Browsing through the news a little too quickly, I badly misread the headline "Nato warns Russia on Syria strikes" and now I can't stop imagining a certain whiskered ninja bragging about his jitsu skills to a flexing, nonchalant Vladimir Putin.
It's coming out this morning that all of this was the work of one 20-year-old from Florida named Joshua Ryne Goldberg. He was the fake white supremacist on /pol/. He stole Josh Bornstein's identity. He was the fake ISIS account Australi Witness. The dude was Jewish and rusing everybody.
[Rita] Katz said, in an interview with the Age, that the Twitter user is “part of the hard core of a group of individuals who constantly look for targets for other people to attack,” and recruits for ISIL.
The guy made death threats so he is in trouble.
From The Daily Beast:
More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military's Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials ...
... the complaint also goes beyond alleged altering of reports and accuses some senior leaders at CENTCOM of creating an unprofessional work environment. One person who knows the contents of the written complaint sent to the inspector general said it used the word “Stalinist” to describe the tone set by officials overseeing CENTCOM’s analysis. Many described a climate in which analysts felt they could not give a candid assessment of the situation in Iraq and Syria ...
Some of those who complained were urged to retire, one official familiar with the report told The Daily Beast. Some agreed to leave.
Not only was there a shakeup in the 49ers coaching staff after the firing of Jim Harbaugh, but the 49ers have lost almost enough players to field a team. Many of them are starters.
- Andy Lee - P, one of the better punters in the NFL for a decade. Some years he should have been considered the team's MVP. Traded to Cleveland for a late-round 2017 draft pick. Expected to be replaced by draftee Bradley Pinion.
- Anthony Davis - OT, retired at the age of 25 after suffering a serious concussion. He has expressed an interest in returning if his health improves.
- Mike Iupati - G, free agent, went to Arizona.
- Frank Gore - RB, the best running back the 49ers have ever had, moved to Indianapolis as a free agent.
- Michael Crabtree - WR, free agent, hopped across the bay to Oakland.
- Justin Smith - DT, five-time Pro Bowler. Retired.
- Chris Borland - LB. Retired after an excellent rookie season due to understandable fears about head injuries.
- Patrick Willis - LB, seven-time Pro Bowler, retired.
- Dan Skuta - LB, free agent, signed with Jacksonville.
- Aldon Smith - LB, a dynamic pass rusher in his rookie year, fired for misconduct off the field.
- Perrish Cox - CB, free agent, signed with Tennessee.
- Chris Culliver - CB, free agent, signed with Washington.
We'll miss these guys too
- Josh Johnson - 3rd/4th string QB who showed some spark in preseason. Released, now with Cincinnati.
- Stevie Johnson - Former Bills WR, released after a 35-catch season as a backup in San Francisco. Now with San Diego.
- Brandon Lloyd - WR, came back from retirement for one season, is not returning this year.
- Kassim Osgood - Backup WR with some good preseasons. Broke his hand late last season and is not returning this year.
- Derek Carrier - Backup TE, traded to Washington for a fifth-round 2016 draft pick.
- Asante Cleveland - Practice squad TE, traded to New England for OL Jordan Devey.
Judging by the preseason, the new players and coaching staff are doing a good job. However, I have no idea who these people are.
Barely related: explaining football to a dinosaur.
[Edit Sep 6] More players were cut to bring the team down to 53 men for the season. Of the names I recognize:
- Joe Looney, C, "the last remaining member of the 2012 draft class" which means that year was a total bust for the team. The 49ers traded a draft pick to Baltimore for rookie center Nick Easton to replace him.
- Darnell Dockett, veteran DT imported from the Cardinals who busted a rib.
- Desmond Bishop, veteran LB, formerly of Green Bay, minimal playing time over the past several years due to injuries
- Nick Moody, backup LB
- Leon McFadden, backup CB
- Craig Dahl, S, described by the Mercury News as a "special teams ace", had been a starter in St. Louis.
Remaining on the team in some form:
- Dylan Thompson, rookie QB, had a decent game in preseason, reported cut, moved to practice squad.
- Marcus Cromartie, backup CB, reported cut, moved to practice squad
- Jermaine Whitehead, rookie S, cut and placed on practice squad.
- Kendall Hunter, RB, was placed on injured reserve.
The 49ers have very strong depth at running back this year. Carlos Hyde is Gore's heir apparent. If he gets hurt, the Niners picked up veteran starter Reggie Bush to be his backup. If he gets hurt, Rugby Motherfucker will run you over. If he gets hurt, the rookie Mike Davis had a good enough preseason to earn a roster spot next to these guys. And then Kendall Hunter is hurt but he might get better.
Wikileaks has announced:
This conclusion is not supported by the story they link to, so it is not clear where they are getting this information. Maybe Wikileaks is spying on the Japanese.
They say that the X-Files is coming back, so I'll drop my vague ideas of what I'd have done with the property instead.
Some FBI agents at a field office in the South are working a mafia case and are short of leads. The new guy Jason sets his computer to run an overnight search of all networked drives overnight for some of the names they are looking for information on. In the middle of the next day, as the search is still running, he starts getting results from file names beginning with the letter X. One of the files is a report issued fifteen years earlier by someone who had the same name as a CIA assistant director who had been in the news recently for mismanaging money.
He brings it to his partner Jeanette whose first words after glancing at the file are "It's an X-file. Those are for UFOs and stuff." He tells her to look at the name of the informant and she recognizes the importance immediately.
They bring it to the special agent in charge who confirms that the assistant director was working in this area at the time, and he finds it very interesting that a trustworthy report would end up in the X-Files. He asks for a printed copy of the report, says that he will investigate this personally, tells Jeanette that she is in charge of the investigation while he is out of the office, and departs alone.
Jason looks at a few other X-Files while he's on break and laughs at them.
A few days later, they go looking for the CIA guy's reports in the X-Files during a meeting with other agents and some of the files are missing. The SAIC's jaw drops. He orders everyone to print out everything they still have access to, "we're going back to paper for this investigation."
Jason and Jeanette get the building's IT to copy all of the X-Files to an external hard drive on the local network so it is under the control of the field office and they can search it more quickly.
The mafia investigation ends abruptly when the mafia leader's yacht sinks in the Gulf of Mexico with some of his deputies on board. Jeanette looks at the SAIC as if she thinks he might be responsible, but the look on his face is one of dejection and defeat rather than guilt. SAIC gets back in command mode: this is going to cause a power vacuum, somebody is going to take over, get on top of things before the gangs start a war across the entire state.
Jason goes home where he still lives with his parents and mentions "hey, did you know Mrs. Johnson's house is supposed to be haunted?" On his next off day he visits Mrs. Johnson and awkwardly asks her if she has ever seen a ghost, because he was reading an old ghost story and it had her address in it. She says no, but when her mother was dying she said that there used to be an angel in the house before the fire that happened when Mrs. Johnson was only four.
On his next work day, Jason updates the 60-year-old X-file about the ghost sighting with the information that he collected on his day off, writing that he did this on his day off, and marks the file as closed. Soon he is in the SAIC's office. The SAIC says "I hear that you closed an X-file. I've been hearing it from my friends in Washington. Now, I read your appendix. It was solid work and you didn't waste any taxpayer money. My gut instinct is to chew you out but you didn't do anything wrong and you did good work. Just... don't forget that we have real crimes to solve. If you want to chase ghosts, keep doing it on your own time."
As Jason leaves, the SAIC adds "and let me know if you find anything interesting in those files." The viewer has seen enough of both characters to know that the SAIC's definition of interesting may be different from Jason's.
On her day off, Jeanette mentions to a friend that her partner decided to investigate a haunted house because it was close to where he lives. Her friend mentions that she knows where there is a haunted house...
Soon they are at the "haunted" house with sleeping bags, laptops, and recording equipment. Jeanette's friend brought her kids who are about 8 and 5. It's a sleepover party atmosphere and Jason mentions that if there are any ghosts they would scare them off. In the morning, they start wrapping up. No one saw anything, no one had nightmares. They walk out the door as the ghost watches.
Different attitudes, different climate
The X-Files themselves are a source of mystery and comedy until they become familiar.
Not every X-File is real. Most of them are worthless, introduced and thrown away in a short time. An extra mystery in the show is which mystery will turn out to be the real one.
There is more than one story in each episode. Some are resolved quickly, some are spread out across a few episodes, many are simply background stories.
Neither investigator is a believer in the paranormal until it forces itself on them, and their attitudes and approaches are different from Mulder and Scully. Jason is in it for the "wouldn't it be cool if..." factor and he drives most paranormal investigations with his eagerness. Jeanette prefers rational explanations but enjoys carrying out the investigation and seeing where the facts lead.
The agents solve real crimes for several episodes before they are assigned to work on the X-Files on a special request from a deputy director who their SAIC is not familiar with.
The agents work in an office with other staff. Actors playing background characters will be hired on for a season to just nod and say "hi" once an episode and to have the same familiar faces in the same cubicles. The agents have friends and families. The cost of the show is going through the roof.
In later seasons:
- Somebody gives the order to delete all of the X-Files. The backup drive at the field office is the only copy until they start getting requests from other field offices to make a copy.
- Jason gets beamed up by a UFO. It turns out to be a secret US military aircraft. After seeing his FBI badge, they hand him over to "The Investigator": Dana Scully. She tells him that aliens do exist, and welcome to the resistance. Jason is written out of the show and replaced by another character.
Some previous concepts:
One of my game ideas that I'll never get around to developing is a multi-generational RPG where the initial party of heroes fights some battle against the stereotypical evil force, then their kids fight the next part of the battle, and then their kids finally defeat the evil, where this is driven by a game engine and not a written script. How would this work?
1. The player must be enticed to retire the party.
- The party defeats the local evil that they see and misses the big picture. With no remaining quests, the party automatically retires.
- In-game full party wipe. Survivors flee.
- Randomly throw romantic encounters at the player until the player accepts the option to marry and settle down, or a limit is reached where the character automatically chooses this option.
- Randomly cause events that cause fighters to leave the party until the player is left with so few fighters that the party is guaranteed to get wiped out if they keep attacking, leaving the player to decide that retiring is the better choice.
2. The next party should have the potential of being stronger than the last.
This follows naturally from the retirement of fighters being a game. Children should have traits similar to those of their parents, plus a little bonus for having been raised by heroes.
3. The evil force regrows strength between generations.
There must be low-level targets for your kids to beat their swords against before they go into the final dungeon. The game engine will randomly generate a series of local villains, missions, and travel mechanisms between continents that open up when previous missions are completed.
4. The game environment changes between generations. Towns grow. Buildings fall into disrepair and are replaced. NPCs have children, get old, and die.
While the idea is intriguing, there are drawbacks.
Randomly generated content is not as interesting as well-written scripts. If the characters are randomly generated and the mission engine pulls random events out of a bag of tricks, the dialogue cannot be written toward specific characters. The game cannot have all of the little things that make a good RPG stand out from rpgmaker amateur hour.
If the player gets a different randomly generated set of kids on each playthrough, there is no emotional attachment. There will be an emotional backlash on additional playthroughs when the player's kids are different from the ones on their first playthrough, as someone who remembers the adventures of their daughter Sara may be a bit grumpy when they get a son named Fred.
Characters cannot be used as points of reference from which to talk to other players about the game. "You know that character...." they don't know that character. At best, the game can keep a log of events and players can share logs.
There is a freeware flash game called Idle Monster Slayers that is basically Cow Clicker with an implementation of generational improvement. The game's rules are:
- Gold is produced over time.
- Click the button to trade gold for an increase in the rate of gold production.
- Soul Orbs are produced over time at high levels, and increase the rate of gold production when the game is reset.
- Click the reset button to collect Soul Orbs and zero out the rest of the game.
During any single playthrough:
- Player strength rises linearly over playing time.
- Difficulty rises geometrically or exponentially over the length of game content that the player completes.
There eventually reaches a point where it takes more and more playing time to gain the slightest advantage, and the marginal gain of additional leveling up approaches worthlessness. The player may choose to give up at this point, and the game provides a mechanism where giving up will produce a bonus on the next playthrough.
Player strength is modified by a bonus that increases in each generation, allowing the player to reach a further point in the game before gains are stymied.
U.S. military members serving in countries that observe Ramadan are required to adhere to certain practices while outside U.S. installations.
“The commander’s policy dictates that airmen will adhere to local law, which prohibits eating, drinking or tobacco use off base in public,” said Sickles.
This is only a When In Rome situation. Fasting during Ramadan is the law in some countries, not only a religious practice, and soldiers are expected to follow the country's law when they are off base.
According to one entry from March 22, 2011, “officers” with the General Directorate for External Security — the French intelligence service — “began a series of secret meetings” with Jalil and Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis in Benghazi in late February and gave them “money and guidance” to set up the council ... “In return for their assistance,” the memo states, “the DGSE officers indicated that they expected the new government of Libya to favor French firms and national interests, particularly regarding the oil industry in Libya.” ... Another memo dated May 5 asserts that individuals close to the council stated “in strictest confidence” that as early as mid-April 2011 French humanitarian flights also included “executives from the French company TOTAL, the large construction from VINCI and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. (EADS).” Subsequent flights have allegedly carried representatives “from the conglomerate THALYS and other large French firms, all with close ties to [Sarkozy].”
Also blamed is Bernard Henri-Levy.
al-Monitor notes that this information is impossible to verify, and questions Drumheller's honesty due to his involvement in the Nigerian yellowcake hoax.
The European Court of Human Rights has effectively banned website comments by making site owners liable for anything that users post, even if they remove it. And people wonder why the right-wing anti-EU parties are gaining strength.