Half man, half tree

There’s a bloke in Indonesia who has a rare immune deficiency: he’s extremely susceptible to the Human Papilloma Virus. It’s not big and it’s not scary because in the rest of us it causes merely warts.

Dede’s problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.

The virus was therefore able to “hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells”, ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as “cutaneous horns” on his hands and feet.

The Telegraph

The Discovery Channel

The Golden Age of Retro-Future

From Dark Roasted Blend:

This is the start of a new series, collection of the most inspiring & hard-to-find retro-futuristic graphics. We will try to stay away from the well-known American pulp & book cover illustrations and instead will focus on the artwork from rather unlikely sources: Soviet & Eastern Bloc “popular tech & science” magazines, German, Italian, British fantastic illustrations and promotional literature – all from the Golden Age of Retro-Future (from 1930s to 1970s).

The author is clear on one point: the future never looked better. Sure, it’s a sort of pseudo-pulp, science romance image they paint (which reminds me awfully of SpaceMaster, does that make me bad?) with plenty of cutaways, pointy rockets and smiling people in bubble helmets but there’s such a cheerful image that it’s kind of sad that it didn’t pan out that way.

The images certainly speak of re-usable spacecraft, a vision that is barely realised by the science of NOW. They also show some Abyss-style aliens (First Contact, by Nikolai Nedbailo).

The Retro Future Chart of Starships further down the page remind me of designs made for Frontier, Crucible Design’s version of Star Trek that, sadly, never went anywhere.

Let us know of other rare & unusual futurist art; next issue will be devoted to the architectural and transportation retro-future visions.

I’ll certainly be tuning in!

Of course, the prominence of the Red Star in many of the images from Russian artists and publications inspires me to think of a post-Cold War era backdrop where the smiling idealism of the images is real. A real Retro-Future of a successful communist Russia sending their brave cosmonauts into the void to build a better tomorrow and forever having to thwart the greedy machinations of Capitalist America with their military expansionism!

Yes, yes, Flash Gordon even, but with a big red star on his chest as the silent American defector muscle behind the scientific genius of the people, Hans Zarkov!

“Damn you Hans Zarkov, Hero of Comrades!”
“You will never defeat me, Ming the Capitalist!”
“I have hostages, Dale Ardinski and the defector Flash Gordon!”


Roman Road Maps

They didn’t have a GPS system back in those days.

BBC News link

it is an intensely practical document, more like a plan of the London Underground than a map.

“The red lines are the main roads. Every so often there is a little hook along the red lines which represents a rest stop – and the distance between hooks was one day’s travel.”

“Every so often there is a pictogram of a building to show you that there was a hotel or a spa where you could stay,” he said.

“It was meant for the civil servants of the late Roman Empire, for couriers and travellers,” he added.

Roman Roads

This is the best they could do?

How embarrassing.

About 20 years too late, the Orange Order has invented a superhero in order to make them appear hip, up-to-date and less stuffy.

I’d have thought a bit of effort to take the high road and make the 12th July an “open to all” event would be a great start. As a Catholic who attended the celebrations on 12th July 2007 in Holywood, I must say the sectarian displays were not comforting. The booze-addled skinheads wearing nylon uniforms in red, white and blue really set the scene. Add to that the drizzle waiting for about 90 minutes for the march to organise themselves to come up and down the main street. It really helped the spirits.

And so, the birth of the Orange Order Superhero.

As we know from Unbreakable, a superhero is defined by his enemies. So who will this as-yet-unnamed superbeing fight?

Shamrock and the Balaclava-men?


For Reference: Heroin

A few months ago I came across a great article on the IntarWeb about the origin, trafficking and “business” of Heroin which went into great detail about how it was the main product of the East India Trading Company and how the British exported heroin in vast quantities to China and not the other way round. I’ve since lost track of it but had an idea for a game. Anyone knows which article I’m talking about? Pop it in the comments. Ta.

gives an example of the interesting history of the drug.

Heroin, however, was not brought into existence until 1874.

Heroin was first synthesized by a dude named C.R. Alder Wright, who in addition to having lots of given names, was an English chemist employed at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London.

Another chemist, this one German, employed at Bayer, and named Felix Hoffmann, independently re-synthesized diacetylmorphine in a failed attempt to make codeine from morphine. After testing it out in some lucky humans, Bayer decided to rename the compound heroin, reportedly because it made test subjects feel, among other things, heroic.

Again with the ideas.

I envisage a game called “Heroics” set in the pulp era with a very edgy, gritty feel. The heroes are, of course, heroin addicts and it is the drug which gives them their powers. The eventual collapse of their bodies is part of the whole story.


  • Getting heroin is not hard but it starting to become outlawed in some regions and in others it is socially unacceptable or available only with prescription
  • It causes chronic constipation
  • it’s up to the GM on whether the heroic feeling is any more than just a feeling

Choice Q &A

For when the religious nuts in your life come off with some crackers.

Why are you mad at God?
“Because he’s supposed to be all good but he doesn’t even have the common decency to exist.”

God wants you to believe in him without rational proof.
“Then he’s certainly doing a fine job of not tempting me with evidence.”

Hitler was an atheist.
“I don’t know about Hitler’s religion, but I do know that he was heterosexual, so can I assume you’re against that, too?”

If there is no Heaven, then where do you go when you die?
“The same place you were before you were conceived, I assume.”

Freaks wanted for new Star Trek flick

Bizarre casting call for new Star Trek film

The invitation to the casting session said: “This is an epic project and we are looking for the most intriguing and interesting faces to integrate in this film.”

Some of the facial features the studio is looking for include:

* extremely large heads and foreheads
* wide or close-set eyes
* over or undersized ears and/or nose
* facial deformities
* pronounced cheekbones
* ultra perfect or ultra plain-looking people

“Everyone must be thin, athletic, fit; wardrobe will be form-fitting. All hair lengths on males and females welcome,” the casting invitation added.

All hair lengths on men?????

Surely there must be some mistake? Freakish pony-tailed men in the future? I’d have thought they’d have invented a cure by then? I hope they increase the rating to a 15 so they can be seen to not encourage youngsters!

Fiction: Why the UK avoids the space race

BBC News Link:

The UK’s decision to shun human spaceflight was a mistake that needs to be changed, says Europe’s International Space Station programme chief … Alan Thirkettle, a Brit who left the country to head European Space Agency (Esa) projects.

“The UK has a long and noble tradition for exploration across our planet. It is time for a new vision and a more distant voyage.”

Today, the United Kingdom contributes less than 9% of the ESA budget with the majority coming from France, Germany and Italy. Why did things get to such a state? The truth, of course, is amazing.

It’s 1988. And you’re part of the Prospero Group

“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,”

During the 1970s, the space race between the US and the Soviet Union cooled with the race to the moon being allegedly won by the US in their Apollo series. The ESA was quickly able to establish itself as a forerunner in space exploration and quickly became the leader in commercial space flights and payload delivery. Their delivery vehicle, the Ariane series, was proving successful despite negative PR following some flight failures.

The bulk of their rocket science was of course derived from post-war military science and focussed on the delivery of satellites. Prospero X-3 was the only British satellite to be launched by a British rocket and was launched with only a single experiment on board, an apparatus designed to test solar cells. After only two years component failure on Prospero resulted in the programme being labelled an abject failure. But the solar cell experiment was not the only equipment on board. Prospero can still be heard transmitting unknown coordinates and has a orbital lifetime of almost 100 years.

In The Tempest, Prospero was a deposed king who became a sorcerer, a godlike figure. The Prospero which orbits above us certainly has some such qualities.

Prospero can be described as many things. A vehicle. A weapon. A resource.

Prospero can transport objects from one place to another without them crossing the intervening space. Or time.

Prospero represents one of a few spatial and temporal man-made anomalies. On board was a smaller, more compact version of the devices which caused the Philadelphia Experiment and also used in the Montauk Project at Camp Hero. It was felt by the Prospero Group, part of the British National Space Agency, that building the device into something as cumbersome as a destroyer was pointless and keeping it on the ground was tantamount to useless as well as insanely dangerous. As a result, Prospero was launched into space.

Prospero can send people and objects to anything it can see. This includes places it can see in its past. So if you need to be in a certain place at a certain time, it will attempt to send you as close as possible before that time. This can also mean having objects sent into obscure places as they may need to lie undiscovered for days or weeks before being retrieved.
Coterminous places

  • Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia Pennsylvania,

    • July 22nd, 1943
    • October 28th, 1943
  • Montauk Point, Long Island, 1981-1983
  • Prospero Orbit, October 1971 – June 2064

Still needs filled out:
1. Where does Prospero orbit and what can it see?
2. We’ve got a very limited but very relevant time travel mechanism
3. Other co-terminous places may exist….