The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Spirit of the….

| June 28, 2008

Some thoughts I had on possible settings/adaptations for Spirit of the Century. Since FATE is such a flexible system, SotC lends itself to being used in.. well, anything even vaguely pulpy…

Spirit of the Gumshoe – I've mentioned this before, but basically FATE + GUMSHOE for investigations.

Spirit of the Shadowrun – A non-crunchy way to run adventures in the world of Shadowrun.

Spirit of the Doctor – Doctor Who.. This would likely be limited to a GM and two players (the Doctor and his Companion).

Spirit of the Rebellion – Star Wars

Spirit of the Federation – Star Trek

Spirit of the Deadlands – Deadlands. Of course, with the newer Deadlands using Savage Worlds, this may not actually be much better than Savage Worlds.. unless, of course, you've played SotC but not SW.

Other thoughts:

Warhammer 40K universe Battletech

I had some more ideas, but it has stopped raining, so I'm going to bust out the weedwacker and tear it up.

Mental gymnastics

| June 28, 2008

article, written by a Mr. King

Logic: (1) Criminals have ignored DC's handgun ban. To quote: “You thought D.C. stands for “District of Columbia? “Dodge City” is more like it.” (2) Said criminals are overjoyed at the Supreme Court decision, because they've been doing it for years, and now everyone else can too! (3) This will lead to even more deaths and crime because now everyone will be having guns.

Someone look up aneurysm, I think I just had one from this logical disconnect.

Mr. King, allow me to lay it out for you:

The criminals don't care. You said so yourself – they've been ignoring and laughing at the law since it was enacted.

Therefore, all this law has done is disarm law abiding folks. Mr. Heller, in fact, is a security guard allowed to carry a gun at work – but not keep one in his home for defense.

History shows us that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good to stand by and do nothing. If good people are ill-equipped to protect themselves, then they will be victims. If they can protect themselves, than the crime can be averted. The more crime is averted, the less crime there is. If we make crimes unsuccessful enough, then maybe said criminals will go out and get jobs.

Now, to be honest, I'd like to start seeing a greater body count – a steady stream of evil men filling the morgues rather than the prisons strikes me as an improvement.

Guns

| June 26, 2008

For those who are not aware, today the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees* the individual right to keep and bear arms.

I have not read the whole opinion, but the crux of the decision as far as I am aware is that the DC gun ban is unconstitutional, but nothing explicit has been stated about what arms are protected and what are not, save that handguns are protected. Further, nothing has been stared about whether or not this applies to the states. As I said, I have not yet read the opinion, so I might be off.

  • = Note the word here. Not “grants”. Not “confers”. Guarantees. As in, it is already existing and all this does is keep it going.

However, remember how I said that there were other lawsuits waiting in the wings? Well, the Second Amendment Foundation has filed suit to challenge Chicago's handgun ban. (Yes, the same day).

If this succeeds, then it will mean that Second Amendment protections apply to the states as well as the federal government. If that is the case, then we get to file suits challenging the various so called “assault weapon” bans.

Anyone hear that? It's bricks being pulled out of the foundation that anti-gunners have built up over the past seventy years…. Why? Because gun control does nothing, and folks who want to be responsible for their own safety and welfare are tired of having effective tools of self defense stripped from them.

The hummingbird

| June 26, 2008

I was working on my computer one afternoon this spring and I heard a thump from the sliding glass doors. There was nothing there, so I presumed it was expansion of the wood or glass.

Some time passed, and I went out to fire up the grill.

Sitting at the base of the door was a hummingbird. It had obviously hit the window. It was still alive, but could not move.

I called for Liz, because it is not often that one sees a hummingbird up so close. It was green, with beautiful iridescent feathers. So small and delicate, it was one of the most tragically beautiful things I have ever seen.

I put the poor little bird under a fallen tree branch, and it was gone by the morning. Whether it was eaten or recovered from the shock and flew away, I cannot say.

It all comes apart at once

| June 25, 2008

In about February or so, the cracks on the bottom of my laptop got so bad that I bought another one.

Last month, another drive died in my old workstation, leaving me with no spares, so I bought a new computer.

Now Liz's powermac (the one from the big mac supercomputer) has finally decided to flake out and spontaneously turn itself off – we suspect it is a problem with the motherboard, which means she might as well buy another machine. She's looking at a loaded iMac 24″, which apparently includes an external DVI connector so she can rig up her 20″ to it and run dual monitors.

So, this is 3 new computers at roughly a cost of $5000 in 6 months. Ouch.

Maine…

| June 24, 2008

So, this past week I was in RI at the office for work, and the cubicle farm is very noisy, so I was grateful for my noise canceling headphones. I had sushi at Seven Moons, visited URI, gamed with the old wednesday night crew (Flames of War, for the curious), and visited my brother and my folks.

On Friday, I headed up to Maine and went Whitewater rafting with these folks. It was a good time. They have a great facility there, with a very good restaurant and brewpub.

GPS stats: Total distance = 1146.85 mi Max speed: 89.3 mph Average speed: 54.1 mph Total Time: 21 hours 11 minutes

(This included a bunch of driving around Rhode Island too)

We rafted the Dead River, which was running about 6000cfm.. 3500 is normal. 4800 is high. It was a blast. We wanted to hit everything, and did pretty well… right up until the last big rapid, where we hit and lost half the people in the boat. I stayed in at first, until the boat turned around and I got hit from the other side, which swept me over the bow. I had the end of a rope, but I couldn't hold on and it was pulled from my grasp. At first, I waited for them to come and get me, but I realized they weren't coming right away, and I needed to do something to take care of the situation. I turned around, so I could see where I was going, instead of where I was coming from and therefore time my breathing for hitting the waves.

I realized it was getting rocky when I bashed both my knees on some rocks, and the other guides were yelling at me to come to them.. I was like “I can't make it to your boat, you're moving too fast”, but then I realized that they just wanted me to get away from the rocks on that side.. which I was going to do anyway. So, I headed out that way, picking up a second paddle along the way (I already had mine). Putting them overlapping in opposite directions gave me a kayak style paddle and allowed me to use them to pull myself along much faster.

After the initial moment of panic, I wasn't really worried, because I am a strong swimmer and was timing my breathing so that I could breathe. I was really only concerned about catching a rock on my back or side, busting my ribs, and then I would be all done…

However, then the lads came in like the cavalry.. right over the top of a wave and plopped down right in front of me. They started paddling backwards to slow their momentum as the guide, Greg, offered me the end of an oar, pulled me close, and then he and Simon grabbed me and pulled me into the boat.

Lessons learned: (1) Stay in the boat. It's better that way. (2) Bring strong friends to haul your fat ass out of the water.

And in the ridiculous file…

| June 23, 2008

Plant Rights

In other news, we got the rest of the tomatoes and all the sweet peppers in tonight, and will do the broccoli, eggplant, hot peppers, herbs, onions, chives, and anything else I missed tomorrow night.

That leaves some seeds which we might have missed the window on (not sure, need to check), and the potatoes, which don't go in for another two weeks.

With firefighter 1 and everything being busy, our plantings are late, but hopefully not too late.

I don't know if everyone heard…

| June 23, 2008

But habeas corpus is back.

Part of the problem with education….

| June 20, 2008

At breakfast yesterday, I was sitting next to a group of young teachers. The exact specifics of their roles are uncertain. However, what really angered me was the fact that they were making fun of their students.

That, in and of itself is not unusual.. there are always the odd kids which give people pause.. but not here..

They were making fun of the smart ones.

Specifically, the students had to do some kind of math/science report.

One kid did nebulae. Another did linear algebra (apparently, he found it in a book and it fired his interest..). The teachers thought that the kids should have done something more normal, like the solar system, and that these kids had lost the rest of the students.

They they proceeded to ridicule the children's computer acumen, and how over their heads they were with regards to powerpoint, email, word processing, etc. The kids ask for help and they can't help them. These kids were maybe 25, and that would be guessing on the old side.

They also made fun of the discussions the children were having about alternative fuel sources and how to solve peak oil, because the kids started “talking about complex hydrocarbon chains which can be synthesized out of other feedstock, and then they just lost me because I didn't see what this had to do with gas”.

The overall impression with which I was left was that these were more of the same teachers who didn't really want to teach and thought it would be easy, or couldn't hack it in their first major, so they left whatever it was and decided to teach instead. As such, they are outmatched by their pupils right from the get go.

Further, I bet that while I was hacking on computers and learning how all these bits go together, they were off engaged in more useful pursuits, like hanging out at the mall.

Luckily, not all teachers are so bad. Some actually want their kids to learn, reward interest and excellence and do not feel threatened when the student knows more than the teacher.

Anyway, to work.

For the curious

| June 13, 2008

I'm not doing BLITEOTW this year. Nothing against, it, just busy. 🙂