Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mad Science Popcorn

Once, while I was working at a concession stand, they had me do nothing but the popcorn. Such a mundane repetitive task might be boring to some. I chose to make it more interesting. I got to see what happens when you vary the oil, popcorn, and flavor mixture in increasing extremes. Some combinations worked well, others were...messy. (I think the double oil mixture proved most successful.)

Never let a mad scientist be in charge of your popper.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Respectful Treatment

"I don't think you treat me with respect."

"On the contrary, sir, I treat you with the same respect I have for most people."

"...And how much is that?"

"Hardly any."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is dead! Like Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez, he demonstrated through deeds the utter hopelessness and horrors of socialism and communism in practice. Thousands upon thousands of dissidents killed and in jail. Obscene mortality rates under backwater "universal health care." Their socialist economics starved the people to death, as their communist government murdered any who dared speak out.

Let's hope that his death will signal the impending demise of socialism in Cuba. That they will hopefully begin to transition away from the outdated economic and political systems of an earlier century and toward one of civilized societies: the free market and a constitutional republic.

Castro's failure to improve the lives of the people under him should be remembered for centuries to come as a reminder of why socialism and communism have never worked and will never work. And why any who espouse such systems here or abroad are fundamentally the enemies of all mankind. Let us never indulge the Castro sympathizers, because they desire the deaths of their neighbors.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Lame Harry Potter pick up line:

"Are you a fantastic beast? Because I just found you."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Glitter IUD's

In a world with IUD's infused with glitter...

"They didn't warn us. We should have seen it, but we were fools. FOOLS. We knew glitter was immortal, ever lasting wherever it touched. How we never saw what might happen if we let it inside. Sure, it stopped babies, but no one thought about what happens after...

"It started small, at first. 'The new Liberace's' they called them: babies with amazing sparkle talents born across the world. We stood in awe of their glittery wonder, ignorant to what would happen next...

"More people used them. An entire generation, stewed in an unholy mix of bodily fluids, fevered dreams, and glitter. When they came, we all thought it would be a new renaissance, a golden age of mankind. We would have new gods to worship, to bathe us in their multicolored glow.

"But what we got. These weren't gods. They were demons. We'd opened Guf's Door, and from it emerged beasts clad in Rhine stones and calling for human sacrifice in blaring falsetto screeches.

"We had brought back...disco."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ordinal Numbers and Letters

In terms of spacing, incrementing by letters allows greater distinctions than numbers. Given a single space, digits can do ten distinctions: 0-9. Letters have 26: A-Z. Add a second space. Numbers give you 100, but letters can do 676.

Interesting that, by nature, we tend to use numbers over letters for sorting, despite the greater economy of a letter-based ordinal system.

Friday, November 18, 2016


"Education is messing with students' minds." - Ed Burger, President of Southwestern University

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lessons of Presidents

Each president has taught us something, usually a negative lesson. As the threat of authoritarian rule increases in America, ti is good to reflect on what we've learned so far. Most of these lessons are reminders of warning from our founding fathers.

From Bush, we saw that power wielded "for the greater good" was still evil. Domestic spying, foreign invasions, and indefinite detentions were carried out to "help" us, but they only resulted in tearing down our rights and freedoms. The panopticon grew stronger. Bush convinced us to trade liberty for security and reminded us why that exchange is never equivalent.

Obama showed us that politicians who promise "hope and change" will never deliver. Empty rhetoric can inspire and attract, but corruption and abuse of power will lurk behind honeyed words. The use of government agencies to silence and suppress dissent, threats made to the careers of skeptical journalists, and the assassination of American citizens via drones without judge or jury were all from this time.

His supporters also displayed a new level of blind loyalty. All criticism of Obama was "racist." Those who opposed his policies were "traitors." Truth became treason to those who backed the empire of lies. And these were people who had previously spoken (rightly) against the excesses of Bush. Their opposition to authority was revealed not as a matter of principles, but of preferring authority figures who shared their affiliation.

Now we have Trump. What will be his lesson? Using the expanded authority ushered in by Obama, he will wield unprecedented executive power. And his clear disregard for liberty and federalism means he will not hesitate to use it. Even while an "outsider" (a title that can be debated), he will still behave as a central overbearing autocrat. The flaws and failures of Bush and Obama will be repeated. He portrays himself as an outsider and businessman. But while a businessman he may be, he is no capitalist, having made his fortune by exploiting the system.

However, what is on trial with his election is, sadly, capitalism itself. To the average person, Trump IS a capitalist. He is the representative of the free market, given the power and instructed to "drain the swamp" left by his two immediate predecessors. If he fails, the lesson people will take is not "authoritarianism is bad" (the bipartisan lesson of Bush and Obama) but that the free market really is to blame. The rabid insanity of Warren, Sanders, and other socialists and progressives will be held as true.

My primary worry is not a Trump presidency and the apparent madness he brings to the office. It is his highly likelihood of failure - and the madness of the NEXT president. All because we will have failed to learn our lessons.

Game Demo Experience

While demonstrating a game for a player, his grandma came over and asked what he was up to. He explained the game and added, pointing at me, "Don't worry, he's not one of the weird ones." I asked him what he meant and he replied that she was afraid he'd be influenced by Austin's "weird people." Note that I was dressed as a steampunk mad scientist when he said this.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Sleep and You Fail

While I worked as a cashier some time ago, I would have a lot of college kids buying coffee for midterms. I came up with this spiel I delivered while waiting for their receipt to print:

"Have you read your coffee's instruction manual? No? Okay, here's what you need to know. Sleep is a reset button. If you sleep, everything you've studied will be forgotten. So you must continue to consume coffee. Sleep and you fail. The only path to success is to stay awake. Forever."

I mixed this with a shorter variant:

"Don't sleep. Sleep and you fail. Midterms are faster than you can imagine. If you sleep, they'll catch you. And then it's over. I am so sorry."

Being a cashier was fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Ancient One

A fan theory on the Ancient One in the Dr. Strange film that isn't bad: the Ancient One, being very powerful with magic, knows how to shapeshift. So he decided one day to look like Tilda Swinton. Because who wouldn't?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Game Design Reflections

Some small notes I wrote to myself as I was developing games some time ago.

Creativity and follow through. Those are two key traits of successful creators. I like associating with people who have both and I get frustrated around those who have the former, but not the latter. The ground is strewn with the remains of wonderful projects that never saw the light of day because creative people couldn't get their act together. It's also a very good idea not to allow that type to be in charge - nothing will ever be completed.

Part of the steampunk experience that game needs to capture correctly is "class." Part of the veneer of the Victorian era was a certain high brow feeling to it. For a video game, that means interesting visuals. For a table-top RPG, that means words. Vocabulary is exceptionally important to create the right atmosphere. If you're trying to paint a 10-dollar scene with nickel words, it creates cognitive dissonance.

That feeling when you come up with a much cooler name for something than you originally had.

On race design: I like to take a page from TF2 and make sure each race has a different silhouette than the others. That is, seeing nothing but their outline, you can identify them. Too many humanoids gets repetitive. I think most players appreciate when developers put extra work into making really original races to play as rather than "generic orc #64289."

Don't create a "combat system" (an RPG mainly for fighting). Pathfinder and D&D do that already and are much more popular. Go for the people tired of combat after combat and want something else to bite into.

I am tempted to call explosives in my game "Badda Booms." I'm not going to, but the temptation is SO STRONG.

Crafting systems and how to implement them. You can go for realism and have it be slow, or you can go a more flashy, anime route. I haven't seen the latter done (and I think it'll be cool), so that's how my game will go with it. Super engineering indistinguishable from magic. All of the cool factor while still being rooted in scientific laws.

The benefit of creating a game on your own is also the downside: all the mistakes are yours. And it's up to you to fix it.

One benefit of creating a game of my own is the only mistakes in design will be mine. If prior experience is any indicator, that will be a welcome decrease in uncorrected errors. I have had so many experiences with spotting mistakes, pointing them out, and then being ignored only to end up proven right in the end. It was a running gag eventually where we'd tally up how often a suggestion made months or a year prior and rejected offhand would later turn out to have been the optimal solution all along. Now I just have to be sure to take my own advice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Go On

"But everyone thinks you're a monster!" said the child, horrified at the implication. "How do you go on?"

"I go on because I must," was his reply. The voice acquired a punctuating low bass as it grew more solemn. "I go on because the opinions of others do not shape me. It may make the going harder, but I have goals and dreams and I shall not rest until they are fulfilled. I do not crawl away and abandon my pursuits because others believe I have caused harm when I did not. Their beliefs are their own, as my purpose is mine."

The wizened face no longer appeared quite so weathered or tired. A fire burned within, one that gave a breath of vigor the boy had not seen before. "I go on because I know that I am not a monster - and that knowledge is all that matters."

Dead People Vote Now

I wonder how many dead people are casting ballots for Hillary today. And how many remembered to vote early and often?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Vote for the Lesser Evil

Student: Who did you vote for?

Me: Darth Vader. Force choke if you disagree with him? Now that's a guy who'll get things done.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mood Playlist

A selection of music to reflect my mood as my life continues on. The first 6 are where I was; the next 6 are where I am and will try to continue to be.

Lying Sacks of Crap

After the leaks that showed Hillary and the DNC rigged the primaries, Sanders fans were only JUST REALIZING that Hillary and her supporters - such as the DNC chair - are lying sacks of crap with no scruples about who they have to screw over for power.

Guys, we've known this since the 90's! This was entirely predictable! Sadly, this then turned into:

"I can't believe Hillary would do that to Sanders! That ticks me off!"
"She does it because she knows you'll vote for her anyway, no matter how dirty she gets shutting down Sanders."
"But we can't let a Republican win! No matter what!"
"And you just proved my point."

If your party can use your fear to ensure your slavish devotion, they don't have to follow the rules.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Current Status

(This is a very personal post. If you don't care for such things, you may ignore it.)

Am I currently safe? Yes! I am doing all right. I'm back to gaming weekly with friends and have several projects doing quite well.

As many of my friends know, the last month or so has been a time of high stress for me. I've had to deal with the worst breakup I've ever had, along with betrayal.

I want to take this time to thank the dozens and dozens of people who have come out to support me during this trying time. I've had people across the country - con chairs, vendors, artists, writers, and more - tell me they have my back. I've been invited to several conventions I've never been to before, offered spots on two podcasts, and introduced to an even broader range of people. A few of my exes have reached out to me and reminded me that, if I was anywhere close to as evil and despicable as what others say, they would have never dated me to begin with.

Despite the loss of a few friends, my core inner circle remains intact and by my side as my overall network has expanded. I think it's because I've done good things for others that so many are willing to aid me now. That's the best anyone can hope for in times like these. My overall faith in humanity has been bolstered by this.

I want to especially thank the Brown University alumni who have reached out to me about my ex. According to them, I am not her first victim. They've pledged support in any way they can if the attacks get worse. I am very grateful for this - it reflects well on Brown that it's alumni would come to the aid of a relative stranger in need.

There are 4 incidents I want to make public so people know they occurred:

1. On October 8, 2016, around 2 AM, there was a loud banging on the front door of my home. A figure ran away. I unfortunately could not see them clearly. I've since installed a security system in case this happens again.

2. On October 12, 2016, a black SUV with Texas plates followed my mom as she was taking out the recycling trash. It tailed her for several minutes and sped off when she tried to look closely at the plates. (She sadly did not get the plates, as she wasn't wearing her glasses at the time.)

3. On October 29, 2016, in the late evening, a car parked in front of our house, a passenger got out, watched our house for over a minute, and then got back in and drove off. This was not a vehicle that normally parks in this area.

4. There have been a marked increase in the number of phone calls from "ID blocked" and international numbers to my home since early October.

Authorities and my lawyer are aware of these incidents as well as the likely suspects. If anything happens to me, they'll be able to act on this. That lends me some peace of mind.

What now?

I'll be focusing on my writing and the various projects I've been invited to join. I'll continue to post to this blog, as I distance myself from social media.


You know how the Doctor can speak baby? I can speak high schooler. Geeky high schooler, but the dialect is close enough.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Haruhi Suzumiya as a tsundere I don't care about. Haruhi as a symbol of insane levels of energy and god tier reality bending from sheer force of will? Now that's the version I like. She's a force of nature that slams into everyone around her like a non-stop area explosion that only grows in intensity over time.

She's a less scheming version of the "puppet master" archetype that attracts me to many mad scientists. Her ability to ignore the laws of physics actually makes her more dangerous, since she doesn't have to come to success through experimentation or manipulation. If she wants it, reality obliges her by making it come to fruition.

As a manifestation of unbounded manic energy incarnate, Haruhi is fun on a lot of levels.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Criminal Investigations

"If I say a controversy is over played and act like we're sick of it, that means it's not a controversy anymore, right?"

"...That's not how criminal investigations work, Hillary."