Pax Illuminatem Kickstarter

Is that the right spelling? I don’t even know. This looks quite interesting, though the ‘goals’ in the game to fulfill plots are sort of odd because it’s about patterns of card spacing in a grid, but I’m hopeful that this simple mechanic will bear fruit Sticking PAX on stuff and calling it a day is not something I hope for this line of games that has been so influential on what I love to play these days instead of just another viticulture slapped on some random theme game.

Pax Illuminatem also boasts being one of the few blatantly Masonic games, with the exact goal of Freemasonry itself: spreading the teachings of the Enlightenment which looking at Western history, is probably the most important thing from a non-scientific side we did and can do going forward.

Here are some videos:

5 minute intro:

Full “Learn how to Play”

And finally here is the kickstarter link: Pax Illuminaten by Ion Game Design — Kickstarter

It is bundled with a witch game which I haven’t had time to research much on yet.

The Acquire we’ve been waiting for!

I like Sid Sackson’s Acquire a lot, it’s a fun tile-laying game that incorporates stock and rail type mechanics into a simple, effective design with a ton of potential for chaos, backstabbing and excellent combos. It’s easier to get to the table than Tigris and Euphrates since it’s hotels and stoNKS which people seem to gravitate towards a bit more than the more esoteric entities/factions in Tigris. Acquire should be in every gamer’s collection….

….And yet it’s been 24 years since we had a good version of the game! The last version that was comparable in components to the original 3M 1960’s release was by Hasbro in 1999 with their excellent ‘tech company’ version with beautiful molded plastic towers and all plastic tiles/tray to play on. Naturally, that version went out of print and started to command massive prices, especially since every single version after it flew so far off the mark component-wise, none of them were even worth looking at. For a long time, if you want a playable version of Acquire, you bought the 1964/8 or 1971 version at 30-40$. Why? Acquire is a tile laying game that absolutely requires a molded plastic tray, readable tiles and tray numbers, as well as some sort of plastic hotels. Many companies ran through versions of Acquire trying to cheap it out and just do cardboard with tiles. The game just does not work without the molded plastic tray to hold the hotels/buildings: with one small bump of the table, YOUR GAME IS FUCKED. Sure, you can put it all back together again, but the critical heuristic part of Acquire is not having to do that, which the original version from 1968 had no problem fulfilling.

Now we have the RENEGADE Games version and I am very pleased with the quality of the components in addition to having an excellent tile tray that really locks in the tiles. The buildings are cool looking, cards are all very clear and well designed and if you do happen to have the holy grail Hasbro version, is in a much smaller, more portable box than the 1999 big box game.

If you’ve never played Acquire, it is Sid Sackson’s masterpiece of design and I highly recommend the Renegade games version now before it to goes out of print!

More info on the history of Acquire (and Sid).

Stella Maris – thoughts and feelings

Stella Maris is the follow up to Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger which I blathered about a few posts ago. It’s a short book and consists, except for the very first page which is an admission letter, of conversations with no exposition or descriptive text between Alicia Western and her shrink. There are no other characters in the story and this will remind people of Sunset Limited, parts of the Stonemason and bits of the Counselor (especially if you read it rather than saw the movie). This is functionally a prequel to the Passenger, but should not be read first. In the Passenger, Alicia is already dead but it’s important to see the effect of her life and death in the Passenger and to those characters before reading Stella Maris.

While this is a very short book, it’s quite dense and I think it’s important to have a good reference to the history of mathematics handy when you read it. Alicia is a mathematical genius on a level where she cannot even explain the problems she is working on to laymen because she cannot fathom why they cannot understand even the basics. There are many references to actual mathmagicians in the book and getting even a cursory understanding of the core problems they were working on will help understand what Alicia is talking about when she references them, and it happens often since she is completely obsessed with math.

One disappointment that people may feel is that the mystery presented in the first novel is not resolved to any normal reader’s satisfaction, but there are pointers in Stella Maris about what could have happened, or rather, the situation in which humanity is in that would allow such a thing to occur. There are science fiction aspects to both of these books, but it’s all held very close to the chest as to whether any of it is real or not. I think it is, as the manifestations of Alicia’s imagination are different from the manifestations that visit her that seem real (the Thalomide Kid and his entourage). The ‘Alicia parts’ of the first book are explained in this one as ramifications of Alicia’s subconscious, driven by her intense and unending focus on mathematics to “peek under the door” of reality, which earns her a glimpse into the horrifying underpinnings of existence itself which is enough for her to quit the study of mathematics entirely and check herself into a mental hospital. This is all complicated by the fact that she is in love with her brother– the core issue that the Passenger is about except on the other side of the equation.

The love story between Bobby and Alicia is a direct analogy to the relationship between physics and mathematics. The age difference, the incestuousness are all messaging around the interplay over time of math and physics.

Both of these books deserve a read, but be prepared, these are not easy stories like The Outer Dark or even Blood Meridian. McCarthy expects a lot out of his readers with these. If anything, Stella Maris is short and I will tell you it’s worth it for the last line of the novel alone.

Thoughts on The Passenger

It had been a spell between Cormac McCarthy novels, with really no indication that he would put out any more work and then bam!, two novels announced to be released just a month apart from each other. I just finished the first one: The Passenger.

I’m not a particularly smart or clever man, prone to what I’ve imagined in my life to be typical GenX mental laziness about things, avoidance of any intellectual nuts that are hard to crack so to speak, so coming at a book like The Passenger is a struggle, probably more than any of McCarthy’s other novels since there is some sort of sub-text I simply cannot grasp quite yet.

The story is about two characters, a brother and sister, who basically share chapters. The sister’s parts are all in italic and seem to be in the past, and the brother’s are more straight forward linear and in normal font. The sister, Alicia, is dealing with what could be described as either manifestations of her imagination or supernatural entities throughout the novel, and the brother, Bobby, has an incident occur at the beginning of the novel that cannot be explained by natural law and what appears to be the fallout from that. Both are the children of a prominent nuclear physicist involved in the creation of the atom bomb and are potentially an experiment of some kind themselves.

The novel begins as what I would call a sci-fi mystery novel. An impossible event happens and the protagonist (Bobby) is the reader’s view into how, what and why of that event as the novel unfolds– except that’s not what happens at all. The novel veers almost entirely away from the initial mystery and settles on a series of conversations between the protagonist and an array of odd characters, slowly allowing the reader to piece together the relationship between Bobby and Alicia, their father and these imaginary constructs/ outworld entities. Except for a few parts, it is a very sad and heavy story, Alicia is found dead in the first few pages and not much goes right for Bobby at all at any point in the novel. It did have me laughing out loud at one section wherein a story is told about a man who could drink a glass of milk with his dick.

I can’t go on with out serious spoilers, but I will say this was tough to get through from about the halfway point to the end and I kept waiting for some sort of major event or confrontation, but it never happens, like the entire second half of the book is a denouement for some climax the reader isn’t in on. For those of you that read The Crossing, this is similar to the characters of Billy Parham and his brother– Billy is the character that has the least interesting story of the two characters, as the brother, who dies, fights as a revolutionary in Mexico. It feels like Alicia, who is dead in ‘real time’ in the novel, is the true protagonist if that makes sense. It’s her internal conflict against whatever it is she’s battling (math?) that is the real crux of the story.

If you are familiar with McCarthy and his books, definitely give this one a go, it reminded me most of Suttree and a bit of The Crossing, but also the Three Body Problem if you are familiar with Cixin Liu’s work. If the Passenger would be your first exposure to McCarthy, read at least one other first, notably either The Outer Dark or No Country for Old Men.

His next novel, Stella Marris came out about a week ago and focuses more on the character of Alicia and continues the story.

Kevin O’Neill has passed away

O’Neill was (as a kid) and is (as an adult) one of my favorite comic artists. His work on Marshall Law was absolutely brilliant and all of his work on the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen puts him into the comic legend category. Marshall Law got me through some tough times as a teenager (as well as Marvel’s Epic magazine an ROM if you can believe that) so I have a soft spot for everything O’Neill. If you haven’t read the League comic, I cannot recommend those enough– just make sure to start with Volume 1, then 2, then the Black Dossier and move on from there to Century: don’t skip around or start with River of Ghosts or something like that.

Here is a random sample of his work (trying to go chronologically at least).

Twitter nonsense

Almost a year ago, I posted a tweet in response to a question from a game designer I follow who asked about why a good percentage of doctors didn’t get vaccinated. Fair question and I answered in conjecture: 1) because they’ve already had covid and 2) since the emergency status of the vaccine removes all liability from the administrator/manufacturer, there’s no legal recourse if you are injured, which my friend found out about when he got severe bursitis in his shoulder after the technician fucked up his shot. My account was locked within an hour and to unlock it I had to give my cell phone number to get it back, for reasons you can imagine. I just ignored the platform and moved on.

About a month ago, I could not find where I bought a TITAN t-shirt from and remembered I followed an account that sold them on Twitter, tried to log in, still couldn’t: even to see a list of who I followed! Since it took a couple clicks, I put in an appeal and got a response to remove the offensive tweet. What is it? Give phone number? Remove the tweet? I just ignored it until I got this today:

It’s possible this is just standard procedure for naughty “people” like me that talk about the vaccines in any way but rah rah yay and get caught by an algorithm: ban them until they give a phone number/appeal. Or it could be that they are changing because Musk may buy the company (it’s not final and may not even go through). Both scenarios are possible, but I would like to think that it’s this lawsuit from an ex NYT reporter that was banned from the platform for stating what is now completely obvious— the mRNA vaccines have a very short lifespan of efficacy compared to what we have come to expect from say, the measles, mumps, etc. and should be considered a therapeutic. I think this lawsuit is going to pop open exactly what the algorithms are doing and what the staff have been up to this whole time but most importantly, who is funding it.

From the very beginning, Twitter struggled with finding a solid revenue stream. I remember when the founders basically said ‘we have all these people, but haven’t found a way to make revenue yet.” Fair enough, but what that does is open one up for taking money in bad faith from very bad people just to keep the lights on and stockholders (Blackrock and Vanguard mostly) happy. When the financial opportunities to get big checks from Pfizer (like the rest of the media did) came to Twitter, I think they took it hook line and sinker and were obliged to modify their algorithms to fit what that funding source wanted most: no negative talk about the vax no matter what it did to the integrity of the platform or the reputation of it’s degenerate staff. This isn’t a right or left wing thing, this is a corporate shell game where a company pays to have platforms help them pass the dirty information down the road, they can rape mass profits NOW and worry about the heat later. Seeing as it’s come out now via Pfizer’s forced data dump that massive amounts of the vaccine trial data collection methods and participants were not just botched, but actively fraudulent.

When those two vaccine approval guys quit the FDA in disgust, that was the alarm bell that shit was totally fucked and it should have been all over the place, but did you see it? How is that possible if you didn’t?

I loath to post stuff like this, but it illustrates one thing about the advantage of the blogisphere compared to any corporatized social media (including Substack): bloggers can post anything we want about any topic we want.

Velocicoaster FTW

Silly name, and I had to wait for over an hour to get on (including 15 minutes of technical difficulties) once but holy shit, this was the craziest fucking rollercoaster I have ever been even near, let alone on. Afterward, I was still in a daze for 10 or so minutes. I followed the directions and pressed my head against the headrest during turns so didn’t have a sore neck.

While the first part of the ride is incredible, the money shot is near the end where you slow down to about 40 MPH and hit a tunnel that accelerates you in about 2 seconds to 70 MPH while on the flat then it shoots you up into a loop that inverts at the top (so you go up it upside-down and go down the outside right-side up), then flips you over for an extended hang and after a couple of turns, fires you into a spiral over water. Highly recommended.

Gencon 2022 – Covid Shitshow: Year 2

In order to attend Gencon both vaccinations (a ‘full course’ whatever that means, especially if people got the J&J or Astrazeneca (Europe’s vax)) and masks are required for attendance, making Gencon the least appealing convention to go to. In contrast, most Conventions require a negative PCR test for either unvaxxed, or the smart ones, for ALL attendees 72 hours before the convention. This is the Way.

Let’s break it down

“They can either be manufactured or homemade and should consist of a solid piece of material without slits, exhalation valves, or punctures.”

Scott Gottleib just dropped what people have known and stated since the beginning of the pandemic (especially in the beginning) that cloth masks do not work at all vs Covid or any airborne virus. So, the masks that are required are? Surgical with the open sides since they are made to stop stuff from dropping into a patient during surgery? N-19? Good luck getting enough for even 1/3rd of the convention staff let alone guests. Respirators? You going to spend 50$ or more on one of these? The last one may be the only one that actually works. None of what they listed above does anything at all for viruses.

Since most people touch, move and never change their mask during the day what you have in reality is a bacteria filled sack hanging off your face all day, breathing that at other people that are breathing in and out the same thing, all the while pulling them down to eat candy bars and drink mountain dew which completely negates the point of someone wearing a mask vs an aerosolized virus in the first place! In 2020 I can see people still thinking these had some effect, but with multiple studies and massive (and I mean massive) real life examples of masks doing absolutely nothing, this is the height of stupidity to require. Shit show.

These mRNA therapeutics they are calling vaccines have saved many lives in high risk groups, but swing into the negative risk profile under 40 quickly where the vax is more dangerous than covid, especially the milder Omicron. Gencon has many, many people in high risk groups attending, elderly, morbidly obese, people with heart and lung issues, diabetes, on and on. It’s important that these people get the vaccines or better yet, stay home until they have had Covid, but for everyone else, especially people that have had the disease? It’s preposterous.

These vaccines do not and were not designed to prevent spread like our government falsely advertised last Spring with Biden, lying to the entire population of our country, stating “If you get the vaccine, you can’t get Covid” bullshit. So why would they be mandated for anyone for attendance to anything? Zero logical reasons. What’s more, any immunity that might prevent spread (not just protection for yourself) comes only from prior infection since those folks have mucosal, t-cell and if they got it bad enough to have symptoms, antibody levels of their immune system. mRNA Vax people are walking around with only a spike protein part of the virus in comparison and that has proven to not stop infection or spread in the least. Shit Show.

Summer is not the time of Covid and the case counts and illness nearly disappears from late April to early October in our hemisphere. This is known. Why it happens this way is likely a ton of factors, but Gencon being in July or August is during the most safe Covid months of the year. There won’t be any Covid around to get, even for those who have never had it, which by Summer will be a very small number.

Gencon is not doing it’s staff, it’s visitors or it’s future prospects making it’s convention an uncomfortable event with precautions that have been proven to not be effective in the least. It’s not more safe in any way.

What is the answer? As opposed as I am to the plague of testing that is taking place for people that are not sick, the answer to Gencon’s Covid problem is simply the requirement of a negative Covid test 72 hours before the convention for EVERYONE regardless of ‘vaccination status’ whatever that now means to people and there’s no need for the pretend masks unless people choose to wear them, which people will do if they want anyway.

It pains me to see how idiotic this all is in the face of what we know now about this virus, the very short term efficacy of the mRNA vaccines, it’s age stratification and method of spread and the fact that with their current requirements, it is putting their guests at more risk pretending these things work. Sad and, a shit show.