Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Shadowrun Returns

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Bradley Hall

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A long time ago, sometime before 1997, I encountered a SNES game called Shadowrun. It was based on a pen and paper RPG (like Dungeons & Dragons), but since I had never encountered the p&p version, I didn’t really care about that.

What did interest me was the game. It was a free-roaming Action-RPG that mixed guns and magic and a real world setting (Seattle of the 2050s) and computers. This was pre-Matrix stuff. But it was great.

Experience was earned through a system called “Karma” – gained through killing enemies. If you had a few hours to kill, you could actually earn enough Karma to level your character to super-powered status in the first area in the game. Then just blow through the game and grab new weapons as they came available to help out with killing everything.

The ending of the game is whacked out crazy, I have no idea what happened, Jake goes to meet his girlfriend and then has to re-fight all the game’s bosses. If I recall, one such boss says, “Jake, did you guess or did you just know?”

And then there’s this:

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So, now the question is, “Is Shadowrun Returns the Shadowrun II we were promised twenty years ago?”

In a word, no.

While the SNES game’s Jake Armitage is a minor character in this game, it doesn’t do anything to explain what happened at the end of the original game. So Jake’s alive and it’s 2054, which means that the original game took place some time between 2050 and some time before the beginning of this game. (Though I’m thinking the original game took place in 2050 exactly, so it’s most likely been four years).

Returns doesn’t have a free-roaming aspect like the SNES game did. The entire story is on rails. There is one part where you can accept an actual Shadowrun job from a Mr. Johnson.

It would have been nice to have been able to hire Hamfist or Frogtongue or Norbert or any of the other Runners from the original game too. 

I still want to know what happened at the end of Shadowrun. I guess we know Jake lived somehow and that’s good.

There’s still the Berlin campaign to look forward to.

 

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The Wily Policeman

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, Uncategorized on June 21, 2013 by Bradley Hall

Japanish Marchen ebook cover

This isn’t a review, I wouldn’t be that self serving, but, I did want to make it known on this site why I seem to have abandoned it as of late.

I’ve not abandoned it, it’s just been that I have been focusing my time on a wide array of things, of which this site has become one of many things I spend time doing.

Last year, I tried to translate an official German-language Final Fantasy XI novel in hopes being able to finagle a deal to translate the books officially for Square-Enix. They passed on the deal, even though it would have most likely done nothing but print them money.

I realized I enjoyed the job of translating, so I wanted to do more, more that I could then sell, legally.

I happened across gutenberg.net and found it had a large collection of German language books. I looked through their collections and found a few that were not only in public domain, but had also never been translated into English.

The one I first decided to translate was called “Japanische Marchen” – Japanese Fairy Tales. While the tales themselves were Japanese in origin, they were written down in this book for a German audience.

There are 24 stories in the collection. I believe two can be read via the sample on Amazon.com, and part of one can be read on the Barnes & Noble site (so if you want to read more of a sample than this one story, head to Amazon).

The book can be found for the Kindle at, well, the link is huge, but if you go to amazon.com and type in B00DGYKEOE in the search field, it will come up. There will soon be a print version of the book available there as well.

For Nook, you can find it at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/japanische-m-auml-rchen-bradley-hall/1115772053?ean=2940016450643

Unfortunately, B&N nor Amazon allows authors to pick what becomes the sample of a book, so here you go, my favorite short story from this collection. I hope you like it.

The Wily Policeman

The former Emperor of Korea had set up a secret police, which had to maintain peace and order in the city that should have prevented robberies and theft. But as so often happens the crime did not end and the Emperor was quite annoyed. He sent for the chief of police and began to rebuke him. The chief of police, however, defended his policemen and said they were all efficient and skillful.

The Emperor was clever and knew all the tricks that thieves can use, so he would put his police force to the test. He asked the chief to have them all arrive in the palace the next morning.

In the morning, the police were all gathered in the hall of the palace, the Emperor appeared holding a silk bag in his hand. This bag was filled with gold and the Emperor had someone hang it from the ceiling in the middle of the hall, so high that no one could reach it with his hand.

Then the Emperor said:

“Here, the bag hangs with gold. It will hang for three days. A guard will always be there. If one of you manages to remove this bag in three days, without anyone noticing, and no one hearing you remove the bag and its contents, you all shall henceforth remain in my service. But if any of you fail the task, I’ll chase you all to hell!”

There was a general shaking of heads and saddened, they went home, because it seemed impossible to remove the bag, because the emperor had placed a guard of four men who had to guard the bag day and night. The guards were threatened with beheading if they were negligent.

Sun came on the third day, the bag was hanging from the ceiling, still untouched and the police expected their release. To the astonishment of all, one of the youngest policemen said he wanted to try it, but said he needed to have at least two more days.

He was taken to the Emperor who laughed at the young man and said, “Even if I give you ten weeks, you will not succeed!”

“That may be true,” he replied. “And I think even that only a miracle can help us, but perhaps such a miracle will occur in the two days.” The Emperor liked the bold response. “Well, so be it! These two days are granted to you,” he decided.

The young policeman looked at the bag in the hall very well, and then he went home and made ​​himself a very similar bag, which he filled with small stones.

On the second day he took this bag, put it in the sleeve of his jacket, and went to the Emperor. The Emperor received him and asked if the miracle had already happened.

The policeman asked the Emperor to be allowed to look at the bag again. The Emperor approved and the policeman was taken to where the bag was still hanging, guarded by four soldiers.

After he had looked at the bag for a while from all sides, he asked whether it would be permissible to take the bag in his hand. The Emperor approved this as well. Here, the policeman took a stool and stood upon it and took the bag from the hook, looked at the Emperor, and placed the bag in his sleeve, saying:

“This is how to remove the bag!”

The emperor replied, laughing: “Yes, but we are all looking at you, so you wouldn’t be able to get away with it. So hang it back on the ceiling and acknowledge that not even you can do it.”

The policeman showed an apparently sad face, pulled the bag out again with a sigh and hung it up. He had not taken out the bag of gold, but the bag he made himself and filled with stones. That bag he hung on the ceiling, while he kept the real bag in his sleeve. He then told left the Emperor, telling him he hoped to be able to perform the feat the next morning.

The emperor therefore doubled the guard for the night, and the hall had to be lit so brightly that the bag could always be seen.

The next day came and the Emperor ordered all of the policemen gather around in the hall, as the emperor intended to dismiss them from their service. The Emperor could be quite rude and turned to the young policeman, asking him scornfully if the miracle had happened.

“I think so,” he replied.

“He’s totally crazy or outrageously naughty!” cried the Emperor. “Does he believe, then, I can not see? The bag still hangs!”

“I see,” replied the young policeman.” That there hangs a bag, whether or not it is the real bag, I doubt it!”

“This is really too much,” cried the Emperor. “Bring down the bag and bring it here,” he ordered the guard.

The bag was removed and brought to the Emperor, who opened it, but made a very vulnerable face as he saw just bricks and rocks in the bag and then looked closer and realized it was not the same bag that was originally hung from the ceiling.

“How did you do it?” he asked the cunning policeman. The young policeman man told how he had made ​​an identical bag and then switched the bags in the presence of the emperor.

“We have a devilishly clever fellow,” said the Emperor. “And since you seem to me to be the wisest of all, you shall be the Chief and I will not dismiss your colleagues. See to it that your police force do their duty and emulate you!” And so it happened!

Translator’s Note (Karl Alberti): This story is of Korean origin. It was recorded in this collection since Korea was annexed by Japan in 1910 and is now known as “Chosen”. The above story is reminiscent of the “cunning thief” of “1001 Nights.

2012 in review

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 by Bradley Hall

Only 11, well, now twelve posts this year?

It’s been a busy year, let’s hope I can work more on this site in 2013.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

From Hell’s Heart, I Stab At Linksys

Posted in Commentary, Uncategorized on July 6, 2012 by Bradley Hall

I wrote this as an email to my brother several years ago about the trouble I was having with a Linksys Wi-Fi router. I eventually got it configured and it still works to this day…

Following a recent spate with someone who doesn’t know the difference
between DSL and LSD (well, they are both drugs), I stepped up the date of acqusition of a Wi-Fi router to today. I settled on a Linksys
WRT54G 802.11G Broadband Router, partially because it looked cool,
partially because my laptop has a G card, and partially because it was on sale.

I read up on it online and saw 1 bad review and like, a hundred
glowing reviews. I didn’t check to see if the sites offering the
glowing reviews were owned by Linksys or not, but I’m guessing now
that they were.

I bought the thing, fondled it a bit, and followed the instruction CD
to install it (the CD was designed so a 3-year-old could understand
it, it had pictures and arrows and shit).

The line from the modem goes into the hole marked INTERNET, one end of the other wire goes in any one of four holes (you get to pick!
Customer’s Choice!) on the router and the Ethernet port on the back of your desktop computer. Then after some kind of magic spell, and
powering it up, a 2.4 GHz radio beam launches itself throughout your
house, irradiates you for a few grays of exposure and somehow finds
its way into the Wi-Fi 802.11G card on your laptop, causing you to see stuff online faster than you used to could.

All the wires went where all the wires go. The thing was up and
running and emitting some kind of signal my Wi-Fi card picked up, yet
the install wasn’t complete. I still had to configure it.

Configuring was nothing more than pressing “next” and “next” and
sometimes, “continue” worked its way onto the screen. It did whatever
it said it was doing, no way I could figure out if it did. Eventually, it said it could not find the Internet (!) so I made sure the Internet was still where it was (it’s still here). Checked the connections, re-checked the drawings and arrows, everything was where it was supposed to be (even checked to make sure the wires still worked).

Still no Internet.

I looked at the troubleshooting guide that came with it, and all it
said was “check to make sure wires are connected” so I’m like, “I did
that” so then I decide to give tech support a call.

I rig up my laptop in the living room and hook it up on the phone line splitter and dial into the Internet. After a few minutes of loading, the Linksys support page pops up. The Ever Helpful tech support guy (who actually seemed interested) talked to me for a bit and directed me to download their special install program.

I installed and ran it, and found that it was dumbed down further than the one that’s packed with the router. Yes. It’s made for a newborn, or a high-functioning autistic chimpanzee. Not only does it have arrows and pictures, it’s got Flashing Lights.

I go through the Rainbow Lite Brite Install Sequence and it too can’t
find the Internet (oh, what a surprise!). So, then the tech guy tells
me to go through this sequence of accessing the router via Internet
Exploder and changing its IP address from 192.164.1.1 to 10.10.10.1
which, as I thought, does nothing more than make me have to remember a different series of four digits.

So now, I have a $55 wireless router paperweight until I figure out
how to make it find the Internet. If starving kids in Africa have no
trouble finding porn on the Internet within minutes of first turning
on one of those XO One Laptop Per Child doodads, then this thing
should have no trouble finding the same Internet.

Amen and pass the aspirin,

Brad

You can’t save them all, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2012 by Bradley Hall

You get attached to students. It happens.

You want to see them succeed and not go (back) to jail.

I subbed at Tiger today. It was great. I saw a few students I knew, and a lot of students I didn’t know. Another few months and “my” students will all be gone.

The topic of discussion among the teachers and other faculty was the news that a former student who got out a month ago was arrested earlier this week for possessing a firearm… among other things. I want to read a news report or SOMETHING as some of the information I was given about it are flipping crazy. At least he isn’t dead, but if I recall, the sentence for using a gun on someone is life in prison, but the person he was shooting used one on him first (and hit him), but who knows.

I had high hopes I’d never hear of him getting arrested or see him on the news in a negative light. I told him last year that I had bought an automotive class book for him to do work out of since he wouldn’t do the normal English work. He thought it was a good idea and was receptive to it (he had previously told me he was interested in working in the automotive repair industry). Then, as an aside, he asked, “How much did you spend on it?” I didn’t lie to him, I said, “It was $14.” I’ll never forget the look on his face as he said, “You spent $14 for me?” He couldn’t believe that someone would do that for him.

I loved it when he actually worked on the stuff I assigned out of that book. He never got a problem wrong, even came to me for assistance a few times showing me the question in the book, then showing me where he found the answer in the book wanting to help me reconcile his idea of what the right answer should be among the two he was thinking of. It was great.

Even when I left that assignment, the new teacher assured me she would continue using that book for that student, and she did. I talk to her sometimes about my students. But now, there’s only a few left. Oh, there’s a full class of 24 students, there’s always 24, but of those, only a few are ones that know of my time there.

It makes me sad, but what can you do? Promise yourself you’ll work that much harder on the next one? And the one after?

I’m not sure.

This post is cross posted to http://jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com/2012/04/you-cant-save-them-all-but-that-doesnt.html?spref=fb

Immortality Doesn’t Mean Never Dying: The Jeff Weise Story

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2012 by Bradley Hall

First a bit of background. I wrote this for my Insanity & Crime class at the University of North Florida. The date on the paper is April 1. I was to write a paper on someone who committed a crime. I was originally going to do mine on Charles Manson (no, hadn’t discovered the Unabomber at this time). The day after I was to start writing, Jeff Weise did his thing, and I asked my professor if I could do my paper on him instead. She agreed.

I would like to revisit this paper and expand on it, maybe turn it into a larger work. Looking back on it today, it looks amateurish, I know I could easily do a tighter, larger, and more in-depth essay on him and school shooters in general. Of course, over the past seven years more information has undoubtedly come to the fore. I had been interested in school shooters for years and was always saddened that none had ever been taken into custody alive. Today one in Ohio was apprehended alive, so maybe this will help shed light on these kinds of things. Here I present the paper as it appeared in 2005 (with a few small pieces of editing to make it read better, I would love to do a complete rewrite of this thing), oh, and if you read this and are aware that certain things do not jive with what really happened (example: I say he was shot in the leg when most reports now say he was shot in the arm), this was because the data I had at the time said whatever it was that I say that is now known as being wrong.

Okay, onward:

Bradley Hall
CCJ 4606
Insanity & Crime
4-1-05

Immortality Doesn’t Mean Never Dying: The Jeff Weise Story

Well now I’m back in the middle of the day that starts it all.
Well I can’t begin to let you know just what I’m feeling.
And now these red ones make me fly,
And the blue ones help me fall.
And I think I’ll blow my brain against the ceiling.
~ Headfirst for Halos, My Chemical Romance

INTRODUCTION

March 21st 2005 was a day like any other. For many people, it was. It was a beautiful Spring day. Flowers were in bloom, Spring Break was a looming thought, and the end of the current semester was on everyone’s mind. But, while most people were having the time of their lives, a group of ten people were having the last moments of theirs as they were gunned down by Jeff Weise in Red Lake, Minnesota.

Weise is the latest person to be a “school shooter,” as in, he went to school one day armed with guns and the intent to kill as many innocents as possible before turning the gun on himself.

BACKGROUND

Weise’s background is very interesting. According to the Wikipedia entry, his father committed suicide in 1997 after a feud with police. Oddly enough, Jeff’s grandfather, Daryl Lussier, was a police officer himself. A couple years later, Jeff’s mother was injured in a car accident that left her brain damaged. It was this final event that made him live with his grandfather (1). It must have felt weird living with a person who not only was a blood relative, but also was a member of the same group that pushed his father to suicide.

What makes Weise so interesting, is that never before have the writings of a killer been placed where anyone could see them. Jeff Weise posted online on several websites, including Nazist sites, Zombie forums, Newgrounds, and LiveJournal. The last two are visited by almost everyone who has an Internet account.

On http://www.newgrounds.com, he posted under the screen name of “Regret.” Newgrounds is a site devoted to Flash animation. Weise created two short films in the Flash format and posted them to this site. In one, called “Target Practice,” a lone figure walks up, takes a drag of a cigarette-like thing, pulls an AK-47 from a bag and proceeds to shoot everyone in sight, blows up a cop car, then shoots himself in the head (1).

Looking back in retrospect, it could be thought “he was trying to tell us something,” but, if everyone who writes has murderous tendencies lurking inside them I wonder what Koushun Takami (author of Battle Royale, see endnotes) and Stephen King have been trying to tell us in their stories.

In his posts, he says that once he decides something, he sticks it through to the end, and he’s a budding writer. He posted a three-part story called “Rise of the Dead” on a zombie fan website that features what is first thought to be a school shooting from the perspective of a potential victim, but turns out to be a zombie on the loose in the school. At which time, the military steps in and cleans up. Aside from a few grammatical problems, it was a very good read.

On the various forums, he used a variety of aliases, including blades11, Todesengel, NativeNazi, Regret and others.

BEHAVIOUR: BEFORE AND DURING THE CRIME

BEFORE

Aside from the circumstances surrounding the death of his father and debilitating injury of his mother, Weise was largely ridiculed and made fun of by other kids (4). He was also on antidepressants. His dosage had been increased to 60MG of Prozac the week before the shootings (4). Most antidepressants have warning labels signifying that people should monitor those who actively use them since suicidal thoughts can manifest.

In Internet posts, Weise stated that before her accident, his mother would beat and berate him saying things such as “You were a mistake.” (4). He was a loner who often got into fights at school (1). Various students said that he always carried a notebook that he’d draw “evil” pictures in (1). In his LiveJournal, he describes himself as “your ordinary Native American stoner (1).”

DURING

On that morning, he killed his grandfather, Daryl Lussier, and his girlfriend. Then, sometime after noon he donned his fallen grandfather’s bulletproof vest and his guns (some accounts say he took one pistol and one shotgun, though this is in conflict at this time), stole [his grandfather’s] patrol vehicle, and rammed right into the front door [of his school]. He leapt out and killed security guard Derrick Brun (2).

The next part is interesting, he killed a few random students with the shotgun until he came face to face with teacher Neva Rogers. He lifted the shotgun and pulled the trigger, but it wouldn’t fire. After throwing it down, he shot her with the pistol (2). Leaving the classroom, he encountered a tribal police officer that shot Weise once in the hip and another time in the leg (3). Weise limped back to Rogers’ room where he lifted the formerly discarded shotgun and fired one last shot into his own head.

I do not know whether Weise would be categorized as an “organized” or “disorganized” killer. He showed symptoms of both kinds. He obviously planned his crime and brought his own weapons, which fit with the organized personality, but, he left the bodies where they fell and didn’t seem to care about leaving evidence such as his dead body behind. Also, I’m sure he doesn’t care to follow the investigation either. So, my guess is he fits half of each.

CONCLUSION

From what I’ve read, Weise was an emotionally disturbed young man. Surely he displayed quite a few “warning signs” that something was amiss inside his head. Many of these can still be seen today in his LJ posts, Flash animations, etc. People across the country are accessing these sites, reading what he had to say in his short life, and making notes. While researching some of the things he liked, I couldn’t help but think that if I were to have run across him online one day, that we could have been friends.

Yet no one tried to help him. Not his therapist, not his grandfather, no one. He was alone inside his torment. In this state, he found Adolf Hitler and his dream. Young Weise loved what Hitler stood, fought, and died for. Though I’m sure Hitler would have eventually ordered the slaughter of countless Native Americans in his conquest to rule the world. In this matter, Weise was oblivious.

Every time an event like this happens, people put on a show of pity and remorse for what happened, saying that the person who precipitated the attack “slipped through the cracks” somehow. And every time, it receives less and less attention. It’s almost like the country as a whole has become desensitized to this problem. Several years ago, the Columbine Massacre filled our TV screens, newspapers, and elected officials mouths for weeks, if not months. Now, with Red Lake, all we got was four or five days’ worth of newspaper articles and maybe three minutes on TV.

Is that what this country has come to? If the people in Weise’s life took a little more interest in what he was doing, he may have turned out all right. Surely his grandfather, the guy who BOUGHT Jeff’s prescriptions knew what they were for, so why didn’t he try just a little bit to see what his problem was? The world may never know.

ENDNOTE

Battle Royale: Battle Royale is a book written by Japanese writer Koushun Takami. The story centers on an alternate universe in the Republic of Greater East Asia. Every few months, a random ninth grade class is chosen to compete in the “Battle Royale.” In the Battle Royale, the students are taken to a remote island and each is given a bag containing a compass, food, water, a map, and a random weapon. The weapons range from a fork to a semi-automatic machinegun. The students are given three days to kill each other until only one remains and is announced as the winner. If after three days more than one student is still alive, they all die.

When it was released in Japan in 1999 (and in 2001 when it was released here), many anti-violence groups immediately protested against it. Their main claim was that the violence depicted in the book could plant ideas into the impressionable minds of young people around the world. Needless to say, I bought the book (and imported the movies based on it) and enjoyed every minute spent reading it.

Bibliography

1.Www.wikipedia.com entry on Jeff Weise. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Weise

2.USA Today article, “Tribal leader says son didn’t help shooter” by Richard Willing. March 30, 2005

3. USA Today article, “School gunman was shot twice” by Kevin Johnson. March 30, 2005

4. Minnesota Star Tribune article, “Did meds play a role?” by Chuck Haga. March 25, 2005

Additional Source

A. Takami, Koushun. Battle Royale. Translated by Yuji Oniki. Published by Viz, LLC

Pictures

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2012 by Bradley Hall

Hi guys.