrase such as 'he godded me' from the tragedy of Coriolanus, in a similar way to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If it is easy to see which pieces slot together you become bored of the game, but if the pieces don't appear to fit, when we know they should, the brain becomes excited. By throwing odd words into seemingly normal sentences, Shakespeare surprises the brain and catches it off guard in a manner that produces a sudden burst of activity - a sense of drama created out of the simplest of things."

By min | December 20, 2006, 1:12 PM | Science | Comments (2) | Link



The Nose Knows

I don't know what they're so excited about. fnord12 and adam did this experiment years ago when they located the Hostess factory using nothing but adam's nose to navigate.

In a paper appearing this week in the advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, UC Berkeley researchers report conclusive evidence from these experiments that humans do indeed gain a performance advantage from cross-nostril comparisons. They also found that humans can scent-track, and that, with training, they can improve their accuracy significantly while nearly doubling their speed along the scent trail.

adam could have out-tracked all of these suckers.


By min | December 20, 2006, 1:07 PM | Science | Comments (6) | Link



Mush

Found this over at Cute Overload.


By min | December 20, 2006, 10:53 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



December 19, 2006

Alcohol Good For Brain

Or something. The Canadians did a study that shows those who are mildly intoxicated have a greater chance of recovering from brain injuries than those who are highly intoxicated or not intoxicated at all. They don't exactly say why.

Perhaps it's a trick. They put out this "study" and then people in other countries start drinking up thinking it's good for their brain. Instead, it just makes them more likely to kill themselves and others in drunk driving ("drink driving" if you're British) accidents. Then the Canadians finally get revenge on all the people who made fun of them for being Canadian! It's brilliant!

But Dr. Tien stressed that the research in no way suggests that drinking can prevent injury. On the contrary, it is well established that alcohol use increases the likelihood of severe injury.

"Let me be clear: Drinking and driving will not protect your head," he said.

If anyone would like to test out this theory, i'd be willing to supply the blunt head trauma. I'll need you to sign a waiver first, though.


By min | December 19, 2006, 11:52 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



Tuesday Death Report: Barbera

Joe Barbera of Hanna-Barbera died yesterday at the age of 95.


By min | December 19, 2006, 11:48 AM | TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link



December 18, 2006

Make us happy: raise our taxes

Link:

In May 2005, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put out a sort of Michelin Guide to the pensions of the world's0 wealthiest nations: the United States, Ireland and their ilk. While the United States is rich, comparatively it's a beggar at the bottom, with a Burger King-type pension, paying on average 39 percent of after-tax income at retirement. Others pay about 70 percent on average. Germany, Sweden: pick a country. Some pay even more.

Yet the right says we can't even do even 39 percent.

For Democrats, this ought to be the real Social Security crisis: Why aren't we at 70 percent? The OECD economists think that's what our debate should be. We have the money. We're the richest per capita - even if, "per capita," most of us get no capital. Why aren't we at least talking about 60 percent?

...
We propose to rob Peter, in the top 1 percent, without ever getting any fun out of paying Paul. I say: Let's give it to Paul, just to give him joy. Here's how we have to sell a tax increase: Not to be fiscally responsible, but to be a little happier. Be like the Europeans. Have a little fun.

Let's indulge in this higher GDP per capita. In richer countries, a strange thing happens: the higher the tax, the nicer it is to live there. And the more interesting life is. As the Nobelist Amartya Sen might say, the whole purpose of GDP per capita is to let us live at a higher level. When we spend our GDP on ourselves (as we do with pensions), higher taxes increase our higher powers.

Without higher taxes, then, for all our wealth we end up starving, wasting away like anorexics, refusing to let ourselves enjoy a cornucopia. We run down our public universities. We destroy our mass transit. (Sitting in traffic, do we enjoy making ourselves mentally ill?) But the worst of it is that we cheat ourselves of the taxes we could spend on ourselves.


By fnord12 | December 18, 2006, 11:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



December 15, 2006

Michael Crichton: Crybaby

Got this from fnord12 who got it from TPMmuckracker:

Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist

So, Michael Crowley wrote an article in The New Republic criticizing Michael Crichton about his denial of global warming. In retaliation, Crichton writes a book with a character named Mick Crowley who not only is a child rapist, but has a small dick, too. The character is described as a graduate of Yale and a Washington-based political journalist - two things that describe Michael Crowley.

That's real mature, Crichton. Nice touch using the "small penis" technique there.


By min | December 15, 2006, 3:25 PM | Boooooks | Comments (3) | Link



Guess they'll have to actually pay their workers.

Link:

When hordes of police and immigration officials stormed meatpacking plants in six states this week, the illegal workers arrested may not have been the only victims.

Consumers and the industry itself may be feeling the repercussions in a shortage of meatpackers, higher wage costs and, ultimately, higher prices for the beef that lands on America's tables at home and in restaurants.

...
Every labor-intensive industry -- the hotel industry, the construction industry, agriculture -- will be similarly impacted, he said.

"It just happens the meatpacking industry is in the cross hairs right now," Reed said.

Continued massive immigration raids would cut cattle prices paid to cattle feeders and cattle producers while raising the cost of beef for consumers, said James Mintert, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University.

It would also reduce the available labor supply -- putting the U.S. meatpacking industry in a position more comparable to the Canadian slaughterhouses, which have much higher labor costs because they have less access to cheap immigrant labor.

"You are going to end up paying higher wages," Mintert said.

Yep, it's a real shame. Letting supply and demand determine wage levels and the cost of products. I'm sure there's a name for that economic system but i just can't think of it.



By fnord12 | December 15, 2006, 11:45 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



December 14, 2006

Bunny Love

From Julia:


By min | December 14, 2006, 2:42 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Valentine by Goudie

comatose and barely breathing
half-awake and almost thinking
this could be the best day of my life

just stay right there on top of me
i wish i had a picture of this
i still taste you every time i breathe

someone stop me

please, now i'm insane
please, i wrecked my brain
please, baby tell me you will be my valentine

come on darling think of me
when everybody's looking at you
looking at your million dollar pout

so make me come then make me go
and let it out but never show
i'm looking like i'm just about to scream

someone stop me

please, now i'm insane
please, i wrecked my brain
please, baby tell me you will be my valentine

comatose and barely breathing
half-awake and almost thinking
this could be the best day of my life

just stay right there on top of me
i wish i had a picture of this
i still taste you every time i breathe

stop! you're killing me

please, now i'm insane
please, i wrecked my brain
please, baby tell me you will be my valentine
you will be my valentine
baby, be my valentine



By min | December 14, 2006, 1:41 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Those Mongolians Are Monsters

Who would have thought that the world's tallest man would be Chinese? Well, he is. He's huge. He's 7foot, 9inches tall. And he saves dolphins on the side.

The long arms of the world's tallest man reached in and saved two dolphins by pulling plastic material out of their stomachs, state media and an aquarium official said Thursday.

(Thanks to typer195 for the link.)

It's the Mongolians. They're all huge. I don't know what they eat. I've seen Close to Eden. There ain't much of anything to eat.


By min | December 14, 2006, 1:27 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Protecting the children

Digby: "Maintaining information about what every American is reading and writing on the internet is necessary to keep children safe. "

Jello Biafra: "What they're trying to do with radio, with this, uh, McCarron-WalterAct and a lot of other ways, is start by saying that they're protecting the public from wicked rock bands, or girlie magazines, or whatever. But, if you follow the chain of dominoes that falls down,what they're really trying to do is shut off our access to information itself."

Digby: "No word on whether McCain and his fellow lawmakers are going to pass legislation making it illegal for politicians to pander to people's fears with stupid, useless legislation while their own brethren are hitting on 16 year old pages. "


By fnord12 | December 14, 2006, 9:16 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Oh, Sony. How Low You've Sunk

Sony made a fake blog and filmed fake YouTube videos where the people authoring the blog and appearing in the videos pretended to be consumers and fans of the PSP. Then they got caught. Now people aren't so happy with Sony.

Piggybacking the YouTube bonanza, the company has hired "consumer activation" firm Zipatoni to create a false video-and-blogging approach to generate interest in their flagging PlayStation Portable handheld machine. The video/blog/ads featured people portending to be authentic PSP fans creating messages of love/want for the console, but were quickly uncovered by SomethingAwful.com's dedicated base as superficial facades shielding mouthpieces for the corporation.
...
As I (and others more qualified than I) have commented before (under a different guise), big business must tread carefully if it wishes to employ "yoof" tactics to generate interest in its brands. Blogs and other social software rely upon the trust of the reader, which is why links, references and disclaimers feature on many (not all) posts. Transparency is key in the modern advertising-savvy marketplace. Bad fakes can be spotted a mile away, and good fakes often get found out with a fanfare of negativity.

Here's the link to SomethingAwful.com's forum and the discussion on how bizarre and obviously fake the blog is.

Now that the cat's out of the bag, Sony has removed the comments and the YouTube video from the blog. They also posted this "apology":

Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn't a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.

Sony Computer Entertainment America

As Tycho said, do they expect a gold star? The apology comes off as fake. "Funky fresh"? Give me a break.

This was prolly prompted by 2 factors. 1) People are pissed and 2) the FTC issued this statement on Tuesday saying they'll be looking more closely into "word-of-mouth marketing" and issuing fines.

I think that people who were fully intending to get a PSP will still do so. But i think anyone on the fence due to price or games available or whatever is going to look elsewhere. People get pretty touchy about being lied to. As long as you can keep them from realizing it or distract them with enough stuff so they don't want to believe it (e.g., Iraq, the last 2 presidential elections, U.S. foreign policy, etc.), you're golden. But once they do know, they get righteous. You really can't defeat the holy fires of righteous anger. At least, not for a few months, until the next wave of shiny things comes out.

Oooooh......shiny.......


By min | December 14, 2006, 8:22 AM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



December 13, 2006

Younger Siblings Give You Brain Tumors

A study done in Sweden shows that people with four or more siblings were twice as likely to develop a brain tumor as people with no siblings. The correlation was only found with the number of younger siblings, not with the number of older siblings.

"Since the size of a family and the number of younger siblings correlate with the incidence of brain tumors, this suggests infectious agents may be causing the disease," said study author Andrea Altieri, DSc, with the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. "The number of siblings a person has indicates they were exposed at an early age to infections, since children come in close contact with each other and thereby share exposures to many infectious agents."

According to Altieri, the finding that brain tumor rates were higher among people with younger siblings, and not older siblings, suggests infections or re-infections in late childhood may play an important role in causing the disease, while exposure to infections in infancy, birth to five months old, may be beneficial.

...

"The two to fourfold increased risks for individuals with a high number of younger siblings are stronger than most established risk factors for the disease," said Altieri.

Tank goff my mom decided against having 8 kids.


By min | December 13, 2006, 3:39 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



December 12, 2006

Let them use credit cards

Actually, i think i agree with the Bush administration on this (a first?). I don't want our money to turn even more into Monopoly money than it already has, and i don't think i'd like it if all my bills were different sizes. But i did think this line was funny: "The government said the blind can also use credit cards instead of currency." Seriously! Screw blind people. It's not like they can read my website anyway. And if any blind people are reading this website, i have one thing to say to them: Window. Foreground window.


By fnord12 | December 12, 2006, 6:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link



Doing my work for me

Just so you guys know, i'm not the only sick @#$*&#^ out there trying to put my comics in chronological order.


By fnord12 | December 12, 2006, 5:10 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



December 11, 2006

Monty Hauls & Munchkins

Some FAQs from the D&D newsgroup:

G8: Who's this "Monty Haul" character I keep hearing about?

Monty Hall was the host of the 60's & 70's, and 90's American game show Let's Make a Deal. People would dress up in silly costumes, then get chosen out of the crowd to play the game. Monty would give the lucky contestant a handful of money, then talk them into trading the money for whatever was behind door number one, door number two, door number three, or what was in the box, or they could just keep the money. Each time they traded, he would give them another choice. After they decided to stick with a choice, Monty revealed what had been won. Prizes could be anything, good or bad, such as money, cars, jewelry, a years supply of auto wax, goats, inner tubes, exotic vacations, a pound of confetti, etc. Gary Gygax named the style of play where game masters hid treasures behind some doors, monsters behind others and then let the players choose their fate "Monty Haul" gaming, making a pun on the game show host's name.
The term has come to be used to refer to sessions where game masters encourage munchkin players; basically any game can be considered a Monty Haul game where the game master sets up unfathomable amounts of treasure and earth-shattering magic items guarded by weak and wimpy monsters, thus giving enormous amounts of power to beginning-level characters.


G9: What is "munchkinism?" What does the Wizard of Oz have to do with *D&D?

Munchkinism is often confused with Monty Haul gaming in that both involve incredibly high power levels with a minimum of risk involved. However, where Monty Haul is usually the fault of the GM, munchkinism is usually the demesne of players, although one can encourage the other. Munchkin players often view the game as a contest which can be won, and done with a minimum of struggle and uncertainty. The player is winning when he defeats everything the DM throws at the character, and does it without breaking a sweat. Thus, having a character who can deal out large amounts of damage every round is more pleasurable, as it gives the player a better chance of "winning." Some DM's foster this "them vs. me" type of atmosphere (especially Monty Haul DM's), but it is usually not the DM's fault. Well, it somewhat is, as the DM has to allow the character in the first place, but it is the player who has the real problem here.
Munchkin characters are created by "min/maxing," or rather, "rules rape," wherein the player finds any and all advantages the rules (and especially any loopholes contained therein) allow the character, with few, if any drawbacks. They are also outfitted with the equivalent magic items of an entire party of many, many more levels of experience. Such characters tend to be ultra-powerful, and can destroy whole armies in one round. Any such character choices are made solely from a power-level standpoint, and not from a role-playing point of view.

This is not to say that all "power gaming" is munchkin and bad, as it is possible and common for a group to decide to run a campaign with incredibly high amounts of power, yet have it contain just as much challenge and roleplaying as any other campaign. The enemies are usually as well equipped as the players, and are played extremely intelligently, to boot. With this kind of game, there is actually some question as to whether or not any or all of the characters could survive a given encounter, but the point is not basic survival, but a balance of power and role-playing. Characters also tend to have character flaws of some sort which balance out the power level in some meaningful role-playing-based way. In addition, most of the characters in a "power game" environment actually have to work (and role-play) for each and every powerful item they gain, instead of turning into a walking magic shop when "my two rich uncles just willed all of their magic items to me," or some such. A stress is put on role-playing, so that the game isn't just all "power" and no "game." However, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating such a game like an arcade game--blast all the baddies into oblivion and you win! It is at that point, when the power, and not role-playing, is all that matters that a power game becomes munchikinish. Munchkin characters usually come to light when a player wishes to bring in a favorite character who was "allowed" in a previous GM's campaign, one with the maximum ability scores, proficiencies, abilities, and enough magic and special items to take out both Death Stars simultaneously from across the galaxy.

No one seems to know exactly how such characters have come to be identified with the tiny folk from L. Frank Baum's books, but it probably has something to do with the sheer annoyance factor such characters exude. Another theory is that, since it seems that most munchkin players are the younger set of players, say pre-teens and down, that someone's term for people younger than themselves morphed into a term for the type of players described above, and has since changed meaning to also include the characters created by such players.


By fnord12 | December 11, 2006, 5:08 PM | D&D | Comments (3) | Link



Hitesh Preservation Society

I've created a Tribute to Hitesh page in the comics section. Hitesh was a racmu poster who, like most geniuses, was never recognized for his unique contributions to Marvel Universe scholarship. It seems the vast majority of his postings are lost to the world, but i have preserved what i have been able to find.

A sampling:

> Now, the Morlock, Leech, probably has several points more than Rogue,
> allowing Leech to neutralize a low powered mutant's power but probably
> could not neutralize a high ranking mutant like Venom or Carnage. As
> for sound vibrations neutralizing Venom or Carnage is probably a
> weak trait Peter Parker probably put in his tacyion projection with
> artificial intelligence, allowing Spiderman to play the superhero
> or photographer - allowingn him to make a small but questionable
> income if & when he was in need of money rather than robbing a bank -
> whenever he was either bored or no supervillain showed up to make
> trouble.


By fnord12 | December 11, 2006, 3:20 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Backwards Planet

Last week when Bolton resigned, his spokesperson listed one of his accomplishments as "promot[ing] the cause of peace in Darfur". In fact he did everything in his power to ensure that the UN was as ineffective as possible. And now the crises in Sudan has expanded, dragging in neighboring countries Chad and the Central African Republic. This has been going on for so long now, and the fact that, not only are we not able to stop it, but we can't even prevent it from getting worse, is a testament to how backwards we are as a planet. We don't have an effective organization that can jump in and stop genocides or other humanitarian tragedies? In 2006? Why not? There's no acceptable excuse. It's really sad.


By fnord12 | December 11, 2006, 12:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



December 10, 2006

They're trying to build a prison

Alright! We're #1! We have the more people in prison than any other country in the world. That's true whether you're looking at an absolute number (We have more people in prison than China, who has more than 4 times our population), or as a percentage of our population. The biggest single reason is the mandatory drug sentencing, but that only accounts for 2 million of the 7 million people currently in prison or on parole (7 million! China has 1.5!). While getting rid of those laws and giving people with drug problems treatment would be a huge improvement, these statistics really show a complete failure of our social programs (education, welfare, etc) and our economic system.

Unless you're Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, who says that these statistics are actually a good thing, because the U.S. has "cultural differences" when compared to Japan and Western Europe. Hmmm, i wonder what "cultural differences" means. It's a good thing we're keeping all those people with "cultural differences" locked up.

It's time for some non-random, non-Thursday lyrics:

Prison Song by System of a Down

Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Following the rights movement
You clamped on with your iron fists
Drugs became conveniently
Available for all the kids
Following the rights movement
You clamped on with your iron fists
Drugs became conveniently
Available for all the kids
I buy my crack, I smack my bitch
Right here in hollywood
(nearly 2 million americans are
Incarcerated in the prison system
Prison system of the us)
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
(for you and me to live in)
Another prison system
Another prison system
Another prison system
(for you and me to live in)
Minor drug offenders fill your prisons
You dont even flinch
All our taxes paying for your wars
Against the new non-rich
Minor drug offenders fill your prisons
You dont even flinch
All our taxes paying for your wars
Against the new non-rich
I buy my crack, I smack my bitch
Right here in hollywood
The percentage of americans in the prison system
Prison system, has doubled since 1985
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
(for you and me to live in)
Another prison system
Another prison system
Another prison system
For you and i, for you and i, for you and i.
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
For you and me
Oh baby, you and me.
All research and successful drug policy show
That treatment should be increased
And law enforcement decreased
While abolishing mandatory minimun sentences
All research and successful drug policy show
That treatment should be increased
And law enforcement decreased
While abolishing mandatory minimun sentences
Utilising drugs to pay for secret wars around the world
Drugs are now your global policy now you police the globe
I buy my crack, I smack my bitch
Right here in hollywood
Drug money is used to rig elections
And train brutal corporate sponsored dictators
Around the world
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
(for you and me to live in)
Another prison system
Another prison system
Another prison system
(for you and me to live in)
For you and i, for you and i, for you and i
For you and i
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
Theyre trying to build a prison
For you and me
Oh baby, you and me


By fnord12 | December 10, 2006, 9:26 AM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (2) | Link



December 8, 2006

Vanquish?

Glenn found this X-Men race car set. The description says you race "X-Men characters Vanquish and Magneto Viper through the winding track as they chase each other".

Who the hell is Vanquish? And what's this Magneto Viper thing about?


By min | December 8, 2006, 3:20 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (6) | Link



Earthship Earthship!!!

It's been a while since i've linked to my favorite peak-oil prophet, so i'm gonna indulge and steal this entire post. The big difference between me and him is that he thinks that it's actually possible that there's some sort of systematic political solution to the coming mess, where i think we need to head for the hills. Anyway, i know this is too long for anyone to actually read, so i'll bold some of the more interesting bits.

The day after the impressive Democratic election victory, Senate Majority Leader-to-Be Harry Reid declared that a top priority for the new congress would be policy leading to "energy independence" for America. The time of jubilee will certainly come, but not in the way Harry Reid thinks it will -- nor in the way the rest of the country imagines this idea.

When politicians flog the term around -- "energy independence" -- they invariably mean that we will continue enjoying the happy motoring utopia by other means than imported oil (which makes up 70 percent of all the oil we burn). Get this: the day is not far off when, for one reason or another, the flow of imported oil to the US will cease. But when that day comes, we will not be running our shit the way we have been running it. That day will be the end of the interstate highways, Walt Disney World, and WalMart -- in short, the way of life we are fond of calling "non-negotiable."

We are not going to run that shit on coal liquids or tar sand byproducts or oil shale distillates or ethanol or biodiesel, or second-hand french-fry oil. Nor on solar, wind, nuclear, or hydrogen. You can run things on that stuff, but not the biggies we run at their current scale. If the Democrats really want to get serious and act responsibly, they'd better not squander whatever is left of our credit and collective confidence in a futile campaign to keep this racket going. They'd better prepare the public to start living differently.

Where to begin? They can start by recognizing that massive long-haul trucking of goods has to end and be replaced by improved, electrified rail plus water transport - with trucks used only for the final, local leg of the journey. To reach this point of recognition, the Democrats will have to overcome the entrenched interests of the trucking industry -- but, by now, most of the truck drivers in this country have been successfully converted into right-wing Republican zombies, so it might not be so difficult to overcome them. They will also have to overcome WalMart and its "warehouse on wheels" composed of thousands of 18-wheelers full of discount goodies incessantly in motion for "just-in-time" delivery to the big box outlets. And, of course, by "WalMart" I mean not only the company itself but the millions of Americans who think they can't live without it.

Do the Democrats have the guts to go against this tide? My guess is probably not. But, get this, too: sooner rather than later, whether we like it or not, we're going to have to replace WalMart with an entirely different system for retail trade -- probably resembling the system of multi-layered local trade networks that were destroyed by WalMart. And the further off we put this task, the more difficult it's going to be. So, real political leadership will have to inform the public that the time has come to start making other arrangements.

Instead of supporting the fiction that happy motoring can continue forever, the Democrats should create an "Apollo Project" to restore the US passenger rail system, too. (We hear a lot about an "Apollo Project" to develop a miracle fuel for our cars, but that ain't gonna happen and we'd be much better off devoting that investment to public transit.) This will baffle and piss off a lot of the public, but it is necessary if we are going to survive as an advanced civilization. Please notice, by the way, that I am not suggesting we deprive anyone of the right to drive a car, only give them the option of getting somewhere by train instead. And don't worry, the politicians will not have to do a thing to restrict automobile use -- circumstances will do it for them as the world plunges into a permanent oil crisis that does not go away.

Another thing the Democrats can do with their new power is reorient the activities of the US Department of Agriculture -- and especially legislated cash subsidies -- away from the "agribusiness" Big Boys to small-scale, local farmers. We are silently and stealthily approaching a crisis situation with the American food supply. Most localities now only have a two or three-day food supply, and any number of crisis events in the offing could disrupt the three-thousand mile chains of frozen pizzas and Cheez Doodles that the public depends on for basic sustenance. We desperately need to reactivate what's left of the productive land around our towns and cities, and to repopulate it with people who can grow real food.

The Democrats will have to contend with the imminent cratering of suburbia whether they like it or not. The "housing bubble" is the first leg down for a development pattern that has no future. What's out there now is a vast over-supply of exactly the kind of houses in the kinds of places that will not have value in an energy-scarcer world. The overbuilding of tract houses is a tragedy caused by reckless and irresponsible behavior in the lending industry and in the government officials who regulate interest rates and the credit supply. The investments are already lost, and the individual carnage is going to be extreme, but the depth of the problem will reveal itself slowly for two reasons: 1.) both homeowners and realtors will desperately try to maintain the fiction that these properties still have high value, and 2.) individuals who are in trouble with their mortgage payments will never reveal their dire situation to their friends and neighbors because it is too humiliating. The news about default and re-po will only arrive with the moving vans (if the individuals can afford to hire them).

The collapse of suburbia will be the Democrats chief inheritance from the "free-market" economically neo-liberal Republicans who were too busy money grubbing at all levels to notice that there was such a thing as the future. The tragedy of suburbia will finish off whatever is left of Reagan-Bush1-Bush2 Republicanism -- although the truth is that Bill Clinton did as much to promote this way of life, indeed, to turn suburban development into a new basis for the US economy when manufacturing crapped out.

The nation as a whole -- however it reconfigures itself politically in the aftermath of this fiasco -- is going to have to come to grips with a lot of hard truths. One will be that "energy independence" means a whole different scale and system for daily life, not just "new and innovative" fuels for cars. As long as we are stuck in a foolish national wish-fest aimed at keeping all the cars running and propping up all the trappings of car-dependency, we will remain lost in a wilderness of our own making. And whoever the next president of the US turns out to be, whether a Democrat or the leader of a party that has not yet coalesced, will have all that he-or-she can do to keep this nation from completely falling to pieces.


By fnord12 | December 8, 2006, 1:53 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Oh my goodness

Well, super-hero costumes often do get described as looking "painted-on".


By fnord12 | December 8, 2006, 11:56 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



He's a fighter

Link:

WASHINGTON - Republican Vern Buchanan might be the official winner in a messy Sarasota-area congressional race, but Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says the Democratic-controlled Congress should not seat Buchanan without another election.

"Absolutely not," Dean said in a taped Political Connections interview scheduled to air Sunday on Bay News 9. "You cannot seat someone if you don't have an election that's valid.

"This election is not valid. There are 18,000 people who may have voted, and we don't know what happened to their votes," Dean said. "You can bet that if the Republicans were 500 votes short they'd be calling for a new election, and they'd be right."

Not like these losers:

Her decision could set the stage for a volatile political showdown at the start of the new Democrat-led Congress. Though Democratic leaders, include incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, say all options are on the table, others privately say they hope to avoid the partisan warfare.

By fnord12 | December 8, 2006, 11:35 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



December 7, 2006

What is wrong with this country?

Link:

Hot on the heels of the release of the Iraq Study Group Report -- and a day in which 10 U.S. servicemen were killed and at least 84 Iraqis were blown up or shot -- prospective presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will join with Joe Lieberman to hold a press conference today at 3 pm ET to announce the launch of a television PSA campaign about... video game ratings.

By fnord12 | December 7, 2006, 3:48 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Diplomacy? That Stuff Actually Works?

There's a definite shift of something going on at the White House because they rolled out this offer to North Korea:

The United States has offered a detailed package of economic and energy assistance in exchange for North Korea's giving up nuclear weapons and technology, American officials said Tuesday.

But the offer, made last week during two days of intense talks in Beijing, would hinge on North Korea's agreeing to begin dismantling some of the equipment it is using to expand its nuclear arsenal, even before returning to negotiations.

...

The incentives offered by the United States include food aid from the United States, Japan and South Korea, a senior administration official said.

The offer is significant because...[h]awks in the administration, particularly in Vice President Dick Cheney's office, have long opposed what they call "rewarding" North Korea for its nuclear test.

So, after six years of idiocy, pretending they could just dictate what they wanted and everyone else would fall over themselves catering to their whims, the Bush administration is bringing back the policy we originally had in place. The policy they criticized and abandoned, calling the former agreement a "pay off" to the North Koreans. The only problem is the North Koreans have been busy these six years. While Bush and his lot have been waving their fists impotently, the North Koreans have been making nuclear weapons. Weapons they didn't have six years ago. Weapons they would have been less likely to produce had we stuck with the policy that was already in place.

Way to go, fuck-ups.


By min | December 7, 2006, 11:32 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance by The Mothers of Invention

There will come a time when everybody
Who is lonely will be free . . .
TO SING & DANCE & LOVE
There will come a time when every evil
That we know will be an evil . . .
THAT WE CAN RISE ABOVE

Who cares if hair is long or short
Or sprayed or partly grayed . . .
WE KNOW THAT HAIR AIN'T WHERE IT'S AT

(there will come a time when you won't even be ashamed if you are fat!)

WAH WAH-WAH WAH

La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la (a-a-ah!)
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la (oo-wee-ooh!)

Diddle-diddle-dee
(Diddle-diddle-dee)
Diddle-diddle-dee
(Diddle-diddle-dee)
Diddle-diddle-dee
(Diddle-diddle-dee)
Diddle-diddle-dee
(Diddle-diddle-dee)

La la la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la
WAH WAH-WAH WAH

There will come a time when everybody
Who is lonely will be free . . .
TO SING & DANCE & LOVE (dance and love)

There will come a time when every evil
That we know will be an evil . . .
THAT WE CAN RISE ABOVE (rise above)

Who cares if you're so poor you can't afford
To buy a pair of Mod A Go-Go stretch-elastic pants . . .
THERE WILL COME A TIME WHEN YOU CAN EVEN
TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF WHEN YOU DANCE



By min | December 7, 2006, 10:56 AM | Music | Comments (1) | Link



December 6, 2006

Comics Crossover Categories

"The need to compile lists is a personality disorder, as is the need to assert the superiority of some things
over other things." -Jeremy Hardy

I don't know who this guy is (I saw the quote in someone's sig) but he can go to hell.

  • Type 0 - A meta-event that isn't really a crossover, like Nuff Said or Flashback (-1 issues)
  • Type 1 - An independent mini-series. It may be bookended in individual books but the entire story takes place in the mini series. Secret Wars, Galactus The Devourer, Infinity Abyss, and Secret War are examples.
  • Type 2 - A mini-series with additional story taking place in individual books. The additional stories are usually not crucial to the main story. Secret Wars II, Infinity Gauntlet, and Maximum Security are examples.
  • Type 3 - A round-robin story that takes place within individual issues without any supporting mini-series. Each individual issue is an important part of the story. There are three sub-types of this type:
    • Type 3 A - An event that crosses-over with other titles about the same character or characters. Example: Maximum Carnage
    • Type 3 B - An event that crosses-over with the same family of titles. Examples: Operation Galactic Storm (Avengers) and X-Cutioner's Song (X-Men)
    • Type 3 C - An event that is universe-wide (even if the focus is on a specific family) and the story is told only in individual titles. Example: Mutant Massacre (Included X-titles + Power Pack + Thor)
  • Type 4 - Uses a mini-series or several mini-series plus additional stories in individual titles to depict parallel occurances within a large event. Examples: Age of Apocalypse, House of M.

Agree/disagree? Help me define them better, or tell me it's impossible to categorize them. How does Civil War fit into the categories as i've defined them (it's either a type 2 or a type 4, or we need to be able to define Events sort of like compound-complex sentences, with features of both types 2 and 4)? How about Fall of the Mutants, which was essentially three unrelated stories (i think it's a type 0, except that some of the unrelated stories had crossovers with other titles). Aaand, what's your favorite type of cross-over? I'm a classic Type 1-er, myself.


By fnord12 | December 6, 2006, 3:59 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link



Darth Mimo

Remember Mimobots? Now they have limited edition Star Wars mimobots.


Darth Mimo

They have other characters, as well.


By min | December 6, 2006, 2:14 PM | Star Wars & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Krampus

I think i saw this on the Venture Bros.

As Christmas nears, Austrian children hoping for gifts from Santa Claus will also be watching warily for "Krampus", his horned and hairy sidekick.

In folklore, Krampus was a devil-like figure who drove away evil spirits during the Christian holiday season.

...

"Krampus scared ... me when I was seven," said one, identified as Riem on FM4's Web site. "I panicked that I was never going to see my father again because a hoofed human wanted to throw me in his wooden backpack."

Link

I love the Venture Bros.


By min | December 6, 2006, 1:57 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



December 5, 2006

Milk Campaign Drags Along The Unsuspecting Cookie

Hoping to stir up thirst for milk, officials installed advertisements in several San Francisco bus shelters on Monday that give off the scent of freshly baked cookies.

The technology that creates the scent is very similar to that used in magazine ads. Scented adhesives are placed throughout the interior of the bus shelters, including under the benches.

"As long as they are not harmful chemicals, it's OK," one somewhat confused elderly woman said as she pondered the cookie smell in one of the shelters. "They are trying to sell milk? Is that it?"

Link

I understand that we tend to think of milk and cookies going together as a snack for kids. But if i smell cookies, i'm pretty sure it's not going to start a sudden yearning in my heart for milk. I'm even more sure that it's going to make me crave cookies instead. Which adults and teens alike prolly pair most with coffee considering our caffeine addicted society. Or Mt. Dew, depending on what company you keep.


UPDATE: San Francisco MTA has pulled the plug on the ads.

The fragrant billboards, posted at five bus shelters on Monday in an effort by dairy producers to make passengers thirsty for milk, had to come down because the shelters' maintenance contractor had not informed San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials, said an agency spokeswoman.
...
The agency also received several complaints from bus riders concerned that the aroma might not be safe, she said
...
"It is unfortunate that the MTA has requested the removal of our scented bus shelter ads," the milk board said. "The Got Milk? scented bus shelters were intended to be a tasteful change from the frequent blasts of exhaust that permeate the air around some of San Francisco's bus shelters."

Link


By min | December 5, 2006, 1:57 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link



December 4, 2006

Anti-UN Psychopath No Longer UN Ambassador

Next step is to get some anti-Federal government Republicans out of the Federal government but this is a good start. Republicans are still good at spinning things, though. Spinning the complacent media, anyway...

Second paragraph of the article:

Bolton's nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (news, bio, voting record), a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections Nov. 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton.

Sounds at least kind of bi-partisan, right?

"Despite the support of a strong bipartisan majority of senators, Ambassdor (typo in original) Bolton's confirmation was blocked by a Democratic filibuster, and this is a clear example of the breakdown in the Senate confirmation process," [White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino] said.

Same article, nine paragraphs later. No challenge to that comment in the article, either by juxtaposing it against facts that contradicted it or by providing a single quote by anyone, Dem or Repub, contradicting that statement or justifying the fact that they weren't going to confirm Bolton. There's a quote from Perino touting Bolton's 'accomplishments' at the UN, and nothing in the article that validates those 'accomplishments' or quotes any critics of Bolton's policies.


By fnord12 | December 4, 2006, 10:22 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



December 1, 2006

I Don't Care How "Nice" You Think It Is

70 degree weather in December in New Jersey is freakishly weird and totally unnatural. And it's not just us experiencing the global warming trend. Moscow is snowless this winter.

"In 1953 the temperature was plus 4.2 degrees Celcius (39.6 Fahrenheit), and tonight it will be plus 4.5 degrees (40.1 Fahrenheit)," she said. "We can call it a new record."

The average temperature for December in Moscow is around minus 4 degrees Celcius. The spokeswoman said cylcones in the north Atlantic have created unusually warm weather in central Russia.

You might be enjoying the warm temperatures because the idea of freezing your ass off in 30 degree weather is unpleasant. But weather should be cyclical and there should be seasons in our region. Warm weather allows diseases to travel faster. Plants and animals that should be taking their cues from the weather are prolly completely confused about what they should be doing. Today it's 70 degrees. Mebbe next time it will be a week long freak blizzard. Or a hurricane the likes of Katrina to wash away our shores. In the big picture, this "great" weather we're having is a very bad sign.


By min | December 1, 2006, 3:51 PM | Science | Comments (5) | Link



The War Against the Mole Man

I'm not normally interested when the bloggers i read start complaining about right wing bloggers, but any post that involves Orson Scott Card and the Fantastic Four is worth linking to.


By fnord12 | December 1, 2006, 3:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



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