Archive for month: March, 2015

Family Dinner Night Part XVIII

31 Mar
March 31, 2015

Nephew: I can tell this baclava came from Whole Foods.

The rest of us give him quizzical looks.

Nephew: There is no sweetness in the honey.

FSM, I love my nephew.

Austin, the Only City in Texas Trying to Get Rid of BBQ

31 Mar
March 31, 2015

According to this story, the city of Austin has decided that barbecue joints need more regulatin’. I’m sure that those behind this measure will say it’s because of the environment, and how can these evil business people begrudge spending $20K to protect the future. [Insert sarcastic face].

I also have a sneaking suspicion that those behind this measure find barbecue on the “icky” side and really don’t care if some of the businesses go under because of their measure. 

Here’s hoping my favorite joint, the Ironworks, is still around the next time I make it to Austin. 

H/t Battleswarm 

Metal Tuesday – April Fool’s Part 3

31 Mar
March 31, 2015

Just like last year, follow the link.

There’s Gold in Them There…Sewage?

30 Mar
March 30, 2015

According to this article in the Guardian, scientists are looking at extracting valuable metals from human waste.

Sewage sludge contains traces of gold, silver and platinum at levels that would be seen as commercially viable by traditional prospectors. “The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” said Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey.
Smith and her colleagues argue that extracting metals from waste could also help limit the release of harmful metals, such as lead, into the environment in fertilisers and reduce the amount of toxic sewage that has to be buried or burnt.


Bad jokes aside, this is actually an interesting concept. It also reinforces the concept that as the price for a commodity rises, human ingenuity will come up with new ways to access those commodities. 

In this case, the commode. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 16

30 Mar
March 30, 2015

Erik

Erik felt more than saw the Servitors’ shield come down from Anne’s magic strike. He could see the shock on the cultists’ faces as they scrambled to finish digging their summoning symbol. All except their leader. The High Servitor seemed more annoyed than anything else. Erik brought up his Galil ACE and fired a burst at the man. The High Servitor anticipated the attack and pulled one of his minions to shield himself from the gunfire. The cultist jerked as the three bullets hit her and then went still. The High Servitor dropped the body and smiled. He bent down and drew a circle on the ground. Erik had a sinking feeling he knew what was going to happen next.

“Kurt, open fire!” Erik shouted an instant before the clearing rocked with a horrific roaring. Something large and tentacled lifted itself out of the circle. Erik couldn’t tell much more because it hurt to look at the monster. Kurt yelled something in German until the rapid dud-dud-dud of the machine gun drowned him out. As they’d planned, Kurt didn’t fire at the monstrosity that was bearing down on them. Kurt was there to kill as many of the Servitors as he could. Half a dozen of the Servitors were cut down before one of the monster’s tentacles ripped the machine gun from Kurt’s hands. Erik aimed at the painfully blurry mass and fired his grenade launcher. The monster’s howl drowned out the pop-hiss of the willie-pete grenade. The next thing Erik knew he was airborne and his ACE was bent nearly in half. 

Erik knocked down several of the black-eyes as he landed on them. He tossed the useless carbine aside and drew his revolver. Erik didn’t bother wasting the precious rounds in the cylinder on the black-eyes. He sprinted back towards the monster. It was still screaming in pain as John and Nigel each pumped in more of the burning white-phosphorous grenades. The monster lashed out at the two operatives. The chemical fire made weakened it, but the monster’s tentacle slap was still strong enough to throw John a good five meters. Erik braced and fired all five rounds in his revolver. 

Erik wasn’t sure where Kurt got the “mostly-depleted” uranium he’d used in constructed Erik’s bullets, and he damn sure wasn’t going to ask. Especially not after seeing the effect they had on the Outsider monster. It’s screams took on a new high-pitch wail, and it slinked back to the portal. Erik popped open the cylinder of his revolver and dumped the brass. From what he saw, another five “special” rounds should be enough to finish the monster.

The human scream ripped Erik’s eyes away from the monster. He looked to where the High Servitor stabbed deeper into Veronica’s chest. Blood poured out of the small woman onto the grass. The High Servitor smiled triumphantly and chanted something in the Outsiders’ infernal tongue. A brilliant white tear appeared in the air behind the pair. It had to have been fifty meters high. The bastard had managed to open a gate for the Outsiders. That must have taken most of the High Servitor’s power, because suddenly Erik felt all of his powers flood back into him. He was nearly buried under the emotions and psi-scents that permeated the clearing. Erik focused on the satisfaction of the High Servitor and Veronica’s terror. 

Far’ling gleamed in the night as Erik pushed himself into the air. The High Servitor’s satisfaction dimmed as he watched Erik arc through the air. Shock and surprise blossomed in the man. The High Servitor dropped Veronica and tried to run. Erik made a small adjustment and then felt the High Servitor’s vertebrae crack and pop under his weight as he landed. 

“The Nameless God will see this world before the night is done,” the High Servitor croaked. Erik silently slashed down with Far’ling and neatly parted the man’s head and body. Decapitation was one of those wounds that made resurrection nearly impossible. Erik’s head snapped up as he heard Veronica’s whimpers of pain. Erik leapt over to Veronica. She was still bleeding profusely from the stab. Erik slapped on the single magic-infused patch he had on him. It couldn’t heal a wound that severe, but it would make sure that Veronica didn’t bleed out.

“I’m going to get you to the medics,” Erik said, “This is going to hurt.” She pushed his hands away. “Veronica, we need to get you help, now.”

“Erik, stand me up,” Veronica wheezed. He felt the determination and fear running through the woman. Carefully, he used his power to help her stand. Veronica stared at the gate. Her determination and fear heightened even more.

“We need to close this gate. Right bloody now,” Veronica said, holding her hand to patch. “I can feel them coming through.”

“I can get Arem and Anne up here to help,” Erik said, but Veronica just shook her head. 

“No time, Erik,” Veronica said. “I can see the framework of the gate, but I need more power to close it.” She gave him a sad look. “I need Far’ling.” The request took Erik aback. He’d won the sword over a decade ago. The pleading look in Veronica’s eyes told him she understood how much the blade meant to him, and how desperately she needed it. Reluctantly, he handed the elven blade over to Veronica. She closed her eyes and murmured in elven. Then she collapsed to the ground and cried out in pain and frustration. 

“What?” Erik asked as he knelt next to Veronica. 

“It’s not enough,” she cried. She looked up at Erik and he felt the pure terror that ran through her. 

“I don’t want to die,” Veronica whispered. Erik didn’t understand why she said that, but he could feel her bracing herself. Veronica handed the sword back to him, and then gave him the most sorrowful expression he’d ever seen. 

“Erik, stab me through with that sword and toss me into the gate.”

Erik didn’t hesitate. The elven blade punched through Veronica’s chest like the woman’s body was made of silk. He felt her fear, pain, and last-second fight to cling to life. He used his power to hurtle the dying woman into the widening gate. The brilliant light was the last thing Erik remembered before everything went dark.    

Friday Quote – 3/27/15

27 Mar
March 27, 2015

Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.

Professor Aaron Levenstein

H/t to Archer over at Not One More Gun Law

It’s Frighteningly Easy To Kill A Bunch of People

26 Mar
March 26, 2015

Not from an emotional standpoint. Humans are generally adverse to killing. It’s why most have to be conditioned or put in extreme circumstances to kill another human being.

Technologically, on the other hand, it is scary easy. This week an airliner crashed in the Alps. Rare and tragic, but not unheard of in this day and age. Now we learn that the co-pilot most likely deliberately crashed the plane. 

As I write this, there has been no definitive reason for the co-pilot’s actions. 

Here’s the issue. We are being constantly told that something must be banned because it might be misused by someone. Just as long as that something is not routinely used by those that wished it banned. Why? Because when you use something routinely, you understand that an inanimate object lacks agency. It can’t do something without human direction or manipulation. As long as there are evil humans, they will use whatever means are available to accomplish their ends. It could be a gun, gasoline, glass bottle, or airplane. 

The object doesn’t matter. The action matters.

Disney Should Commission This Guy

25 Mar
March 25, 2015

This is just flipping awesome.

http://youtu.be/PN_CP4SuoTU

For some reason, it reminds me of the early Aeon Flux cartoons. Not the style of animation, but the storytelling style. 

Metal Tuesday – Testament – Hail Mary

24 Mar
March 24, 2015

Testament isn’t particularly one of my favorite bands, but I like their song “Hail Mary.”

Lyrics:

I am alive, I feel dirt in my eyes
There’s no escape when redemption is lost
I’m not a saint there’s no use to looking
No sins to deny just my will to go on
Arms of darkness embrace me in madness
In my life it’s mandatory
So hard to resist you, I still can’t forgive you
For sins that I cannot wash away
Hail Mary full of grace
Throw some light upon this race
Intertwining final breath
Now in the hour of death
Bound by the lies of constant denial
Pay for my sins that I bear for a child
I’m not a saint there’s no use denying
Falling from grace is my reason to go on
Hail Mary full of grace
Push me down and kick me in my face
Intertwining final breath
Now in the hour of death

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 15

23 Mar
March 23, 2015

Erik

Erik went down to his knees as the wave of Outsider power flashed out from the cultists. It was like the battle in Hope Park. He could feel his psychic abilities being locked away from him as pain radiated from those parts of his brain. Sam grunted in pain as she came under similar assault. Erik was about to tell her to stay back, but he saw the determined look in her eyes. The nice thing about working with someone you’d known for over half your life was that you learned when not to waste your breath on an order they would just ignore. Sam considered herself not just Veronica’s teammate, but her friend as well. Sam couldn’t sit back and do nothing when her friend was in trouble. Erik motioned his team cautiously forward.

The Americans had rushed into the fight. They’d been unprepared for the pure psychic power of the black-eyes gestalt. Several of the American agents were on the grassy ground, curled up in a fetal position, holding their heads, and murmuring to themselves. Most of the agents were up and trying to take the black-eyes down without killing them. Erik shook his head in annoyance. Handcuffing a black-eye still kept them in the gestalt. As long as they were in the gestalt, they contributed their power to the cultists.

“Ignore the black-eyes as best as you can,” Erik ordered his team, “Kill any that get in your way.” As if to punctuate his point, Erik put a pair of bursts into two black-eyes that had focused on him. An American agent who’d been busy wrestling another to the ground to flex-cuff the struggling woman gave Erik a slack-jawed stare.

“Did you want me to cut us a path?” Kurt asked, motioning with his light machine gun.

“Save your ammo,” Erik answered. He pointed across the field to where the Servitors were busily digging a summoning symbol into the ground. An unconscious Veronica laid next to a tall Servitor that was busily directing the other robed Servitors in their digging. Erik pegged him as leader. He seemed much too calm considering that his people were under assault by American law enforcement. On a hunch, Erik took aim with his ACE and fired a single round. The 7.62mm x 39 bullet disintegrated as it struck an invisible shield.

“Anne, I need your group to take down that shield,” Erik called. He waited for a moment as his team waded through the mass of black-eyes. “Anne?”


Anne

“Anne?” Erik asked again over the radio, his voice tinged with concern. Anne didn’t notice. She was too busy trying to remain conscious with the pain flooding her mind. This was so much worse than the last time. Her entire body felt like it was being crushed under the psychic lashing from the gestalt. The worst part was she knew that she was only getting a slight wash of the gestalt’s power. If whoever was directing that energy realized that there was an elf and a pair of sorceresses against them, Anne was pretty sure that they’d use all of the gestalt’s power to destroy her mind.

Anne felt a hand on her shoulder and the pain eased enough for her to think. She looked over and saw Arem. His normal smile was replaced by a rictus one. He was stretching to place his other hand on Agent Privas. The federal sorceress was curled up and screaming in pain. Forcing her legs to move, Anne scooted closer to Arem. The elf nodded and moved closer to Agent Privas. Her screaming quieted the instant the elf managed to touch her cheek. Anne felt her own pain drop even further.

Good, now maybe we can figure out how to actually do something, Arem’s disembodied voice rang through Anne’s head. I’m pulling enough wild magic through the two of you to give us a little bubble of respite from the black-eyes. Anne felt all of the magic she could handle flow through her to Arem.

“Erik needs us to take down that shield,” Anne said. “Can you bring some orcs through to take out the black-eyes?” Agent Privas looked horrified at the idea, but didn’t say anything.

“Anne, dearest, it’s taking all of my attention to keep up the binding protecting us,” Arem said. The elf turned to Privas. “Perhaps your people could actually kill the black-eyes instead of coddling them?”

“We couldn’t! Those are just misguided people under the influence of the core group,” Agent Privas said. “Maybe I can take over the binding from you so that you can focus on taking down the shield or something else.” Anne felt a pang of sympathy for Agent Privas’s position. Arem just sneered and waved his hand. The binding flashed and Anne’s mouth dropped at the intricate weaves of the streams of wild magic. Even Veronica’s most delicate spell work never matched the spell’s intricate bindings. Privas also looked dumbstruck.

“We need more power and we need someone who can do a binding to unravel that shield,” Arem said, looking directly at Anne. Something in the elf’s eyes terrified Anne.

“I don’t have any more power to give!” Agent Privas said, “You’re pulling all that I can handle to fuel your binding.” Then, the federal agent realized to whom Arem was talking. She looked over at Anne with a shocked expression. “You can pull more?” Privas sounded incredulous. Anne understood. Arem was pulling more magic through her than Anne thought possible. Her head ached, but it wasn’t from the black-eyes. She was hitting her block.

“You can take the block away, can’t you?” Anne asked. The elf nodded grimly.

“It was put there to protect you,” Arem answered. “I can turn it off, but it may break you.”

“We need to save Veronica,” Anne said, “We need to stop them.” Arem nodded.

“Brace yourselves,” Arem said, “I’m going to have to redirect some of the power for a moment. Hold tight.” Pain flashed through Anne as Arem weakened the shielding. Cold tendrils slipped into her mind and slithered to that dark place where her block lay. Under the tendrils’ touch, Anne’s block unraveled.

Her mind was flooded with a tidal wave of images and sounds from fragmented memories. Part of her just wanted to fold up under the barrage. It was just too much at once. Then she felt it pulsing in her mind. The magic. The torrent of streams of pure wild magic coursed through her. Anne reached out and the streams bended to her will. Anne looked out at where the black-eyes fought with the feds. Anne could see the wrong streams of energy flowing out from the now visible sphere. Anne saw where the Outsider energies danced within the streams of wild magic. Almost instinctively, Anne understood what needed to be done. The binding required the binding of all the streams of wild magic around her. Anne’s fingers danced as she directed the intricate weaves. With a scream, she released the binding.

The forest rocked with sound as the binding slammed into the Outsider energy and forced it back. Anne slumped to the ground exhausted as the shield fell and the black-eyes collapsed to the ground. She tried hard to keep the images of Arem and an elven woman murdering her infant sister from her mind just before she passed out.