Saturday, December 24, 2011

Progress, now vs. 2010 and the year 1800

It is fun to read past generations moaning about general decline.  In college it was interesting to read about all the technological advances that occurred in the "Dark Ages."

For perspective, an except from an essay (read it in full at

  1. Worldwide living conditions. There is widespread concern that our global economy, while lifting up some, has condemned hundreds of millions of others to extreme poverty, particularly in light of the current worldwide economic recession. But according to the latest U.N. report (2010), its Human Development Index rose in all but three nations (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe) from 1970 to 2010. For example, worldwide average income per capita in 2010 was $10,760, which is twice the inflation-adjusted level in 1970. Over this 40-year period, income per capita rose in all but six nations worldwide, with increases averaging 184% in developing countries and 126% in developed countries [UN2010].
Imagine a better-off-than-average family somewhere in Western Europe or Eastern North America in 1800 [Ridley2010, pg. 13]:
The family is gathering around the hearth in the simple timber-framed house. Father reads aloud from the Bible while mother prepares to dish out a stew of beef and onions. The baby boy is being comforted by one of his sisters and the eldest lad is pouring water from a pitcher into the earthenware mugs on the table. His elder sister is feeding the horse in the stable. Outside there is no noise of traffic, there are no drug dealers and neither dioxins nor radioactive fall-out have been found in the cow’s milk. All is tranquil; a bird sings outside the window.
Oh please! Though this is one of the better-off families in the village, father’s Scripture reading is interrupted by a bronchitic cough that presages the pneumonia that will kill him at 53 — not helped by the wood smoke of the fire. (He is lucky: life expectancy even in England was less than 40 in 1800.) The baby will die of the smallpox that is now causing him to cry; his sister will soon be the chattel of a drunken husband. The water the son is pouring tastes of the cows that drink from the brook. Toothache tortures the mother. The neighbour’s lodger is getting the other girl pregnant in the hayshed even now and her child will be sent to an orphanage. The stew is grey and gristly yet meat is a rare change from gruel; there is no fruit or salad at this season. It is eaten with a wooden spoon from a wooden bowl. Candles cost too much, so firelight is all there is to see by. Nobody in the family has ever seen a play, painted a picture or heard a piano. School is a few years of dull Latin taught by a bigoted martinet at the vicarage. Father visited the city once, but the travel cost him a week’s wages and the others have never travelled more than fifteen miles from home. Each daughter owns two wool dresses, two linen shirts and one pair of shoes. Father’s jacket cost him a month’s wages but is now infested with lice. The children sleep two to a bed on straw mattresses on the floor. As for the bird outside the window, tomorrow it will be trapped and eaten by the boy.

Looking at industry money flows

Many times people do not understand how the money flows or where the costs are in an industry. Sometimes even those who work in it have no idea. is a good example of someone explaining the way the money flows in a huge industry (the music industry) that many in the industry do not understand or appreciate.

Just to start (quoting from the article):
The artist will usually get a royalty of anywhere from 5% at the low end to 15-25% at the high end of the Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail List Price (the retail price) as a gross royalty but that royalty is almost always illusory.
The company will generally deduct for “packaging” (remember “packaging?” that is, when albums came with covers and liner notes?). The artist should of course negotiate not to have such a deduction for digital downloads since there is no “packaging” in such formats. The company will also deduct an amount, currently somewhere around 15% for pretty much nothing at all but which historically was an amount allocated to “breakage” (remember when there were actual records that could break?).
Now the 85% basis for royalty calculations has simply become part of the royalty structure and there is no rhyme or reason to explain it. In fact, it used to be 90% as the standard but could, in the right instance, be negotiated to 100%. Needless to say, this is negotiable as well. There are often many other deductions and reductions in the above royalty rate for foreign, mid-price, budget price as well as different rates for foreign sales.
Additionally, the artist gets a share of the licensing income (read “Is It A Sale or A License?” ). If the recording is used in a commercial, movie, television show or the like, the company negotiates a “master use” license with the user and collects the money and pays the artist’s share to the artist, which if properly negotiated, should not less than 50% of the gross and sometime much higher than that. And it is not just the rate that is important; it is the basis upon which the rate is calculated which is even more important.
Read the rest of it. Now, look for that same informatin in your industry.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A series of essays, written with courage

This is the third in a 3-Part series that discusses the Dispute Resolution teaching profession. This section focuses on the "repeat" clients of students; and how to take care of them after they have finished the course.
Alternative Dispute Resolution is easy to teach, easy to sell to students and very hard to turn into a skill that allows someone who has had training to:

(a)  find employment in; and,
(b)  be competent at.

As a result many programs resemble strip mining operations, bringing in students, taking their money, and depositing them on the other side as detritus, without any use but to be part of the growing slag heap of those talked out of their money, time and hope.

Very few programs honor the Ethical Duties of Mediation Trainers in the Promotion of Training Programs.

I remain very curious to see where honest examination of the profession of teaching takes ADR.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sixus1 and Cthulhu

Gee, this guy's material is everywhere.  Which is why it can be hard to find.

But:  has the heart of the Cthulhu mythos (remember, five inventory pages at least at that location), more (and different) here: and the new material he is working on.

Been a while since I visited.  My rendering days are probably behind me, but if you have an interest, not a bad place to start looking.  Not to mention, he had hundreds of lower resolution models and material he never released.

And pages of freebies at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Short story clip, with politics

Does anyone understand the elections going on? I just saw something about a “caps lock key” and how that mean the current president had to go. Ariel, you are from here, what is going on? Indigo, you understand politics, please? Wolf? 

Uh, err, so Michael, what is it like to be a prince, but to know you earned it through your own merit alone?

What? That’s not the case. It was not my merit alone.

But the princes of the Elachi are selected by merit, aren’t they? Not like things were when I was raised in what they now call the dark ages. How does it work if it is not your merit?

Wolf. Think. For just a moment. Take the Amber’s new baby brother. If he was in consideration, do you think he could lose?

Why not, it is pure competition, isn’t it?

Wolf, think of a child trained by the lightwalker. Would he have training no one else could have? Think of the heritage, of the naming gifts he would have. Perhaps a small colony of elementals, ten thousand, woven into a cloak? You know that unbound, they prefer large numbers, but think of ten thousand, each lending only two percent of their strength to the cloak. That would give him the force of two hundred elementals? Should Ariel not marry me, I would, of course, die childless. I might well give him my sword.

At that point, who could match such a child in skill, power and ability? With the role models he or she would have do you think they would have greater knowledge and wisdom as well?
Now, the families of the princes are not quite so blessed as such as a child would have, but they have heritage, skill, knowledge and connections. Training, heirlooms, special knowledge and family members that provide training and insight at home that few can match. 

More importantly, there is a heritage. The call is one of service and duty. I have my fathers before me and their fathers to show me a way of acting, values, history. I have a name that I value, family whose values matter to me. To take bribes, to turn away from duty would mean to abandon family, the commitment of over a thousand years of my forbearers, would mean a disgrace and a turning away. 

Wolf, there is nothing I value more.

So others have no chance?

No, there is a possible chance. There are those with drive, desire, who put in time and effort and whose families back them. Then, some are taken in and nourished by the houses, becoming their wards and folding in to their lines. I have a brother who came into our home that way.

But I have no illusion that it is by my virtue alone that I am a prince of the Elachi. I am very much aware that I rest on inherited merit, not my own.

Oh. Guess it is like that, only easier for Parakyle, who is a prince of the blood.

Err Wolf, I’ve been listening. I wouldn’t say so. Of course I inherited the kingdom, but our kings stand for election. They can lose their place and standing from the voice of the people, and once lost, it is rarely regained.

Parakyle, you stand for election? Like the Norse kings, kings like Harold Hardrede?

Wolf, I don’t know how they did their elections, but upon elevation, the voice of the people is called for. If they reject a prince, he is not confirmed as a prince, and another is called. So, by birth and primogeniture, I stood for confirmation, but the people could have rejected me.

Ok, Parakyle. So, once you are confirmed, is that it?

I wish. As a Prince, I have duties. Mine, at this time, are limited, we expect the princes to fulfill many duties much like the Elachi do. You could say at this time I am one of the Prince-Champions and am in the time of trials. The people are secure. But I am open to challenge, should I not follow the hero path or should I not fulfill other duties.

We generally have brother princes who serve. My brother serves as law giver, a sort of equity judge and administrator, I serve as champion. But the moot could be called, a challenge issued and if the voice of the people turned against one of us, and if we failed, the one who failed would be removed from his or her place.

Wolf, it can be stressful. It is why the princes generally do not have expansive agendas. The counsel of elders legislates, our judges judge according to our volklaw. The princes administrate, “law giver” is how it translates, but a prince rarely gives laws, though the details of administration creates the real meaning of laws. Hmm, chief of police might almost be a better description. Perhaps “law deliverer” – the one who delivers the law – that might be better for what he does.

The champion-prince is a war leader, if there is a war, but, again, he would rarely make the decision to go to war, but instead would have the counsel bring the matter before the moot of the people and then implement what is decided.

As long as a prince is not corrupt or stupid, as long as they do not step outside of the narrow role, they are unlikely to be challenged and it is unlikely that a challenge will succeed.

But to be confirmed at first, the people have to know you, respect you, and not see a better opportunity clearly available. That means a prince-nominate need be prepared better to serve than those likely to rise up in challenge.

Parakyle, are princes challenged often?

Of course not Wolf. A challenge looks like an act of pride and vainglory unless it succeeds. The princes are trained from early age and our house keeps and nourishes its alliances and always has. In making the decision the moot looks to the house, its tradition, its history and alliances. The alignment of the houses is always important. Marriages, fosterage, cadet lines, history, we are a long lived people.

Now, a house member might challenge, there was a time some thought to raise up my sister in a challenge, but she turned away from that as the war waxed hotter. Someone might be disabled, and not acknowledge it and need to be removed. Another might let power and authority go to their head or seek bribes to corrupt justice. 

Does that happen often Parakyle?

No Wolf. But we are not the only people of the snow dwarves, our steddings and holdt are not the only one. The moots are found in more than one continent, more than one world. There are those who have been thrown from their places, sometimes by the force of arms of the moot. Everyone knows the tale of Sirrian Bentlaw or Elinias the Crooked and that of Smirri the Feeble.

They will not tell such tales of me.

But, answering your question, it is not easy, but it is not hard. It would be a weak candidate and a solid challenge, supported by many houses, rarely would such a challenge arise without warning. The shift of power and of authority would be felt in the tales of the people, in the market and in the houses, in the stedt moots and they prepare for the folkmoot. It would probably be heralded by failures in the training and challenges of the prince-candidate as they trained and prepared.

So, Parakyle, do the princes always have to win every contest?

No, Wolf no. But they have to be respectable. A champion must do well in the contests of strength, a law bringer must do well in the contests of knowledge and judgment. And a Prince might be careful of just which and what kind of contest they enter. I would never enter the sprinting contests, but no one would care to face me in a trial of live weapons with the axe. My brother has the gift of truthtelling, and the eye of the north. 

You can guess that he always can tell the truth when it is told or not. No one would expect a contest to allow him to enter, the others would walk away. Someone could equal him, perhaps, but it would be like a math contest with one of Ariel’s computers. Not to mention, some rituals follow the blood lines in a stronger fashion.

As long as the people might need the heropaths and rituals, to draw strength from history, myth and magic, a prince will always provide the people with a benefit, an advantage. 

It is a balance between peace and times of trial, risk and trade, ability, skill and inheritance.

Do you think humans could live like the lightwalkers do?

I doubt it. Our society lives on its princes and the ability to see the truth. Your society needs layers in this world to protect from fraud and to find criminals. Mirrors would probably kill many humans. I don’t know, but I can’t see anything but anarchy. The houses have a great deal of autonomy. Our laws are fairly simple.

Princes champion the weak who do not have houses to support them, they discern truth, they view the light of others, they track wrongdoers. They hold court and judgment between outsiders and the houses when there are claims or embassies.

The houses are like clans and septs and great houses. They have their own traditions with the force of law within them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poser, art models and design

Poser is a program for rendering ... doesn't tell you much, does it.

Poser was originally conceptualized as a computer version of those little wooden men used for models in doing art (so that you can pose the little figure and keep all the proportions and perspectives properly focused, without needing a live model).  Somewhere in the process it gained the ability to render 3D models, animation and approximate real art rather well.  Much to my surprise it is up to version 9.  Runs about $99.00 on Amazon, which is pretty impressive for powerful graphics software.

Poser 9 by Smith Micro Software Inc. (Software - Sep 20, 2011) - Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Windows 7 / Vista
Buy new$199.99 $99.99 // or from non-Amazon, 27 new from $79.93. 

The models, or software packages you import into the software (so you don't have to write it all yourself) are very powerful.  For example, from Sixus1 (a studio I like, run by people I've liked well in the past):

Ratz - Male
Ratz - Male Ratz - Male Ratz - Male
Product Code: Poser 6 & up
Reward Points: 0
Availability: In Stock
Price: $19.98 $8.98
Qty:  Add to Cart
   - OR -   
Package Includes:
Ratz figure w/ morphs, textures &
9 Poses for Ratz and props
Conforming Armor/Harness (Harness, Plates, Spikes and Leather)
3 Weapons Props - Club, Axe and Hand Blades
Advanced Material settings for Poser 7.2 & up
DS3 default MAT poses

Everything you see in the advertisement the software will do for you, allowing you to create all of those images in those poses, and many others, with a number of 3D and 2D backgrounds.

There are literally thousands of models and props available for purchase or for free.

$13.98 $8.49
Warrior Lich
$13.98 $8.98
Ratz - Male
$19.98 $8.98

Anyway, this is an explanation of what Poser is, so that when you hear about it it will make sense to you.

The illustrations at are all pretty much done with Poser.  If I were a real artist, they would look much, much better.  But until you have an art budget (which you should get if you are intending to sell things), when you are in the proof of concept state, or just for friends, Poser is well worth understanding.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Podcasts and such on writing // Mistworld

Writing is very useful for game and game design and especially scenario design.
One difference is that with a scenario you can sometimes get away with more exposition.

You would think a world where the souls of the damned sink into the ground to mingle with undead and demons in a radioactive hell wherever light does not reach would not have the description "pastoral" -- but you would have missed just how far the light reaches.

Not how I plan to introduce Mistworld if I do a D&D reboot, (introduction and link to the proof of concept pdf here:  -- given that I've actually got D&D adaptations that have been done of parts of it, I've been giving that some thought -- but it is the sort of thing that is possible.

Many areas of Mistworld have this for a pattern:

  1. steadings -- one to four families.
  2. holdts -- overgrown steading with servants and attendant families.
  3. vills/shrines --  a place at the center of several steadings or holdts with a shrine and an attendant of some sort.  No one else lives permanently at a vill, if it is just a shrine, no permanent attendant is there either.
  4. villages -- a shrine with people living there
  5. towns -- has tradesmen, two or more shrines, more people, may be walled, may have a patron.
  6. cities -- has a permanent market and temples.
I've been thinking of doing something on the lines of the Regular Folks campaign to go with the reboot.

The characters would start as 0 level characters living at steadings.  A message would come from the shrine with a quest of sorts, an assignment, to hunt for verdigris foxes.  There probably aren't any, but they are a harbinger. d3+2 hit points, do d3-1/+1 when they bite (the physical damage is d3-1 so from 0-2, +1 magical damage from decay).  unarmored, +1 from size and high dexterity.  Their moral breaks easily.

Turns out that there are some (2d2 worth).  The report that there really are some is not good news, it means that the beneath is drawing closer in this location

The characters are sent to the nearest town to take the news, and seek back-up, after they are sent to warn those in the steadings.

While they are at the town, refugees arrive, with news of a disaster.  At this point they can choose to be initiated and begin to adventure.
  • The seven deadly sins: Pride; Envy; Gluttony; Lust; Anger; Greed; Sloth.  Each has a species of undead tied to it.
  • One can gain access to matrix magic by being initiated to one of the pathways of the seven saints.  In return, the initiate has a duty, a compulsion, to travel and strive against evil for a season.  Many people choose this "easy" path to magical enlightenment, wear the colored magical shirt of their patron saint, and travel for somewhere between eighteen months and two years. 
  • The seven virtues (one to each of the seven hero saints that go with the seven moons): Chastity (purity); Moderation (self-restraint); Generosity (vigilance); Zeal (enthusiasm); Meekness (composure); Charity; Humility (humbleness).  
I had roughed this out, with a number of encounters, creatures, etc., before, but I lost my copy of the rough, which was done for BRP.  I'm now thinking of redoing it for OD&D/D&D.  I'm just not sure it is worth the effort.

But it did give me a different introduction to the setting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Story fragment ... tangled

It is dark, cold and I'm alone
tangled, I can't think
They've taken my medication, I can't remember who I am or how old I am
tangled, like knotted yarn
The blue monkeys are making me knit and it keeps sucking my mind away

A story about a place where knitting is magical, and not necessarily in a good way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Game Theory Links

These are old, I expect some link rot  (and yes, I'd like suggestions, updates and improvements).

On-Line Course Materials: Game Theory Links:

History of Game Theory
Al Roth
Combinational Game Theory
David Levine's Theory Page

International Journal of Game Theory
Encyclopedia of Philosophy Game Theory
Chronology of Game Theory
Game Theory Society

Center for Game Theory in Economics
Game Theory and Politics

University of Wyoming -- victim of link rot

They all date from the old days, when I did a sub-web site for the Academy of Management. 

Also (note that the format and such of this import is a mess) ... 

Recommends books about...
Game Theory
Whether you negotiate, faciliate or mediate, it sometimes helps to have a deeper knowledge about the theory that explains what is really going on.  Game theory sometimes helps, sometimes confuses, but is an important area of scholarship and learning.  The following books are designed to help you understand game theory and how to apply it.

Thinking Strategically
Thinking Strategically, The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics and Everyday Life.
This is a best selling book in Japan, required reading at many business schools and a solid introduction to the applied theory of games in real life. Scores of case studies. 393 page paperback.

Game Theory A Non-Technical Introduction

Game Theory -- A Nontechical Introduction, by Morton D. Davis
This is an inexpensive paperback that provides an easy introduction to the topic of game theory. 252 pages. Order this book. For a book that is similar, with a social sciences cant, Games and Decisions by R. Duncan Luce and Howard Raiffa is a 484 page introductory text "unencumbered" by mathematical details.

Game Theory for Applied Economists

Game Theory For Applied Economists, by Robert Gibbons
This is a serious review of the economics and theory for people who have found other books too abstract.  Available used or new. 

A Course in Game Theory

A Course in Game Theory, by Martin J. Osborne and Arial Rubenstien
This book is extremely popular and is written for graduate students and advanced undergraduates.  It includes precise definitions and full proofs and over a hundred exercises. 

Game Theory

Game Theory
by Drew Fundenberg and Jean Tirole.
Clear, practical introduction for the beginner  and an excellent text for a first or second course on Game Theory at the graduate level. Covers all the basics and the evolving special topics. Broad and Deep. 

Game Theory an Analysis of Conflict

Game Theory
An Analysis of Conflict
by Roger B. Myerson
568 pages, in paperback, the classic Harvard Textbook. Order this book.  Also consider The Strategy of Conflict by Thomas C. Shelling, 309 pages from Harvard.
Order this book. 


In Association with


In Theory and Practice
by H. Peyton Young
246 pages, from Princeton, this book applies game theory to what we mean when we decide that something is fair.  An analysis of public policy concerns, including the allocation of scarce resources, how and why social ills are distributed, with many, many practical examples and discussions.  While not perfect, it analyzes every major theory of social justice and how they fail to address what really happens.  Graduate level and above. Order this book.

by Adam Bradenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff
This is a major book on strategic alliances with competitors.  Narrow, but interesting use of game theory and the current cutting edge in applied game theory (verses academic analysis). Order this book.

I am pleased to be able to recommend some very good books.
In Association with
. Yes, I'd like feedback and improvement.  This is all old now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The three characters in every story ...

This is the recipe, not "formula" as in write to a map.  It is useful for scenario design as well.  The podcast is at: 

Transcript is at: 

Every story should answer these questions:

-who is the protagonist?
-what is their goal?
-who is the antagonist?
-what are they doing to stop the protagonist?
-who is the relationship character?
-what is the theme they are conveying?
-when do they come full circle with said theme?

As one commentator said "4 years of Film school ..." and this podcast taught him things he really needed to know.

While they explain this in the context of:


The podcast goes far beyond that.

Very useful. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Suzette Hadin Elgin

I admire Suzette. 

Every grandparent should read:

Humans should read:

 Her last major work:

I've just discovered  Washing Utopian dishes; scrubbing Utopian floors. (Transcript): An article from: Women and Language and A feminist is a what?: An article from: Women and Language.

I expect that there will be no more novels from her.  But she left a body of work, a message of love and peace, truth, that will remain for those who find it. 

Details about Syria and the Arab Spring

It was transitioning from Austria to Jordan that led to my grandfather's stress heart attacks and his being retired from the diplomatic corp as disabled.  They gave him an apology and sent him home to die.  Much to his surprise, he lived for along time afterwards.

He later remarked that if he had only known he was going to live he would have started a second career or done more.

That said, this: is a brilliant post.  You could easily map everyone of the points to a fictional world and use it for a scenario, but you can also look at it to understand what is going on behind the scenes right now.

A political aside.  Completely off point.  Two things could save Obama's presidency.  If gas drops back to $2.50 a gallon or so (which, at the current price of oil, is actually what one might expect).  If the free trade agreements get implemented.  NAFTA saved Bill Clinton's presidency (which, it appears, was one of the best we've had in a while, in terms of balanced budges, legislation that actually ended up improving lives, and such -- though a longer perspective is needed) because of what it did for the economy.

Economic surges are kryptonite to presidents if they go the right way, like magic if they go the other.

I'm not going to get into the way people have created such surges in the past, the impact of wars or many, many other things. Though I do remember, one day, getting gas at seventy-five cents a gallon under Bill Clinton.

Just meandering.  Ignore all of this post except the link.