If you're in the mood for some old-school roleplay gaming in a pulp-adventure milieu set between 1900 and 1940, why not try Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom by Oliver Parkhurst, the first release of the Zeppelin Age line. (NB: The publisher, Heliograph, sent me a free copy because they used my font, Duarte Juramento, for some of the illustration labels.)
As the name implies, the game centers around airships and exotic island locations (I assume future installments of the promised Zeppelin Age series will have airships in other scenarios). I'm not an RPG player so I can't comment too much on Heliograph's DECO System: it uses dice; is run by a Director; has Moxie Checks when your character takes damage; awards Pavlov Points to reinforce entertaining roleplay; and defines characters by Trademarks, Motivations, and Hooks.
While in our reality Zeppelins were never that successful, Airship Troopers imagines a world where they are a major form of transportation. The difference that makes this reality possible is Monarch Airways, owned by wealthy and forward-thinking Ozma Tippitarius, whose mysterious sources of funding and helium keep the airship industry aloft and thriving. The titular Airship Troopers handle Monarch security and are able to deploy from airships thanks to Rocketeer-style rocket-packs called Firebirds. Well, they actually deploy thanks to gravity; the Firebirds let them get back.
Besides the Monarch backstory, there's lots of interesting info on real Zeppelin history, technology, and operations, including a Zeppelin Owner's Operation Manual (or Z.O.O.M.). While your Zeppelin can fly for days without fear of crashing, maintaining neutral buoyancy isn't as easy as one might suspect. If you deploy personnel or cargo, you loose their weight and must compensate by venting gas, of which you only have a limited supply. If they return, you must then drop water ballast, which again is limited. Going up and down relatively quickly also means expending gas and ballast. Unless your engines are running on Blau gas, using fuel decreases weight and requires gas venting. Environmental conditions can affect the effectiveness of the gas, requiring adjustments to the gas/ballast ratio. Balancing these two resources without running too low on either to safely control the ship necessitates skill and experience.
To explain the day-to-day operations of Zeppelins, the book introduces Monarch Airways' experimental testbed, the MAA Zenobia, which was retrofitted from the real-life R-80. Included are a blueprint, walkthrough, and descriptions of crew duties.
Being transportation, airships aren't very useful unless you have somewhere to go. Where you choose to take your airship in your game is up to you, and the book's outline of the DECO system and airship info can serve to build any Zeppelin Age adventure you want. But as you've guessed from the sub-title and Chris Appel's cover art, Parkhurst has some ideas of where your Zeppelin should be headed.
Welcome to the Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom (or just the Island)!
The Island is an environment filled with pulpy goodness for your Airship Troopers to explore and be killed by. And yes, there are dinosaurs. You could even play as a dinosaur; the character section suggests Uncommon Descriptions that include not only a Wonderdog (à la Rin-Tin-Tin) but a Wondersaur (T. Rex-Tin-Tin?), and there's a Wondersaur named Sandy described in an example adventure in the Director's section.
All the pulp staples are here: lost cities, mad scientists, gangsters, jungle girls, Neanderthals, giant arthropods, man-eating plants, weird fungi, Nazis, the Red menace. Of course, not everything listed has to be on your game's version of the Island. They're all just suggestions. The example adventure provides character/creature stats for a number of them, but it's easy to create your own.
Of particular interest to my readers, the Island is potentially home to a menagerie of terrestrial cephalopods: lakeside croctopus, giant elephantopus of the grasslands (reminiscent of the Umbrella Beasts from "The Octopus Cycle", as seen on this pulp cover [UPDATE: more about it here]), cave-dwelling stalactopus and stalagmopus, airfaring zeptopus, and naturally forest-dwelling treetopus. Since there's already Wondersaurs, perhaps you'll consider playing as a plucky arboreal Wonderpus sidekick. Also, the mixture of tree octopuses and dinosaurs means this will happen.
Once again the citizens of Washington Prefecture, Republic of Cascadia, are forced by Federalist occupiers to vote in a primary election to decide who will be the contenders for US Senator in their general election. In 2006, ZPi endorsed two candidates as most representative of the paranoid ethic from their respective parties and thus most likely to break the stranglehold of orthonoia that allows the New World Order to enslave society.
This year, those same two candidates are running, so we at ZPi are again endorsing them.
Note that our old friend Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson -- who replied to my request for his position on monorails with a short story and poem -- has now changed his name to just Goodspaceguy. He's also apparently become a collective entity on Google. Chovil is still the lone candidate speaking out against the New World Order and his hat provides excellent beanie camouflage.
Here are their entries from the official Voter's Pamphlet:
Goodspaceguy(Prefers Democratic Party)
Ten times, voters rejected Goodspaceguy's economic program!
Other Professional Experience:
Educated in America, Sweden, and Germany, Goodspaceguy experienced international living. Goodspaceguy earned two university degrees (bachelor followed by master)with important minors in economics. Nonsmoking, nondrinking, prosperous, healthy Goodspaceguy (Minnesota born) is a life-long student of knowledge, such as economics, individual liberty, ownership, repairing, rejuvenation, space colonization.... As an amateur astronomer, Goodspaceguy sees the big picture. Goodspaceguy loves beautiful stars in the sky and in the movies. The people of Spaceship Earth are his family.
Eleven times a candidate, promoting improvements, Goodspaceguy advocates upward movement in technology, rejuvenation, and worker wealth-building.
Dear fellow sheeple, you are the fl im-fl ammed, manipulated power base. Please think of your Earth as a beautiful spaceship, traveling around your Sun in your solar system. Please think of yourselves as crewmembers, helping to operate and improve Spaceship Earth (for even the homeless.)
It is your destiny to start the orbital space colonization of your solar system. You have already spent the money! Consequently you should already have more than 200 habitats orbiting your Earth, Moon, Sun, and Mars. But you don't! Why? Because your wasteful leaders have not studied orbital space colonization. Instead, yearly, they routinely waste billions and billions of your dollars.
As a student of economics, I, Goodspaceguy, also want you to raise your wealth by increasing the profi ts and incentives that create jobs for everyone willing to work. The true unemployment rate reveals the degree of sabotage of your economy by your wasteful leaders. We are working way beneath our production-possibility curve! Let's unsabotage our economy and build a higher worker living standard. Vote for the small spenders. Defend the functioning of the competitive, free market. Please, defend the profi ts and other incentives that create our free market jobs.
To help unsabotage your economy and to increase employment for people with problems, please abolish your beloved, but evil minimum wage. Get both Washingtons out of their high-cost, low-profit, job-destroying straightjackets.
Also to unsabotage the economy, please increase the incentive for wealthy people to move to Washington State, bringing their headquarters here. Make if profi table to grow jobs in Washington State, a job-wealth-growing state of a job/wealth partnership.
If you google goodspaceguy, you'll find me and talented people who claim to be me: Goodspaceguy. Increase jobs by making employers profitable. Defend wealth building and the homeless.
For More Information:
William Edward Chovil(Prefers Republican Party)
No information submitted
Other Professional Experience:
Caregiver & defender of our Republic.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, and a Bachelor of Education Degree.
The Republican National Committee, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the National Rifle Association-life member, the Gun Owners of America-life member, the Washington Arms Collectors, The National Association of Letter Carriers, the Service Employees International Union, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - Tacoma, Stadium Ward.
What kind of America do Americans want? The one our founders planned for us? The one America's anti-founders are giving us now?
I am pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-gun, pro-audacity, pro-Sarah Palin, and John Gault, Pro-charter schools and home schools. I am against cap and trade, against Obama Care, and against the new-world-order.
For More Information:
Comics With Problems -- a site dedicated to comic books tackling serious problems, usually poorly -- has uncovered an official US Army training comic from 2001 titled "Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide On Homosexual Conduct Policy". It's ostensibly about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but the back cover is where the true propagandistic purpose of the book is revealed:
The modern, diverse US military, made of men and women of all colors and creeds... and miniature Black Helicopters?!
By off-handedly inserting them into this display of soldier unity in diversity, the Army was clearly trying to normalize acceptance of miniature Black Helicopters among the ranks. Deviously, they put this at the end of an otherwise unrelated comic that stresses respecting the dignity of fellow soldiers, causing a subconscious transference of all the social-conformity training from that story onto the subject of Black Helicopters without having to acknowledge they were doing so -- which would have only caused soldiers to ask such existential questions as: Why are there small, nanobiotechnological lifeforms flying around the barracks demanding respect?
When introducing shocking new realities to the uninitiated, it's best to just put it out there and pretend like there's nothing out of the ordinary going on. Most people will be too embarrassed to admit they see something everyone else doesn't and will keep quiet. And for those few who do ask questions, it always helps to have "Just shut up and stop asking questions!" as an official, enforceable policy. Is PFC Choppy a miniature Black Helicopter or is he really just short, hyperactive, and not very talkative? Don't ask! Mind your own business and just respect him as a fellow soldier!
Even more troubling though is the lower part of the image which shows that miniaturization of Simulacra android technology is more advanced than previously thought. If those mesosoldiers were common in the Army nine years ago, how long until the NWO starts introducing microscopic Ken Schrams into our food supply?
Or have they already?!
Inspired by the Paradigm Shift Awareness Clock pictured on the ZPi Research Labs page, Bob Blick has created a pocket-sized version for on-the-go paradigm shifting. He has graciously sent me one of his two prototypes:
Unlike more complicated and expensive paradigm allagimeters you can buy from obscure dealers in esoteritronics, this one is simple enough that any budding revolutionary can use it to monitor their paradigm shifting prowess. Granted it won't let one know in advance of imminent paradigm shifts -- much less shift direction, velocity, or sociocultural mass -- but the point here is not precise paradigmology. As with my original, the point is to motivate shift-inducing activity by making one aware of the lack of them.
No instructions were included, but none were needed. Oscillating dots on the display show it's sensing* the dominant paradigm. If there's no shift within a day, the number will be advanced by one. Any detected shift will reset the number to zero. Simple and to the point.
While indeed pocket-sized, its square shape also makes it a wonderful desk clock for lazy pencil-pushing revolutioneers in need of motivation. I would make one recommendation for improvement, though: the addition of a mount for an optional wrist band can turn it into a stylishly functional Paradigm Shift Awareness Watch:
No word yet on whether Blick plans to bring this exciting product to market. If he does, I'm ordering one for every Sasquatch in my employ. They've been slacking off lately.
* I only briefly peeked inside the device, so I can't say exactly how it works. I assume its paradigm-sensing abilities are based on paradigm-resonant crystals of some sort. That's what I would use, anyway.
UPDATE 2013-05-10: The Paradigm-Shift Awareness Clock has been updated.
Non-aquatic cephalopods are notoriously under-represented, if not completely absent, in the fossil record since they are mostly composed of soft-tissue and, unlike their aquatic counterparts, live in environments without a constant rain of fine sediment and ubiquitous muddy ground necessary for soft-tissue fossilization.
Given this explanation for a lack of fossil evidence, it cannot be ruled out that the scenario depicted above -- predation by giant octopuses newly colonizing an above-water world unprepared for their arrival -- is what really doomed the dinosaurs to extinction. Only those dinosaurs that were able to rise above the now-deadly trees -- birds -- survived the transition to a post-tree-octopus environment.
The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race is an annual event where Kinetinauts race amphibious, human-powered art-vehicles to victory and glory.
This year has a very special entrant (from the Spectator's Guide):
Veke Versa Boat is from the Jemicy School of Baltimore and is dedicated to providing habitat for the endangered, elusive, and apocryphal tree octopus.
(I'm assuming they were forced to add "apocryphal" in the guide description by the shadowy, anti-Cascadian forces pulling the strings of the race -- note the special Belgian waffle breakfast held on a balcony overseeing the opening ceremonies mentioned prominently in the guide and on the official site.)
Jemicy seems to have a cephalopod theme going this year, as their four other entries are named Squid Man, Kraken, Cabrena Octopus, & Calamari. All five are competing for an ACE award, the most challenging, rule-encumbered level of competition in the race.
No photos yet. I'll add some links in an update after the race. Good luck Team Jemicy.
UPDATE 2010-05-03: Jemicy's Veke Versa Boat won the Engineering award! Here's a photo of it without its head cropped off:
By the color and demeanor of the octopus, it looks as if they modeled it after Thujoctopus pilosa, not O. paxarbolis. Nevertheless, anything that raises awareness of arboreal cephalopods is certainly worthy of note.
This Aluminum Shielded Enclosure has all the amenities a modern paranoid would need. More photos below.
Browning Porter has started a Posters For Haiti Fundraising Campaign, where he'll design a poster for your "concert, play, reading, clambake, shindig, hoedown, etc.", and donate 100% of his fee to Partners In Health for relief in Haiti.
He just emailed me his latest poster for a bluegrass band, Walker's Run. It uses two of my fonts (Submarine vs. Whale and Greensboro) and is a humorous homage to a WPA poster dissuading motorists from wanton bloodshed:
Check out more of his posters here.
It now appears that the situation is more convoluted, and that I'm redoing the work of someone who also stumbled upon the quote -- 108 years ago!
In a letter published in Nature (July 3, 1902), Hiram Stevens Maxim -- the inventor of the automatic machine gun, the mousetrap, amusement-park airplane rides, and possibly the lightbulb -- asked the editors about the source of Kelvin's wing-beat-changes-the-Universe quote -- only in the version Maxim read (from William Stanley) it was a mosquito wing doing the Universe-beating:
Mr. William Stanley, an American philosopher and engineer, said a few days ago that the grandest words ever uttered by any man on this planet were spoken by Lord Kelvin when he said that if all the matter in the Universe were reduced to its ultimate atoms and equally divided through all space, the disturbance caused by the beating of the wing of one mosquito would bring about everything that we find in the material Universe to-day. I have written to Lord Kelvin asking him where I can find some account of this, but he denies that he ever said anything of the kind. However, as Mr. Stanley declares that it appeared in Nature, perhaps you can put me in the way of getting a copy of the paper which contains this remarkable utterance, which, by the way, is quite true, and if Lord Kelvin did not say it, I only have to say that he might well have been the author.
Hiram S. Maxim,
18 Queen's Gate Place, London, S.W., June 25.
A Google book search turned up nothing in Nature from Kelvin on this subject, but searching for a quote based on a paraphrase that may include the wrong order of insect isn't exactly a science, so I could be missing it. (Also, if I may gripe, Google treats issues of many older periodicals as if they are different editions of the same book, showing only the newest issue that matches the query, making searches aggravating.)
While this almost certainly excludes Kelvin from being the source of the Butterfly Effect's specific protagonist, and possibly his general insectile contributions to the field of chaos theory if his memory was correct, it still calls into question Ray Bradbury as the ultimate source of the lepidopteran imagery.
But more interestingly, the butterfly seems to have originated out of a paraphrased-quote-based game of telephone -- where the flap of a tongue can turn "tornado" into "Texas" -- making it an example of its own effect.
P.S. If you came here looking for the band called the Mosquito Effect, you are in the wrong place.
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unless otherwise noted or implied.