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DShomshak last won the day on September 1

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About DShomshak

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  1. A Wrinkle In Time

    Likewise. I seem to recall there was a TV-movie adaptation several years back, but the previews made me avoid it. Dean Shomshak
  2. More space news!

    The Dec. '17 issue of Discover has a couple articles relating to the Kuiper Belt. One is about the little Kuiper Belt object that's the next port of call for the New Horizons space probe. The other is about Pluto and Ceres. A few planetologists wonder if there's a connection: Ceres isn't much like other asteroids, what with its unusually large mass and evidence that it has a lot of ice under the surface. These guys suggest that if you took Pluto, moved it to the asteroid belt and let the nitrogen, methane and other volatiles evaporate, you'd end up with something like Ceres. This could have happened early in the Solar System, when the planets were shuffling around. As Uranus and Neptune's orbits move outward (and maybe switched), a lot of the icy outer planetesimals were scattered outward to become Pluto and the rest of the Kuiper Belt; but some surely would have been scattered inward, too. Dean Shomshak
  3. More space news!

    I've designed a couple planets in 3:2 resonance, ever since I read about it in a book on SF world-building. I never had a chance to use them in games, though. What I find cool: Very long day/night cycle leads to extreme temperature swings. I imagine ecosystems radically changing through the day and night as different creatures emerge or go into hibernation as their preferred temperature range comes and goes. Also, frickin' enormous tides, since the planet is so close to its star, such that the shape of continents might change through the day. (The ecosystem change might be especially pronounced in the intertidal zone, if the vast sweep of water in and out doesn't scour them too severely.) Oh, and earthquakes. Lots of earthquakes. And the sun seeming to change speed, reverse direction, and otherwise behave in a far more complicated way than we experience on Earth. So much potential for strangeness. Dean Shomshak
  4. Marvel's The Inhumans

    I can't say I was very impressed with Inhumans either, for many of the reasons Cassandra has already expressed. There were some potentially interesting situations, but the writers don't seem to have noticed them. Dean Shomshak
  5. RL Historic Pulp Character

    Digital Hero used to have a column for RL people who'd fit well in Pulp Hero adventures. Dunno if anyone suggested Robert Short, but I think he'd qualify. China's American hero is Tacoma native Robert ... - The News Tribune Robert Short went to China to teach aviation. He ended up shot down by the Japanese. In an age when just flying a plane could qualify you as an adventurer. Short would make a good model for a PC or a good NPC to encounter on a trip to China. Dean Shomshak
  6. More space news!

    As the article notes, the probe would be moving so fast that the crash would create an explosion of nuclear intensity. Nothing could survive that! (Except maybe a cosmically-irradiated tardigrade-turned kaiju.) Dean Shomshak
  7. More space news!

    The first visitor from another solar system has just ... - The Economist The first voyager to another star may be a worm or a tardigrade - Worm ...
  8. More space news!

    Well, it gives "Rendezvous with Rama" a somewhat, um, kinkier interpretation. Dean Shomshak
  9. More space news!

    The Nov. 4, 2017 issue of the Economist has two articles on interstellar travelers. The first is about asteroid A/2017 U1, whose trajectory showed that it came from outside the Solar System and is returning to interstellar space. The article incidentally notes that it has not been named yet, and suggests that "Rama" is available and would be appropriate -- after Arthur C. Clarke's novel, Rendezvous with Rama. The second is about proposals to include living organisms on the first interstellar probes. Some organisms, such as the nematode C. elegans, or the tardigrade, can provably survive 20+ years freeze-dried. So, put a few in the CD-sized, laser-propelled probes to Alpha Centauri and see if they can be revived at the end of the journey. Dean Shomshak
  10. This makes me sad, as I like Nolgroth -- not least for reminding me that people can vote Republican and self-identify as conservative, and not be evil or stupid. I had hoped to learn more of his views as a way to expand my own horizons. Perhaps I should take a vacation from the thread myself. Happy trails, all. Dean Shomshak
  11. Ditto for FDR and Eisenhower. Some people might argue with some of Ike's policies, but he deserves more recognition for his service in WW2. I mean, there aren't many people of whom it can be argued that he saved the world. Not alone, but leading the Allied forces to victory in that war, against that foe, counts for more than the achievements of most other generals. And I'd argue that FDR's expansion of the Federal government was a necessary thing. The government is flipping huge because the USA is flipping huge. But I'd also put some obscure 19th-century president on Rushmore II just so people would go, "Huh?" and look the guy up. Maybe Chester A. Arthur. I have no idea what he did in office, which is the point, but he has a funny name. (Millard Fillmore is too easy a target. Besides, he later ran as the candidate for the Know-Nothing Party -- its actual name, ye gods -- which counts as an active blot on his name.) Dean Shomshak
  12. Checking Wikipedia reminds me that L. Frank Baum had the nomes (he dropped the silent 'g') as a subterranean race in the Oz books. The Nome King Reggedo (or sometimes Roquat) was an ongoing villain. Gnomes were also used in fairy stories as subterranean, often ugly, counterparts of the airy, beautiful fairies. Overall though, the literary background seems a bit scant. Largely thanks to Tolkien, elves, dwarves and halflings/hobbits/whatevers are firmly placed in the Generic Fantasy Warehouse. Gnomes are not. (Wikipedia tells me that at one point the Big T used "gnomes" as another name for the Noldor elves, but that got dropped by the time LotR reached publication.) All three of these Fantasy standards had abundant folklore precedent, though, which Tolkien drew upon. (As Lucious mentions, "hobbit" is just one of the very many names in the Denham Tracts list, but legends of people or humanoid spirits distinguished chiefly by their small size are extremely widespread.) So I have to ask: Why bother with gnomes at all? Especially for Fantasy Hero? Unless you are specifically trying to make a campaign as D&D-like as possible for the convenience of players who expect this, gnomes aren't much more necessary a feature than, I don't know, dragonborn or tieflings. And none of the races invented for D&D impress me very much. No slur intended against Gary Gygax or anyone else who worked on the game; they just aren't Tolkien. If you want gnomes for whatever reason, I recommend doing as Tolkien did: Read up on the legends and create your own version from scratch. It will probably be better than anything you try to crib from another game. Dean Shomshak
  13. Daylight savings time?

    According to an All Things Considered report on DST that aired several years ago, DST began in WW2 as an accommodation between the need for workers in defense factories and workers on farms. Or something like that. It's perpetuated by lobbying from movie theaters, restaurants, nightclubs, and the rest of the evening entertainment industry, which finds that people are more likely to go out when it's still light. If they had their way, DST would last year-round, and maybe be shifted even more extremely from solar time. I say scrap it. Everyone else finds it a big nuisance. Including me. Dean Shomshak
  14. Yes, I consider gnomes largely a "fifth wheel" of Fantasy races. Unless you go by Paracelsus, who called his earth elemental spirits "gnomes." The others were sylphs (air), undines (water) and salamanders (fire). Huh. I'm rather tempted now to try writing up all four as PC-capable races with elemental powers. Can't imagine what campaign it would be, though. I've grudgingly allowed something close to "official" D&D gnomes into my upcoming 5th ed campaign, because I'm trying to use more of the official material than in my 3e campaign. But I've made gnomes a subrace of halflings who are interbred with celestial spirits (chiefly those of Mercury, for the magical aptitude -- sorry, WotC, I still can't force myself to use alignment-based Outer Planes), the way tieflings are partly descended from fiends. A bit off track, there. I'll stop now. Dean Shomshak
  15. New Series--The Orville

    I never imagined Gordon was actually pointing at Sol. I thought he was just giving the kid something to look for. The Orville is just a little too serious sometimes to watch just as a comic romp, but just a little too goofy sometimes to treat as a serious attempt at SF. But like I and others have said, I like the characters enough to put up with a shaking-out period. Not forever, but for now. If one may think semi-seriously about Majority Rule's world, it's also clear there's something more going on besides social media voting. Someone is hiring cops, coining/printing money and overseeing the Feed -- likely at that building marked with the red and green triangles, among other places. There's a surface fizz of direct democracy, but behind the scenes I suspect there's some group that is not democratic at all. Dean Shomshak