2005 News Archive
December 28, 2005
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need.
GENERAL EQUATIONS & STATISTICS
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
PROPENSITY TO CHANGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED
Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
December 28, 2005
What's a DM to do when the PCs constantly put the game on hold until they can have all their new magic items identified? This installment of Save My Game examines ways to make in-game identification of magic items convenient enough that PCs won't wait for their next visit to town to divvy up and try out their treasures.
December 27, 2005
A first-grade teacher, Ms. Brooks, was having trouble with one of her students. The teacher asked, "Harry, what's your problem?"
Harry answered, "I'm too smart for the 1st grade. My sister is in the 3rd grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the 3rd grade too!"
Ms. Brooks had had enough. She took Harry to the principal's office.
While Harry waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was. The principal told Ms. Brooks he would give the boy a test. If he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the 1st grade and behave. She agreed.
Harry was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.
Principal: "What is 3 x 3?"
Principal: "What is 6 x 6?"
And so it went with every question the principal thought a 3rd grader should know.
The principal looks at Ms. Brooks and tells her, "I think Harry can go to the 3rd grade."
Ms. Brooks says to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions."
The principal and Harry both agreed.
Ms. Brooks asks, "What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?"
Harry, after a moment: "Legs."
Ms. Brooks: "What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"
The principal wondered why she would ask such a question!
Harry replied: "Pockets."
Ms. Brooks: "What does a dog do that a man steps into?"
Ms. Brooks: What starts with a C, ends with a T, is hairy, oval, delicious and contains thin, whitish liquid?"
The principal sat forward with his mouth hanging open.
Ms. Brooks: "What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?"
The principal's eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer,
Harry replied, "Bubble gum."
Ms. Brooks: "What does a man do standing up, a woman does sitting down and a dog does on three legs?"
Harry: "Shake hands."
The principal was trembling.
Ms. Brooks: "What word starts with an 'F' and ends in 'K' that means a lot of heat and excitement?"
The principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, "Put Harry in the fifth-grade, I got the last seven questions wrong...... "
December 27, 2005
Robert J. Schwalb has given us all a holiday present: a free adventure for the Egyptian Adventures: Hamunaptra campaign setting.
December 25, 2005
I hope you've had a good holiday got everything you wanted & enjoyed time with your family.
December 22, 2005
If smaller software companies can patch all of their bugs serious or minor, ZDNet's George Ou asks, why can't Microsoft -- with its massive army of programmers and massive budget -- patch all of its vulnerabilities? Had Microsoft fixed a low risk browser vulnerability six months ago, perhaps we could have avoided last week's zero-day exploit. Currently, more than two dozen Windows XP issues remain unpatched. Ou thinks Microsoft ought to fix them all."
From the article: "Almost 4 years after the launch of Trustworthy Computing, I found myself wondering why am I staying up till 4:00 AM to deliver an emergency set of instructions (Home and Enterprise) to my readers because Microsoft felt it unnecessary to patch a flaw six months ago that was originally low risk but mutated in to something extremely dangerous.
December 22, 2005
Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate say they expect some form of Ten Commandments legislation to pass during the session that starts next month.
David Friedman, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, who argued successfully to have the Kentucky counties' displays struck down this year, predicted such bills would also be struck down in court if they're passed.
They keep passing the same laws over and over again, hoping that one will finally stick. Then they have to defend them in court, time and time again. It's no wander that the governments spend (waste) so much money.
December 15, 2005
I'd never believe it if I hadn't seen it myself. They had the vorpal bunny (a.k.a. Rabbit of Caerbannog) on "Barking Mad" that animal planet show this morning! All I could think was, "It has huge, sharp...it can leap about...Look at the bones!"
So damn funny! It was scared of women. Any time one would come around it attacked them. If you don't know what I mean, you need to go rent Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
December 15, 2005
In this installment of Save My Game, we examine the best ways of bringing new characters into an existing adventuring party. New characters may replace those who have died, or they may accompany new players. Occasionally, a player may even wish to start a new character simply because he's tired of the old one. But the in-game logic of letting a new character join the party mid-adventure can be thin at best. After all, the existing characters have no reason to trust someone they just met with their lives, missions, and treasure. But waiting until the characters are between adventures isn't normally an option because the players of the new characters don't care to wait around for a pause in the storyline. What's a DM to do?
December 13, 2005
I just read a story in the local paper about a school that opened a couple of years ago. It sounds kind of like that school in "Dead Poet's Society":
Highlands Latin School bases its entire curriculum on Latin, with many of its teaching materials written by faculty. The school is housed at Crescent Hill Baptist Church but is not affiliated with a particular church.
Its founder, Cheryl Lowe, tutored home-schooled students in Latin for years before opening the school in 2000 with about 50 students. It has grown to 200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Lowe's son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Leigh Lowe, helped her open a publishing house, Memoria Press, for the Latin curriculum she had developed.
December 13, 2005
Peter Jackson, who went directly from helming the epic Lord of the Rings movies to his upcoming King Kong remake, told SCI FI Wire that he's actually going to take some time off. 'We got to get through this and take ... time off and write some scripts, basically,' Jackson said in an interview by satellite from New Zealand during post-production on Kong back in September. 'Next year we're ... going to rest. ... I can't begin to describe how tired I am, you know?'
Now that the film is finally coming out, Jackson said, 'We haven't really stopped working in seven or eight years, and so ... next year ... I'm going to read some books and watch some movies and ... then also ... think of new ideas. I mean, one of the things I'm most looking forward to next year is ... being able to think of something new. ... [It's] been 10 years of my life where I had two projects that I've been working on: ... King Kong and Lord of the Rings. ... That's a long, long time to be just thinking about two particular projects. ... I'm just so much looking forward to next year, ... having the freedom to recharge the batteries and just think of fun ideas for the future." King Kong opens Dec. 14.
But what about Bilbo?
December 11, 2005
Some favored souls allow their link with the divine to define their personalities. Such a character may become such a fervent devotee of her deity that she tries to emulate her patron in every way and concerns herself with little else. But a favored soul doesn't have to become some deity's sycophant. Her relationship with the divine can remain a largely private affair, with the deity's influence adding a hint of depth and color to her personality. Whatever her outlook, a favored soul has access to divine magic that can prove a boon to any adventuring party.
December 11, 2005
The oldest map of anywhere in the western world, dating from about 500 BC, has been unearthed in southern Italy. Known as the Soleto Map, the depiction of Apulia, the heel of Italy's 'boot', is on a piece of black-glazed terracotta vase about the size of a postage stamp.
It was found in a dig led by the Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle, of Montpellier University, two years ago. But its existence was kept secret until more research was carried out.
'The map offers, to date, for the Mediterranean, and more generally for western civilisation, the oldest map of a real space,' the university said recently.
December 10, 2005
Facial attractiveness and smell give us contradictory messages about how to select mates, new research has revealed.
Previous research on smell suggests that humans prefer odours from potential partners who are genetically dis-similar. But new research in which women rated the facial attractiveness of men suggests the exact opposite. So sight and smell appear to be giving contradictory messages about which partners to choose.
The new research investigated possible links between mate preference and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) - the huge molecule on cells, unique to each individual, which helps our immune systems to distinguish native from alien cells.
The underlying theory is that humans avoid the dangers of inbreeding, and maximise the chances of having genetically fitter children, by selecting partners who have a vastly different MHC from their own. That way, there is more chance of one parent's genes compensating for faulty genes in the other. But how the senses pick up subliminal cues about someone else's MHC is still something of a mystery.
December 10, 2005
What's a DM to do when the players prefer evil characters who just want to pillage and burn and aren't interested in the adventure hooks he uses for his scenarios? This installment of Save My Game examines ways to ensure that evil characters have enough motivation to undertake missions and offers suggestions for adventure plots tailored to those motivations.
December 9, 2005
Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology recently found evidence that the first bottles of wine may have been produced as far back as the Neolithic period'about 6,000 years ago. McGovern is the author of the book 'Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture' and is a leader in the field of biochemical archeology. 'Fermented beverages have been preferred over water throughout the ages,' said McGovern on the University of Pennsylvania, MAA website. 'Some have even said alcohol was the primary agent for the development of Western civilization.'
Scientists believe that the original inspiration for wine came from humans observing birds eating berries that had been naturally fermented. Once the idea caught on, however, other reasons for maintaining production became important. Wine can become a symbol of status or prestige. It can also become important in religion and the local economy. The production of wine requires a relatively 'stable base of operations,' McGovern stated. His research suggests that these early Near East and Egyptian communities would have been more permanent cultures with a stable food supply and domesticated animals and plants. With this abundance of food came the need for containers that were durable and made from a material that was easily pliable'like clay. The porous structure of these clay vessels is what has made it possible for scientists to analyze wine that is thousands of years old.
Clay jars designed to hold about 2.5 gallons were found during an excavation conducted by Mary M. Voigt near the Hajji Firuz Tepe site in the Northern Zagros Mountains of Iran. A yellowish residue discovered inside a jar was tested using a variety of analyses including infrared, liquid chromatographic and wet chemical analyses. The chromatographic test showed the best proof that this was indeed wine by revealing the presence of terebinth tree resin. "In an upland region like Hajji Firuz," McGovern explained, "the wild grapevine and the terebinth tree grew together and produced their fruit and resin about the same time of year." The tree resin was added to the wine during fermentation to help prevent it from turning to vinegar. The combination of finding these two components in the jar together and the discovery of clay stoppers, which are the perfect size to fit the necks of the vessels, in close vicinity to the jars, all points to the probability that the grape product inside the jars was indeed wine.
McGovern will continue his search for physical evidence of what he called "Stone Age Beaujolais nouveau," by traveling to Turkey, where he hopes to find the origins of grape domestication.
December 5, 2005
Decaffeinated coffee may have a harmful effect on the heart by increasing the levels of a specific cholesterol in the blood, researchers say. Their explanation is that caffeine-free coffee is often made from a type of bean with a higher fat content.
Robert Superko, at the Piedmont-Mercer Center for Health and Learning in Atlanta, Georgia, US, and colleagues looked at the effects of coffee on 187 people. The group was split into three similar-sized groups for the three-month study: one group drank three to six cups of caffeinated coffee per day; one drank three to six cups of decaffeinated coffee per day; and a control group drank no coffee. US coffee drinkers drink an average 3.1 cups of coffee per day.
December 5, 2005
When Joseph J. Walsh teaches the History of Christmas course at Loyola College, students learn that many of their seasonal celebrations are not the ancient traditions most had assumed they were.
But what's their biggest surprise?
"The amount of work," says the Loyola classics and history professor.
Which make sense. History of Christmas sounds like a course you tuck onto your schedule to have a break between quantum physics and Restoration comedy.
December 3, 2005
A Chinese archaeologist reported that a 4,500-year-old jade tortoise and an oblong jade article discovered in east China's Anhui Province were China's earliest fortune-telling instruments found so far. The two jade objects were discovered in an ancient tomb in Lingjiatan Village, Hanshan County, Anhui Province.
Gu Fang, an expert with the jadeware research committee under the China Society of Cultural Relics, said that the jade tortoise is made up of a back shell and a belly shell. Several holes can be found on the jade tortoise. The oblong jade item, 11 cm long and 8.2 cm wide, was found between the back shell and the belly shell when the objects were excavated from the tomb. A pattern of some broken lines was carved on the oblong jade article.
'They were obviously not objects used in daily life, nor adornment, but instruments used in religious activities,' said Gu. He said the holes between the back and belly shells of the jade tortoise show that something might be put inside. And there should have been strings threading through the holes. 'It reminds us the action of dicing. Only when the strings were unfastened could the situation of the objects inside the jade tortoise be seen,' Gu said.
Archaeologists inferred that the jade tortoise is an ancient instrument used to practise divination ahead of important activities. During the Shang Dynasty, some 1,000 years later than the time of the Lingjiatan tomb, it was popular to use real tortoise shells to practise divination to foretell good or bad luck.
The pattern on the oblong jade article has also drawn the attention of archaeologists. Many experts said the pattern might be the origin of the 'bagua' or Eight Trigrams, the eight combinations of three whole or broken lines which were used by ancient Chinese people in their divination.
December 3, 2005
Google Suggest seems to hint quite a bit of racism. Here are some screenshots I found:
See, since Google Suggest is based on what people are searching for, this would at first glance, suggest that most people are racist, and that their searches reflect it. However, I think it has more to do with the choice of words, as seen here:
December 2, 2005
Coffee improves short-term memory and speeds up reaction times by acting on the brain's prefrontal cortex, according to a new study. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine how coffee activates different areas of the brain in 15 volunteers.
'Caffeine modulates a higher brain function through its effects on distinct areas of the brain,' explains Florian Koppelst, who carried out the research with colleagues at the Medical University at Innsbruck, Austria.
Prior to testing, the group fasted for 4 to 6 hours, and abstained from caffeine and nicotine for at least 24 hours. Then they were then given either a cup of strong coffee containing 100 milligrams of caffeine or a caffeine-free placebo drink. After 20 minutes all participants underwent scans while carrying out a memory and concentration test. A few days afterwards the experiment was repeated under the same conditions but each received the other drink.
December 2, 2005
Collectively, we are fascinated by the super-rich. We devour their biographies. We hang on their advice. Maybe we even hope for their downfall. But in our attempts to explain the ultra-rich--and their super-inflated bank accounts--we are often guilty of reducing real people to mere caricatures. There is the monopolist. The oracle. The genius. The thief.
With the Forbes Fictional 15, we have taken the opposite approach--fiction's caricatures are elevated to the status of real people.
November 30, 2005
Meditating does more than just feel good and calm you down, it makes you perform betterand alters the structure of your brain, researchers have found.
People who meditate say the practice restores their energy, and some claim they need less sleep as a result. Many studies have reported that the brain works differently during meditationbrainwave patterns change and neuronal firing patterns synchronise. But whether meditation actually brings any of the restorative benefits of sleep has remained largely unexplored.
So Bruce O'Hara and colleagues at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, US, decided to investigate. They used a well-established 'psychomotor vigilance task, which has long been used to quantify the effects of sleepiness on mental acuity. The test involves staring at an LCD screen and pressing a button as soon as an image pops up. Typically, people take 200 to 300 milliseconds to respond, but sleep-deprived people take much longer, and sometimes miss the stimulus altogether.
Ten volunteers were tested before and after 40 minutes of either sleep, meditation, reading or light conversation, with all subjects trying all conditions. The 40-minute nap was known to improve performance (after an hour or so to recover from grogginess). But what astonished the researchers was that meditation was the only intervention that immediately led to superior performance, despite none of the volunteers being experienced at meditation.
'Every single subject showed improvement, says O'Hara. The improvement was even more dramatic after a night without sleep. But, he admits: 'Why it improves performance, we do not know. The team is now studying experienced meditators, who spend several hours each day in practice.
November 30, 2005
The Department of Special Collections at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Davidson Library recently placed online, with free access, over 5000 sound recordings as part of its Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. These recordings date from the 1890's to the 1920's, all transfered from Edison cylinders using state-of-the-art equipment. The restorations are first-class, using CEDAR tools. Besides MP3 and streaming audio, the raw transfers are also available for diy'ers to try their own hand at audio restoration. For those who like their music 'hot', there's not much there since most of the cylinders predate the start of the Jazz Era (ca. 1917), but there is some early 'mouldy fygge' dance-type jazz, like 1920's 'Peggy' by Lopez and Hamilton's Kings of Harmony Orchestra.
November 25, 2005
Benjamin J. Heckendorn (of Atari VCSp, NES Micro, & PS2p fame) has been at it again! Summary from his website: "Of all the portable videogame devices I've ever built over the years one system has always been my 'Holy Grail' to make - my 'dream portable' if you will. (Yes, even more so than my Neo Geo arcade machine) And now after a couple years of tinkering it is complete! Without further ado - the Atari 800 XE Laptop!"
November 23, 2005
I just watched 10 minutes of CNN just a minute ago and got so mad that I about screamed and threw things at the TV. I just cannot believe this bunch. Maybe it's the cynic in me, I don't know.
First they did a story on how the government was spending too much money. Olympia Snowe actually got up there to bitch about spending. Ok I can see that, she's a Republican & wants to curb spending. That's pretty typical. So lets go to her website to see what she's going to do about it. As you can plainly see on her news page she's clearly serious about spending:
If you continue to look through these stories you'll find more pork products than the local grocery story provides. Hidden amongst all the pork you'll find:
So maybe she is concerned about spending, right? Well maybe not, turns out the same day this story was posted.
It must be tough being so two faced.
Anyways, back to CNN, after that story they had a couple of bits on how the governement wasn't spending enough on research or something. I just had to turn it off. Government isn't the solution to our problems, it's usually the cause of our problems.
I guess I should have expected this. I never really have got along well with CNN. We now return to you regularly scheduled programming.
November 21, 2005
Choose a design and a symbol, type in a message and press the button and presto...your very own warning label.
November 21, 2005
My god people are stupid. I con't even believe they've actually got to put these kinds of warning labels on medicines:
Important safety information: AMBIEN CR is indicated for the treatment of insomnia. Until you know how AMBIEN CR will affect you, you shouldn't drive or operate machinery. Side effects may include next day drowsiness, dizziness and headache. You shouldn't take it with alcohol.
Ambien is a sleep medicine. I've got a great idea: don't freakin drive after you take it, Is this really such a problem? It's probably just for the lawyers.
November 19, 2005
I saw this on gaming reports and thought it sounded pretty interesting:
Behind the Spells is a pdf series which examines those spells from the SRD that are listed time and again on character sheets throughout gaming. These are the spells which, if on your PC's class list, will be taken as soon as possible and include such quintessential favorites as magic missile and fireball. Each pdf in this series examines the spellcaster who created the spell, one or more of the spell's hidden capabilities, and possible variants for the spell. This first pdf examines a favorite of every low-level caster: magic missile.
November 19, 2005
So I was checking out the blog of one of my aquaintances checking out his photoshop skills & read this. I don't know wether to laugh or want to beat someone up!?! Either way, I'm so glad I'm not in the dating scene anymore:
"I asked this woman out yesterday and she gave me the strangest rejection ever. I asked her, Are you involved with anyone? If you're not, I'd love to take you out sometime.' Her response was, 'You are so sweet, I am, sorry.' Then she gave me a hug. After that, she said, 'I should give you my e-mail address, we have a lot in common, we need to hang out.' I'm more confused by what transpired than anything else. Is this the new defense mechanism that women have installed so they are not hurting the guy's feeling or is it the new tactic to make men confused? Either way, it works."
November 13, 2005
Welcome to Elite Opponents: Creature Incarnations, a column all about monsters -- and strange, variant monsters at that!The D&DFight Club column presents one monster at three different power levels, so that you can insert the appropriate version into your campaign. This column, on the other hand, examines different versions of a given creature for use in different types of campaigns. Though most versions fit best into D&D campaigns, one version in this installment is for the d20 Modern game, so you can use the creature in your modern-day or future campaigns too. This installment begins by looking at the biggest (and some say the baddest) creature in the whole D&D game -- the tarrasque.
November 11, 2005
Go to google maps and enter this : '> eniwetok R&D san diego
Switch to satellite view and zoom in to the max. Then say 'wtf' when you see the building that looks like this :
November 11, 2005
Archeologists recently unearthed a dainty necklace at an archeological site dating back 4,000 to 5,000 years in central China's Henan Province. Unlike today's necklaces of gold or jewelry, or primitive ones of animal teeth, this one was made of white porcelain, said Jin Yindong, director of the cultural heritage bureau in the ancient city of Dengfeng.
The necklace was found among several other white porcelain wares and some implements made of stone and animal bones, at Nanwa archeological site in Junzhao village of Dengfeng, Jin said. Never before had Chinese archeologists found so many pieces of white porcelain at one site, said Prof. Zhang Guoshuo, an archeologist at Zhengzhou University in the provincial capital. 'Probably there used to be a white porcelain workshop here.'
The Nanwa archeological site was somewhere from 4,000 to 5,000 years old and belonged to the Yangshao culture that was formed in the Neolithic period and whose relics were first unearthed in Yangshao village of Henan Province in 1921.
November 5, 2005
Archeologists are finding the people who lived in this area northwest of Tucson, Arizona (USA) three thousand years ago have more in common with us than we might think.
One thing that's fairly obvious, they came here because water was plentiful.
'You have water coming off of the slopes of the Tortolita and the Tucson Mountains, and this is where the Santa Cruz sort of spreads out, and so this would be a really prime place for agriculture,' explains Michael Cook, the Archeology Project Manager for Westland Resources, Inc.
It worked well for a time. Archeologists believe a big flood, similar in scale to the one in 1983, forced these ancient people to move, about 2,800 years ago. Finding the artifacts, roughly seven feet below the surface, hasn't been all that easy. Sometimes, a subtle difference in the soil catches the eye, and it helps to use the ears too.
What they're finding is teaching us a lot, as to how they stored food: big pits underneath with small openings on top, plenty of space and easy to cover. They're finding food itself, some of the oldest corn found in southern Arizona.
They've also found spear tips for the hunters and figurines, some of them painted, maybe the oldest in southern Arizona. They've been found along with burnt antlers, suggesting some sort of ritual. They're made of clay, but they haven't been heated, presumably because people weren't building kilns yet.
The ancient people were nonetheless skillful. 'They knew exactly what they were doing,' said Jeff Charest, an archeologist digging at the site. 'Food, shelter, water, stuff we have problems with today, getting water for the community, they had it all figured out.'
November 5, 2005
Undermountain has been described as a seemingly endless dungeon beneath Waterdeep -- so vast that efforts to explore it have barely scratched the surface of its many miles of corridors and acres of rooms. Often called the 'deepest dungeon of them all,' Undermountain has tempted countless adventurers to delve into its depths. Some return with tales of its horrors. Most are never seen again. Yet enough of those few who return come back with astounding wealth to entice others to follow suit and take the chance that the halls beneath the mountain become their tomb.
The guys at Wizards have built a dungeon room description generator for Return to Undermountain. It's got 100 rooms without monsters or treasure, just descriptions of the rooms themselves. It's also downloadable.
November 4, 2005
Is there anything that the Chinese didn't come up with first?
Chinese archaeologists said they have found the world earliest observatory, dated back to some 4,100 years ago, in north China's Shanxi Province. The ancient observatory in the Taosi relics site in Shanxi Province is at least 2,000 years older than the oldest observatory built by the Maya in central America, said He Nu, a research follow with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He said that the observatory, built at the end of the primitive society, 'was not only used for observing astronomical phenomena but also for sacrificial rites.'
The remains of the observatory, in the shape of a semicircle 40m in diameter in the main observation platform and 60m in diameter in the outer circle, were made by rammed earth in three circles. Archaeologists inferred that 13 stone pillars, at least four meters tall, stood on the foundation of the first circle originally, forming 12 gaps between them.
'Ancient people observed the direction of sunrise through the gaps and distinguished the different seasons of the year,' said He. In order to test the conjecture, archaeologists spent a year and a half simulating the observations of the ancients at the site. To their surprise, the seasons marked by observation at the site were only one or two days different from the seasonal division of the traditional Chinese calendar, which is still widely used in rural China.
A meeting on the function of the ancient site at Taosi was held recently in Beijing. More than 20 Chinese archaeologists, astronomers and historians attended the meeing. Most of them share the view that the site is an ancient observatory, and some of the astronomers believed that it might also be used to observe the moon and stars.
The Taosi site, dated back to 4,300 years ago, is located in Xiangfen County, Linfen City of Shanxi Province, and covers an area of 3 million square meters. It is believed to be a settlement of the period of the five legendary rulers (2,600 BCE-1,600 BCE) in Chinese history.
A historical document says that China had special officials in charge of astronomical observation as early as the 24th century BC. The discovery of the ancient observatory in Taosi confirmed the records. "We know very little about China's astronomy in the prehistoric period. The discovery will help the study of ancient astronomy," said Wang Shouguan, of the Chinese Academy of Science. Experts are looking forward to making plans to better protect the site and restore the ancient observatory.
November 4, 2005
Yet more proof that the Chinese invented everything first:
A 3,700-year-old antique in the shape of a dragon, made up of over 2,000 pieces of turquoise, is believed by many Chinese scholars as the oldest Chinese dragon totem.
The antique was discovered in the Erlitou relics site in Yanshi City of central China's Henan Province. Many scholars believe that Erlitou is the site of the capital of the Xia Dynasty (2,100 BCE to 1,600 BCE), China's first dynasty.
'Although some dragon-shaped relics older than the antique in Erlitou have been uncovered in other places, such as the 7,000-year-old jade sculpture showing a dragon with a pig head and a tight-lipped snout, found in a Neolithic site in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, they had no direct connection with the ancient civilization that originated in central China,' said Chinese archaeologist Du Jinpeng.
'Only the dragon discovered in central China had a direct link with the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties and came down in one continuous line,' said Du, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 'Therefore, the dragon antique in Erlitou is the lineal origin of the dragon totem of the Chinese nation,' Du said.
The dragon totem, 70.2 cm long, looks like a python. It is made of more than 2,000 pieces of turquoise, each only 0.1 cm thin and 0.2 to 0.9 cm long.
'It's very rare to find such delicate dragon-shaped relics during that period. And it is of great historic, artistic and scientific value,' said Du.
November 2, 2005
It is common sense nowadays that excessive carbon dioxide in the air caused by excessive lumbering leads to global greenhouse effects. But a team of archaeologists from China and the United States is saying that the Greenhouse Effect started about 5,000 years ago, much earlier than people might expect. This is the conclusion reached by a group of Chinese and United States archaeologists based on research on the relics excavated from the ruins of a Neolithic site in Rizhao City, east China's Shandong Province, over the past ten years.
The team also deduced that prehistoric human beings used plants for other purposes, such as curing diseases, making furniture or tools and feeding animals, but these plants were hardly preserved or found. Luan concluded that the remains of plants and trees at the site showed that prehistoric humans had started lumbering and that the increase of carbon dioxide therefore probably started before the industrial age.
The traditional view was that human beings affected the environment little in ancient times and that it was not human beings but climate change or catastrophes that promoted or vanquished ancient cultures. "What we have found has refuted the conception." said Luan.
Wow, 5,000 years ago. Looks like someone was kind of far off.
November 2, 2005
A 5-year old boy was visiting his Grandma, playing with toys while she was dusting her bedroom. He looked up and said, "Grandma, how come you don't have a boyfriend?"
Grandma replied, "Honey, I DO. My TV is my boyfriend. It keeps me company all day long, and in the evenings I can watch it in here from my bed. The TV preachers make me feel good, the comedies make me laugh, and the drama's keep my mind off my own problems. Yes, dear, the TV is my boyfriend!"
Grandma went over to turn on the TV but the reception was terrible. She started adjusting knobs, turning the aerial, trying to get a focused picture. Finally, frustrated, she started hitting the back of the TV, hoping to jar it into focus.
Just then the doorbell rang. The little boy ran to answer it and there was his grandma's minister.
"Hello, son," the minister said, "Is your grandma home?" The little boy replied, "Yeah, she's in the bedroom bangin' her boyfriend."
The minister fainted.
October 29, 2005
I've had my stress test from having my heart attack. The doctor said there was no damage. The results look just as good as a 32 year old that had never had a heart attack. He's sent me back to work a full 2 weeks early with no restrictions.
Yesterday I got married! Thursday we decided that we were going to just go down to the court house & do it on Friday. It was really quick & I'm kind of supprised that all we needed was driver's licenses & some money. Anyway, here's some pictures:
October 28, 2005
A suprising find indeed! 30,000 year old sandals & they're not Chinese. I'm shocked and amazed.
A new analysis of toe bones suggests that ancient people from Europe and the Middle East were the first to adopt supportive footwear'most likely primitive sandals'around 30,000 years ago. Before that time, most humans went barefoot'regardless of their environment.
Researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, found that humans at the end of the Old Stone Age had weaker small-toe bones than their ancestors but no corresponding loss of leg strength. The finding suggests that the ancient humans were using footwear for support for the first time in history.
Humans from the far north are thought to have begun insulating their feet from the snow around 50,000 years ago. However, the coverings provided no support, and no similar footwear is known from Europe or the Middle East during the same period.
October 25, 2005
Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?
Dear God: When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?
Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We do love a nice ride!
Would it be so hard to rename the "Chrysler Eagle" the " Chrysler Beagle"?
Dear God: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?
Dear God: We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?
Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.
Dear God: Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?
Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good dog.
- I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.
- I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.
- I will not munch on "leftovers" in the kitty litter box, although they are tasty.
- The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
- The sofa is not a 'face towel'. Neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
- The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
- My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
- I will not bite the officer's hand when he reaches in for Mom's driver's license and registration.
- I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
- Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying "hello".
- I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table.
- I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.
- I will not throw up in the car.
- I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.
- I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch when we have company.
- The cat is not a 'squeaky toy' so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.
And, finally, My last question...
Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back?
October 23, 2005
I just found a website that has printable specialty papers in PDF format. It looks like you can make sheets up of any size. The website contains lined, graph, hex, musical notation and a whole lot more.
October 23, 2005
After roughly 12 years of work, the Wine Project is about to take its widely used Windows translation layer to a place it has not been in all that time: beta.
Wine Project leader Alexandre Julliard, who has worked on the software nearly since its beginning in 1993 and maintained it since 1994, said interview yesterday that the beta release is 'a matter of days away.' He has since updated that forecast and said it would be released on Tuesday, October 25th.
'We are currently in code freeze for the release,' Julliard said. 'It should happen sometime next week.'
Wine allows Windows software to run on Linux and other x86-based Unix operating systems by running the Windows application program interface (API) and other Windows dynamic link libraries (DLL).
October 19, 2005
This column provides advice for DMs whose campaigns are in trouble. Do your players constantly bicker or complain about issues both inside and outside of the main campaign action? Do your best ideas fall flat? Have you set up a situation that you now wish you hadn't? Worry no more, because Jason Nelson-Brown has the answers to save your game!
October 17, 2005
A 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles unearthed in China is the earliest example ever found of one of the world's most popular foods, scientists reported today. It also suggests an Asian'not Italian'origin for the staple dish.
'This is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found,' Houyuan Lu of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics at Beijing's Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an e-mail interview.
October 17, 2005
From an article I just read:
During recent excavations at the Kuahuqiao site in south China, archaeologists discovered an 8000-year old waterlogged settlement. Numerous well-preserved organic remains from this ancient village indicate that rice, dogs and pigs had already been domesticated. The most astonishing discovery was a dugout canoe, revealing the earliest technology for constructing this type of watercraft in China, if not in the world.
October 13, 2005
- Take shopping carts for the express purpose of filling them and stranding them at strategic locations.
- Ride those little electronic cars at the front of the store.
- Set all the alarm clocks to go off at ten minute intervals throughout the day.
- Start playing Football; see how many people you can get to join in.
- Run up to an employee (preferably a male) while squeezing your legs together and practically yell at him "I need some tampons!!"
- Try on bras in the sewing/fabric department.
- Try on bras over top of your clothes.
- Make a trail of tomato juice on the ground, leading to the restrooms.
- While walking around the store, sing in your loudest voice possible "sex and candy."
- Walk up to an employee and tell him in an official tone, "I think we've got a Code 3 in Housewares," and see what happens.
- Tune all the radios to a polka station; then turn them all off and turn the volumes to "10."
- Play with the automatic doors.
- Walk up to complete strangers and say, "Hi! I haven't seen you in so long!..." etc. See if they play along to avoid embarrassment.>
- While walking through the clothing department, ask yourself loud enough for all to hear, "Who BUYS this shit, anyway?"
- Repeat #14 in the jewelry department.
- Try putting different pairs of women's panties on your head and walk around the store casually.
- Leave small sacrifices or gifts in the hands of the mannequins.
- Play soccer with a group of friends, using the entire store as your playing field.
- As the cashier runs your purchases over the scanner, look mesmerized and say, "Wow. Magic!"
- Put M&M's on layaway.
- Move "Caution: Wet Floor" signs to carpeted areas.
- Set up a tent in the camping department; tell others you'll only invite them in if they bring pillows from Bed and Bath.
- Contaminate the entire auto department by sampling all the spray air fresheners.
- Nonchalantly "test" the brushes and combs in Cosmetics.
- Drape a blanket around your shoulders and run around saying, "...I'm Batman. Come, Robin--to the Batcave!"
- TP as much of the store as possible.
- Randomly throw things over into neighboring aisles.
- Play with the calculators so that they all spell "hello" upside down.
- When someone asks if you need help, begin to cry and ask, "Why won't you people just leave me alone?"
- When two or three people are walking ahead of you, run between them, yelling, "Red Rover!"
- Look right into the security camera, and use it as a mirror while you pick your nose.
- Take up an entire aisle in Toys by setting up a full scale battlefield with G.I. Joes vs. the X-Men.
- Take bets on the battle described above.
- Set up another battlefield with G.I. Joes vs. G.I. Janes. (Red lipstick might give an interesting effect!!!).
- While handling guns in the hunting department, suddenly ask the clerk if he knows where the anti-depressants are. Act as spastic as possible.
- While no one's watching quickly switch the men's and women's signs on the doors of the rest room.
- Dart around suspiciously while humming the theme from "Mission: Impossible."
- Attempt to fit into very large gym bags.
- Attempt to fit others into very large gym bags.
- Fill your cart with boxes of condoms, and watch everyone's jaws drop when you attempt to buy them.
- Set up a "Valet Parking" sign in front of the store.
- Two words: "Marco Polo."
- Leave Cheerios in Lawn and Garden, pillows in the pet food aisle,etc.
- "Re-alphabetize" the CD's in Electronics.
- In the auto department, practice your "Madonna" look with various funnels.
- Hide in the clothing racks and when people browse through, say things like "the fat man walks alone," and scare them into believing that the clothes are talking to them.
- While walking around alone, pretend someone is with you and get into a very serious conversation. Exp: The person is breaking up with you and you begin crying "How could you do this to me? I thought you loved me! I knew there was another girl, but I thought I had won. You kissed ME darling." Then act as though you are being beaten and fall onto the ground screaming and having convulsions.
- When an announcement comes over the loudspeaker, assume the fetal position and scream, "No, no! It's those voices again!"
- Go to an empty checkout stand and try to check people out.
- Drag a lounge chair on display over to the magazines and relax. If the store has a food court, buy a soft drink; explain that you don't get out much, and ask if they can put a little umbrella in it.
- Get a stuffed animal and go to the front of the store and begin stroking it lovingly, saying "Good girl, good Bessie."
- Go over to the shoe department and try on every pair of shoes, not putting one pair back. Take the paper from the boxes and throw it in various aisles.
- When someone steps away from their cart to look at something,quickly make off with it without saying a word.
- Follow people through the aisles, always staying about five feet away. Continue to do this until they leave the department.
- Ask other customers if they have any Grey Poupon.
- Test the fishing rods and see what you can "catch" from the other aisles.
- In the makeup department, spray yourself with every perfume there is, then walk up to a boy who is with another girl and start flirting with him in that annoying, ditsy way. "hi!!!! (giggle) What's your sign?(giggle)." When the boy shows no interest, start hitting on the girl the exact same way. "hi!!!! (giggle) What's your sign? (giggle)."
- Hold indoor shopping cart races.
- Re-dress the mannequins as you see fit.
- When there are people behind you, walk REALLY SLOW, especially thin narrow aisles.
- Relax in the patio furniture until you get kicked out.
- Challenge other customers to duels with tubes of gift wrap.
- Pay off layaways fifty cents at a time.
- Say things like, "Would you be so kind as to direct me to your Twinkies?"
- Make up nonsense products and ask newly hired employees if there are any in stock, i.e., "Do you have any Shnerples here?"
- Ride a display bicycle through the store; claim you're taking it for a "test drive."
- Leave cryptic messages on the typewriters.
- Get boxes of Condoms and randomly put them in peoples carts when they don't realize it.
- Get an empty book, and say it's a guest book. Get people to sign.
- Play a game of indoor freeze tag.
- Drive around the entrances screaming out the window "the British are coming!"
- Have a team race with your friends- one person sits in the cart, the other pushes.
- Go to the checkout and buy a bar of candy. Repeat, going to the same cash register, until the clerk notices.
- Fill your cart up as much as possible, and then try to use the express lane.
- Use a bullhorn and occasionally say that there is free candy in aisle X (aisle X being the condom aisle).
- Run into a pyramid of cans, heroically saying "I'm gonna save us from that bomb!"
- Use a conveyor belt as a treadmill and lose some weight.
- Grab heavy but not too heavy objects, and see who can throw them the most aisles over.
- When people aren't looking, put tampons in their carts if they are a guy, or if they are a gal, put in a jock strap.
- Randomly direct people to the deodorant section.
- Tell someone that you will sue for false advertising, since they do not sell walls.
- Take your boyfriend or girlfriend to the food section and have an expensive dinner.
- Try to push your cart through a checkout without paying. When the clerk tries to stop you, kick in his balls (don't try it on a chick, it wont work), run, but leave the cart. See what happens.
- If people aren't looking at their cart, steal it.
- Go to the gun section, saying "Can I buy a gun? I'm tired of that stupid smiley face!"
- Buy expensive stuff, go home and use white-out and a pen to change the price to something much lower, and the total much higher, then return and demand a refund.
- See how much stuff you can break before you get caught.
- Take a leak in the dressing rooms.
- Repeatedly say "The clowns are not eating me."
- Use fake checks, but sign them using your neighbors name.
- Rearrange items as you see fit.
- Take a full set of guy's clothes and a full set of gal's clothes, then leave them lying somewhere.
- Put Pokemon stuff in a cart that is full of stuff like KoRn and Limp Bizkit CDs.
- Hide in a clothing rack; when people browse through, say "PICK ME!"
- Go into a fitting room and shut the door and wait a while; and then yell, very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"
- Grab stickers that say "radioactive" and put them randomly on food items.
- Follow someone until they notice.
- Pull out pins, like that guy form the 7up commercial.
- Loiter. When asked to leave, tell them you live here.
- Record yourself while having sex, then have it play over and over gain in the middle of a clothes rack.
October 12, 2005
One of the features some users overlook in OpenOffice.org is its built-in programming language, OpenOffice.org Basic. Why would you want a programming language built into your word processor? It's there to help you to automate tasks. It won't make the tea for you, but it will help you to carry out many repetitive jobs with a minimum of effort.
October 10, 2005
"The technology trades, blogs and industry are buzzing about a monumental policy shift in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Officials in the state have proposed a new policy that mandates that every state technology system use only applications designed around OpenDocument file formats."
Oh how evil, the government will have to follow standards?
"The policy promises to burden taxpayers with new costs and to disrupt how state agencies interact with citizens, businesses and organizations."
What an idiot! What about the costs of moving to a new, incompatible version of Microsoft Office? It'll do the same damn thing!
"Worse, the policy represents an attack on market-based competition, which in turn will hurt innovation. The state has a disaster in the making."
Just how does it benifit Massachusets IT buy blindly sending off unknown (at least to me) millions (or billions) to Redmond Washington? It seems like the only disaster brewing is for Microsoft.
"Until now, Massachusetts' citizens and government agencies have been well served by a competitive, merit-based procurement process for technology services. Agencies can turn to the marketplace'often to small state-based systems integrators'and receive bids for the best solutions at the best price to meet specific needs."
WRONG! Up until now Massachusetts has been faithfully wasting away millions in tax payer dollars each and every year to Microsoft. It doesn't matter which "small state-based systems integrator" they have/will be using. Each one of them has faithfully been installing every piece of crap Microsoft has put out.
"The proposed policy throws out this system, and instead makes the blind pre-determined selection of applications using the largely immature, rarely deployed OpenDocument technology."
This is absolutely not true. ANY program can be built to support the OpenDocument format, even Microsoft Office. But interoperibility isn't what Microsoft's game is alll about. Office versions are not even compatible between themselves.
"Jim Prendergast is executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, a coalition of technology professionals, companies and...Microsoft Corporation is a founding member of ATL. Other founding members include Staples, Inc., CompUSA and Citizens Against Government Waste."
Oh, so that explains it all. He works for Microsoft. I thought the guy was just a moron!
October 2, 2005
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I'm sorry that I haven't posted any updates the last few weeks. I've had quite a time.
3 weeks ago I started dating the most wonderful woman. Her names is Mandie & she's more than I ever hoped for.
Last Tuesday (September 27) I had a heart attack. I was lucky that Mandie was there. She called 911 & got me some asprin. I've been told that they had to shock my heart twice, once in the ambulance & once in the ER. I had an artery completely blocked & had to have a stint put in.
Life is going to suck for a while. Send me a few bucks to raise my spirits if you'd like.
September 15, 2005
The history of pretzels? Who cares?
I know that some of you that visit this website have no desire to learn anything about medieval history. However many visitors are roleplayers, fantasy writers, and historians. Knowing which foods are historically appropriate can add a bit of realism to your fantasy world.
The origins of the pretzel go back to a frugal monestery in the mountains between Southern France and Northern Italy. In 610 AD the monks created the first soft pretzels. They didn't want to waste the dough leftover from making unleavened communion bread.
Christians in those days prayed with their arms crossed over their chest, with each hand on the opposite sholder. It occurred to them that the dough could twisted into this shape. The treats were given to village children as a reward to children for memorizing their prayers.
The monks called their treats Pretiols, a Latin word that means "Little reward". As time passed Pretiols became known as Brachiola, an Italian word meaning "little arms." The popular Brachiola eventually crossed the Alps into Austria and Germany, where it became even more popular. There it became known as the Bretzel.
Pretzels quickly became a popular pre-Easter food throughout the Middle Ages. During the Lenten season Christians were forbidden to prepare food that contained eggs, milk, butter & lard, none of which are were ingredients in early pretzels.
The earliest depictions of the pretzel come to us from a 1440 prayer book portraying St. Bartholomew - surrounded by pretzels. By that time, the pretzel had come to symbolize good luck, prosperity and spiritual wholeness. Children in German still wear pretzels around their neck on New Year's.
In 1510, the city of Vienna was under attack by the Turks. One night, the Turks tried to dig a tunnel under the city walls. Some busy pretzel bakers heard them digging and scraping. They alerted the Viennese public who banded together, charging the Turks in the tunnels and won the battle. As a sign of his gratitude, the king bestowed on the Viennese pretzel bakers a special coat of arms. The shield was decorated with a charging lion and a pretzel. This became the baker's emblem still in use today.
By the 1600s, pretzels had became a convenient way to give food to the poor, a typical alms for the hungry. Coffins were also packed with pretzels as a burial blessing.
A woodcut from 1614, copied from a Switzerland cathedral window, depicts the "marriage knot" as a pretzel. The new couple would make a wish and break the pretzel like a wishbone, then ate it to signify their oneness. This may be the origin of the phrase "tying the knot."
The medieval pretzel may not have been the salted treat we know and love it today. The sugar or chocolate-coated types were popular with the medieval peoples, as evidenced by a 16th century recipe, translated below:
Take white flour, only the white of eggs and some wine, sugar and anise, prepare a dough with these ingredients, roll the dough with clean hands such that it becomes longish and round. Make small pretzels from it and put them into a warm oven and bake them so that you do not burn it but that they are well dried. This way, they will become crisp and good. If you like, you may take cinnamon as an ingredient for the dough, too (but you can leave it). This dish is called Precedella.
From these humble beginnings, the pretzel has become a popular treat. It is possibly one of the world's most popular ancient junk foods.
September 15, 2005
This sounds like a really good book. I just ordered myself a copy from half.com. Guess I'll add it to the other stack of books I need to read. Maybe even put it on top.
From the About.com review:
There is a tendency to view the Middle Ages, even by those who don't consider it a 'Dark Age,' as a grim time, when life was brutal and short, and where the daily life of all but the nobility was too filled with work and hardship to offer any leisure time. It is also fairly common for historical works to focus on political history over the social, and even social histories can fall short on the fun to be had in medieval times.
Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England by Compton Reeves remedies both these gaps.
Offering a fairly comprehensive survey of the enjoyments to be had in the Middle Ages, Reeves does not merely limit himself to sport, games, and play but covers literature, art, music, fashion, food, gardening, mysticism, and, of course, such dark arts as sorcery and such disreputable pursuits as prostitution.
Yet, while just about any pastime in which a medieval person might indulge is explored, Reeves only takes it as far as historical evidence will permit. His work is thoroughly supported by solid references, which he explains within the text and backs up with a chapter-by-chapter list of sources at the back of the book. Any speculation is clearly identified, and the reader is left with a clear understanding of what is and isn't known about the topic.
With lucid information and numerous photos, Compton Reeves succeeds in bringing the enjoyable side of life in the Middle Ages to light.
It looks like Abebooks.com has the lowest price.
September 11, 2005
The popular image of the ninja is a stealthy killer who can materialize out of nowhere like a ghost and loose a storm of blades or fists. Once she has devastated her foe, she moves on as mysteriously as she came.
September 10, 2005
As reported by Gaming Report:
Gaming enthusiasts and exhibitors alike made this year's Gen Con Indy one of the most successful to date with record attendance for the show since it moved to Indianapolis. Turnstile attendance(1) was at 82,121 this year, while unique attendance(2) registered at 25,106.
It would seem that further signs that Gen Con is planning a move out of Indianapolis are becoming public. As we stated back last month, it sounded like a realistic possibility and from the link below it would seem that it may be materializing.
Now this blows. I never attended GenCon before it moved to Indy & now they're talking about moving already? I can only hope that they don't move too far away. I love gaming but I've never driven more than a couple of hours just to throw some dice.
September 7, 2005
Am I the only one sitting here scratching their head over this series. I thought this was supposed to be a new series. It's not a bad series. My problem is I keep seeing errors, omissions & out of date information. Here's just a couple of omissions of pertinent information that have stood out in my mind:
Trajan not only conquered new lands to raise revenue. He also debased the coinage, like many emperors before him.
Augustus instituted morality laws in order to increase the population of Rome. He was worried the the dwindling birth rate would endanger the future of Rome, so he imposed laws that encouraged getting married and having children. This was not mentioned at all.
Nero didn't play a fiddle while Rome burned. The fiddle wasn't invented until the 1500's.
Tonight was a show about "Roman Vice". Roman sexual devices were barely mentioned, certainly no mention of dildos & piercings, and they wasted at least 10 minutes talking about the persecution of Christians.
September 4, 2005
New users tend to make some common mistakes when trying out GNU/Linux for the first time. The reasons for these mistakes are varied: because GNU/Linux is a different kind of operating system; because Windows fosters bad habits; because users choose the wrong distribution; because Mercury is in retrograde; and myriad other possibilities. Here are some solutions to five commonly encountered GNU/Linux problems.
September 4, 2005
Two playful five-year-olds in TromsÃ¸ have made an archeological find that has stunned experts. The pair of boys discovered jewelry over 1,000 years old while playing near their house. Associate Professor Inger Storli at TromsÃ¸ Museum called the find sensational and unique, NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) reports.
September 2, 2005
Lawrence Lessig, in an article on the Foreign Policy website, predicts that the public domain will die a slow death at the hands of anti-piracy efforts. From the article:
'The danger remains invisible to most, hidden by the zeal of a war on piracy. And that is how the public domain may die a quiet death, extinguished by self-righteous extremism, long before many even recognize it is gone.'
September 1, 2005
I have chosen ten outstanding technological concepts which had their popular origins in the world of sci-fi. It is debatable, in some cases, whether the science fiction source was the actual originator, but it's certainly true that each of these ideas was given a boost into reality by an SF writer.
September 1, 2005
A Woman who jilted her millionaire fiance and then allegedly threw her expensive engagement ring in the River Thames has been sued by her former lover, it emerged yesterday. Eva Kohn was accused of milking Christian Schmederer for cash, claiming her wealthy father had cut her monthly allowance and her mother was dead.
August 30, 2005
Complain all you want about climbing prices at the pump; at least it's not as drastic as what one gas station is asking. The proprietor of a Dallas, Texas, filling station revised his prices on August 24 to reflect what he felt would soon be the going rate'an arm and a leg, unless you want the top grade, in which case it'll set you back your first born.
The day after the storm made landfall, oil prices bubbled up toward record levels, and some analysts predicted prices at the pump could soon top $3 a gallon (4 liters) in the U.S.
August 30, 2005
The Leaky Cauldron reports:
The Lexicon has received information that may reveal the identity of someone mentioned at the end of HBP via initials. While it comes from a reliable source, is still rumor until confirmed or denied by Jo & Co. It is, however, strong enough of a rumor to bring to your attention.
August 28, 2005
It seems that the guys at G4TV might actually have a brain! Leo Laporte returns to G4TV along with the show Call For Help. It premieres Monday the 29th of August at 11am ET/8am PT.
I'm so glad to see the return of Leo. He was always my favorite personality on the old TechTV! Unfortuanately they won't have Kat Swartz anymore. That's a real shame!
August 28, 2005
Recent mitochondrial DNA studies suggest that wolves and dogs split into different species around 100,000 years ago; but whether humans had anything to do with that, no one really knows. Another recent study suggests that the entire population of dogs today are descended from three females near China about 15,000 years ago. The earliest domesticated dog found in China is at the early Neolithic (7000-5800 BC) Jiahu site in Henan Province.
The history of the use of the silkworm species Bombyx to produce cloth, suggests that it was invented at least as early as the Longshan period (3500-2000 BC), and perhaps earlier. Evidence of silk for this period is only known from a few textile fragments, and textual evidence in the Shi Jing, and art depictions of garments.
August 24, 2005
They say talk is cheap. Google thinks it should be free. Google Talk enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free'anytime, anywhere in the world.
Google Talk. is in beta and requires a Gmail username and password.
If you don't have a GMail account, you can get one here.
You don't have don't have to download any new software to connect to Google Talk as long as you have a client which will connect to Jabber servers. You can get information about connecting with other clients here.
August 23, 2005
Lots of news and new games came out of GenCon this year (as usual). Here's a couple of links to places where you can find out about everything that went on.
August 23, 2005
So I got back from GenCon Sunday night and crashed most of Monday, so I'm back to posting.
I went to several seminars and played a bunch of games.
One game I particularly enjoyed was Skallywaggs. Skallywaggs is a card game where you try to build a pirate crew before your opponents do. It's an independant game from a couple of guys in Virgina. Check it out at Skallywaggs.com.
August 23, 2005
Here, you will find all the secrets to the tricks that pen spinners are so proud of. The names of the tricks was either invented by me or adapted from some other source. There is not a standard adopted by pen spinners on these names, so feel free to criticize and send me the suggestions if you feel that you have a better naming convention.
August 15, 2005
Underestimating their own beauty, humans fall victims to glossy magazine covers. Modern people with their standards of beauty run risks of losing the battle with perfect computer images and fall a victim to non-existent perfection. In addition, German scientists concluded that there was a certain stereotype in perceiving a beautiful person.
If someone sees a paparazzi picture of a movie star without make up on, they usually think: "Oh my God, she looks so terrible."
August 15, 2005
This has got to be one of the funniest Fark photoshop contest enteries ever:
If you don't understand:
August 13, 2005
Information on how to call in sick when you just need a day off.
- Find a quiet place for the phone call.
- Call your boss.
- Don't sound guilty.
- Keep the excuse short and to the point.
- Get off the phone as quickly as possible.
August 9, 2005
A 10-year-old boy was found dead, hanging from a tree, apparently killed while trying to get high by playing the 'pass-out game,' authorities said.
Dalton Eby may be the second Idaho child killed in recent months while playing a choking game, trying to cut off the oxygen supply to the brain to achieve a type of 'high.
Apparently the game involves first hyperventilation then being choked. I've never heard of it until today. Sounds like a bad idea.
August 8, 2005
Hey guys! Next time your woman says you don't listen to her you have a perfect excuse. According to scientists, me DO have trouble listing to women's voices. Men deciphered female voices using the auditory part of the brain that processes music, while male voices engaged a simpler mechanism, it said.
The findings may help explain why people suffering hallucinations usually hear male voices, the report added, as the brain may find it much harder to conjure up a false female voice accurately than a false male voice.
This could also explain why it's so easy to just tune a woman out. (Just kidding)
August 5, 2005
Just found a cool page on about.com that's all about the middle ages.
August 4, 2005
US senator Orrin Hatch, scourge of file sharers could be out of a job in 2006 if fellow Republican Steve Urquhart gets his way. Urquhart, House of Representative member and party whip form the land of Utah, has announced he is running against Hatch as GOP candidate in 2006, and wants internet users to boost a bi-partisan challenge.
While Urquhart's stance on new media and the internet are not yet entirely clear, he already has support from Utah's former state chief information officer (CIO), Phil Windley. According to Windley, a Republican is the best chance of beating Hatch, who is a popular five-term Senator in a state where Democrats are an outside bet. Windley is asking all internet users to spread the word and donate to Urquhart's cause. The aspiring senator needs between $750,000 and $1m to fund his run against Hatch.
Windley is using Hatch's track record against him to swell the coffers and attract bi-partisan support from techies across the US. "If Hatch were just bad for Utah, this might be a Utah issue," Windley said. "But Hatch is bad for the internet and this is a chance for techies to show a little muscle and strike a blow for what they believe in."
August 4, 2005
Highlander: The Source, envisioned as the first of three new films in the popular supernatural franchise, will shoot in Lithuania starting in October, according to an announcement by Davis-Panzer Productions, Sequence Films and Grosvenor Park. Brett Leonard (Lawnmower Man) will direct, with Adrian Paul playing the immortal Scottish swordsman Duncan MacLeod.
July 28, 2005
I posted these last year and here they are again. Some you can't do now but others you can make plans for:
- Preregister: My first year I didn't decide to go to GenCon till just 2 days beforehand. I payed for it by waiting in line for 3 hours for my badge. I understand they've fixed the problems with the computers that they had a few years ago.
- Dealer Room: Definately check out the dealer room. In fact, you should plan several hours to browse the dealer room & try out some of the new games.
- Free-Time: Plan for some free time. Although GenCon is a 24 hour gamiing event, you should plan for some sleep, time to eat, & some time to meet people. Also Indianapolis is a wonderful town with lots to see and do. Especially check out the mall & Hollywood Bar & Filmworks.
- Budget: Plan on spending anywhere between $40-$150 for a Hotel room. Cheapest rooms can be found 10+ minutes outside of town. $30 per day would be a good bet for food budget. Don't forget event costs, parking costs, & costs for adult beverages (if you like to drink).
- Walk: If you're not used to walking several hours a day then you should probably start now. Don't forget to bring comfortable shoes.
- Wednesday: Show up on Wednesday if you can. This will give you the best opportunity to get some sleep before the Con starts in eranest. There's going to be open gaming in one of the hotels Wednesday evening. I'm going Wednesday this year!
- Diet: Cons goers are notorious for not sleeping properly. Eat well & you may be able to stay up longer. Also drink lots of water!
- Hygiene: Get a shower, we're not crying cause we're homesick!
- Auction: Go to the auction, you can find some hard to find stuff there.
- Gift Shop: Visit the gift shop early. Many of the popular items run out quickly.
- Pack Light: Those books get mighty heavy after several hours.
- Security: Don't leave your bags unattended ever. Those things are known to grow legs.
- Have a Good Time: GenCon only comes once a year!
July 28, 2005
There was a problem with my RSS feed that I just discovered. You can now subscribe to the RSS feed here.
Not familiar with RSS feeds? Read this.
July 27, 2005
Mothers, aside from bringing us to this world, play a great rule in giving the first lessons of life to us. We learn many valuable things from them, or we don't? Here is the Top 20 things we have learnt from our moms.
- My mother taught me to APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
- My mother taught me about RELIGION.
- My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
- My mother taught me about LOGIC.
- My mother taught me about FORESIGHT.
- My mother taught me about IRONY.
- My mother taught me about STAMINA.
- My mother taught me about WEATHER.
- My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
- My mother taught me about the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
- My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
- My mother taught me about ENVY.
- My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
- My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
- My mother taught me about MEDICAL SCIENCE.
- My mother taught me about ESP.
- My mother taught me about HUMOR.
- My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
- My mother taught me about GENETICS.
- My mother taught me about WISDOM.
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'
'Because I said so, that's why.'
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'
'This room of yours looks like a tornado went through it.'
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'
'Stop acting like your father!'
'There are millions of children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'
'Just wait until we get home.'
'You are going to get it when you get home!'
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you'll be cold?'
'When that lawnmower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'
'You're just like your father.'
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'
July 27, 2005
The layout on every page on this website has now been updated to use the same layout as the blogger pages, with the exception of my links index and the "My Genealogy" sections.
July 26, 2005
I finally got around to getting my own free GMail acount. You can get one too! Just go to this page and type in the code.
If you want one of those cool looking GMail icons like I've got, you can get them here.
July 26, 2005
I've also divided the list into regional categories.
July 21, 2005
I've been working on my Rice Pudding Recipe for more than a year. If you have any opinions or suggestions please post a comment.
2 Cups Instant Rice
2 Cups Water
Microwave for 5 minutes covered. Let sit covered for 3-4 minutes. Fluff rice with fork adding 2 Tablespoons margerine.
Inside a 1 1/2 Quart bakable dish mix:
4 Beaten Eggs
12 Ounces Evaporated Milk
1 Tablespoon Vinalla
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
Sugar to taste
Bake 1 hour at 325 or until you can insert a butter knife and it comes out nearly clean. I have noticed that the almonds tend to float to the top. Check the dish half way through and stir if this has happened.
Sprinkle cinnamon on top after pulling it from the oven.
If this seems like a lot of vinalla or cinnamon reduce as you feel necessary. I have not included an set amount of sugar because I'm not sure exactly how much I put in, it's not a whole lot, plus everyone likes a different amount.
I know it would probably be better if I used instant rice, but I've never had any complaint about using it. Besides, this is a recipe for Easy Rice Pudding.
July 20, 2005
The latest Harry Potter tome was not released as an ebook because of fears over piracy - a plan as cunning as any of Baldrick's.
Unfortunately some committed fans/pesky pirates immediately scanned the book on its release last weekend and used optical recognition software to digitise the text. Copies were then proof-read, not very well from the bits we've seen, before being released. Who'd have thought it?
Podcasts, or audio versions, are also available.
July 20, 2005
Doohan, best know for his role as Star Trek's Scotty, died at his home in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, of complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, about a year after he was diagnosed with the degenerative neurological illness, manager Steve Stevens said in an interview.
Doohan is survived by his of 28 years, Wende.
He is the second actor from the main cast of the Star Trek franchise to die DeForest Kelley, Leonard "Bones" McCoy, died in 1999.
Doohan's wife plans to send the actor's ashes into space via the same private launch service that carried Roddenberry's remains into orbit after his 1991 death.
July 16, 2005
In 2002 an investigation commissioned by The SCO Group failed to show evidence of code copying by Linux developers. A memo reveals that SCO's CEO Darl McBride was told this six months before the company filed the first lawsuit.
SCO hired consultant Bob Swartz to conduct the audit, and Caldera's Michael Davidson reported the results.
"At the end we found absolutely nothing. Ie no evidence of copyright infringement whatsoever," wrote Davidson.
"There is indeed a lot of code that is common between UNIX and Linux (all of the X Window system for example) but invariably it turned out that the common code was something that both we (SCO) and the Linux community had obtained (legitimately) from a third party," Davidson wrote.
"An outside consultant was brought in because I had already voiced the opinion (based on very detailed knowledge of our own source code and reasonably broad exposure to Linux and other open source projects) that it was a waste of time and we were not going to find anything," Davidson confessed.
SCO representative Blake Stowell say "That e-mail probably creates a lot more questions than it answers. We'll be fully prepared to address that, but we will be doing that in a court setting if it is necessary."
Groklaw has posted the memo here.
July 16, 2005
There I was, on my way back from playing pool with my cousin. My watch beeped. It was 12 o'clock. I was 15 minutes from town. What was I thinking of? The load of dishes that I needed to put in the dish washer? The load of laundry sitting in the basket that I should have done before I left? The two hours of StarGate goodness sitting on a tape in the VCR?
I was thinking about a book. Harry Potter is going on sale right now! I couldn't resist it. I had to go get it, inspite of Richard Stallman's advice. Sorry Rich, asking a Potter fan not to buy the book is like asking a crack adict not to buy crack.
So I'm sitting here getting ready to read the book, VCR-a-going. Having a huge geek night!
July 14, 2005
A Podcast for tabletop gaming. They have made 5 episodes so far. It's not a bad show and it's improving every episode. One hour in length, posted every other week.
The podcast comes from 3 guys in Louisville Kentucky. (They're right across the river from me.)
July 10, 2005
Don't forget to sign up for GenCon. PreReg ends tommorrow!
July 7, 2005
Ever wondered what what the approximate dates for some of the major inventions in human history are?
I've looked through the list and while not as complete as I'd like to see, it seems pretty acurate.
July 7, 2005
I just found a cool podcast. This guy really knows his history. Looks like he does everything from prehistory to modern history. Visit the History According to Bob
July 6, 2005
Taking regular showers could pose a health risk and even result in permanent brain damage. Scientists believe that breathing in small amounts of manganese dissolved in the water may harm the nervous system.
So, stinky geeks really are smarter?
July 6, 2005
More than a third of all CDs purchased worldwide are pirated, according to a record label report.
June 30, 2005
I've been working on images for the Open Clipart Library. I've been posting the to KDE-Look too. I haven't posted them all yet, but I'm working on it. Right now it's just a bunch of nautical signal flags, but I'm working on some borders and other stuff too.
June 21, 2005
So today is my birthday. Another year older. I'm 32 now.
June 19, 2005
According to WebSideStory, usage of Internet explorer is decreasing with Firefox gaining the most. I've noticed this too. Internet Explorer's usage goes as high as 80% on some pages & as low as 20% on others. Hopefully this kind of trend will encourage the development of standards compliant pages.
June 17, 2005
Ever wanted to know how to bind your own books? Here's a really good article about it:
June 17, 2005
The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities.
Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such logs be kept.
"It was raised not once but several times in the meeting, very emphatically," said Dave McClure, president of the U.S. Internet Industry Association, which represents small to midsize companies. "We were told, 'You're going to have to start thinking about data retention if you don't want people to think you're soft on child porn.'"
Gotta love that! It's back to the old "save the children" crap. These people make me sick!
June 17, 2005
David Sutherland, the Minneapolis native and illustrator whose images helped lead the fantasy role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons" to success in the late 1970s and 1980s, has died of chronic liver failure.
Sutherland's illustrations include the famed scene of a dragon, a wizard and a bow-flexing knight on the first "D&D" boxed set that brought the game into the mainstream. Images on the covers of "Dungeon Masters Guide" and "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual," were his as well. Sutherland also worked as TSR's artistic director, but felt more at ease doing his own illustrations.
June 14, 2005
I just watched the local and national news tonight. What do you know, the only story on everyone's lips was Jackson. Isn't there anything else going on in the world? What happened in our government today? You'd never know if you'd watch the broadcast "news".
Speaking of Jackson, what is the matter with California? Are they so star-struck that they can't see the wrong that they do? Com on people! This guy is a child molesting freak!
Parents keep dragging their kids up to Neverland. What is the matter with these people?
June 14, 2005
Forget about any sanity when it comes to the patriot act.
The Senate "Intelligence" Panel voted in secret to renew the patriot act. The final text of the Senate Intelligence committee's amendments was not immediately available (here's a draft dated last month).
The proposal appears to grant the FBI more power to seek information from banks, hospitals, libraries, and so on through "administrative subpoenas" without prior judicial oversight. The subpoenas are only supposed to be used for terrorism or clandestine intelligence cases.
One other detail: the FBI may designate that the subpoenas are secret and punish disclosure of their existence with up to one year in prison (and five years if the disclosure is deemed to "obstruct an investigation.")
The Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman ( Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.)) walked off with the gavel, leaving Democrats shouting into turned-off microphones at a raucous hearing on the Patriot Act.
Past hearings had been too slanted toward witnesses who supported the law. These witnesses questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act.
Nadler said Sensenbrenner, an author of the Patriot Act, was "rather rude, cutting everybody off in midsentence with an attitude of total hostility."
Sensenbrenner's spokesman, Jeff Lungren, said the hearing had lasted two hours and that "the chairman was very accommodating, giving members extra time."
The typical accusations of being irresponsible, undemocratic, putting soldiers at risk, etc all surfaced.
I talked about this with several friends over the weekend and the general consensus was "I'm not loosing any rights, so what's the problem?" Am I just over reacting or am I correct to think that they will attempt to link other things to terrorism?
At one time I was proud to be a Republican. I thought it would be great if we could have a Republican majority in our government. Now it turns out that it's my worst nightmare. The thought of voting for a Democrat makes me nauseous. There is not a viable third party. So what am I to do?
June 6, 2005
This book builds upon existing materials in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and you'll find all kinds of things inside that should help facilitate play, especially when you have very limited preparation time. Chapters include discussion on running a game, designing adventures, building and using prestige classes, and creating campaign settings. Ready-made game elements include instant traps, pre-generated locations, treasures, and a fully realized and rendered town. For more excerpts from this book, check out the DMG2 Preview.
June 6, 2005
GUYS, you can score with hot chicks -- including babes way out of your league -- thanks to the science of reverse psychology!
"Learning to play mind games is essential to victory in the dating game," declares relationship guru Kim Gesterford.
June 2, 2005
To celebrate the release of this rules supplement, download wallpapers that features art from the book.
May 29, 2005
You know the more I think about it, the madder I get. Yesterday I posted about John Stedman testifying about the link between terrorist and piracy. I say BS. Get real! Want to stop supporting terrorists? Cut our dependance on foreign oil. We need viable alternatives to gas, better hybrids & to start drilling for our own oil.
May 29, 2005
NewsForge has an interesting review of Windows XP Home, written from the perspective of a longtime Linux user. The article clearly is intended to be somewhat humorous while making a point to the 'Linux isn't ready for the desktop' crowd. The reviewer does a fair job of pointing out the strengths of Windows along with the weaknesses that would be apparent to someone trying to make the switch from Linux.
May 28, 2005
Remember in 2003 Hollywood tried to do same thing with the BBC. The BBC held steadfast and hollywood backed down and gave the BBC their programming. I have little hope that the same thing will happen here. It's likely that the congress will bow down to anything they ask for.
May 28, 2005
In an effort to get more draconian copyright laws passed, John Stedman, a lieutenant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's team of intellectual property (IPR) investigators appeared before the Senate Homeland Security committee using the ultimate trump card of the day: counterfeit DVDs and cigarettes may be funding terrorists.
Even though Stedman's evidence is circumstantial, his testimony comes as Congress is expected to consider new copyright legislation this year. An invocation of terrorism, the trump card of modern American politics, could ease the passage of the next major expansion of copyright powers.
May 24, 2005
Dress your dog up like your favorite Star Wars character:
These costumes have been a big hit with fans. I'm a big Star Wars fan, but I wouldn't even think about putting my dog in one of these.
Find these costumes and more at Star Wars Shop
May 22, 2005
A 3-year-old boy upset that his mother wouldn't let him use a crane vending machine to try to win a small stuffed animal took matters into his own hands.
He climbed inside up the chute to get the prize himself.
May 21, 2005
If you meet or are dating someone, and they tell you they like smoking crack while wearing a diaper and playing Dungeon & Dragons with their pet monkey named Elvis, any -- or all -- of those could be deal breakers. Unless, of course, you're into that kind of thing.
Here's an article about some of the deal breakers the author have culled from a few of his friends.
May 21, 2005
...and man was it great! I'm amazed, after the last two, that this one came out as good as it did.
If you haven't went to go see it yet, you should go soon.
May 19, 2005
The GenCon schedule is now listing a special event for the Friday of the convention. The RPG Design Workshop is an all-day event (four sessions with a break for lunch).
"Join some of the hobby's best and brightest independent designers in this all-day workshop. Learn the theory behind roleplaying games, the basics of RPG design and setting creation and how to avoid the pitfalls of both print and electronic publication. Whether you're an aspiring game designer or just a fan of the hobby eager to know more, this is the workshop for you. So bring your ideas, your notebooks, your enthusiasm and your brain!"
Visit www.gencon.com for details.
May 19, 2005
America's entertainment industry is committing slow, spectacular suicide, while one of Europe's biggest broadcasters -- the BBC -- is rushing headlong to the future, embracing innovation rather than fighting it.
Unlike Hollywood, the BBC is eager and willing to work with a burgeoning group of content providers whose interests are aligned with its own: its audience.
May 18, 2005
Humans have been downing beer for millennia. In certain instances, some drinkers got an extra dose of medicine, according to an analysis of Nubian bones from Sudan in North Africa.
May 18, 2005
May 17, 2005
Need to do sound recording or editing, but find most audio software daunting due to complicated interfaces or price? Then take a look at Audacity: it's free, open source, and packs a bunch of professional-level sound editing features, all under a very intuitive, friendly user interface (Figure 1). By design, Audacity is a user-friendly but still powerful alternative to other sound editors that tend to be complicated to use. What's more, it comes in Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows versions.
I've been using Audacity for quite some time. It's a good, solid sound editing application.
May 16, 2005
From the article: "My generation of gamers -- whose youths were spent holed up in paneled wood basements crafting identities, mythologies, and geographies with a few lead figurines -- are the filmmakers, computer programmers, writers, DJs, and musicians of today."
May 16, 2005
May 15, 2005
Khan sent me a link to a website called Gimp Talk. GimpTalk was formed in Dec 2004, in a hope that it will help the gimp users and will provide qualitative tutorials & resources, along with a good community forum where gimp users can discuss/help eachother.
May 14, 2005
It has been said that no original ideas remain. Everything you think of has already been thought of by someone else. Why not steal a few ideas?
The Big List of RPG Plots was created by examining the premises of hundreds of published adventures for all systems, boiling them down to common denominators. The results are presented here: arbitrary, and sometimes redundant. Nevertheless, you can turn to this list when you're stuck for a fresh premise for a session of your campaign, whatever that campaign might happen to be about at the time. It can help keep you from falling into thematic ruts.
Visit the Big List of RPG Plots at io.com.
May 14, 2005
The mighty Netbook of Feats has been re-written for 3.5 rules! A massive number of revisions have been made. We've edited and re-edited, updating all our feats for the 3.5 rules set, incorporating the greatly expanded list of SRD feats, and made corrections too numerous to name. We even found time to add some new feats to the book, although many were lost due to rules changes and the expanded SRD. We feel this is our best edited, best organized edition ever, and we hope you like it.
May 10, 2005
So I'm considering writing some more non-generic roleplaying material. I haven't written anything since before 3.5 came out. What edition is everyone using these days? Are there any quick start or conversion guides from/to the new edition? What about d20 modern?
Feel free to post your comments.
May 10, 2005
I really should be sleeping for work tonight but I'm having trouble sleeping. So I've played around with blogger a little more & changed my template. I think I like this one better.
May 7, 2005
Don't forget that the U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting comments about "orphan works". That would be those works which the owners are difficult or impossible to locate. Many have raised concerns that the uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public.
The deadline is comming up on Monday!
May 7, 2005
I'm in my new apartment but I don't have my main computer setup (the one with all the software I like to use to do my webpages). So this has given me an excuse to try out this Blogger thing. If I like it, I may contine to use it.
Random Teutonic Name Generator
April 22, 2005
Totally Free Clip Art
April 21, 2005
The Open Clip Art Library maintains an archive of clip art that can be used for free for any use. All graphics submitted to the Open Clip Art Library have been placed into the Public Domain. The Clip Art may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way.
Random Basque Name Generator
April 20, 2005
FreeCiv 2.0 Released
April 20, 2005
Until today, I hadn't played FreeCiv in years. My god has this thing coma a long way. The A.I. has come a long way towards becoming unbeatable without cheating. The graphics could use a little work, but that's not what I play it for. I can see I'll be playing a lot more of this in the future.
Star Wars: Revelations Available Online
April 19, 2005
Panic Struck Productions have just released their first Star Wars movie, 'Revelations.' The movie has been produced on a not-for profit basis by a team of volunteers and is available for free download. Despite its humble origins, the production appears extraordinarily professional. The film is over 40 minutes long, complete with space battles and lightsaber fights -- need I say more? See more details at the official website, or jump straight to the download mirrors.
Windows to Linux: A Beginner's Guide
April 19, 2005
If you have any experience with Windows, the switch to Linux will be relatively simple. Truly, the biggest challenge is to find the tools and applications you need in Linux. This beginner HOW-TO article will hopefully give you plenty of ideas how to access those key tools and how they relate to Windows.
Random Arabic Name Generator
April 18, 2005
Shugenjas with Class
April 17, 2005
The shugenja offers a pleasant combination of exotic flavor and potent divine spellcasting. Furthermore, the broad options that the class offers allow you to create exactly the character you want. A shugenja can be an introspective scholar who specializes in unraveling tangled mysteries, or a gentle healer, or a flamboyant spellslinger, or some other archetype of your own design.
Random Norman Name Generator
April 16, 2005
Freedom is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose
April 15, 2005
Wired is reporting (along with many others) that the U.S. Copyright Office is soliciting comments about "orphan works". That would be those works which the owners are difficult or impossible to locate. Many have raised concerns that the uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public.
I don't mind telling you that this could be the last time in our lifetimes that we could get works into the public domain. Please help!
Fighters with Class
April 15, 2005
Play a fighter, said your friends. It's easy for a beginner to play and gives you plenty of action. But is a fighter just a sword-swinging automaton, or does he have more to offer?
Random Frankish Name Generator
April 14, 2005
Bards with Class
April 14, 2005
Bards are often depicted as ne'er-do-wells and charlatans who prefer not to meet challenges head on. A character who fits that stereotype can be fun, but a bard also can function as a person of deep knowledge and wide experience, a folk hero, a slumming aristocrat, or a general handyman.
Random Arabian Name Generator
April 13, 2005
Alignments in Play
April 12, 2005
Alignment is a sticky subject -- so much so that some gamers refuse to use the concept at all. Some players think sticking to an alignment is just too much trouble. Others insist that alignment restricts the kind of true roleplaying that can flourish when a character's personality is allowed to develop naturally, unfettered by artificial limitations. Still others use alignment but downplay its importance in order to bolster party unity.
Here's some tips on how to deal with alignment in your games.
Random Pirate Ship Name Generator
April 11, 2005
Some More Cool Wallpapers
April 11, 2005
How The Entertainment Industy Wants to Change the Internet
April 9, 2005
Digital Civil Rights in Europe is reporting that the MPA and the IFPI are pushing for a new collaboration with internet service providers in Europe. The MPA has drafted a 'possible ISP-Film Sector Voluntary Code of Conduct', while the IFPI called for a similar code in relation to the music sector during a conference of European telecom network operators.
Here's a list of their demands:
- "remove references and links to websites or services that do not respect the copyrights of rights holders"
- "require subscribers to consent in advance to the disclosure of their identity in response to a reasonable complaint of intellectual property infringement by an established right holder defence organisation or by right holder(s) whose intellectual property is being infringed"
- terminate contracts of recidivist
- implement instant messaging to communicate with infringers
- implement filtering technologies to block websites that are "substantially dedicated to illegal file sharing or download services"
- voluntarily store data for copyright enforcement
Most telling is this demand:
To enforce terms of service that prohibit a subscriber from operating a server, or from consuming excessive amounts of bandwidth where such consumption is a good indicator of infringing activities.
Yeah that's right, anyone actually using their internet connection must be a thief! It's not like you can't be using a lot of bandwidth to download a Linux ISO, SSH tunnel to run a remote VNC session, or even share your own content. I swear these guys won't be happy until the internet becomes as mindless and passive as television.
Rogues with Class
April 9, 2005
A rogue is one of the most versatile characters in the game. Her wide range of skills offers ease of customization, and her sneak attack ability makes her deadly in combat. But how can you get the most play value out of a rogue while minimizing the risks to her?
Random Dutch Name Generator
April 8, 2005
April 7, 2005
I've added the Miyama font to my Oriental Fonts Page. This is the font used on the front cover of the Third Edition Oriental Adventures book.
Wizards with Class
April 7, 2005
Wizards are among the most popular characters, and for good reason. Thanks to their wide selection of spells, they're among the most versatile and powerful characters in the game.
Indoor Zen Rock Garden
April 6, 2005
Your own little piece of nirvana! Make yourself an Indoor Zen Rock Garden. Actually it just started out as an easy to clean incesnse burner.
April 6, 2005
Random Finnish Name Generator
April 5, 2005
Updated Not Al Page
April 5, 2005
Bob Rivers of Twisted Tunes fame DID do a song called "Cows with Guns". It is listed on his website at twistedtunes.com. Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck is written and perfomed by a group called Da Yoopers from Michigan's upper peninsula. As noted on the Not Weird Al Page.
Clerics with Class
April 4, 2005
At first glance, the cleric may seem a bit lackluster -- a mere healing machine whose medicinal spells provide vital party support, but not much excitement. First impressions often prove false, however, and dismissing the cleric as the character "someone" has to play is a big mistake. A well-constructed cleric, played with fervor and understanding is not only an asset to the party, but an immensely satisfying character as well.
Random Moon Name Generator
April 3, 2005
Barbarians with Class
April 3, 2005
A big, dumb fighter-type clad in furs who hacks up the enemy in a berserk rage -- that's the quintessential fantasy image of the barbarian -- or perhaps the stereotypical one. This particular image also portrays the barbarian as uncouth, uncultured, and generally uninhibited. Such a character appeals to all of us from time to time, but moving beyond the stereotype allows the creation of a character with great depth and a wide array of useful abilities.
Blank Forms are not Copyrightable
April 1, 2005
Sorcerers with Class
April 1, 2005
Like a wizard, a sorcerer is an arcane spellcaster. Though his selection of spells is more limited than that of a wizard, the sorcerer's ability to choose spells on the fly makes him extremely versatile and quite deadly.
Random Danish Name Generator
March 31, 2005
Druids with Class
March 31, 2005
Many players think the druid belongs out in the wilderness, where she can frolic with the animals and work magic suited for the outdoors. To such people, a druid in a city or a dungeon seems as out of place -- and about as useful -- as a speedboat in the desert. As is often the case, popular opinion about the druid isn't completely wrong, but it fails to grasp the character's true potential.
Rangers with Class
March 30, 2005
Most players think of the ranger as an outdoorsy character who is more at home in the wilderness than in the dungeon or the city. If you want to create a rugged and self-sufficient individualist, a ranger is a fine choice. But the character can also excel in a variety of other roles, from swashbuckling ne'er-do-well to tenacious do-gooder.
I Expected Much Higher
March 29, 2005
So I took the nerd test. I expected a much higher score!
Paladins with Class
March 29, 2005
Few D&D veterans are ambivalent about the paladin. To her fans, she is a paragon of virtue and a dauntless foe of all that is evil. To her detractors, she is a vain, obnoxious proselytizer with an obsession about glory. Both viewpoints have some truth in them, but the negative view is based primarily on badly played paladins.
Practicing What I Preach
March 28, 2005
I've had an on going argument with a friend of mine about the current role of copyright and what the role of copyright should be. He believes that copyright should be absolute and permanent. I believe in shorter terms, flexible rights and a real public domain. It seems we'll probably never agree. One of his arguments has been that if I were to ever create anything of value, I would expect to be paid and want tyrannical copyright protection. Many times I have pointed him to this webpage for exapmles of my creativity for which I have never asked any compensation.
As a result of this ongoing discussion I have done a lot of research on the subject of copyright law (sometimes called 'Intellectual Property' or 'IP' (see the FSF list of words to avoid)) and I've become fairly knowledgeable about many of the common 'free' licenses such as those provided by GNU Project, Creative Commons (both often referred to as copyleft) and Open Gaming Licence.
In an effort to practice what I preach, I'm in the process of evaluating the licenses under which I will allow copying and modification of some of my works. I'd like to reserve some rights to some of my works but grant others. Stay tuned here for more information.
The Oriental Adventures logos on the FAQ page are now covered under a Creative Commons licence.
You'll likely see the following Creative Commons License icons appear on some pages of my website: . Thanks to the Creative Commons team for providing the images.
If you don't know what all this means, you probably won't need to. The licences mentioned really only cover you if you want to redistribute the work.
ph34r My l33t skillz
March 28, 2005
uSiNG M$ GuiDe To !337$p34k, j00 2 CaN HaVe m4d sk1||z!
Random Fantasy Ship Name Generator
March 27, 2005
Samurai with Class
March 26, 2005
In the popular imagination, the samurai is a ferocious and volatile warrior, thanks to an inscrutable code of honor that drives him to seemingly random acts of violence and fanaticism. In truth, however, he is a cultured soldier who strives to be courteous, brave, and unswervingly loyal to his overlord.
Open-Source Equivalents to Windows Programs
March 25, 2005
In this article, we will focus on all the little programs that you are used to using in Windows, and their equivalents in Linux. People who have switched over often complain that they can't find the proper movie player, or MP3 player that they like to use. Sometimes, this is so irritating that they switch right back, just because they couldn't watch their favorite movies, or listen to their favorite songs. What they do not know is that many alternatives exist in Linux. Some of the programs are so much better than their Windows counterparts that you may wonder why you didn't switch before.
Monks with Class
March 23, 2005
To most people, the monk is simply a fighting character whose whole body serves as a weapon. But a well-played monk also adds a touch of the exotic and the mysterious to a campaign. In addition, the monk is among the most versatile characters in the game and can fill a variety of roles in an adventuring party.
Random Persian Name Generator
March 21, 2005
Anti-P2P Lawmaker Gets Top Senate Spot
March 19, 2005
CNet is reporting that Orrin Hatch, the senator who once said the recording industry should be able to destroy music pirates' PCs, will be in charge of a new Senate panel responsible for writing copyright laws.
In the country we call this putting the fox in charge of the hen house. I thought we'd finally be through with him once he was removed from the Senate Judiciary panel but no, they have to make a new panel to head up. Can't you guys in Utah get something done about this guy? If you know anything about his history, he's been continually representing the interests of Hollywood and not your own! Call him, write him, go meet him at his office when he's in. Here's his virtual office with his contact information.
Random Welsh Name Generator
March 18, 2005
Deep Dish Cylindrical Parabolic Template
March 16, 2005
Are you having trouble getting coverage from your wireless router? Perhaps your connection isn't very stable is certain parts of the house.Use the template here to boost your signal.
It works best for situations when you have the router in one edge of the house and you need your coverate in one direction.
Help for the Spineless
March 14, 2005
This Article from Maxim Online describes how best to dump your girlfriend. If the situation is bad, get out! Life is too short to live it in misery.
Getting My Mojo Back!
March 12, 2005
The date was great and we talked for hours but we differed significantly on the subjects of politics, religion and children. So that's too bad.
I'm back to writing too! As you can see in the next entry, I'm starting to make Festivals, Spectacles & Holidays .
Festivals, Spectacles & Holidays
March 12, 2005
I've started a new page about Festivals, Spectacles & Holidays . Hopefully these can add a little realism to your campaign world. I've only got one on there so far but as inspiration comes to me I'll be adding more.
I'm licensing these articles under the terms of the Open Gaming License. If you've been under a rock for the past few years, here's what the OGL is about. Basically if you want to use them for your own campaign, that's fine but if you want to publish or use them on your own website you have to follow the rules of the license.
Update: Feeling a Little Better
February 16, 2005
I'm finally able to make a proper update. I've been offline for the past month...Aggg!!! I decided to move and because of a transfer error with the cable company I haven't had a connection. Now that I'm back online the softhome.net mail servers have decided to go down! I'll answer all the emails that came in as soon as they come back up.
Thanks for the email. The response has kind of been overwhelming. Thanks for all your support. Here's a few selected responses to common emails I got:
Question: Why stop or even slow down now? Keep moving forward.
Answer: I'm not planning on stopping anytime soon. I've just been entirely too busy with everything that's been going on. Whenever I get back to something that resembles a normal life, I'll start doing regular updates again.
Statement: I warn you against the possiblilities of suicidal urgings and hope you will fight them.
Response: Won't happen! The thought never even crossed my mind.
Statement: I have been a big fan of your website for some time. My prayers are with you and your lost loved one.
Response: I'm glad you've enjoyed the website, thanks for the support.
I've got to go for now. Thanks again for all the emails. Hopefully I can start doing regular updates soon.
My Miserable Life
January 9, 2005
My long time girlfriend died Friday. Except for a brief period, we'd been together for 11 years this week & have lived together most of that time. In addition to being my lover she'd also been a great friend and partner. She's been there to complete me and encourage me to improve myself.
She wrote a couple of articles for my website, specifically the Pithea & Second Edition article about Psionic Magic Items. She'd served as the inspiration for many article I wrote & I could always count on her to help me develop ideas.
In addition to enjoying D&D, it is through her sale of a huge box of Magic cards 11 years ago that a local comic store owner got interested in the game. You can read the whole story here. Say what you will about the game, in my eyes (and the eyes of many others I talked to today) through her literally hundreds of people have been learning a game has brought joy to their life (the store owner loves the game, teaches it to people all the time & even has a play area setup in his shop). The New Albany gaming community owes her a great deal, and in her memory the store owner has named his gaming room after her.
Sheryl had to overcome a lot of opsticals in her life. She was visually impared & had several other medical problems that have plagued her throughout her life including: gastral paresis, lupas, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and god knows what else that they never could diagnose. She was a graduate of Floyd Central High School & Marian College. She worked for several years at Green Valley Health Care. Unfortunately she'd been unable to work for the past 4 years due to her illnesses.
Survivors are a mother, father, brother and myself.
She will be missed by all who knew her.
If you'd like to express you condolences to me, you can email me at $email. I will try my best to answer any emails that come in.
If you've been touched by her story and would like to contribute something to her memory, the most appropriate place would be the Kentucky School for the Blind (in the name of Sheryl Heil) where she began her education and of whom she always spoke fondly.
If you don't see any updates for a while, it's because I just don't feel like it.
Truely Stunning Wallpapers
January 5, 2005
So Windows XP comes with a decent set of wallpapers by default, the best of which (in the majority opinion I've heard) is bliss. Here's a list of nature wallpapers that (in my opinion) kick bliss' butt:
- Grassy (Unlicence)
- BestOf:Hollborgson (Artistic 2.0)
- BestOf:Midsommarblomster (Artistic 2.0)
- Mt. Rainier (LGPL)
- FliessendeSteine (Artistic 2.0)
- Astrein (Artistic 2.0)
- BestOf:Unwetterhimmel (Artistic 2.0)
- Flowers Wallpaper Pack (Free for non commercial use, see package.)
- The Beauty of Nature (Creative Commons)
- Morning Mist (LGPL)
Most of these images are licenced in such a way that you can modify, distribute & use in many ways.
Copyright © 1998-2006 Phillip Riley
Last Updated Sat Aug 11, 2007