The Red Bull Diary   Recent Posts
RSSRSS Friday Free Games
"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen


So apparently I took too long getting myself together after we left our 3:00 meeting and got back to the hotel, so I figured I'd take some time to myself, and share a little bit of my trip while in the proper "Amsterdam mindset". I had Abraxas on the brain, anyway.

Abraxas is the name of a coffee shop here in Amsterdam that serves some really special hot chocolate. I knew that I knew the name from somewhere, and so the next chance I had, I Googled it. Apparently, he's connected to the Basilideans, a Gnostic sect from the early second century. The Basilideans revered Abraxas as the Supreme Being, and said that Jesus Christ emanated from him (source). Basildeans came out of the Trismegistic tadition, following Simon Magus. Like other heretical and pagan ideas from this era, Abraxas became demonized in later Christianity, and abracadabra is said to derive from his name.

Amsterdam is really beautiful. Our hotel overlooks Dam Square (another image, all images courtesy Google image search), right across the way from Madame Toussaud's. The party officially begins at 5:00 tonight with dinner. We're going to an Argentinian steak house and from there, I'm sure there will be ample festivites.

I'm on my way to clean up and get changed. Peace out.


Greetings from the Netherlands

Landed at 8:30 this morning after getting about 4 hours of fairly unconfortable sleep on a pretty empty 767 out of JFK. And we hit the ground running: we've been going pretty much non-stop since we landed. The boys and I have regrouped at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky after having some awesome Chinese food, drinking sweet Heiniken at an English pub, and stalking the redlight district for a bit. It's so bizarre... there are windows with women in them, the red neon lights making their skin seem purplish in their dark little rooms. Most look bored, some working it hard. We're off to the Bulldog coffee shop for some more festivities. Hopefully I will be able to post again soon.


The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny is one of those rare masterpieces that comes along once in a generation, touching the human spirit and making us all remember why we love the internet in the first place.

And it stars Chuck Norris (thanks, Patsy). To find out just how cool Chuck Norris really is, read more here, then hear Tony Danza discuss it with him here, and then see Chuck's "open letter" on the subject here.

Abortion as the Lesser Evil

This is the first pro-choice article I've ever read that I agree with. After many years as a staunch pro-lifer, I realize that the issues are complex, and illegalizing abortion will not solve the problem. We need a measured response to a difficult problem. And this article reflects my opinion on the heart matter almost verbatim.


A New York Times op-ed piece made the observation that

[n]o one wants to censor Fox's money machine [American Idol], but it does seem peculiar that a nation so torn apart over what message gay marriage or prayer in school will send to impressionable youth is so unified in giving a pass to a program that teaches young people that it's extremely cool to be mean.
Silly editor, that's because neocons don't want people to be nice to one another. Biblical literalists aren't interested in whether you're compassionate or honest. Holy rollers don't see the point in stopping violence, curbing abuses of power, or feeding the hungry. That's because it's about claiming souls for Jesus, whatever the hell that means. It's about one nation under the Christian God, it's about blind faith, and it's about antidisestablishmentarianism.

A 12-Pack of 24

I present to you, my humble readers, in honor of Jack's return, a Twelve-Pack of 24, or 24: The Drinking Game. When any of the following things happen during the course of an episode, drink:

  1. Jack kills someone
  2. The double agent calls the terrorists
  3. The techies solve the problem just in the nick of time
  4. Jack does it his way instead
  5. Someone is tortured
  6. The terrorists speak on the news.
  7. A weapon of mass destruction is first revealed or deployed
  8. Someone who works for CTU dies, is taken into custody or otherwise forced to leave
  9. A terrorist commits suicide
  10. They do the three-way split-screen thing (no, 2- and 4-way don't count)
  11. Jack's love life interferes
  12. Someone reveals information just before they die

Some Pig

CNN reports that a Taiwanese research group has bred flourescent green transgenic pigs.

By injecting fluorescent green protein into embryonic pigs, a research team at the island's leading National Taiwan University managed to breed three male transgenic pigs, said professor Wu Shinn-Chih of the university's Institute and Department of Animal Science and Technology.

"There are partially fluorescent green pigs elsewhere, but ours are the only ones in the world that are green from inside out. Even their hearts and internal organs are green," Wu said on Thursday.

I'm sure this comes a good news to a friend of a friend, an artist named Jeff whose site is

Other famous green pigs include a restaurant, this supposedly radioactive pig found in India, and of course, Tomba's green pig:

To get to the green pig, first you must go to Mushroom Forest and obtain laughing status. Then go to the haunted mansion near Baskar Village. Go on the slide with two pig snouts, and travel to the SMILE! door. Look up and laugh. The door will open and (if you have the green pig bag) there will be the green pig gate. Jump into it. When fighting the pig, jump on him and throw him into the Pig Bag when it's turned your way. Congrats, now you can travel through the Lava Caves.
I had never heard of this game before, and now I'm certain that I never want to play it.

$150,000 and a Dream

I came across an article via Board Game News about a determined amateur game designer named Cheri Norgaard, a 45-year-old wife and mother from Laguna Hills, California. Her brainchild, "Up the ... Corporation", is a lighthearted look at office politics, where you win by climbing to the top of a ladder-shaped "board". As reported by the L.A. Times:

In case you didn't know, you don't just snap your fingers and create a new game. For Norgaard, it was a four-year odyssey that began in the way lots of things do: with an idea and a passion.

She thought of the concept and then set about learning how to pull it off. "If I'd walk past a computer in the morning, I couldn't walk away from it," she says. "I said, 'I love what I'm doing.' "

She learned things she didn't know, even though she'd helped her husband with his small construction company. "The learning process was huge," she says.

I ask if, early on, she thought of giving up. "Yes, the first time someone said I need to send $25,000 to China and another $30,000 in 40 days."

Norgaard says she's now sunk $150,000 into the effort and is confident the game will sell. She hand-delivered some to various outlets over the holidays and will attend her fourth trade show next month.

You can check out the demo and get more information on the game's website. It will retail for $48.

Being an amateur designer myself, I'm interested to see where her game goes. I thought I was crazy for investing the $300 or so that I've put in so far. She's obviously gone much further than I have and is now reaching the final stages – selling the game – but I have serious doubts as to whether her game will be the next Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly, as she hopes it will. For one, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly retail for considerably less than her game, and for another, after playing the rather clunky Flash demo, it seems this game has little to no strategic element to it. Success in Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly both rest on the individual players' skills, and I think it was that challenge that kept players coming back. I applaud her dedication, but I can't help but wonder, what will make me want to play a game like that? Kitsch and novelty are all that seem to be going for it. Oh, and can someone please explain that retarded ellipsis in the name?

It's not often you find a mainstream news story that focuses on the area of game design, so what's unique about this one is I actually have some insight as to the process of developing and ultimately selling a new game. I will post an update when and if there are further developments.

Oh, The Cuteness

Via Michelle, I found the Cuteness Overload blog, dedicated to cute pictures of animals and such. For those of you still watching the Panda cam, you can get an extra panda fix.

The Mail, Too

CNN reports:

U.S. officials are opening personal mail that arrives from abroad when they deem it necessary to protect the country from terrorism, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said Monday.

News of the little-known practice follows revelations that the government approved eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without judicial oversight after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which sparked concern from civil liberties advocates and some lawmakers, who called for congressional hearings.

"Customs and Border Protection is charged with making sure that terrorists and terrorists' weapons don't enter the country," said Suzanne Trevino, a spokeswoman for the customs agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

We all need a Big Brother watching over us, don't we?


Just a warning for those who love kittens, you're likely to find this a little disturbing.

Cy, short for Cyclopes, a kitten born with only one eye and no nose, is shown in this photo provided by its owner in Redmond, Oregon, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. The kitten, a ragdoll breed, which died after living for one day, was one of two in the litter. Its sibling was born normal and healthy.
—Associated Press
Freeeeeeeaky, dude.


Damn you, Patsy! This one should have been mine!


Okay, okay. Thank you, Patsy for sharing this wonderful slice of geek with us: What Tolkien Officially Said About Elf Sex. And you can use this Quenya Wordlist to find out what an Eldameldo is in Quenya.

Yeah, I know I should have used Sindarin, like Patsy did, but she's just showing off. Oooh. Look at me! I can use the Noble Tongue like they did in the movies! Well, if you want to know, there were three lines in Quenya in the movies, too!

...there are at least three prominent examples of spoken Quenya in the movies: Saruman's invocation when he tries to bring down the mountain on the Fellowship (nai yarvaxëa rasselya taltuva notto-carinnar, "may your bloodstained horn collapse upon enemy heads"), Frodo "speaking in tongues" in Shelob's Lair (aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima, "hail Eärendil brightest of stars"), and Aragorn's coronation formula, originally the oath of Elendil when he came to Middle-earth from the ruin of Númenor (et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinomë maruvan, ar hildinyar, tenn' Ambar-metta, "out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world"). The first of these three samples was composed by Tolkien-linguist David Salo using Tolkienian grammar and words; the other two are taken directly from the book.
Quenya - the Ancient Tongue on Ardalambion
So wipe that geekier-than-thou smirk off your face, woman. I will not be out-geeked again!

Amber Quiz

This is a cool quiz on Nine Princes in Amber, and it's actually a nice plot summary, besides. I got 18/20.


While perusing a Chris Sells' blog, I came across a heated discussion of the possibility of Dubya being impeached over this spying business. People were making comparisons to Clinton's impeachment, discussing the legality of the issue, and someone commented that a liberal perspective must come from working for Microsoft. This prompted this vitriolic reply:

someone said: "Why does it seem that DotNet people who are otherwise talented and entertaining people, feel the need to be liberal?"

perhaps because most coders are quite smart, and not (in my experience) the kind of people who'll readily swallow "intelligent design", "you're either with us our against us", or any of the other theocratic fascist hogwash spouted by that ridiculous monkey and his band of genocidal organ-grinders...

—Jon Rowett, Monday, December 19, 2005 1:47 AM
But the best things I gleaned from the debate (other than the sheer enjoyment of seeing the president called a "ridiculous monkey") were some of the links posted by "Shawn"; they're very informative from a legal perspective, and that's why I have chosen to share. The first comes from a cryptography newsgroup, and it summarizes the argument succintly, and provides a link directly to the relevant law regarding electronic surveillance. The second is an article from Washington Monthly that does a great job of framing the discussion in its legal context.

Sadly, the chances of impeaching this clown are slim, being that his cronies own both the House and the Senate, but I've always dared to dream. Clinton was impeached for considering himself above the law that said he could not lie under oath. Bush should be impeached for considering himself above the law that protects our privacy.


A Lawsuit Over Jesus' Existence

As reported by CNN, a two Italian men from the same hometown are now facing down one another in a bizarre lawsuit over the existence of Jesus. The plaintiff is Luigi Cascioli, author of The Fable of Christ, who is suing a parish priest, Enrico Righi, for "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" – basically, fraud.

...The Fable of Christ is a dossier containing the necessary arguments for a penal law suit against the catholic church with its ministers as representatives, it is a serious collection of juridical proof which show that the figure of Jesus is no other than the manipulation and falsification of documents which were really referring to a certain John of Gamala, son of Judas and Ezechia's grandson, a direct discendent of the Asmonites founded by Simon, Mattatia the Maccabean's son.

In order to reach this conclusion, so there will no longer be any doubt about his conclusions, the author carried out a rational and practical exegesis not only on the sacred scriptures but also on all documents concerning pagan religions and their cult of mystery of which christianity is a perfect reproduction.

This book may be scorned and condemned by those who have based their morality on a pack of lies, but the truth in it can never be annulled or cancelled by history from the moment that the truth has been revealed and spread. Even if the popularization and spreading of the book is important, and the challenge that the author makes to his enemies: the dull-minded, the hypocrites and the indifferent who are the worst of all according to him, but his real aim is to destroy the fraud on which christianity is based which is the fraud which makes up the dossier which will be presented to the court.

If spreading the existence of christ, the virgin mary [sic], Joseph and the apostles has been permitted by law up to now because it was considered a comfort for irrational human beings who need illusions to lighten their burdens, like trusting in magic or in horoscopes, this will no longer be possible because soon, very soon, it will be considered a crime according to articles 661 and 494 of the Italian criminal code.

—Publisher's Statement, as quoted by
Ambitious, to be sure, but as some savvy readers have pointed out, the work seems light on scholarship and heavy on outrage. After reading a bit of Cascioli's work, this does not seem like thorough and compelling historical research. There are few references from outside the Bible, and frankly this is a lot of the same sort of historical criticism that has been leveled against the Church since the beginning of the 20th Century. And it's been done much better before. But I take my hat off to a man whose conviction has led him to take the question of an historical Jesus into the courtroom.



take the psi-q psychic test yourself

Gamers Get Good Games

For those of you who keep in touch regularly, you may know that I have been putting in a fair amount of work on Version 2.0 (or so) of my Amber: Throne War board game prototype. I have about 50 pages of material, a new board design, and a new attitude. I want to finish, and I'm doing my best to keep the scope of the game in check.

So as a result I have been reading a lot of material on board games (as opposed to RPGs) lately, and in the process I have discovered a great blog called Gone Gaming, run by some of the same people who are involved with One of the latest posts speaks to a topic all gamers (RPGers and Board Gamers alike) can relate to: why gamers are so picky about their games. Much like a wine connoisseur learns the difference between good and bad wine, the game connoisseur's tastes are refined enough to understand what separates Pay Day from Settlers of Catan. You can check out the post here.



2006 is officially upon us. So I wanted to put up some geeky material related to 2006 as a number, similar to some of the stuff I found for my prime numbers post. So I hit Google and was able to come up with some interesting stuff, but definitely the most eye-catching was the 2006 Geek Gorgeous calendar, featuring pictures of hot women in technical fields, including two fellow .NET developers, Tracy and Lynn.

Silly Putty

Many thanks to Danny (he has baby blog dedicated to his daughter... some great pics and awesome poopie posts early on) for this link, which answers the burning question: what would you do with 50 lbs. of Silly Putty? Find out here.

In related news, find out here what happened when Google employee J. J. Furman bought 250 lbs. of the stuff.


Pandora: My Favorite New Songs
LibraryThing: What I'm Currently Reading
Archive Links
Friends of the Red Bull

Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida

Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew
The Red Bull Diary Is
The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.