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Monthly Archives: June 2017


Amazed Video Game Seats

For all you pareidolia fans. I took this photo, of a Jurassic Park video game. Click to embiggen:

The original. Hopefully more adept humorists can create better captions:

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T.H.O.W.A.C.K.

“You and your inventions!” Talia shouted at Thomas, as she blasted away a few more of the large, crab-like, training room drones with her pulse rifle. “And now of all times!”

“Those were the last ones, I think, for now,” Thomas reported from his crouched position next to Talia. When the first wave of drones emerged from the fog at the far side of the training room, the pair had taken cover behind the burnt-out hull of a semi-solid, holographic vehicle that had exploded long ago.

With his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, Thomas alternated between fiddling with the strange, pulse-enabled gloves he had spent weeks designing, and keeping lookout for more drones on the simulated, hazy horizon.

“Wrong!” Talia said, as two more drones, one behind another, came clicking out from behind the image of a broken foundation wall.

With her glowing-red rangefinding targeting reticle solidly trained on both of them, she sidestepped to the right, out from behind cover, and pulled the trigger. She had lined the shot up as best she could, and with a bit of luck, was able to take them both out with the last pulse round of her first clip.

But perhaps not? Talia heard scrape of metal-on-metal and the whirr of gear movement from underneath the prone carcass of the front drone. She approached her handiwork and found that the shot had taken out the three spider-legs on the left side of the drone in the back, but it was still functioning. She watched the drone spin in a crude circle on the ground as it struggled to stand upright with only half its legs intact. Talia flipped her rifle around and, drunk with irritation, buttstroked the glowing green eye on the drone’s cylindrical head until the light went out and its legs stood still.

The training room simulated a scene of urban decay under the sheet of a grey sky. Talia and Thomas had proceeded cautiously down a street of broken concrete littered with the remnants of destroyed civilian transport and war machinery when the first wave of drones appeared. Buildings had been stripped and blasted down to their bottom floors, with steel girders, gnarled and rusted, jutting up from the broken concrete and glass dust like the desperate fingers of the frozen dead.

Talia backtracked to Thomas, who sat with his back against the burnt-out vehicle. He appeared to have gotten one of his gloves to work: the blue-green pathways meshed into the glove glowed with active pulse power.

She released her spent magazine, replaced it with her second—and final—clip, crouched down, and got right in Thomas’ face.

“Listen, you stupid nerd,” Talia began. “Whatever you have planned with those toys of yours better work, especially since you didn’t bother to load out with a pulse rifle on an ammo-restriction exercise.” She slathered his surprised face with her grit-teeth indignation. “If you screw this up, those gloves are getting air locked, with you still attached to them. Understand, nerd?”

They heard the skittering of drones in the distance. Thomas scrambled to his feet. Talia trained her rifle down the road.

“The second wave?” Thomas asked.

“What else?”

“But so soon?”

Clusters of drones, absent of any attack formation of pattern of movement, spat out of the fog down near the far end of the training room, some crawling onto the road itself, some on the roadside, while a few drones threaded an erratic path among the ruins of the cityscape. The chorus of low, monotonous beeps—an indication of their attack mode—swelled in volume as they sped closer.

“Fall back and try to draw their fire!” Talia shouted as she shuffled backwards. “Try to group them together! And get those damn gloves of yours to do something!”

Sweat collected on Thomas’ brow as he plucked and twisted on the glove of his right hand. He followed Talia’s lead, also walking back and away from the closing wave of beeping drones.

“Get down!” Talia shouted from behind him. As though in reaction, his heel caught on a steel girder intruding into the road, and he stumbled onto his backside. The glow of blue-green pulse rounds flew directly over his head and into the advancing bodies of a group of drones.

Now fully on his back, Thomas wrangled with his inactive glove and felt his wrist starting to sprain. Talia fired off a few more controlled bursts, while more than a few low-energy pulse rounds were fired off by the drones in their general direction.

“Thomas!” she shouted. The ammunition counter on her reticle was rapidly diminishing. “Now or never! Almost at zero!”

Desperate, Thomas punched the glove right in the palm. It sputtered and sprang to life with pulse energy flowing freely through its embedded conduits.

“Got it!” Thomas said. He sprang to his feet, hands aloft. “Talia, your turn to duck!”

“What!?”

Thomas swung his arms back, settled into a solid stance and tensed his open hands like claws, as though he was preparing to sprint into an immense wind. Pulse energy began to swirl in a circle on the ground around him. Many drones simply stopped advancing and instead focused on pure attacks. A few pulse rounds nearly hit Thomas, and one grazed the corner of his lab coat. Talia sought cover behind a brick wall.

“The Hands of War and Constant Killing!…” Thomas incanted grandly.

“T.H.W.A.C.K.”? Talia thought. What is going on here?

“Activate!”

With curiosity, Talia stepped out from behind the brick wall and just behind Thomas to provide covering fire for him. A curved slab of metal—the torso of a defeated drone from the first wave— flew right past her to hover right in front of Thomas, held up by undulating, crackling strands of pulse energy. The drone’s pulse rounds bounced harmlessly off the shield with light pings. Thomas’s held his arms straight out in front of him, palms forward, puppeteering the shield in the air.

“T.H.O.W.A.C.K!” Thomas shouted.

“Er, I don’t think you include the ‘of’ when—”

“Activate: Pulse-Ionic Spinning Slaughter!”

“You know what that spells out, right?”

Thomas bent his arms and shoved his gloved hands out, and the slab of metal, guided once again by the blue-green pulse waves, shot out and slammed into two drones rushing towards them. With a simple clockwise rotation of his outstretched arms, the metal piece spun like an untethered blender blade, sending drone shards skidding past their feet and arcing over their heads.

Thomas shifted to direct his improvised weapon to other advancing drones, scattering them into trash in short order. It became such a distracting lethality that the drones began firing at it instead of Thomas or Talia.

With the second wave of drones completely destroyed, Thomas let his arms rest at his side. The spinning slab of metal fell to the ground some distance away, atop a pile of drone garbage.

“How many rounds do you have left?” Thomas asked in an unnecessarily quiet voice.

“What?”

“How many rounds do you have left?”

“Two,” she guessed. Did it matter at this point? She exulted silently during his theatrical interim; she didn’t want to let on that the training’s outcome appeared to be more positive than she expected. It wasn’t over yet.

“Drop your rifle,” Thomas said. “You won’t need it now.”

“I don’t think so.”

“T.H.O.W.A.C.K!” Thomas yelled, raising his hands high in the air again.

Oh, brother.

“Activate: Automatic Systemic Self-replication!”

Talia snorted. “You really need to work on these names.”

The pulse energy swirled all around Thomas and enveloped him in a spiral of seafoam light. The pulse energy then radiated out from his upraised gloves in all directions. Talia waited. It all seemed to dissipate. Thomas did nothing.

Clanging, crunching, falling metal reverberated through the training room. Was it the next wave of drones? The sound was a little too disorganized. Talia turned around and saw bits and plates of metal and pulse electronics raising up out of the urban rubble to coalesce in separate groups, about as large as an adult male, in mid-air. Metal chunks, jagged gears, and strings of sparking wires all arose and configured themselves to form a cadre of about a dozen metallic hands, perfect enlarged replicas of Thomas’ own wondrous gloves.

Talia turned back to Thomas. “Impressive, but what are a bunch of huge hands going to do against drones?—which, by the way, have already deployed.”

She pointed off to the distance in front of them, but he merely grinned and raised a hand. “Have a seat and enjoy the show.”

“Again, I don’t think so.”

Something forcefully bumped against Talia, from behind, and lifted her up off the ground by the arms. She looked back; one of the enlarged gloved had caught her up in its grasp.

Another one of the glove clones hovered past the both of them. With his one glove still raised to control Talia’s new improvised chair, Thomas pointed his other glove toward the oncoming advance of drones, and the enlarged gloved mirrored the gesture. Thomas uttered another ridiculously overwrought command that Talia couldn’t quite make out. A holographic reticle flashed right in front of his index finger with the word “LOCK” in its upper quadrant. Behind her, she could hear the telltale whiny pitch of pulse energy, probably propelling the rest of the enlarged gloves forward to meet their enemies.

Talia struggled to slip off of her forced perch between the glove’s fingers, but soon stopped. She bristled at having to finally cede credit to his persistence through comical engineering failure after engineering failure, but for all of his pomposity and melodrama, she had to admit Thomas’ new weapon wasn’t so bad after all.

Artwork: Catapult by Zhaoyuan Pan
Thanks to Graham for his help.

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App Idea: Sanctus Bells

I went to a wedding this weekend, and the silence of no sanctus bells during the consecration was noticeable. Why not an app for that? There’s nothing in Google Play nor the Apple Store. Sanctus bells aren’t cheap, and they pack a loud punch. The enterprising altar boy can easily connect to the church’s PA system via Bluetooth and operate his phone’s shake event detection discretely inside his surplice sleeves.

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Awesome Comics I Made

These were published way back when I had a Xanga account. I was totally on point with these. Not sure what happened to the #1.

Click to embiggen and make bigly.

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Dickens on Philosophers

From Chapter 2 of Oliver Twist:

The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophical men; and when they came to turn their attention to the workhouse, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would never have discovered—the poor people liked it! It was a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where there was nothing to pay; a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round; a brick and mortar elysium, where it was all play and no work. ‘Oho!’ said the board, looking very knowing; ‘we are the fellows to set this to rights; we’ll stop it all, in no time.’ So, they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they), of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with the water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water; and with a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal; and issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll of Sundays. They made a great many other wise and humane regulations, having reference to the ladies, which it is not necessary to repeat; kindly undertook to divorce poor married people, in consequence of the great expense of a suit in Doctors’ Commons; and, instead of compelling a man to support his family, as they had theretofore done, took his family away from him, and made him a bachelor! There is no saying how many applicants for relief, under these last two heads, might have started up in all classes of society, if it had not been coupled with the workhouse; but the board were long-headed men, and had provided for this difficulty. The relief was inseparable from the workhouse and the gruel; and that frightened people.

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 22

The Great Chain of Linking, Part 2
Please welcome Graham to the world of curated link list creation on the Internet, as though there are no other places to find links such as these.

Moist Meter: Wonder Woman
The best review of Wonder Woman. Don’t watch it if you’re scared of bad words.

The Truth About Wonder Woman
Another good review, but see this comment on the video for counterpoint. From what I’ve read so far about the movie, people are saying it’s sexist because there’s tons of men getting killed in horrible situations on screen while barely any women are, which completely fails the Jay Test. Just kidding! It’s because Wonder Woman doesn’t have hairy armpits and isn’t black—two way more important issues in my book.

Grilling
While I’m on this topic, Jill is always good for a laugh. The reason men become sexist in front of a grill is because naw actually I don’t need to think or care about it and why do I bother reading about the asinine things affluent people think about. That’s why.

History for Atheists – New Atheists Getting History Wrong!
A very knowledgeable friend of mine started this site. Too much good info in there to pass up.

PULP-O-MIZER: the custom pulp magazine cover generator
A dashing, daring, weird adventure in graphic design.

Ergo Proxy explained
Definitely explained.

How Grass Benefits the Environment
Lawns aren’t ideal, but they’re not the radioactive death-swamps some people make them out to be.

To Run Better, Start by Ditching Your Nikes
Running shoes will kill you if you run in them, but minimalist shoes are expensive and can be butt-ugly, like those Vibrams pictured in the article. I run in $15 DBX water shoes.

The Only Guide You Need To Setup BlogSpot Custom Domain
For those of us who are kept up at night wondering about these things. Also, here’s a good guide for setting up a custom domain for a site hosted on GitHub pages, because the official documentation sends you in annoying circles.

Living Sacrifice “Reborn” Special
Reborn turned 20 years old earlier this month. Seems like only yesterday…

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Slapping Joseph Conrad’s Editor in the Neck

Because he thought having a protagonist tell the whole story, through dialogue, that should’ve just been left as narration was a good idea. And he thought it was another good idea for the protagonist-narrator speak just like Joseph Conrad writes, which is nearly impossible given for anyone, much less someone not trained in elocution, large-content memorization, and pathologically inclined to break basic social etiquette. And because he thought other in-story characters wouldn’t just get up and drown themselves in the disease-riddled Congo after he told maybe a few pages’ worth of his past and write him off as crazy and not just an oddball. And because he thought readers wouldn’t be wondering when the guy is going to shut the hell up and get back to the present and get on with the story. At least Ayn Rand had the good sense to make chapter-long speeches actual speeches and not impossibly well-constructed oral storytelling rants from a 19th/20th century seaman.

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Faster Than Light


He was on edge all week from finals. Miko had sensed it, and urged him up to the hilltop on a cool weekday night on a break, away from the campus lights. He watched, weary and passive, as she assembled the telescope, her pale deft hands grasping and flicking in the light of a bright moon. The textbooks and graph paper returned their pulled at him. Miko told him to lighten up for once. She droned on excitedly about the constellated astro-arrangements, galactic formation types, and the life-cycles of nebular she was currently learning—all the intermediate-level phenomena with which he would be acquainted but not intimate. She spoke of a paradox she had read about, concerning velocities of objects passing through LaGrange points. The bones on the back of her hand raised and twitched with each twist of focus dial, and the mention of equal gravitational pulls brought him back to life. He looked up at the full celectial display and, sweeping his gaze in a full circumference across the entire span of Creation, formulated a paradox of his own.

Artwork: 君は月夜に光り輝 (“You shine on the moonlit night”) by Loundraw

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Public Service Announcement: Yes, Virgin Mobile Soiled Its Drawers

Virgin Mobile towers are down. I heard that things won’t be back up for another 72 hours…so no calls or texts if you’re on their network. VM’s site doesn’t mention it at all.

Here’s a screenshot of the outages, from Down Detector. Notice the large red monstrosity over my area, Pittsburgh. Regardless, the outage looks pretty widespread:

UPDATE, 6/3/17 – 12:32 PM: I’m able to text and call now, but the outage map is getting worse.

UPDATE, 6/4/17 – 8:23 AM: Things seem back to normal on my end. Down Detector areas are mostly yellow now—I’m not sure what it’s supposed to look like when systems are nominal, though.

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