Further Links from the Pile Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

Yes, even more links. I can feel my PageRank shrivelling away into a nub.

The Real World:


  • RPGNow has an earthquake relief bundle: $20 gets you over $330 worth of gaming PDFs, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross to assist victims in Christchurch. And Two Scooters Press offers this bundle to delay a single mother’s impending blindness from retinitis pigmentosa.
  • 2011 looks to be a busy year at Chaosium. Another edition of Call of Cthulhu is on the way. We’ll get a Cthulhu Invictus Companion and a new, expanded third edition of Cthulhu by Gaslight. We might even see the second edition of Beyond the Mountains of Madness in English! (They’re also looking for ideas for a hardback to be released later this year. I’d like to see a revised Shadows of Yog-Sothoth finally released.)
  • Miskatonic River Press’ epic Cthulhu Invictus campaign, The Legacy of Arrius Lurco, is on its way, too.
  • James Maliszewski looks to Chaosium’s new Call of Cthulhu as the very essence of how to release a new edition. And maybe he’s right: CoC players are uniquely placid about edition changes.
  • Campaign Mastery features a very in-depth, continuing series on pulp gaming, a must-read for fans of Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu.
  • Runeslinger (from Casting Shadows) looks at chases in Call of Cthulhu, and the value of running away.
  • If Call of Cthulhu (and Trail of Cthulhu) are a little too complex and rules-heavy for your tastes, KORPG Games offers Call of d6-lite, a simple, one-page alternative.
  • The blog Exchange of Realities certainly looks worth delving into, dealing as it does with the intersection between fiction and roleplaying techniques.
  • Geekcentricity defends mediaeval gaming, and shows the benefits of quasi-historical settings over pure high fantasy.
  • Planet Algol reveals the real reason why there are no Dwarf women.
  • JP Chapleau delivers a cogent opinion piece on the future of D&D 4e, the RPGA and the Living Forgotten Realms campaign.
  • The Red DM delivers an equally cogent plea for game designers to adhere to the KISS Principle, over at The Red Box Blog.
  • And in a similar vein to Inkwell Ideas’ link from Sunday, the awesome Chuck Wendig reiterates that worldbuilding is a kind of masturbation. (Oh, and I like italics, too.)

Of course, there aren’t many old links here, but I suppose that’s what you get for going from the top of the pile… So yes, there’s still plenty more to come. In the meantime, check out The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets’ 20 Minutes of Oxygen.


More Old News Monday, Feb 21 2011 

Gulfstream G550

Image via Wikipedia

Further to yesterday’s collection of links:

The Real World:

  • Are cities governed by predictable mathematical relationships? Physicist Geoffrey West thinks so.
  • The New York Times compares IMF indicators of advanced economies.
  • The Australian government has spent more than $5.5 billion over the past decade to reduce carbon emissions. They aren’t getting very good value for money.
  • A billion dollars will buy you a Maybach 62 Landaulet luxury car, a Gulfstream G550 personal jet, a 104m yacht, a 7-bedroom mansion near Silicon Valley, an island in the St Lawrence Seaway (complete with a castle to use as a summer home), and a Patek Caliber 89 watch to time how long it takes to travel between them all—with enough change to stay in the Imperial Suite of Paris’ Park Hyatt Vendôme for 112 years, should you get bored with your surroundings. And then things get really obscene
  • Even if you don’t own a Maybach, you can use SQL injection to avoid speeding fines. (For the less technically minded, the camera reads and executes the text across the car’s front bumper; it’s a command to erase the camera’s entire database of stored number plates!)
  • Michael Lewis provides the inside dirt on the Irish economic collapse, over at Vanity Fair.
  • Movies get a lot of things wrong about serving in the military. Cracked.com examines just five of them.
  • National Geographic explores the catacombs of Paris; meanwhile, the Japanese government plans to excavate the research headquarters of Unit 731, the secret biowarfare R&D group infamous for live testing on prisoners in WWII.
  • The public, third-party release of 3D printing designs for Settlers of Catan pieces has raised new questions about intellectual property and games.
  • A British immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by putting her on a terrorist watchlist whilst she was visiting relatives in Pakistan. His actions were only discovered three years later, when he went for a promotion—when the routine security check revealed that he was married to a terror suspect.
  • Are you geeky? Are you hungry? Then head over to The Necronomnomnom and get cooking! (Just save me some, okay?)


Bonus Link: Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death. And, yes, there’s plenty more where these came from…

All the News You’ve Already Read Sunday, Feb 20 2011 

From left: Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winte...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been nearly six months since I’ve had a reliable Internet connection. However, there was one spot in the house at Young where I could get sufficient coverage to browse Twitter on my mobile, and I got into the (bad) habit of emailing interesting links to myself to view later.

That was some 2200 links ago. I can’t find anything in my inbox now. So, I’ve finally decided to go through them and share the best of them here. Most of them were of only passing interest, but a few were worth passing on:

The Real World:


More links as I get to them.

Blogging in Exile: Ewww Tuesday, Jan 4 2011 

7mate‘s middle-of-the-day, 1980s lineup includes Baywatch, right from the very beginning. I never noticed it before, but I can’t keep my eyes off Erika Eleniak. It’s the monobrow, you see. Everyone else sees a blonde Playboy model; I see Nick Giannopoulos in a one-piece bathing suit.

It’s one of those car-wreck things.

Blogging in Exile: The Razor in the Closet Sunday, Jan 2 2011 

My local library rocks, when it’s not full of backpackers sating their wifi needs. Not only did I pick up Cold Print and Inglourious Basterds, but also Larry Writer’s excellent Razor, a history of East Sydney’s razor gangs of the 1920s to 1940s. Not only is it a fascinating read, but it also poses a few awkward questions.

Australia never had Prohibition per se, but in 1916, around 5000 soldiers rioted, looted and drank outer-suburban Liverpool dry, before heading into the centre of Sydney to do the same. After three days of drunken mayhem, the state government instituted the Liquor Act, and a referendum later that year saddled New South Wales with what was known as the Six-o’clock Swill: until it was repealed in 1955, pubs were banned from serving alcohol after 6pm.

In the wake of this, the “sly grog” trade sprang up, serving often watered-down drinks after hours; Sydney’s sly-groggeries were somewhat analogous to America’s speakeasies. By the Depression, many Sydneysiders couldn’t afford to go the track, but would bet nonetheless, so the provision of sly grog went arm-in-arm with prostitution, illegal, off-track SP betting and cocaine traffic.

Family legend has it that my grandfather was distantly descended from English and Spanish gentry, and (aside from one black sheep) my grandmother from decent, but hard-working, Scots and Irish migrants. But genealogy shows that both came largely from convict stock, transported to Australia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

In the late 1920s to the early 1940s—records show, for much longer than I’d been led to believe—my grandfather was a talented boxer. He and my grandmother drove taxis in central Sydney. At other times, he worked as a bookmaker; family whispers suggest that my grandfather’s bookmaking may have taken place off-track. (A rumoured feud with the Waterhouse family, however, hints that he may occasionally have seen horse flesh.)

My grandfather was in the habit of concealing cash about his person—the bag with his bookmaking takings was mostly rolls of banknote-sized pieces of newspaper, rolled up with only a few small-denomination notes on top. Presumably, this was to foil standover men, protection racketeers who specialise in victimising small-time criminals. (Mark “Chopper” Read is a relatively modern example.)

My grandmother always kept a loaded rifle in the house. And she was tough, never having trouble from male taxi passengers in that relatively lawless era, and—family legends once again attest—holding her own a couple of decades later in an on-air run-in with Germaine Greer.

At one point, at least, they were wealthy enough to afford waterfront property at the western end of the harbour. But in the early 1940s, as war raged across the world, they settled down: my grandfather enlisted and became a mechanic at de Havilland‘s facility near Bankstown Airport, and my grandmother raised their daughters, renovated a series of houses and ran a fruit-and-vegetable shop. They moved out to Fairfield, then (as now) home to many of Sydney’s New Australians. Although they never discussed it, it seems that their fortunes had waned.

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