Friday, September 30, 2022

The Story of Terra

 by Rhombus Ticks

The poorly educated assume that the worlds were created by the Fae.  The Fae did create some worlds, but not all the worlds and not all the Earths.  Those were aligned by powers greater than they, and they are greater than the Disney creations you see in movies.  There are Greater Fae and Lesser Fae and a whole spectrum in between.  But this is not the story of Fae.

It is the story of why Terra is not a place where Stories are Told.

Once upon a time, there were four worlds on a compass set by the Fae; 

Earth, where stories are told.

Terra, where stories happen.

Gaea, where Gods make belief real.

Mana, where belief makes Gods real.

There is a reason that the worlds are like this, but no one ever wondered why that was.  Few even asked.  There is a reason.  Let me tell you what it was.

Once upon a time, there was a human by the name of TC who was broken by evil men; determined to write but unable to do so.  When a strong will strikes a strong soul, even a wounded one, creates an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.  And so the soul shattered into seven parts; and the part that wrote stories drifted away to a place called Terra; a place where stories happen.

And he met a man named Rhombus Ticks, who thought he was merely a tour guide to the Bridge to Anywhere deep in the swamps of Louisiana.   And Rhombus offered to write for him instead, and so he astrally projected to Earth and wrote stories.

Which set up the curious situation that a human could influence his own world, by telling stories through another.  And safeguards that had been set in place were now suddenly bypassed.  Humans had occasionally gone from Terra to Earth or Earth to Terra back and forth; but the rules still applied to those humans.  

It so happened that despite being an absolutely terrible writer, TC had a particular strength of belief, that all things everywhere were possible; which when combined with someone who had talent like Rhombus meant that suddenly....suddenly many interesting things were possible.

That story is still being written.

Many stories are being written.  More stories are being written.  More stories will always be written.  For there are infinite Terras, Infinite Earths, Infinite Gaias, Infinite Manas.  But there is only one Terra of the Compass points, that ripples to all the others. 

Once upon a time, there was a story about a man who who abused magic and story so much that it offended Rhombus to no end.  So for the first time, Rbombus realized the power he had, and abused it just as much as the man who was a fool had been.  So he wrote a story.

A story about Terra.

And since Terra was a place where stories happen, then the story happened.

Because he wrote it.

And so in world where magic was possible, stories happened.

In a world where magic was hidden and in the cracks of the world, stories are told.

And this is why magic on Earth lies in the shadows. And why stories on Terra are shadows of other places unless told in the lives of those who live there.

Such is the nature of time, belief and being.

You can believe it, or consider it just a story.  But the words say what they say, and the worlds are the way that they are.

And the stories were much happily ever after after that; for even the darker ones were not violations unto themselves.  Except of course for the small handful that were, but even those had their defenders.

Even those had their defenders.

The End. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Emmit's Corner - My Octopus Lover

If I were You, Pay to Play, Reset the Police, My Octopus Lover, Precious Bodily Fluids, Deliberations, The Trial of a God, 

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Swamp Castle - Gatekeeper

Hastur had a tough job to do, working for the Interdimensional Immigration Service determining whether witches, gnomes and enchanted teapots get into the USA (Unicorns get in automatically).  Then he is given an ominous warning and must solve it using the main skill he has; beuracracy.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 4

 [Images of Garage and Happy Google]

VO: Once upon a time, two friends started a little company in a garage, but they wisely learned the lessons of technology companies in the past and made a simple motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”  They had a simple idea, figure out how to rank web results by when people made hyperlinks.  And it worked.  Before, the internet was basically a card catalog (like Yahoo) and they made the worlds first search engine.  And the company had a simple way to make money; just charge for ads based on the results.  For a long time, the company grew and grew and they had tons of cool ideas and offered lots of free things like email, and documents, and phone calls, and chat bots and on and on and on; so much so that people loved it and used it.  Sure, google took tat data and used it to improve their search engines, but they were the good guys, so it was OK.  And google grew more, and more and more and offered more cool ideas like balloons that let people talk to each other, and super intelligent AI to help make their search engines work and self driving cars.  Google called these crazy projects moonshots, and it was built right into the company charter that they could do that, and eventually the two friends got bored, got another CEO and walked away to live happily ever after doing cool things like building flying cars.

[Images of Sundar Pichai]

VO: But the company was still around.  And it was making a lot of money.  Someone had to run it.  Along comes Sundar Pichai, who has a slightly different vision; call him crazy, but he decided that a company designed to make money organizing the world’s data, was going to make a lot of money.  And oh GOD, did they make a lot of money.  First, Google made the android phone which became much more popular than Apple, and they gave it away for free.  Of course, to use it, you had pay google for services that were more and more mandatory and eventually if you wanted to do ANYTHING on the opensource apple phone, you had to pay Google.  

[Images of the EU and android, Dont be Evil covered with a little slime]

VO: So there were some lawsuits from the EU which doesnt have anti trust that is quite as pathetic as the US.  And then Google had someone steal a lot of their self driving code, but they made a nice side deal with Uber to get that back and kept working on it slowly but surely.  They might have used their lawyers a little aggressively to get ahead, but hey, they were still the cool company right?

[Images of Apple Company Store, Don’t be evil has a bit more slime]

VO: They thought apple had a good thing going on and so they charged the developers some money as well, for thirty percent, there’s a lawsuit about that.

[Images of Sex Managers and other things with Dont Be eventually blotted out with slime]

VO: Then there were some complaints about sexual harassment and the company made that go away.   And then they were involved in anti union activities and illegal collusion with other companies to fuck over their pay rate.   And then they entered into a duopoly with the most evil company in the world on Advertising where they had a symbiotic relationship.  And in 2020 they were accused also of being involved with the Xinjiang region but Google assures you that is a nice liberal company even though in 2018 they formally removed that pesky ‘Dont be Evil’.  

[Images of Sex Robots]

VO: Google is among the most intelligent companies in the world at AI research.  Recently, they fired a researcher who spoke up about unethical google behavior, so of course the company fired her.  There were protests from the employees, but gone were the days of the open collaboration between employees and management.  Old habits die hard and Google is now looking at doing business with China and the US military.  Now that Alphabet doesnt have to worry about its brand due to its monopoly power and thorough bribery on congress, they can do what they want, which is acquire as much data as possible with as little accountability as possible.  But hey, remember when they used to be cool? Remember all that free stuff they gave you? Trust them.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 3 - Continued

 [Image of 19th Century Coal Companies]

VO: In the late 19th century, Robber Barons got this nifty little idea to put all their employees in a village where they owned the houses, the stores and the means of production; so while technically the employees weren’t slaves they paid the employees in company monopoly money which meant that not only did their employees work for effectively nothing but slowly took on debt.  The song ‘16 Tons’ was made popular because it highlighted what an extremely gross abuse of power this was.

[Images of Walled Gardens and Alice and Wonderland]

VO: Apple has continued its love of walled Gardens by charging a third of all the income an app developer makes in order to work on their platform.  Google does the same things and other companies including Microsoft and Sony are starting to take notice, but Apple claims it needs to take this money in order to offer proper safeguards for their environment.  Then again, given that apple has made over 700 billion dollars in profits in the last 10 years, maybe they can afford to be a little less greedy.  

[Images of Epic Games and Fortnight]

VO: Epic Games, the creators of the rando themed shootem up game Fortnight finally lost it with Apple and took them to court where all kinds of interesting details came up in discovery.  Apple’s response to Epic setting up a payment method outside of Apple? They removed Epic from their appstore.  At Apple, you buy from the company store, or you buy a new phone.

[Images of Locked Warehouses and Fires]

VO: Apple is also notorious for using locked contracts with their vendors but they are more notorious for working conditions in China where the iPhone is made.  FoxConn had several employees on suicide watch just to keep them from killing themselves.  They had an ACTUAL company store scenario with employees having to spend half their paychecks just to work in the lovely Apple sweatshop environments.  In 2007, Apple, realizing that this was not a good look for the company, started a monitoring program.  Of course, three years later, workers were dying due to a cleaner used on the screens in a similar manner to the Radium girls who painted watches in the 1930’s.  Four years later, the BBC did an expose wherein Apple still hadnt fixed the problem.  Apple, obviously, denied these allegations as it also denies allegations that it is using slave labor in the federally sanctioned region of the Ughyrs which lobbiests from Apple tried to weaken as much as possible.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Micronation - Chapter 18 - Memememememe

Amberlove is rescued by a flood of tiny little cars that also take her on a (larger) car chase.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 3 - Apple

 Scene 3 - Apple - The Company Store

[Images of Ihappiness and Apple]

VO: Ah apple, the darling of the tech world.  When you think of slick, when you think of cool and how it intersects with tech, you think of Apple.  iPhones, iPods, Macs, iPads; Apple makes it smaller, smoother faster better.  It is no accident that it does this.  Apple is something called a Walled Garden.  What does that mean?

[Image of Steve Jobs, Hedge Mazes and Gardens]

VO: Back in the day, the founder of the company, Steve Jobs, had a vision that you can see in the movie of the same name.  He wanted a seamless customer experience where Apple controlled the user experience and the quality thereof; Apple made the hardware and apple made the software.  Back in the day, Apple did both and Microsoft made the hardware and operating system but allowed others to make hardware and software that were compatible.  The phrase PC Compatible was how Microsoft won the first round of the tech wars since at one point Apple and Microsoft were giant rivals, but this open system allowed Microsoft an edge.

[Image of Year by Year PC vs Apple size share]

VO: But year on year, Microsoft kept getting bigger and bigger and Apple was left in the dust. Oh, Apple had some die hard customers; artists, creatives, musicians and it had a highly effective in with schools in an attempt to get kids to be loyal to apple products in the next generation.  While it didn’t work with personal computers, it did pay off in the long run.

[Image of the Ipod]

VO: Steve Jobs was foolishly expelled from the Apple board where he did all kinds of things on the side including help found a little company you might have heard of called Pixar.  And when he came back, he remade the walkman as a slick sexy project called the Ipod.  But that wasn’t enough, he had changed the world once with the Mac, so he decided to do it again with the Smart Phone.  The iphone changed how we interacted with our phones and the internet in general.  It was a genius move and earned Steve Jobs a well deserved reputation as a creative visionary genius.

Only there were problems.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022


 I have reactivated my twitter account (@Rticks)


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 2

 Fade In: Microsoft - The First Horseman

[Images of Bill Gates, and Microsoft]

Fade Out

VO: Microsoft was started in a garage in 1972.  They are literally the first horsemen; the first start up and the model that set the pattern for the rest; Five Horseman, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon have come to totally dominate our world and economy today.  Microsoft grew from two people to thousands and now has an annual income well north of a hundred billion dollars.   They started small; little advances here and there like BASIC and ASCII, but their real break came with the creation of DOS, Disk Operating System.  Now, allegedly, Microsoft copied this code from CP/M (allegedly) and then IBM gave Microsoft a sweet deal.  In 1990, back when the federal government actually did things, it investigated microsoft for collusion with IBM, but by then the genie was out of the bottle and the company was worth billions upon billions of dollars.

[Images of Computers]

VO: There was a war, early on between Apple and Microsoft, but Microsoft opened its system to allow others to make hardware and software, whereas apple took the ‘walled garden’ path that is reflected in its war with Google today.  But Microsoft started a lot of sketchy behavior right off the bat.  Since Microsoft was in the majority of computers, if they decided that they wanted into a market; that was the end of things.  The two most notorious examples of this were in word processing where Microsoft signed the death warrant of the highly popular Word Perfect, and the first (and highly valuable) browser Netscape with the kludgy and easy to hack Internet Explorer.  Microsoft not only made it the default browser on every windows PC, they did all kinds of quiet things in the background to ensure that it didn't work as well as Internet Explorer.

[Images of Clinton and investigations]

VO: But Microsoft did this again and again; small start ups would come up with a product and microsoft would crush them by building something in the operating system, a competing process or doing something called Vaporwear, where they would release a hypothetical program that never actually got release, but the mere hint that they might do it caused competitors to run away screaming and investors to think twice.  Eventually enough people got sick of this that Microsoft was taken to court by the FTC.  There was a lot of back and forth, but Microsoft had very clever lawyers and kept dodging around laws and regulations (which set the pattern followed by all the tech companies) until their violations finally got so egregious that the Department of Justice and 18 states took them to court and got a consent decree forcing them to stop the nonsense of jamming their product down everyone’s throat.

[Images of bars and chains]

VO And it hit the tech world like a sledge hammer.  For a while, a short while, tech companies started trying to obey the law.  Google notoriously chose their first motto “Dont Be Evil” so that they would be everything Microsoft wasn’t (we’ll see how long that lasted later) but while every company wanted to be Microsoft in economic size, none of them wanted to be perceived as the bad guy so a number of very slick, very sophisticated advertising campaigns took place to clean up the valley’s image.

[Image of other companies passing microsoft by with phones and platforms]

VO Microsoft did what it always did; tried to move into new platforms, but when Bill Gates retired and with the consent decree, Microsoft became more conservative.  They were the aging lion in the tech jungle, and they lost out in social media, they lost out in online sales, they lost out mobile devices (the windows phone was an unmitigated disaster) and the lesson that Microsoft learned from this was that they needed to be more aggressive, but also bide their time and see if the government isnt looking.  From time to time, Microsoft has still rolled out features that are mandatory, like that ad and status screen you see pop up, or do little things in the Windows store like make decisions about whether open source is available.  Recently, they formed an alliance with facebook to agree on standards for a new virtual universe (and we’ll get to that later) but the clear take away is that Microsoft is still this big, stable blue chip company like IBM and like IBM, they have allowed their past controversies to slide away mostly forgotten.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Project Nimby Tour

 Half of the new chap book I am creating is going to be on several serialized outlets.  It will be sold absolutely last on Amazon.  I am releasing one at a time.

Here is the first.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Swamp Castle - The Architect of Cool

A mysterious human disrupts daily life in an alien marketplace to benefit all of humanity and the local Warden is determined to find out why.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 1 - Continued

 [Images of the Nuremberg trials]

VO: Historians unfamiliar with the topic are often astonished at the sheer breadth of the records kept by the Nazi party.  Part of the records kept included punch cards used for every single concentration camp that helped them track their prisoners.  But the contribution by IBM was more insidious than this; because the legitimate census by the Weimar Republic was used by the Nazi party to help determine who was qualified to be rounded up, put on a rail car and sent to the industrial death camps of the holocost.  Other efforts in history have resulted in as much or more death, but nothing compares to the cold industrial slaughter of non combattants than the efforts of the Nazis during WWII..and IBM helped them.

[Images of German IBM]

VO: Note, that this is not a case of IBM having their corporate offices and equipment nationalized by the Nazis.  Nor was it a case of mere questionable sympathizes like many rich wealthy Americans such as Ford who later whole heartedly helped the Allies in America.   No, IBM had a corporate branch in Germany and that company completely helped the regime in every way possible.  One can argue that the American company had no power to stop their German branch except…there are no records of them even trying.  Indeed, the official company line is that there are not enough records or details at the time to know one way or another.  Note, that this is a company that helped keep records in an industrial and mechanical fashion.  The exact amount of money that IBM earned working with the Nazi government is not entirely clear, but the company has paid over seven billion in settlements without admitting guilt.

[Images of the 1950’s and 1960’s IBM]

VO: After the war, IBM went on to become the go to word for industrial computers.  Before Microsoft, the very image of a cutting edge technology company was IBM.  They grew in wealth, power, prestige and stability with important contracts with major companies and governments all over the world.  While their efforts in WW2 with the germans didnt become widespread to the public until more than 50 years later; the company knew and the government knew and felt no need to reign the company in.  How much then, must we wonder about what the modern day technology behemoths are actually up to? Despite the internet, despite lessons learned about watching these companies, is what we know of their sins only the tip of the iceberg?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Emmit's Corner - Turtlyng Glymer

The Muse is Dying, Silencing Dissenters, Avoid Tongs Discord Server, Zucker Suckers, Useful Idiots, One Big Happy Beiging Games, Lover's Kiss, The Turtling Glymer

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 2, Scene 1

 [Images of More White Lab Coats, Clip Boards, Turn of the Century Science Marches On]

VO: The image we have of science was deliberately manufactured by the progressive movement to get people to have faith in the new ways of doing things.  This was the first step into a philosophy and viewpoint of how we think about science and technology which is generally positive.  As it should be, technology is after all, a benefit to our society.  Indeed, life would be impossible without it.

[Images of WWI]

VO: But the horrors of the first world war turned people on to the dark side of technology.  As the wonders meant to make our lives easier became mustard gas, tanks, machine guns and germ warfare.   The trenches changed the innocence of science forever.  But the world moved on.

[Images of the Five Horsemen]

VO: There are five companies known as ‘the Five Horsemen of Technology’ because they impact our world so much.  Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.  Each is worth billions of dollars and in some cases has more financial and even soft power to out match a medium sized country.

[Images of IBM]

VO: But before these, there was another company.  One that was the horseman of its time and considered an American giant of industry, innovation and computing power.  Before the PC, when someone thought of a PC, they thought of giant room sized computers, most of which were based on ENIAC and the diligent work of Alan Turning breaking codes of the Enigma machine in WWII.  But there is another machine that had a major impact on the war, one that you dont hear about as much.

[More Imaes of IBM]

VO: The International Business Machines Corporation, IBM, was founded in 1911 in upper state New York.  IBM was actually the beating heart of the new progressive moment and developed business practices and technologies that allowed these modern new wonders to be built to scale and for factories to keep track of all the information required to run the giant engines of industry.  Before they became known for room sized computers, they built calculators and tabulation machines.  These machines were invaluable to businesses and governments around the world for making clean and efficient record keeping possible.  But just like the modern horsemen, IBM had a dark side…a cost of their technology.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Micronation - Chapter 17 - Meeting with the Council

The Meme Wars start to get ridiculous as nations begin adding surgically altered Nacroleptics to their executive retinues to protect them from Hler's increasingly agressive memetic tactics.  Desperate to stop it all once and for all, Chester manages to work his way into their inner council hoping to get access to their machine to execute his plan.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

[Script] The Sins of Silicon Valley - Act 1, Scene 9

 Scene 9

[Images of Mobs with Pitch Forks, French Revolution]

VO: It is inevitable that when technology is used to oppress and harm, that there will be a counter reaction, and unless stopped, fiction has shown us the consequences of this.  Fiction is a mirror of the real world and science fiction is a mirror of a world that could be if we choose to go down that path.

[Images of Dune]

VO: Frank Herberts Dune shows a future in which humans were enslaved by the robots they had as servants and created a holy crusade to overthrow them.  There are no computers or smart machines in Dune, since the one rule that is instant death for anyone who tries to enact it is to make a smart machine.  This is the source of conflict since without machines to perform impossible equations, they need Spice to navigate the stars, though in the end humanity is trading one problem for another.

[Images of Fading Suns]

VO: Fading Suns is a setting created by Andrew Greenberg, Bill Bridges, Ken Lightner, and Chris Weis in the future about a vast utopian republic that has seemingly magic technology, but the corruptness of the government and its indifference to the sufferings of its citizens allows a religion and dormant noble houses to bring it to its knees and seize power.  And the main way the church does this is playing on the fears of the common man for power until the most advanced technology is only in the hands of the church, the nobles and powerful guilds.  Just like the occult in the dark ages, Technology more advanced than a windmill is feared by the average peasant who look to the church for guidance and protection.

[Images of Shades of Gray]

VO: It doesn't have to be like this, but dystopias are a warning that we would do well to listen to.  With no thoughts on the proper use of this technology, how it affects lives and how much it can cost us, the more of a risk we take of a backlash that grows for its own sake.  A smart phone is a tool, and you can use it to film a cop beating someone to death or an animal being tortured by a gang of little psychopaths.  But with no thought to the culture of how that technology is built and applied, we are like dust in the wind allowing ourselves to be blown hither and yon at a whim.

[Images of Universities, Fire and the Stars]

VO: Humans are intelligent creatures.  We can shape our environment and we can and have shaped culture.  So if we know the problem, why dont we fix it? Well part of it is that the very people who are the problem know what's coming and have seized the levers of power for themselves; buying politicians and regulators and even media in some cases to make sure that their voice is the main voice that gets heard.

[Images of Democracy, Gandhi, MLK, BLM]

VO: But it doesnt have to be that way.  People are speaking up.  People are having an issue with what is going on.  And they are working together to find new ways of doing things.  There is hope, but we have to work together and we have to work for it.  One way to understand where we need to go is to understand where we have been.  To do that, let’s look to the past….