Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #120

Evidence Card 0090: Old World Illuminati

Evidence Card 0090: Old World Illuminati

843rd Annual Grand Conclave of the Bavarian High Illuminati

with Special Guest Mel Tillis

May 20th, 2015

Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Germany


  1. Opening procession
  2. Human sacrifice
  3. Invocation to Te-Amun-Jehovah, The Merciless One, He Whose Wisdom and Power Know No Bounds
  4. Coffee and complimentary Dunkin Donuts™
  5. Introduction of new members
  6. Execution of prior members
  7. Revise schedule for World War III
  8. Lunch break
  9. Mind control workshop
  10. Raffle (top prize: Belgium)
  11. Tax records bonfire and marshmallow roast
  12. Blimp rides (pants optional)
  13. The stand-up comedy stylings of Michael Winslow
  14. Cocktails and buffet of roasted endangered species
  15. After-dinner orgy
  16. Planetary alignment
  17. The rising of the Ancient Ones
  18. Special midnight screening of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #119

Evidence Card 0089: Standing Stones

Evidence Card 0089: Standing Stones

“Broga, I don’t want to ruin your day, but …”

“Well, my crew chief called in sick, so it’s already ruined, Hamar.  What?”

“It’s upside down.”

“What’s upside down?”

“The stone circle.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.  Here’s the sheepskin with the plan.”

“Okay … right, here’s the standing stones, here’s the stones on top.”

“No, the king wants it to look like a crown.  Flat stones on the bottom, other stones pointing up.  See this stick figure here for scale?”

“Stick figure?  I thought that was a camel.”

“There aren’t any camels in Britain, Broga.  You know that.”

“Well, shit.  Why didn’t anyone tell us before we lifted those stones?  You know how long it takes to get those frickin’ things up that high?  Wasn’t the head druid supposed to come down and inspect?”

“He fell in a bog.”

“Oh, that’s right.  Well … wait, the king’s really sick, isn’t he?”

“Yep, he’s knocking on the door, if you know what I mean.”

“Maybe if we drag this out a couple more months, he won’t live long enough to complain.”

“If you want to handle it that way, that’s your funeral.  Just make sure you have the circle done by Autumn, or the harvest festival is going to suck.”

Clan building

Where are my people?

The hollow juggernaut of social media claims to herald a world where it’s easier than ever to find “your people,” but I have to disagree.  While you can connect with a wider audience that you would, say, face-to-face at some public venue, the connections you make online are far less substantive and more difficult to maintain.  This blog, for instance, is only read by people I already know, and most of it is nonsense anyway.  An hour of live conversation cements more bond that a month of Facebook likes and retweets.  Sad, but true.

I moved to Portland almost ten years ago hoping to escape the alienation that pervades the Midwest (at least for people of my ilk).  It took me several years to ease into making friends here in town, and my efforts at joining or building a clan fell short for a variety of reasons.  I eventually met some very nice people (particularly within the local tabletop gaming scene), some of whom I regularly meet and collaborate with, but those tightest and most rewarding of bonds still elude me.

I tend to break friends down into three categories:

  1. Besties: people you are completely comfortable around, can call up at a moment’s notice for a favor or to hang out, and communicate with almost every day.  You “get” each other, and you can share things with them you can’t with others.
  2. Sometimes Pals: people you enjoy spending time with but don’t see that often.  You generally have to schedule socializing ahead of time because of busy schedules or distance.  It takes extra effort to remain in contact.  You spend time catching up when you get together.
  3. Weak links: people you’ve met online or once or twice in person but don’t really know.  These people come and go out of your life all the time, and you’re generally not broken up about it when they disappear.  You might hear from them every day (on Facebook, for example), but it’s generally superficial interaction that doesn’t lead to a deep connection.

When I invest time and energy meeting people—and it takes extra energy for an introvert like me to meet people—I’m always hoping to snag as many #1’s as possible.  #2’s are good to have, but they frustrate me.  I have an inner 5-year old who gets new ideas to do things all the time and doesn’t like to wait.  #3’s are always around, but their purpose is casual interaction and as a pool of candidates for upgrading to one of the higher categories, if possible.

My time in Portland has yielded precious few new upper-level connections.  This is despite the city’s widely advertised weirdness.

I’ve met quite a few smart, interesting, fun people, and my network of creative people (game designers, in particular) has gone from none to several dozen.  But those precious Besties have been hard to find.  Sadly, it’s a stable of folks such as these who would really enrich my leisure time.  If I want to play random board games with casual acquaintances, that’s easy to do.  But my ambitions are bigger than that: I want to get back into roleplaying.  I want to run a tabletop car combat campaign.  I want to have big Mechwarrior battles.  I want to run collaborative storytelling sessions.  I want to tinker with live-action games and augmented reality and worldbuilding.  And these activities require a level of trust and connection I don’t feel I have with most of my Portland acquaintances (plus, I don’t sense they’d be interested in such things).

This results, in someone like me, in a kind of loneliness.  Maybe I’m the common denominator, and I feel marginalized because I don’t work harder to include myself.  I guess my default assumption is that people will seek me out if they think I’m fun to hang out with.  They’ll ask me about my creative projects if they’re truly interested.  In both cases, silence proves the opposite … at least in my mind.  While my logical self reasons that I might be jumping to conclusions, the emotional part of the brain is millions of years older (evolutionarily speaking) and speaks that much louder.

As I think about this stuff—probably more than is healthy, but, hey! I’m a blogger—I remember that my organizer dues afford me the ability to create another group if I so choose.  (You get three, and I already manage the Stumptown Gamecrafters’ Guild and PDX Card Games.)  What would I call a new group created especially for my crazy, large-scale, non-casual gaming activities?  How would I attract people to it?  Would anyone join?  All hard questions.  It’s taken two years to get a regular group of attendees for Gamecrafters.  Do I have the energy to incubate another nerd clan?

I don’t know.  As always, the calculus of the asocial nerd distills the truth down to a few options:

  1. There aren’t enough nerdy people here.
  2. There are, but you haven’t found them yet.
  3. You suck, and they don’t want to spend time with you.

I try not to be a self-disparaging without proof, but the fact that people find you uninteresting or strange is never something they share with you, so concrete evidence of #3 is hard to come by.  #1 is equally depressing, I suppose.  The kernel of idealism at the core of this pessimist’s heart hopes #2 is the truth.  If so, the effort would be worth it.

Bah.  This the type of navel-gazing blather that keeps my brain awake at night.  Would better sleep improve my social success rate?  Would better social interaction help me to sleep more soundly?  Do I ask too many questions???

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #118

Evidence Card 0088: Undercover Agent

Evidence Card 0088: Undercover Agent

“Look … let’s make this easy.  We know you’re a spy.  You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you just tell us who you are and why you’re here.”

“Your security is tighter than I thought.  How did you work out I’m an agent?”

“The tuxedo.”

“It’s hardly an usual manner of dress—”

“We don’t see many tuxedoes at the water park, sir.”

“Correction: a cleverly disguised Russian submarine facility.”

“If you say so, sir.  Will you tell us why you assaulted Opie Otter near the cotton candy stand?”

“My cover was blown, I had no choice but to take him out.”

“You gave Alisha a concussion.  The children were disturbed when the character’s head came off.  That’s why you’re being held until the sheriff’s department gets here.”

“You can’t let them take me!  If they do, I’m a dead man!”

“I don’t think assault and battery charges carry the death penalty in this state, sir.”

“You don’t understand … if I don’t get this tux back by 8 a.m., I’m out $700!”

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #117

Evidence Card 0087: Pentagon

Evidence Card 0087: Pentagon

“Colonel LeMays, do you have a minute?”

“Certainly, lieutenant.  Just finishing lunch.  What’s on your mind?”

“I learned something this morning that was slightly disturbing.  Jensen is circulating a rumor that the game we’re playing might not be a simulation.”


“The one where we pretend we’re flying robot planes and blowing up bad guys.  You know the one.”

“Yes, but—”

“The thing is, we usually compete to get the highest score, so that means blasting every target that comes up.  And if I was actually shooting at people, I think I’d feel pretty bad about not checking to make sure they’re bad guys.  Heck, we sometimes take pot shots at the military vehicles or each other.  I once kamikaze’d a hospital like we sometimes do in Grand Theft Auto.”

“Son, don’t worry about it.  It’s just a video game.”

“Thanks, sir.  At first, I wasn’t sure how I was protecting my country by playing video games, but it’s pretty fun, so I guess I don’t mind.”

“That’s the spirit, lieutenant.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a meeting.  Don’t forget to finish your Brussel sprouts!”

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #116

Theory 44: Secrets for Sale

Theory 44: Secrets for Sale

All Nude CELEBRITY pics! We hacked their phones and are selling their nude pics directly to you!

Want to see your favorite celebrities ALL NUDE?

We accept Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and Bitcoin!

Select from the following options:

  1. Scarlett Johansson – $12,000
  2. Taylor Swift – $10,500
  3. Justin Bieber – $9,000
  4. Mark Ruffalo – $6,500
  5. Tina Fey – $2,300
  6. Aaron Paul – $1,750
  7. Dog the Bounty Hunter – $500
  8. Whoopi Goldberg – $250
  9. Conan O’Brien – $200
  10. Ozzie Osbourne – $19.95
  11. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – $5.00
  12. Abe Vigoda – $1.95

Absurd Clip Art! Part Two!

There really is no end of the strange images that surface when you do a simple web search for clip art.  (To be fair, search results for stock photos can be just as bizarre.)

This is probably a cartoonish depiction of a mythological beast known as a lamia, which supposedly had the head of a woman on the body of a lion.  I'm not sure about all that décolletage, though.

This is probably a cartoonish depiction of a mythological beast known as a lamia, which supposedly had the head of a woman on the body of a lion. I’m not sure about all that décolletage, though.




"You've been a terrible child, and for punishment, I'm giving you this cat.  Now, you'll know the true meaning of suffering."

“You’ve been a terrible child, and for punishment, I’m giving you this cat. Now, you’ll know the true meaning of suffering.”


Either crooked cops are shaking down Santa, or Santa's a suspect in a triple homicide.  I don't know which is more depressing.

Either crooked cops are shaking down Santa, or Santa’s a suspect in a triple homicide. I don’t know which is more depressing.

Just ... what ... I don't.  Huh?

Just … what … I don’t. Huh?

"Hop in, dad.  We found a nice managed care facility on Enceladus.  You'll love it there!"

“Hop in, dad. We found a nice managed care facility on Enceladus. You’ll love it there!”

Pancakes.  Nothing strange about them ... I just like pancakes.

Pancakes. Nothing strange about them … I just like pancakes.

Conspiracy! Card-a-Day #115

Evidence Card 0086: Hackers

Evidence Card 0086: Hackers

[cyb3rPalad1n@xanadu666 ~] $ sudo /usr/sbin/astral-vpn
Password: **********
Starting Astral™ Traceless VPN... bouncing through 183 IPs...
You are now traceless!  Happy hacking!
[cyb3rPalad1n@xanadu666 ~] $ sftp
Connecting to
a.carter's password: flintstones
sftp> pwd
Remote working directory: /central/rtn/users/home/acarter
sftp> cd /central/ops/pent/serv/food/
sftp> ls -a
total 4
-rw-r--r--+ 3 root root 83 Oct 18 2014 .
-rw-r--r--+ 3 root root 102 Dec 21 2014 ..
-rw-r--r--+ 3 root root 218 Mar 02 2011 js.iml
-rw-r--r--+ 3 root root 1609 Apr 18 2015 cafeteria_menu.txt
sftp> sed -i 's/Tater Tots/Brussel Sprouts/g' cafeteria_menu.txt
[cyb3rPalad1n@xanadu666 ~] $ shutdown -s



To whoever keeps putting brussel sprouts on the cafeteria menu: the joke’s gotten old.  Ever since word got out that I hate the goddamn things, I’ve seen them in the cafeteria EVERY SINGLE DAY.  It’s been weeks.  I can’t stand the sight of the things.  This has to stop.

If the brussel sprout situation continues, I’ll be forced to take the appropriate executive action.  I trust whoever thinks this is still funny will reevaluate their motivations and act accordingly.

Let’s put this behind us and get back to work defending America.

Ash Carter

Secretary of Defense

United States Department of Defense