Dia de Muertos

“Mama, do I have to go?”

“Ay, vida, what’s wrong?  I thought you liked Dia de los Inocentes.”

“It’s boring.  It’s just the same stuff every year.  I’d rather stay here.”

“Oh, but you get to see everyone.  And there are all the beautiful orchids and ofrendas.  Your sister worked so hard on it.  Please go, mijo, for me.”

“Alright, mom.  I’ll go.  But what about you?”

“Don’t worry about me.  I’ll visit tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see your little sister again.  Her grandkids are just so precious.  It really is sweet of her to still think of us.”

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed it, you can find more of my stories here!

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Happy International Orangutan Day!

Happy International Orangutan Day!

John Kutensky

Happy International Orangutan Day!  As is probably obvious, orangutans are my favorite animal, so I’m glad that they get their own day.

I’m not entirely certain why I’m so drawn to orangutans.  I think part of it is because, out of all the non-human great apes, I see more of myself in them than in any other.  I think of them as intelligent and introverted (especially the adult males).  They’re patient and good at problem-solving.  They’re usually the hardest animal to keep enclosed at a zoo, with their strength, dexterity, and intelligence being enough to break out of all but the best-designed enclosures.

They’re just such marvelous beings.  I really hope that humanity can preserve them for the future.  It would be such a loss if this species went extinct.

IMG_0705Satu the Orangutan Eating at the San Diego ZooSatu the Orangutan at the San Diego Zoo 2Satu the Orangutan at the San Diego Zoo 3

Here are some resources for learning more about and helping orangutans.

Reflections of Eden, by Birute Galdikas, is…

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The World’s Wisest Man – Audio Version

The Saturday Storytellers have made an audio version of my story The World’s Wisest Man and put it on Youtube.  You can check it out below, or here.

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Metroid Fanart

Happy 30th Birthday, Samus Aran!

John Kutensky

I just downloaded the Metroid Prime Trilogy, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite Metroid fanart from around the web.  Click on the images to go to the source.

This first image is by Alvin Lee, for whom I unfortunately couldn’t find a website.  She’s a bit poutier than I’d like, but I think she has a pretty serious, grim look to her that I like in my Samus art.  I personally dislike cutesy Samus.  There are times for it, like when she’s relaxing after a mission, but she’s a warrior, not a model.

Samus by Alvin Lee

Another good warrior image.  She looks like she just got out of a fight.

Warrior by SpaceCoyote

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Sostratos of Aegina Notes

When I was first reading Herodotus, buried in Book 4, I came across a passage that wouldn’t have stood out if not for its footnote.  The section, 4.152, reads:

But after they had been away for longer than the agreed time, and Corobius had no provisions left, a Samian ship sailing for Egypt, whose captain was Colaeus, was driven off her course to Platea, where the Samians heard the whole story from Corobius and left him provisions for a year; they then put out to sea from the island and would have sailed to Egypt, but an easterly wind drove them from their course, and did not abate until they had passed through the Pillars of Heracles and came providentially to Tartessus. Now this was at that time an untapped market; hence, the Samians, of all the Greeks whom we know with certainty, brought back from it the greatest profit on their wares except Sostratus of Aegina, son of Laodamas; no one could compete with him.The Samians took six talents, a tenth of their profit, and made a bronze vessel with it, like an Argolic cauldron, with griffins’ heads projecting from the rim all around; they set this up in their temple of Hera, supporting it with three colossal kneeling figures of bronze, each twelve feet high. What the Samians had done was the beginning of a close friendship between them and the men of Cyrene and Thera.

I’ve emboldened the relevant part.  On its own, it’s not especially amazing.  I mean, someone has to be the best, right?  But the footnote indicated that this is the only mention of Sostratos of Aegina.  Ever.  In anything.  No other extant author mentions him, and Herodotus never mentions him against.  All we know is that he was the most profitable Greek trader of all time, who made an amount significant greater than sixty talents, and that’s it.

Ever since, I’ve found his story intriguing.  Who was he?  What did he trade?  Where did he go?  The Samians who came in second got blown off course into the Atlantic Ocean to Tartessus, a market no other Greek had been to, and Sostratos still crushed them in profits.  I just can’t imagine what Sostratos did that no one else could do.  Isn’t it mysterious?

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Sostratos of Aegina

O Sostratos of Aegina, who were you?  You, whose profit was so renowned that no explanation was necessary, and that no one else’s could be even compared, are now a hapax legomenon, mentioned once and forgotten.  What did you trade?  Where you did you go?  To what far off lands did you travel, that you were able to best the Samians who were blown into the Atlantic to Tartessos?  Is that your anchor at Gravisca?  Are those your amphorae scattered throughout Etruria?  Or did you leave behind no such evidence?

Will we ever know you, or are you destined to remain unknown aside from a name, a homeland, a father, and a deed, you, who were once so famous, who were once a byword for gain?  Will you ever emerge from the gloomy lacunae of history?  Or will we forever wonder?

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Phoenix Point

I knew that Julian Gollop, one of the creators of the original X-COM, had been working on a new turn-based strategy game, but this article from Rock Paper Shotgun is the first I’ve really heard any details about it, and it looks amazing!  Everything I love about XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with a bunch of other stuff I’ve wanted to see in games for a while.

The creature designs look awesome and appropriately eldritch.  I hope that the visuals match their abilities.  That is, that you can look at an enemy and see things like claws and growths that will give some hint of what they can do.  I mean, really, I’m hoping to just see something new and bizarre growing out of an enemy and fearing what new ability it has.  That fear of the unknown was something I loved about XCOM: Enemy Unknown.  I went in pretty much blind.  I had never played any X-COM game before and bought EU on a whim after loving the demo.  I was spoiled by XCOM 2 news, so I didn’t get that in the sequel, since I already knew what an alien was and did the first time I met them.

I’m hoping it keeps XCOM: EU’s movement system instead of X-COM’s action points, but I guess we’ll see.  It was something that I think kept me from getting into Xenonauts.

The idea of survivor politics and squabbling sounds really appealing, too.  Personally, I wish it were in XCOM 2.  It would have given me more a feeling of being a guerrilla force.  I feel that a big weakness was in the strategic level, where you made contact just by hanging out for a few days, and after that, the entire region supported you 100%, provided you stopped aliens from murdering them all every so often.  I’d much rather be forced to juggle factions.  In theory, at least.  I guess we’ll see how I feel when my neighbors are hoarding bullets as crab monsters eat my friends and family.

I’m also looking forward to monsters that adapt to you.  I’m hoping that they also adapt to other survivors.  My favorite strategy in Galactic Civilizations II was to focus research on whatever weapon system no one else was using, trading common weapon technology to encourage its hegemony, so that when my ships went on the attack, everyone was using armor instead of energy shields.  It would be fun to let the other survivors convince the monsters that bullets are the worst threat and then show up with flamethrowers.

The website is pretty bare, but I think this looks like it’ll be an incredible game.  I’m looking forward to it!

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