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Month: October 2003

How much 'cha want?

More hot White Wolf vs. Sony action!

The plaintiff mandatory disclosures have been filed; I’m not going to further disseminate the PDF because, well, there are home addresses in there and I don’t see any reason to make ‘em more public than they already are. I’ll do a fuller transcription later if I have the chance. In the meantime, here’s a no doubt inadequate summary of the bits which are interesting to non-lawyerly me — i.e., what’s White Wolf asking for?

Everything Underworld to be recalled and destroyed. Damages for copyright infringement. Additional damages for $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed. (I haven’t gone back and counted, but that’s gotta add up to seven figures, if I recall correctly.) Damages in the amount of Sony’s sales, tripled. Plus, of course, the costs of the lawsuit.

Panning theories

Advantage, moi. Well, more or less. Saith the Boston Dirt Dogs, with no cited source so it’s just a rumor:

The real story behind the story:  Manny asked the Red Sox put him on irrevocable waivers and insisted to Theo that the Yankees would claim up… so they called his bluff.

Yes, that is only sort of close to my theory, but either way you’ve got the key element in place: the waiver was agreed upon by both the Sox and Manny beforehand. OK, what else we got?

We got this article, in which Buster Olney goes mildly insane and decides that the Yankees won’t claim Manny because if they did, the Red Sox could go get an overpriced closer from the Astros, which would allow the Astros to sign Pettite. Nah, we’ve got Williamson, we’re feeling good. The rest of the reasons it won’t happen seem legit, though.

We also got this one from Gammons, which further validates the idea that this whole thing was at least partially Manny’s idea.

And I thought I was done with Red Sox bloggery. (On to the Celtics!)

No man

So, the Red Sox put Ramirez on waivers. That’s whatcha call daring and surprising. My first reaction was that it was mildly insane; if the Yankees don’t take Ramirez (and they’re the only team that can), the guy’s going to be unhappy in the Red Sox clubhouse for the rest of his contract.

But then I had my morning coffee and thought about it a little more. What if this didn’t come as a surprise to Manny? What if Theo Epstein sat down with Manny a week ago and asked him if he was serious about wanting to play for the Yankees? What if Manny sees this as the Red Sox offering him a chance to go where he wants to go?

“Manny, we’re gonna put you on waivers so that the Yankees can claim you. We know you’re interested in playing there, and we don’t want to stand in your way. We can’t make a trade with them — they wouldn’t give up anything we want — but we’d rather you go someplace you’re happy even if we don’t get anything in return.”

In that scenario, it’s OK if the Yankees don’t bite. It shows Manny that the Yankees don’t want him, hopefully diluting his interest in going there. It tells Manny that his current employers have his best interests at heart and are willing to take a risk in order to give him what he wants.

And, of course, if the Yankees do bite then they’re saddled with a huge contract and the Red Sox have the freedom to go after whatever big name they like. So it’s a win for the Red Sox either way.

More commentary here, here, here, here, and here.

Cache or carry

Blogroll loading has been a touch slow for me lately, either since got a little slower or for some other reason. Thus, I put together a quick and dirty caching system which should speed matters up. If you see “(Cached.)” under one of the blogrolls, now you know why.

See the extended entry for the code used; no support or warranty is available. You’ll want to know a little PHP to use it.

Elvis triumphant

Bubba Ho-tep ought to have been great. I mean, hey: Elvis, JFK, Texas, and a mummy. What’s not to like?

I think the problem was that the setup creates a certain gonzo expectation, and the movie doesn’t want to be gonzo. The movie wants to be a tragi-comic exploration of old age in a nursing home, with a dark sarcastic twist in the form of the mummy. It works pretty well on that level, but it sabotages itself because, hey — it’s Elvis! Funny!

If Elvis and JFK had been more clearly delusional, that might have helped. However, Bruce Campbell does an absolutely spot-on Elvis. Now, it’s possible to believe that Ossie Davis’ character isn’t really JFK. In fact, it’s pretty easy, because he doesn’t do a very good JFK impression and he’s sort of the wrong ethnicity. Bruce is perfect, though. I couldn’t bring myself to doubt that this old man actually was Elvis, even though the backstory was pretty implausible.

Of course, the mummy was pretty implausible too. There’re those gonzo expectations again.

Anyhow, I still enjoyed it. There are moments of brilliance, both lunatic and otherwise. I really felt for Elvis/Sebastian. It’s just that the setup doesn’t work for the story.


So, I ask myself on the way into work, what’s up with Iraq these days? And what do I think about the recent run of suicide bombings?

I don’t think it’s a Vietnam style quagmire. The situation is rather different; for one thing, the opposition isn’t funded by a superpower. We’re unlikely to see the kind of open warfare we experienced in Vietnam. The terrain wouldn’t support it and the technological gap has widened.

On the other hand, we are pretty rapidly approaching the kind of quagmire in which Israel and Palestine reside. Suicide bombers are now part of the Iraqi landscape. There are substantial and popular local resistance movements; if you don’t think the Shi’ite clerics are ready to stand four-square against the US, you’re not paying attention.

We need to expect that we will experience the kind of ongoing terrorist pressure that we see in Israel. It will continue, directed at our troops, as long as we have troops in Iraq. This includes troops based in Iraq after we turn over control of the country to a native government.

If Israel has been unable to stop such attacks, it’s folly to think we can do a damned thing about them. We are an occupying power in a foreign culture, and we do not have a MacArthur. We do not have a Hirohito, a powerful symbolic leader, to tell Iraq that this is for the best. The Iraqi Hirohitos are saying exactly the opposite.

Discussion about the Iraq occupation must, to be useful and relevant, acknowledge this fundamental fact. It’s going to be contested, and it’s going to be contested in the same way that the West Bank occupation is contested. That’s not a political point, it’s a reality.

More good commentary from Phil Carter and Juan Cole.

In the dark future

I was gonna do a long review of Gamma World, but, well, here. I liked the design of the book much more than that guy, but his comments on the mechanics are right on target.

The community rules are both really inspiring and kind of disappointing. The idea of using PC stats to represent a group of people is great; I can’t remember where I first saw it (might have been Vampire, actually) but this is a really good implementation of it. Except that several of the stats have no game effect, and there’s no meat behind most of the ratings — no explication of what they mean.

I see, in Gamma World, a pretty stark example of the conflict between the relatively rules-loose style of White Wolf and the number crunching of D20. There’s more room for jazz in the Storyteller system, partially because the system is looser and partially because the expectations of the fans are different. D20 games need mechanics that interlock and function predictably. Gamma World doesn’t really have ‘em.

And it’s a shame, because it’s a really inspirational book. The updated background, involving a failed Singularity, is very good. It just needs a better ruleset.

Monday Mashup #15: Foundation

For Mashup number fifteen, we’ll return to the classics of science fiction. Our subject today is the Foundation Trilogy, Asimov’s soft-SF series of psychohistory, galactic empire, and barbarianism. I’m more interested in the original three books than the multitude of sequels, but suit yourself for your mashups.

The core concept of the trilogy is Hari Seldon’s psychohistory, with which Seldon predicted the fall of the Galactic Empire and manipulated events so as to minimize the time before another Empire would rise. Add in the backstop that was the Second Foundation — and don’t forget the psionics — and you have a lot of material to work with.

Oh, and this is your sporadic reminder that there’s a game meme announcement mailing list. The only traffic on the list is announcements of new game meme posts; right now it’s just me and Ginger’s WISH.

Now, on to my Mashup.

Emerging behavior

Gary Wolf is doing a piece on the Dean campaign and coming up with some fairly interesting stuff. He’s writing a post-facto manifesto in an attempt to capture the magic. I particularly like “You’re not a leader; you’re a place.” Of course, Dean is a leader — that’s in part a clever bit of spin to keep people from thinking of the campaign as a cult of personality. But there’s a nugget of truth to it as well. Community-building on the Internet requires a seed figure for a leader. It also requires that seed figure to make the place comfortable. Good mailing lists have a list mom.

Hm. I think he’s missing the “push” element of the campaign as well. In order for Dean to succeed, he needs to push his message out to non-connected people via his Internet community, which is why you see a lot of exhortations to put up posters and hand out fliers and so on. It’s a vital part of the Internet campaign.

(Via BoingBoing.)