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regarding detect magic and illusions...Read more... )

ROFL

Jun. 19th, 2007 10:36 am
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Nicked from here after a reference to it on pharyngula...

baaa

Jun. 17th, 2007 09:26 pm
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1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.


"Vespucci came to the world's attention chiefly through the publication in 1503 and 1504 of two brief letters he purportedly wrote to Lorenzo de Medici about a voyage undertaken for the king of Portugal. Obviously the work of an educated man (the Vespuccis were a prosperous family in Florence), the letters managed to be both scholarly and entertaining, combining a sober discussion of navigational issues with the news that the natives of the New World would have sex with anybody, including Mom. Vespucci, or perhaps his anonymous publisher, also had the wit to entitle the first letter Novus Mundus, the New World, an audacious and, as it turned out, accurate claim."

Teeball

Jun. 6th, 2007 08:33 pm
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I'll have more to write about Josh's teeball team -- the one I've been the manager for -- later, possibly this weekend, when I write up a postmortem.

But I had to mention this.

One of my players - Garen - would be a credit to a ten-year-old little league team. (He's six.) He can throw the ball from third base to first and hit the first baseman's glove. (He's six.) He can also catch a ball at home plate fired from the outfield by an adult. (Again, he's six. He's been telling me the things he plans to do when he's in the majors. I believe him.)

Today for about the first time we were playing with actual outs, in that if the team on the field got the runner out by normal baseball rules, he didn't stay on base but actually went back and sat in the dugout.

With runners on second and third, the batter lines the ball hard to third base. Garen, playing third, catches the liner on the fly. He immediately steps on third. He then turns, charges up the basepath toward second, and tags the runner.

I just watched a six-year-old turn a by-God unassisted triple play. One that he could very plausibly have turned against kids twice his age.

I'll remember a lot about this season. But that I'll definitely remember.
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The advantages arising from a system of copyright are obvious. It is desirable that we should have a supply of good books; we cannot have such a supply unless men of letters are liberally remunerated; and the least objectionable way of remunerating them is by means of copyright. You cannot depend for literary instruction and amusement on the leisure of men occupied in the pursuits of active life. Such men may occasionally produce compositions of great merit. But you must not look to such men for works which require deep meditation and long research. Works of that kind you can expect only from persons who make literature the business of their lives... It is then on men whose profession is literature, and whose private means are not ample, that you must rely for a supply of valuable books. Such men must be remunerated for their literary labour. And there are only two ways in which they can be remunerated. One of those ways is patronage; the other is copyright.

There have been times in which men of letters looked, not to the public, but to the government, or to a few great men, for the reward of their exertions... I can conceive no system more fatal to the integrity and independence of literary men than one under which they should be taught to look for their daily bread to the favour of ministers and nobles. I can conceive no system more certain to turn those minds which are formed by nature to be the blessings and ornaments of our species into public scandals and pests.

We have, then, only one resource left. We must betake ourselves to copyright, be the inconveniences of copyright what they may.
He goes on to oppose, rightly, the extension of copyright many years after the author's demise. But for those who think copyright is "just wrong", that's the straightforward and correct response.

D&D druids

May. 11th, 2007 05:37 pm
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3.5e geeking... Read more... )
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We all knew that Saturn's south pole looks like a whale's eye.

It turns out Saturn's north pole is a hexagon.

Freaky.
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Silvery. Tinny. Golden. Leaden. Coppery. Mercurial. Chromed. Calcified. Nickeled. Kryptonian. Technical. Promethean. Radiant. Tantalizing. Curious. Ironic. Sulfurious. Osmotic.

okay, so we have 18 adjectives whose root words are elements, and have something to do with those elements, at least if you squint.

I want there to be more. How about:

Antimonious. Manganese. Rutherfordian. Thallious. Aluminiumish. Tungsteniac. Zinctastic. Palladial. Ununquadiumoid.

I don't yet know what they all mean, though "ununquadiumoid" means "less unstable than you'd think".
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Because no one who doesn't play d20 rules could possibly care about the mechanics of attached stirges...Read more... )

A koan

Oct. 16th, 2006 12:36 pm
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I've been rereading Hofstadter's GEB to get a sense of whether Robert can read it yet. Probably not, since I would rather he read the whole thing and not just skipped ahead to all the dialogues.

But anyway, I've gotten to some of his Zen musings and I remember a little koan that happened to me some two decades ago.
The teacher told the students, "It is like this, and yet not like this."
The observer asked, "What, is this a Zen thing?"
One of the students turned on the observer. "Are you then anti-Zen?"
The observer stared at the student. "To call something anti-Zen is to imply that there is such a thing as pro-Zen. And that very concept is entirely anti-Zen."
At that moment the student was enlightened.
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Clerics are considered overpowered, especially since each book of additional spells gives all of them to clerics/druids automatically (and thus increases their flexibility for free relative to everyone else). How does one address this?

Either nerf the cleric or enhance everybody else. One way to do each...Read more... )
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Robert's homework has this question: 'As air warms, pressure ____ (increases or decreases)?'

How would you answer that?

Edit: The answer they were looking for was 'decreases'. They weren't looking for a causal relationship, they were asking in the context of atmospheric effects. Since warm air rises, its pressure decreases as a result of it rising.
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My snarked response to one of the most poorly-done grammar flames ever:
Read more... )
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The Cat In the Hat: Dennis Franz as narrator 
                    Marlon Brando as the Cat
                    Gilbert Gottfried as the Fish
   Gottfried: "No no! Make that cat go away! 
           Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play!
           He should not be here. He should not be about!
           He should not be here when your mother is out!"
                [...]
   Franz: "Then I said to the cat, 'Now you hear what I say.
           You pack up those things, and you take them away!'"
   Brando:                    "Oh dear, you did not like our game.
           Oh dear. What a shame. What a shame. What a shame."

Fox in Socks: Robin Williams
   Williams: "Gooey goo for chewy chewing!
             That's what that Goo-Goose is doing.
             Do you choose to chew goo, too, sir?
             If, sir, you, sir, choose to chew, sir, 
             with the Goo-Goose, chew, sir. Do, sir."

Horton Hatches The Egg: Dan Ackroyd
    Ackroyd: Up out of the jungle! Up into the sky!
             Up over the mountains ten thousand feet high!
             Then down, down the mountains, and down to the sea
             Went the cart with the elephant, egg, nest, and tree...

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Liam Neeson
    Neeson: Yes. Some are red, and some are blue
            Some are old and some are new
            Some are glad, and some are sad
            And some are very, very bad
            Why are they sad and glad and bad?
            I do not know. Go ask your dad.

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?: MC Hammer
    Hammer: Oh, the wonderful things Mr. Brown can do
            He can go like a cow. He can go moo, moo
            Mr. Brown can do it.  How about you?
            He can go like a bee. Mr. Brown can buzz
            How about you? Can you go buzz buzz?
                
The Big Brag: Baxter Black
    Black: The rabbit felt mighty important that day
           On top of the hill in the sun where he lay.
           He felt so important up there on that hill
           That he started in bragging, as animals will...

The Lorax: Al Gore
    Gore: And I´ll never forget the grim look on his face
          when he heisted himself and took leave of this place,
          through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace. 
          And all that the Lorax left here in this mess
          was a small pile of rocks, with one word...
          UNLESS.

Oh, The Places You'll Go! : Martin Luthor King, Jr.
    King: You'll look up and down streets. Look them over with care.
          About some you will say, 'I don't choose to go there.'
          With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
          you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
          
Green Eggs and Ham: Peter Lorre and Jack Nicholson 
    Lorre: Would you eat them? In a box?
           Would you eat them? With a fox?
    Nicholson: I don't f--ing want any green eggs, okay?

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This article is very interesting to me -- apart from the amusing/horrified sense of the blatant underlying lie and how clumsily it was propagated -- because it's such a wonderful ironic example of the fallacy of equivocation, which I run into all the time when I read/contribute to quasi-philosophical discourses on science, e.g. talk.origins and their ilk. So this gets woolly, and way off the topic Prof. DeLong brought up. But the fallacy is so pervasive I wanted to say something.Read more... )
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On the uselessness of gaseous form.Read more... )
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Walking home after walking with Robert to school, I noticed the thin-crescent Moon (only because it happened from my vantage point to be brushing the tips of some trees as I walked, and my eyes picked up the relative movement).

Hey, cool. So I called Kate to come look.

Then I had a thought. Ducked my head inside to check my screensaver -- okay, about ten degrees north-north-east of the moon -- then went back out and peered till I found it. Fixed my eyes on it, lowered my head to be pressing ear-to-ear with Kate, and moved us till it was right at the tip of a convenient tree's top branch. She stared for a moment, then announced that she saw it, then bounced and bubbled with excitement when I told her what it was -- there are, after all, three, not two, solar system objects you can see in the sky during the day.
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Missed the first one, and the other two are already sold out so I can't attend. Pfoo.

It requires free registration, but this is a Sac Bee article about how the Sac Zoo is doing a series of evolution lectures the way it's supposed to be done: they are inviting scientists, which means they're presenting science. Apparently these lectures -- geared to docents, not the general public -- normally get ~25 attendees, and right now they're at over 100, and despite moving the venue they're sold out: "The waiting list for Wednesday's talk is 68 deep; 18 deep for a talk on March 22; and five deep for the last talk on April 26."


The format already has drawn objections from a few people who say the question of how species developed is inappropriate for the zoo, or who would like to see contrary points of view presented equally.

"I suppose it would have been a politically correct thing to do to have both sides presented, but intelligent design is not part of our curriculum," Chappell said.

"We're glad that we're doing this," [Whittall the organizer] said. "We're surprised that a portion of our audience didn't expect it was the zoo's place to do that."

"We're not saying what (people should) believe in the home," Whittall said. "We're talking about science."

The UC Davis speakers were offered honoraria of $75, but both are declining the money.

* Feb. 22: "Science and Non-Science: The Truth Behind Intelligent Design," on why intelligent design is fundamentally nonscientific, and flaws in intelligent design arguments, by Maureen Stanton, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.

* March 22: "The Hard Evidence For Evolution," on how fossil finds support evolutionary theory, by Richard Cowen, paleontologist and UC Davis professor emeritus of geology.

* April 26: "History of Evolutionary Thought," on the people, politics and debate of the 19th-century era when Charles Darwin published the seminal book on evolution, "The Origin of Species," by Robin Whittall, zoo education director.

* All lectures are on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Admission is $8 for members, $9 for the general public. Teachers may qualify for discounted admission of $5. For more information, call (916) 264-5889 or see www.saczoo.com
Wonder how the first one went.
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Tayefeth and Jason asked for an explanation of relativity. Here's a first attempt.

At some level, like every observation of the physical world, eventually you reach the point where we have to say "as far as we know, that is because it just is. We're still working on deeper 'why' questions, but that one we don't know yet." So eventually you still have to answer "because it happens that the universe is made that way." Why does Newtonian physics (more or less) work? Because the universe is made that way. We don't normally ask because Newtonian physics is readily demonstrable and we have an intuitive sense of it.

But we can learn a bit of the "why" of relativity. It derives from two fundamental observations.Read more... )
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I've known for a while there's a problem with publishing RPG adventure modules for a popular game -- you expect to sell only a small fraction of the amount you sell of the game, because (a) it won't appeal to all gamers, and (b) out of a group of gamers, each of whom has your core rulebooks, at best only one of them will buy the adventure.

Which is why we get settingbooks and sourcebooks and rule adjuncts, but (relatively) few high-quality modules. (The attempts by AEG to write small twelve-half-page $2.99 adventures being a welcome exception -- but you can't build a campaign around one or even several of those.)

But I'm realizing there's another market flaw to these adventures: compared with the 1990s and earlier, they have a much reduced shelflife, because you simply can't keep their contents private anymore.

I'm going to run the Banewarrens, and would like to run City of the Spider Queen afterwards if the players want to continue their characters. But just poking around the net, I find a minimum of a half dozen players-view writeups of the entire CotSQ. Presumably I can ask my players not to read them, but it's not a reasonable thing to run if they already have. (Jason may have already read a Banewarrens writeup a few years ago, but says he remembers little, and it can hopefully be variant enough in my running that very little useful info remains.)

Guess it means that when a module does come out, buy it and run it quick, before players innocently and accidentally read writeups online. Information wants to be free -- publishing stuff that you want kept secret is, well, difficult.

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