When last I left you, I was musing over having some concept art redone for use as promotion for Weird Detective Mystery Adventures. One of my ideas is still in the shop, but one has come back. For reference, my concept was based on this old Thrilling cover.
HIL-GLE MIND ROT MODERN THRILLS QUALITY CREATIVE NEWSSTAND FICTION UNIT WONDERBLOG Shy people can contact us directly via email at Wunker2000 at Yahoo dot com.
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
The Wonderblog is now linked to an additional two new web ventures. As threatened, Weird Detective Mystery Adventures now has its own promotional domain. We are also joined to Vortex of Cute, which is still in the developmental phase.
As I may have mentioned, the Hil-Gle website provider has abandoned the software I used to create it. Further updates to the pages are now not possible. My only option is to replate the pages by hand in a new package. That may take some time. Right now, I am focused on getting Weird Detective Mystery Adventures up to snuff as well as organizing its follow up.
Wonderblog is not primarily intended as a house organ for any venture, but rather as additive entertainment material. There’s nothing wrong with house organ blogs—other than being not worth the investment in time for the reader. Our aim is to stay interesting and cover a select grouping of topics.
About the WEIRD DETECTIVE MYSTERY ADVENTURES website…
It’s still a work in progress and much will depend on the reception of the game. Right now, it’s a hype bubble. The aim is to make it a resource for players and judges.
As mentioned on the website, there will be at least one 500-page follow up to the core rules. On the optimistic side, this gives me a two-year product cycle, which is long enough to gauge the concept’s traction. On the pessimistic side, it keeps the game from being abandonware. I am about one third of the way through with the primary text at this point and should have it ready for release about a year after the new edition of the core game appears. Obviously, I would like to net a fortune from this, but I can scale things up or down, and be happy with the results in either case.
As Weird Detective Mystery Adventures is equivalent to the old D&D Player’s Manual and Dungeon Masters Guide, Warlords of Wonderworld is a combination Monster Manual and World of Greyhawk campaign setting. I am considering changing the name to Modern Thrills and changing the focus to being a resource for all comic book and pulp related campaigns. Again, a lot depends on the initial reception to the core rules.
I was more than tempted to change the name of the game itself to Modern Thrills, however in fifteen years I have not been able to obtain clean access to the web domain for that name. Without the web domain, it’s not worth scrapping whatever equity my game’s current title might have. (The lady who runs the Modern Thrills website has been at it longer than Hil-Gle has. In no way am I insinuating anything defamatory.) I also have plans for a Space Opera expansion to the system.
While I was channeling the Copy Writer gods for my hype blurbs on the new website, I stopped myself from including this…
All of the prime actors in the setting are either militarized or have access to fantastic abilities. (No unarmed gangsters here.) To this extent, our game slants more to the movie action hero detective or hardboiled detective than to the pedestrian police procedural, true crime, or deductive reasoning branches of the mystery segment. On the other end of the spectrum, Weird Detective Mystery Adventures lacks the context focus suitable for dystopia, space opera, high fantasy, or classic espionage. True crime and classic espionage are simply out of our scope. Space opera and dystopia are sideswiped in the core rules and are areas for future expansion. (As is high fantasy-- only as a subset of space opera.) While the game’s mechanics and resources are perfectly serviceable for space opera, dystopia and high fantasy, the core rules do not flesh out any specific aliens, monsters nor the backstory which these genre slices depend on. That said, the core gaming space is vast.
Weird Detective Mystery Adventures also does not do windows. And it doesn’t hurl fishbowls nor yodel. Yeesh! I am the Beatles’ Nowhere Man. I fear the 500-page quasi technical manual has become my artistic area of preference. (I would say expertise, but as I get more and more material back from my editor, I feel less and less expert.) It may require deprogramming, but at some point, I should go back to being a novelist. Or somehow revert to communicating in simple, declarative sentences before impending dotage spirits away what little relevance I have left.
ABOUT OUR COVER(S)
The game is only one manual and has only one cover. My posting multiple covers on the website was primarily for illustrative and promotional purposes. It is a form of advertising for the site. Illustrations like these are amalgamated and reposted on sites such as Google and Bing. Clicking on them drives traffic back to the main site.
This is the cover of a previous short-run edition. It is intended as a tribute to the spot color True Crime magazines of the 1950s. As with most detective magazines of the era, it features the often-repeated Surprised Babe theme. The main art is a black and white capture from a full color painted illustration from Private Detective Stories, a Culture Publications pulp. It’s a gorgeous cover, although dubious on several levels. The original cover alludes to our subject having her arm wrenched, which had to be cropped off. Its theme is a form of cheesecake and probably not suited to a general audience role-playing game. Also, it doesn’t reflect a game which spends 2/3rds of its text explaining supernatural events. I’ll confess that the attraction here was in how well the composition came off—and the economy of using spot color on the cover. Me and about five other people may have appreciated the historical allusions.
This is a piece of concept art. It’s a badly executed bit of GNU manipulation by yours truly. The original theme was lifted from an old Thrilling Wonder Stories cover. My intention is to have this redrawn entirely. I believe that the cover of Warlords of Wonderworld should look something like this. Below is our working cover for the expansion.
I love this cover, just as I love everything J.D. Raymond ever sent me. I am not entirely sure if he’s up-armed the Terror’s sidekick Sarah Johnson or switched the Terror’s sex. I don’t argue with nice drawings, no matter what I may have instructed. Beyond being a striking image, I also own the rights to this thing flat out. My problem is, no matter how I color this, the thong battle armor is going to get my retailers in needless trouble. I’m demoting this to a prominent interior placement. Our current cover girl Sarah is actually modeled off of this illustration.
I have numerous interior illustrations in the game which show Sarah barefoot for no explained reason. Our current cover hides her feet. I should have told the artists it was ok to invent shoes for her. Pulp fiction didn’t provide us with too many dangerous women, so we invented one.
No one could be more dangerous than the three women on this concept collage. Having just set off a tac nuke in NYC, they’re busying themselves gunning down survivors. I am going to commission this to an artist, although I am not sure what I am going to do with it. Like the J.D. Raymond illo above, I may use the final commissioned image on promotional t shirts as opposed to covers. The dystopia and space opera expansions are more pipe dreams than works in progress at this point. I believe that I am going to have the girls rendered either in Japanese animation style or something approximating the style of Dan DeCarlo. (Betty, Veronica and Sabrina Take Out New York. Something along those lines, but not close enough to sue my stinking, worthless ass.) This GNU manipulation uses a cover image from the old Ace Comics Atomic War in the background and three WWII Pulp War babes from an old sweat in the foreground. The breast slip on the left figure makes it a no go as a production design.
The following are public domain works which I stuck a logo onto. The intention is to illustrate the type of genres covered by the Weird Detective Mystery Adventures rules set.
I always liked Captain Courageous. The character design seems to have driven the publisher’s colorists crazy. The light blue, dark blue motif proved too difficult for them to follow consistently. The best version of this character depicts the middle forehead region of the star mask as translucent, so that you can see the Captain’s expressive eyebrows. This is one of those character concepts that devolved over time. Initially the character was called Captain Victory and had a well thought out backstory and niche as a secret agent for the diplomatic service. Then they scrapped it in favor of a different mask and new name and the same backstory they were using for the Unknown Soldier—that of some sort of disembodied spirit in patriotic tights. And then this person with no name and no secret identity gives up the tights to become a naval officer. Some editorial choices are mystifying.
I am fond of picking on Ace Comics, since their cover renderings are usually fairly straight-forward. We used this cover, with some adaptation, for the prototype of our first print version. I got so many comments as to what Magno’s sidekick was being shown, that I decided to crop him out of the composition. (He was being made to watch educational television. I think the original intention was that he was being bombarded with x-rays or some other ray-like-thing. Modern eyes make the scene far more suggestive.) We have included the Clown in our Warlords of Wonderworld NPC listings. He was a combination of Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Bizzaro. Although Magno’s entire career was spent chasing the Clown around, readers got the impression that the majority of the Clown’s activities went undepicted.
By the time this magazine came out, the hardboiled detective genre had been in parody mode for almost 30 years. This was more about the evolution of our logo design than anything else. I like it as a collage pattern. The illustrations themselves seem more appropriate in style to a lawnmower repair manual. It is a nice parade of cliches.
This was just too unhinged to pass up. Other pulp historians have noted this cover and its unusual themes. This is as creative as the later pulps got. From here they went straight into porn. Again, not very useful as a production model.
I’m not particularly proud of my efforts here with this collage. And I am not quite done. Eventually I am going to start over and see if I can reposition some of the elements. I only threw it up because it is at least striking at first glance. Again, I would have to have it redrawn entirely in order to be useful.
Updates and further WDMA content will become a continuing feature of this blog. We will reveal the mysteries of the Vortex of Cute only when the time is right.
(The promised Dickman feature will appear later.)
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
I never thought much of President Joe. His virtues swelled to eclipse level only when compared to the alternative. Thus far, his administration has been off to a running-through-Jello start. He’s calmed allies and dealt with the pandemic crisis. Those were known tasks when he took the gig and he came equipped with thorough contingency plans for attacking each issue. And he is a long-time bloviator when it comes to getting out of Afghanistan. If there was a plan for that, that plan looks bad. I’m glad President Joe took the blame for utterly miscalculating how crappy this Afghanistan exit has become… sort of. An echo chamber of leftist media is now in full motion attempting to diffuse this stink bomb, with thought-leader The Atlantic offering this smoke cloud:
“In the meantime, American citizens will separate into their usual camps and identify all of the obvious causes and culprits except for one: themselves.”
To quote President Tricky Dick, allow me to make this perfectly clear: I had absolutely nothing to do with the disaster in Afghanistan. NOTHING, as in Not A Thing. Nor probably did you. Nor is it evidence of some societal sickness on our collective parts. Nor is it evidence of the illusion of our greatness. I would like to blame us, too—because changing our behavior is what we do best in the West. And it’s something we can control. President Joe’s take that the Afghanis are all pussy cowards is a 4th Grade Reading Level inevitable verdict of history. True, as far as it goes, but trite.
Nothing and nowhere deserves the extremes of platitudes nor invectives usually bestowed. Such terms are shorthand for relative comparison. That said, we are the shining city on a hill and Afghanistan (and its patron Pakistan) is a textbook shithole.
The only people in Afghanistan with gumption enough to aspire to anything are predisposed to making an industry out of terrorizing their neighbors. That’s pretty much the story of every ghetto place in the world. These people are the hillbillies, trailer trash, and red necks of Asia. I am not using those terms synonymously, but rather as a simplified analogy for the kaleidoscope of amazing cultures who have settled in this mountainous, parched mudhole for eons without advancing beyond the steam punk stage, sans literacy. WTF were we expecting from these people?
Answer: We were expecting them not to use their mudhole as a haven for terrorists. We got that. It cost something, but for 20 years we got what we came for. It would have been nice if there were a bit more permanence to it.
Remember, the Russians loved these people so much that they tried to KILL ALL OF THEM. We don’t do that. (1) I’m not sure what we were doing in Afghanistan but killing all of them-- or even most of them --was not our objective. For the money we blew, we could have made them all millionaires. They would still be illiterate and weird, like the Saudis, but at least they would have statues to paint hair on and pools to strain hair out of. As it stands, the near-term annihilation of the glorious bag of tribes inhabiting the region is inevitable. This time they get to do it to themselves. Please don’t hate the world for ignoring it.
As for President Joe, I’ve seen enough. No second term, old man. The old man’s leftist pals sent me this in the form of a fundraising email the other day:
Billionaires rocketing off to space isn't a sign of progress. It's a sign of grotesque inequality that allows a select few to leave Earth behind while the rest of humanity suffers.
No one needs billionaires to colonize outer space. We need them to pay their fair share of taxes so people can thrive here on Earth.
That's exactly what progressives are fighting for.
A movement has run out of steam when its rhetoric is based on envy and false dichotomies. (Not to have a Conservative relapse here.) I feel their pain, however. While neither Bezos nor Richard Branson were blown to smithereens in their self-funded rockets, there is still Elan Musk. We need to remember that dying doing useless and showy things is what rich men do. Musk still has ample opportunity to auto-darwinate in a variety of his own manufactured vehicles. If the rocket doesn’t get him, he can try driving one of his own cars. (2)
Beyond the problems with Tesla, news on the entire EV front has been dire. You may recall the EV Bigwig I mentioned last time, the one who was attempting to fund his mythical contraptions with a SPAC merger, having run out of Saudi-fueled mad money. As of this writing, he is still alive and still atop his red ink spewing venture. The same cannot be said for fellow EV PT Barnum Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola, another Tesla tribute company. Post the fleecing of going public with his knock-off hairbrained scheme, Trevor has gotten himself indicted for making false statements to investors. Sadly, making false statements to investors appears to be the number one product of the EV industry. The number two product is squatting out deathtraps. Here Tesla is not alone.
Venerable taxpayer bailout baby GM has also EV stumbled. They are in the midst of recalling some 69,000 EV models, warning the buyers to not park these cars in their homes nor attempt to charge them. Just park the thing outside, far away from anything it might blow up when it blows up.
In short, it may be a while before you and I and anyone normal goes tooling around in our own electric car. Given the rally in Covid, we may have limited choice in where and when we can go tooling around anywhere. The death-inclined are free to roam several Confederate states as well as all of Brazil. New on the no go list is Fuck It.
Thailand’s resort island of Phuket will ban all domestic travelers and vehicles from entering the province from Aug. 3 to 16 as an outbreak worsens in the Southeast Asian nation.
It’s now the 18th, so my little phonetic obscenity has gone stale. Maybe it’s the effects of long term Covid lock down, but a certain staleness has swept the professional intellectual classes. I have four examples:
Goldman Sachs reports that stocks in China may be uninvestable. It did this in the form of reporting its client’s concerns—as opposed to flat out stating it. Equities are a funky capitalist innovation. The key to their value is in the ability to turn them back into money, like poker chips. China is a totalitarian communist kleptocracy with a court system governed by political whim. Any business founded within their sector of influence exists at this government’s sufferance and is in contrast to their ideology. Moreover, the Chinese government has a history of making such private entities vanish and persecuting their operators. (3) Why is Goldman Sachs parsing its words here?
Erring on the side of least drama. Perhaps this is what Goldman Sachs is doing? In that tense, the erring being done is motivated by avoiding statements which might impact one’s future. Capitalist crack whores like Goldman Sachs are particularly on their guards against pissing off the Chinese Communist government since doing so could foreclose any future access that might be granted to its billion-slave consumer market. Goldman is thus erring on the side of least drama by attributing its conclusion to faceless clients. Avoiding blowback or culpability is the essence of erring on the side of least drama. Although framed as a form of pragmatism, it is on the coward’s side of the spectrum. It’s also largely lying. (4)
A pandemic plagued and spectatorless event. This is a fine phrase and finely reflective of its time. It is, however, so reflective that it describes everything while illuminating no particular thing. Until the plague of the pandemic is over, all reality itself is something of a spectatorless event. As opposed to the cumbersome spectatorless, it is probably more accurate to label most of our events as virtual. Most mass social things in the past have been virtual also—things we have heard of but not physically experienced. Virtual migrates into spectatorless only due to the fact that most sane people fear physically being anywhere right now. Bleak though that may sound, it is not as onerous as our final example of thought malaise…
When we tell people to “move on” and “get past things,” it may be a kind of tyranny. People who hate people have their own special religion. They err on the side of least drama by letting others suffer or equating suffering to normalcy. This is something Vlad Putin is famous for—and it’s the calling card autocrats and free will deniers everywhere. At no time should mankind feel contented when the lives of so many are nasty, brutish and short. An impulse to help, the elevation of happiness as normal, is the light of our collective souls. While all human agencies of aid are imperfect, deliberate neglect and calculated denial are not equivalents. Letting someone wallow in misfortune is inhuman. Freaking period.
Next Up: Goodbye to the Dickmen. Future posts will update Sally the Sleuth and Women in Crime.
Note (1): Let’s remember how we got here. The Russians moved into Afghanistan to shore up a government they installed. This eventually mutated into using Hind helicopters to massacre the populace in general. We countered by arming the Afghanis with Stinger missiles and whatnot. The people we armed became (part of) the Taliban and partnered with the folks who blew up the World Trade Center. It went downhill from here. But it started as an attempt to save the Afghani people.
Note (2): I actually agree with Move On here, but not for the reason they seem to be giving. Money taken from Bezos is not money earned by me. You tax people like Bezos 99% as a retroactive corrective to the system. And this is nothing new. Wealth itself reaches the point of diminishing returns. History’s previous poster child for this was William Randolph Hearst. It was decided that no one should ever be Hearst wealthy again. And for forty plus years no one was. Starting with Reagan there’s been a claw back by the aristocratic set. I’m not saying that the government will make better use of the money or that it would ease the burden on the rest of us, but rather that the frequency of wealth controlled by Bezos and a few select others is inherently cumbersome and wasteful on its own.
Seeing as how I have already tarnished an entire country as being filled with morons, I will spare you my explanation on how self-driving systems were initially intended to as an aid to the joys of road head. It’s true, but I am skating on thin ice this post. Better to stop here.
Note (3): Did I mention that the Chinese Communist government is the largest mass murderer in the world? Or that access to their market is largely access to a pool of slaves and slave masters? Doesn’t phase you? Fine. Their money is illiquid, too.
Note (4): Full disclosure. Hil-Gle’s operator is invested in Goldman Sachs capitalist crack whore.
Friday, July 2, 2021
I am learning not to write things off so quickly. The modern world is a maze of mind forged manacles and tantalizing chimeras. And genuine change drivers in the form of new data and innovation. Picking one from the other is an art. There’s a huge pile of things which are partially untrue, a mismatch between a legitimate need and the prevailing solution offered.
Some calls are easy to make. Bitcoin is garbage. Its underlying blockchain truth is a miasma, a much touted nothing to see here. Imagine a world wherein every penny that passes through your hand has a pedigree, a provenance, a trail for every transaction for which it was used, yet no identification of previous owners. Now imagine a world where there is a need for such a thing. You can’t. There isn’t.
But wait, there’s less! Further imagine a world where you can just mint money. Ok, maybe not you or me, but people with high-end computers. This is much better than money printed by governments and managed by central banks, right? The implications to monetary policy, fiscal policy, and the dismal science aside, this is something akin to allowing people to make money out of Play Dough. Cults of people toting tokens which only those in the know will accept as a store of value is nothing new—and most of these people are crooks or tax cheats. What is sort of new is that the store of value itself is so worthless. Put as much encryption and electronic paper trail as you like on it, a bitcoin is a token pegged to nothing and worth what you can get for it. Once the forces of gravitational common sense come into play, bitcoin’s lack of backing turns it back into Play Dough.
Any commodity which oscillates due to the pronouncements of old weed blower Elon Musk doesn’t have much intrinsic going for it. The crackdown is starting in all quarters of all governments. The question is whether the collapse will come before or after the eventual ban. The only known utility for bitcoin is as a transition state for turning yen, rupies, rubles and other third world funny money into something else which can later be cashed in for dollars or euros (or pounds.) Plus, it seems to be very useful for wholesale clandestine narcotics purchases and ransom payments. I guess it’s not all bad.
Given that I seem to be in the minority on Bitcoin, I have begun to reassess my opinions on other topics our blog covers, starting with Flying Cars. HIL-GLE Wonderblog has led the universe in defining what is and what is not a Flying Car. Briefly:
Definition of a Flying Car
In order to qualify as a 'Flying Car' a vehicle must encompass the following three concepts.
1. Vehicle must be able to take off and land without a runway or dedicated external support facility of any kind.
2. Vehicle must be capable of conventional garaging.
3. The operation of a Flying Car may be no more complex than that of other conventional consumer commuter vehicles.
By this definition, no one has invented a Flying Car. Ever. There have been some nifty swings at it, however.
This fine 1935 concept eventually matriculated into the helicopter, certainly an innovation, but not something most of us hop into and fly to the grocery store. It is my contention that like the Northwest Passage, the Flying Car concept may prove to be impossible to make reality. The last actual production Flying Car was this model.
The wish fulfillment spirit of the Flying Car concept is to democratize the experience of flight itself. The aim is to leave your door, pick up on wings, and fly off to wherever it is you wish to go.
Although you do not have to Hawkman French kiss the spirit of the Flying Car, you do have to at least air kiss it. If it isn’t making defying gravity fundamentally more obtainable, then the Flying Car concept has no value no matter how close to the letter of the definition one gets.
What has been invented thus far are a set of recreational aids for rich people to show off in. If it isn’t built for the masses, then the Flying Car is immaterial. Our last Flying Car was close to a million dollars a copy, assuming it were ever produced. The Flying Car mentioned in Air Trails above was a little more affordable. It was pricey for a car, reasonable for a crop duster, yet in the end a toy. You want dreams realized to be more than distractions. We shoot for revolution!
With the most modern of our Flying Cars now spirited off to China, we are left with only a quad-drone which seats one and is remote controlled. And this thing…
This is the I-Tec Maverick produced by Indigenous Peoples’ Technology and Education Center. I want one, for two reasons: (1) I hate tailgaters and no one in their right mind would close within fifteen feet of this propeller pushed monstrosity; and (2) It is far and away the coolest dune buggy ever. It is affordable to the point that I could bankrupt myself and buy one. And the people at I-Tec are cozy with the spirit of the Flying Car, phrasing their mission statement as to “provide tools and technologies to God-followers in frontiers (sic) areas to meet their needs.” Not just a French kiss, a soulmate French kiss. Sadly, passion and exuberance count for so little in the world of aerodynamics.
Not shown is the method for providing lift and navigation. Because the concept falls down right there. This magnificent thing is actually strapped to a parachute. To be generous, the wing is a glider chute, attached in a specific (I’m hoping) way to various parts of the dune buggy frame. It’s sort of a self-propelled para-glider, a nifty idea on its own and truthfully the making of a fine tourist road-side enterprise if it functioned efficiently.
Unfortunately, efficient functioning is not a feature of the Maverick. Also not shown is the comical method by which it gets into the air. In my mind’s eye I imagine that the chute is dragged behind our dune buggy, fills with air, and then we are off on our merry way. In reality, liftoff requires a very large mast thing which holds the chute aloft until the buggy can attain air speed. In insurance terms, the mast would be a “cumbersome javelin object capable of impaling anyone on the ground during undirected free-fall,” which kills its potential as an ad hoc carnival attraction. It’s unclear at what point the mast becomes jettisoned, however its mere presence is a design flaw which must be overcome if the Maverick is to ever show any promise.
How does it fly? It does have a rudder. Whether this is functional or aspirational, I am not sure. My guess is that it has roughly the same handling profile as the average hot air balloon, only less forgiving. Your choices are probably vectored on up or down or the way the wind is blowing. With practice, you might be able to tack into the wind. Much depends on how much flying time the unit delivers and how skilled one can become with the controls offered. We do know that the thing crashes and that the NTSB will not investigate such, because they do not consider the I-Tec Maverick an airplane. Because it is a dune buggy strapped to a parachute.
You do have to appreciate the attempt, however. As spectacular methods of suicide go, the Maverick is reasonably priced, unlike: An anonymous bidder paid $28 million at auction this weekend to join Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on a trip to space. The first crewed flight of his Blue Origin company is set to launch on July 20, for the roughly 10-minute trip. The bidder beat 20 rivals in the charity auction on Saturday with proceeds going to the company’s foundation, which aims to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM. Bezos is among several of the world’s richest men racing towards space, with Virgin’s Richard Branson and Tesla’s Elon Musk also vying for a place in the commercial space travel industry.
Note to Prospective Wealthy Space Adventurers: Rocket travel is about as safe as tight-rope walking is for tight-rope walkers. The people we send into space are usually highly trained. Like tight-rope walkers, they usually come back in one piece, because they are so highly trained. You are rich. That does not mean that you are magic. If something goes wrong, you have NO SKILLS to help you get out of danger. Mind you, no one is going to miss Jeff Bezos or Elan Musk, but you might be of some import to your own field. In this ventured risk, you are performing no function of value to yourself, your field, or your society. If things go wrong, you get blown to pieces. And that might be the optimistic side of the downside. (I’ll miss Richard Branson, but I will get over it.)
On the other hand, there may not be any way to talk these people out of it: Corporate psychopathy, especially in high-level leaders, is a real problem that could cost businesses billions of dollars each year, writes University of San Diego professor Simon Croom in this piece for Fortune. "Psychopathy is up to 12 times more common among senior management than among the general population," he writes. "When some of the defining traits of psychopathy include egocentricity, predatoriness, recklessness, a lack of empathy, and a propensity for manipulation and exploitation, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see how a high percentage of unrecognized psychopathy in senior management could lead to all kinds of problems for organizations, their employees, their customers, and society at large."
I suppose comparing the idle rich self-made billionaires to corporate executives might be unfair. I will live with it.
I previously un-wrote off the Electric Car. There has been some additional positive prognostication on our Electric Car beat: Electric vehicles should be cheaper to buy on average than combustion vehicles in about five years, without subsidies. Most of the folks currently in the Electric Car field are still the same old actors, which does give some pause. And some of the new actors are embracing another trend on our beat, the hideous SPAC: Lucid Motors, the Saudi-backed electric-vehicle startup waiting to go public via a blank-check company, is ready to take on Tesla—and it has been for a while now. The startup is facing more setbacks thanks to Covid-19 supply chain disruptions and delays, and a global chip shortage.
This isn’t enough for me to re-write off the Electric Car as much as it is for me to write off Lucid. Let me get this straight. You are a startup. Backed by Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth funds. And you need money. From SPACs (money invested by people who didn’t know what they were investing in.) This is to take your company to the level it can sell shares to people who do know what they are investing in. Got it. I bet you any money they do not have a functioning car yet. Why don’t you take what money you have left from failing to develop a car and buy yourself a seat on the rocket ship? It’s much less painful than what the Saudis are going to do to you.
Even the Rocket Ships are SPAC: This morning, Astra becomes the first space company to trade on the NASDAQ, having completed a SPAC transaction with Holicity, which was started and funded largely by cellular phone pioneer Craig McCaw. The transaction raised $500 million for Astra, which it will use to build out its low-earth orbit satellite platform business. Rocket Lab is close to closing a similar SPAC transition. All told, analysts believe space infrastructure investment will top $10 billion this year, up from a record $8.9 billion in 2020.
Best guess: Neither Astra nor Rocket Lab will ever launch anything. They won’t even blow up tourists. If you have any hesitation as to where the SPAC is heading, we conclude with: It’s the latest twist in the world of blank-check mergers: A company plans to go public with a SPAC (that’s a special-purpose acquisition company for the uninitiated) and use it to buy back an affiliate that it took public. How does it plan to do that? By using another SPAC, of course.
This is what happens when real assets get bid up. Suddenly there all sorts of synthetic opportunities in the ethers. Some of these are well meaning pipe dreams, but the majority are scams.
After China liberated our last Flying Car, I began to rethink my position on them as a power in the world. Surely any government willing to take on an entity like our last Flying Car manufacturer is not infallible. In fact, it shows a certain honest bungling to throw the People’s Money at what was clearly a failed venture without any redeemable public or military application. Maybe the Chinese Communist Party is just stupid as opposed to being actually evil? Then I read this: “They’ll find their heads bashed bloody against a great wall of steel.” That’s what Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking 100 years since the founding of the ruling Communist Party today, warned nations that “bully” China. Having achieved “historical inevitability,” he said, the People’s Republic, with 1.4 billion inhabitants, can stand its ground.
A fish rots from the head down. That man’s statements have been elevated to the level of “thought itself” amongst the Chinese Communist Party members. They seem to have stupid and evil down pat. Back here on Earth One, no one is bullying China. Some of us Freedom Inclined are a bit tiffed off about concentration camps on its soil, and some weird naval claims it has been making, and it essentially going back on all of the promises made to the people of Hong Kong, and some saber-rattling it is doing over in Taiwan, but no one is bullying 1.4 billion people nor their nuclear-armed government. Perish the freaking thought. Let’s hope they don’t reach for a bottle of insane to go with their Historical Inevitability word jazz. If they do, we’ll all be reaching for the Flaming Heart of Jeebus.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Flaming Heart of Jeebus, it is a monotheist icon which exists primarily on mass-produced funeral cards. It certainly cannot be Jesus, since His image cannot be rendered, but it is Jesus-Like. Printed on the card is a promissory statement that a group of holy types will be evoking the supernatural on the undersigned deceased’s behalf. This they are doing at the printed name’s request, one assumes in exchange for some pre-paid gratuity. I get these in the mail all of the time. The vast majority of them also come with an image of Jeebus, holding his flaming pulmonary organ in his hands.
Jeebus seems neither happy nor sad about this. In truth, he’s a hard read. The immolating organ is usually rendered with medical accuracy and occasionally adorned with mystical Latinate. When used as a symbol on its own, it is in Valentine’s Day form by way of the Human Torch.
I am familiar with most Christian iconography, but this one had me stumped. At no time in the gospels does the main character yank out any of his organs, or anyone else’s organs, nor do anyone’s organs burst into fire. This goes for the entire Bible text, which does feature some fantastic stuff, but no blazing body parts. The closest I could find was a bush setting itself on fire.
The Flaming Heart of Jeebus is clearly extra-canonical. Most icons of this nature are plagiarism from paganism. Even here, however, the detachable burning heart seems to have no parallel. Aztecs and Mayans would be a guess given that we do not have a full view of their belief systems. That said, there are no similar icons found depicted anywhere else in the occult spheres. It is unique.
As it turns out, it is of relatively recent origination, dating back to the 17th century. Although it is Catholic, the icon can be found sprouting in various roles among the older Protestant sects. There are several originators on record, all of whom attest to the same story.
A nun wishing to read her Bible in the original language petitioned the godhead for comprehensive fluency in Latin. Having been granted such by supernatural blessing, the nun found her gift to be not to her liking. The story’s credibility might have been enhanced somewhat if she had instead discovered that the Bible was not originally written in Latin, but that isn’t the way it is told. Instead, she just doesn’t like it. SO SHE TAKES IT BACK, like she’s returning something from Walgreens. Being customer-focused, the godhead offers to make an in-kind makedo to preserve her goodwill. The nun then asks for the godhead’s heart. In this case, the godhead is known to be dead and doesn’t actually need the heart. Per the story, there is nothing wrong with the nun’s heart. She would just like to have the godhead’s implanted. At no point is a purpose to this mentioned. The godhead proceeds remove his own heart and places it into the nun’s chest. What happens to her heart is not mentioned.
All of this would be a phenomenal back story to some subsequent saintly goings on. Little Sister Doesn’t Care For Latin is now the ambulatory vessel of a functioning organ from the House of David. Let the pronouncements and miracles commence! I can see a whole third book of the Bible starting here. Or a book of the Bible. Or something. Instead, she does pretty much diddly. She is a saint. (Actually, several saints.) But she did essentially pull an Iron Vic. Like the old golden age superhero Iron Vic, she’s been handed a lot of potential and she takes it and becomes a minor league baseball player.
I’m still at a loss as to why the image is on my funeral cards.
Monday, June 28, 2021
Presented for your amusement are two versions of an often-repeated sight gag involving the sport of football from the pulps. Both are take offs on the same theme.
The first is a mature version of the old Peanuts comic strip's Lucy and the Football bit.
Talk about freezing the kicker.
Our second theme, which was repeated more often, requires less explanation.
While there has been some talk of women playing football, Center is not usually the position mentioned.
This will mess up the snap count.
Both scans from Pulpscans.
Friday, June 11, 2021
It's the cover master for our latest edition of WDMA! Under normal circumstances this would indicate progress. This is for the prototype and a few things have come to light which may set me back a tad. Well, more than a tad. My printer went out of business. I didn't have a job with this person as yet, but they did hand me the most equitable estimate. (Job here meaning an assignment to print.) The prototype people are very reasonable (and include ebook formatting) but I am not sure how they are going to do for a short run book such as this.
Right now it looks like a short run book with some of its headers decapitated. Plus someone (me) seemingly repeated a page number. And there is a bit of artwork that I need to replace. So other than having a potentially defective prototype, a galley with a repeated and labor intensive to fix error and no real printing options for the production run, I have made some real progress here. I think I will go into the pickle business. How hard can it be to screw up cucumbers?
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Goodbye to Comic Sans
Long term readers of this blog and website know full well of my love of the type font Comic Sans. In execution, it is vaguely comic book-like. It stands out in chapter headings and as emphasis in the middle of a sentence. Weird Detective Mystery Adventures, our tribute role-playing game to all things pulp adventure, makes extensive use of the font. In small doses, it is fine.
It is, however, not real. No comic book has ever used Comic Sans nor anything like it. There have been several standards for comic book lettering—some of them actual fonts produced by old time strip spewing font machines—but Comic Sans was never one of them. Only certain greeting card companies made extensive use of it. As a font, it has a number of drawbacks.
Comic Sans scales poorly. The between line space is erratic, often dropping the distending letters of words with g, j, p, q and y. Worse, it is not resident on most browsers, translating into a mash up of itself and spacing regimes belonging to Times Roman or some other fuxtard fontard. I will miss Comic Sans, but I am giving her up. From now on we are in Ariel, the most readable and widespread font in the Microsoft English World. Because blogs are meaningless if they cannot be read.
I have also received notice from my webhosting site Yahoo that they no longer intend to support the web construction tool that they gave me. I will therefore not be able to update my current pages in their current format, but am free to import them into Fuxtard Press where I can marvel with delight as my art elements and text race off like jumping beans. Or I can redo the whole damn thing in something that I can fathom.
I have opted to leave things as they are until I have a chance to learn a new system, locate my previous text and dedicate several months to reconstruction. Given that I will be relaunching WDMA again, I do have an incentive to do this. Time is another question.
Between the time of the notification and now, Yahoo was offloaded from Verizon and bought by a private equity firm which also bought AOL. The new entity will be called Yahoo, but I am not sure what it will be doing. I may have more than one interweb issue on my hands.
In any case, the Wonderblog is now the thing, the outlet, the single most updated space in our place.
I Go Utterly Insane and Seemingly Need Meds Bad
I am not buying the fuel pipeline shutdown. I am not buying that it is hackers, Russian or otherwise. Moreover, I do not believe there is anything wrong with the pipeline, its controls or software. I think it has been shut off for the same reason OPEC shuts off Saudi Arabia or Iran. I think it’s a price rigging scheme, just as were the several rounds of suspicious refinery maintenance events which preceded it several summers ago.
Not long-ago oil was so worthless, so plentiful in supply
that producers had to pay someone to offload it from their tankers. We are at peak production. There is a Global Plague on which has reduced demand to a fraction of normal. Gas should be a buck a gallon. Yet prices go up.
I call foul. I call BS on the whole thing.
I AM COOTIES
Let the record show that I have taken full advantage of my Western Privilege during this time of plague. I live in a society which allows me to earn a living while sheltering in place. I can avoid contact with the world via ordering my every need to my doorstep. I have an abundance of personal preservation materials at my ready disposal should I need to venture out. As a member of several approved castes, I was allowed to obtain the best defense available to this malady and have availed myself of such. I am vaccinated, masked, and thriving. My only wants are for the contact with others my life afforded before. Even in this I have won out. At the start of this plague, I was on my own. Now I am aiding my loved ones, with them nearly every moment of the day. I am indeed a blessed person.
I am now a blessed person in quarantine. Mother’s Day brought contact with a person who has now tested positive for Covid. Just this day I and my housemates went to the drive-thru at our local Walgreens and had our tests proctored/self-administrated. I jammed a swab up my own nose and put the results in a disposable test tube, thus qualifying me for Level Zero as a Lab Tech. In several days, an actual Level One Lab Tech will get around to processing my tube, after which a qualified person will decide if I am diseased or not. Meanwhile, I play proto-zombie, staying away from folks lest I become a plague sprinkler.
I have no symptoms. The person who tested positive isn’t so lucky. And this person is now marooned in another state. Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water, Jaws returns. Not to make light of this nor paint the matter more dire than it actually is.
Insert profound point here. This isn’t over yet. As long as there is time on the play clock for this misadventure, anyone can still lose.
Flying Cars Now Have a Timeline for Adoption
In 2019, Boeing and Porsche announced they were teaming up to develop an electric flying car concept. Neither company has given any indication of when this might ‘take off’, but in 2018 research by Porsche suggested that the urban air mobility market could start to gain traction as soon as 2025.
By the way, the Wonderblog has now been joined by a Bloomberg email blast covering autotech, from which the above was culled. As with Wonderblog, the Bloomberg mailer will cover Flying Cars and Electric Cars as its focus. We at the Wonderblog welcome them. Come on in, the water is warm.
Sadly, Bloomberg has been finding out in short order what it took the Wonderblog nine years to discern—neither Electric Cars nor Flying Cars are making linear progress. Both fields are fits and starts, two steps forward, one step back with a skip to my loo and a few sidetracks thrown in.
On the heals of Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, one does have to reflect on what the man’s true accomplishment is. Has he made the electric car a commonplace item? Is he the Edison or Ford of the EV concept—a concept that predates the advent of gasoline. Thus far his works are expensive, rare, unprofitable, and prone to explosion accidents. That’s when he bothers with the EV at all and isn’t attempting a corporate takeover of outer space or drilling into the planet or distributing new fangled flamethrowers. (Just what the world needs. A new flamethrower.) He is the blesser of crypto currency, a thing decried by the maggots in Omaha and other slingers of fact-based finance. Should we just accept that he is beyond our mere mortal comprehension and bask in his awesome glow shadow or do we call a Trump a Trump.
The auto world has always had these Elon Musk types. They swoop in from other fields and pigeon distribute their wisdom. After a bloom phase, something like the Pontiac Fiero gets squat out into production, after which the auto industry gleans its own messages. The point of the Pontiac Fiero was to prove that Demming Quality Circles could vastly improve automotive design and assembly. While this turned out to be a boon to the production of auto parts, the One Thought Solves All approach Demming championed was of limited utility in design and assembly. (See the Pontiac Fiero.) The Fiero’s follow-up, an entire division of GM called Saturn did not fare much better. At the time GM ran out of money, the government made it give up on distractions like Pontiac and Saturn. Demming and his circles went by the waysides, with the industry gleaning simply that people would buy cars mostly made out of plastic. (An idea first broached by one Henry Ford the first.) Once most cars became mostly plastic, the all plastic Saturn marquee lost its luster. (1)
There are a lot of Auto History allusions to people like Musk. He’s not Ford. Ford was about affordable mobility. He’s not GM. GM was about market share. He’s not Chrysler. Chrysler was about value for the dollar. In the auto sector, those are the ideas which have won. That leaves the non-winners: Locomobile, Packard, Hudson, Peirce, Stutts and the like. I believe Musk is analogous to Cord (2), a peddler of advanced and expensive products, destined for mass sidelining at the first market downturn. Everything’s fun when its fashionable to be rich. Those times don’t last. Make something people need and can afford or your firm will be bitcoin bankrupt in the next market meltdown.
Not to be so US-centric. The above referenced Porsche isn’t really Porsche, it’s VW. VW sells cars to humans. Porsche is sort of Buick where it comes from and Audi is… over-engineered Eurotrash crap meant to separate the unwary of disposable income. (3) Not to disabuse Bloomberg of hopeful tidings, but a report from 2018 projecting the demand for flying cars in 2025 is probably the only product of this partnership. They are already one plane behind Terrafugia at the same stage. Not a hopeful sign.
(1) The Quality Circles also suggested that people didn’t like the car buying experience at all. In an effort to make it less onerous, the dealerships were ordered to not allow haggling and to ban their salespeople from deploying any of the time-tested tactics. Carmax has since adopted a similar strategy. The new Carvana chain aims to make trips to see your used car prior to purchase a thing of the past. In Saturn’s case, sales took a plunge and never recovered. And if you venture into your local Carmax, you will find creeping vestiges of the soft sale approach being enacted.
(2) Cord’s makes were Duesenberg, Auburn and Cord. Duesenbergs were priced at the half a mansion level. Auburns priced at the same level as the average supercar. The for the masses Cord, a mini-Duesenberg, came in at the mere Mercedes price point. Of the three marquees, only Auburn was an actual production luxury car. Cord’s primary gift to the venture is that he figured out how to sell the Auburns. Oddly only the Cords and Duesenbergs are well remembered, although almost no one ever owned one.
(3) Audi is a hold-over from that time when every European make needed to badge an unreliable performance car to compete with Jaguar. The thrill of owning a fine car which does not function still has a mysterious hold over the gentry.