Category: Geekery

I've Decided To Give Orson Scott Card The Benefit of the Doubt!

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I'm strongly considering giving Orson Scott Card the benefit of the doubt and assuming that he doesn't want me to be killed, and therefore I might go see Ender's Game, the movie they've made out of one of his books.

Now, I'm not certain that Orson Scott Card doesn't want me killed.1 I mean, after all, I think same-sex American couples should be able to get married. I've voted and advocated for that position when I've had the opportunity. I strongly supported the decriminalization of "sodomy,"2 and generally oppose the use of government power to enforce personal and religious opposition to homosexuality. Orson Scott Card thinks that any government that agrees with me and fails to prevent gay marriage should be overthrown by any means "possible or necessary":

Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

. . .

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Orson Scott Card has also called for private sexual contact between consenting adults to remain criminalized, though to be fair as far as I know he has not specifically advocated violent overthrow of any government that fails to imprison sexually active gays. Nuance alert!

Card has called, in short, for the government to be the tool of his personal religious preferences, and for it to be overthrown by (implicitly) force if it fails to satisfy those preferences. In addition to being an opponent of criminalization of sodomy and a supporter of gay marriage I am a vocal opponent of the use of government to promote individual religious dogma, which further puts me at odds with Mr. Card.

Now, Mr. Card only speaks of bringing down by any means necessary the government if it fails to ban gay marriage to satisfy his religious views. He doesn't specifically threaten supporters and fellow-travelers and thus and such. However, violent revolutions often result in violence towards those who have supported the ancien régime. Mr. Card rails against the term "homophobia," against decreasing acceptance of his views, and against social mores with which he disagrees; it is certainly not outside the realm of possibility that he will consider me, a promoter of that which he hates and a supporter of government policies he views as destructive of his family, to be bloodworthy.

But I've decided to give Orson Scott Card the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn't want me dead!

I was moved to this assumption by his moving plea for tolerance in the wake of calls for a boycott of his movie:

Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

Orson Scott Card

Here Orson Scott Card has shamed me.

First he's shamed me by correcting my ignorant and mistaken impression that the equality and humanity of gays was a political issue prior to 1984. Next he shamed my meager grasp of the law, which had led me to believe that the impact of the Windsor decision striking down DOMA on states that currently ban gay marriage is unsettled and will likely require years of litigation to sort out. I'm sure that when gay couples married in, say, California seek legal recognition in his state of North Carolina, Mr. Card will file an amicus brief asserting that the matter is now settled and that North Carolina must recognize the marriage. I believe in Orson Scott Card's consistency and good faith!

Most of all Card has shamed me in my grievous misunderstanding of tolerance. I had assumed that tolerance meant that it was a good thing for a free people to let consenting adults engage in private sexual conduct without government interference, or allowing loving consenting adult couples to marry even if some religious traditions oppose it. I assumed that tolerance meant that unpopular views — at one time the view that homosexuals should not be jailed, and now the view that they should be — ought to be addressed by the marketplace of ideas rather than by government force. But I was wrong! Tolerance means that people must be able to revile gays and gay marriage without any social consequence. Tolerance means that I should go see a movie by someone who makes me want to vomit — who wants to overthrow the government by force for doing something I agree with, who might or might not think I deserve to die so that his social policies can trump mine — because botcotting his works would be oppressive to him. Tolerance means that if he calls me a barbarian, and suggests that my friends have dark desires to seduce his children into homosexuality through the machinery of the state, then I should smile and go see his movie, because otherwise his speech might be chilled and he won't be as free to call me a barbarian and my friends child-craving tyrants.

I've already learned so much from Orson Scott Card just from this brief plea. Imagine how much I can learn from a whole movie based on his book! I just can't wait. I thought that I held Card in contempt and that I would express that contempt like a civilized man, by eschewing his society, directly or indirectly, in an exercise of my freedom of expression and association responding to his. But it all right, everything was all right, my struggle is finished. Mr. Card has helped me win a victory over my intolerant self.

prog rock

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There's an old joke about prog rock: "it's the only musical genre where 23:17 could be either the time signature or the track length".

Anyway, I'm a fan of prog rock. A big fan.

In other news, I'm also white, middle aged, male, and have a bigger waist line than I should. All of which should have been pretty well predicted by your priors before beginning this paragraph.

What's not utterly predicted by my demographics is that I'm also a fan of rap and of mashups. So, yes, I'm all over
Girl Talk (Go download the free "All Day" right now, if you haven't already).

So, anyway, when I stumbled into a rap / prog mashup this morning I just had to listen to it a dozen times.

Now it's your turn.

A Hot Tip on Cue from the Swabbie Hobby Lobby

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An update about the True Authorship of the Pirate Resignation Letter– now with 100% more Angus scrotum:

Back in April, in the comment thread of a post about our recondite plans for global dominion, a Popehat visitor using the nick "Will Nobilis" seemed to claim authorship of the well-known Pirate Resignation Letter. In one comment, Will Nobilis wrote,

"…a random web search led me to find out Ken and Patrick (and someone named Mike) wrote about my pirate resignation letter…."

This claim surprised me, so I poked around for other posts by Will Nobilis, and, behold!, appended to Ken's variant of "The Nymph's Reply" there was the following humblebrag from 2011:

"I am glad to see it has made it to a site I frequently enjoy reading and I hope it brought you as much amusement as it did for me to write it and send it to my bosses back then."

In Will's claim I detected a whiff of Alvarez. So I asked him to clarify. I haven't bothered to grep the logs for a visit from him to that page since then, but we haven't noticed his nick or IP since. Whatevs….

This little episode is what prompted my recent post on The Origin of the Pirate Resignation Letter. A few years ago, by the usual means, I had traced the PRL back as far as the early aughties–specifically, to the third of May 18082001–and had come up with a tentative attribution: "As far as I've been able to tell through clever googling in my favorite search engine, the renowned and much beloved Pirate Resignation Letter was written by Chris Castle…." This Castle chap had posted in a forum, now defunct, under the nick "The Bartender" and had stated that

"In the interest of disclosure I should note …[that t]he entirety of the letter was not drafted by solely myself[.] I prefer to think of myself as the 'Producer' of the document".

As if summoned by low-tier conjuration, a Popehat commenter named "The Bartender" bearing email and IP affinity to Castle turned up to comment on the thread (without disclaiming credit): "Thank you for finding this!…" In neither case did the drinkslinger cited a source.

Anyhow, I don't mean to get exercised, but the pilates thickens: there's new evidence that may set the record straight. For comes now a future reader of Popehat, the humble, scoundrel-hatin' Rob G——-, who intimates that all the preceding claimants, real or imagined, are right bastards, and who adduces credible evidence to support his own authorship. He confirms that he was not posting as "Will Nobilis" and that he ain't "The Bartender". By email, RG explains:

A friend of mine sent me a link to a recent post you guys made about the supposed "original" author of the pirate resignation letter.  (To wit: http://www.popehat.com/2013/04/24/origin-of-the-pirate-resignation-letter/)  She suggested I send you a note and square the issue – because I indeed wrote the pirate resignation letter in the winter of 2000.

I've been gratified for over a decade that it's been re-posted and reused more than a few times, but I don't believe I've ever before seen someone attempt to claim authorship, until now.  As such, I direct your attention to the following link on the Internet Wayback Machine:

As a bit of background, I was a miserable IT guy at Merrill Lynch back in the 1990's, and during the waning moments of my career I took to writing resignation letters as a bit of a hobby.  Two of the ones I wrote I later forwarded on to i-resign.com, and the pirate letter was the one I actually did use as my resignation letter from Merrill in December of 2000.  The "Chris" mentioned in the letter was my boss at the time, a guy named Chris O——-, and the word "porcine" was actually "bovine" in the original letter.  (When you work for a company with a large, scrotum-displaying bull as its logo, it's obvious to see the reasons for my use of the term.)  The eventual recipient of my actual resignation letter was a gentleman named John F——-, who had, at time of receipt, long been convinced of my eccentric incompatibility with Merrill.

Someone sent me a link years ago to a reply I suppose you guys did – it was droll and appreciated.  I don't really want any notoriety or "credit," but I wanted to set the record straight – I don't like liars.

Best,

Rob G——-
(I have truncated names to protect the privateeracy of the parties embroiled.)
Thanks to Mr. G——- for providing this info and a link to what seems to be the earliest extant occurrence of the PRL. If anyone can show just cause why this resignation letter and this author cannot lawfully be joined together, let him parley now or forever walk the plank.

Mayday, Mayday…we are under attack

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This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone…Mayday, Mayday…we are under attack…main drive is gone…turret number one not responding…Mayday…losing cabin pressure fast…calling anyone…please help…This is Free Trader Beowulf…Mayday….

Got home late tonight and found a package on the front porch.

AWW YEAH!

footnotes:

1, 2, 3

#old_school

Battlefoam Learns Why Legal Threats Can Be Dangerous

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The Streisand Effect is one possible bad consequence of a legal threat designed to remove content from the internet.

But it's not the only possible bad consequence.

Battlefoam makes storage containers for miniatures used in wargaming. If you don't know what that means already you'll just be irritated if you try to find out, so don't bother. Battlefoam's exec Romeo Filip was angry at some things someone wrote at a site called The Blood of Kittens Network. That site is "devoted to spreading a heritical understanding of the Warhammer 40k universe to neophytes and devotees alike." Again, if you don't know what that means, you very likely don't want to know. Just nod your head and move along.

Anyway, Battlefoam and Filip got some Arizona lawyers to write a very blustery cease and desist letter. It's not the worst cease-and-desist I've ever seen — it does some things to avoid the Streisand Effect, like specifying particular statements that Battlefoam thinks are false — but its language and demands are extravagant. It also offers a short drop-dead date for capitulation.

Lawyers offer short deadlines hoping to convey seriousness and determination. Sometimes it works. Other times, it conveys "there's no point in negotiating with these people."

As followers of The Oatmeal saga will recall, a subject of blustering legal threats need not stay on the defensive; there are offensive options as well. That's exactly the approach Blood of Kittens and its owner, Nicolas Hayden, took. They siezed the initiative and filed a strong declaratory relief action in Northern California, seeking a court determination that the posts about Battlefoam and Filip are protected by the First Amendment. They are being represented pro bono by First Amendment badass Marc Randazza and his colleague Gil Sperlein, also a notable First Amendment practitioner.

Now, unless Battlefoam can get the action dismissed or moved, Blood of Kittens has chosen the forum, the time, and the framework of the litigation, and is represented by two exceptional First Amendment practitioners.

Had Battlefoam's lawyers written a less blustery, less demanding letter, this might not have happened. They could have written a polite but firm letter saying they wanted to discuss resolution of concerns about false statements. They could have avoided purple prose and demands for things they could never get in court. Then Hayden might not have been able to attract two of the nation's best defamation defense attorneys to work for him for free. He might not have attracted anyone to file a declaratory relief suit, and indeed the grounds for such a suit (the clearly presented immediate controversy) might have been unclear.

But Battlefoam's lawyers decided to please their client with a take that type of letter.

Hey guys. Was it worth it?

Edited to add: Thanks to a commenter, I see that Romeo Filip did a podcast yesterday. At about the 60 minute mark he talks at length about the litigation, demonstrating that he doesn't understand declaratory relief, attorney fees, or the law. Plus, in a case in which he says it is defamatory to say he physically assaults critics, he shrewdly jokes (Kind of — I think) about punching critics in the face. Genius. Sheer genius. I presume his attorneys didn't know he was making their job so much more difficult. If he has meritorious claims — if Blood of Kittens posted false statements of fact with the requisite intent — he just significantly reduced his chance of winning. Clients.

Confessions of a 43-Year-Old Gamer

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I have been playing video games since Pong. I learned some rudiments of BASIC on the Commodore 2000 just to program incredibly rudimentary "games." I was video-game-obsessed. It was my main hobby. My father once barked at me "THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN PAC-MAN." (I said something very similar to my son on the streets of Seoul and could hear my father laughing in my head.) I enjoyed video games to the detriment of studies and social relationships.

But . . .

Now I am 43 and married with kids and a job and a mortgage and pick-ups at soccer practice every weeknight and soccer games every weekend and errands and making a gesture towards helping around the house and so forth.

Leaving aside games like Civilization V which I can "finish" by virtue of winning a scenario, I can't remember the last video game I "finished."

Now that time is a much rarer commodity than money, I buy games and barely start them, let alone finish them.

I frequently plan to take a serious shot at a game, only to drift off into idly surfing the internet, or watching Netflix.

Where I used to be intimately familiar with the leading games in my chosen genre (rpgs and Civ-style turn-based strategy), I haven't played most of the "big" games for years.

Increasingly when I look for games, I am looking less for graphics or gameplay, but for a feeling — the feeling games used to give me. That's why I often get the most pleasure not from big-budget heavily-promoted releases, but from obscure indies with 25-year-old graphics.

But my quest may be fruitless. There are many beautiful and innovative and genuinely artistic games coming out, some with improvements on classic gameplay. But it will never again be 1983. I will never again be playing Ultima III on my Apple IIe, windows open to let in a summer breeze smelling of honeysuckle and suntan oil, without a care or responsibility in the world, gasping as I found my way into the treasure trove in Devil's Gulch.

u3chestsScreenshot courtesy of the fabulous CRPG Addict.

Origin of the Pirate Resignation Letter

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As far as I've been able to tell through clever googling in my favorite search engine, the renowned and much beloved Pirate Resignation Letter was written by Chris Castle and delivered to James Bear (deceased), former managing partner of Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, LLP.

After using the letter, Castle shared it with his friend, user "Otter Von Pop" of the (now defunct) BirdSunEye.com forum, and that user posted it on 17 October 2003 both as a forum post and as a Word doc attachment.

Later that morning, Chris Castle, posting as "The Bartender" confirmed the story and reported on the (first ever!) recipient's humorless (or brilliantly funny!) reply.

Harvested from the past and hosted right here on Popehat is that original forum thread:

Original Pirate Resignation Letter Thread

Enjoy this bit of net.history! And if you have anything to add about the people or circumstances, please share what you know in the comments.

UPDATE: There's a new pretender to the helm!

No Shit

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Former Diablo 3 Director Jay Wilson discusses Diablo 3's Auction House

He thought they would help reduce fraud, that they'd provide a wanted service to players, that only a small percentage of players would use it and that the price of items would limit how many were listed and sold.

But he said that once the game went live, Blizzard realized it was completely wrong about those last two points.

No shit.

That, said Wilson, made money a much higher motivator than the game's original motivation to simply kill Diablo, and "damaged item rewards" in the game.

31282046

 

"I think we would turn it off if we could," Wilson said during his talk.

no shit sherlock 2

Blizzard, Wilson said, doesn't want to remove a feature that lots of players will be unhappy to see go. But he did say that the team is working on a viable solution, without giving any other details about what that would be like.

Buy Torchlight 2.

Reddit's Doxxing Paradox

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You might recall that popular social media site Reddit doesn't like doxxing — that is, the public identification of online speakers and revelation of their personal information. Gawker's public identification of vile Reddit creeper and troll Violentacrez was controversial to many Redditors, condemned by Reddit administrators, and has led to some Reddit mods engaging in a long-term ban of links to Gawker media sites.

So — Reddit's culture is strongly against doxxing. Right?

Well — sort of.

Last week, the online community briefly thrilled to the outing of a bad actor — a St. Louis pastor named Alois Bell who wrote a snide and obnoxious message on a receipt to a server at Applebee's. Another server posted the rude receipt — including Bell's legible signature — to Reddit, and the game was afoot — Redditors promptly identified Bell, her tiny storefront church, and her congregation. When Bell doubled down and successfully demanded that Applebee's terminate the waitress, she made herself more famous; Reddit was flooded with threads about her.

So, I have a question for the Reddit community:

Why is identifying Bell acceptable to your community, but identifying Violentacrez unacceptable to your community?

Both engaged in vile behavior. Bell was entitled and nasty to a server (remember what Dave Barry says — someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person), and later vengeful to someone less powerful when called publicly on her behavior. Violentacrez was a purveyor of creepshots, racism, and gleeful trolling. Why is it right for Reddit users to identify Bell by name — inflicting real-world consequences on her — but wrong for Gawker to identify Violentacrez, inflicting real-world consequences on him?

Is the idea that Violentacrez' behavior was "only online," and thus somehow qualitatively different? That strikes me as an archaic viewpoint. A startling percentage of modern life is conducted "online," and the view that things that happen "online" are somehow consequence-free or morally neutral strikes me as difficult to defend.

Is the idea that Bell — who acted in public and signed her receipt — had no expectation of privacy, but Violentacres did? Again, I find this unconvincing. Bell probably didn't expect that her credit card receipt would be published — but she acted in a way that allowed it to be. Violentacrez might have hoped that nobody would identify him — but he left the clues and crumbs that led Gawker to him. Both must contend with the truism that people have an urge to identify and shame bad actors.

Is this a mere crass "one of us, one of us" thing? Do Redditors merely feel that members of their community deserve protection, but outsiders do not? Is there an element of contempt for the religious in the mix?

I don't know that there are any easy answers. I don't know that Reddit admins, or the diverse Reddit community, could justify the difference. I've been writing for a long time about how the internet makes a big world like a small town — how the internet can counteract the anonymizing tendencies of a vast, complex society by subjecting the occasional notable miscreant to village-square shaming. It's like getting struck by lightning — there are too many miscreants and too few hours in the day — and we're still grappling with whether it is "fair" or "proportional" or "right." Colorable arguments can be made for or against the phenomenon. But I'm skeptical that Reddit can make colorable arguments that "it's cool when we do this to outsiders, but not cool when outsiders do this to us."

Facebook

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We have a Facebook page, which like the gym, the kids, the dog, the cat, the taxes, the rent, and Mom (as she never ceases reminding us) we've neglected.

But we're considering reviving it.  The thought is, Facebook may be a good home for other things we've neglected, things that suffer under the weight of Ken's walls of text, things too delicate for Patrick's sarcasm, things that burn under David's glare. Things like this:

Popehat on Facebook

This will be a supplement to the blog, something like an Island of Misfit Toys, in which things that don't quite make it in will be given attention. It will not displace our Twitter feed, which is mostly devoted to announcing new posts, conversations with other twits, and the inevitable schizophrenic battles between Ken and Patrick, each of whom has access to the account and neither of whom pays attention to what the other has written.

Expect the painfully geeky. If you'd like to follow it, search for Popehat on Facebook, and you'll find us.

Better Call Galactus

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Not everyone can take the preposterous and examine it through the lens of the practical. Doing so for comic effect is the The Onion's gig, but those guys are old pros. Larry Niven did it for both comic and scientific effect in "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", but most of us aren't Larry Niven. (Geek-life brag: I once talked to Larry Niven about that column at a concert of Star Wars music.) Too often the "what would happen if [extraordinary character] encountered [mundane circumstance]" shtick falls flat, like a Usenet flame war or a tiresome Saturday Night Live skit.

That's why it's impressive that attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson have pulled it off so flawlessly in the educational and fun "The Law of Superheroes." Their publisher sent Popehat an advance copy.

The book introduced me to the authors' blog Law and the Multiverse, which I shall now follow. The book concerns the same subject: how would the law treat the sorts of things that happens in the comics?

Is Batman a state actor? Does the newest Robin inherit the old Robin's assets or liabilities? For that matter, is Robin liable when Batman goes nuts and kills someone? How, exactly, can you expect to testify wearing a cowl? Are mind-readings admissible? All those buildings that get knocked down — who pays for them? Should the Avengers have a charter with an arbitration clause, and will it be enforceable if they do? What's better, tax-wise, for the Fantastic Four — a corporation or an LLC? And everybody in every Alan Moore comic should be in jail, right?

Those are the sorts of subjects Daily and Davidson tackle. They apply constitutional, criminal, and civil law issues to comic book heroes and villains, from the familiar to the (to me) obscure.

There are so many ways they could have handled this wrong. They could have been too serious about comics and not serious enough about the law, or vice-versa. They could have written the book in to much detail, like a law review article, or too little, like a comic book. They could have assumed too much of their readers' legal acumen, or too little. Instead, they did it just right. "The Law of Superheroes" is both entertaining and informative. People who aren't lawyers or law-geeks will learn something about the law, and lawyers and law-geeks will be thoroughly entertained at the application of familiar principles to comic extravaganzas. (This means, of course, that I disagreed with some of their legal analysis, and thought about how I would have explained it better. The book would have been intolerable had that not been the case.)

I gripe a lot here that the media does a terrible job at explaining the law to the American public. "The Law of Superheroes" shows that it can be done clearly and directly and effectively, even if you are talking about people in tights who have mood issues and talk funny. It's an enjoyable read; I suspect I'll return to it. Recommended.

Get to Know Your Authors: Arch-Nemesese Edition

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The Power Puff Girl Blossom, or possibly Sun Tzu, said "know thine enemy".  It turns out that you can also get to know someone by knowing their enemy.  Or enemies, as the case may be.  Here is a rare peek inside the secret world of Popehat.

Patrick's arch-nemesis is Emperor Grog.  Emperor Grog is a hyper-intelligent male silver back gorilla.  Possesses exceptional strength for a male of the species.  The list of horrors he has perpetrated over the years is too long to detail here, but can be read further at [REDACTED].  Emperor Grog was most recently active in New England.  Intel suggests he was actually there to bring forth [REDACTED]; it is not known how this was prevented.  Grog was not captured and his  current whereabouts are unknown.

Ken is currently lacking a "heavy weight" arch-nemesis.  David suspects the endless string of Gomers who try to take up the mantle are in fact the results of an elaborate prank being played by one of the other authors, likely [REDACTED].

David's arch-nemesis is the idea that Art can only be understood by the few, or is cheapened when accessible by more.   There is some evidence, however, that in fact Time is really pulling the strings.

Grandy – my arch-nemesis is, as ever, physics.  Gravity in particular.

Marian Call is on a Quest

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Marian Call Adventure Quest

Photo by Studio Valette, http://studiovalette.com

A Kickstarter quest! Back in 2010, with help from her many fans, the charmingly geeky Alaskan songstress Marian Call managed to pull off a tour of all 50 states and a dash of Canada. In the wake of her album Something Fierce, Marian is now aiming to play Europe.

She has the music. She has the armor and weaponry. She has the kickstarter video (see below).  She has the adorably dorky Adventure Quest game by means of which the supporters of her kickstarter may unlock cities across Europe (i.e., bring her to them to play). She has a FAQ. She even has the publicly accessible thumbnail budget, whereby she establishes herself as the most open administration in history.

All she needs is support! The initial kickstarter amount takes her, and her guitarist, to England and Wales. Resources above that level unlock other countries, as shown on the game's map. Especially if you're a Popehat reader in Europe and a fan of Marian's work, please follow the links and see whether you'd like to play her game:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mariancall/marian-call-european-adventure-quest (The kickstarter)

http://www.mariancalladventurequest.com/ (The game, rulebook, loot inventory, and adventuring opportunities)

Longtime readers of Popehat may recall my coverage of Marian's music– especially her lyrics– here (shallow) and here (deep).  I'll be supporting her quest, even though it means sending her far, far away to gives shows I won't attend. If you like her way of making, funding, spreading, and sharing art, then I invite you to join me!

 

Click to envidify!

June 28, 2012: History In The Making

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On February 12, 1999, physicist and cyberethicist Robert Newsome (Ph.D., D.Sci.) measured the amount of internet rage, channeled through email, listservs, and websites, on the day of Bill Clinton's impeachment acquittal. Dr. Newsome quantified the total internet-expended rage of that day as one KHAN. (The measurement is always expressed in full capital letters).

Since 1999, the KHAN measure has been exceeded on a number of occasions, most notably December 12, 2000, the day the United States Supreme Court decided to reverse a lower court in Florida in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 121 S. Ct. 525, 148 L. Ed. 2d 388 (2000).

It was on that day that Dr. Newsome was forced to revise his scale to accommodate the growth of the internet, as well as the breakdown of social inhibition caused by prolonged internet usage, to record the world's first GENGHISKHAN.  A GENGHISKHAN, according to Newsome, is exactly One Godzillion KHANs of internet rage.  Dr. Newsome's team measured the aftershocks of Bush v. Gore at approximately 1.4 GENGHISKHANs.

Our correspondent Ezra sat down recently with Dr. Newsome, who is on sabbatical at the University of California Berkeley, to discuss his work and predictions for the future of internet-based rage.  He was kind enough to share this interview for publication:

(more…)

Coming Up: My First Podcast Interview

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I just got off the phone with Eric Kimball from the Webcomic Newscast, who interviewed me about the Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk saga. Eric is a good interviewer, and we talked about the Streisand Effect and how to avoid it, the etiquette of cease and desist letters, the promise of anti-SLAPP statutes, and what interested citizens can do to promote free speech. My favorite moment: not knowing how family-friendly the podcast is meant to be, I decided on the fly to refer to the Greater Internet Fellow Theory.

So: if you ever wanted to confirm your suspicion that I sound like Kermit the Frog on a nachos-and-Lortab binge, this is your shot. I'll drop a note when it's scheduled for release, hopefully later this week.