Archive for April, 2009


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Ryan North from the awesome Dinosaur Comics has come up with a nifty t-shirt and poster to help time travellers.  The ones that don’t worry about paradoxs and changing history!

Many times I have complained to those near to me that if I were sent back in time I would be pretty useless. I am pretty handy with a computer, but it’s not like I can build something functional from scratch. And if I found myself sent back in time, what could I tell people about the future except “It’ll be fun” and “Your great-great grandkids are gonna love it”?

WITH THAT IN MIND, I have been researching all of the low-hanging fruit of civilization: stuff that doesn’t take that much to describe once it’s invented, but still produces a useful payoff. The basics of electricity. Radio. Modern medicine. That sort of thing!

I was impressed with Flight, Technology and Health, and slightly disappointed with the lack of practical information in the Chemistry section.  But it’s still amazing awesome, and if I had a time machine, this poster would so be inside it!

Amazing Ice Photos

My post Beautiful Icebergs has been surprisingly popular, I wonder if this post will have the same appeal?  Regardless, these photos, found here, are pretty impressive!

Mad Scientists

A couple of cartoons about mad scientists:

At The Bench

Death Ray

These jokes are probably a little more amusing to me than they may be to you – my email address has been “my name” @mad.scientist.com for years now, and my internet name is madscientistnz.

Via mail.com, you too can have your very own @mad.scientist.com address!  (Or if you feel your sanity levels are high enough, @scientist.com – but you won’t get that little extra smile from other people.)

An Australian comedy skit from the early 1990’s, about an oil tanker that lost its bow.  Surprisingly, this seems to have gone around the Internet with people believing this is a real politician being interviewed, and has its own page at Snopes.com.

Uncomfortable Plot Summaries

My favourite Uncomfortable Plot Summaries of movies, TV shows and books:

BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE: Older man helps teen boys cheat on history assignment.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: Teenage serial killer destroys town in fit of semi-religious fervor.

DOCTOR FAUSTUS: Scholar leans nuances of contract law.

DOCTOR WHO: Elderly man serially abducts young women.

KING KONG: Endangered animal stolen, shot.

IRON MAN: Alcoholic rich white man with technology fetish goes vigilante.

FIREFLY: In an analogue of the post-Civil War west, a white man on the losing side bosses around a black woman.

GATTACA: A man overcomes his physical and mental limitations by lying about his job qualifications.

GREASE:Innocent new girl in school becomes skank to win popular boyfriend.

GREEN EGGS AND HAM: Deranged stalker tries to force rotten food upon terrified, angry protagonist.

GROUNDHOG DAY: Misanthropic creep exploits space/time anomaly to stalk coworker.

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST: Disruptive mental patients treated.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: American yahoo murders soldiers and desecrates religious artifacts for money.

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS: Layabout stepdaughter shacks up with seven miners.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY: Family abandons beloved pets, forcing them to engage in a dangerous cross-country journey.

WORLD TRADE CENTER: Rag-tag group of underdogs succeed at a massive undertaking despite overwhelming odds, credit success with faith in God.

The written by/adapted from Neil Gaiman entries are uncannily similar:

CORALINE/MIRRORMASK/NEVERWHERE/STARDUST: Misfit discovers he/she is special person in secret world just beside our own.

There’s a lot more uncomfortable plot summaries over at the original post, so go have a look!

Darths and Droids – A Webcomic

I found Darths & Droids via Antick Musings.  I can’t say anything about this webcomic better than Andrew Wheeler already has so:

I’ve just spent the last two hours reading through the first two-hundred-and-some pages of Darths & Droids, a fumetti webcomic by a bunch of Australian guys, along the lines of the great DM of the Rings.

Let me explain further: “fumetti” means that it’s done with photographs, in this case screencaps from the movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. And the overall plot is that a gaming group is RPGing their way through this setting, starting with two players as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and expanding as other players join the group. (Like DM of the Rings, the assumption is that nobody has ever heard of any of this stuff before — that this gaming session was how all of the twists and turns of the plot were determined.)

It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, both on the level of jokes and conceptually — one of the best early bits is that Jar-Jar is a hastily rolled-up character to keep one of the guy’s kid sister occupied when she came along to the second gaming session. You probably need to know a little bit about gaming to get the point, but only a very little — I haven’t role-played in twenty years (maybe more) and it was all perfectly clear.

It’s exceptionally funny, has remarkably good characterization (both of the players and, when appropriate to them, their characters-in-the-game), and actually, in its demented way, makes the plot of Phantom Menace make sense. They’ve just started on Attack of the Clones in the last few weeks

I’d just like to add that I know next to nothing about role-playing games, and this did not interfere with my enjoyment in the least, the annotations explained any role-playing jokes or strategies that I didn’t understand just fine!

magic-burnsDown in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her fair share of occupational hazards.  Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide.  But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant.  Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realises much more is at stake.  During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power.  The stolen maps are only the beginning gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth.  And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

The first book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Bites, was highly enjoyable but had some weak spots.  In Magic Burns, the second book, Ilona Andrews’ writing has improved.  The main plot, Kate being in the middle of a divine battle for power was interesting and intriguing, but what I really enjoyed about this book was the increased emotional depth and the character growth.

In Magic Burns we find out more about the magic users of Atlanta, and this world’s magic system.  The witches were interesting, particularly the way they live in a giant tortoise, but I loved seeing the hyena pack.  Though their behaviour can be odd and kinky by ordinary standards, the hyenas come across as a warm and supportive pack.   When Kate brings someone with a dangerous secret to them for help, they help regardless of the fact that it could get them into trouble.  Kate’s acceptance of the secret and willingness to keep it though she thinks it is nothing, gains her their friendship.

Kate’s smart mouth still gets her into trouble, but in her new position as liaison between the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid and the Guild of Mercenaries, and as a Friend of the Pack (the shapeshifters), she is learning to use rules and regulations, not just violence, to get answers.  Kate’s responsible and caring side is shown when she looks after a young street kid whose missing mother is part of Kate’s investigation, and she begins to make a female friend.

 Magic Burns tells us more about Kate’s heritage and why she goes to such lengths to hide it.  The attraction between Kate and Curran is built upon, and the hyena alpha explains some of Curran’s behaviour.  I can hardly wait to see Kate and Curran’s continued interactions in the next book!

Kate Daniels’ next adventure is sure to be complicated, dangerous and entertaining, and the hints of the series overall arch continue to intrigue me.  Ilona Andrews is now one of my favourite authors.

Other books by Ilona Andrews that I have reviewed: Magic Bites

My Super Cute Niece!

I haven’t posted a lot over Easter, I’ve been in New Zealand visiting my super cute niece, her wonderful parents, and various other, also wonderful, relatives.  (I’d have been visiting my super cute second cousin as well, but he or she just doesn’t want to come out yet.)

Here are some photos of Ava, the super cute niece!

img_4935Bathtime with Aunty Sarah

img_4955I know I’m cute :)

img_4958I love books, just like Aunty Sarah!

img_4975Helping Grandad open his birthday present

p1010026Aunty Sarah builds me towers so I can make them go CRASH!

img_5011

Happy Easter Friday!

duck-with-flower

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend and eat lots of chocolate!

Carved Crayons

carvedcrayonsAmazing carvings done by Pete Goldlust

You might also enjoy More Carved Crayons

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