Archive for April, 2011

Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, and Damian Kulash started a band called 8in8 at 4 pm on Monday. They immediately recorded an album and posted it here.

The future is a weird place.

The Internet is a giant slush pile, and I’m the unpaid intern wading through it. Here’s a bit of pretty dredged from the dreck.

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

This week, I kicked off Project King of the Mountain in which I will kill the superhero Pinnacle. Except for my immediate support staff, most of you won’t notice any changes in your usual routines during this project. Frankly, the times I would need to use all of Technefarious to kill one person are few and far between and would usually involve enemies foretold by things like the sky burning or a plague of frogs.

My presence at our home base will spotty for a while. For this project, I’ll be spending most of my hours in Pinnacle’s hometown of Lowplain. Ideally, this assignment would consist of a single strike against the urban vigilante himself. Unfortunately, despite a career spanning decades, no one knows who Pinnacle is. Careful computer analysis of the historical records suggests that this isn’t always the case, but the knowledge of his identity gets purged from our world shortly after his exposure. It is unclear if this is due to magic or some other sort of reality distortion source. We’ve been unable to pry his identity loose using our own tools from those fields since we’ve became aware of his interest in Technefarious, so we’re having to go after him using the roundabout methods of my own “kill anything” powers.

Whatever the full nature of the Pinnacle’s powers, everyone agrees that his combat abilities are those of a highly trained human with access to exotic technology and magic. That I can handle. The hard part is going to be getting him to face me alone. With the death of his spy, I don’t think there’s much way to hide that I’m going to come after him. The problem then becomes how I do I draw him out without him bringing along half of the Establishment with him. Push comes to shove, I could probably still kill him if he did, but I’d like to avoid the war with the Establishment that would kick off.

So, I’m in Lowplain this week. I may not know how to find Pinnacle, but I do know how to get a message to him. Lowplain is notorious for its organized crime, despite Pinnacle’s efforts. The city acts as a gateway to too many locations to stem the tide of illegal goods flowing through it for long. Every time Pinnacle and local law enforcement drives one set of goons under, another set immediately takes their place. I’ve spent the last couple of days entertaining myself by locating dumps of illegal goods and dens of vice. Once I find them, I make it a point to kill the onsite management and most of the armed guards. I leave a few alive and let them know that I’m looking for Pinnacle. I’m sure it will get back to him pretty quickly.

I suppose I could have just highjacked the local airwaves and done the same thing, but I’d like to do this without upsetting the civilian population too much. Our propaganda department tells me that when regular people find out that the killer of the Titanium Android is hunting someone, it tends to upset them. Civilians are much more comfortable when they just think of me as the current leader of Technefarious. After all, Technefarious has failed to properly enforce its rule on the world for decades. As the Killing Man, however, I assassinated the world’s greatest hero.

I’m a bit jealous of those you back at home base this week. The science department has updated the live action Portal course with the new content from Portal 2, so those of you who want to replicate the new game in the real world should have a blast. Please, no more requests to have the lethal threats in the game be made just as deadly in the course. That’s not why I built the Soul Catchers. Besides, the janitorial staff doesn’t want have to clean up corpse after corpse just for your amusement.

Finally, while I was off terrorizing the criminals of Lowplain, I had Frigid arrange our next shipment in the nonsensical gift exchange with our enemies at the Golden Web. I’m curious to see how they’ll react to receiving five semis full of ping-pong balls.

Have a good week everyone. Remember, the world is already ours – it just doesn’t realize it yet.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway
The Killing Man

I enjoy watching Brent Spiner work. He is best known for his role as Data on Star Trek, but I’ll always have a soft spot for his recurring bit part of Bob Wheeler on Night Court.

But that’s not what here to talk about. We’re here to talk about his new web series Fresh Hell.

He’s plays himself, in a world where he has screwed up his career so horrifically that Hitler would have an easier time getting work.

Enjoy the two episodes of Fresh Hell he has out so far and keep up as he releases more.

The Internet is a giant slush pile, and I’m the unpaid intern wading through it. Here’s a bit of pretty dredged from the dreck.

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

I will admit there have been times after doing an interrogation that I felt like I needed to take shower. The one I attended last Friday was the first one I literally had to take one afterwards.

The techniques used to send dragons back to the their home dimension two weeks ago revealed a previously undetected transmission coming out of our facility in the psychic communication bands. Admittedly, our psychic defenses aren’t the most cutting edge on the planet, but they aren’t so bad that it was considered a realistic possibility. Naturally, the sensor data gathered during the repulsion of the dragons were poured over by the science department as part of their study on the event. Within the data was a pattern indicating a communication took place during the attack. The science department tells me it was a telepathic conversation that was distorted by the reality shifts surrounding the dragons so that it fell within a range observable by our sensors. Most troubling, the content suggested that the participants were the Pinnacle and one of his agents.

The Pinnacle is an urban vigilante based out of the city of Lowplain. He has a career spanning decades that includes crippling widespread criminal organizations like ours. That his attention has fallen on us is less than thrilling, but now that we know, I’m more than willing to change the game so its terms favor us.

To do that, we first needed to root out his agent to see what he already knew about Technefarious’s operations. The record of the communication did not give us enough anything to identify the agent. For a psychic communication, it was remarkably clear of the clutter of random thoughts and background processes that usually accompany telepathy. The occult department’s attempts to ferret him out returned gibberish worthy of a palm reading hack at a street fair. Security turned up nothing useful, just the usual black market shenanigans you expect among henchmen.

Finally, I had to turn my ability to kill anything to the problem, which was a pain. Without a stronger focus than “I want to kill Pinnacle’s spy in Technefarious” I had to wade through every single way of doing that which my powers suggested. That may no sound too bad, but the simplest way to take care of the problem consisted of killing everybody in Technefarious except myself. There is a ton of ways to go about that, and I think we can all agree that none of them would be a perfect solution. After a couple of days of work, I finally pieced together a method that could end in just the spy’s death but not immediately kill him. My powers still didn’t tell me who he actually was, so I set up a sting operation to trap him and caught him on Friday.

Pinnacle’s spy was Henchman 45I-2V (Ralph), a low ranking security guard. That is pretty much all we know about him. None of the intelligence we have on him seems to connect to whatever life he had before he was Ralph. Pieces is about we have left of him, too. After his capture, I took him to an interrogation room. When I told him what we knew about him and that we planned to see what else we could get out of him, he exploded, spraying liquefied human all over me. The science department speculates this was a side effect of the disintegration of his DNA, but speculation is all we have. They don’t know why it happened and neither does the occult department. From studying Pinnacle’s history as a hero, it seems unlikely that he would arm his spy with a suicide pill, but if it was an escape, it’s one that my powers say killed Ralph in the process.

Either way, I expect Pinnacle will step up his operation against us now, so I plan to take the fight to him first.

Have a good week everyone. Remember, the world is already ours – it just doesn’t realize it yet.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway
The Killing Man

Too heavy for this week. Put it in next week.
Golden web gifts? Whose turn was it. And where is this story thread going? Ah, going to be part of downfall.

Been rewatching Monty Python: Almost the Truth on Netflix. It’s great documentary on them.

This video isn’t from that, but it does have a Python being sacarstic to his questioners, which pretty much captures the spirit of the documentary.

Pythons have fangs and make fun.

The Internet is a giant slush pile, and I’m the unpaid intern wading through it. Here’s a bit of pretty dredged from the dreck.

From the Desk of the Dictator:


Okay, clearly that wasn’t me. If nothing else, I know not to type in all caps all the time. For the second Monday in a row, the Earth finds itself under siege. This time, the culprit is the AI Perfect Regulation, an old cold war computer from the Chinese that got loose onto the internet sometime after it was scrapped by their army. It’s aggressive, obnoxious, and for some reason, intent on subjugating all organic life forms to its rule. I’ve never understood how an AI decides that. I mean we here at Technefarious work with villainous computers all the time and have even been lead by them. Mostly they haven’t reached the conclusion that all humans are significantly inferior. Even D.O.C.T.O.R. wanted to rule the world with humans among his lieutenants.


Right. Okay, so every time I hit enter, we’re getting leakage from Regulation’s thoughts and communications to others. This time he spread himself throughout most of the world’s computers before trigging. He even managed to get into ours. From what we’ve been able to pick up from magic and psionic channels, he has pretty much ground the world to a halt but has made little progress in actually turning that into conquering anybody. With time, however, he might be able to turn the resources he now controls into something dangerous.


Of course, most does not mean all. He’s penetrated our infrastructure, but we’re Technefarious, not technophobes. Even infected, our hardware is able to force our own programs through. Our hackers have exploited that advantage and slapped together their own bit of malicious code for my review. I examined it through the lens of my own skill set and confirmed that it would remove the problem from our computers and from the entire planet. It just needs to be entered into Regulation’s thought process, perhaps by attaching it to a memo and posting it to our system.


Dr. Photius Callaway


The Killing Man

Erik Larsen of Savage Dragon fame, took some digs at webcomics on twitter yesterday and then caught crap for it. Or possibly he was trying to expand his knowledge on the subject and totally flopped on his presentation.

Why was this news? One of the industries leading publishers decided to inaccurately paint an entire sector of the industry with a broad-brush. Sorry, Erik. You have a couple of good points in there, but you buried them in some problematic language.

The answer to what in webcomics has reached the depth, complexity, and rules-breaking of Watchmen is Homestuck over at . I’ll admit it lacks superheroes, but the direct market didn’t collapse the way the newspaper market did, so everyone who wanted to tell superhero stories during the early days of webcomics was still chasing publishers then.

As a delivery system, websites favor the recurring content that comes to a satisfying conclusion every time. Comedy works well in that format and tends to draw a stronger response from those not turned off by the joke, so most of the earlier commercial leaders were/are comedy strips. Considering they are working in the tradition of Peanuts, Doonesbury, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and Bloom County, it’s no wonder that some of their fans got annoyed on the content being produce being dismissed as merely “good for a laugh.”

Now, like the newspaper comic page, there are some dramatic strips that turned out to be commercially viable also. The earliest of the would be , the only webcomic whose trades are published by the Big 2. Despite giving away the content for free (with ads) on the web, the title was still too profitable for DC to cut loose when they shut down the rest of the CMX line. It was supposed to go to Wildstorm, but then that got shut down too. The last trade came out under the DC imprint itself. Of note, despite being a DC trade, my local comic store doesn’t carry the title, probably because they carry almost no Manga.

As a commercial venture, webcomics has settled on the television/radio model of making money off of stories. Ads, repackagings (trade collections), merchandising, and licensing pay the bills of fifty or so full time creators . That’s not a big number, but let’s not pretend that the American direct market supports even a thousand full-time creators. This has nothing to do with Erik, since he wasn’t banging on them for selling t-shirts. But it’s a common enough complaint that I felt the need to address it. Looking down on people for making money off their audience is snobbery. Being a snob about HOW artists make money off their content is just weird. Oh, and Erik, most of the people on that list will tell you online trade sales a significant part of their income. So “willing to read but they would never pay for” is one of things you’re getting dinged for.

Finally, buried his under inaccurate broad-brushing of the webcomics, Erik does manage to make the point that there is a higher percentage of crap in webcomics than in published comics. He’s right. There is. He doesn’t clearly articulate a reason for it though, so I will here: money. It isn’t publishers or editors. It’s simply the fact that the production and distribution costs favor large production runs to minimize costs, and it takes a profit to make doing it more than once reasonable for anyone but a masochist. Profits go to the good enough and have a pretty sharp cut-off in the ink and paper world. On a web that has blog sites that host content for free, that number drops to zero. So yeah, more crap.

Luckily, there are people like Scott McCloud and myself who enjoy digging through the crap to find the good stuff. Name a genre, I’ll see what I can recommend. Don’t like sitting in front a computer for reading comics? Name the format you like, and I’ll try to point you to those that have already repackaged their stuff. Well, for trades or digital downloads anyway. Floppy repackagings are pretty thin on the ground. Not profitable enough.

Thank you everyone who made it this far, and Erik, please know that I continue to enough the Savage Dragon trades.

Kris Straub, job coach.

Alternative title: Kris Straub, traffic hazard.

The Internet is a giant slush pile, and I’m the unpaid intern wading through it. Here’s a bit of pretty dredged from the dreck.