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Month: July 2004

Flying fingers

I just completed my 24 Hour RPG. Phew. Started: 1 PM, 7/24/04; finished: 1 PM, 7/25/04.

Above The Earth is a superhero game designed around resource management mechanics. It’s flexible enough to handle street-level superheroes and cosmic powers, all in the same fight. “You have a hundred six sided dice; when you run out, you run out.”

I started this one with the example of play, which made writing the rest of the game almost painless. I wish I’d had another hour to review it and in particular double-check the math in the example of play; I looked at it a few times but I’m convinced I missed something. C’est la vie.

I also forgot to add the section on using HeroClix figures and maps, which was intended for people who really like tactical maps. I wanted to point out that rules-light systems could still support that kind of thing. Perhaps there’ll be a Extended Remix Edition at some point.

If there is, I will definitely have better art and formatting. I really wanted to make it easy to print this out and fold it into a booklet, which meant 5×8 pages printed two-up, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the PDF right using just Microsoft Word, so I punted to a columnar layout. Which works, but I couldn’t do page numbers properly, which is why there aren’t any of those.

Not that a twenty-four page book needs those, but still… hey! I hit 24 (small) pages exactly. Keen. The final word count is 6,300 words.

I also wanted art. I spent an hour looking for public domain superhero art on the Web. No luck. So the look is pretty boring. But functional.

I didn’t lose any sleep writing this; in fact, I even took time out to go see The Bourne Supremacy which actually revitalized my energies nicely. And I thought about the game design during the previews, so it wasn’t totally lost time.

As a whole, I’m pretty happy with the project and the result.

Chop socky

If you live in the Bay Area, you may wish to help save the 4 Star. Or not — it’s not as if people down on the Peninsula get up to San Francisco that often. But believe me, it’s a great theater. I used to go there all the time and it’d be a shame if they had to close.

Also, it’s the business I want to run someday.

And then

It’s followup time!

a) The White House found those missing Bush military records, which contain no useful information.

b) Sandy Berger resigned. Thomas Kean, the Republican who chairs the 9/11 Commission, says they got copies of all the documents Berger removed anyhow.

c) The air marshals on board Northwest Airlines flight #327 were worried that Annie Jacobsen was in danger of panicking and creating a dangerous situation. Quoting at length, cause it’s too good to miss: “The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.” Nice. In related news, the myth that you can’t question more than two Arabs per flight? It’s a myth.

2 years

Some time ago:

For some odd reason I’m not really comfortable posting long ranty things to my LiveJournal. There’s something weird going on in my head there. I think it’s because I have this constant awareness that I’m dropping an acrid pissed off political rant in the middle of a couple of dozen nice peaceful friends pages, between a perfectly harmless quiz answer and a thoughtful introspective discussion of someone

Sweep or die

This is it. 8.5 games behind, 3 games against the division leader over the weekend, and the best chance to climb back into the race in the balance. Fortunately, the pitching matchups are highly favorable.

Schilling should beat Lieber. Arroyo, who is significantly better than his 3-7 would indicate, ought to beat the journeyman Sturtze. Note the insane 55:41 run:earned run ratio that Arroyo labors under. Go, Red Sox defense! Lowe vs. Contreras… well, that’ll be entertaining. I’m predicting an 8-7 game. In the third inning.

Mind you, Derek Lowe has an 87:66 run:earned run ratio. Yeesh. OK, I fired up the spreadsheet; read the extended cut for the bottom 15 R:ER ratios for pitchers who’ve gone over 20 innings. Hint: Red Sox pitchers are well represented, particularly if you filter for larger sample sizes. As much as Lowe was helped by great run production last year, he’s been hurt by lousy defense this year. The real Lowe underneath all the effects of the players around him is still not that good, though.

Anyhow, the point of all this before I got distracted by the lousy Red Sox defense was that I would like to believe that this is the point at which I stop expecting the Sox to do anything this year. That’ll fall by the wayside if they make it to the playoffs, but I’d like to believe it right now. If they don’t sweep the Yankees this weekend — and they need to sweep — then I think they should trade Nomar for prospects; they should sluff Lowe off; and they should think long and hard about Varitek: if they aren’t gonna win this year, and he wants a long-term contract, and they expect Shoppach to be ready the year after next, then they should trade Varitek and rent someone passable for next year to hold down the fort until Shoppach is ready. I wouldn’t feel that way if Varitek was represented by anyone but Scott Boras, but he is and I do.

(Dig those extended sentences? I can reel ‘em off all week.)

This obsession with always contending gets in the way of building a perennial contender; it may at this juncture be necessary to take a step back. There are a huge number of teams who still think they have a chance and there are not a lot of great players on the market. If the Sox’ chances are poor this year, and they are, and if they can improve their chances in future years at the cost of whatever remaining chance they have this year… they should make trades. Screw the fellowship of the miserable.

Off switch

Not very surprisingly, the Syrian band that freaked out Anne Jacobsen has been identified. Despite this, the usual suspects are still up in arms. From National Review Online:

That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn’t. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.

But… everything was hunky-dory on board. The band was a band. Saying “but they might have been terrorists” is silly, because they weren’t. You might as well say, with as much justification, “but what if Anne Jacobsen had been a terrorist?” Nothing was stopping her from taking control of the plane either.

My god. Any passenger could potentially be a terrorist! We’ve got to just shut down all commercial travel. It’s the only way to be sure.

Pants down

Glenn Reynolds, July 19th:

MORE: Hugh Hewitt:

Ask yourself what would be going on in Washington, D.C. tonght, and on the network news, within the blogosphere, and in the morning papers, if it had been revealed that Condi Rice was the target of a criminal investigation for removing classified handwritten notes from the government records relating to terrorism.

I think we know. But it’s early yet — this may get more attention from Big Media tomorrow.

CNN, July 20th, front and center story:

Samuel Berger, former President Clinton’s national security adviser, is under federal criminal investigation for allegedly removing classified documents and handwritten notes from a National Archives screening room during preparations for his testimony before the 9/11 commission. Berger acknowledged that he “inadvertently” removed some documents.

New York Times, July 20th:

President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger, removed classified security documents from the National Archives while vetting them in preparation for testimony before the Sept. 11 commission and has become the subject of a criminal investigation, his lawyer said Monday night.

Mr. Berger removed at least two versions of a memorandum assessing how the government handled intelligence and security issues before the millennium celebrations in 1999, his lawyer, Lanny A. Breuer, said. He also removed notes he took about classified documents, the lawyer said.

Glenn Reynolds, July 20th:

SISSY WILLIS says that the New York Times is way behind the curve on the Berger story. “In an inversion of Winston Churchill’s famous comparison of the speed of lies vs. truth, the blogosphere had already promulgated and commented upon the information contained in the AP report yesterday afternoon and evening before the Times had had a chance to put its pants on, so to speak.”

Some people are never satisfied.

Also: I think Sandy Berger should resign from Kerry’s campaign right now. I think he’s at the very least an idiot for doing whatever it is he did. How do you “inadvertently” remove classified documents? That’s really sloppy, and one has to suspect dishonesty. This case was leaked now by the Republicans for political reasons, I know, but Berger is still an idiot. In fact, he’s an idiot for remaining involved with the Kerry campaign while this was going on.


And that’s what passes for interesting for me. Five links per box, one box between each pair of entries, most recent links first. All my stuff. I want a slightly lighter grey for the box color, or darker, or something. I’ll fiddle later.

Also later: a big box somewhere containing just the 10 most recent links overall.