Sunday, December 29, 2013

A present I made my friend Brad for Christmas.

There was only one rule: no money could be spent whatsoever. Brad is big into Star Wars, so I figured I'd make him a portrait made out of the opening crawls of all three Star Wars movies. (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the prequels.)

Anyway, this is it to the left. My friend Vera was watching me draw this at the Bean Broker, and seemed to like it, so hopefully he will too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

BoingBoing's got a North Korean denunciation generator.

This thing is so cool!

PYONGYANG (KCNA) — Voicing its agreement with the angry will of the people, a special tribunal demanded that a stern judgment should be meted out to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary faction led by Stuart Richards.

The era and history will eternally record and never forget the shuddering crimes committed by Richards, the enemy of the party, revolution and people and heinous betrayer of the nation.

These crimes will be admitted to, following which hurrahs for the Workers’ Party of Korea and socialism will reverberate far and wide.

In a bid to rally a group of reactionaries to be used for toppling the leadership of the party and state, Richards let the undesirable and alien elements, including those who had been dismissed and relieved of their posts after being severely punished for disobeying the instructions of Kim Jong Il and kowtowing to him work in a department of the Central Committee of the WPK and organs under it in a crafty manner.

Richards committed such anti-party acts as systematically denying the party line and policies and its organizational will. These acts were a revelation of deliberate and sinister attempt to create extreme illusion and idolization of Richards by appearing as a special being who can overrule issues decided by the party or its line.

Richards is a hooligan bereft of any personality as a human being, does not know even elementary diplomatic etiquette and lacks diplomatic ability, and will find that their frantic attempts to stifle the DPRK will be brought to an end.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The morality of gingerbread men.

Am I the only person that feels bad about eating gingerbread men? I can't be.

I mean, yes, they're unfeeling masses of flour, sugar, butter and spices. I get that. But they've been made to look like people. It's the whole logic of the uncanny valley in reverse: to a point, non-human things that resemble humans become more and more adorable the more they resemble humans. It's why puppies and kittens are cute; they act like us, sort of. We can understand their basic impulses because they're our basic impulses. And it's also why gingerbread men are cute: they're supposed to look like tiny little versions of us.

However, at a point, this logic flips on its head. When something is kinda like a human but kinda not, we get squicked out. Evolutionary biologists say this is a defense mechanism to prevent us from mating with humans that might have debilitating diseases, or wasting resources on humans that are likely unable to help the survival of the group. This is why zombies are so creepy, and why nobody gives half a thought to mowing them down with a lawnmower; indeed it's even kinda funny to watch.

However, this is also why burn victims face so much stigma; why disabled people are routinely discriminated against, why the mentally disabled are especially so discriminated against.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Stu Plays Civ: Britain, 1067 AD - 1311 AD.

(This is the latest in a series of posts about a Civ IV file wherein I'm trying to recreate the British Empire. Previous posts can be seen here, here and here. Anyway, without any further ado...

The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain, Part IV

From the reign of King William I of the British Empire (1066 AD - 1117 AD)

The death of King Edward II, the Confessor, brought a brief succession crisis. Brittany, an independent duchy on the Continental side of the English Channel, has long been an ally of the British Crown, and then it came under the personal union of Edward II in 1047 AD. The personal union ended when he made us, his nephew, Duke of Brittany.

Brittany had originally been founded with the fall of Roman Gaul. As the Franks poured into the territory, so did the British from Cornwall. King Malcolm's War, which raged from 325-355 AD, saw the expansion of Breton territory all the way to Champagne. Norsemen were hired to fight the Franks, and promised lands and fiefs of their own out of the conquered lands. Our ancestors were those Norsemen who conquered Normandy.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Today's music of choice.

I find myself going on a real psychedelic kick lately: listening to Sky Cries Mary, the Big Pink, and of course a lot of Pink Floyd's early stuff. If anyone knows any other mind-bending music, by all means hit me up in the comments.

Oddly enough, most of the Stones songs I enjoy are on this, their only psychedelic album, long before I knew this album existed. "She's Like A Rainbow" always reminds me of a friend of mine back in my undergrad days, and "2000 Light-Years From Home" is going on an upcoming Doors of Perception.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Facebook convo with Friend X.

Friend X
Dude, thought you'd love this one. My mom posted it on Facebook earlier today.

Friend X
Random photo of horses, check. Contrived and non-specific feel-good religious message, check.

Stuart Richards
That's... breathtakingly awful. I am in awe.

Friend X
Literally laughed out loud at the horses.

Stuart Richards
Like, what are they doing there? The horses look confused too.
They're all looking at you, like "What now, crazy person?"

Friend X
They're like, "WTF are you doing to that photo? Adding a preachy acronym? Naaaay, bro. I vote naaaay."

Stuart Richards
And then they harrumph.

Friend X
Perhaps the easiest overlooked but most random thing is the copyright claim.

Stuart Richards
Good point.
I mean, when you create gold like that, you don't want someone stepping on your legal rights.

Friend X
I copyright the word faith as an acronym. Sorry. All your hopes of making a killing on tee shirts at Family Christian Bookstore are dead now.

Every new beginning is some other beginning's end.

My buddy Nate and I have been living parallel lives in reverse ever since July 2011. We've both noted this phenomenon, and with my move, the chapter has finally closed.

July 2011: I arrive in Fort Collins, Colorado on a Greyhound. After hanging out with a friend for the night, he picks me up and we hang out with his brother for a few days at a Rennfaire, and then go to Chadron, where I have a job offer with Wreckers as security for Fur Trade Days.

I'm functionally homeless for two weeks as I take out loans to get a house that I'll share with Nate. I'm crashing on his couch, or when he's got family visiting, in his backyard. His parents are nice and I do a lot of cooking to sort of earn my keep until the stuff I mailed from Portland to myself arrives and we can get a house.

In short order, we do get a house. Technically one-bedroom, the basement can easily serve as a second bedroom. We'll eventually make the mud room (think a garage that you can't park a car in) into a third bedroom. I get the actual bedroom, Nate takes the basement. We don't know this yet, but it will be infested with wasps in short order. We will have a "Bug Board" keeping a running tally of bugs slain by each of us; at last count he was leading 127 to 6.

Nate gets a car. The first time I moved to Chadron, it was for a girl. Her parents still like me, and her dad works at one of the dealerships, and he hooks Nate up with an excellent 2001 Buick with all the stuff for $1800. We have a house, we have wheels. I need a job. He's got a job cooking at the nursing home.

Jingle hell.

My very first Black Friday happened on Thanksgiving.

To be fair, my Thanksgiving was already ruined. I was moving across town that day; I didn't have access to a U-Haul or a truck yet so we were taking loads in my car (we did get that thing working, and we even named it: "Stormy," because every other name suggested by a powder-blue car is, well, "precious") and those loads generally involved a bookcase sticking out of the trunk and bookshelves arranged in order in tubs and boxes weighing down the backseat. Draya would be in the backseat where what little room remained, making sure the bookcase didn't fly out into the street. It was a day from hell; we had expended a lot of effort and most of the house remained to be moved when we were done.

It was in that frame of mind that I trudged off with Nate to Walmart to hopefully buy an Xbox 360 for $100 during Black "Friday" on Thanksgiving.

I didn't like the idea of Black Friday already; as a supporter of working stiffs everywhere I really didn't like the idea of a bunch of poor bastards having to cut short their Thanksgiving for this bullshit. But, like most people there, I just couldn't resist the deal.