Where do I know that from?


Via Charles Stross’ LJ, I found this Astronomy knowledge quiz. Since the link was posted, the quiz writer modified the results so it gives you the ratio of correct answers in each category rather than the precentage. So I got 5 of 5 background knowledge, 6 of 8 solar system, 6 of 6 stars, and 5 of 5 galaxies.

More interesting to me than the results is tracking down where I got my knowledge from. Come back here after looking at the quiz..

  • A TV Educational show called The Universe and I (not sure about the name - Google is ignorant of it. I recall it was pretty good). - source for 1 and 2 (they had a show about a scientist obsessed with terraforming Venus). Also, probably Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
  • Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is apparently where I learned my history of Astronomy - questions 4, 5 and 6.
  • 3 I got by guesswork - a 3:2 spin:orbit coupling seems more likely for a planet that’s very close to the Sun.
  • I can’t pinpoint the source for 7. But it’s the only name on the list which pops up when the expansion of the universe is mentioned.
  • I think Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Oddessy 2010 (the book) is where I got 8.
  • I got 9 totally wrong, just by guessing that Saturn’s rings should be, well, big
  • (10) - Mars, duh! Emm, lots of places, but Sagan’s Cosmos is probably the most prominent one. Terry Bisson’s Voyage to the Red Planet and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Green Mars (the novella) make good use of Valle Marineris and Olympus Mons respectively, and any discussion of Martian terraforming talks about those Ice caps.
  • (11) - Umm, some recent New Scientist article that popped through my Bloglines feed?
  • (12) - There was an article in a PC computing magazine I read back in the days when inserting software into a magazine meant including listings in BASIC, which was about a program for generating realistic Science Fiction planets. I couldn’t get the program to run (I had the wrong type of computer, and I don’t remember if I bothered typing it all in), but that article fascinated me, and it explained stellar classification to introduce the background. I’ve read the stellar classification primer stuff lots of times since than (the mnemonic I might have read elsewhere), but that was the article that etched OBAFGKM into my mind.
  • (13) - either Cosmos or some popular science article I read since. Larry Niven loves these things too, maybe he mentioned them.
  • (14) - either Cosmos or those “how to create Science Fiction planets” articles I read since the first one.
  • (15) - A guess using common sense.
  • (16) - a guess, following from (15).
  • (17) - Asa Dotzler’s blog (which I read in Bloglines). The only things he blogs about seem to be Mozilla and Mars exploration.
  • (18) - Most popular articles about recent Cosmology that I ran across seem to mention the Microwave background radiation of the Universe.
  • (19) - Guess. Also, I know Astronomers like spectral analysis, whatever that is.
  • (20) - Larry Niven’s talk in the 1990 San Diego Comic Con, where he regalled the audience with tidbits of his Green Lantern pitch. One of the things I remember is his idea that the Green Lantern power ring’s inability to effect the color yellow had something to do with the fact that the newly created universe was once all yellow (presumably that’s why the Guardians couldn’t see further back into the origin of the Universe, which is why they had Crisis on Infinite Earths, or something.

So, to summarize my results:
You are a geek, who reads a lot of blogs. Also, Cosmos was a damn good show.

The Wrong Line


Variety.com - Inside Move: Fanatics laying it on the line

Saturday, 46 days before “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” opens on May 19, the trilogy’s enthusiasts began their vigil outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Problem is 20th Century Fox doesn’t plan to open the film at the Chinese, opting instead for the ArcLight a few blocks east.

When you read the story, of course, it gets more complicated.

[via Nick Mamatas]

Lousy Players and Lousy GMs


Greg Stolze, who is currently promoting a tactical wargame of his design, to be released if enough people come up with the “ransom” for it, summarizes the results of two rpg.net forum threads which rated the various flaws od Lousy Players and Lousy GMs.

Well, at least I provide plenty of unchallenging sessions. And I give PCs lots of superpowers sometimes. Except I take them away. But I don’t railroad. Or prepare. And my Leadership sucks.

Strangely, although I’ve been characterized as “an asshole player”, I don’t see my flaws listed. Are they?

Link dump of roleplaying stuff


Assorted roleplaying links, to clear out my bookmarks.

What is Romantic Fantasy? by John Snead - The developer of Blue Rose defines the sub-genre of his game. Interesting thoughts on a whole swath of Fantasy writing that is usually looked down upon, but which pretty much defines many of the basic assumptions of “generic” fantasy. Proves my old point that RPGs are habitual scavangers of the corpses of sub-genres, i.e, that once a sub-genre has been defined into a shape you can do as an RPG, it has hardened into a list of cliches and trademark ticks.
Which is a problem for something like Cyberpunk, which has lost all novelty from it’s eighties snarl, but not for Fantasy, which thrives on comfortable familiarity.

The Primeval Games Press website has a series of interviews with indie roleplaying game designers. Here’s one with the interesting Vincent Baker, (whose game-theory blog is worth looking at) but it’s interesting to compare it to others on the site, in particular to that with the one with Chad Underkoffler, who’s much more “traditional” in outlook.

Finally, Darkpages claims to be a roleplaying game, but so far is a set of short fanfics, trying to set the mood of a dark, occultish super-hero world, similar I think to what I tried to do with “They Fight Crime!”.

Oh heck, I’ll stick this in as a PS: a summary of a talk given by the head of Guardians of Order to a group of Amber Diceless gamers about GOO’s plans for ADRPG.

Link dump of free stuff


Via Warren Ellis, I found an interesting site called Ethnopoetic Soundings, which has assorted weird ethnic music in MP3 format.

(Because I use Firefox, and installed the Greasemonkey extension, and installed this cool inline MP3 player script from the script repository, I get a cool little flash button next to each mp3 link in a web page, which can stream and play the file when you click it. Very cool for browsing something like that. Or reading [info]ghostwheel.)

Warren Ellis also points to Blind Shrike, a (free) novel by Richard Kadrey. From Kadrey’s introduction:

Back around 9/11, when I saw such disparate fantasies as Hellblazer and Preacher, American Gods and Carrie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Donnie Darko living together in happy harmony in friends’ homes, I thought it would be a swell idea to write a little fantasy novel in a modern American prose style.

Damn, was I wrong.

Talking of music and free stuff, there’s also an unpublished Fiona Apple album you can download. And also a Kleptones album which photomatt has mirrored. I like Revolverlution best, I think.