Friday, December 19, 2008

There will be more posting, soon, I promise...

...But coming across this (about 75% of the way down the page) made my day. I knew I liked John Carmack for reasons other than being a demigod unto programmers, gamers and Space-2.0 buffs alike.

He's recently acquired a Tesla Roadster and has this to say, among other things:
[...]Internal combustion drive trains, with all the gears, clutch, oil, and exhaust start seeming remarkably primitive in very short order. I have hopped back and forth between BMWs and the Tesla for a couple weeks now, and while there are plenty of creature comforts that are much better in the BMWs, every time I pull away, I wish I was in the Tesla. I am using it as my daily driver now, whenever I don't have to haul any big packages for Armadillo. As I am driving it, the range is only about 150 miles on a charge, but that is still plenty for what I need, and I just plug it in every night.

I do also confess to enjoying the irony of my driving an electric car. I am fairly hostile to most of the environmental movement, finding it generally a modern tribal religion that justifies condemnation and control of others in the name of protecting the environment. I care nothing at all for the environment in isolation, only for how it positively impacts human life -- civilization is all about beating the environment into forms that suit us better. An "electric car" used to be a conspicuous sign of righteous sacrifice, but you won't get any self-flagellation points for driving a Tesla. Too much fun.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Better Make Sure your Nose Is Clean...

...If you want to question a Democrat.

Consider our good friend Joe ("the Plumber") Wurzelbacher.
It's Kafkaesque: Obama decides to talk to a random guy, the guy asks a question about how Obama's tax plan will affect him if he actually realizes his version of the American dream: buying a plumbing company that he intends someday to make more than Obama's "soak the rich" threshold of $250,000.00. Obama, in a rare moment of boneheaded honesty, responds with a perfectly articulated Socialist bromide about wealth redistribution.

Oops. (Over 100,000 Google results as of this writing for "joe the plumber tax policy.")

Naturally, the Democrat response has been to demonize Wurzelbacher: suddenly it's the Hillary-protecting-Bill treatment (and they say Hill and Barack never talk any more!): find his tax records; investigate his family tree; publish his address; misrepresent how his current tax status impinges on Joe's original question; find anyone anywhere who has anything less than sterling to say about the man, and give them furrowed-brow airtime.

This from the penumbra-peering party that found a Right to Privacy in the Constitution.

Would that this sort of curiosity might stir in the Fourth Estate regarding Ayers, ACORN, Fannie/Freddie, Wright, et al.



Friday, October 10, 2008

The Long Game, "The Media's Vendetta Against Palin":
The media have learned their lesson. They generally tolerated the rise of Ronald Reagan. They didn't take him that seriously. And when he astounded them by trouncing Jimmy Carter, it wasn't that big of deal.

[...]But Reagan fooled them. His campaign wasn't only about him. He ushered in a new generation of conservatives who won local and federal elections. They eventually captured both sides of Congress in 1994, stopping Bill Clinton in his tracks. The Reagan conservatives led to right-leaning judges who started to rule in favor of gun owners and parents and the military.

Reagan was not, as the media thought, a slow-witted actor who gave a good speech. He orchestrated an unprecedented move to the Right that changed America and the world.

[...]Bush was never a movement conservative. He is not creating a new generation of young conservatives. But Palin can be. That's what makes her so dangerous. Her convention speech which so dazzled the Republican base was all the evidence the big media needed.

If Palin were a liberal Democrat touting the same achievements she would have achieved sainthood by now in the pages of the New York Times.

She went from mom, to mayor, to governor -- an astounding rise to power that should be applauded by feminists. But because she is a conservative, none of that matters.

Actually, Gov. Palin is a bit populist to call her a Reagan-grade conservative (windfall profits tax on oil companies in AK, for one), but she's a proudly conservative-leaning Republican, and one who makes it look sexy and cool, which is no mean feat compared, for example, to Tom Ridge. (Amy and I watched his speech during the convention, and while he was obviously earnest, he struck us as frightfully, well, Rotarian. Domesticated, you know? The opposite of dangerous.)

Most importantly, Palin's a fighter for those Republican values, which is something the party's been sadly lacking at the executive level, well, since Reagan. Watching Bush (either Bush!) just roll over while Democrats lie and impugn him at every turn has been demoralizing, certainly, but watching Maverick McCain brag about "reaching across the aisle" while dropping "my good friend" names like Ted Kennedy, and failing to attack the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/Community Reinvestment Act/ACORN/Obama connection is infuriating.

Sarah Palin is a welcome counter to all this bloody collegiality (well, she is now that McCain figured out that keeping her under wraps and obsessively on message was...unhelpful). We Bitter Clingers out in the hinterlands are tired of our values and priorities being spat on and worse by the likes of Olbermann, Matthews, Couric, Pelosi, Reid and Obama: having a pit bull in lipstick breathe a little fire in their direction is a tonic we've been craving for some time.

Republican strategists, please learn the Lesson of Palin: we're going to get called racists, sexists, bigots, hicks, hatemongers, idiots and worse by our opponents, no matter what we say. How many points has Bush or McCain won for politeness? To make matters worse, we've taught Democrats in the past that profligate namecalling works, and shuts us Republicans up. The delightful temerity of Palin, to actually hit back! That's the reason she's been speaking to venue-overflowing crowds.

But back to the point about bringing new, young people into the party, and lastingly bumping American politics over to the right a bit: could happen. First, though, Palin will need a few victories under her belt, and right now this election is looking like an outside chance, despite all the revelations about ACORN, Ayers and other nontrivial embarrassments coming to light of late. The economy is just a little bit in the tank, of course, which never bodes well for the party in the White House.

I'll see whether I can put together a coherent post about that in the coming days.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Well, Maybe it Ain't So Bad After All...

My, my, how things can change in a week.

Sarah Palin's addition to John McCain's ticket was announced last Friday, and in the meantime we've been treated to one of the more impressive orgies of panicked journalistic feces-throwing I've ever witnessed, and while I haven't been paying attention as long as some, I've seen quite a bit.

By now the "exclamation points" of Palin's background are well-known: hockey mom; rose to her VP candidacy through the PTA, school board, and mayor's and governor's offices; lifetime NRA membership holder; moose hunter; beauty queen; mother of both a four-month-old Down syndrome child and a pregnant teen.

She's also been a ruthless reformer in Alaska, taking on large corporations and entrenched (Republican) party bosses alike, wielding both her veto pen and eBay seller's account with equal aplomb to cut spending and eliminate government waste.

Well, nobody's denying now that Sarah Palin has changed the game. Her speech last night was perfectly delivered, revealing a facility for authenticity, accessibility, humor and openness that we haven't seen behind a podium for a very, very long time. On either side of the Right-Left divide.

Of course, lest anyone think I've gone squishy on my distrust of McCain amid all the hagiography and detailed recountings of his horrific treatment by the North Vietnamese, I haven't forgotten. In fact, I swore I'd never donate to That Man's campaign, but the Palin pick changed my mind, and McCain/Palin received $100 of Amy's and my money on Friday.


Here's why. Longtime readers here know that I've consistently (and only) been excited about true conservatives: Pence, Thompson, Jindal, et al. alerted me to Palin as a possibility for a McCain pick some months ago, and I was enthused at the possibility, seeing as she's One of Us, but Johnny Mac didn't strike me as the sort who had the guts, or the ideological fortitude.

You see, since the 2006 election and especially this year, the mood in Washington and the McCain campaign has been one of Okay. Democrats have won the hearts and minds of the people. We need to cross aisles, go along and get along, make peace with our time in the wilderness and try to compromise our way to what power we can glean. Country-club, domesticated, lap-dog Republicanism--I can't stand it, and neither can voters.

So, real conservatism, in its fruitings in Alaska, Louisiana, Indiana and many other "elsewheres" (Eric Cantor, Jeff Sessions, Jeff Flake, John Shadegg, I'm looking at you), has been shunted to the back of the room, told to sit down and shut up, declared dead and irrelevant, relegated to "annoying pain-in-the-ass who won't leave well enough alone" status.

I'm not privy to the workings of McCain's mind, but whether he picked Palin for her conservative bona fides or as a last-ditch "Hail Mary" to shore up a dangerously unexciting ticket, it scarcely matters now. Because if McCain and Palin win this year, then she's first up for the Presidency in 2012 or 2016, and that opens the door to like-minded conservatives as running mates from the pain-in-the-ass group above. By then, of course, Bobby Jindal will have undone (as much as any one man is likely to) the damage from decades of neglect that Louisiana and the Big Easy have suffered at the hands of Democrats, and be looking for something else to do, and I think we know how I'd like that to turn out.

McCain/Palin - Palin/Jindal - beyond? Could happen, or some other combination. Especially if Obama is the caliber of politician that the Left keeps producing.

Thus, and for very little other reason, I feel compelled to vote McCain/Palin in November, and (hallelujah!) can do so with a smile.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A Tough Year to be a Conservative

I haven't done much political blogging this Silly Season, since the primaries played out the way they did; for many reasons, but most importantly because this year the choices we conservatives have are demoralizing, to say the least.

Granted, among all the primary candidates John McCain was arguably the most stereotypical choice, but good grief, is it difficult to trust the man. Pretty much the only way he made headlines before becoming the nominee was by shafting the Republican base.

Seventeen months ago, I said of "Johnny Mac":

"Maverick." The Straight Talk Express. Campaign Finance "Reform." Sops to illegal immigrants in his home state. Gang of 14. "Torture" legislation that governed nothing of the sort and insulted our soldiers.

All the distinguished service, all the years in the Hanoi Hilton, and all the foreign-policy hawkery in the world won't wash the taste of betrayal out of GOPers' mouths that Maverick McCain has left over the years. Still better than Hillary, but he's been talking out of both sides of his mouth for too long. Very unlikely to win the nomination. Nose-holder extraordinaire.

Well, he got the party's nod, but Lord, not mine. And now there are rumblings that he may be searching for a pro-choice running mate, so as to make himself more palatable to Democrats. I wonder how much dumping-on the base will take before simply deciding to stay home en masse. Won't take much more for me. Hey, it took a Carter to win us a Reagan.

Oddly, Barack Obama hasn't exactly been covering himself in glory, either. McCain is riding high after having done a very confident and good job in last night's--whatever it was--at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. Even pundits like Rush Limbaugh are forced to admit McCain did better than they expected him to, though expectations for Obama (recent Hawaii vacation notwithstanding) weren't but so high, the format being something other than "read inspiringly from a TelePrompTer."

While it may be fun to rejoice in McCain getting something less than complete opprobrium from the press (talk about "Battered Ideology Syndrome"), bear in mind, the party-loyalty equation still stands thusly:

Perception: Obama got slam-dunked like a Nerf ball last night. Jeez, McCain might be a principled guy!
Reality: Gang of 14, McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, "Maverick," etc., ad nauseam. His record stands.

Maybe performances like these will be enough for McCain (though I highly doubt another will be allowed to take place). McCain's veep choice will be interesting, if not conclusive.

Funny thing is, I just don't care much: either way, Conservatives are looking at a trying four-to-eight years.


Epilogue: An X-wing takes off from the steamy swamp planet of Endor.
Obi-wan Kenobi:
That boy was our last hope.
Yoda: No. There is another.

Monday, June 16, 2008

No great surprise here...

Hat tip to Tripp...

Your results:You are Iron Man
Iron Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Inventor. Businessman. Genius.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hop Shortage

Read today that there's a worldwide shortage of hops, the spice used to give beer its bitter flavor.

It's a sordid tale of supply and demand, that would be very dry if its effects weren't so dramatic. Basically two years ago there was a supply glut of hops, compared to demand--lots being grown, lots being made into hop extract and "put up," which kept prices low: lots of hops around, easy to get, and so they stayed cheap. Problem is, being cheap, hop farmers have had less and less incentive to plant hops each year, and so acreage planted (as well as laid-up hop-extract supply causing the glut) has dipped for the past several years. Put in a bad growing year for a few regions' hops in 2007, and you've got a recipe for a shortage.

The effect of this shortage for beer drinkers is that beer prices will rise for a few years, probably through 2010, and craft brewers (known for making high-hop beers like Imperial India Pale Ales and others) are having to scramble and scrape to get the hops they need to make their beers according to style, or even to make them at all.

For beer makers, the big brewers like Miller and Bud will grab almost all of the supply for the years in question, with little practical effect. Specialty and craft brewers will have a harder time, having to get by on the leavings once the big boys are done, and may have to jack prices dramatically, or even reformulate beers with signature hop-taste profiles. Homebrewers like me will likely wind up simply unable to get the hops we desire, or having to pay prices as much as two to five to ten times the price we paid a year or two ago, for hops we might not have given a second glance.

Luckily for me there are other fermentable options. I foresee more meads and wines to come over the next few years.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Genre, Faddishness and Verisimilitude

(Reading: steampunk - the new genre by James Roy.)

In working on Myriad (the novel in question), I'm constantly running up against detail that the world needs. One protagonist is a female blacksmith, for example: cue research on metallurgy, forge techniques, Victorian-era machining and other important punctilia.

Oh? "Victorian-era"? Yeah, looks like most of one storyline is going to have a steampunk setting. Got a problem with that?

Defining the Term
For those who aren't familiar, steampunk (Wikipedia treatment) is a subgenre of both science fiction and fantasy, wherein much of the technologically interesting world of the 1800s (brass, glass and steam power) is crossbred, sometimes with elements of science fiction like cyberpunk (techno-dystopia, a century "early"), or the speculative fiction of Wells and Verne, or even fantasist elements of magic and the occult a la Lovecraft. This is all done to create a storytelling environment with the the earthiness and gentility of (frequently idealized) Victorian England; the technological racing of today's Moore's Law age; and a brass gear, iron piston, velvet coat, top hat aesthetic.

I had a great steampunk discussion with my chemical engineer brother Matt a few years back: there are lots of problems with the way most authors do steampunk. One of the major differences between then and now, for example, is metallurgy: we're just better at alloys and the like, now, and not by accident: computers and many other trappings of our current information age were pretty much required to get us to the point where our car engines, for example, are as light, heat resistant and strong as they are. Ditto materials science in areas like aluminum, plastics and glassmaking; steam turbine power-to-weight limitations we've discovered, and a thousand-thousand other areas that permeate so many areas of modern life that we can't see past them when we posit, for example, a steampunker flying a steam-powered prop airplane, or driving a flywheel-powered car, or building a clockwork robot. For that matter, many of the achievements and conveniences of modern life arose from technological lessons we learned in the Victorian and later periods--it's not like England didn't have geosynchronous satellites in the 1870s because the Brits were lazy!

Still, in the realm of fiction there are ways around the historical limitations (if not the technological ones, if you're trying to stay honest). Part of the fun in writing this story will be getting there from here while staying as scientifically accurate as possible.

A Tiger by the Tail
Problem is, steampunk, in many ways, is becoming the new black. Per Wikipedia, the genre's name was coined in 1987 (by K.W. Jeter), but it was most definitely popularized in 1990 with publication of The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

So now, 18 years after Difference Engine, we've got steampunk'd jewelry, laptops, even electric guitars, and it's beginning to merge (as a style for the kiddies) with punk and goth infuences. It's an old, well documented progression (first pointed out to me by Ann Crispin in a writing course I attended last year): around fifteen to twenty years after something is cutting edge, it becomes trendy and "in." Happened with Mars fever (from Robison's Red Mars to Mission to Mars), happened with cyberpunk (Gibson's Neuromancer to The Matrix), happening now with steampunk.

Brass Polish
One of the truisms regarding writing is that there are no new stories, and there are precious few truly new things at all. Exciting as steampunk may be now, it may have passed from its flavor-of-the-month status by the time I'm ready to publish. C'est la guerre: the trick is to avoid being boring by telling one's story in as brilliant and as true a way as possible: look at the way China Miéville (Perdido Street Station, and others) and Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind) have exploded old conventions: Miéville by being as wonderfully weird and different as he can while spinning beautifully thought-out plots, and Rothfuss by taking Old Fantasy Chestnut after Old Fantasy Chestnut and relentlessly deploying them new and nonboring ways.

I look forward to playing in the steampunk yard. I have a lot of backfill reading to do, though.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Lurching in a New Direction

Long-running fans/followers of Brain Squeezings may or may not be aware of my ambitions to become a published novelist.

Well, work on accomplishing exactly that has begun, and the specific plan is to have a completed manuscript (ms) ready for a heavy revising pass come the end of September, and to have something making the agent-fishing rounds by the end of 2008.

So it has been inscribed, and so promised. So shall it be done. I'm jazzed.

I've also decided to chronicle the process's ups and downs at a new blog: Scribing and Imbibing (, where I plan to log my adventures both literary and fermentational. Brain Squeezings has really become the place I do political and technological rambling, and as such I felt like putting a bit of a partition up between the two halves of my online self.

I'm also cross-posting this (via BlogIT and Facebook) among Brain Squeezings, Scribing and one or two other blogs I've set up. I may engage in some sort of Grand Reunification at some point down the road, but until then I plan to cross-post freely among all my blogs as I see fit. :-)


Thursday, April 03, 2008

That Pesky Social Web

Longtime readers here may notice that my entries here have been getting longer and less frequent. I tend to think of Brain Squeezings as more of my long-form expression space, and it seems to take an increasingly long time to contribute to the poor blog with every entry.

Sadly this has robbed the site of one of its main functions, that of apprising friends and family of what's going on in my life. I've been in a "reestablish contacts with friends" mode of thinking for a while, and so I figured I'd investigate some of the vaunted "social web" sites like myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. A brave new world indeed!

Facebook and Twitter have seemed to fit me the best, so I'll post links to my pages in my sidebar to the left. (Caveat: in order to view my full Facebook page, you'll need to have a Facebook account yourself, and to be marked as a "friend." Such "sticky" membership requirements are common these days. Ah, well.)

Twitter is the prototypical "microblog"; basically for every "tweet" you're given 140 characters to express oneself, so quick status updates and pithy comments are about the best one can manage. 140 characters also fits neatly within the 160-character limit of the SMS text messages sendable from almost any cell phone, so of course many Twitter users use text messages to tweet all day long.

Twitter's real magic, though, is that one can also follow others' tweets. Presidential candidates, tech luminaries, pop stars and of course one's own friends can be kept track of this way. Twitter's text-message immediacy has led to some impressive emergent behavior, too, like massively Twitter-interlinked crowds summarily abandoning boring presentations for more engaging ones at the recent South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, or even texting VIPs in content-lacking interviews with more interesting questions than those being asked by the rent-a-journalist.

Facebook started life as a way for college kids to keep in touch with one another between and after classes. It's since expanded to a way for anyone to keep track of anyone--provided they'll "friend" you.

Facebook is (potentially) as elaborate as Twitter is simple: if there's a political affiliation, singing group, special interest or ad-hoc gathering, you can bet it's on Facebook, and can be "joined." If there's a high school, college or corporation, there's a Facebook presence wherein one can network, touch base, and give props or diss those involved.

Where Twitter is the moment-by-moment microblog, Facebook might be seen as the total-picture macroblog: it's a way to say, very splashily and in great detail, "this is what I'm up to, involved in and associated with." It's even got a Twitteresque "status" that you can update for people to see, and means of trading friendly "pokes" with one another to rouse someone who... hasn't updated their Facebook page in the last 20 minutes.

Facebook is also great for trading videos and photos, and other bits and snips of interaction. It really must be seen to be comprehended. It's also a bit much for many people--your mileage may vary.

Lots of "social web" applications like these wind up able to talk to one another, so I can do things like have my Twitter "tweets" update my Facebook status, and even carbon-copy messages to the blog here.

It's a bit more work to keep all my online-presence plates in the air this way, but with luck I'll be able to sync everything together with clever programming.

Me on Twitter
Me on Facebook


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And the Third Giant Comes to Rest

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008.

Not too much to say, here, other than that Sir Arthur C. Clarke is responsible for much of the direction of science fiction (and a surprising amount of the nonfictional science) that shaped the 20th century.

The idea of using geostationary satellites (in what have come to be called Clarke orbits) for telecommunications relays? Clarke's.

2001: A Space Odyssey? Clarke's.

Space elevators? Well, not completely Clarke's, but he was one of the primary proponents of the idea. ("It will be built about 10 years after everybody stops laughing." People are working on the materials science now.)


YouTube video of his last public statement to his fans.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, requiescat in pace.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Feeling Irrational Today...

From Wil Wheaton: "when come back, bring π."

Yep. Posted early, but what the heck. Time's right.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Called... To the Home of the Giants?

Lower the flags and ring the bells, across the Flanaess from the Sea of Dust to the old Great Kingdom: The Free City of Greyhawk knows mourning tonight.

(From Websnark. It's a long but good read.)

Gary Gygax has died. Creator of Dungeons & Dragons, the Gen Con gaming convention, Dragon magazine and a thousand thousand other things related to role-playing gaming, and fantasy's position in the "Fantasy and Science Fiction" section of bookstores. And video games. And movies.

To wit, from the linked article:

You know what else wouldn't exist now? World of Warcraft. In fact, the entire computer RPG, MMORPG, Action RPG and a Hell of a lot of Platforming games wouldn't have existed without Gary Gygax -- certainly not in the form they do now. Any time you level a character, it's because of Gary Gygax. Hell, Knights of the Old Republic used actual mechanics derived from his writing.

So, take out Gygax, and take out Final Fantasy at the same time. Take out Dragon Warrior. Take out Adventure and Zork and that Atari game with the bats. Take out WarHammer and City of Heroes and absolutely core and seminal elements of essentially all modern video gaming. Without Gary Gygax, that whole industry would look radically different today, if it existed at all.

You want to know what else disappears? All three Lord of the Rings movies from the 90's and the turn of the century.

Oh, you don't believe me? Look, right when Dungeons and Dragons was coming out -- and before it became well known or popular -- there were adaptations of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit was a Ruby/Spears cartoon for children most known now for the cloying song "The Greatest Adventure" (which is a bad rap -- The Hobbit wasn't bad for what it was -- a 70's childrens cartoon special meant for the family hour). The Lord of the Rings was a Ralph Bakshi trip and a half that was a commercial failure at the box office, leading to the story being finished by Ruby/Spears once more. The Lord of the Rings was a failure in the mainstream.

And Fantasy? Fantasy was a subsection of Science Fiction. A small subsection of Science Fiction. Most of the great fantasists were also Science Fiction writers, or were so crossover that it made no never mind (Michael Moorcock was at heart a true Fantasist, but somehow you could buy his work as New Wave SF too, for example.) Even The Dragonriders of Pern was a science fiction novel at heart (seriously. They're colonists on an alien world who lost their culture thanks to DEATH SPORES FROM ANOTHER WORLD).


Flash forward to the turn of the century. Most "Science Fiction" sections in bookstores are primarily Fantasy, along with a whole rack of licensed tie in books that sometimes is as big as the entire section. And alongside the (fantasy/horror) Buffy books, Star Trek and Star Wars books and the like are the books based on Role Playing Games.

The biggest chunk of that section? Dungeons and Dragons.

And those huge fantasy fans remade the marketplace. Fantasy movies started doing better. Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings was done again, this time (mostly) live action and epic, and it made more money than Ecuador.

My own time in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons was far briefer and shallower than I'd have liked when I was younger, thanks mainly to being a fairly insular kid, and not living close to too many other D&D-obsessed kids. But my brother Matt and I had the first-edition rulebooks, and then some: Dungeon Master's Guide, Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Deities and Demigods, Unearthed Arcana... I could recite over half of the Websnark article linked above verbatim. Many a teenage afternoon was whiled away by running Matt through die-roll-determined dungeon crawls from the few pages in the "random dungeon generation" section in the well-leafed-through back of the DMG.

Later in life (a scant few years ago, actually) I drove frequently from Richmond to the Washington, DC area to hang with some good friends there and battle orcs and the like using the third-edition rules. The comedy relief to be had by watching our motley delving crew do something so simple as scale a rope ladder was well worth the hours on the road. Note to self: reestablish contact there--there are far too many highly intelligent, funny and good-hearted people in that group to leave left-behind the way I did when I moved to Birmingham.

This barely scratches the surface: the roleplaying habit I acquired thanks to Gygax's work extended to the collection of more than forty GURPS rule- and sourcebooks I now own, a large segment of the videogames I play, the books I've read and want to write, the fact that Amy and I are now regular Dragon*Con attendees, and finally many of the good friends I've acquired over the years.

Gygax the man I never met, but by many accounts he was an iron-willed visionary within his games, a kindly mentor to the legions of gamers he inspired and led, and an industrial-strength son of a bitch when dealing with the gaming industry's business vicissitudes and turf squabbles.

His work, though, has influenced millions, made fortunes of billions, and shifted the dreams of a generation.

E. Gary Gygax, requiescat in pace.


PS. Amy's a believer that things like celebrity deaths come in clusters, usually of three. Makes me wonder who's next.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Giant, Called Home.

William F. Buckley, Jr., thinker, writer, conservative luminary: requiescat in pace.

National Review.

Human Events.




Of all the people I want to look up and have a chat with in the afterlife, Bill Buckley resides right next to Ronald Reagan amid my top ten.

He died at his writing desk, "in the saddle" according to his son. This, more than any other detail, chokes me up today.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mooning About

For those of you that don't keep up with such things, tonight is/was a total lunar eclipse for most of North America. Amy and I sat outside and watched, despite forecasts of rain to come and rather daunting cloud cover as the event kicked off at 7:48 PM CST.

Patience paid off, though, as she and I sat, enjoyed some truly excellent tobacco (I succumbed to the lure of a gorgeous little briar pipe while in Gatlinburg, story to come soon) and a bit of Jamaican rum, and oohed and aahed as each progressively-larger rent in the clouds gave us a better glimpse of Luna as she coyly ducked behind Earth's shadow.

Finally, about half an hour into total occlusion, the clouds fell entirely away (leaving a clear-as-a-bell sky), and Amy captured a truly remarkable photo (click the pic to zoom in when you get there) with her several-year-old digital camera on a tripod.

Impressive for an amateur, no? My Princess is a woman of many talents--who knew that astrophotography was among them?


Friday, January 25, 2008

...In With the New, and Many Happy Returns!

2008, the new year, has dawned and is now well and truly under way.

A Birthday!
It's Amy's birthday today! She's celebrated with a new blog template of her own (actually, I shamelessly stole the blog-modernizing idea from her), and is enjoying her day. It's been a wonderful, year, Princess, and I look forward to celebrating scores more with you!

A New Year, a New Blog Template
I've wrought a few look-and-feel changes around here, going for a vaguely newspaper-reminiscent format, with a little better visual organization and less clutter. I've also tamed the ever-lengthening list of archive links, packing it into a drop-down list over at top right, under Old Glory. I'm gonna put a blog-search button over there, too.

Current Events
Well, Fred dropped out of the Presidential race, Rutan and Branson have shown the world their new SpaceShipTwo design, Amazon's Kindle is still sold out, and we actually got snow in Alabama last weekend! Never a dull moment, I suppose.

More Toward the Personal
Amy and I visited my parents in Pennsylvania over the post-Christmas-pre-New-Year week, after which she and I had fun trading colds. Finally, possibly weakened by two weeks of sneezing and coughing, my back went out. All that has gone by the wayside--the back's all healed up now--and we're charging into the new year! Got a novel manuscript in progress, a vacation in the Smokies coming in February, loads of unread books on the Sony Reader, and a whole year ahead!