Category Archives: Misc.

So Many Things, So Little Information

AUGUST 13th???

No, Cody, that’s just unacceptable.  That’s three weeks with absolutely no new exciting content!  But what to do?  Oh, whatever to do to rectify this grievance?

I can rant!  Hmm, let’s see, what’s pissing me off right now…

The Ground Zero Mosque!!!  Well, I mean, it itself is not pissing me off, the controversy is.  But I don’t really like getting all political.  Besides, Keith Olbermann already covered the issue much more eloquently than I ever could.

So if not that, then what?  Could I criticize some movie?  Could I heap praise upon a movie?  Could I make my own movie???

No.  I mean, I suppose I could, but I don’t like making comments on things I’ve seen once (or never, for that matter), and the only movies I’ve seen recently are The Lion King, Spaceballs, and 8 1/2, two of which I feel no need to comment on at the moment, and while watching the other I was too distracted by the fact that the dialogue did not sync up to the actors’ mouthing of the lines, only to find out later that this was in fact not my computer being its normal bellyaching self (Bellyaching?  Really?) but rather the practice of recording the dialogue in post-production, which was apparently quite common for Italian films of the era, especially those directed by Fellini.  Clearly, I am referring to Spaceballs here.

Yeah, this is some good stuff.  We’ve got some pretty sweet stream-of-consciousness going on here.  What next?  How about a picture? Yes!

Bam! Dylan!

Hmm, music?  Yeah, I recently came into possession of quite a few splendid albums, among them the above-mentioned’s Blonde on Blonde, The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute, Ida Maria’s Fortress ’round My Heart and Mumford & Sons splendid Sigh No More.  Currently, in order of preference they are rated, in my mind thusly:

  1. Blonde on Blonde
  2. Sigh No More
  3. Fortress ’round My Heart
  4. Frances The Mute

Although they are all fairly great for what it’s worth.  Plus I slipped in a numbered list there, and numbered lists always grab my attention, so maybe as a result of including a numbered list I will attract NEW READERS and some of them will be ELIGIBLE ATTRACTIVE WOMEN some of whom wouldn’t mind dating a DEEPLY FLAWED BUT SELF-AWARE ABOUT IT SEMI-ATTRACTIVE OVERLY-CRITICAL D&D-OBSESSED UNPOPULAR BLOGGER.

Why don’t we embed a video now? (Do you like that I included you, the reader, in my plans?  Respond in the comments!)

There’s some Mumford & Sons!  They’re British, and quite awesome.  And they have a dedicated banjo player.  And no dedicated drummer.  And they are awesome, but I believe I already made mention of that fact.

IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT AND I COULD BE AT A JERSEY SHORE PARTY BUT INSTEAD I AM WRITING SOMETHING THAT NOBODY WILL READ ON THE INTERNET.

Sorry, lost my mind for a moment.

So how ’bout that D&D? Well, currently, both books that compose the B/X series are sitting on the floor to the left of me, along with modules B2 and X1.  I really don’t know why.  It’s not like I’m going to be running anything other that 3.X any time soon.  Which is a shame, since I’ve been itching to run a game in which the PCs are colonists of a new world and go on spaghetti-westernesque adventure across the countryside, which I simply can’t fit into the established framework of searching for a lost city wherein they hope to find a large quantity of gold. (Yet…)

Also, ChicagoWiz has been posting some awesome concept fiction for a modern D&D game, which is just stimulating my imagination like a beast.  But noooooo, we have to continue following the antics of george THE forge and Obtaria and the fluxtuatingly-named halfling and the currently-absent-thanks-to-the-demands-of-study-abroad Charlg as they plod along with their Unicow and Mysterious Eggs Which They Don’t Know What They Do Yet But I Do And I’m Looking Forward To Them Finding Out.

Meh, maybe I’ll be fine running 3.X for a while.

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The Origin of Man

Of late I’ve been taken by this whole evolutionary biology thing.  The way organisms gradually develop into other organisms better suited to their environment is incredible and astounding and all sorts of other adjectives I would use to cushion my word count were I writing this for an assignment.  I’ve been particularly excited about computer simulations of evolution (like this one which simulates the hypothetical evolution of a clock) and the evolutionary ancestry of the human race.  Even more specifically, Neanderthals.

There is debate withinthe scientific community whether the Neanderthals were a separate species withing the Homo genus (homo neandertalus) or a subspecies of homo sapiens, as we are (homo sapiens neandertalus).  The difference being that if they were a subspecies, they would be able to mate with modern humans and produce viable offspring.  Otherwise, they would not be able to produce offspring with anatomically modern humans, or those offspring would be infertile.  I believe the common prevaling hypothesis is that they were a subspecies, thanks to elements of the human genome that are shown to be shared with neanderthals which were not present when the two species split, which would suggest interbreeding.

The question is related to the question of how the neanderthals went extinct.  There are two prevalent hypotheses here as well, each corresponding to whether neanderthals could interbreed with anatomically modern humans.  If they could (that is, were they a subspecies), they likely went extinct through assimilation with the human population.  That is, through extensive interbreeding, the two populations merged into one, which is indeed what is expected to occur when external barriers to breeding are removed between two subspecies.  However, if they were a separate species, then it is believed that they would have been driven to extinction by direct competition with modern humans.  Either way, the neanderthal is an extinct species.

But for a period of time (a very long period of time by standards of modern civilization), there were two or more species of intelligent, sapient beings on Earth, living in communities very near one another.  My hypothetical yet certainly not rhetorical question is this: how would society have evolved differently provided that (a) modern man and neanderthals were separate species, and not genetically compatible, and (b) rather than competing in prehistory, the two species comingled and formed mixed-race societies.

I do not have satisfying answers to this question, I’m afraid.  I do know how improbably such a scenario really is, but it is still an interesting thought experiment to try to imagine a modern society in which two separate races physically cannot reproduce.  Would inter-species marriages be allowed?  Would racism be softened by the years of literal inter-racial communities or would it be heightened?  Would such a society even be stable, considering there would undoubtedly be communities consisting entirely of one race or the other at least in the early history of humanity?  If the two species could produce offspring, but those offspring would be infertile, where would these children’s place be in society?

I want thoughtful answers, and I know that my adoring fans have been holding out on me as far as comments are concerned.  So come on, what would this society look like?  I really want to know!  In return, boobies:

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Meet The New School (Same As The Old School)

I have been gone for a while, I know.  I let a lot of people down there, too.  A lot of attractive women, if my information is correct (and it always is).  But now I’m back, with a new banner, and a new purpose.

You see, over the past, oh, six months I have become increasingly infatuated with this Old School Renaissance of (and this is where all the hardcore Run-DMC fans should leave lest they face extreme disappointment) Dungeons & Dragons.  I was led to Zak S’ fantastic blog Playing D&D With Porn Stars, a title that is perhaps unfitting of the sheer creativity, wit, and usable game material that comes out of every post, with actual X-rated content coming along only once in a blue moon.  His blogroll led me to James Maliszewski’s Grognardia and from there a whole new world of old school D&D goodness that I never knew existed opened up to me.

Not a week after I began my journey through this wonderous world of descending AC and thiefless dungeon delving (seriously, Run-DMC fans, there’s nothing here for you) I yearned to contribute, to play a part in hopefully rekindling a hobby that, in my humble opinion, has been struggling under the strain of unnecessary complexities and pandering to the perceived lowest common denominator from one end of the spectrum, and rampant pretension and pedantry on the other.  But up until recently, I have felt unqualified, inadequate, to throw my own untested ideas out into the blogosphere, for I was at the time the saddest of creatures, a DM without a campaign.

But now, oh now, after working tirelessly (save for all that tiring) on that oldest school of settings, the Megadungeon, and running a short B/X romp for my brother, followed by the beginning of a hopefully more drawn-out campaign scheduled for this upcoming Sunday, only now do I feel sufficiently prepared to let loose ideas or questions and back them up with legitimate play experience.  So get ready, this just got real.

But don’t fret ladies, this does not spell the end of my usual fare (which admittedly over the past half a year has been regular installments of no updates).  I still intend to talk about movies, video games, life in general, even the occassional book! (if any of you Run-DMC fans are left, you are probably offended that I’ve chosen this particular point in the post to remind you to leave, as it implies that you are either illiterate or simply hate literature or any artistic medium outside of hip hop, which we all know is simply not true)  I’ve been reading voraciously (or as voraciously as one can when one’s attention span has been gradually compressed by the horrors of the digital age as the multitasking instincts increased tenfold).  This summer I’ve read The Little Prince, two John Green books and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.  I am reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone to my brother for the first time.  I am currently reading Les Miserables at a breakneck pace.  My brother, six years old, introduced me to Adventure Time, as well as other less awesome but still entertaining shows, proving useful in bridging the generational gap that apparently exists between us.  I have things to say about all of these.

And now that that’s out of the way, here’s some Run-DMC.

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Saint Vader

I haven’t posted here for a while, but I found this fascinating.  I have a feeling that three thousand years from now archaeologists will find this and come to the conclusion that we have been visited by aliens.

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Geeks and Glasses

For the purpose of this discussion, let us put aside the vast gaping petty differences between the modern nerd and the modern geek.  Of course they are different breeds of being, but this post will focus on their similarities.  The name used for the collective group that contains all nerds (vile scum of the Earth) and us geeks (who will one day rule the world with a zombie-ninja army) will, hereafter, be “Flumph.”  If you understand the reference, you clearly fall into one of those two categories.

Oh yeah, thats the ticket.

Oh yeah, that's the ticket.

Why do Flumphs have glasses?  Now, clearly, not all Flumphs are bespectacled cretins, hermits, or perhaps pariahs, from society.  Yet the standard stereotype associated with them includes glasses, poor fashion sense, lack of friends, and terrible or non-existant haircuts.  This is a stereotype, of course, but all stereotypes are rooted somewhere.  For a long time I never understood why some Flumphs carried a certain air of, shall we say, aloofness about them.  Now that I have joined the ranks of Flumphs With Glasses, I think I have a better grasp of the stereotypical (archetypical?) Flumph, if not completing any sort of transformation myself.  This is what I noticed about myself, that I think may carry over to other Flumphs:

  1. We love puzzles. Not all of us love the same kinds of puzzles.  Some love proving mathematical theorems, some love solving rubik’s cubes, some love putting together game mechanics that don’t fall apart, but they are all puzzles of some sort.  And we love them.  We don’t enjoy them, they are not a hobby, they are a way of life.  This tends to get in the way of other, more common, pursuits, such as partying, womanizing, or watching sports.  Why would we do those things when we can spend those precious hours implementing a mini-map in the computer role-playing game we’re making?
  2. We measure status differently. For most of the world, status is determined by a few key factors.  Money, attractiveness, and style.  Many times, these three factors are intertwined.  The key thing, though, that determines status in any situation, is power.  Money = Power, Attractiveness=Ability To Find Powerful Mate=Power, Style=Indication That You Recognize Social Trends=Ability To Contribute To Said Trends=Power.  This is how status works in the “real world.”  For the Flumphs, however, there is a different definition of power, depending on which particular group you are a part of.  Especially when groups communicate via the internet, normal factors become nearly moot.  The ability to code an effective website, or the know-how to put together a computer are considered much more powerful than how closely one can follow fads.  When web-designers or computer programmers demand so much status in a community because of their talents, rather than their physical resources, “normal” marks of status become exponentially less important.
  3. We are curious. I just learned this.  We are a very curious people, not in the weird sense (at least not in this context).  I have yet to meet a Flumph who does not want to learn as much as he can about his favorite subjects, and about the world around him.  This is why I wear glasses now.  I have shown, over eighteen years, that I am perfectly functional without them.  But I just want to know.  I don’t want to miss anything because I took them off so I could look cooler.  This is one of the reasons I personally don’t drink or do drugs, as well.  I want my mind crystal clear, at all times, to take in whatever is available to be taken in.  I believe I heard somewhere that Isaac Newton had sex once, didn’t much care for it, and then moved on.  He was a Flumph, I’m sure.  He wanted the experience, had it, and then went on to learning about different things, rather than repeating the same activity over and over.
  4. We care too much. This is the bottom line.  We want to experience.  We support other people who want to experience.  You don’t see us partying every Friday night because we have better things to do.  Or maybe we just tell that to ourselves.  Some wear pocket protectors because they are practical.  We don’t necessarily respect the “cool guys,” and we don’t care if they respect us.  So while they laugh, the rest of the Flumphs say “it’s OK, let’s go launch pumpkins out of that trebuchet you built.”  That’s much more important than how geeky it looks to protect one’s pocket.

Of course, there’s always the stray Randall Munroe, who is smart, beautiful, and well-adjusted, the holy trinity of personhood.  Oh, how I envy him.

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The Future Is Now!!!

So today is my last day home before I cross the abyss into adulthood, from whence I can never look back, where I will forget my past and devote the rest of my life to keeping on one path of discipline and structure perpetual adolescence, from whence I will return home fairly frequently, and also stay in touch with the friends that matter, and probably continue to slack off and focus on whatever tomfoolery happens to pique my interest at any given moment, but hopefully to a slightly lesser extent than I currently do.  In short, tomorrow I leave for Bucknell.  Meaning don’t expect the blog to update anything remotely resembling regularly, but still check back every day, because the page views make me feel good about myself.

Wish me luck, beautiful readers!

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Lack of Things To Write About…

…has led to a lack of written things on this blog.  So, instead of a real, insightful (ha!) update, I will instead post a list of some of the things I have been thinking about since I last updated:

  • Glasses make everything so much clearer!  I honestly thought that things were supposed to be kind of blurry far away, but everything is so crisp now!  It’s like I’m playing Fallout 3 all the time, and just waiting for my computer to crash.
  • I love the fiction behind Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, and I really wish I could get into it, but when the smallest legal Chaos Space Marine force costs $50, plus $25 for the Codex, plus the baffling amount of $57.75 for the core rulebook, the prospects look slim.
  • But I’ve got to find some sort of proprietary war game to scratch my itch.  Maybe Warmachine?  Don’t know much about it, except that it’s relatively widespread, and cheaper than Games Workshop products.
  • Writing an informative, yet not-too-self indulgent, yet entertaining review of The Beatles’ Revolver is harder than it first appeared.
  • I’m fine with Blizzard taking as long as it wants on Starcraft II, as long as it doesn’t go the way of Ghost.
  • Maybe if I actually played through games, I would have something to write about.

So, that’s that.  A few other interesting tidbits to tide you over until I find something more meaty to write about:

Currently Reading: Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Most Recently Viewed: The Hurt Locker

Recently Obtained: The Beatles – Past Masters Volume 1

Most Anticipated Thing: Elemental: War of Magic (and my God, how I’m anticipating this game, you, like, have no idea)

Now, please go do something productive with your time, because God knows I’m not.

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