Wednesday, June 28, 2006


6573401 Clues

posted by barsoomcore

We've gotten somewhere! The very pleasant Mr. Robleh at Corporations Canada has furnished me with an address. Now we know where Thomas A. McKee lives. Mr. Robleh has also informed me that Mr. McKee is not only as the sole director of 6573401 Canada Inc., but also the listed owner of the company.

I am skeptical that Mr. McKee is undertaking this effort solely on his own behalf. No doubt sinister forces lurk in the shadows behind his sunny appearance.

But I will be contacting Mr. McKee directly and we'll see what we see. 6573401 Canada Inc. will give up its secrets!


Sunday, June 25, 2006


True20 Character Sheet

posted by barsoomcore

And now a full-blown character sheet for True20 players. Takes care of the niggling issues on the "official" sheet without changing the layout much, but includes some new handy stuff -- you can note your adept's increasing Fatigue Save penalties under the "Fatigue Save Modifier" header, and there's slots for Power Bonuses and Power Save DCs. Also a handy key to keep track of which powers require concentration, maintenance or mental contact, and which are fatiguing. Also has a slot for Grapple Bonus, which is one of those numbers I always seem to end up using more often than not.

Of course we'll be using a version of this for our upcoming playtest session at Drexoll Games, July 8th. One brave soul has already signed up. Who else dares? The SLAVE QUEEN awaits...

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Saturday, June 24, 2006


A Wee Little Revolution

posted by barsoomcore

This has been going on for six months now.

We cancelled one of our Telus Mobility accounts in favour of the other one (long story), but apparently we got a little confused in the month immediately following and paid the cancelled account some $25 or so.

And now we get a bill every month from Telus for this account. To the value of NEGATIVE $25.

Yes, every month Telus reminds us that they owe us twenty-five dollars.

I'm hoping to keep this going for a while, see how much money Telus is willing to invest in our loss. I figure printing and mailing each bill costs them, let's say fifty cents. So six months means three dollars. In four years this process will have cost Telus the value of the money they owe us in the first place, assuming postal rates don't increase by some catastrophic amount, and then they'll be slipping into outright loss.

It's payback time! Time to stand up against the Man! Yeah! We're throwing down against authority, fifty cents at a time.

Take that, you corporate capitalist pigs! Four years from now you'll be losing fifty cents EVERY MONTH. How ya like me now, Telus?



6573401 Things I Don't Know

posted by barsoomcore

I have learned only a little in the strange case of 6573401 Canada Inc.

The Federal Corporations Database entry lists the address of this company as 199 Bay Street, Suite 2800 Commerce Court West, in good old Toronto. It was incorporated on the 24th of May this year. It has one director, a gentleman named Thomas A. McKee. There is no financial information, nor any information as to parent or subsidiary companies. No sign of who owns the company.

Googling Thomas A. McKee turns up Thomas E. McKee, Thomas M. McKee, Thomas J. McKee (Junior) and Thomas K. McKee. No luck there.

I have petitioned Corporations Canada for contact information for Mr. McKee. Perhaps he will have the answers I seek.

More updates as events warrant.


Sunday, June 18, 2006


True20 Fun!

posted by barsoomcore

So it's looking like Dino-Pirates of Ninja Island is likely to be some variant on Green Ronin's rather excellent True20 system. I like the system, even if it does have a few peculiarities. Especially the remarkably poor job the rulebook does of explaining some of the key rules.

Like damage. The damage section makes no sense, and it's only with some careful review of assorted message boards that I managed to piece together what's SUPPOSED to happen.

And the "official" character sheet wildly deviates from the rules in a number of places.

But anyway, I am liking the rules themselves and they're definitely the right sort of spirit for that Dino-Piratey feel. Ar. And, armed with the experience of playing it once, I've gone ahead and made my first True20 playing aid: an NPC record sheet for GMs to, uh, record NPCs on. There's six blocks on each sheet, where you can note down the pertinent details on any and all NPCs you need to worry about.


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Saturday, June 17, 2006


Civil War in FOREIGN Countries Is Okay

posted by barsoomcore

So yesterday a new rule was entered into the US Federal Register. It's the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Contractor Personnel Authorized to Accompany U.S. Armed Forces, and it includes some interesting statements.

The interim rule revises the clause to provide for contractor personnel other than private security contractor personnel to use deadly force against enemy armed forces only in self-defense. Private security contractor personnel are also authorized to use deadly force when necessary to execute their security mission to protect assets/persons, consistent with the mission statement contained in their contract.

So mercenaries are now "privateers". Like Jon Rogers says, everyone who wants to live in the 21st century, over here. Those of you who want to live in the 18th century, over there. Good luck with that.

The interim rule goes on to define the sorts of military operations private contractors can engage in:

Other military operations means a range of military force responses that can be projected to accomplish assigned tasks. Such operations may include one or a combination of the following: Civic action, humanitarian assistance, civil affairs, and other military activities to develop positive relationships with other countries; confidence building and other measures to reduce military tensions; military presence; activities to convey messages to adversaries; military deceptions and psychological operations; quarantines, blockades, and harassment operations; raids; intervention operations; armed conflict involving air, land, maritime, and strategic warfare operations; support for law enforcement authorities to counter international criminal activities (terrorism, narcotics trafficking, slavery, and piracy); support for law enforcement authorities to suppress domestic rebellion; and support for insurgency, counterinsurgency, and civil war in foreign countries.

Phew. They're only allowed to engage in civil war in foreign countries. Thank God. You know, I kind of think "armed conflict involving air, land, maritime and strategic warfare operations" covers kind of sort of EVERYTHING a para-military force would be allowed to do. As Steph pointed out, it doesn't cover driving an ice-cream truck, but everything else seems well-covered.

Anyone else see Robocop?


Sunday, June 11, 2006


6573401 Reasons to Wonder

posted by barsoomcore

I have received a strange document.

It is an Offer and Notice of Purchase, from 6573401 Canada Inc., offering to purchase the paltry few shares I own in a company that once paid me in shares.

The name of the company is 6573401 Canada Inc. That's awesome. I feel like I'm in a Frederick Forsyth novel.

The Dogs of War, to be precise. Remember at the beginning (or before they go to Africa, anyway), there's a whole section about setting up shell companies to handle everything, and all the companies just have number names and it's all shady and whatnot? I always loved that bit.

Very exciting. I have decided I will try to find out whatever I can about 6573401 Canada Inc., and I will post the results of my search here. If anyone has any tips on tracking down corporate information, post 'em in the comments.

Of course, the folks at 6573401 Canada Inc. are far too busy to send their own mail, so the Offer and Notice of Purchase was sent in care of Pearson Inc., of 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, which is, as you can see, across the street from the Hilton New York. Not too shabby an address.

The document itself is a little alarming. The table of contents alone is five pages long! And it includes some statements that make me go hmmm.

"During the Interim Period (that's now), the Shareholders (that's me) shall not...engage in any discussions...concerning any sale, transfer, license of assignment of the Shares."

Can they do that? I guess it just means, "If you try and sell your shares to somebody else, this agreement is toast, bucko," but I sure don't like the cut of their jib. I'll engage in whatever discussions I like, you 6573401 Canada Inc. folks, you.

Anyway, the amount of money involved here is pretty laughable as far as I'm concerned (the printing of the offer probably cost more than my shares are worth), so I'm not too worried about any dire consequences, but who knows? Maybe the whole thing is a plot to topple a corrupt Third World government. Rest assured we will leave no evidence undisturbed.



Tune In Next Year

posted by barsoomcore

On the CBC: Canadian troops open a base deep in "Taliban" territory.

  1. Am I the only one getting suspicious of the way the word "Taliban" is getting used to describe everyone who isn't on "our" side in Afghanistan? I seem to recall that a few years ago Afghanistan was a fiendishly complicated mess of warlords and factions feuding as much with each other as anyone else. Did they ALL join one side or the other?
  2. Am I the only getting increasingly annoyed that the Tories went ahead and committed us to two more years of this Operation Enduring Freedom without checking to see if any of us actually thought it was a good idea?
  3. Finally, is there anyone else who has started to doubt confident-sounding predictions like this: "If things go as planned, the Afghans are expected to take over much of the site on their own within a year."?

Rest assured we will check in a year from today on how things are going at Forward Operating Base Martello.


Saturday, June 10, 2006


LinkSlutting, June 10 2006

posted by barsoomcore

Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda takes kickbacks from the recording industry: This is just sickening. I don't so mind the corruptness of our politicians; they're politicians, so naturally they're corrupt, money-grubbing whores. What I DO mind is the assumption that I (and the rest of the electorate) are stupid enough to not figure out stuff like this.

The White House decided to wait killing al-Zarqawi for YEARS until it was politically advantageous: Yep, that's what I call justice, all right. Nothing says Justice like a couple of 500-pound bombs.

Oh, and Superman.

More Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto goodness, this time from Otake Sensei. Pretty cool to watch:

I didn't record this one so I can't comment, but Otake-sensei is always a joy to watch.


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Super Cool Flying Boat

posted by barsoomcore

I probably don't need the "Super Cool", do I? 'Cause a flying boat is pretty awesomely cool on its own. This is a waterbomber stationed out at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island. There's a whole set of pictures of this lovely aircraft at this Flickr site. Go and drool.

Or check out my coworker's photo stream of the same plane, including sweet cockpit shots and all sorts of fun stuff all around. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Flying Boats. WHY did long-range jet aircraft have to be invented? I'd travel WAY more if I could take a DAY to cross the Pacific, on comfy seats with well-dressed passengers on something like this baby, rather than squeezed into "Economy" seats for nine hours of HELL.

HELL, I tell you. HELL.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


How To Save The World

posted by barsoomcore

The best thing I've read about terrorism and terrorism prevention, ever.

"Lots more Canadians are dying and suffering now from things that we can do something about, that deserve the attention and investment that is being squandered on overblown fears of terrorism. The media should ignore 'terrorist threats', and starve their intended perpetrators of the publicity they love and thrive on. Terror attacks will come when they come, like a million other causes of death and misery -- natural disasters, transportation disasters, disease epidemics large and small, domestic violence, preventable ailments and accidents, things that extinguish and destroy many more Canadians' lives everyday. We should put them in perspective, spend our taxpayer dollars to minimize the death and suffering that is reasonably predictable and affordably preventable, and otherwise just get on with our lives."




Silent Stories

posted by barsoomcore

We've spent the last few nights watching episodes of Les Vampires, the 1915 silent serial by Louis Feuillade, and enjoying it immensely. One of the things that stuck me upon watching this madcap thriller was how little "language" communication there needs to be in good visual story-telling.

Because it's silent, of course, at times a dialogue card is displayed telling us what the speaking character has just said. But most of the time, when characters are speaking no such card is displayed at all. Great swathes of dialogue take place without us getting any words at all.

And it makes no difference whatsoever.

The story is easy to follow (to put it mildly), and you never feel like you're missing anything, and in fact, it's actually interesting to watch people talking when you can't hear what they're saying.

IF, of course, the story is moving during the conversation.

There's an important lesson there for screenwriters (he said, having never sold a screenplay in his life): it's not dialogue, it's action. That's deceiving, because dialogue is what people mostly notice and think about when they talk about the writing of a movie, but that's because it's the most noticeable and recognizable feature, not necessarily the most important.

Steven Brust makes this point in, I think it was, Teckla, when Vlad is trying to move stealthily through a crowd and says that the key to not being noticed isn't to LOOK non-descript, it's to not attract attention to yourself. That is, just because you remember that some guy had a big nose doesn't mean you noticed him BECAUSE he had a big nose, but that after you noticed him, you remembered his big nose. But what it was that actually drew attention to the guy was probably something else entirely, something less easy to remember.

Um, not sure where that's going.

Oh yeah. You see, it's the same with screenplays. Once you've noticed that it's not working, you'll remember bits of lame dialogue, because that's what's easiest to remember. And that can lead you to thinking that it was the dialogue that was failing, and THAT leads to the idea that in writing screenplays, it's the dialogue that matters.

But being engrossed in Les Vampires proves pretty easily that dialogue is just about the LEAST important part of cinematic storytelling. You don't even miss it, and that's because there's so much going on at all times. Whether it's Moreno's stressed-out-looking maid hiding behind the door, Satanas demonstrating his hide-a-cannon, or just Mazamette clowning for the camera (oh, and anyone who wants to get squiffy about "breaking the fourth wall" as an innovative technique ought to watch this -- 1915, folks. Enough, already), there's always story happening in the frame. It doesn't really matter what exactly the characters are saying to each other -- we want to know if Guerande (or more accurately, HOW Guerande) will foil Les Vampires this time. Or if Mazamette will be able to escape Moreno's trap. Or if Irma Vep will regain her senses in time to avoid murdering Baron Kerlor.

Cinema needs to SHOW this. We've often commented that part of what makes a great film is the ability to watch it with the sound off. That tells you if the story is being told visually or not. Casablanca passes this test for sure, as does King Kong and Star Wars. And, uh, obviously, so does Les Vampires.

That's not to say that dialogue is without value. Of course for sound pictures it adds a new dimension, and now we have films depend on their dialogue and would be nonsensical without it. But Les Vampires is a salutary reminder of cinematic storytelling, and what REALLY drives it.


Sunday, June 04, 2006


Con-Fu After Action Report

posted by barsoomcore

Okay, got my grumpies out. Better now.


Most of my grumpies, anyway.

So Con-Fu was last weekend, the actual honest-to-Cthulhu rollout of DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND, and I know you're all dying for news.

It went great.

Anything else you want to know?

What, DETAILS? Oh, alright.

I ran three very enthusiastic folks (uh, Dan, Martin and Liezl or something, I think. Geez, I forgot already. Sorry!) through the first incarnation of the legendary adventure (legendary in my mind, anyway) SLAVE QUEEN OF THE RUINED CITY. We had one Dino-Pirate Swashbuckler, one Ninja Mystic and one Dino-Master, able to control the will of fearsome beasts, set against the terrible powers of the SLAVE QUEEN herself. Much fun was had by all, and the SLAVE QUEEN came to a satisfyingly grotesque end.

Death by monkeys. Giant monkeys. Honestly, it's better if you don't know THOSE details.

It was a great test of the True20 system, which turned out to be every bit as fun to run as it is easy to set up. Despite none of us being super-familiar with the rules, we had a blast. Deeds of derring-do were pulled off with considerable panache, and which characters fare well in combat was very quickly determined. Our heroes also subjected themselves to countless indignities due to spectacularly bad rolling, which luck reversed at the critical juncture as the SLAVE QUEEN rolled two natural 1's on her Toughness saves. A poor showing by our erstwhile QUEEN, all things considered, but there were giant monkeys in the mix, and nobody's at their best when facing death by monkeys.

The rest of the con was fun, as well. I played in a fun Feng Shui game ran by Michael, and Warren ran a great session of a crazy little game called My Life With Master, where you play the minions of an evil mastermind. Very very much fun. And thirty seconds of Monsters Menace America proved more fun than I could stand.

Special shout to Toren for finding me some players at the last minute. Good times.

Look out! More DINO-PIRATE goodness coming to a gaming event near you!



Captain Copyright

posted by barsoomcore

Uh, is there any way this could be any stupider? I mean, seriously. Captain Copyright? Only in Canada, I guess. My tax dollars, spent on an action hero for copyright. What a pathetic bunch of tripe. Seriously.


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