Shared posts

13 Nov 18:46

Pictures: Biggest Crocodile Ever Caught?


Photograph from Reuters

An allegedly 21-foot saltwater crocodile captured alive in the Philippines could be the biggest known croc—but some experts are skeptical.
12 Nov 22:00

These gorgeous Doctor Who posters can be yours soon

by James Whitbrook

These gorgeous Doctor Who posters can be yours soon

One of the consistent highlights of Doctor Who this year has actually been outside of the show itself - for every episode, a shiny new poster from the excellent Stuart Manning. And soon, you'll be able to have prints of your own!


12 Nov 23:30

How Philae's Comet Compares To An Imperial Star Destroyer

by Robbie Gonzalez

Great comparison.

How Philae's Comet Compares To An Imperial Star Destroyer

ESA's Philae lander made history this morning when it landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Here's how big 67P/C-G is, relative to a well-known spacecraft, courtesy of the Washington Post.


12 Nov 16:00

A Webcomic About Two Cosmic Scoundrels By A Creator Of Homestar Runner

by Lauren Davis

A Webcomic About Two Cosmic Scoundrels By A Creator Of Homestar Runner

When Homestar Runner co-creator Matt Chapman teams up with Samurai Jack artist Andy Suriano, magic happens. Space magic. Their webcomic Cosmic Scoundrels follows a pair of futuristic rogues and their ludicrous adventures on the wrong side of the law. Plus, expect plenty of Easter eggs.


12 Nov 00:40

This Ultra-Tiny House Is Perfect for the Post-Apocalypse

by Annalee Newitz

This Ultra-Tiny House Is Perfect for the Post-Apocalypse

Jess and Dan wanted to simplify their lives. So they built one of the tiniest houses we've ever seen. It's 128 square feet on top of a truck flatbed. Here's how they fit all of life's essentials into such a small space.


01 Nov 21:30

You Know How This Experiment Ends, But You Should Watch It Anyway

by Robbie Gonzalez

You Know How This Experiment Ends, But You Should Watch It Anyway

Most of you know that any two objects dropped in a vacuum will fall at the same rate. Some of you have probably even seen it demonstrated in person. But you've never seen this classic experiment reproduced in the world's biggest vacuum chamber – and you really should.


31 Oct 19:35

Every Horror Reference From The Cabin In The Woods In One Video

by Meredith Woerner

Hey, Jason!

Thought you caught every single meta-reference in Drew Goddard's fantastic horror feature Cabin in the Woods? Well now is the time to double check, because this video lays it ALL out.


18 Oct 12:20

Linna Laws (1946-2014)

by Robin D. Laws

I had no idea this had happened.

I delivered the following eulogy at my mother’s funeral service, held at First Baptist Church, Orillia, ON, on October 7, 2014. She died on September 29th.

When my dad called me to tell me that Mom had died, I couldn’t stay still. I had to move. So with my wife Valerie at my side I left our downtown Toronto apartment for a brisk walk in a random direction. As we struggled to make sense of the news we quickly got to the question of her age.
Well, she was born in 1946, I said.
Valerie counted the decades on her fingers. The number came up as 68. Mom couldn’t still be that young, could she?
No way is that right, I said. I’m gonna be 50 in a few weeks. That’s mathematically impossible. So I reached for my phone and pulled up the calculator app and yes, sure enough, 2014 minus 1946 equals 68. Our ages fall less than two decades apart.
Even as a kid, I understood that I had young parents. Mom and Dad had decided to have kids early, they explained, so they would still be young enough to have fun doing it.
As a child, that struck me as a beguiling idea. Looking at it from the vantage point of middle age, in a time when people start families a decade plus later, caring for a baby at 18 seems impossibly daunting.
When you are an adult and time begins to take its toll on the people around you, you figure having young parents gives you something of an insurance policy.
To lose anyone in your life at such a relatively young age, completely without sign or warning, with no chance for goodbyes, shakes your sense of stability. To have it be your mom, the person who, if she was a good mom, provided you with the confidence that you were safe and cared for since before you were even conscious of anything—well, it’s shattering.
Given the sudden shock of this, it’s tempting to focus on the enormity of our loss. But we are all here to remember and celebrate her life. So let’s try to do that.
She was more than a good mom. She was a great mom.
If you made me sum her up in one word, both as a mother and a person, that word would be solid. She was strong, reliable, practical. Always ready to fix things. And, as everyone here knows, funny—she could take an ordinary interaction from her day and weave it into an epic anecdote. Combine that with warmth, cheer, and generosity and you had a love that was strong, and reliable, and always ready.
Last September, Valerie’s mother Muriel passed. Although I figured there was still plenty of time, it occurred to me that maybe I ought to know what the heck to do when that inevitable moment came for Mom. Understand that the broaching of difficult subjects has never been a Laws family forte. Being wise-asses, yes. Subject broaching, no.
So the answer came as no surprise, because it was the exact same one I would give were it the other way around. She went –pfff -- and made a dismissive gesture and said that there was no need to fuss about that. I forget the exact joke but the general indication was that it would be fine with her if we left her out for the city to pick up when they came for the leaves and tree branches.
It turns out the municipality frowns on that.
So we will have to make at least a little fuss.
When her mother, my Grandmother Hannaford, passed aged 90 after a brief illness, Mom saw me losing it. Which is what I do at funerals. She reminded me that there was no need to feel sorry for Grandma, who was gone and spared from suffering.
Of course, we have these services not for the person who has gone. We have them to feel sorry for ourselves, because we will now have to live without them.
Still, her words of consolation point to a combination of qualities almost never seen in the same person. When you use the word unsentimental to describe someone, the assumption is that you mean that they’re cold or detached or unfeeling. Mom was anything but: warm, loving, gregarious. Yet also possessed of an emotional practicality I wish I was capable of. If worrying didn’t fix a problem, she didn’t let herself do it.
Speaking of fixing things. One thing she never claimed to be much good at fixing was dinner. It not only delighted but amazed her when it turned out that I like to cook.
Even so, she did make certain key food items. And as trivial as it might sound, the items you make for family members, especially the ones connected to ritual occasions, become a tangible touchstone of affection. Stability in edible form.
So I will never again get to eat proper turkey stuffing. As Allen will, I’m sure, agree, everyone else does it wrong. Mom’s stuffing couldn’t have been more simple and basic—bread, lots and lots of poultry seasoning, and a ton of butter. And that was what was perfect about it.
I’m not the only one in this room who will also wish they had one more chance to eat her legendary chocolate chip cookies. She learned to give each member of a household their own separate tins, so as not to tear families apart. Mom said there was nothing special about them; she just used the recipe on the side of the chocolate chip bag. But she made them bigger than anyone else. Though they were wider in diameter and not quite as high, they had the approximate volume of hockey pucks. Through mysterious alchemy this size and configuration made them the best chocolate chip cookies ever baked in any oven. You’d think that we could reproduce this simply by making our cookies bigger. But I bet we lack the magic.
As already mentioned the basic unit of affection at a Laws family gathering was teasing and the smart alec remark. When we were kids, Mom gave Allen and me years of material when, on one of our motor home journeys across North America, she backed up too close to a curbside traffic sign. My bike, stowed on top of the vehicle, paid the price. The meeting of sign and bike bent the bar behind the seat down over it. Now that was a perfectly acceptable bicycle but that was by far the most fun I ever got out of it.
This would have been after Mom learned to drive. She had to take the test twice because the first time around she broke the speed limit. When informing her she’d flunked, the drive tester told her she had a heavy foot.
Well, that foot stayed heavy even after she got her license. When Mom was on the go, she didn’t want to be on the way, she wanted to be there. Fortunately she had the folksy charm to talk her way out of a ticket. I got to see this in action a few years ago when we were late to a theater production in downtown Toronto. She was regular people, even when she was 10k over the residential limit.
That heavy foot, the need to go, speaks to her fundamental yen for freedom. She wanted to be out doing her own thing, as she would have put it. For years duty overrode that drive. When her father died and her mother’s health as a result seemed at risk, she moved in to an addition at 16 Alexander Drive to help keep an eye on her. She did it willingly but was constantly aware of the loss of independence.
When she had the chance to be free, she took it. And if she instilled something in me, it was to cherish and seek my own freedom, to find a life and live it. The words of hers I most recall are her three-word motto: “Go for it.”
Many parents would try to at least gently dissuade a smart kid who could have pursued a lucrative career from instead becoming a writer. Or more incomprehensibly yet, a game designer. But if that’s what I wanted to do, Mom wanted me to do that. She wanted me to go for it.
As for herself, Mom did not always have the best luck with employers. This despite the people skills that made her a top notch salesperson and adviser on all things gardening related. I suspect she was happiest when working for herself doing landscaping and installing ponds. Even when that meant slugging rocks, as she put it, or placed her in hip waders in mucky cold water. When rising gas prices put a kibosh on the driving required to make that work, she took a post as landscaper and custodian here, at her church.
Most of the other speakers, I’m sure, will talk about her role in this congregation. I know about her work here from the way she talked about it. Despite problems with arthritis, she was out there, blowing snow, stacking chairs, doing what needed doing. Whatever she did, she worked hard. Not for the sake of hard work itself, but because she believed in doing the job right. Although I make my living by sitting in a chair, making stuff up and writing it down, I take with me the example of her work ethic, her need to do the job right, every time I plan a project or hit a deadline.
Mom went for it by assembling a community of friends to have adventures with. She sang with various choirs. She went birding in the woods, risking mysteriously powerful spider bites. She took up kayaking. She went to Portugal to look at scenery and check out the tapas situation.
My mom loved water, so when she downsized to an apartment she found one on the lake. Then she decided the lake wasn’t quite close enough, so she built a water feature near her door. Unlike the fountain she installed in the previous place, this one stood outside, where it couldn’t overflow and warp the floorboards.
Because, between work and adventures, she was busy going for it, getting ahold of her wasn’t necessarily an easy matter. Her own mother, beacon of goodness though she was, had expectations and wasn’t shy about sharing them. Mom, who felt the weight of that, very consciously decided not to rule her kids through guilt. So for example she instituted a “no news is good news” policy when it came to staying in touch. All the bragging of recent accomplishments and other updating would happen soon enough, at Thanksgiving or Christmas or during a call on Mother’s Day. Which would often happen one or two days after the actual date of Mother’s Day, and multiple attempts to reach her. It was a Sunday. She had stuff to do.
Being laid up, either from the aforementioned mysterious spider bite, or hip replacement surgery two years ago, drove her batty. After hip replacement the patient has to stay still and in a particular position until healing from this massively invasive procedure occurs. This left us a little worried about how faithfully she’d obey doctor’s orders. Especially as she eyed the pair of wooden chairs she had hanging from the porch just outside her door. She’d been meaning to get around to refinishing those for ages, she said, so being stuck at home was maybe the perfect opportunity.
At this moment, the “no news is good news” protocol reveals it flaw. It doesn’t account for sudden catastrophe. And so it leaves the events I was saving up for Thanksgiving undescribed, and certain accomplishments unbragged-about.
Which brings us back to the years I thought we’d still have with her. This turn of events, frankly, leaves me feeling cheated. In language no one ever utters in a house of worship.
But if I imagine what she would say about a thing like this, she’d say that feeling that way is pointless, because it doesn’t get you anywhere.
If I’d had a chance to say goodbye, it wouldn’t have been all written out like this. There would be more jokes and less mush. Basically it would just be, “I love you Mom. And thank you.”
Life is sad and beautiful. It is sad, right now, for me, because my mom is gone. It is beautiful because she was in it.
Also, it is short. And you don’t get to choose just how short.
The lesson, then, that I take from the life and passing of my mother is to savor the brief time we get. And to live it, as fully as we can, and to keep seeking new adventures. To go for it.

16 Oct 08:00

Magic: The Gathering Strategy Board Game Announced

by Anthony Karcz

Interesting to see them finally expanding Magic beyond just different implementations of the card game.

Magic The Gathering Strategy Board Game2 - UNDER EMBARGOMy son and I have spent many evenings staring at each other over hands of Magic: The Gathering, trying to guess strategies, short-circuit attacks, or summon enough beasties to overwhelm the other and win. I discovered MtG in college, where the gorgeous fantasy artwork drew me in and the deeper strategies required to dominate kept me playing (and buying far more booster packs than I should). Introducing the game to my 11-year-old son followed a similar path, only he’s a much better strategist than I ever was. It wasn’t long before he could build a deck that would chew me up and leave nothing in its wake but spent mana.

Come fall 2015, we will have a new way to enjoy Magic: The Gathering. Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro are teaming up and bringing MtG to the tactical miniatures board game market. With a working title of Magic: The Gathering Strategy Board Game, WotC is working with the same rock star Hasbro team that brought us the much-loved classic, HeroScape and, my personal favorite board game of the last five years, Risk Legacy.

Magic The Gathering Strategy Board Game - UNDER EMBARGOAt a glance: Set on the mana-rich plane of Shandalar, the Magic: The Gathering Strategy Board Game will have you and up to five players customizing the battlefield by designing the map, then placing terrain and gylphs. Once that’s done, you’ll each choose one of the five highly detailed, pre-painted Planeswalkers figures that are included in the base set. Each Planeswalker commands unique (gorgeously translucent) creature squads that you’ll move around the map, trying to out-maneuver opponents and gain tactical advantages. In your quest to be the last one standing, you will use spells, summons, and unique Planeswalker abilities culled from the rich history of the Magic: The Gathering universe. While you don’t have to be familiar with MtG to enjoy the game (the game won’t use MtG cards), old-time fans like myself will find familiar skills like deathtouch, flying, and first strike with which to terrorize our enemies.

Magic The Gathering Strategy Board Game3 - UNDER EMBARGOFor now, when asked about the collectibility of the miniatures for the game, WotC and Hasbro will only say every base set comes with the same five Planeswalkers (Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, Nissa Revane, Liliana Vess, and one other that hasn’t been announced); but they don’t say anything about those shiny plastic creature squads. Much like HeroScape before it (and just about every other modern tactical miniature game) I wouldn’t be surprised to see new squads released on a regular basis, allowing you to vary your tactics and bolster your ranks.

I’ve been wanting an excuse to pick up a tactical miniature combat game for a while and it looks like this will finally give me the incentive I needed. I’ll be heading down to my FLGS once a final release date is announced next fall. Until then, slake your desire for more information from Wizards of the Coast at or follow Hasbro on Twitter under the handle @HasbroNews.

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13 Oct 16:20

This Propaganda Poster Showed Martian Technology Winning World War I

by Mark Strauss

Too cool.

This Propaganda Poster Showed Martian Technology Winning World War I

A 1917 poster by French artist Henri Montassier offers hope for a quick conclusion to the war through new technology. But, his image has little in common with the armored vehicles under development. Instead, he unveiled a weapon that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Martian war machines from The War of The Worlds.


05 Oct 14:30

This Woman Can Sing Multiple Notes At Once

by Robbie Gonzalez

What singer Anne-Maria Hefele is performing is a style of overtone singing, and it's one of the most otherworldly sounding things I've ever heard. The whole thing is worth a watch, but the part at 3:25, where she moves the fundamental and overtone in opposite directions, had me shaking my head in disbelief.


02 Oct 08:00

Watch Over 100 Baby Turtles Make It to the Sea in This Amazing Video

by Katharine Trendacosta

Filmmaker Leon Duplay's short film shows over 150 turtles hatching, being helped to the see by residents of Lankayan Island in Malaysian Borneo, and then swimming for their lives. These little guys are adorable!


02 Oct 10:15

An Insanely Detailed Map of Minas Tirith Covers Every Inch of the City

by Katharine Trendacosta

An Insanely Detailed Map of Minas Tirith Covers Every Inch of the City

This is apparently a map made for the Middle Earth role playing games by ICE, and it's just gorgeous. Not only is the detail in this beyond belief (just look at the legend!), it's also been planned for maximum visual impact. You could examine it forever.


29 Sep 16:58

Today, Google announced that it's bringing Photoshop to Chrome OS.

by Eric Ravenscraft


Today, Google announced that it's bringing Photoshop to Chrome OS. The app will be a "streaming version" of the full Photoshop application. Initially, it will only be available to education customers in North America who have Creative Cloud subscriptions. If you want in, you can apply or read more here.


29 Sep 00:00

iOS Keyboard

More actual results: 'Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You [are the best. The best thing ever]', 'Revenge is a dish best served [by a group of people in my room]', and 'They may take our lives, but they'll never take our [money].'
26 Sep 06:31

At Long Last, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy Is Becoming a TV Show

by Katharine Trendacosta

Oh, Jason!

At Long Last, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy Is Becoming a TV Show

Finally, someone's recognized that Robinson's Mars Trilogy is perfect fodder for a television adaptation. Spike TV is developing a series with Game of Thrones producer Vince Gerardis, who has some experience taking epic words and putting them on the small screen.


19 Sep 05:57

faster than a speeding bullet

by kris

For my baby-having friends.


“krypton is going to explode in two weeks — ”

“okay he’s all strapped in! i’ll hit the ignition while you see what movies are playing”

17 Sep 07:07

Krispy Kreme 'Ghostbusters'

Krispy Kreme and Sony Pictures Consumer Products announced that Krispy Kreme will offer special Ghostbusters doughnuts from September 29th through October 31st.  
16 Sep 10:00

Teacher Asks Rapper to Give Teenagers Advice, He Delivers Fastest Response … Ever

by Dave Banks

“Dear Mr. Mac Lethal,”

That’s how the letter began to the Kansas City rapper (and dad), Mac Lethal, he of the untwistable and talented tongue. “My name is Mrs. Francine, I’m a 53-year-old high-school music teacher and I love your YouTube videos.” Mac Lethal has been rhyming over beats for more than a decade now, but his notoriety has been rapidly increasing the last few years as he has began pushing his music out over YouTube.

He gained extra attention when his Alphabet Insanity song (some adult language, but it comes so quickly, you might not catch it) hit his channel, showcasing his almost unbelievable style of rapid-fire rapping. The Internet took notice and it wasn’t long before he was featured on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Mrs. Francine’s letter continued: “The problem is, I can’t play them for my students because they contain too many bad words. Would you consider making a fast rap video for my students, to inspire them to be great? With no bad words? … P.S. Do you like Mozart?”

The rapper read the letter and decided to respond. His effort addressed all of Mrs. Francine’s requests and deals out mostly really decent advice, while spitting out syllables faster than John Moschitta. Too often, rap music is disagreeable or obscene; even though it’s an art form that kids can really identify with. It’s nice to have something for the Mrs. Francines of the world. Good job, Mr. Mac Lethal.


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16 Sep 16:50

Marine Biologists Release Incredible Video Of A Borg-Like Sea Creature

by Mark Strauss

"I can't believe that's a living thing!" declares one of the scientists watching this stunning underwater footage of a siphonophore. The creature is not just one organism, but several that collectively serve various functions such as locomotion and even preying for food.


13 Sep 17:00

These Wasps Built Their Colony On A Window – And The View Is Incredible

by Robbie Gonzalez

These Wasps Built Their Colony On A Window – And The View Is Incredible

Here's something you don't see every day: A glimpse at the internal structure of a rather large (and rather occupied) wasp nest. Put down the flamethrower and check it out. Trust us on this one, you'll want to see this.


11 Sep 21:20

Alan Moore Just Wrote A Novel So Enormous People Can't Pick It Up

by Rob Bricken

Alan Moore Just Wrote A Novel So Enormous People Can't Pick It Up

The acclaimed author of Watchmen has recently finished his second novel, Jerusalem. Two interesting facts about it: 1) it's not set in Jerusalem, but Northampton, England, and 2) at over one million words, it's almost twice the size of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Moore has said he doubts people will even be able to lift it.


10 Sep 10:00

Top Shelf Massive Graphic Novel Sale

by Jonathan H. Liu

Top Shelf Sale

It’s that time of year again—Top Shelf has a huge selection of comics on sale, with many titles listed at $3 or less. Top Shelf uses this sale each year to help fund the next year’s lineup. This year, they’re also including a digital option: buy a physical copy, and add on a digital for just a couple bucks.

You can get a copy of March: Book One for half price: it’s a fantastic nonfiction title about the civil rights movement that I mentioned in my Serious Comics series. A bunch of kid-friendly titles have been marked down to $5 a book: Owly, Korgi, Johnny Boo, and Dragon Puncher. And if you just want a taste of something to see if you’ll like it, there are a whole lot of single issues for a buck.

Have a look!

Thanks for reading GeekDad. Please consider clicking through to our site, we'd love to have you become more involved in our community!

05 Sep 15:00

The Eccentric Polish Count Who Influenced Classic SF's Greatest Writers

by Lee Konstatinou

The Eccentric Polish Count Who Influenced Classic SF's Greatest Writers

You've probably never heard of Alfred Korzybski, but he was famous in the mid-20th century. He didn't just invent a whole new science, he also had a huge influence on Robert A. Heinlein and a ton of other important science fiction authors. Author Lee Konstantinou brings us the strange tale of Count Korzybski.


04 Sep 10:30

Headbutting Ram Takes Out Drone

by Katharine Trendacosta

Headbutting Ram Takes Out Drone

This ram is very lucky that this was just a quadcopter piloted by a man he could easily defeat when he came looking for it. If it had been the U.S. military, he would have been toast.


04 Sep 17:30

Test If Your Batteries Are Dead By Dropping Them on a Hard Surface

by Melanie Pinola

Skip the battery tester and use this quick and easy way to test if your batteries are dead: Just drop them.


01 Sep 21:57

Joss Whedon Show!

by Andrew

Cool for Andy!

Hello all!  I will be showing at the Joss Whedon show at Gallery 1988!  You can read more about it here:

26 Aug 16:45

The 10 Most Gruesome Torture Techniques From Medieval Europe

by George Dvorsky

Useful info for stories!

The 10 Most Gruesome Torture Techniques From Medieval Europe

During the Middle Ages, torture was considered a legitimate way to extract confessions, punish offenders, and perform executions. Some methods were considerably crueler than others — these 10 being among the most barbaric and brutal.


26 Aug 05:42


by kris



a reminder! i will be at PAX this weekend in bandland, and all the details on my appearances and panels are in this handy post.

20 Aug 20:48

Quick 5e Character Generation Reference Thingy

by Zak S
I can't be the only one who wished, during character creation, these were all in one place for reference. So here you go, in the approximate order you need them…

All the 5e Races (p17)
Hill Dwarf
Mountain Dwarf
High Elf
Wood Elf
Lightfoot Halfling
Stout Halfling
Forest gnome
Rock gnome

All the 5e Backgrounds (p125) (it helps to pick background before class because then when you move to class and pick skills you don't pick skills you already have)
(Variants backgrounds in parenthesis)
Folk Hero
Guild Artisan
(Guild Merchant)
(Noble Knight)

All the 5e Classes (p45)

All the 5e skills (p 174)

STRENGTH                WISDOM
Athletics                       Animal Handling
DEXTERITY              Medicine
Acrobatics                    Perception
Sleight of Hand            Survival

Arcana                         Deception
History                         Intimidation
Investigation                 Performance
Nature                          Persuasion

Trinket table: p 159
Starting money: p 143
Armor: p 144
Weapons: p 146
Other gear: p 148
Spells: p 207
XP Table: p15

And here's a Random 5e PC Generator it doesn't roll and crunch the numbers but it does pick race, class, background, etc. The race and class has two versions--one that leaves out bards and gnomes because they suck and one that leaves them in because I am merciful.