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Month: May 2004

8,000 or Bust

Go Liralen! Go Cera! Go Ambar! The Population: Too team has proofread 7,000 pages for Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proofreaders. That is an awful lot of text and I am deeply pleased to have had a small part in getting such productive proofreaders involved in the project.

If anyone’s interested in proofreading for a good cause, check PGDP out. You only have to do a page at a time, there’s no commitment, it’s really easy, and every little bit helps.

Term of the art

My current favorite piece of gaming slang is “lasersharking.”

“Hey, you know, that game concept would be better if the sharks had lasers on their head.” Lasersharking. Leave the poor concept alone; not all concepts need lasers to reach their full potential.

Rifts is all lasersharking, all the way to the bottom turtle.

At their behest

If the Chalabi story is true, it’s an incredible intelligence coup for Iran. The short form is that Ahmad Chalabi may have been an Iranian agent for the past several years. If this turns out to be the case, then the information he passed the US — information which helped Bush make the case for war — was generated and shaped by Iranian intelligence needs. That’s an astoundingly impressive piece of work, which may in the end be ranked up there with Eli Cohen.

Elvis is everywhere

“Elvis’ entire career was a big mystical ritual, you know. He knew what he wanted to do all the way back in Memphis, and he put his whole life together so that he could pull it off. All those years, all those songs, all those different costumes — why, he was gathering up orgone energy decade after decade after decade. All flavors, too. Fat person orgone energy. Skinny pelvis orgone energy. Wartime orgone energy. All of it flowing into Elvis.

“Then he took that energy and used it to build an exact spiritual duplicate of Graceland in the afterlife. That’s why Graceland looks kind of funny in our world. You know, overdone and all that? It’s really meant to be viewed in the Great Beyond. When Elvis died SNAP his soul went straight to the place he’d been building all those years and he gave it the energy he’d been collecting and it became real.

“Now, this is what’s important. Graceland was designed to be a magnet for dead rock stars. Elvis didn’t cotton to the idea of rock stars getting caught in Hell just because they weren’t good enough for Heaven. You have to know that’s where most of them were bound, especially Elvis’ cousin Jerry Lee Lewis. Elvis didn’t like to see anyone go to the bad place, let alone family, let alone fellow musicians. So he fixed that problem.

“Pretty quick all the souls of most of the rock ‘n’ rollers found their way to Afterlife Graceland. Jimmy, Janis, the Bopper, Buddy — all of them, or anyhow most of them. And whenever another rock star dies, there’s a little signpost on the way to Hell and Heaven which says ‘Hey, good buddy, come on over here and look what we got for you.’ Elvis put it up and most folks pay attention to it.”

“A couple of years after Elvis died, he led a raid on Heaven. Jimmy really wanted to jam with Bach, and that’s where Bach was, and Elvis thought Bach might want to come jam with Jimmy and the rest of the bunch. Long story short, it turned out Elvis was right and they got Bach out safe. Now there’s an angel on permanent duty at Graceland to make sure things don’t get out of hand. He’s not too fun to be around but we don’t mind him so much.

“But this is where it starts to get interesting. See, Elvis had one more thing in mind when he made this whole plan of his; there’s one more piece of the puzzle that needs to fit into place before Elvis feels complete. There’s one soul lost to Graceland and that soul is maybe the most important of all. There’s a man in Hell needs to get out as soon as he can, and Elvis intends to make that time come pretty damn quick.

“Tomorrow, Elvis is leading a raid on Hell to free the soul of Robert Johnson.”

PCs are the dead rock stars living in Graceland. Elvis taught everyone kung fu, so the system is Feng Shui. The rest is obvious.

State of the city

Since we decided to stop attacking Fallujah, it’s turned into a theocracy. This should come as no surprise to anyone. I don’t think that crushing the city would have been productive either; you’d have gotten entirely different problems.

Maybe it’s worth allowing the city to become an independent state in order to minimize the risk of Sunni unrest. Mostly it shows how many unpalatable alternatives we have in Iraq.

Japanese wrestling styles

Mike Grasso asked me what real-life Japanese pro wrestling (aka puroresu) was like. I can answer that question at more length than he probably imagined, and I’m gonna. Brace yourselves.

There are four distinct styles of Japanese pro wrestling at the moment. There’s a lot of crossover and blending of styles, but at the end of the day the four basic styles remain distinct. The first and oldest is strong style, which is the most like US pro wrestling. Second and third, in no particular order, are puroresu and garbage wrestling. Lucharesu is a cruiserweight style, heavily influenced both by Mexican lucha libre and Canadian technical wrestling. Garbage wrestling is the stuff with lightbulbs and thumbtacks and explosions and fire. Finally, and newest to the scene, there’s shoot wrestling; it’s a reaction to the popularity of mixed martial arts (such as the UFC).

Strong style is more or less the mainstream of Japanese wrestling. Up until the 1970s, Japanese wrestling was not noticably different from US wrestling. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW, then one of the two biggest wrestling promotions in Japan) deliberately moved away from the cartoonish aspects of US wrestling. They made the conscious decision to eliminate false finishes, run-ins, and other gimmicks; they figured they’d attract more fans if they simulated a real sporting event better. It was a huge success. The desire for verisimilitude also resulted in higher impact moves; 80s and 90s AJPW was known for the number of times you’d see someone dropped on their head. Compare this to Memphis wrestling, in which the piledriver was “outlawed” in order to make the emotional impact of the move that much stronger.

Lucharesu really didn’t get going until the late 1980s, although the seeds of the style were sown years earlier. You can trace lucharesu to a classic series of matches between Tiger Mask I and Dynamite Kid. Some will remember Dynamite as half of the British Bulldogs; he was a British-born wrestler who trained in Calgary under the legendary Stu Hart. The Hart family and trainees have always been known for their devotion to technical wrestling; Tiger Mask I was fascinated by lucha libre. The fusion of these influences is lucharesu.

It’s a very quick style, wrestled mostly by wrestlers under 200 pounds. The smaller wrestlers are more agile and able to do more aerial moves than the bigger strong style wrestlers. Lucharesu ranges from the purest forms of the style, found in promotions like Michinoku Pro, to stuff more like the original Tiger Mask/Dynamite Kid series (and more akin to strong style), found in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Either way it’s fast-paced exciting stuff. Matt and Jeff Hardy were strongly influenced by lucharesu. Ultimo Dragon, currently wrestling in the WWE, is one of the best lucharesu guys ever — although he’s a shadow of his former self.

Garbage wrestling is what most people think of when they think of Japanese pro wrestling. I’m not a huge fan of the stuff; a garbage match has to be very good before I want to watch it. It’s essentially strong style with dangerous objects serving as the high impact moves. Instead of getting the crowd into a match by throwing a suplex, garbage wrestlers set themselves on fire and jump from balconies. It’s a valid style but I blame it for way too many idiot backyard wrestlers by way of Mick Foley. It got hot in the late 1980s, and has been up and down ever since. The style is too hard on wrestlers for a garbage wrestler to have a really long career.

Finally, and most recently, we’ve got the fusion of mixed martial arts and pro wrestling. Over the years there have been a number of promotions in Japan which purport to put on “real” martial arts matches. (No, nobody pretends that pro wrestling is real anymore except in the context of a show.) Some of them really do, such as Pride. Some of them don’t. Mixed martial arts is way more popular in Japan than it is over here, and several wrestling promotions are making good money staging either real or faked matches between pro wrestlers and mixed martial arts stars.

A couple of promotions, like the now defunct BattlArts, put on shoot-style matches but didn’t pretend that they were real. In my eyes, this is the apothesis of the style — you aren’t hampered by the need to con the fans, and you can take advantage of the benefits that scripting storylines gives you. It’s a win/win.

This essay totally ignores women’s pro wrestling in Japan, or joshi puroresu. The styles are more or less the same, as far as I know, but I don’t watch enough of it to talk about the subtle differences.

Good places to learn more:

What'll you do?

Current Gmail users have a couple of invites to the beta to give away. This has resulted in many offers of firstborn. In order to organize these offers, a clever person invented gmail swap, where people can post offers and the lucky few with gmail invites can pick the cream of the crop.

For the record, this one is the cream of the crop. But only if you’re an Asheron’s Call player who’s easily amused.

Draft alert loose ends

This is probably the final post on the draft rumors.

First, I looked a little deeper into the way works. The original draft rumor was a Soapbox Alert, not an Action Alert. Action Alerts are associated with the organization that produced them; Soapbox Alerts have no attribution.

Turns out anyone can post a Soapbox Alert. Anyone at all. There’s no way to tell who posted it and there seems to be no filter before a Soapbox Alert hits the site. I.e., there is no more accountability behind the original rumor than there would be from a message board posting on some random message board.

Second, how do I know IDI owns I did a whois on the domain to look up the owner of record. Survey says:

Registrant Name: Issue Dynamics Inc.
Registrant Organization: Issue Dynamics Inc.
Registrant Street1: 919 18th Street, NW 10th Floor
Registrant City: Washington
Registrant State/Province: DC
Registrant Postal Code: 20006
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Email: deutsch@IDI.NET

This matches the registration info for, although they used a different domain registrar for that one. But it’s clearly the same people using the same nameservers, etc.