Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Wheelie Bike

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Crescent

The future of transportation?

Funny, that’s what they said about the Segway… But, this time, I think they might actually have something. This time it’s a mono-wheel motorcycle. Well, an almost uni-bike. It actually has other wheels for, er, something. From the pictures in the article on WiredNews it’s hard to tell what they’re for, but they are there. Well, at least they’re there in the pictures. There’s not even a prototype, yet. The plan is for it use electric and hydrogen power and it’s going to be a lot faster than the Segway. At 35mph in the “learning mode”, I would imagine that this is meant to be a replacement for Vespa, at the very least.

In any case, it’s cool. And, I think it’s actually on its way!


A difference of philosophy

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Oy! I finally get it!

This morning, while thinking like Martin Luther, it occurred to me why I have trouble with some of my fellow conlangers. It’s a simple difference of philosophy. They are opposed to my automated tools on the basis that they somehow degrade the “art” of conlanging. I think, to them, that the process of conlanging is the whole point.
To me, though, a constructed language isn’t relavent without a constructed culture to go with it. That is the fun of conlanging for me. Seeing the interplay of culture and language in a new way, or even an old way that I’m controlling, is the fun thing. The language creation itself is just a means to an end, so it only makes sense to me to crank it out as quickly as possible.

It’s interesting that this never occured to me before. Of course, I may have been so busy being defensive that I didn’t take the time to figure out what was going on. And, I have to admit, I let my temper get the best of me. I got irritated with the snobbery I percieved in the arguments I heard against using automation. I guess technology has become such a part of my life that I take for granted what it can do for me and that not everyone else exploits it the way I do. Go figure.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting observation….


Scooter of Death?

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Can this possibly be a real story?

I feel like I should put this up on April Fool’s Day, but it seems to be a real story. Apparently, the Pentagon is considering using the Segway in battle. Yeah, that’s about what I thought, but it’s a real news story. According to this story on CTV News, the US military is looking at making autonomous robots based on the Segway for use in battlefield conditions. It’s only in the planning stages now, but it actually sounds like a good idea. At least on paper.
It might even be what saves Dean Kamen from disaster. After all, the Segway didn’t really “revolutionize” city transportation the way all his backers said it would. Ah, well, at least there might be a government contract in it for him yet!

Good luck, Mr. Kamen!


Review: Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

A little review with a big title!

I recently purcahsed The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Spells & Magic, which is a neat, inexpensive, little book. It’s a very brief, simple encyclopedia of superstitions and magic beliefs that covers a lot of ground. First off, let me say that I don’t think anyone should try 99% of what’s in this book! A lot of it involves either dangerous materials or cruelty to animals. However, as a reference to what the people of Europe thought of or about magic, it’s pretty cool.
There are several sections, each highlighting a different area of magic. Everything from witches to alchemy to the Kabbalah. And, while I have to admit it’s not always the most accurate information, it at least gives a good overview of what was going on. Each section has a little bit of history, a couple of important historical figures related to that particular practice, and some of the general ideas involved.

While this is far from a book of practical magic, it is nice for either a writer or RPG game master who wants to add a bit of color to their work. At the very least, it’s a good reference overview that let’s you decide what general area to focus on and then find more information. If you take it for what it is, it’s a good little reference book.


Conspiracy Factory

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You know what “they” say….

And, just who are “they” after all? What makes them an authority? How do “they” get their message out? What channels tdo “they” use? Is what “they” say really true?
Well, I don’t know about any of that, but now, you can decide for yourself! That’s right, you can actually create “them” and their nefarious plot. No matter what you may have heard, conspiracies aren’t born, they’re made. And, you can make them! A new show over at TechTV focuses on nothing but conspiracy theories and the nutjobs that come up with them. Well, they thought the general public might like the chance to invent their very own conspiracy theory, so, they put up a guide on how to do it.

While it is fun all by itself, the steps involved are perfect for creating a dastardly plot for your villian to carry out against your hero. And, I hope, it will stimulate some creativity, as well.


Expensive Hobby

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a Full Moon

An you thought you spent a lot of money on gaming?

Okay, I know I must spend several hundred dollars a year on role-playing game junk, of one kind or another, but $17K for a single 20-sided die? Yep, someone paid that for this Roman 20-sided die. Of course, it’s probably the oldest 20-sider that exists, but still… Hey, I’ll have to remember that the next time my wife says something about me buying yet another $40 RPG book!

It’s a crazy world.


Review: Guns, Germs and Steel

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning.
The moon is a Full Moon

The rise of civilisation explained.

I finished Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond this weekend. What an amazing book!
When I started this, someone from a mail list I’m on said that it should be required reading for anyone interested in creating a world. I heartily agree. In a short 425 pages, Mr. Diamond shows us how mankind stopped being nothing more than roving bands of “primative” hunter-gatherers and grew into complicated societies. He also shows us how some cultures advanced more quickly than others. Along the way, he explains how history works. What drives massive migration? What allows someone to invent? Why would we need to develop writing and what advantage does it give over people who can’t?
All those questions, and more, are answered in a very logical, easy-to-understand way that was a pleasure to read. In fact, it was a challenge to read during the holidays because each page is so densely packed with relavent information that I felt I needed to devote my entire attention to the page. I’m sure there were important ideas that I missed, so I’ll eventually re-read this one, and I say that about very few books.

As a writer, I found numerous ideas for how a culture might develop in this book. And, along with those ideas, I found a lot of motivations for created people, as well. At many times in history, life has been an adventure, no matter who you were or what you wanted life to be. Mr. Diamond highlights several of those times in Guns, Germs and Steel. For instance, imagine what it must have been like to be some of the first people to colonize New Guinea or Australia using only primative stone and bone tools. Now, imagine what it might have been like with a few differences, like steel. Start writing about those imaginings and, viola, you’re off and running.

No matter how you slice it, Guns, Germs and Steel is a great book that I’d reccomend to almost anyone with an interest in ancient history.


Book Ranching

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

“Now, Jim will wrestle the wild book, while I stand here sipping tea in safety.”

Remember Wild Kingdom? Where poor Jim had to wrestle the deadly anaconda, while Marlon Perkins stayed all nice and safe with the camera crew? Remember Jacques Cousteau chasing the “wiley and elusive” sea creature of the moment? Well, now you can watch books in the wild, too. Okay, that was a goofy lead-in to this, but bear with me.
While I was looking for something else on the Internet the other day, I came accross something called BookCrossing. It’s a simple concept, really. Just mark a book with information about the service, register it on their website, then, set the book loose “in the wild”. Now, as people read the book, they sign into the website and journal about it. They might review it or just talk about where they found it or whatever. Then, they pass it on to another person or location. Rinse, repeat. So it goes, ad infinitum, supposedly. I have to admit, it might be an interesting experiment to try. I wonder where the book might travel and who might read it. Following a book like that might make for some interesting fiction, too. The Life and Travels of a Book

Well, whatever, I thought it was cool, so I decided to share. Enjoy!

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