atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2100: Okay, I'm sold.

Mom had another medical diagnostic procedure today, and it was at the clinic which is farther from the house and closer to the retail hub of the area, so I went to Borders for a few books. While browsing around I noticed a flyer for this ebook reader and determined to check it out on-line after getting home.

Okay, it's not the perfect ebook reader. No touch screen, small format; battery is a rechargeable. But it displays PDF, TXT, and RTF (the latter in which format Word will save files with a bit of extra mousing); and it can display JPG, BMP, and GIF image files.

As a bonus, it includes an MP3 player. is offering preorders for $120 shipped; ship date is July 5. Once I order this thing it's going to be a long June.

Well...guess I'll just pretend it's 1982 and that I'm mailing my order.

* * *

This would work and it doesn't have to be a big bomb, either.

Eh? "What about the radiation?" Trust me: with the detonation occurring in solid rock at 18,000 feet below the seabed, there's not going to be any radiation release to worry about.

Undergound detonations are fairly well-understood; that's how we (and the rest of the world) have been testing nuclear weapon designs since the 1950s. And they won't use a 10-megaton device to do it; if the device used was to yield more than a hundred kilotons I'd be surprised. You don't need a big explosion; just a hot one.

* * *

Castro suggests that Obama nuke Iran if he wants to get a second term in office.

...would that be enough to get me to vote for Obama? If he nuked the sons of bitches? While it would be eminently satisfying for the US to turn Tehran into a parking lot--not the least because of 1979--ultimately I think it would be a bad move, politically.

The one reason no one has used nuclear weapons in anger since 1945 is that they're completely indiscriminate: drop one on a city and everybody dies, near enough. (Especially since we've got some big bombs these days.) The people in Iran at whom we are mad are actually rather few in number, and most of them are either ayatollahs or politicians. The people of Iran would love to be free and western and modern, but are being ground under the heel of islamic totalitarianism.

Very few middle eastern nations like Iran, but they hate the United States a hell of a lot more than they hate Iran. Drop a bomb on Tehran and the middle east would erupt like Mount WTF on steroids.

If the middle east is already erupting, then we can hit military targets in Iran with impunity, because it'll hardly make the situation worse to knock out Iran's military capability. Some of the countries over there might actually thank us--unofficially, you know, and whispering it in a dark and noisy place so no one could videotape it and use it against them later.

So I think it'd be best if the US did not nuke Iran, however satisfying it might be. Ol' Fidel has one thing right, though: Obama certainly is living in a fantasy world.

* * *

Even the guys in the middle east don't like Obama any more. If he wasn't such a jughead I might start feeling sorry for him: nobody likes him any more. It's got to be hell on his ego.

...or it would be if he cared. Obama's got his reflection; that's all he needs.

* * *

News flash: Pacific islands are not sinking. That's right: sea level ain't rising and the islands themselves are not being eroded away, either.

Ha ha.

* * *

Let a Republican fire a Democrat for speaking her mind and see how much furor it would raise.

* * *

Are you better off than you were four years ago? I didn't think so.

The stock market's below 10,000 again and most of the "new jobs" they're reporting are census jobs which will disappear in a few months.

If this is a recovery, send it back for one that works.

* * *

I have seen this story before (not this exact article) and it's still exciting.

There's a pretty wide gulf between making arteries and printing lungs and spleens, but the problem needs only time and money to be solved.

* * *

If this is true, it confirms one of my prejudices about the biological origins of human behavior.

What sets off autoimmune disease, though? I think it's some type of organism we haven't found yet; or it's a type we've encountered but no one has discovered the particular organisms.

If you think that's whacked, consider this: no one has seen live HIV. The docs infer its presence and structure from fragments, but the virus is too fragile to be scooped up and taken apart bit-by-bit. And that's a virus people are looking for; what about the ones no one suspects? If autoimmune disorders are caused by a virus like HIV, we'd be hard-pressed to find the damn thing. (And how is it transmitted?)

In Andromeda Strain Michael Crichton discussed ways in which the macrobiotic organisms and micro-organisms co-evolve: eventually the bug becomes harmless to the animal. At first it kills every individual it infects (or most of them) but after a few hundred generations or so both organisms (macro- and micro-) come to some kind of agreement and atagonism ceases. It's why we've got bacteria in our gut, for crying out loud.

Autoimmune diseases may be caused by a bug with which our biology has not quite come to terms; they're present in everyone but occasionally there are problems.

* * *

If metal commodity prices are falling it indicates that there are surpluses of metals on the world market. It's an indicator of a slack economy.

* * *

PDB says "Suck it, NASA!"

"NASA is the failed past," says PDB. "Private space is the shining future."

I agree with him, with one caveat: as long as government stays out of the way.

* * *

The Anchoress scoffs at the notion of Paul McCartney as an intellectual.

So do I. Look: the Beatles were the biggest success story in the history of popular music. It doesn't mean these guys are smart.

Ms. Scalia sums up McCartney's lame joke perfectly: "How pathetic, infantile and classless."

* * *

Og describes my world. Or parts of it, anyway:
*cannot wear a watch, either due to oils on their skin damaging the watch, or the watch becoming magnetized while wearing it.

*not once in a while but every single time we are in a car, at least one streetlight will burn out as we drive under. This has been happening to me for years.
And my dislike for rechargeable devices stems from the fact that the damn batteries go flat in no time when I'm using them, charged or not.

I really hope this doesn't mean I'm scheduled to be struck by lightning. My power rating is considerably lower than "1.21 jiggawatts".

* * *

I will expand a bit on Midwest Chick's premise, alteration in bold:
This is why teachers' unions have served their day. Because they have forgotten that their base purpose is to protect the safety and the livelihoods of their constituents. Union leadership is creating their own fiefdoms to the detriment of the people paying their salaries.
Yeah, she just needed to cut that one word, there to be 100% correct.

* * *

For crying out loud, just ignore it. Okay, the guy's got no taste. So what? One house out of a neighborhood isn't going to depress property values, and the guy will move sooner or later.

* * *

Well well well. Bill Maher exposes the racist core of liberalism where everyone can see it.

* * *

Terry Branstad is running for governor of Iowa again?

When I lived in Iowa, Branstad either didn't run or failed of re-election, and we got Tom Nutsack Vilsack, who took a $1 billion surplus and turned it into a $1 billion deficit. (By my math, that's $2 billion of deficit spending. In one year.)

Here's hoping Iowa gets its brains back.

* * *

Thursday, June 3, is the day I remembered my computer RPG history.

I've been playing WoW since Dec 19, 2008; and it wasn't until yesterday that I remembered the name that I always use for the first character in every RPG I play.

In the dim recesses of history--'way back in 1983--I got the very first computer game I ever owned, Temple of Apshai, released by Epyx. (And Lord did I have to think about it before writing "Temple of Crapshai". More in a moment.)

ToA was primitive. It was turn-based--badly--and it took forever to move your character through the maze. You'd press a key (L, R, and V, which turned you around) to change direction and then 1-9 to move. If you hit "9" too many times your character would get tired of "running".

I know! I get exhausted when I run across a room that's 10 feet wide, too! (Actually I don't.)

The graphics were so-so for 1983. They worked, you could tell what was going on, and the monsters even bled when they died (a little blot of blood pooling flickered somewhere on the monster for a few seconds before the monster disappeared). And there was no end to the damn thing.

There were three levels, and after a while the most amusing thing to do in the game was to make some hyper-powerful character and try to kill the (immortal) Spirit of Geb, which was a cloud-shaped object with a lighting bolt which attacked about 30 times per round. You beat up on enough monks and Spirit of Geb would appear to punish you.

You could create a 1st-level character and try to play the game straight; you could also enter a character from "another game"...and there were no constraints on statistics. Well...I think you were limited to 255 for things like STR and CON. Otherwise? The sky was the limit. Make a fighter with all 255s and a +255 sword with an armor class which rendered him invulnerable, even to Spirit of Geb. Off you go! Kill monks until Spirit of Geb appears, and then get one attack in 30 and repeat until you're so damned bored you're considering seppuku.

One character I created was Frexxed. (FRECKS-ed.) The He-Frex, the Frexter, the Frex-a-lex-a-ling-dang-doo. (Okay, that last one I made up now. The other two I used then.)

No one ever used that name but me. Ever. Maybe because it was stupid, maybe because they had their own names, blah blah blah, etcetera. Whatever the case may be, it was actually a typo. I had intended to call him "Fred" but then thought "Maybe I'll call him 'Derf' instead" and in the process of trying to change it somehow "Frexxed" resulted.

Frexxed ended up being the first character I played in the entire Ultima series (I-IX), Wrath of Denethenor, Dark Heart of Uukrul, Rogue (a Nethack variant for the Atari ST, also by Epyx), and even Diablo and Diablo II. And others at which my mind flails at remembering. (Dungeon Master for the Atari ST. Etc.)

HOW could I have forgotten him when it came time to generate a character for WoW??

...but you know, I think it's just as well? Frexxed is a human paladin (the He-Frex is always human) and with the experience I have as a WoW player I can do a lot more with him than I could have done had he been my first WoW toon.

And BTW, the paladin is fun; I can see why there are so many of them. If you find that your combat survivability is beginning to stink, it's because you need to upgrade your armor and weapons; there's no heavy thinking required. The He-Frex has survived combat with as many as four same-level opponents at the same time. (Actually, one bad guy was higher level than he.)

At 6th level he took down an 8th-level bear...after I had stepped out of the room and the bear had time to chew on him for a while, even.

Eh? "'He-Frex'?" you ask, sunglasses raised. Sometime in the 1980s the pop group Duran-Duran had a song called "Reflex", and one of my friends who also really liked computer RPGs started singing, "The He-Frex!" It was funny. I liked it. Shut up.

One fine evening when I was playing U5 at Software Etcetera this kid came into the store and watched me play for a little while, then asked, "Who's 'Frecksed'?" Pronouncing it wrong, as one syllable. I refrained from killing him.

* * *

I wasn't supposed to be playing U5 at Software Etcetera. It was my first real job, the first one with an actual paycheck and stuff. I was Chief Sales Clerk. There were three people working at that store, and I was #3 on the totem pole, below a manager and assitant manager.

But SE was a store in search of a market. Nobody shopped there. During the holiday people came in all the time asking "Do you have Nintendo tapes?" but they didn't handle consoles, not then; it was computer software and accessories. ("Tapes". Argh.)

I was the closing shift for much of my career there. Around 8 PM (particularly before and after the holiday season) the place was dead and I could be 90% ready to close: have the place vacuumed, the register counted down, and everything shipshape. If someone happaned to come in and buy something, all I had to do was update the countdown of the register. It really wasn't that difficult as only arithmetic was involved, and I kept the store spotless anyway.

So when I--bored witless and tired of being on my feet after eight hours--had absolutely nothing to do I would play Ultima V on the IBM PS/2 Model 30-286 they had there for demos.

You know, the entire organization was full of douchebags and I quit in February '89 (after starting in October) because every last time you did anything wrong--big or small--the regional manager would tell you, "If you do that again, you're fired." Get to work late in 8" of snow? "If you're late again, you'll be terminated." Try to hurry through a transaction because you're the only person in the store and there's an unexpected flurry of activity and people clearly want help? "If you do that again, you'll be terminated." You know, don't try to train the guy who has little retail experience or anything; no. Just tell him that if he makes a mistake, he's fucked. Yeah.

It's the only job I quit without notice; I walked in, told the manager I had to quit because of the douchebaggery (those weren't my exact words) and walked out again. They had to scramble to fill my shoes.

Well? Obviously the regional manager wanted me gone, and I didn't want to get fired. Besides, I was 21.

* * *

Oh--"Temple of Crapshai"--I and my friends were all teenagers. The game was fun in its own way but teenagers will take any and every chance to rebel, right?

Fun memory: SE was selling 1,000 sheets of 20 pound bond continuous forms printer paper for $10.00. Guy carrying $30 carton of Radio Shack paper walks past with girlfriend, who points out the sale. Guy: "This paper is better." Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.

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