The Order of Truth's Aeon Priests have resurrected our May 2014 Numenera Bundle, featuring the tabletop science-fantasy roleplaying game Numenera from Monte Cook Games. A billion years in the future, explore the Ninth World to find leftover artifacts of nanotechnology, the datasphere, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange devices that defy understanding. The inspiration for the recent Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game from inXile Entertainment, Numenera is about discovering the wonders of eight previous worlds to improve the present and build a future.
Remember how we all loved the game "Telephone" in kindergarten? Well, add in a cake, and the fun never stops!
This order was for a "black high heel":
(It's a hill, people. Get it?)
Specifying punctuation is always tricky:
Although I suppose if Aunt flashed Mom that would liven up the party, and it's certainly preferable to Aunt slashing Mom.
(Ok, this one is tricky, I know: the order was for Aunt/Mom - a slash, in other words.)
Here we have a beautifully done blue horse. Unfortunately, it was supposed to be a blue house.
If your message is "Philip...Woohoo!", and you actually have to say the words "dot dot dot", be prepared for just about anything.
And of course these never get old:
Although interestingly enough, I think that icing IS light pink. I guess the decorator was covering all her bases.
Thanks to Danielle M., Stefanie D., Rachel S., Michael T., and Chandra.
Teleportation: A great idea, but with some practical… problems. It’s a physics thing. In this Big Idea for The Punch Escrow, author Tal M. Klein wonders, what if you could solve those problems, not with physics, but with another branch of human intellectual endeavor entirely?
TAL M. KLEIN:
F#*%ing transporters, how do they work?
It was the Ides of March of 2012. I had just started a new job and was chatting with a co-worker about lens flare. Specifically, I was ranting about J.J. Abrams’ penchant for gratuitous lens flare, using the Star Trek reboot as an example, when all of a sudden the conversation was interrupted by our CEO.
“It’s bullshit!” he shouted.
(He wasn’t talking about the lens flare.)
Our CEO wielded a PhD in Computer Science and was using it to fight with Star Trek, or more specifically its transporters. He went on to monologue about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, explaining that the position and the velocity of an object couldn’t both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory, and in the highly improbable likelihood that somehow someone did manage to circumvent the uncertainty principle, they’d still have to contend with the no-cloning theorem, which stated that it was impossible to create an identical copy of any unknown quantum state.
Here is what I heard: “Teleportation is impossible because physics.”
Now let’s be clear, I’m not a scientist. What I am is a product man. I build and market technology products for a living. Having bet my career on startups, my brain senses opportunity where others see impossibility. In fact, whenever anyone tells me I can’t do something, my mind automatically appends a “yet” to the end of their statement.
My favorite author growing up was Larry Niven. This fact is germane here because the first thing that came to mind during the CEO’s aforementioned monologue was a Niven essay entitled Exercise in Speculation: The Theory and Practice of Teleportation, part of a collection called All The Myriad Ways. Niven’s spiel on teleportation explored the pros and cons of the myriad ways (see what I did there) we might achieve commercialized human teleportation. The science was interesting, but what I remembered latching on to as a kid was his take on the anthropological impact of teleportation.
Niven’s itch was akin to what angered my CEO: If we discount for Star Trek’s technobabble and defer to actual physics, then every time Scotty teleported Captain Kirk he was actually killing him in one place and “printing him out” somewhere else.
This destructive teleportation variant of the twin maker trope has been explored almost ad nauseum. Though there are several good stories and movies that address the existential problems teleportation could introduce should it ever become a viable transportation mechanism, none have adequately presented a marketable solution to that problem — at least none that might pass muster with an anthropologist.
How come nobody ever discussed how society might come to adopt teleportation in the first place, I wondered. Science fiction seemed to lack a scientifically plausible teleportation mechanism that could be deemed safe enough to commercialize in the near future.
So, I decided to solve the teleportation problem — with marketing!
In my day job as a chief marketing officer, when I’m asked to play out this kind of go-to-market strategy problem, I use a game theory methodology known as Wardley mapping; an augmentation of value chain mapping. The “product” came in the form of the Punch Escrow. It’s the MacGuffin that makes teleportation safe and thus both scientifically and anthropologically plausible. The value of mapping in predicting the future is based in pragmatism. If we can assess what components of tech will become commoditized in society, we can envision innovations that build on those commodities in alignment with basic needs, making their commercialization more plausible.
Consulting with a real life quantum physicist, I used the Wardley mapping approach to understand the teleportation problem and then solve for it: When someone teleports, the Punch Escrow is a chamber in which the they are held — in escrow — until they safely arrive at their final destination. That way if anything goes wrong during teleportation, the “conductor” could just cancel the trip and the traveler would safely walk out at the point of origin as if nothing happened.
But how does one market this scenario given the very obvious twin maker issue?
A capitalist society will always want to get from point A to point B faster and on-demand. I don’t think anyone would argue that safe teleportation is a highly desirable mode of transport. The Punch Escrow makes it possible, and International Transport (the company behind commercial teleportation in the 22nd century) effectively brands it as “safe.” To wit, critics of early steam locomotives avowed that the human body was not meant to move faster than fifty miles an hour. Intelligent people with impeccable credentials worried that female passengers’ uteruses might be ejected from their bodies as trains accelerated! Others suspected that a human body might simply melt at such speeds. You know what? It didn’t matter. People wanted to get from point A to point B faster, train tycoons marketed to that desire with implied underpinnings of safety, and trains took off.
Just as locomotives didn’t transform our world into a dystopia, it stands to reason teleportation won’t either. Yes, people die in train accidents (not because their organs fly out of their orifices, I should add), but the benefit is anthropologically perceived as greater than the risk. Same goes with commercial flight. Of course you’ve heard the axiom, “If God had meant man to fly…” — that didn’t seem to stop droves of us from squeezing into small flying metal tubes in the sky. Today, we face similar fears with autonomous vehicles, but I’m certain that the marketers will calm our nerves. I believe within a generation the notion of manual driving will seem as esoteric a means of getting around as a horse and carriage. Maybe the same will be said of teleportation a century from now?
It being Monday (off peak) and with no big event in town (Hot August Nights happens while we're traveling to Worldcon), we decided to return to the Peppermill, where (thanks to our locals discount) we got two excellent buffets for less than half what we paid the Atlantis for meals that made us sick. Lisa went to the manager and told her about us being "unfaithful" and that we'd returned to the fold.
Even better: we won $65 playing keno, which paid for the meal, tips, and had some "profit" left over besides. We praised Keno Bear for his keno-playing skills and gave him extra fish.
We had no further errands, and it was a work night, so Lisa drove us home after dinner. We started picking up rain as we headed east. Around Painted Rock, Lisa and I both were mystified by the white residue on the highway thrown into contrast by the tracks of the big rig we had been following. A few minutes later when we got home, we figured out what had happened.
( Not a Snowstorm, but the Remains Looked Similar )
The white debris through which we had been driving was obviously accumulated hail from one of the bands of thunderstorms hitting the area. While it has cooled things down a little bit, there also has been a lot of lightning in the area as well. We hope everyone stays safe and that there are no more fires. We've had more than enough this summer.
It begins thusly:
The new bed:
Which you may think looks quite a lot like the old bed, and you wouldn’t be wrong, in the sense that we did not swap out the headboard or bed frame. But those of you who are sharply observant and/or are creepy creepers might note the mattress is taller than it used to be. That’s because instead of a box spring underneath we now have a frame that raises and lowers the head and foot of the mattress when desired. That’s right, no longer do we have to sit up in bed on our own! Our bed can do it for us! Surely we live in miraculous times.
It was time to get a new mattress in any event. The last time we purchased one for this bed was 11 years ago, and it had gotten to the point where the “memory foam” had lost its memory entirely and both Krissy and I were getting backaches out of it. Once at the store and finding a mattress we liked, we decided to splurge a bit and get the motorized frame. If nothing else it will make everything weird for the cats. Which is its own benefit. Also, if it turns out that elevating the head of the mattress makes it easier to type, I may finally go full Grandpa Joe and never leave the bed at all. Note to self: Check Amazon for bedpans.
(Additional note to self: Really, don’t.)
And I got some saucy tweets out of it! Which, you know. Is its own reward.
First: Which Beatles song was I thinking of? If you want to hear me sing it, here it is:
If you’d rather hear the Beatles sing it (which, to be fair, is probably the better choice) it’s here:
And for those of you who don’t wish to hear either version (or can’t, for whatever reason): It’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face.”
There were three of you who correctly picked the tune I was thinking of, and of the three, my random number generator (“Alexa, pick a number between one and three”) picked “one” and so the winner is Maudie, who was the first to suggest it. Congratulations, Maudie!
Remember that the signed limited hardcover of Don’t Live For Your Obituary is now available for pre-order from Subterranean Press. There will also be an eBook edition, but it’s not available for pre-order yet.
Thank you to everyone who entered! This was a fun one.
"If you only knew the POWER [squeak] of the Dark Side. JOIN ME [squeak] and we can [squeeeeak] RULE the... [squeaksqueaksqueakSPLASH!]
"I find your lack of balance...disturbing.
Thanks to Angel K. for the splishin' and the splashin'.
I'm still occupying much of my time at the Menlo festival, where workers are rolling the artificial lawns back onto the gravel, fortunately. My review of last Saturday's first concert, the Italian Baroque one, is up, and I see the Daily Journal has entirely redone its archives. All my past links here to my articles there are dead, though I have redone all the ones on my own webpage list of my journalism.
The second concert of high classics I already mentioned here; and here's the third, Thursday's covering the cusp between Classical and Romantic. That Mendelssohn not only was already composing before Beethoven died, but had heard his late music and was inspired by it, is something I've noted before; and Spohr's octet - which Menlo has played before - was also a then-new work Mendelssohn had heard and absorbed.
In theory I could go on like this - concert 4 with the Schumann/Brahms circle (nothing by Clara, but it does have Joachim) was tonight and tomorrow, and I'd love to attend, but no; my assignments have ceased for the moment and I have other tasks to attend to. But I'll be back later.
In the meantime I did get to the first young performers' concert (10 to 18) on Sunday, including all 3 groups I'd heard Gilbert Kalish coach on Thursday, and I may get to one or two more of those master classes.
I did get to one more lecture, violinist Aaron Boyd's eccentrically-spoken encomium to Fritz Kreisler. His worshipfulness of Kreisler is so great that someone asked if Kreisler had made any recordings that were less than perfect. Well, yes, Boyd admitted, that during Kreisler's last couple decades when he was totally deaf he did make some he should not have; but then Boyd went on to describe how even the deaf Kreisler was so great a player he moved other violinists to tears.
He didn't mention my favorite Kreisler anecdote: the one about the hoax Kreisler pulled by attributing concert pieces to then-obscure Baroque composers, raising a furor when he revealed that he'd composed them himself. Here, for instance, is the concerto he ascribed to Vivaldi. This was written in 1927 when few people had heard much Vivaldi, whose works were only then being unearthed, and didn't know what he sounded like. This sounds more like Bach, or perhaps Handel, to me, except for the final eight bars which must be a total put-on that don't sound like anybody.
The jack is a screw type (not hydraulic), and you need to have some boards to put under it, because it doesn't really have enough lift to get the tire clear. My arms were very sore once we got it up to where we could remove the tire. The lug wrench was relatively easy, and I was able to break loose the eight lugs that hold the tire in place and get it off. I wrestled it into the back of the Astro and we took it to Big O Tires in Sparks where we bought the tire in the first place.
The immediate problem turned out to be a nail in the tire, which they fixed; however, they also told us that the wheel rim must have failed and it would not hold air. We took the wheel and unmounted tire back home with us, because with that diagnosis, we would need to buy a new wheel. When we got home, Lisa put some boards under the tire-less wheel and lowered it onto the boards, as pictured below.
( Taking the strain )
Yesterday, Lisa examined the wheel rim and said that the diagnosis must be wrong, because the piece they said had failed isn't something that holds air anyway. It's a solid one-piece wheel, not the two-piece type used in some vehicles. We could have taken it back to Sparks tomorrow and asked them to remount it under the tire's warranty, but instead I took it Hanneman Service down the street and paid them $17 to remount it. This evening, we put the tire back on and we'll let it sit for a while and see if it holds air.
It's a good thing I don't have to drive it as often as I did when we first bought it. However, even so, we know that the vehicle (repairs and all) has more than paid for itself versus the cost of even cheap-by-Bay-Area standards hotels, when the fleabags in Fremont are charging $99/night and selling out. Nevertheless, even though I'm now officially 100% Work From Home, I have commitments (medical and dentist appointments, SFSFC and Worldcon meetings) that will take me to the Bay Area several times a year, so we'll need to keep the Rolling Stone in "warm storage" and run it periodically to keep it usable when needed.
If I do get a flat out on the road, I may well call AAA though. They have jacks in their trucks that are easier and faster to use. I'll only resort to the hand-crank jack in an emergency.
(also open to suggestions for rehoming them, because what I am doing isn't working)
And it helps that the actors are all so gorgeous, the clothes jaw-droppingly beautiful, the sets all places I would dearly love to live in myself.
Anyway, Marquis Xie is shaping up for a major power play, thinking that he is maneuvering behind the scenes while his targets fumble in the light of day. But as yet he doesn’t know that he is quietly being outpaced, step by step . . .
( Read more... )
This weekend many of My People, aka geeks, have converged on San Diego Comic-Con - and I'm not there. [sob]
The rest of us can still look at awesome comic book cakes and dream, right?
(By Bella Cakes)
Look at this gorgeous Wonder Woman cake! LOOK AT IT.
Ok, you can stop now.
Because na na na na na na... BATMAN!
LOVE this design; so much impact for a (relatively) simple silhouette.
But maybe you prefer the Dark Knight a little less... dark?
(By Lindsay Colasurdo)
Pretty piles of punchy pink, Batman!
You know, this color combo is really starting to grow on me.
Here's a fun Hulk cake with some priceless reactions:
I admire your restraint, Elijah; I'd be gnawing on Hulk's elbow by now.
Anyone else love Supergirl?
'Cuz you could totally use this cake for Supergirls OR Supermans (er... men):
Oh! And did you know Groot has his own comic book now? It looks fantastic, just like this cake:
(By Aroma de Azucar)
And I love that Rocket!
If you're after more classic comic books, though, check this out:
(By 21 Cake Lane)
Awwwwesome. The colors, the ascending dot pattern, the perfect overlapping covers - it's ALL good.
And another classic: Wonder Woman!
(See what I did there?)
Not exactly a superhero, but you have to see this fun comic book/pop art cake, made entirely with buttercream!
C'mon. How fun is this??
Yet another reason why geek weddings rock:
Joker & Harley wedding cake.
And finally, a dreamy color combo for some of our fav superheroes:
...plus maybe a favorite villain? 'Cuz I like to think that's one of Harley Quinn's bombs on top. :)
Happy Sunday, guys! Hope those of you at SDCC are having fun!