MonthNovember 2013

Friday Quote – 11/29/13

If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings, I say, ‘I’m still waiting to hear what your point is.’

In this country, I’ve been told, ‘That’s offensive,’ as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me they don’t.

And I’m not running for anything, so I don’t have to pretend to like people when I don’t.

Christopher Hitchens

You do not have a right not to be offended.

The Japanese Have Armed The ISS

The Japanese have attached a cannon to the ISS. Supposedly, it’s for launching small satellites called Cubesats.


blockquote>J-SSOD stands for JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer. According to the Japanese space agency, “it is a mechanism for deploying small satellites designed in accordance with CubeSat design specification (10cm×10cm×10cm) that transfers the satellites from the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo’s airlock to space environment and releases them on orbit.<\blockquote>

Don’t be misled! This is the first-generation KEW launcher for the UN!*

*Yeah, I know that’s so much bullshit. I just wanted to see what sort of readers that spiel would bring. Actually, it’s pretty damn cool.

H/t Tam

Metal Tuesday – Multiple Song Bonus Brother’s Choice!

Seven Rounds in the Mag

I’m cheating and not giving you a single song today. Instead, you get a whirlwind tour of the heavier side of metal the Derek doesn’t wander down. (Derek Edit: Because The Brother was so prolific with his song choices, there aren’t lyrics for these.)

Clawmaster by Ghost Brigade

Closer to last week’s Insomnium with gloomy, melodic sound. A soft one to get you started.

Cry of Black Birds by Amon Amarth

Masters of Viking Death Metal! Catchy, heavy, and consistently great.

Autotheism by The Faceless

The Faceless‘s earlier albums were a more brutal form of Technical Death Metal, but 2012’s Autotheism was a masterpiece that brought in more progressive sensibilities.

A Vow to Conquer the Ocean by In Mourning

In Mourning are an amazing band, kind of a like a blend of Opeth and Insomnium and last year’s The Weight of Oceans was their best album in my opinion.

Forsaker by Katatonia

Back to the softer side, Katatonia started out as a basic death metal band but have become the masters of their own breed of heavy, depressive metal. Their last four albums have been exemplary.

Winteryear by Maitreya

Holy crap I wish Maitreya had released more than just 2007’s New World Prophecy. Both the songs and the album as a whole swings from quiet and calming to hammering and violent.

Lightning & Snow by Woods of Ypres

2012’s Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light was Wood’s of Ypres‘s last album due to mastermind and frontman David Gold’s death. Though Wood‘s whole catalogue is solid, Woods 5 was a masterpiece.

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 7


Erik and Lady Maritza descended back down the stairs with neutral looks. Lady Maritza motioned for her two guards to follow her as she walked out of the house. The woman didn’t even so much as look at Anne or the others as she stormed out. Erik was just glad she was gone. Damn nobles always managed to screw up an operation.

“The others gave you the basic history?” Erik asked. Anne nodded. “Good. Lady Maritza is going to help us smuggle you out of the city. Apparently your fellow cops are looking for you.”

“What do you mean, smuggle me out?” Anne asked.

“We need to get you back to Avalon to figure out why the Dark Towers want you so badly,” Erik answered.

“No,” Anne said, gripping her pistol tighter, “I’m not going to let you take me.”

“Are you insane?” Erik asked, exasperated, “Do you remember the monsters you fought at the warehouse? Do you want those things popping up in the city looking for you? We can protect you in Avalon.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got a serial killer running around out there,” Anne said, “Unless it was one of those monsters doing the killing, I’m not going to leave until I’ve caught the bastard.”

“Erik, stop,” Samantha said. Then she turned to Anne. “If we can help you find this killer of yours, will you consider coming back to Avalon with us?” Anne thought it over for a moment, and then nodded.

“Good, then might I suggest that Kurt take you home so that you can call your people,” Samantha said, “He can also take the night watch tonight.”

“Night watch?” Anne asked.

“Anne, you’re going to need one of us nearby in case Arem tries again,” Samantha said. “Kurt can watch you tonight. One of us will meet you in the morning to discuss these murders of yours and see how we can help catch the killer.”

“What am I supposed to tell everyone?” Anne asked.

“You’re smart. You’ll come up with something,” Veronica said, walking over to Anne. The small woman touched Anne’s head and murmured a string of sing-song words. Anne felt a rush of heat that dissipated quickly. “There, that should help.”

Detektivin, if you will follow me,” Kurt said, with a low bow. Damn it. On anyone else, the gesture would have been cheesy. The German just pulled it off with a dashing charm.


Anne followed Kurt back out of the house. He led her over to the garage and opened the passenger door of a beige sedan with a flourish. Anne smiled.

“You know, I can open the door myself,” Anne commented as she sat down in the car.

“You’ve had a very bad night,” Kurt said, “Please allow me to try and make it a bit better.” He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. Anne leaned back in her seat. A very bad night? That was an understatement.

“Where would you like to go?” Kurt asked as he climbed into the car, “Home? Your office? The hospital? Dinner?” There was a slight mischievous glint in his blue eyes as he said the last word.

“Home, I guess,” Anne said, pushing down a long-forgotten flutter in her stomach. Damn it, this guy kidnapped her. I don’t care if he is pretty to look at. And the accent is kind of cute. No! His employers want to take me to another world.

“I am truly sorry that you are involved in this, Detektivin Hearst,” Kurt said. Anne could sense something more in his words than a simple apology.

“Who?” Anne asked, guessing.

Meine Mutter und mein Vater” Kurt answered quietly, “Sorry, my mother and father. I was four.” Anne could see an intense pain in Kurt’s eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Anne said, reaching out to Kurt’s shoulder.

“We all have our personal tragedies,” Kurt said, “They help make us what we are.” The pained look was replaced by a knowing one. Anne suddenly felt very uncomfortable. How much did these people know about her? Did they know about that? From the look in Kurt’s eyes, they did. Kurt must have read her expression, because he quickly turned away. “I’m sorry, Detektivin.”

“So what should I tell my superiors?” Anne asked, quickly changing the subject.

“Simple is best,” Kurt answered, “Elaborate stories tend to have holes that others can open and unravel the whole thing.”

“Yeah, my mom was always–” Anne stopped, “Oh my God, if my mom thinks I missing, she’s going to be out of her mind.”

“Calm down, Detektivin,” Kurt said, “Think this through. Your mother will soon know her daughter is fine. Better to concentrate on how you are going to explain tonight’s events.”

“You don’t know my mother,” Anne said.

“I know that she raised a remarkable woman,” Kurt said. Anne’s cheeks heated at the unexpected compliment. “I think she’s stronger than you would like to give her credit for.”

“Maybe,” Anne said, not ready to accept that idea.

“Why did you go to that warehouse?” Kurt asked.

“I don’t know. Something about this case. I just needed to see the murder scene again,” Anne answered. A concerned look flittered across Kurt’s face. “What?”

“Something pulled you to the scene?” Kurt asked. “Remember to tell Samantha when you see her tomorrow. It may be your own instincts, or it could’ve been someone luring you into a trap. At any rate, begin with you going back to the scene of the latest murder.”

“I went back to the scene,” Anne began, “Then I was attacked. It would explain some of these injuries and my smashed radio.”

“Do you know who attacked you?” Kurt asked.

“No, I can’t remember,” Anne said, “I just remember you.”

“Well, that’s a pleasant thought,” Kurt said, “What do you remember about me?”

“That you found me outside the docks and offered to help. All I could think was getting home,” Anne said.

“Why not the hospital?” Kurt asked.

“Because I’m stubborn,” Anne answered, “I kinda have a reputation for that.”

“Well, that should work. Good thing too,” Kurt said.

“Why?” Anne asked.

“Because we are about to get pulled over,” Kurt answered. An instant after he spoke, brilliant blue and red lights erupted around them. It wasn’t just one police car. The entire area was suddenly swamped with police.

“This should be fun,” Kurt said.

Friday Quote – 11/22/13

We’re not allowed to call the Higgs boson the ‘God Particle’ anymore because now there is evidence that it exists.

Sean Carroll, physicist and author

Giggle, chuckle, HAHAHA!

Lion Hunting Controversy

There’s been an internet brouhaha over a television personality posting a picture of her lion trophy, which was then exacerbated by another internet celebrity going batshit over sport hunting.

This little post does a damn good job explaining why hunting, especially sport hunting, makes sure that whole species of animals don’t join the dodo or Tasmanian Tiger in the dustbin of history.

Metal Tuesday – Insomnium – Mortal Share

Insomnium is a wonderful of expression of thundering rage heavily tinted with melodic melancholy. Every single album of their’s has been excellent and you can see their songwriting ability grow and mature from release to release.

Last week’s Disillusion may have my favorite album, but Insomnium are my favorite band. Hell, I dragged Derek from Florida to D.C. to see them in concert. (Derek Note: I went to go see two things: Alestorm and the NRA Museum.)

Picking a single song is difficult but I finally decided on Mortal Share off of Above the Weeping World.


In their lofty chambers dwell
The sacred and divine
Resting in seraphic bliss
The timeless and sublime

Far above the mortal sphere
Dreaming without a care
Far above the weeping world
Sleeping amidst the light of stars

Too far away to hear our calls
Too far away to care at all

On the burnished thrones they sit
Might in their blazing eyes
Vault of heaven at their feet
Undying flames inside

Never shall decay or death
Touch on the blithe souls
Sorrowless the days of gods
Amidst the everblooming groves

But where do we lay our heads to rest?
Where do we shelter when the night falls?

For the part of man
Is to take the somber path
Stumble in the dark
Stray amidst the dust and ash

Like forgotten ghosts
Drifting in the driving wind
Dashing towards the void
Whirling blindly through the night

Like water flung from the highest cliff
We fall,
and fade away
Down into the unknown

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 6


POLICE! Drop your weapons!” Anne screamed at the two men as they came into the room. Both were dressed like SWAT and holding stubby submachine guns. They professionally scrutinized the scene and lowered their submachine guns. Anne glanced at Erik. He didn’t look confused or tense. He just looked annoyed. Anne guessed that the two tactical guys were also Avalonian.

“Police? What the hell are the police doing here?” asked a woman’s voice. A tall, statuesque woman walked in behind the two tactical guys. Anne swallowed hard and lowered her own pistol. That elegantly coiffed brunette with the hard blue eyes was Mrs. Maritza Holland, the wife of if not the wealthiest man in the city, definitely one of the top five. Mrs. Holland was a big player in the society circles and could squash Anne’s career without breaking a sweat. So, why was she here?

“You! What the hell are you doing here?” Mrs. Holland asked as she caught sight of Erik.

“The Saint’s work,” Erik quipped. The two tactical guys traded a wary look, but Mrs. Holland didn’t seem fazed.

“And you kidnapped a cop? Then, you use one of my safehouses? Are you out of your mind?” Mrs. Holland asked, storming over to Erik.

“The detective was the reason we’re here,” Erik answered, “Your safehouse was the closest when we were ambushed picking her up.” Mrs. Holland looked over at Anne with an intense scrutiny.

“Detective, are you alright?” Mrs. Holland asked.

“I think so ma’am,” Anne answered, surprised by the question, “Are you an Avalonian?” Mrs. Holland whirled on Erik.

“Exactly what did you tell her?” Mrs. Holland asked.

“We were in the middle of explaining who we are when you came bursting through the door,” Samantha snapped, and then looked mortified as Mrs. Holland glared at her.

“Lady Maritza, can I speak with you privately?” Erik asked.

Lady Maritza? Anne thought to herself, Exactly who is this woman, and why does everyone but Erik looked cowed by her?

I’m not sure we can answer that right now, but yes, she’s important in our world, Samantha answered in Anne’s mind, Sorry, but you’re ‘yelling’ your thoughts right now.

“Very well,” Mrs. Holland answered. She motioned for her two guards to remain as she followed Erik upstairs.

“So where were we?” Samantha asked, “Oh yes, the barrier came down in 1635, and we started our centuries-long war with the Dark Towers.”

“Um, should you be telling her this?” one of the guards asked.

“Yes,” Samantha answered, “Of course, the early years were dark. We had no idea of how to fight the Dark Towers’ monsters. They’d swept away our few outposts and pushed us back to the walls of Avalon. Then a coalition of psychics and magic-wielders helped to defeat the Dark Towers army at our walls. We learned how to fight. If In the years since, we’ve allied with the Elven Empire and the Dwarven Kingdoms. We managed to not only push the Dark Towers back, but actually managed to capture one.”

“We also had a lot of help from Britain and America,” Veronica admitted, “We couldn’t have reclaimed Freesport without their help.”

“The governments know about Avalon?” Anne asked.

“With the elves’ help, we managed to establish a stable gate on a South Atlantic island. Technically, we belong to the Commonwealth for diplomatic purposes on this world.”

“Then why have I never heard of any of this?” Anne asked, agitated.

“The Treaty of London,” Veronica answered, “The governments kept us quiet and we keep the monsters from coming over to this side.”


“Explain yourself Jaegar,” Lady Maritza demanded as soon as the master bedroom’s door was shut.

“The elves handed us intelligence that the Dark Towers had a major operation starting, and it involved that woman,” Erik answered, “The Saint asked me to get a small team together and deal with the woman.”

“So why is she here and not dead?” Lady Maritza asked.

“Because she’s not a summoner nor a bargainer,” Erik answered, “We don’t know why the Dark Towers wants her. So, I went to collect her tonight and ran into a snatch team led by Arem.”

“That’s impossible. That elf is dead,” Lady Maritza said, her face paling.

“That’s what I thought too,” Erik said, “But I saw him tonight. I fought him. It was Arem. He demanded that I hand over that woman to him. Not a chance in hell. We need to find out what’s so special about her, and that is probably going to mean getting her back to Avalon.”

“That may be more difficult than you expect,” Lady Maritza said, “Your little firefight drew official notice.”

“What notice?” Erik asked, “There shouldn’t have been any bodies for the police to find. Death breaks the connection with the Earth’s wild magic and forces the monsters’ bodies back to Avalon.”

“Bodies no, but the police managed to recover lots and lots of spent bullets, casings, and the destroyed radio of the detective downstairs. They are in a frenzy to find her. Getting her out of the city, much less to Avalon Island will be challenging,” Lady Maritza explained, “You should have come to me as soon as you landed in this city.”

“You weren’t supposed to know we were in the city,” Erik said, “This was supposed to be a quick hit and extract. Everything we had said that she was working with the Dark Towers.”

“Are you sure she isn’t?” Lady Maritza asked.

“Samantha is, or the detective would already be dead,” Erik said. “I trust my people.”

“I’m sure your people are trustworthy,” Lady Maritza said, “What I don’t understand is why the Saint would trust you. Especially after the Commandant Affair.” Erik managed to get his sudden anger under control, but Maritza could see the blow had landed.

“You’d have to ask the Saint,” Erik managed, “He recruited me back into Blackguard for this mission. And since you are now aware of the job, are you going to help us extract, or do I have to do this myself?”

“Oh, I’ll help,” Lady Maritza said, “If for no other reason than to get you out of this city before the Americans realize what’s going on.”

Quotes from the gaming session

“That smells like someone puked into a dirty diaper.”

“Do you know what that symbol means? Do you want to?”

“We are not doing an24-style interrogation with the eight year old at the table.”

More to come later…..

Friday Quote – 11/15/13

The question isn’t who is going to let me; the question is who is going to stop me.

Ayn Rand, author and creator of the Objectivist philosophy

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