Thursday, November 30, 2006

Short Posting...

My monitor is giving out. So, I have to give a new one...

So, short postings for next few days, as I've ordered a nice new LCD monitor via

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Long But Good Read

Thomas Kratman, whom has written some very neat sci-fi, has just had the eARC for his latest collaborative work with John Ringo published. In it, he deals with one of the major threats of our time-the Transnational Progressives, aka the Tranzis. This is the afterwords for Yellow Eyes, and all the usual caviats apply (printed with permission and will remove if permission is removed...)

Both John and Tom have served in the Republic of Panama, John for some weeks while attending the Jungle School at Fort Sherman, Tom for four and a half years with Fourth Battalion, Tenth Infantry (as a sergeant) and Third Battalion, Fifth Infantry (as a lieutenant). Tom says, “If the place where you were happiest in life is home, then my home is Fort William D. Davis, Panama Canal Zone, with the 4th of the 10th Infantry, from 1977 to 1978.”
It’s a magic place, Panama, and we highly encourage our readers, or anyone, to visit it. (Did we play some games with the terrain in support of the story? You betcha. But Panama is still a great, wonderful and very beautiful place.)

Can they fight, though? Is the portrayal of the defense in the book realistic? After all, the United States took them down in a bit over twenty-four hours back in 1989. How good could they be?

And that is an interesting question. In 1989, in Operation Just Cause, the United States launched a sudden and surprise attack on the then existing Panama Defense Forces and did crush those forces in about a day, picking off holdouts over the next 3-4 days. This would not appear to be a great recommendation.
That is, it doesn’t appear to be until you look at the particulars. We hit them in the night, where we have an overwhelming technological advantage. We hit them with little or no tactical warning. We hit them with greater, and in places overwhelming, numbers and overwhelming firepower, even though the use of that firepower was somewhat restrained. Further, we hit them with complete air supremacy and used that air supremacy to deliver, over and above the rather large forces we had in Panama already, three of the best trained, most lethal infantry battalions in the world, the three battalions of the 75th Infantry (Ranger) (Airborne). More forces followed on, later, as well.

The wonder is not that we took them down in a day, but that they were able to hang on that long. Indeed, if there’s any wonder in the story it’s that, even when abandoned by some (one remarkably loathsome and cowardly wretch, in particular…West Point…Class of 1980) of their US trained officers, the others held on and fought.

The wonder is that at their Comandancia, parts of a couple of Panamanian infantry companies fought against hopeless odds, nearly to the last man. There were only five prisoners taken there; and all of those were wounded. The rest, true to their duty, died in place. Moreover, they drove us out of the compound more than once before they were finally subdued. There were more Texan prisoners taken at the Alamo.

The wonder is that, despite all those disadvantages, the PDF managed to inflict about three casualties on us for every four they took.

Did we mention that some young Panamanian kids with almost no time in uniform kicked the bejesus out of a US Navy SEAL team?

So, yes, they’re a tough and a brave people, well within the western military tradition, and – properly armed and trained – they can fight.

Of course, the western military tradition, outside of the US and UK, isn’t what it used to be. Oh, the formations are still there, some of them. The weapons are, if anything, better than ever. Even the men – and women, too, of course – still have much of what made the West great inside them.
Unfortunately, the West itself has largely fallen under the control of civilization Dr. Kevorkians. Some call them “Tranzis.”

“Tranzi” is short for “Transnational Progressive” or “Transnational Progressivism”. For a more complete account of their program, look up John O’Sullivan’s Gulliver’s Travails or some of what Stephen den Beste has written on the subject. You might, dear Reader, also look at John Fonte’s The Ideological War within the West. Lastly, for purposes of this little essay, look up Lee Harris’ The Intellectual Origins of America Bashing. These should give you a good grounding in Tranzism: its motives, goals and operating techniques. All can be found on line.
For now, suffice to say that Tranzism is the successor ideology to failed and discredited Marxist-Leninism. Many of the most prominent Tranzis are, in fact, “former” members of various communist parties, especially European communist parties. These have taken the failure of the Soviet Union personally and hard, and, brother, are they bitter about it.

Nonetheless, our purpose here is not to write up “Tranzism 101”. It is to illustrate the Tranzi approach to the laws of war.

That’s right, boys and girls. Pull up a chair. Grab a stool. Cop a squat. Light ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. (If not, bum ‘em off Ringo; Kratman’s fresh out.)
It’s lecture time.

One of the difficult things about analyzing Tranzis and their works is that they are not a conspiracy. What they are is a consensus. Don’t be contemptuous; civilization is nothing more than a consensus. So is barbarism. Moreover, the Tranzis are a fairly cohesive consensus, especially on certain ultimate core issues. Nonetheless, if you are looking for absolute logical consistency on the part of Tranzis you will search in vain.

On the other hand, at the highest level, the ultimate Tranzi goal, there is complete agreement. They want an end to national sovereignty and they want global governance by an unelected, self-chosen “elite”. Much of what they say and do will make no sense, even in Tranzi terms, unless that is borne in mind.

Below that ultimate level one cannot expect tactical logical consistency. Things are neither good nor bad, true nor false, except insofar as they support the ultimate Tranzi goal.

For example, if one were to ask a Tranzi, and especially a female and feminist Tranzi, about the propriety of men having any say over a woman’s right to an abortion the Tranzi would probably be scandalized. After all, men don’t even have babies. They know nothing about the subject from the inside, so to speak. Why should they have any say?
Nonetheless, that same Tranzi, if asked whether international lawyers and judges, and humanitarian activist non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, should have the final say in the laws of war, would certainly approve. This is true despite the fact that the next lawyer, judge or NGO that understands as much about war as a man understands about childbirth will likely be the first.
Why do we say they know nothing about the subject? By their works shall you know them.

The International Criminal Court is, after the UN and European Union, the next most significant Tranzi project (Kyoto being dead on arrival) and arguably the most significant with regard to the laws of war. A majority, if a bare one, of the world’s sovereign states have signed onto it while about half have ratified it.

The ICC claims jurisdiction over all the crimes mentioned in its founding statute, irrespective of who committed them, where they were committed, or whether the “crimes” are actually criminal under the traditional and customary law of war. This is called, “Universal Jurisdiction.”
Universal Jurisdiction, as a concept, has a number of flaws. Among these are that it has zero valid legal precedence behind it.

Zero precedence? Tranzis will cite at least two precedents. One of these is the jurisdiction exercised from times immemorial by any sovereign power over pirates at sea, when any were caught. The other is Nuremberg. These are flawed. In the case of Nuremberg, the jurisdiction exercised was not “Universal” but national jurisdiction of the coalition of the victors over a Germany whose sovereignty had been temporarily extinguished by crushing defeat in war.

The piracy precedent as applied to modern notions of universal jurisdiction doesn’t stand close scrutiny any better. The Tranzis claim that universal jurisdiction was exercised over piracy because piracy was, in its conduct and effect, so ghastly. This is wrong on both counts. In the first place, pirates were not necessarily subject to universal jurisdiction except insofar as they were caught where national jurisdiction did not run; typically at sea, in other words. Moreover, alongside piracy there existed privateering. In their conduct the two were often enough indistinguishable. In other words, however “’ghastly” privateering may have been – and the former residents of Portobello and Panama City could have told one it could be ghastly, indeed – it was still not subject to universal jurisdiction. No matter that piracy was no worse than privateering, it was so subject. The difference was that sovereign powers, nation-states in other words, exercised sovereign jurisdiction over privateers, were responsible for their actions, and punished them at need, while they did not and could not with pirates. It was the lack of sovereign jurisdiction, both as to their persons and as to the locus of their crimes, that left pirates open to universal jurisdiction and not any supposed “ghastliness” of those crimes.

Along with the lack of valid legal precedence, the ICC and universal jurisdiction suffer other flaws. Recall, dear reader, the lack of Tranzi logical consistency on the questions posed above about abortion and the laws of war.
Anti-imperialism is yet another Tranzi tactical cause. But what is imperialism beyond one or several states or people using force or color of law to make rules for another or other state or people? And what is the ICC, using all the staggering moral and military power of…oh….Fiji… France… West Fuckistan…but the attempt at enforcing rules made by one group of states upon others? It’s Imperialism, in other words.

Of course, imperialism in the service of a higher cause – the raising of unelected, self-styled, global elites to power, for example – is praiseworthy, in Tranzi terms.

Nothing deterred, the Tranzis claim that Tranzi courts, to include notionally national Tranzi courts like those of Spain, have universal jurisdiction. Why?
Tranzis hate national sovereignty. It cramps their style. It interferes with their program. It’s aesthetically unappealing.

Their goal is the destruction of national sovereignty. The right of a people to democratically make their own laws, to govern themselves, is anathema to Tranzi goals and dreams. When they say “Global Governance,” boys and girls, they mean it. They really intend that unelected bureaucrats and judges, and self-selected elites ought be able to tell you what to do, how to live, what to pay in taxes, what rights you are not entitled to.

Sovereignty stands in the way. The ultimate expression of sovereignty is a nation’s and people’s armed forces. No army; no ability to defend one’s own laws and way of life; no sovereignty.

But how to do away with sovereign control of national armed forces? It’s a toughie. They’ve got all these guns and shit, while the poor Tranzis have none.

“Aha! We know,” say the Tranzis. “We can control a nation’s armed forces if we can punish the soldiers and especially the officers and a nation refuses to stand up and defend them. No nation which permits a foreign court to exercise jurisdiction over its military can any longer be said to own that military. Instead, that military will be owned by the courts able to punish the leaders. Onward, into the future, Comrade’s!”

Let them punish your soldiers and the soldiers can no longer be counted upon to defend the nation. Nor would you deserve being defended by your soldiers. Let them punish the soldiers and there is no principled distinction to prevent them punishing the president, the legislature, even the Supreme Court. For who would defend the president, legislature and courts once the same have let down their soldiers? Let them punish your soldiers and you deserve what you get…and to lose what you will lose.

It would be one thing if the ICC were something more than a misguided exercise in legalistic Tranzi mutual masturbation; if it could, in other words, be effective in limiting the horrors of war.

It cannot be effective. Ever.

This is because of the very nature of war itself. There is nothing a court can do that, in terms of punishment that deters, even begins to approach the horror men inflict on each other in war, routinely, in the course of normal and legal operations. There is nothing any court can do that can even hope to catch the interest of tired men, hungry men, men fighting for victory and their lives. No sensible court would even try.

There is some conduct which cannot be deterred. When life is at stake, the law recognizes no “no trespassing” signs. When the choice is between picking pockets at a mass hanging of pickpockets, and risking the noose, or facing slow starvation…well…at least the rope is fairly quick.
Similarly, when the choice on the battlefield is life or death, what power has some uncertain court distant in both time and space to deter anything? The simple answer is; it has none. What trivial power has the law with its trivial possible punishments to deter conduct that might save soldiers’ lives, their comrades’ and their country’s in the here and now?

Yet we can see that, however imperfectly, the customary law of war has often worked – even without any such body as the ICC and without Spain’s recent disgusting, illegal, morally putrescent attempt at exercising sovereignty over American soldiers. It has worked imperfectly, to be sure. Yet it has worked often enough…indeed, within western war it has worked more often than not.

Where the laws of war have worked to mitigate the horror and protect innocent life they have, by and large, done so when the combatants were of the same culture, shared the same values, and had what we might like to think of as a basic decency.

That’s rarely been quite enough. It needed a little something else, some other reason to follow the rules.
The other reason was the threat and fear of reprisals.
Tranzis hate reprisals, which are war crimes in themselves but war crimes which become legal in order to punish an enemy who violates the law of war, deter him from violating it, and remove the advantages which accrue from such violations. The Tranzis don’t hate reprisals merely because they’re ugly, cause suffering of innocents, etc., though they hate them for those reasons, too. No, Tranzis hate reprisals because reprisals work to enforce the laws of war and their own silly courts fail.

Reprisals work? You’re kidding us, right?

Wrong. Why wasn’t poisonous gas used in the Second World War? The threat of reprisal. What happened when, in 1944, the Germans threatened to execute some numbers of French resistance fighters and the French Resistance, which was holding many German prisoners, answered, “We will kill one for one”? The French prisoners held by the Germans were left unharmed. Why didn’t the Southern Confederacy during the American Civil War execute the white officers of black regiments as they had passed a law to do? Because the Union credibly threatened to hang a white southern officer for every man of theirs so mistreated. Why didn’t the United States or South Vietnam execute, generally, Viet Cong guerillas who had gravely violated the laws of war in the course of the insurgency there? Because the North Vietnamese had prisoners against whom they would have reprised had we or the South Vietnamese done so.
Reprisals work; courts and statutes do not. The law of war, because of the nature of war, must be self enforcing, through reprisals. Nothing else can work and any attempt to do away with reprisal is an indirect attack on and undermining of the law of war.

But then, the law of war and mitigating its horrors are not really what the Tranzis are about. Undermining national sovereignty? Replacing sovereign nations with themselves? That’s what they’re about.

The Tranzis aren’t about eliminating war’s horrors? Oh, John, Oh, Tom…say it isn’t so.

(Interject dual sigh at the vast iniquity of mankind here.)
It’s so.

Recall that we mentioned that Tranzism is the successor philosophy to Marxist-Leninism. It should come as no great surprise, then, that one of the key pieces of Tranzi legislation on the law of war should have been sponsored and forced into existence by…wait for it….wait for it….THE SOVIET UNION.

This key piece of Tranzi legislating on the law of war was Additional Protocol I to Geneva Convention IV. The Protocol itself was shoved through by the Soviets at a time when it looked like Peoples Revolutionary War (guerilla war…communist insurgency) would continue to be a powerful weapon to advance the cause of communism. The United States has never ratified it and, pray God, it never shall. The Russians, who forced it through, have never payed it the slsightest attention as witnessed by their conduct in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 and, more recently, in Chechnya.

The Protocol is interesting for three reasons: what it purports to do, what it actually does, and for the admittedly slick way in which it tries to do it.
The slickness is in the way the Protocol is structured. It begins with a pious preamble, typically enough. That isn’t the slick part. What is clever is that it repeats much of what was already in Geneva Convention IV (GC IV), which is concerned with the protection of civilians caught up in war (as is the Protocol), and then interweaves some very new things. The new things include major advantages, given gratis, to guerillas and especially communist guerillas, a broad ban on the use of what it calls “mercenaries,” one rather unreasonable restriction on the use of food as a weapon and a subtle way of saying “It’s okay to push the Zionist beasts into the sea.”

Then, when a nation refuses to ratify the Additional Protocol for any of the at least five really good reasons not to do so, it stands accused of anything from being in favor of mass rape to forced medical experiments a la Josef Mengele. Never mind that all that is prohibited by the original GC IV and that the Additional Protocol adds nothing of importance. “You refuse to ratify the Additional Protocol? You Nazi bastards!”

Are these guys slick or what?

As to what the Protocol is supposed to do, protect civilians, one has to wonder. It is part of the traditional law of war that, in case of a siege, a city may have its food cut off and civilians attempting to escape may be fired upon, even killed, to drive them back to eat up the food. This is cruel to be sure, an “extreme measure” as the USArmy’s manual on the subject admits. Cruel or not, this was upheld in the late 40s in the case of United States v. Ritter von Leeb and is still – up to a point – good law, outside of Tranzidom. Geneva Convention IV ameliorated this harsh rule, and reasonably so, by requiring that some evacuations for particular reasons (maternity, infancy, infirmity, for example) be allowed.
The Protocol, however, does not allow food to be cut off or civilians to be driven back into a besieged town to eat up whatever food is there. Naturally, one cannot permit food to enter without at the same time feeding the garrison, which will ensure for itself that it eats first. Therefore, the besieger has a choice, sit there forever – which is generally impractical – or take the place by assault. Now imagine what will happen to the civilians if the town is stormed, when every room receives its donation of grenade and bullet. And this is supposed to protect them? Starvation, at least, while unpleasant, offered a good chance for a besieged town to fall after a few lean days without the massacre intendant on an assault.

What then is the purpose of the Additional Protocol? It is to disadvantage the west, to reduce its military power, thus to reduce its sovereignty. Since being forced into existence by the Soviets the Protocol has had no other purpose.

The law of war nowhere mentions the phrase “illegal combatants.” Tranzis will tell you that, therefore, there is no such thing. This is false.

There is a legal principal, a Latin expression, “Expresio unius exclusio alterius est,” the inclusion of one is the exclusion of the other. While the law of war does not mention “illegal combatants,” it goes to some length to explain what is required to be a legal combatant. If there is such a concept as legal combatancy, and rules which must be followed to attain that status, then failure to follow those rules places one in the implicit status of illegal combatant.

Those rules are four. To be a legal combatant under the original Geneva Convention, which is quite different from the Additional Protocol to which the United States is not a party, one must a) wear a fixed insignia recognizable at a distance, b) carry arms openly, c) be under the command of a person or chain of command responsible for your actions (much like a privateer was under a sovereign and a pirate, again, was not), and d) conduct operations in accordance with the customs and laws of war. Failure to meet any of these conditions makes one an illegal combatant.

Note, here, that individuals do not “conduct operations.” Organizations conduct operations. This implies that one is responsible for the actions of one’s organization as well as for one’s own.

Can you hear the sound of Tranzi heads exploding over that last?

They might seem to have a point. Civil law normally doesn’t permit people to held responsible for the actions of others, right? Wrong. Look up “conspiracy.” Once someone becomes part of a conspiracy they become responsible for everything their co-conspirators do.

Moreover, within the law of war’s concept of reprisal perfect innocents may be effectively responsible for what their side does. After all, what happens when a side violates the law by using a hospital, say, for an ammunition dump? The perfectly innocent and otherwise protected wounded are blasted from this world to the next in reprisal.

Equally so, within an armed force, both by “d)”, above, and under the practical effect of the doctrine of reprisal a combatant is responsible for both his own actions and those of his organization.

It works the other way, too, by the way. Note that General Yamashita was hanged not for anything he ordered or could have prevented but for things subelements only notionally under his command did.

What does this mean for the current war? It means that every Saudi kid, inspired to go to Iraq to fight by watching some truck driver’s head sawed of on Al Jazeera, has – in civil law terms - voluntarily joined a conspiracy to fight illegally and is thus an illegal combatant and that – in law of war terms – he is an illegal combatant even if he personally follows the rules completely.

Those who would grant him legal combatant status, the Tranzis in other words, thus are trying to improve and enhance the effectiveness of those who would and do violate the law of war.

This is something you would expect from an enemy, right?

So what can we do? What would John and Tom like to see done?

Number One: Never forget that the Tranzi purpose is inimical to our own, that they are the enemy as much as Hitler was or al Qaeda is. They want us, as a distinct nation and people, to cease to exist. They want our constitution overthrown or made subordinate to their law, which amounts to the same thing. They want our military made subordinate to their judges, so that it can be undermined and made unable or unwilling to defend us. They want us to lose our wars.

Number Two: Remembering that the Tranzis are the enemy, give them no aid, no money, no support. Do not give them a foothold into the armed forces and if such foothold exists (say, in the form of an institute devoted to peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance) close it down. Audit the Tranzis' books; they’re as corrupt as imaginable and could not well stand auditing. They tend to lie, especially to raise money. Require that their charitable activities advertise truthfully and punish them when they do not. Jail a few of the bastards. On second thought jail a lot of the bastards. Remove their tax exempt status on the first whiff of impropriety. When the ultimate Tranzi organization, the UN, cheats the Iraqi people and hides the details of the thefts withhold the funds otherwise due to the UN and pay it to the Iraqis instead…with no chance of ever making good to the UN any such amounts withheld and given.

Number Three: Did you know that the United States has what amounts to a conditional declaration of war in place should anyone have the gall to grab one of our soldiers to turn over to the ICC or some other Tranzi court? It’s called the American Servicemembers Protection Act and it passed unanimously in the Senate. (Sometimes your country just makes you proud.) We should look for an opportunity to exercise that law…and sometime soon. Spain might be a good place to start.

Number Four: Even when we have them on the ropes do not let up. Finish them off. Make the Tranzi organizations extinct and the parasites who live off of them spend the remainder of their days poor and hungry. Do not weep for the Tranzis.

Number Five: Don’t, don’t, DON’T give up hope. The Tranzis are not going to win. Their center of gravity, Europe, is dying to demographics. Within the United States and with our own Tranzis much the same thing is happening regionally and sub-culturally. The prize Tranzi projects, the UN and EU, are staggering under a burden of incompetence, ineffectuality and corruption. Moreover, say what you will about Muslim extremists, they’re still damned good at demonstrating to the world outside of Europe what happens when you let the Tranzis take over.

By the way, Tom and John intend to fight the bastards all the way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snagged A Nintendo DS...

...last week, a sort of "Christmas to Me" present, and got a copy of Final Fantasy III.

I pretty much expected it to be a "play a bit, mostly on BART" sort of thing...but, it's gotten quite cool and fun.

It feels like what I got into video games for-not quite a quick fix, but gaming pared down to the basics. It's old-school in the biggest regard-you just pick it up, and play. No 200+ page manual to try and work through, no load times, no cut-scenes that you suspect they put on the game to try and add content to fill up the space. No massive, esoteric plots to try and work through, because there isn't any space to mess around with those sorts of things.

Hell, I can even quit half-way in the middle of a boss battle, because it's not going to take me three hours to get through a un-interruptable cut-scene to finally get back to the boss monster. The DS isn't perfect, I got one with just one pixel stuck on in blue (and, it's just ONE, so I can't bitch too much). But, damn it, I like it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Why Do People Look At Me Funny...

...when I suggest that Pierce Brosnan is one of the best Bonds, at least in the top two, right up there with Sean Connery in terms of "Best Bond"? And, Daniel Craig merely ties Pierce Brosnan?

Why? Sean Connery played Bond as cool and kind of sadistic, which was interesting. Brosnan was a little boy lost, a Peter Pan sort of man that, in the words of one of his villans, "I might as well ask if all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed... or if you've found forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for the dead ones you failed to protect?" (And, I keep thinking that Sean Bean deserves much better roles than what he gets, very often...).

The Daniel Craig Bond believes in nothing but his own skill and the mission, and wants to find something to believe in beyond that. He knows the mortality rate of his job, and wants something that can be called "a glory greater than ourselves".

I could never get into the Moore Bond, whom seemed way too Disco for my tastes. George Lazenby...of him, I feel so very sorry. He had one of the best Bonds, and it didn't work out for him. And, Timothy Dalton's Bond was one that should have been a contender, but it was like God and the plot was against him.

And, it turns out that John Scalzi agrees with me...

Running The Convention Circuit...

For the people I know and care about, conventions are life savers.

If it wasn't for conventions, I'm convinced that most of the sci-fi/fantasy community would be so sexually frustrated that they would explode spontaniously. For most geeks, going to a convention means that we're around people that get the jokes, and after dealing with muggles daily, that is always a good thing.

Since I live near enough to the Silicon Valley, I have a few to go to/choose from. Let's usual run is...
  • Further Confusion-Yep, it is a furry con. Always has a cool dealer's room. And, since a lot of the furries and fursuiter are gay men, my odds go up signifigantly in my favor for female nookie. This year, I'm running the staff feed, which means lots of food...lots.
  • DunDraCon-The con I started out with when I was a snot-nosed punk, years and years ago. Low girl numbers, but often neat dealer's room stuff. Good games on occasion, too.
  • The Troika-What I call the three Memorial Day weekend conventions-KublaCon, BayCon, and FanimeCon. All have their advantages and disadvntages. KublaCon is mostly gaming, which means I can usually find a game, but they have a heavy emphasis on miniatures and CCG events. Minatures are, to me, nothing more than another rathole to pour disposable income down (*cough*Games Workshop*cough*), and CCGs tend to resemble the Cold War-that you're trying to outspend your opponent.

    BayCon has awesome party rooms, an excellent chance for nookie, good dealer's rooms, occasionally good panels, and they are not going to have it at the Hotel That Shall Not Be Named (aka the Doubletree in San Jose). BayCon, however, is one of the most expensive cons I could go to, they are now in a new hotel which always means fun and excitement in dealing with new things, and the occasional interface of politics and fandom is a safe distance.

    And, Fanime? When I realized that some of the hottest female cosplayers where barely jailbait age or below, interesting stuff in the Dealer's Room and the occasional neat panel presents a problem...
  • SiliCon-Sort of my "home" convention, it's reasonably quiet, and they have good stuff. Last year kind of sucked, but I think that was more due to the fact that you had both the Northern Rennisance Faire and Fleet Week the same weekends, which drew off a lot of people. This year (2007), I think will be better because they're doing a lot of retooling. That, and I'm working it, too.
God Bless Conventions. If I didn't have them, I'd probably be looking at high belltowers now.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Earth's Units

Taking some more ideas from the previous design concepts, I present the (tenative) Earth army and unit list. All the usual caviats apply (names and concepts may change as time goes by, etc, etc)...

Tier One-
-The Human Commander is unique in three regards. First, it is the ONLY commander that is deployed initially on the battlefield. Second, it's the only one that can build Tier One structures. And, third, it has the most powerful (if short ranged) weapon short of Tier Three Superheavy units in the form of the Quantum Gun. Can be upgraded with various improvements that include shield generators and remote drones.
Game Text-"Encased in a body of steel, the Commander's downloaded brain patterns figure out the fastest way to defeat the enemies of Mankind and ensure that humans can return to the surface. It's quantum gun is feared for it's annilating power."
Builder-Built at the HQ, can build Tier One, Two, and Three structures. Can be upgraded for faster building of structures, unit repairs, and the ability to salvage wrecks for technology (reverse-engineering alien technology is vital in developing some Tier Three units). Has no attack ability. An upgrade allows for a Builder to self-destrut with a pretty signifigant explosion.
Game Text-"A tracked robot with a highly capable nano-fomer attached, the Builder assembles and repairs structures rapidly and efficently."
Trooper-Tier One infantry unit, starts in a unit of three and can be upgraded to a unit of six. Tier One upgrades includes a plasma gun, Tier Two gives access to up to three GASPRs(Gravity-Accelerated Solenoid Powered Railgun) for sniping/anti-vehicle use and missile launchers for use against heavy infantry. Troopers can also have stealth systems added, and mount desginators for HQ-mounted bombardment weapons like the Light Of Glory.
Game Text-"These four-legged 'spiders' are Earth's first line of defense, armed with automatic cannons and heavy weapons. Troopers are seen on every front, able to fight in any terran."
Assault Trooper-Tier One heavy infantry unit, starts in a unit of three and can be upgraded to six. Has one slot for add-on units, and can be upgrade with up to six heavy weapons, including HASPRs (Hyper-Accelerated Solenoid Powered Railgun), HVMs (hyper-velocity missiles), fusion guns, and micro-mortars.
Game Text-"Six-legged 'scorpions' are deadly foes, especially with heavy weapons that are deadly at ranges far beyond what the Assault Trooper can see."
Tier Two
Fury-Tier Two infantry/fast attack unit, all-female with the ability to make combat leaps. Can be upgraded with Implosion Bombs for anti-structure use. Starts with four, can be upgraded to eight units. Cannot have add-on units.
Game Text-"Cloned from some of the fiercest female soldiers left to Mankind, the Furies attack out of the sky, without warning."
Highlander-Tier Two heavy infantry unit, all-male with heavy weapons and close-combat weapons. Two slots for add-on units, starts out with four units, can be upgraded to eight units. Can carry up to four heavy weapons, HASPRs, HVMs, fusion cannons, and micro-mortars. A unit-level upgrade gives them force blades.
Game Text-"Highlanders come from cloned stock of some of the toughest infantry soliders in history. Many are survivors of the early days of the War, having held their own from some of the fiercest assaults both Martians and Venutians can generate."
Lieutenant-Tier Two add-on, male soldier in a specialized suit of powered armor that provides command and control capabilities for attached units, increasing their accuracy and ability to withstand damage. Armed with a plasma gun (upgraded to a fusion gun).
Game Text-"Lieutenants not only come from officers that survived the War and the move underground, but people interested in abstract strategy games and wargaming. Lieutenants are known for making rapid and able decisions on the battlefield."
Chaplain-Tier Two add-on, male or female solider in a specialized suit of powered armor that not only helps keep up morale, it also ensures that the units can withistand the blandishments of both Venus and Mars. Armed with a massdriver (upgraded to a GASPR).
Game Text-"'Chaplain', in the Human army, covers not only cloned priests and priestesses, but psychatrists, councelors, and 'erotic service providers', all of whom can provide morale and metaphysical support for troops in need of it."
Raptor-Tier Two fast-attack vehicle, a robot armed with a bow-mounted gattling massdriver and a rear turreted GASPR. Can be upgraded to a HASPR or laser cannon. Can make combat leaps.
Game Text-"Raptors are well-regarded by human commanders as a raiding unit, able to rapidly attack enemy supply lines and escape before intercepted by heavier forces."
Hauler-Tier Two transport, can carry a squad of any infantry with add-ons, infantry can use regular weapons. Mounts two massdrivers, can be upgraded to plasma guns and smoke launchers that make for instant cover.
Game Text-"Haulers are considered one of the best things that an infantry unit can have-able to quickly transport troops to a location, and deploy them effectively. Their ability to generate instant cover makes them even more prized."
Thumper-Tier Two artillery, based on the Hauler frame and carries two auto-firing mortars and a massdriver. Mortars can fire either fire specialized firecracker anti-infantry rounds, anti-tank guided shells with some preparation.
Game Text-"The Thumper earned it's nickname from the dual 'thump/thump' sound the mortars make when firing. Fed from magazines that restock automatically via teleport technology, the Thumper can maintain a withering barrage of fire."
Tier Three
Dragon-Tier Three elite heavy infantry, all-male and based around units with GASPRs. Delivered in up to two units of four, can be upgraded to units of eight. Upgraded weapons included HASPRs and fusion cannons, both of which requires the upgraded units to "dig in" and fire (and all eight units in a squad can be upgraded). Has two special abilities-Shield Drones that protect against incoming fire (up to eight) and Rapier Drones that make sure that any unit that tries to come into close-combat with the Dragons gets damaged, maximum eight drones.
Game Text-"Dragons come from some of the most elite male clones, trained and bred to be precise and capable in combat. Many Dragons will later be promoted to the ranks of Lieutenants, after the completion of a campaign.
Banshee-Tier Three elite heavy infantry, all-female, and heavily armed with gattling fusion guns, force blades, and grenade launchers that can fire either flash or implosion grenades. Deadly close-combat units, delivered in up to two units of four, upgraded to two units of ten. Has two special abilities-Teleport which lets them immediately leap into or out of combat, and Fierce Blow that lets them do double damage against infantry targets.
Game Text-"Banshees are drawn from elite cloned females that have genetic memories of their children being taken by Martians and Venutians. Fierce fighters, Banshees have some of the greatest mental training that Earth can provide, to use the dangerous and capable micro-teleporters that allow Banshees to make leaps through space."
Reaper-Tier Three relic infantry unit, consists of one male and one female pilot. Only one can be built. Armed with twin HASPRs and rapid-fire HVMs, the Reaper has two special abilities-Force Dome that can protect up to six squads from any attack, and Death Blossom, which gives it the ability to generate massive salvoes of fire in a sphere, at the cost of energy and resources.
Game Text-"Married pilots from the non-clone population are the crew of the Reaper. A Reaper is rare, and only one is ever seen on any battlefield, but they are deadly opponents that are nigh-unstoppable.
Panther-Tier Three vehicle, armed with a GASPR and three fusion guns. Heavily armored and armed, designed to face a foe directly and abily. Has no special abilities, but can be upgraded to a HASPR main cannon.
Game Text-"The Panther is one of Earth's best main-line compbatants. Panthers can face off against most enemies and hold their own, with powerful weapons that can kill most targets.
Hurricane-Tier three artillery vehicle. Derived from the Panther framework, it mounts a eight-cell rocket launch system that launch area bombardment rockets, a huge number of "Dragon's Teeth" anti-infantry bomblets, or "Thor's Hammer" anti-tank rounds. It also mounts a single turreted fusion gun.
Game Text-"Hurricanes earn their nickname from the massive screaming sound as their rounds leave the tubes. Smart commanders will mass their Hurricane batteries in huge salvos that allow for powerful area bombardments."
Lucifer-Tier three superheavy vehicle. Only two can be built per player, per map. Armed with a quantum cannon, two HASPRs and four fusion cannons, the Lucifer can withstand huge amounts of punishment. Has two special abilities-sensor drones that extend it's detection range to enough distance to use the full range of it's quantum cannon, and anti-infantry drones (which can (hopefully) prevent infantry from doing damage to the vehicle.
Game Text-"The Lucifer earns it 's reputation for deadly firepower with it's turreted quantum cannon. This weapon, normally mounted on fixed emplacements, can kill nearly anything with one or two shots. However, the Lucifier can only slowly recharge it's massive weapon, relying upon the formidable secondary weapons fit to defend it during recharging."

And, of course, we have units derived from Martian and Venutian technology. Probably will talk about those when I get their units design down...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

...And Now, Venus Needs Men

...following up to yesterday's idea, I was contemplating how the game mechanics of such a game would work.

For Martians, they'd have to capture women...leading to all sorts of joke/kitch ways to catch women (shoe-sales traps, beefcake sales, etc, etc). And, Venus has to catch men, so we have the Strip Club and the Hardware Store.

Us poor humans don't have to catch men and women. We clone them ourselved, via the Commander (whom can't be affected by these traps because Commanders are downloaded brains).

Also, bases rely upon transports carrying materials and supplies from various salvage points-you can build up to six transports per location, which can be upgraded (Martian transports gain better defenses, Venusian transports are stealthy). Humans don't need them, because teleport technology means that the supplies are beamed through hyperspace to bases-slower than transports, but can't be intercepted and interrupted.

The design philosophy of the various units are as follows-
  • Martian equipment and vehicles looks like it came from the late '50s to mid '60s sci-fi sets and art. Which is to say a lot of flying saucers, fins, guns with disks on them, and all the sort of stuff that makes the Golden Age of Science Fiction so much fun.
  • Venutian equipment looks like it comes from the '60s to the '70s sci-fi. Lots of printed circuits, bulky designs, and strange development concepts.
  • Earth equipment is ultra-modern and ultra-high tech. Masamune Shirow is pretty much given a budget, design concepts, and told to build units for each tier of the system. One of the most important units is the Commander, which is going to get so many customization options that it isn't funny.
Of course, when the game comes out, there will have to be an expansion pack...I'm thinking of a few other planets...

  • Mercury has lots of small, fast units that are very cheap. Late-70s to early '80s sci-fi design concepts, they're the race that does Zerg Rushes. Of course, once you get up to Tier 3 units, they have some very nasty systems inculding the Apollo Tank.
  • Uranus reilies upon capturing men and women and doing painful, painful things upon them, to power their Hate Machines. '80s sci-fi designes are prevalant in all regards and concepts.
I'm thinking about grabbing/stealing the Dawn Of War engine for the game, though the 2nd gen DOW engine might be more to my needs (it's being designed and built, from what I've heard, to accomdiate a LARGE number of complicated units, since Relic couldn't deploy Tyranids in the current engine).

The ideas are just flowing...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mars Needs Women!

Random game thoughts #69-

I was thinking about ideas for Real-Time Strategy games, and I kept coming up with one problem...resources.

There are only so many ways you can make mining ore (or Tiberium, or elephant dung) interesting and cool. And, most of them have been done. So...why not look for alternate resources?

Then, it hits me. Mars Needs Women. Now, that would be a game mechanic...

A three-way war on Earth, as Martians (whom do not look coincidentally like tentacle rape monsters, despite having parts that look so very useful for it...) try to scoop up women, Venusians (whom have four arms, and some of the best cleavage in the universe) are hunting for men, while us poor Earthlings are trying to keep them fended off and survive ourselves. Both races need "their" humans for Tier 2 and beyond units, so they become a very valued commodity.

The imagry starts getting strange here. But, fun.

Surviving Black Friday

So, how did I survive Black Friday? Easy...I didn't participate.

Didn't wait in line at 3 am at Best Buy to try and get ahold of a Wii.

Didn't try to go to CompUSA to get a $200 laptop (which would have cost me more in the mandatory new cell phone and activation costs that was needed).

Instead, I waited until about 7:30ish, and just went. Got everything I wanted or needed-my first ever portable gaming system in the form of a Nintendo DS and two games, the family's Christmas present in the form of a Radeon X1600 AGP video card, some new shoes, and a DVD burner at CompUSA.

Got back by 9 am, and the longest wait was at CompUSA, whom seemed to have perpetual problems with their credit card servers and had the longest lines (and this line wasn't even twenty minutes). Being behind a guy that seemed to think he was in New York and bitched about everything didn't help, either.

I'm not sure...I wanted to get more, but there wasn't more I wanted to get. Oh, they had deals on TVs, but I have one (hell, two if I get the other one fixed) TV that works fine. Maybe a DVD player, but I can get one anywhere at a reasonable rate.

Maybe I'm growing up. This scares me on so many levels.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Surviving Another Thanksgiving

I love my family, and it's great to have Thanksgiving with them.

Sadly, God/The Universe/Murphy wants to have fun with me...

Mom comes down with a stomach bug, something nasty. She's fine and will live, but even the sight of food makes her nauseous. So, she's been sitting in bed, being sick.

Dad and I have to cook-not a bad thing, Dad's a good cook-and cancel the trip for one of my uncles (the only one on Dad's side-the only member of his immediate family left), so he doesn't get sick. Sharing is good-sharing germs is not. This seems to have come from Grandma (whom is staying with us until she moves into a managed-care facility near one of Mom's relatives), then it's migrated...

Goose (the sister) wanders out to Starbucks and comes back...and is tired as hell. Can't help, and after dinner, she's not feeling to well, either. So, it was a quiet dinner, and the plans for tomorrow (most of Mom's family coming here to eat) fell through.

Oh, and the sales for this Thanksgiving sucked, the planned purchase of the XBox360 Core failed as's sale/stress test sold out of the 1000 units they had in eight minutes.

Still will be good times, I hope. I'm not at work, and that's always good.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Since it's the Thanksgiving holidays, a time of the devouring of turkey in all ways and regards, I don't know how often I'll be able to post here.

I want to try and post twice a day, who knows? Once a day, at least.

For everybody, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. May your holiday be wonderful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What I Want In My Next Harem Anime

Harem anime is one of the biggest genres in the anime field, and I know that I'll have to get one at some point-even if I don't want to.

So, after checking out some opinions on them, here's what I want in my next harem anime-
  1. The Male Lead Has To Get A Grip, Quickly-If there was anything more that I despised in Love Hina, it was that the male lead was little more than a target for jokes-and had to be made immortal so that he doesn't get killed throughout the story, and is contually two steps behind.

    I don't mind the male lead being two steps behind, or being banged up-but, I want a protagonist. Not a victim, and most male harem anime leads are victims of circumstance. I want a male lead that keeps trying, gets banged up, dusts himself off, tries again, and occasionally succeeds.
  2. The Female Leads Have To Be Appealing-One of the things that turned me off of Ranma 1/2 so quickly was that every single female lead annoyed the hell out of me. The only one there that's even remotely appealing is Nabiki, and she's just trying to make money off of the whole thing (I suspect, so she can move as far-and as fast-away as possible).

    Tenchi Muyo appealed to me, because I liked the female leads (okay, I freely admit that I have harbored long fantasies of a three-way between Ryoko and Aeka and me...despite the fact that Aeka would be one hell of a pushy top and seeing two dominant women fight without strong enough rope would make things interesting). They aren't pushovers, they make mistakes, they try hard, and there are no sacred-cow/sucessful pairings at the start, which brings me to...
  3. There Cannot Be A "Sacred Cow" Paring-Ai Yori Aoshi annoyed the hell out of me, because the pairing was already done at the start in the form of Karou/Aoi. Tina, whom I thought was a hell of a lot better human being than Aoi (whom I liked but rubbed me the wrong way) lost, and we saw that she had lost from the start. The entire story is one of the relationship finally working out.

    I want human drama, and that anybody can win up to the last "I do" and not even then.
  4. The Plot Has To Make Sense-Okay, maybe I am asking for too much. This is anime, after all! But, give me a plot in which I can watch it and not wonder "okay, how did the were-penguin get into all of this?". Give me a plot where I can walk through it again, and realize just where the characters fell for each other, or fell out of each other. Gimme a plot where exploding spaceships is safer than talking about you feelings, and give me a plot that lets me see people at their best and worst.

    Sort of a sub-category of #4 is..
  5. The Plot Has To Be Understandable-"Make sense" is entirely possible for anything. I mean, with enough drugs you can understand "Finnegans Wake", but being that far outside of reality has never appealed to me. If I need a map and a detailed synopsis to understand who's screwing whom, with what, and how (kind of a erotic form of Clue) , there's a problem. A flow-chart showing the character relationships is long as it can fit on a single sheet of paper.
  6. The Big Bang Theory Must Be Applied-Nothing succeeds like excess. And, the plot has to logically build up to an ending that closes the doors and turns out the lights. And, it has to end in an over-the-top manner that cannot be repeated. Gimme excitement, give me last-minute confessions, give me huge explosions.
There's probably more, but it'll be one of those "when I see it, I'll know it" things. And, I hope to find the series that appeals to me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

History Thoughts...

You wake up and in that fuzzy moment between waking up and staying asleep, the thoughts get strange and weird. And, when I was reading this, I had one of those horrid thoughts.

That the history right now has a lot of very awful paralels between right now and the end of the Roman Republic. Not the least of which is...
  • Wars between "insurgents" supported my major competing powers to the Republic/United States.
  • Piracy/drug dealers that are a major threat to the government's authorty to rule and will probably have to be faced with major military power that will take few prisoners and even fewer survivors.
  • The military is displeased with both sides of the political authority, but the rank-and-file are fans of some of them...
  • ...and the political authority has a major level of "crazy" going on, as the major factions in the government seem intent upon slagging each other. Just that, so far in the United States, nobody has resorted to anything more than character assasination...yet.
There's probably more, but it's nearly 7 am, and I'm trying to survive in "interesting" times of my own.

UPDATE: Some more elaboration on my thoughts.

History has a tendency of not repeating itself, but having echos of what has happened before and what will happen again, as history is the story of people in all their glory and stupidity.

Whe the Founding Fathers made the United States, they drew upon the history of Rome and how it failed, how governments in Europe did things, and they were a well-educated, well-read, well-motivated bunch. They were serious people that were intent upon doing the right thing, and they had seen how some of their libertarian/small government thoughts came up and came about during the Articles of Confederation.

They were, in very few cases, hardened ideologes. And, even then, it was a rare member of the Constitutional Committee that would not get a beer with an opponent, and talk about why they thought they were right.

In short, America dodged so many bullets, it wasn't funny. The Constitution that came from it was a conservative one-one that would not have much faith in the "Liberty, Equality, Fraterinity" of the French Revolution, or many other revolutions since them. It assumed human fallability, but the eternal striving towards human improvment-that perfection was impossible, but the goal was forever upwards to bigger and better things. And, that it was the job of the government to do a few things-and then leave people the hell alone.

If there was to be a Constitutional Committee today, it would probably look like something that even a Tranzi would think was too liberal, or it would be a document of possible repression-on either side of the polticial fence. Would you want Hillary Clinton or Rush Limbaugh to write the Constitution?

(Letting me write the Constitution would be fun...not the least of which would be several modifcations, a Second Amendment that would pretty much make owning a gun mandatory, tax rule modications that would make all income tax a flat tax...)

My hopes, as this rant comes to an end? That the United States shall weather her storms, and there will not be a Triumverate-in name or in deed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Cost/Benefit Analysis Of A Professional vs. Trying To Date

One of the people I know at work has gotten very...upset about the whole dating situation. On divorce #3, and the last two were not pretty. And, damned if he's got a point that makes perfect sense.

According to him, it is cheaper to hire a high-quality professional lady of negotiable virtue vs. dating, for the following reasons-
  • On average, a high-quality prostitute is going to cost you about $100/half hour. This provides you a guarentee of sex, and a half-hour's worth of uninterrupted attention.
  • On average, you can spend about $100 at most bars, buying drinks for women, and at the end of the night, you'll probably go home alone.
  • Most women in a relationship will not have sex with you prior to the fourth date. So, assuming you buy dinner and a movie (I don't care what the feminists say-if I'm dating you, I'm buying dinner), you'll probably spend about $50-60 per date. Four dates...$200-240. At least. And that still means you may be short of nookie.
  • And, don't forget any incidental costs-dating sites, cost depreciation of driving, flowers, cards, gifts, etc, etc...
So, to him, if all you want is to get your wicket sticky, a good professional is worth the cost vs. a relationship. He actually did a cost/benefit analysis of this, and added other costs to show that it was effective to get a professional vs. a "relationship".

Of course, I think he's full of it, but my love life or lack thereof makes me wonder if he's right. That I think he's wrong is no reason why not to consider his hypothesis. Or at least have serious questions to ask about how relationships and their progress happens. I want to prove him wrong, and hard and painfully. With some luck and good timing, I will.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Newest Anime I've Gotten...

Went over to Best Buy-had to buy a new set of headphones for my iPod (this is the second set of Apple headphones that have died on me), and I caught some new anime.


Ergo Proxy-This series is turning, so far, into a pretty gothic/cyberpunk sort of tale. Very interesting, the main character is a bitchy one that looks a lot like Amy Lee of Evanescence, with a distinct appearance. The tale seems to be one of discovery and transcendence. Very much in the category of "so far, so good." The story seems to be done well. There's also a few good pop-culture references, like the Wikipedia-like appearance of some screens of info.

Witch Hunter Robin-I've already seen the series and I just picked up the boxed set with all the episodes in it. It's one of the best paced shows around, and it has been (favorably) compared to being a combination of "X-Files" meets "Buffy The Vampire Slayer". The series has a great deal of comparison to these two shows, and while it occasionally left a few things vague, it ended with everything explained, everything understood, and everything making sense.

Tho, it's one of those shows that you'd love to see a sequel to.

Jinki:EXTEND-Very much in the "guilty pleasure" aspect. The only two redeeming characteristics of the show are that it has great fan service, and the mecha controls are unique-the Jinkis (so far) require a two-man crew, one pilot that controls the legs and the other that controls the arms. Makes for interesting teamwork aspects to it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Vandread Theoretical...

With Steve DeBeste working out all the "what the?" aspects of the Vandread timeline and world, lemme toss my hat into the ring with two possible answers to two of his questions-how did the Pirates get ahold of serious military ordanance and why is B.C. with the Pirates and why does she (heh) not warn the Tarek government of the Pirate attack?

The last question is the easiest, but requires the first. Be warned, there are spoilers if you haven't watched the series.

To figure this one out, let's allow for the following two cheats-a faction of the Mejale have access to a bit of the Blue Paksis, enough that the Blue can occasionally generate "hints", that help the Mejale government keep on top of the Tareks. And cheat #2 is that this faction is not the one in power at the time, or was dismissed by the time the Nirvana returned to Mejale.

The Blue builds up a reputation for providing useful hints, and one day, it suggests that there's a major threat coming, outside of the Mejale/Tarek system. The problem is, the system is so insular that there is no real trade or contact outside...except for pirates disposing of their loot. So, the faction needs it's own "pirates"-building up it's reputation for piracy, so it can make contact with other pirate and less-than-legal factions outside of the Mejale/Tarek system. They're equiped with Mejale military ordanance, probably in secret or via quasi-legal "transfers", and a ship or two. Probably the senior officers, Captain and Gascogne knew about the plan, and there might have been sealed orders in the safe for B.C. if "something went wrong".

The raid we saw in the first episode of Vandread was pretty much a combination of gathering a big enough stake to really strike out into deep space for information and a live-fire training exercise to really get the crew ready for operations. Which, of course, the Blue Paksis wanted in the first place...

Second question...why is B.C. with the pirates (considering her high-to-extreme competence) and how come she didn't warn Tarek of the upcoming pirate attack? That's easy-B.C.'s spy network (she probably is a master spy, not a spy-master...gathering info from agents, as well as her own) reported that a group of pirates was being very, very well-armed. And, they were being very mysterious about their plans for all the gear and loot disposal. There was other bits and info...a chart request by an assistant astrogator that would be only used for somebody navigating beyond the Red Line. Gathering items that would only be used for trade outside of the system. All of which most pirates normally wouldn't use...or, if so, in small quantities.

B.C. has been described as "one of the elite"-and could write her own ticket. Even if the Captain suspected her, B.C.'s talents and capabilites meant that she had to hire B.C., to keep up her pretense of being a pirate. And, her competence meant that she could be easily promoted to XO. Which would have given her access to planning and preparation info for the Tarek raid.

The problem is timing, and how quickly the message can be sent. Considering there is no real contact between Tarek and Mejale, the messages have to be sent by some form of dead-drop mechanism. Odds are, it was via a tight-beam laser to a recording system, then picked up by a Tarek ship. By the time that the message gets to Tarek about the raid, the message would have gotten there just enough prior to the attack that the response would have been...noticeable (and possibly tipped off the Pirates that there was a leak), during the attack (which could have been compromised by the Pirates if they captured the ship), or after (which would have been politically compromising...). Considering how competent B.C. is, Tarek Intellegence would have understood-and realized that ending the raid without another contact would have risked their deepest agent in the fleet.

This is the dance of intellegence that gives good spy masters and master spies headaches, ulcers, and grey hair.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Geek Is Dead, Long Live The Geek

A few years ago, I'd have been camping outside the front door of a store, waiting to get my PS3 or Wii, and I'm not.

Why? I'm not at all interested...what does the PS3 offer that makes it better than the PS2? Okay, Metal Gear Solid 4. And White Knight Story looks to be utterly scrumptous. Otherwise? $600 to pay for a full system, or $500 to pay for a "basic" (crippled) system that requires a $100+ "upgrade" kit that doesn't even offer all the functionality that the full system does. Hell, even the XBox360, you can upgrade it from the Basic to Premium package, and it comes out to about the same cost as-if you bought it at Premium.

And the Wii? So very tempting...GameCube back-compatability(so I can get Skies of Arcadia Legends and Metal Gear Solid:The Twin Snakes and all the other good GameCube games), you can download Super Nintendo, and Turbo Graphix 16 games (classic side-scrollers, ahoy!), and the games selection looks good. But, I have absolutely no urge to fight the crouds, or play games with people looking to get a system and then promptly eBaying it.

I'm more interested in spending the money to attract women. They tend to be much more fun than video games. Bit harder to control, tho...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Power Of Internet Memes...

We have everything from poorly dubbed Japanese video games to object-balancing rabbits. What is my current Internet meme-of-choice?

It's various gamer/anime-themed motivational posters. It's hilarious, tragic, and sometimes very, very true. If it wasn't going to violate so many intellectual property rights, I'd buy anywhere near half to two-thirds of these posters and put them up somewhere...probably over every single wall in my apartment. And, maybe the celing, too.

Hell, make tiles and put them on the floor...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Some Of My Most Current Sci-Fi Reading...

Three science fiction books that I've been reading recently and my opinions...

The Sky People by Steve Stirling-I picked it up recently, and I remembered why I'm not a big fan of S.M. Stirling.

Ever read an author and think, "he's got a good first book-not great, but good. Give him some experience and he'll be a great author"? Then, you check and realize that he's on book #6 of the series and he's already published about sixteen other books...

That's what reading Stirling is like. It feels like he has about a dozen or so stock characters (made of 100% American cardstock!), a half dozen plot situations, and he strings them all together, somehow. I got a same feeling from some of his characters in every book that he's written-that he combines stock core motives with (barely) modified external casings. What's frustrating about it is that he occasionally comes up with good ideas, but can't quite pull it off.

My advice? Wait for paperback. Hell, this is good advice for any of Stirling's books.

Hell's Gate by David Weber and Linda Evans-It's the start of David Weber's fourth series of books, and it's proving to be a pretty good start.

David Weber is one of about five or six authors that I'll buy the books from, sight-unseen and just "oooh, shiny!" that he has a new book out. The concept is good, it looks like he's worked out all the "blind spots" in the concept, and it's good writing of an on-going and continuing cluster-fuck that is being fed by politics, personal greed, ignorance, mistaken assumptions, and human stupidity.

In short, good story material. Wouldn't want to live in those times...but it makes for good reading.

The Android's Dream by John Scalzi-Let's see, we have an interstellar war in the making, a religion made by a mediocre sci-fi writer, a software ghost in the machine, and a sheep.

It reads, and is like reading, a lot like the early Spider Robinson. Which is a good thing, and it reads a lot better because John Scalzi has thought through a lot of his plot points, unlike a lot of the later Spider Robinson books.

I'm thinking that he'll write a lot better once he has a few more books under his belt. So far, so good.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Annoying Theory of "Heroes"

Standing in the rain, looking at the buildings, I was thinking about Heroes and how the characters powers relate and work to each other.

The thought that hit, sucks, because if it's means the show is pretty much a psycho-therapy session in action.

Each of the main characters with a power has a power that seems to relate to how they resolve a missing facet of their lives. A list of what they can do and why it seems to work for them (spoiler-heavy, you have been warned)...
  • Peter Petrelli-His character is a male nurse, whom helps other people and spends all of his time and energy helping other people. His power lets him get what makes people special from them and use it for himself.
  • Nathan Petrelli-He's trapped in every direction possible-crippled wife that he loves but can't make love to, a political career that he seems to loath as much as enjoy, and it all smothers him and traps him in every direction. Except up.
  • Niki Sanders-She's been abused and used in every possible direction. Her alternate personality lets her abuse and use other people back, and much better.
  • Matt Parkman-His dylexia is a metaphor for his inablity to read people. Now, he can and it's so much more trouble than it's worth...
  • Hiro Nakamura-We first meet this character at a company-mandatory exercise event. His life is entirely scripted, his time is never his. So, he gets time of his own, in every possible way.
  • Claire Bennett-The cheerleader whom must be saved to save the world. She's dealing with all the emotional pain and angst of being an adopted child and a teenager (which is pressure enough). So, her flesh heals faster than it can be hurt...
All of them have a psychological element to their powers. And, it makes sense.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but if it's true...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Comic Books

The only thing that keeps me reading non-manga, American comic books is the Ulimate Marvel line. Why? Because, for all of it's flaws (I had a problem with The Ulimates that you could hack into a SHIELD heli-carrier externally and shut it down. If I could figure out safeguards against that, a whole bunch of smarter people could have, too), it has remained more consistant. More interesting. And, damn it, more fun than any other comics that aren't on the web. I own all the trade paperbacks of the series, and buy new ones every time they come out.

And, once Girl Genius went to on-line, there isn't anything else that I really buy that isn't manga.

I haven't bought DC comics in years. Why? DC is just begging for a continuity reboot. The only way I can see that being done is to do a "Year One" for the big six. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and the Flash. Start them out at the start of their careers-no history other than a general sort of DC-esque history, all the heroes are new and fresh and off the plane/boat/subway. They're all getting established into their lives and situations, early-to-mid 20s at best, and they have to grow into the characters that they'll become, the shoes that they'll fill.

I can easily see a Superman/Clark Kent that has come to the Daily Planet that is trying to recover from a scandal that makes the Jayson Blair scandal look like a typo. A Batman/Bruce Wayne that has finished his training and is trying to figure out what he has to become. A Green Lantern/Hal Jordan that has just discovered what he can do. A Wonder Woman that has only grown up on an island full of women...and is going to college. You put Gil Grissom with super speed, you have The Flash.

I can see all of these stories. And, I can write them, too....

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why We Need Secure Bordres

From Michelle Malkin, who's blog is a must-read for me daily...

A woman was murdered in New York, and made to look like suicide. Did she owe money to the mob? Did she make her husband upset? Did she get caught up in a drug deal-gone-bad?

No, she apparantly yelled at an illegal immigrant about the noise he made.

From the article that broke the story-

"I was having a bad day," illegal immigrant Diego Pillco, 19, allegedly told cops. "I didn't mean to kill her. But I did kill her."

Pillco told detectives that he punched Shelly, 40, last Wednesday afternoon outside the Abingdon Square apartment she was using as an office after she yelled at him about the noise he was making while working in a vacant apartment below.

Pillco, who is from Ecuador and speaks only Spanish, also claimed that Shelly slapped him first.

After seeing she was unconscious and believing she was dead, Pillco claimed, he dragged Shelly into her apartment, wrapped a bed sheet around her neck and attached it to a shower rod in the bathroom to make it appear she had hanged herself, sources said. The medical examiner has not yet released autopsy results.

She died because a man that should not be in this country was allowed to stay here. That politicans trying to earn political points turned New York into a "sanctuary city" where police cannot ask the immigration status of the people that they arrest. And, they can't punish people for being here illegally.

This is wrong, on so many levels. For the siren-call of cheap labor, both side of the political fence are going to keep away from immigration reform.

Unless we hold their feet to the fire.

Two Years

"Oh yesterday our little troop was
ridden through and through,
Our swaying, tattered penions fled,
a broken, beaten few,
And all a summer afternoon they
hunted us and slew;
but to-morrow,
by the living God, we'll try the game again!"
-To-morrow by John Masefield

Yes, the Republicans lost this election. Often, as it seems to be, by shooting ourselves in the foot.

We screwed up, made big mistakes, and now the Democrats are in charge. No matter how much they crow, mind you, the real shift in power isn't thay major in historical terms. The Republican Revolution in 1994 had many, many more seats shift.

Still, it has changed, and the politics are going to change. It will happen, regardless.

So, for the Republicans, it's time for us to lament. Get out and get royally, stinking, toilet-hugging drunk. Get into the occasional comic fist-fight in the parking lot. Say all the nasty things and maybe wake up the next morning with a very happy woman that we normally wouldn't have.

Then, on Monday, we shower, shave, get dressed and get to the work of planning our victories in 2008. Kicking out the party leadership that is more interested in getting their photos taken with the Governor and getting on commissons than winning elections(California, my home state, especially). Getting more ballot initiatves in various states that will advance our cause-ensuring that illegals find it harder to live under the radar, passing concealed-carry laws for law-abiding citizens so that the next bank robbery or plane hijacking looks like the County Assesor's scene in The Blues Brothers. We support the troops, by making sure they come home with a victory. We plan for the preparations for the aftermath of the next terrorist attack, praying that we will never need them. And, we remain of good cheer and good thoughts, despite our occasional lapses into "What the F**K?" of what our leadership does.

And, to our Democrat friends. You won. Congratulations. Now, you have to lead, and we will make sure to keep our eyes on you as you do. And, anything that even remotely looks like you'll pull another Vietnam (an inglorious retreat that puts another people's freedoms-and many of their bodies-in the grave), that noose you're wearing around your neck-that noose that every politician should be wearing, tight enough to know that you are forever on your toes-we will make sure it gets really, really tight. America's word and reputation has suffered the 40-something years since Vietnam, it's never really been able to come back since then. If we leave now, the job half-done, nobody will ever really be able to beleve America's word. And in International politics, your word-to support someone or to smash someone into a bloody smear in the ground-is the greatest if not only commodity we have.

Don't forget, you won a lot of your seats by having canidates that ran more Catholic than the Pope, as "blue dog" Democrats that are fairly conservative. Unless you plan upon running them with extremely tight party loyalty to the Speaker's rule, the world is not going to fall into your jodie. If you do, please do things that'll piss us off-which shouldn't be that hard.

There will be sixty-five plus House seats and fifty Senate seats up for grabs in 2008, and if the Republican party was run my way, we are going to fight you for every single one of them.

So, enjoy-now, lead and show us exactly what you're going to and want to do.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Movie Fun

Went out and saw Stranger Than Fiction tonight, with some friends.

It will never win any real awards, and if it wins the Oscars, I'll be suprised.

But, for what it was, and what it was worth the $4/hour or so that I paid for seeing it.

In a way, it was like watching Jerry Maguire when I saw it. It wasn't too deep, it wasn't too "fancy", but it was good. And worth watching.

And, we all need films like that.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Current Fansub Watching Experience

Okay, this week's reviews of some of the fansubs I'm watching...

Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion-Goro Taniguchi, Gundam Seed just called.

They want their plot back.

I can put up with some mecha shows, just for the chance to see giant robots go and stomp Tokyo. But, when you can barely force yourself through the first two episodes, there's something so very wrong. Mysterious powers, characters who's angst quotient is nearly two Reis per character, character design done by CLAMP (which is so very distrubing to me, like painting by that woman of the kids with the HUGE eyes...), I can only recommend one thing for this show.

Fire. And lots of it.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya-This series took a big part of my heart, and did so honestly. It has "good" romance (that builds accurately), fan service, cos-play, gods, manic insanity, a plot that makes sense, and one of the best space-combat battle parodies ever. (Steve DenBeste will LOVE episode 11, with the Crest/Banner of the Stars parody).

While I think it might be a tad too manic and dependent upon Japanese cultural bits for American audiences, I will wait for this series with baited breath to come out on DVD here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Trying To Work This Idea Out...

I hate public transit. With a passion.

But, I hate traffic even more. And, commuting. So, how do I fix these two problems?

Here's the idea-you can buy a commuter car (like a Scion xA) or you rent one through a service similar to ZipCar. It could be a straight gas car, or a hybrid, or electric. For some people, perhaps a truck or panel van built on a similar or longer frame. You can drive it around all day, or park your rental car at a garage that uses an automated conveyor system to keep the cars under wraps. Maybe even automated washing...

So, to get drive it to a depot, near the train tracks. And, this is where I have a problem, I can't figure out how to do it fast and easy and reliable...

You drive your car onto the train, which locks wheel locks down, and you get out of your car-the train would have a commuter section where you could go to Starbucks, rest, use your laptop, etc, etc. If your car was electric or a hybrid, the car's battery would recharge while you were on the train.

You would have a smart-key with an alarm, which would ring as you approach the station where you wanted to get off. You would pay for the ride by automatic deduction from your credit card or a monthly bill, like the FastPass system used on Bay Area bridges. And, it would take people off the freeways, and give them options in their mass-transit commuting.

Wednesday Thoughts

Yep, this election is over. And, if this is the Democratic platform for the next two years, we're screwed...

Military-"Force an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq" pretty much is a code word for "abandon the Iraqis". And doing oversight during a war would be like dragging the people that worked on Enigma and Magic in front of the cameras during World War II...

Intellegence-More "oversight" makes it sound like the Church Committee all over again... Which means that our intellegence services will most likely be even more nerfed.

Minimum Wage-Great, if this goes up, you've just eliminated everybody that an employer thinks costs less than $7.25/hour for labor, legally. So, either you have a lot of people being hired under the table (without any protections), or fewer people being hired. And, this means that the cost of everything goes up.

Worse yet? If it goes up to this, my salary will be only (barely) more than twice minimum wage.

Taxes-You want people to pay more taxes? You want more people to pay taxes? Make it easy to handle the paperwork, make it fair, and make it simple.

Energy and Enviroment-I see a lot of things that make great soundbites, but not good policy. Biodiesel is interesting but not quite ready for prime time yet. Ethanol is pretty much a payoff to big agribuisness. Solar and other "alternate energy" is restricted by time, location, and/or sheer power. If they had mentioned nuclear power, I might have been impressed. Maybe. And, industrial carbon dioxide emissions caps are pretty much a subsidy to overseas production companies (since they won't have to enforce clean-air laws...), add to that the fact that the enviromentalists contradict each other on what's going on with the enviroment every twenty years or so...

It'll be a manic and crazy next two years. Fun to watch, if a bit crazy.

Election Post-Mortum

Okay...what happened?

The Democrats came into this election with several gaffs that would have sunk most other political parties chance (paging John Kerry...), the fact that they didn't have anything that could really be called a platform, except for a vague sort of "we'll do different things than the Republicans", and a very poorly veiled class warfare platform that was never stated by the canidates in direct statements.

The Republicans came in with serious baggage, and a lot of the base (including me) was very disappointed with them. No immgration reform-in fact, it seems like Bush and the Republicans in Congress were trying to buy illegal immigrant votes and "play nice" with a Mexico that views America as nothing more than a mixture of job sponge and the method that keeps the proles from rioting. The Iraq war seems to be less stomping on the insurgency and more keeping the pot from boing over (caviat-I do not have access to the information the military and political leadership has on what's going on there, just what you see on Fox News), stupid little scandals, and a whole bunch of other things that just annoyed us all.

Add to that the Republicans seemed to have held off on their big guns for last and peaked too late, so by the time the election came around...we did better, but not as good as we should.

If this wasn't in the middle of a war, against a terrorist enemy whom the Democrats (or at least their theorists) have called "freedom fighters", a general hate of the Republicans and George Bush, and the chaos of the next two years leading up to the Presidental elections...I'd find it fun to see the Democrats flounder. Right now, I'm worried-and hoping that it won't be as bad as I fear...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So Far, It's Scary...

At 1930 hours, the Democrats need 5 for the House and 3 for the Senate to become the majority.

I'm hoping that it holds that way....scares the Republicans into not taking the base for granted. And keeps the Democrats away from the levers of power....

1935 hours-Lieberman has won the seat in the Senate. The Kos-Kids canidate has lost, and hopefully that's a warning to them.

2000 hours-Down to 2 House, 3 Senate. I so do not want to see a happy Nancy Pelosi take the Speaker's seat. No matter how happy it would make the Terrorists...

2005 hours-I think it'll be a Democratic House, Republican Senate. House is down to one seat for the Democrats to control, the Senate to three.

2018 hours-Democrats have won the House. Senate is three more seats away to a win. The problem is that the Democrats haven't won the massive levels that the Republicans did in 1994, and they were expecting to sweep into power. Looking at the run-up for the Democrat's like watching the '60s radicals come to power.

Why did the Republicans lose? They tended to not really fight for the causes, and they didn't bring out the big guns (Bush, their record) until late. I think it's in the mindset-Republicans (for the most part) want to get things done. Democrats want to change the world. That means Democrats have to stay in power to change the world, to save it.

2030 hours-I think Glenn Renyolds had this right, that we had more people voting, and that is a good thing. I only wish we had more Republican wins, but there you go.

2045 hours-Democrats +3 in the House, the Senate is still three in the hands of the Republican. The split Congress will be fun to watch...

2100 hours-Democrats +5 in the House. Extremely close Senate races. I'm going to hate all the crow the Democrats are going to try and start stuffing...

2115 hours-Can't watch the Pelosi speech. She has an orgasm face, like she's coming to winning this election...I can't even listen to her blathering. Worse, I need to...

Even worse, she's interrupting House, which sucks. I LIKE watching House, it is one of my few guilty pleasures.

2145 hours-Democrats +7. I'm pissed about this, very pissed. I suspect that we'll be facing a serious call to see the troops "redeployed" (i.e. sent home). Welcome to future terror attacks, with the terrorists thinking that if they kill enough and hold out long enough, they can get us to retreat, the lesson of Vietnam. $5 says there will be trouble somewhere major in Iraq or Israel before the end of the year...

2200 hours-Democrats +8 in the House. It seems like it'll be considered a "referendum on the War on Terror/Iraq", and that'll be what changes first.

2245 hours-Still +8. It's a loss, but it's not like the Republican Revolution in '94, and the Democrats that won seemed to have run close to the center, and not the Daily Kos/Soros/Tranzi trinity. I think a lot of people wanted a change...but not a cut and run in Iraq. It will be an interesting Congressional run for the next two years, as long as there isn't a major terrorist event...

As long as the Republicans can keep a single seat in the Senate, it will be hard to pull any major turns to the left, in the form of taxes and "progressive" causes.

Election Prediction

So far? My predictions (with a grain of salt) are-

Senate-Too close to call. Liberman will win, embarrasing the Democrats.

House-Too close, but a lot closer. I have this horrid, horrid fear that Nancy Pelosi will be the Speaker of the House. And that scares me...

Governor-The way it looks, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be Governor again. And that will be a good thing.

We'll see how well my Karnak hat works this evening...

Monday, November 06, 2006

He's Back....

Bill Whittle is back...and he has a great essay article.

I'll write more about this tomorrow, it's getting a bit too late for me to think of serious essay work...

Ten Things I'd Do If I Made A MMORPG

I love running into my friends, it's great to hang with them, whack each other with foam boffers-there's just something about the experience that the Internet can't convey.

The subject got onto video games, and then onto MMORPGs...and how we despise Worlds of Warcrack, which requires, if not demands that you play in packs, groups, clans...and woe betide the lone-wolf player. That you obey obscure and strange rules that get "ignored" when the money is right. And, dictates that the more time you spend in the game, the better the stuff you get.

I find that more boring that than chewing on a log...

So, in the interests of offering an alternative, and that I think I can do much are the Top Ten Things I'd Do If I Made A MMORPG-
  1. No Levels, Just Stats and Skills-Players are built on points. You buy skills, you buy stats. You buy advantages and disadvantages (Elves would be deadly accurate with ranged weapons, but would have other limitations). You would buy equipment on the basis of what your skills would allow. There are no "classes", just what you know, and what you can do...
  2. You Can Do What You Want-Your player can get a job-which is dependant upon his skills. With a job, as long as you're eight hours off the game, you get money and experience in the skills that your job does. If you work for a Crew (kind of like a guild), you get about half-experience with the rest of your crew, to be used as you wish. Of course, if you don't spend some time out (i.e. having a life) of the game, your player becomes a freelancer-which means you have to pay for your living space (where you can store all your stuff and decorate it...)
  3. It's All About Karma-If I remember my gaming history right, D&D intended that hit points about the first level to be a kind of "karma pool", as players take cinematic nicks and cuts, to make them look tough and impressive while they mow through mooks of all sorts. And, that's what the game should offer-you have a pool of "karma" that you use in battles, using it to set up combos, dodge enemy attacks, and keep your fairly fragile flesh from being eaten by a grue. At a high enough karma level, you can use certian special moves that you learn.

    Players can use items to recharge and rebuild their karma pool, which is very useful because the karma pool can do many things.
  4. Pants, Pants Revolution!-Okay, maybe not. But, here's the idea. You have the karma, you have to recharge it, somehow. There are many means, but the one way that works the best is that you have to dance.

    Yes, dance.

    Set up a DDR-type pad, give each monster it's own music tracks that encourage players to dance hard so that their karma pool can be built up can tell who the players of this game are. They're the ones that have pasty white skin and look like marathon runners....
  5. Yes, YOU Can Be A Bad Ass-Imagine The Gunslinger. A total, and complete utter bad-ass. Capable of killing everyone in a town, all by himself. Imagine trying to make him in most MMORPGs.

    Or imagine a cinematic Jedi, which you can't do in Star Wars:Galaxies...

    This game will allow you to be all that. Hard to do, nearly impossible...but it can be done. If there are more than 20 on a server, it would be a terrifying thing...but, it is possible.
  6. It's Not A Clan, It's A Crew-What would you do with 40 people?

    Run a massive dungeon?

    In my game, you'd have enough crew for a medium-sized ship. Every position, from engineer to captain to gunners...and all of them will be able to earn experience as the ship travels throughout the game world.
  7. Monsters Are Unique-No more "oh, it's just a re-skinned rat." Our critters will be unique. And the "human" enemies will be just that-human. With all the foibles and flaws...
  8. Politics, Politics, Politics...-All politics are local-or at least human-made. The "higher authorites" in the game are all human, and they are the leadership, and they create the server-wide events. It's like the "Great Game" concept used to create Traveler 2300 and the Ten Worlds setting of Attack Vector:Tactical. There will be the Four Horsemen, causing a bit of chaos, and enough fun events for players to fight and deal with, at all levels.
  9. All Politics Are Local-Players are a part of a faction, which means if they go to a town that the faction controls, life is easier. If the town is controled by another faction, it could be harder...or attacked by all the NPCs...

    And, finally...
  10. Stuff Should Explode GOOD...-Lots of visual effects. Magical spells should be spectactular. Explosions should be visable from orbit. There has to be blood, lots of it, when a target dies. When you invoke a special effect, it should be cinematic in effect...
I'm thinking a steampunk/sci-fi game. Something that is enough off the beaten path that we aren't compared to other games...