La Princesse

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Apr 102011
 

La Princesse is a 15-metre (50-foot) mechanical spider designed and operated by French performance art company La Machine. The spider was showcased in Liverpool, England, as part of the 2008 European Capital of Culture celebrations, travelling around the city between 3-7 September. In 2009, it was on display in Yokohama, Japan, as part of Yokohama’s 150th anniversary of its port opening. – wikipedia

La Princesse in Liverpool

May 312010
 

Papa Neutrino is the most interesting homeless man ever.

Poppa Neutrino or William David Pearlman (b. 1933), a native of Fresno, CA is a philosopher, raftbuilder and musician.  He has built several rafts out of donated and recycled materials on which he has lived and sailed. In 1997 Poppa Neutrino sailed one of his homemade rafts from North America to Europe becoming the second person to sail a raft across the Atlantic and the first to do so on a raft made from trash.  Betsy Terrell, his wife, was the captain and navigator on the crossing.

Inspired by a documentary he saw when he was twelve years old, in which Australian aborigines periodically burnt their homes and walked away naked, free to start a new life, he teaches cooperation, anarchy, antiestablishment and empowerment to people trapped by the concept of job and rent.  Thus Poppa Neutrino builds his own homes out of discarded materials on free space (public waterways) and supports himself by public speaking and playing music in a band, the Flying Neutrinos.

I highly recommend the documentary Random Lunacy, watchable for free at the time of this writing at hulu.

Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World

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May 252010
 

1983 was one of the Cold War’s warmest years: amid unusually-high diplomatic tensions, the Soviet military feared (and in some corners expected) a preemptive attack by the US. America’s Minuteman ballistic missiles could strike a target anywhere in the world in less than 30 minutes, and its medium-range missiles in Europe were only 8 minutes from their Soviet targets. The USSR in turn relied heavily on “Oko,” its satellite-based launch-detection system to provide the first warning of an attack.

On September 26, 1983, Oko was in the hands of lieutenant colonel Stanislav Petrov when the sirens went off in the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow. In the following minutes, Petrov made what is arguably the most single important decision in the history of mankind…

You can find many more news stories and videos here

RPTools Open-Source Software For Tabletop RPG’s

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May 202010
 
screenshot from RPTools "MapTool"

RPTools is a brand of open-source programs designed to enhance traditional pen-and-paper role playing games. They can be used for face-to-face play, or Internet role-playing in real time even if your players are on the other side of the world.  MapTool (which is our free virtual tabletop application) in particular works great with voice-chat services!

These tools are not a role playing game by themselves, nor are they meant to replace everything at the RPG table. Rather, they are designed to be as flexible as we can make them, usable for a wide variety of gaming systems, from fantasy to sci-fi; from tabletop miniatures games to purely spoken-word games.

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D&D Engine for Microsoft’s “Surface” Tabletop Touch-Screen

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May 202010
 
D&D on MS Surface

D&D on MS Surface

This makes me want to weep.  But, you know, in a good way.

“These games tend to be the domain of geeks is that they require math, and lots of it. Line-of-sight for attacks; variables for cover and concealment; modifiers for things like how much weight can be carried and whether your character is currently on fire–all these can make the game a laborious process for those who don’t have a love of such things.Then I heard that some whiz kids with Carnegie Mellon’s SurfaceScapes team had been developing just what I wanted: D&D for the Surface. After a few e-mails, I got word that the team would be showing it off for the people at Microsoft and that Yours Truly, living in Seattle, would have a chance to try it out. You’d better believe I was excited.

And not just because of the novelty. The Surface did indeed live up to its potential as a gaming platform. There are no cumbersome character sheets with stats, abilities, and so forth; all that stuff is handled in the game’s brain so you’re free to shoot magic missiles at orcs.”