Saturday, May 30, 2015

How much rain are we getting in Texas?

The ants on our window just spelled out "WHERE IS EMBASSY?" followed by "WE NEED ASYLUM".

Kevin Costner just put his gills back on and bought a new boat.

The signs that say, "Do Not Cross If Water Is Above This Marker" are underwater.

So are most of our highways.

The elephants in the zoo are practicing snorkling with their trunks, and the monkeys are trying a to cut a deal to ride on the giraffes.

One of my friends just got a new boat. It was an F150.

Carnival is now offering cruises to downtown Houston.

There are fish on the biking trails... and caught in the chain-link fence.

"It's a golf course!"
"It's a marina!"
"It's a golf course *and* a marina!"

The ducks are finally preparing to implement their plan for world conquest.

There's an old guy in College Station wandering the streets with a hammer and nails and demanding to know how long a cubit is.

Friday, May 29, 2015

"How long can you tread water?"

There's been a lot of flooding around the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (and elsewhere in Texas). Here's a picture of Breckinridge Park in Richardson (a suburb of Dallas):


To really understand the scale, you have to realize that that's one of those waist-high trash cans off to the left of the gazebo in the "before" picture. It's the sort of structure that gets rented out for birthday parties and suchlike.

There are some impressive (and/or scary) videos floating around on YouTube as well.

Theme Music For North Texas

Courtesy of the Eurythmics:


They cancelled Field Day at my son's school. Seems they're not equipped for an Unexpected New Lake Day.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Music: Sheep Go To Heaven

...I can't believe I haven't posted this here before now. Apparently I haven't, though.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Welcome To The New Police State

I've been reading more about the Jade Helm / Martial Law / "invasion" theories, and the thing that fascinates me most is this: why do these people think that the federal (or state, or even local) government would require some sort of military exercise to impose harsh, restrictive laws on American citizens?

Such things could easily be (and have been, and are being) imposed through various legislatures and the courts. Human beings are adaptable; nobody is going to fight back if the changes are gradual enough, or can be written off as part of some noble effort. The War On Drugs, and its efforts to protect our freedom by jailing vast numbers of people for crimes that neither break their neighbor's legs nor pick their pockets, is an obvious and unlovely example of this. Why give away the game with a Dramatic Military Exercise?

It reeks of a poorly-run roleplaying game. The threat has to be obvious enough, dramatic enough, that even the Player Characters can recognize it. An esoteric legal decision? Who cares? Give us a military invasion, so we have something we can fight back against without having to think too hard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Random Dialogue: Old Time Religion.

Bah. You kids don't know what it's like. In the old days, everyone had an altar, or at least a Circle, right in the back yard -- and the blood on 'em was always fresh. What're ye doin' now, eh? Tithin'? Ye think the mightiest care about yer money? Settin' out bowls of milk? Ye think the true powers get thirsty for that? Never. Prayin'? Ye've given the ones ye petition nay reason t'listen t'you. Ye can do better. Ye can all do better. Bring back that old time religion, and I promise ye, ye'll see. Things ye can barely dream about these days, wonders and glories. Drench the world in blood and pain, and the things that dwell outside it will respond.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

That time... that horrible time, foretold in the prophecy... it has come. It falls upon us like an avalanche, a flood, a typhoon; encircles us like a brushfire; smashes us flat like a giant radioactive monster; eats our brains like a plague of zombies. It scatters our plans and reveals all our attempts at preparation for the vain and foolish things they are. There is nothing but this -- this devouring, consuming horror -- and no way to escape it, no way out but forward. We will strive, and some of us -- a fraction of a fraction -- may endure. We carry forward the hopes of a dying world, an abandoned family, a forgotten loft bed. We fall helplessly into...

...The Busy Season!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Forbidden Tomes of Eldritch Lore

We had to clean out some space on the shelves. In looking for things we could safely remove, we ran into a selection of old installation manuals that we'd put together a few years ago. We don't need them anymore, but for anyone who's wondered just how closely Information Technology work resembles Black Magic, well... here's a look at our grimoires:


Computer Science: Not That Different From Sorcery.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This is fascinating...

Okay, so: I may have mentioned my love for the Blood Omen / Legacy of Kain / Soul Reaver games already. If I haven't, well... they're awesome. They're old -- I played the original Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain title on the Playstation (one) -- but they're still awesome, and I've often wondered why they didn't do another one.

As it turns out... they did. Sort of. At least, they started to. It was going to be called Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, and they worked on it for something like three years -- long enough for it have a teaser trailer. Long enough that it's possible to watch half an hour of gameplay... from a title that was never published:



It doesn't look like a bad game. It isn't what I would have wanted from another Legacy of Kain storyline, though, and maybe that's what they meant when they said it was cancelled because it was "just wasn't the right game, at the right time." In that case, the problem isn't so much that it was the wrong game, but that it was the wrong direction for this particular milieu. That seems like a pity, and not just because a team of developers put three years of work into a product that was ultimately cancelled. As an independent IP, completely separated from the Legacy of Kain / Blood Omen titles, I think it could have been a lot of fun to play. (Admittedly, from what I've seen so far, I'm not sure how hard that would have been to do; but it seems like the game was mostly headed off in its own direction already, so changing it over to a different world with a similar setting seems like it should have been possible...)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Jade Helm and the Specter of Government Takeover

Jade Helm isn't really stirring up anything new. It's just providing a convenient lodestone for all the crazy that's already out there. Years ago, when I was driving on the stretch of I-35E between Dallas and Waxahachie, there were billboards -- big ones! -- with pictures of soldiers and tanks. "Could U.N. Troops Occupy Texas?" asked one. (Answer: No. U.N. troops can't keep order in an economically-collapsed country roughly the size of Rhode Island. They wouldn't stand a chance in Texas.) Another sign announced, "Marshall Law is coming!" (I don't know who Marshall Law is; I presume he's the rural equivalent of Judge Dredd.)

There was a phone number. I called it. The minister who answered sounded painfully embarrassed, but he insisted that the Bible said that this stuff was really going to happen. I explained about the need to verify one's spelling choices before purchasing large and presumably-expensive billboards with one's phone number on them. He thanked me stiffly and hung up.

There are people who are genuinely scared of this. (I suspect there are also people who are genuinely excited by it -- or at least excited by the prospect of taking up arms and turning back the tide. I further suspect that a lot of these are the same people.) They may not know how to spell Martial Law; they may not be entirely clear on what Martial Law actually is; they may not realize that the federal government has no need to take over Texas, since it already did so back in 1845 at the request of Texas. But they are out there, and they've been out there a long time.

Sleep Spells

Firstborn spent most of breakfast singing Soft Kitty in an attempt to put his mother and myself back to sleep.

I knew he'd use this power for evil.

Fortunately, I know a counterspell: Shake It Up.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A conversation in search of a setting...

Brother Wind sat on the stone bench and looked around the circle of his students. "Topic: Despite our apparent dominance, humanity's position on this world is actually quite precarious. Acolyte Frost?"

Frost leaned back and tilted her head, considering that: "Counterpoint," she said. "Most of the civilized kingdoms have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. That would seem to suggest a degree of stability."

Brother Wind smiled. "Acolyte Shimmer?"

Shimmer ran a hand through her unkempt black hair, pulling it back from her face. "Point: Adeara was nearly overrun during the Shroud War. If their allies had been any slower to respond, most of the middle kingdoms could have fallen. And that was a known fracture in a stable kingdom with an active military. How many unknown rifts are there, and what might be on the other side of them?"

"So the fractures are a danger." Brother Wind looked around. Shade was leaning forward, gray eyes intent. "Acolyte Shade?"

"Counterpoint," said Shade, firmly. "The fractures are also an opportunity. Half the wealth of Ulthir comes from trade through the fractures."

"True," said Brother Wind, "but how does that fit with our topic?"

Shade looked stubborn, but didn't answer. After a moment, Frost shifted her weight, and Brother Wind turned his attention to her.

"I think what Shade is trying to say is that trade through the fractures can also provide economic stability, which makes human existence less precarious. I'm not sure that's actually a rebuttal, but it is a consideration." Frost sat back, and Shade threw her a grateful look.

"It's a good consideration," Brother Wind acknowledged. "Acolyte Blaze?"

Blaze hesitated, momentarily unsure of which side he was supposed to be taking. "Counterpoint," he said finally. "Humanity has shown a remarkable ability to take things that should be threats, and adapt them to our own use. As long as we can do that, our position is more stable than it looks."

Brother Wind smiled. "Examples?"

Blaze shrugged. "I was thinking of the skyspikes, but the way Ulthir uses the rifts for trade would work, too."

Brother Wind turned to the last of his students. "Acolyte Somber?"

Somber had been listening, expressionless. Now he looked up, glanced at Blaze, and then said: "Point: we really don't know much about what's on the other side of fractures. Our dominance..." He paused, thinking. "We work together. We make tools. We have the mundane arts. We've been able to use those things to turn a lot of potential threats to our own use. Those are real advantages, but they would only go so far against something really powerful. The Chitter are just another nation today, but they arrived in an invasion at least as bloody as the Shroud War... and they don't even use tools. Are we in dire, immediate danger? Probably not. Is our position more precarious than it seems? Almost certainly."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015