Saturday, December 23, 2006

King and Marvel Join Forces To Launch Dark Tower Com

Stephen King breaks new ground at Marvel with original comic series based on his epic "The Dark Tower." Marvel Comics to launch first issue in April 2006. Premium hard cover collection of the first six issues to be released in Holiday 2006.

The following copy is a combination from Marvel comic's release:

New Comic Series Exploring the Origin of the Notorious Gunslinger Character Marks First Time Stephen King Has Produced Original Content for the Comic Book Format.

NEW YORK: World Fantasy Award-winning writer Stephen King, long acknowledged as the master of modern horror, and Marvel Comics join forces this spring to launch a ground-breaking new comic book series adapted from King's magnum opus, The Dark Tower.

The comic series will mark the first time Stephen King has produced original content for an ongoing comic book project. The series will expand the saga of King's epic hero, Roland Deschain, whose quest to save the Dark Tower is captured in seven best-selling novels published over the course of twenty-five years. King's unparalleled storytelling power will inform new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man, the last Gunslinger from a world that has moved on. The comics will work in conjunction with the novels, further supplementing and defining the saga's mythology under the direction of the acclaimed author himself.

"As a lifelong fan of Marvel comic books, and as an adult reader who's seen comics "come of age" and take their rightful place in the world of fantasy and science fiction, I'm excited to be a part of Roland's new incarnation," said Stephen King.

The series will be illustrated by Eisner-award winning artist Jae Lee.

King continued, "I love Jae Lee's work, and I think this is going to be a dynamite partnership. Frankly, I can't wait."

The first issue is scheduled to debut in April, 2006 with a hard cover collection of the first 6 issues released Holiday, 2006. Fans will start seeing promotional items, which feature more info in the series, beginning this December. Watch for more info as it becomes available at

Um, is it April 2006 yet?! I can't wait!
(tip of the hat to

What I would really like is a Stain Glass Set of Highlights from the Seven Books of Dark Tower Series with a Main Scene with small inserts of action from the book, that would, set up like a colleague starting with "The Gunslinger progressing to "The Dark Tower" So if anyone wants to give a dream gift, this would be it.

View Dark Tower Trailer

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Game of Go

The Game of Go

Well I finally did it. I bought a decent Go Board ( a friend sais she would give it to me as a seasonal present)I have been wanting to learn to play go for years and years. More than one time it has made my New Years resolution many times, but I never learned. I have several books on go and have played it on my palm pilot before.

But as far a human opponents, I have only played twice in my life a few games here and then later. But I am going to make a serious attempt a learning this New Year. I got a 12" board with drawers for the stones, so I can travel with it and play as I may.

If you are not familiar with Go, it is said to be one of the oldest games in existence over 3,000 years old believed to have been invented in China,

The original boards were about 20" thick and sat on four round balls, if you turned the board over you would seen a rounded depression. It was a serious game where the loser would literally lose their heads." You lose, flip the board and off with your head.

It is more civilized today. There is a ranking scale. A little background on Go(from The British Go Association)

Go is unique among games

The history of Go stretches back some 3000 years and the rules have remained essentially unchanged throughout this very long period. The game probably originated in China and the future of Tibet was once decided over a Go board when the Buddhist ruler refused to go into battle; instead he challenged the aggressor to a game of Go.

In the Far East, where it originated, Go enjoys great popularity today, and interest in the game is growing steadily in Europe and America. Like Chess, Go is a game of skill - it has been described as being like four Chess games going on together on the same board - but it differs from Chess in many ways. The rules of Go are very simple and though, like Chess, it is a challenge to players' analytical skills, there is far more scope in Go for intuition.

Go is a territorial game. The board, marked with a grid of 19 lines by 19 lines, may be thought of as a piece of land to be shared between the two players. One player has a supply of black pieces, called stones, the other a supply of white. The game starts with an empty board and the players take turns, placing one stone at each turn on a vacant point. Black plays first, and the stones are placed on the intersections of the lines rather than in the squares. Once played, stones are not moved. However they may be surrounded and so captured, in which case they are removed from the board as prisoners.

The players normally start by staking out their claims to parts of the board which they intend eventually to surround and thereby make into territory. However, fights between enemy groups of stones provide much of the excitement in a game, and can result in dramatic exchanges of territory. At the end of the game the players count one point for each vacant intersection inside their own territory, and one point for every stone they have captured. The one with the larger total is the winner.

Capturing stones is certainly one way of gaining territory, but one of the subtleties of Go is that aggression doesn't always pay. The strategic and tactical possibilities of the game are endless, providing a challenge and enjoyment to players at every level. The personalities of the players emerge very clearly on the Go board. The game reflects the skills of the players in balancing attack and defense, making stones work efficiently, remaining flexible in response to changing situations, timing, analyzing accurately and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. In short, Go is a game it is impossible to outgrow.
What makes Go so special
As an intellectual challenge Go is extraordinary. The rules are very simple, yet it resists all attempts to program computers to play Go. Even the best programs, the results of many years development, are still easily beaten by experienced players. Apart from a chance to beat the computer, Go offers major attractions to anyone who enjoys games of skill:

* There is great scope for intuition and experiment in a game of Go, especially in the opening. Like Chess, Go has its opening strategies and tactics but players can become quite strong knowing no more than a few basic patterns.
* A great advantage of Go is the very effective handicapping system. This enables players of widely differing strengths to play each other on equal terms without distorting the character of the game.
* The object in Go is to make more territory than the other player by surrounding it more efficiently, or by attacking the opponent's stones to greater effect. On such a large board, it's possible to do somewhat badly in one area but still to win the game by doing better on the board as a whole.
* Every game of Go quickly takes on a character of its own - no two games are alike. Since a player needs only to have more territory than the opponent in order to win, there are very few drawn games, though the outcome may hang in the balance until the very end.

A brief history of the game
Go is one of the oldest board games in the world. Its true origins are unknown, though it almost certainly originated in China. In the absence of fact there are various myths: for example that the legendary Emperor Yao invented Go to enlighten his son, Dan Zhu.

Although it originated in central Asia, historically it was in Japan that the game really flourished. Introduced into Japan probably well before the 8th century, Go soon gained popularity at the imperial court and, from this auspicious beginning, took root in Japanese culture.

In 1612 the Shogun awarded stipends to the four strongest Go players. Later these stipends were extended to the players' heirs and so the four great Go schools, Honinbo, Hayashi, Inoue and Yasue, were founded. Over the next 250 years, the intense rivalry among these schools brought about a great improvement in the standard of play. A ranking system was set up, classifying professional players into 9 grades or dans, of which the highest was Meijin, meaning 'expert'. This title could be held by only one person at a time, and was awarded only if one player out-classed all his contemporaries.

The most significant advances in Go theory were made in the 1670's by the Meijin Dosaku, who was the fourth head of the Honinbo School, and possibly the greatest Go player in history. The House of Honinbo was by far the most successful of the four Go Schools, producing more Meijins than the other three schools put together.

The whole structure of professional Go in Japan was undermined in 1868, when the Shogunate collapsed and the Emperor was restored to power. The Go colleges lost their funding as the westernization of Japanese society took hold. Today, the main organization of professional Go players in Japan is the Nihon Kiin, which increasingly fosters interest in the game throughout the world. There are magazines and over 100 books in print in English and over sixty countries compete in the annual World Amateur Go Championship.

Go in the Far East today
The most important Go playing countries in the Far East are Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, all of which maintain communities of professional players. Major tournaments in these countries attract sponsorship from large companies, and have a following like that of big sporting events here. Until relatively recently, the strongest players from Korea and China tended to go to Japan as professionals. Today, they are more likely to remain in their own countries where they become national heroes. There are perhaps 50 million Go players in the Far East, and many people who don't play still follow the game with keen interest.

On his retirement in 1938, Honinbo Shusai ceded his title to the Nihon Kiin, to be awarded in an annual tournament among all leading players. Since then other major contests have been introduced, the most important being the Meijin and Kisei tournaments. There has recently been a big increase in the popularity of Go in Japan, particularly among the young due to a very successful cartoon called Hikaru no Go. There are about 10 million Go players in Japan, some 500 of whom are professional.

In its original homeland, Go is known as Wei Qi which means 'surrounding game'. Go in China developed more slowly than in Japan, and during the Cultural Revolution the game suffered through being regarded as an intellectual pursuit. Since then, the Chinese players have caught up with the Japanese once more. Wei Qi is now taught in many schools, and tournaments are held throughout the country. There is also the annual match between China and Japan which is followed with great interest. With the opening up of China, Chinese professionals are now frequent visitors at European Go tournaments.

"Go" in a simplified font as used in mainland China, and in a traditional font as used in Hong Kong

Here Go is known as Baduk and is very popular. Koreans have a reputation for playing very fast. Fast or not, they are producing some of the world's strongest players. China and Korea both have growing populations of very strong young players, a phenomenon which bodes well for the future development of the game.

Go in Europe
Although the game of Go had been described by western travellers to the Far East in the 17th century, it was not played in Europe until 1880, when a German, Oskar Korschelt, wrote a book about the game. After this some Go was played in Germany and Yugoslavia. However, the game was slow to spread and it was not until 1957 that the first regular European Championship was held.

Nowadays, Go is played in most European countries. The standard of play is significantly below that of the top players in the Far East, but the gap is steadily closing as more of the top European players spend time studying the game in Japan. Some even stay on as professionals. In 1992, a European Go Centre was opened in Amsterdam with support from Iwamoto Kaoru (then the world's oldest active professional at 90 years of age).

Go in Britain
Go has been played in Britain for at least 100 years, but was not played on an organized basis until the 1950s when the British Go Association (BGA) was formed. Today, Go players are numbered in thousands. There are over 50 Go clubs throughout Britain, and the standard of play compares reasonably with the rest of Europe. Matthew Macfadyen, Britain's top player in recent years, has won the European Championship four times.

A British Championship and a British Youth Championship are held every year, and there are Go tournaments throughout the country. These often attract upwards of a hundred players, including many beginners and young players. An open British Go Congress has been held at a different venue each year since 1968 and the London Open is one of the major events in the Europe-wide Toyota-Pandanet Tour.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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The Go board and pieces

A traditional Go board is wooden, with black painted lines. The stones are flat and fit closely together when placed on adjacent intersections.
Players 2
Age range 5+
Setup time No setup needed
Playing time 10 minutes to 7 hours
Random chance None
Skills required Strategy, Observation

Go is a board game for two players. It is also known as Weiqi in Chinese (Hanzi: 圍棋,围棋), Igo in Japanese (Kanji: 囲碁), and Baduk in Korean (Hangul:바둑). Go originated in ancient China before 500 BC. It is now popular throughout the world, especially in East Asia.

Go is played by alternately placing black and white stones on the vacant intersections of a 19×19 rectilinear grid. A stone or a group of stones is captured and removed if it is tightly surrounded by stones of the opposing color. The objective is to control a larger territory than the opponent by placing one's stones so they cannot be captured. The game ends and the score is counted when both players consecutively pass on a turn, indicating that neither side can increase its territory or reduce its opponent's; the game can also end by resignation.

Of course my biggest problem is finding some one to play go with, so I figure If I have a board and stone fellow players will turn up. I am going to get a shirt with a go problem on it so others will recognize that I "know"(ha,ha) how to play to increase my chances of finding folks to play Go.

If your a player keep your eyes out for me, I need the practice and help to gain ranking.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon

Carl Sagan

Billions and billions are expected to participate. Bryan & Dave say,

The Carl Sagan Blog-A-Thon commemorates the 10th anniversary of Dr. Sagan's death (December 20): Link. In conjunction with the blog-a-thon, we created as a place for people who don't have their own blogs, but would like to participate. Aside from testimonial we have received original art and songs from worldwide Sagan fans who range from students to professors and pilots to musicians.

Also: Novelist and screenwriter Nick Sagan is one of Carl Sagan's sons, and he has a blog: Link.

Update: Nick Sagan tells BoingBoing,

For more information on the subject, here's Cornell University's Chronicle Online on the blog-a-thon. Here's what I've said on my blog.

Nick is a grown-up now, but here's what he sounded like as a kid:

Audio link.
had the
At age six, Nick Sagan's greeting, "Hello from the children of planet Earth," was recorded and placed aboard the NASA Voyager Interstellar Record. Launched with a selection of terrestrial greetings, sights, sounds and music, the Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft have since left the solar system; they are now the most distant human-made objects in the universe.

Apart from being a great scientist and educator, Carl Sagan appears to have been the Coolest Dad Ever. (tip of the hat to Boing Boing for the fact)

My personal encounter with Carl Sagan happened on Jan 5th or 23rd, 1987 when I had the honor of being arrested with him and his wife at the Nevada Test Site. Also arrested that day was Lester Grinspoon. Robert Blake. Martin Sheen was scheduled to be arrested but, that morning on"Good Morning, America" He announced that he was going to be arrested at the Nevada Test Site, later that day. When he crossed the Nye county line he was arrested on conspiracy charges.

This was my first Big time Anti-Nuclear Protest "The Test Ban Caravan" which was put on by "The American Peace Test"

After a large rally, we were told to let the celebrity's get arrested first, the the regular folks, but I was feeling antsy and ending up being the seventh person arrested, we spent several hours getting processes at the Beatty,NV High school multi- media room and as one of the first got to spend time with Carl and his wife and had interesting conservations for a few hours. I remember asking if he ever thought of running for President and he just laughed. This is my favorite memory of Carl Sagan.

This incident was the turning point for me to become a full time Anti-Nuclear Activist, with in a couple months I was involved full time in anti nuclear activities (I was pro solar)and in next year moved to the "On going Anti-Nuclear Peace Camp" where I lived and was arrested multiple hundreds of times, as were many others and spent some of the best times of my life. Thanks Carl for the memories that you unlocked in my mind, and thank you for the goodness that you did for the whole human race, with your life work and Television series. Thanks for all that you have done and the sparks of inquiry you put in many people's mind. Thanks, gregor