Light and speed

Sunday 2 February 1997, 12:13

It's not so easy to find a primitive, backward culture anymore. Satellite constellations can lay down a gigahertz on every square kilometer of the Earth's surface and where there's a signal there will be receivers. We need not even mention the orbitals. The painters may be naked - they may be using mud pigments and hair brushes. You might mistake them for a tiny group of prehistoric people somehow cut off from the march of progress for thousands of years. That would be a mistake. Machines dug this cave, the hair for the brushes was grown by bacteria in a bottle, and the design taking shape on the wall does not represent an animal to be hunted. Not exactly.

Counting coup

Sunday 4 April 2010, 09:23

First posted 21 June 2004.

Forgive me, I did not return your call
But through no fault of yours, your offer stings
I know it is not about me at all
You'd count me coup and gain a feather more
What are you saving up to, will you say?
How long until you earn your angel wings?
Or are you weaving head-dress for the day
You'll lead your painted soldiers off to war?
You say you're guilty, and you've cause to be
You say I've been deprived of many things
You'd pay your debts to someone, maybe me
But charity like that I would abhor
Please understand, no matter what was said
Your pen was dipped in blood I never shed

Rootbeerman don't care

Saturday 3 April 2010, 09:30

First posted 21 April 2000.

Rootbeerman at the back of the McDonald's hunched over he chicken nuggets. He always super size it, and he always eat a cherry pie cause he don't care. Donuts for breakfast, Pizza Pops for dinner, Rootbeerman drink root beer at every meal and that how he got his name.

The sing-song of unknown Kadath

Sunday 11 August 2002, 19:25

Not always was Antarctica a cold and barren wasteland, but a lush green continent of ghoulish degraded tribes. They were grey and they were rubbery and dined upon corpses. They made a nameless sacrifice and danced upon a mountaintop and called up the Lesser God Yig.

Time travel chaos game

Monday 5 April 2010, 13:19

Re-posting of an article first posted in May 2007.

Okay, here's a game sketch.  This idea is supposed to be a game that could live on a Web site somewhere, support a large number of players, but be fun to participate in even if you are brand new, or only connect occasionally, or if there are few or no other players.  Kind of like Wikipedia - except that my idea would actually know it's a game, unlike Wikipedia which thinks it's an encyclopedia.  I'm posting this here to make it harder for anyone to patent.

The UFP and the Filthy Humans

Friday 2 April 2010, 19:16

Re-posting of an article first posted in September 2008.

You are an officer, say a commodore, in the military-diplomatic-exploration organization of an interplanetary nation with United Federation of Planets (UFP) membership. You've been tasked with asserting your nation's interests with respect to a certain out-of-the-way planet that happens to be rich in natural resources. Unfortunately, it's already inhabited, by a race of disgusting natives we will call the Filthy Humans.

Let's rid of spam!

Tuesday 30 March 2010, 14:27

Well, the comment spammers sure showed up fast. I have enabled "spam-quiz" authentication, much like what worked well on the old site: you have to enter "bonobo" in the anti-spam field to post a comment, and there's an explanation saying so right next to it. This software also supports what it calls hash-cash, which involves a piece of obfuscated Javascript that does a calculation on the client side to prove that the user is running some approximation of a real Web browser instead of a robot. I'd prefer to avoid that, though, because both obfuscated Javascript and Javascript in general are instruments of the Devil.

Madonna, Bourdin, and Robin

Thursday 1 April 2010, 08:44

In May 2004, pop star Madonna paid an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit with the estate of French erotic photographer Guy Bourdin. The Smoking Gun archived some court papers and a side-by-side comparison of stills from Madonna and Bourdin videos. The similarities are pretty significant; it looks like plagiarism.

The interesting part from my point of view is that Madonna seems to have been the victim of similar plagiarism herself in the matter of the 90-second opening sequence to the 2002 anime series Witch Hunter Robin. The Livejournal posting that everybody linked to when this story first came out, lost its image hosting after a few years and by now has also become locked. But I archived the images, and you can see them below. These are stills from the opening of WHR, stacked up next to stills from a Madonna video called "Take a bow." They're about as close as those other Madonna screenshots were to the Bourdin photos, so if that situation was plagiarism, this one should be as well. To my knowledge, however, there's been no court case here, and it's been enough years now that there probably never will be one.

Edited to clarify: as far as I know, there's been no suggestion that the video "Take a bow" in particular was one of the ones involved in the Madonna/Bourdin case. The claim is not that the WHR opening came from Bourdin by way of Madonna, but only that Madonna's general body of work seems to have suffered the same fate as Bourdin's. The stills at the Smoking Gun link, from videos in the Madonna/Bourdin case, are from other videos and don't much resemble images from WHR.

A modest proposal

Wednesday 6 January 2010, 21:24

I should be allowed to set up a hidden camera at the doorstep of the Dundas West subway station in Toronto, which is across the street from the local Catholic school, and take photos up the skirts of teenage girls (or anybody else wearing a skirt) as they enter and leave the building.

How much does a sheet of paper weigh?

Monday 29 March 2010, 15:25

A standard sheet of laser-printer paper of the usual thickness, either US "letter" size or international "A4" size, weighs 4.5 grams. That means 100 sheets weighs almost exactly one pound.