Semanarie

Semanarie

Semanarie was founded by a group of druids who wanted to create an ideal lifestyle free of the first part of modern civilization, buildings. It was believed that without buildings people would live in peace with no worries beyond food and social interaction. The innovative plan worked. A city of 500 people was founded and quickly grew to 6,000 citizens through immigration and a druid assisted birthrate.

Semanarie was ruled by the original druids who founded it. Due to the ageless nature of practiced druids these ancient men and women still seemed to be in healthy condition until late in their lives. They organized the city’s foreign affairs and settled all disputes between the citizens. The druids ruled peacefully and the most common punishment they handed out was simple expulsion from the community.

The Semanarians had unique and clever ways of overcoming the difficulties of not having any buildings. A simple tree for protection from rain or a modification of Tenser’s Floating Disk. Most cooking used exclusively open fires instead of stoves or ovens with porridge replacing bread as the staple food. Most of the populace learned some form of magic in order to protect themselves from the elements. The head druids controlled the weather so that no huge disasters ever threatened the citizens.

Semanarie was well known as the greatest gathering of culinary excellence outside of the royal kitchens of Greece, Xoria, and Persia. Goats, sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, horses, and even rocs were reared for meat, eggs, dairy, and transportation. Wheat, barley, rice, rye, oats, and alfalfa were cultivated to feed the livestock, and to make into flour. The farmers brewed beer and wine for their tables and to sell. A variety of fruits were grown in natural rowless orchards in Bigby’s Forest. Every vegetable imaginable was grown with magical help from the druids. The only thing that Semanarie truly lacked was spices, but the druids supplemented that section of cooking by summoning spices from the inner planes.

With all these ingredients gathered in one place it is no wonder that Semanarie had some of the best cooks in the world. The revered chef, Geeardo, set up an academy in Semanarie for the training of chefs and it was the site of some of the largest structures in Semanarie, outdoor ovens. Would-be chefs came from around the world to learn the art of gourmet cooking, but many left after finding out that the only shelter they will have is a four foot pile of bricks. Geeardo died without naming a successor. He said his successor would be revealed when the next perfect chef cooked the perfect meal using perfect ingredients. Many have tried to do so by emulating Geeardo’s style but none have succeeded.

Unfortunately this little paradise was horribly changed by Xoria’s invasion. In the past the druid council had warded off raiding parties using their own magical powers, but they had never enacted a heavy defense system because they believed there was nothing they had of value for an invading force. King Jevaninada I attacked because he saw in the Semanarians the potential for a druidic battalion in his army. He, Queen Anajakaze, and their three generals defeated the druids in single combat while the townspeople were subdued by the well-trained Xorian army. The druids were imprisoned separately. King Jevaninada brainwashed one of them to serve him. This druid aided the Xorians during the First Alliance War, but died at the Battle of Makotako.

King Jevaninada I attempted to convert Semanarie’s druidic culture to that of a traditional town. Against the ethos of Semanarie adminstrative buildings were put in place. District Commissioner Thron was sent to the town to impose order. His brutal rule incensed the people of Semanarie to rise up in rebellion during the First Alliance War. They fought alongside the other Alliance members and lost. Those who did not return to Semanarie drifted into Bigby’s Forest to live with the elves there. These people formed the core of the Rebellion to dethrone King Jevaninada II.

-GoCorral

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Road Chip Movie Review

The_Road_Chip_Poster_2

Star Wars is the big movie of the season and we did want to see it, but not until January when the crowds have died down a little bit.

So my wife and I went to see the latest Chipmunks movie, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, instead.

The movie is a typical Alvin and the Chipmunks affair. Alvin does crazy stuff and everything escalates into a huge farce until Dave comes in and shouts, “ALVIN!”

This children’s movie taps into a primal fear that many kids have, that their parents won’t love them as much when their family gets bigger.

Dave is getting serious with his girlfriend and is planning a romantic weekend alone with her.

The Chipmunks find a diamond ring by his luggage and make the logical conclusion that he is going to ask her to marry him.

The Chipmunks hate this idea because Dave’s girlfriend’s son, Miles, bullies them.

Miles also dislikes their families joining together so he joins the Chipmunks in their cross country journey to Miami from LA to steal the ring and stop the proposal.

Through their journey the Chipmunks and Miles receive some valuable moral lessons and realize that they don’t mind being step-brothers after all.

The movie didn’t really stand out as an exceptional Chipmunks movie to me. There’s childish comedy and good dance/singing sequences like usual, but nothing truly spectacular.

The Chipettes have minor roles in the movie which was a little disappointing. It would’ve made sense for them to be there, but that would’ve made the script too complicated. Instead they spend most of the movie judging the last season of American Idol.

I’d definitely recommend the movie to people who are fans of the Chipmunks like myself. For those who haven’t been exposed to the Chipmunks yet, the movie is as good an entry into the franchise as you can get. Cheesy comedy and cute forest creatures singing high-pitched covers of popular music. Not much more to say than that.

-GoCorral

Wiki Images and Copyright Law

While working on my finals I tried to relax a little bit by working on the Gurutama Wiki.

I’ve been tackling the behemoth that is the Slavery article on Gurutama. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Different types of slavery, how slavery is practiced in different locations, and the morality of slavery in a world with an absolute set of moral rules (for example, is temporary enslavement of convicts in exchange for a reduced sentence acceptable?).

I’ve been trawling the internet for images to post alongside what I write.

I want good images, but I also want to use them legally. I could just pick up any old image and plop it on the Wiki, but there’s a risk if the owner of that image gets mad at me and decides to take legal action.

In most cases that would just be a cease and desist letter. I’d take the image off the site and no one is hurt. But since my friends and I have a passing interest in eventually releasing the Gurutama campaign setting as a Kickstarter, we need to cover our legal butts before something bad happens.

So instead of taking whatever images I want (like this sexy image of Gibraltar) I have to use ones that the owners have approved for use by people like me.

There’s three basic ways the owner of an image can give permission for me to use their property.
1. An established license like the Wikimedia license or the Creative Commons license. The Wikimedia license is awesome. Essentially everything on Wikipedia is free to use in other projects as long as the attribution to the original author stays with the image.
2. Asking the owner of the image if you can use it. I unfortunately haven’t gotten responses from any of the cool images I want to use. And a lack of response counts as a “No.”
3. Implied consent. If an artist allows their image to be used by a bunch of places without taking action against them, then I can assume that I don’t need to ask their permission.

I got access to the following image due to a round-about application of implied consent.

Made by John Wigley. Props to him!
Made by John Wigley. Props to him!

This image is actually owned Games Workshop as part of their Warhammer card game.

Games Workshop allows their images to be used by anyone for any purpose as long as the original artist gives permission.

Andddd… John Wigley has allowed tons of people to use his image with no indication that he requires people to ask him for permission. Therefore, implied consent. I get to use it.

I did still ask him if I could use it, but got no response. Unlike when I asked to use the Gibraltar photo, there’s enough evidence that this one is okay to use, as long as I’m not profiting from the use.

There is a fourth source for images to use on the Gurutama Wiki, things that are out of copyright.

The length of a copyright is a little difficult to determine. You can thank Disney’s lobbyists for that. Everytime Mickey Mouse gets close to being out of copyright Disney throws more money at Congress until the maximum lifetime of a copyright is extended.

Here’s the basics on how copyright lifetimes work:
An artist can renew their copyright whenever they want while they’re alive.
After an artist dies, the copyright can only exist for a set number of years after their death. This is so the artist’s heirs can continue to profit and live off the artist’s work. It makes sense. The motive behind the original law is good.
So what’s a good amount of time for that law? I would think 20 years. By then, even if the artist had infant children they would be adults who completed college if they attended right after high school.
Not so! 50-70 years after death is the current law in most countries. Long enough for the artist’s grandchildren to be dead before the copyright expires in most cases.
It’s a little different for properties owned by corporations (like Mickey Mouse). Since there’s no individual artist that owns the intellectual property the countdown starts right away instead of waiting for the company to “die.” In exchange, the company gets a longer lifetime to exercise their copyright. The current lifetime is 95 years after publication in the United States.

What this essentially means is any art made prior to the 1900s is free for me to use. If I want to put the Mona Lisa on my Gurutama Wiki, I can do that. No problem. Leonardo de Vinci isn’t going to sue me because he’s been dead for centuries.

Which brings me to this image:

Bandit Attack
Lawlessness of Middle Ages. – Attack of Italian Bandits

I found this image on a website called Look and Learn while searching for a good picture of a slave raid that didn’t involve guns. I got a bandit attack instead, but it worked for the Slavery article.

Look and Learn claims their copyright on this image started in 2010.

Seems okay at first glance, right? Until you remember your art history and realize that the style of this drawing places it in the 1700s.

That got me suspicious of Look and Learn’s supposed copyright. I reverse image searched the drawing and found it in a scanned book (out of copyright) on Google’s book database.

The book was published in 1894 by John Clark Ridpath and is titled History of the World.

It’s likely that Ridpath found this illustration in a museum and used it in his book as it was already out of copyright when he was writing.

Lets assume he didn’t. Let’s assumed that Ridpath was the owner of this image, either by purchasing it from an artist or drawing it himself in an old style to match his subject material. Ridpath passed away in 1900. The copyright on the image would only extend to 1970, making it 45 years out of copyright.

So how exactly does Look and Learn claim to own and sell this image? They even cite the source (erroneously citing a reprint of the original book, but a citation), making it clear to the astute observer that they couldn’t possibly own this image.

Well, Look and Learn is actually selling a high quality scan of this image, which they do own.

I just took a lower quality scan from Google’s database and used that.

This is all part of the Slavery article on Gurutama. It’s shaping into something I’m proud of. Check it out!

-GoCorral

Thesis Proposal and Homework

Some of you may be asking, “Where, oh where, has GoCorral gone? Where is the weekly update of his blog? There hasn’t even been a picture of his toenails to tell us he’s still alive!”

Well, I am still alive, I’ve just been rather busy with school these last few days.

Among my many responsibilities I have had:
1. A massive final project on homologous genes to the C. elegans myosin gene, unc-54, that is rapidly approaching 50 pages in length.
2. A final paper on intron retention being the first sign of speciation.
3. Scheduling and preparing my thesis proposal presentation.
4. Grading essays for the basic biology class I am teaching this semester.
5. All the usual stuff I have to do.

I’m keeping a good handle on #1 and #5. #4 is a slow truck that keeps on going.

Due to all the other stuff I’ve been doing #2 did not turn out as good as I would’ve liked. I loved the thesis of that paper, but I wish I’d used more time to find additional supporting evidence and described the supporting evidence in a better fashion.

#3 is the most exciting one! My thesis proposal presentation happened on Friday and was probably the most important moment in my career up to this point.

I got super nervous before giving the presentation and made a few mistakes in the preparation and delivery, but it still went quite well.

Every presentation should have at least one picture of a confused panda.
Every presentation should have at least one picture of a confused panda.

I passed the proposal which means I can continue on with my project! Woohoo! I do have to update my abstract to reflect my definite research goals which were outlined in the meeting.

That’s what I’ve been up to. There’s still more to do! I predict I’ll be done with most of it by the end of next week. After that, regular blog updates will resume.

-GoCorral