Sunday, December 31, 2006

Toy Soldiers

So, lighter, happier stuff.

1. I found tiny plastic ninjas (or ninja for the more accurate nipponophile) recently, and they have made me very happy. The vending machines at a local John Brooks had them, and it was the first time I had seen them since I was in third grade. I had lots of fun with these guys, and even did a science fair experiment hurling them out of a catapult onto the street. So, while I normally roll pirate, I am happy with the prospect of a horde of cheap little warriors. While they are fun for a quarter, getting a hundred for eight bucks will be exciting.

2. I'm annoyed with Games Workshop, since they are now charging more and advertising more while abandoning gamers with little cash and an actual interest in the world of the game (and not just the trinkets). So, I've been at work again, trying to design a game with the sibling, and seeing how far that gets us. With luck, home-brewed games may again be a possibility. And yes, this means I may well be rolling dice for ninjas.

Well, off for an evening of firefly. Yay.

Prime Suffering Time

Melodramatic title, but stealing from Little Miss Sunshine can't be helped. High school is that fun period of existence where everything is played up and then promptly ignored. Really, the prime suffering time is middle school, but high school has its moments, for example:

1. Student government. This organization, which in theory can have an effect on school administration, currently exists to deal with superficial duties that no administrator wants. When in my junior year they were called upon to vote on a school policy, they voted unanimously against it, and the policy was implemented anyways. Thank you, Principal Glenda Basin, thank you.

2. Student Newspapers. Currently, ours consists of a bunch of self indulgent fluff pieces, a news article that might be decently done but comes out too late (waiting for fluff pieces to arrive), comics that even the most ancient Gasoline Alley reader will find dull, and ads for Care Net, the last of which I'll get to later. So, this is territory ripe for an underground press, but so far attempts made have only succeeded in not being the actual school paper itself.

3. Abstinence-only education. People are, by and large, not abstinent creatures, (the news says so). Rather than acknowledging that, we have abstinence-only education. While it can be an almost negligible problem when it is taught to one year of students, this was the year that my school got new health books. Specifically, health books that go from puberty to abstinence skills to pregnancy, with no mention of sex (except as something to be avoided), and no admission of the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. These books will be used for the next seven years. Gah.

Friday, December 29, 2006


So I've a bit of a fascination with an occurrence in 1071. It stems largely from the brief mention of it in both Age of Empires II and in Cartoon History of the Universe Volume Three, but it is one of those key moments in history that everyone ends up ignoring and moving past. I'd go out there and say that it is the most important battle of the 11th century, but Hastings has far to much support.

And it's funny, because while Hastings established a Nation, Manzikert left nothing really worthy of Excessive Capitalization. An emperor was captured, and a treaty was signed, but both heads of state were deposed before the treaty could take effect. And even the best out there admit that Manzikert changed little.

But it's the convenient marker, the point at which we say "up until then things were like this" and "after which things became like that". Up until this point, the Byzantine Empire was the undisputed most powerful nation in the west; not as strong as it once was, but strong. After this point, it kept getting weaker. Crusades had to be called, trade was cut off, the balance of power shifted from east to west, and things changed.

My current plan is to live to at least 2072. Because life plans based on forgotten battles are genius.