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April 23, 2012

Game of Thrones - Who do you cheer for?

As fantasy heroes go there are the Aragorns (the stereotypical prince in waiting), the Tanis Half-Elvens (the wise leaders), the Conans (the barbarian warlords)...

But with the book series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin and the TV show Game of Thrones (named after the first book in the series) you aren't quite sure which characters you are supposed to cheer for.

If you look at the cast of characters the following are obvious choices of characters to cheer for:

Jon Snow (the bastard son of Ned Stark, unknowingly pitted against frozen zombies and wights).
Arya Stark (on the run and pretending to be a boy).
Catelyn Stark (bent on vengence and saving her daughters).
Sansa Stark (captured and under constant watch).
Rob Stark (on the war path and engaged to a Frey daughter).
Brandon Stark (crippled and having strange dreams where he is his wolf).
Danaerys Stormborn Targaryen (the Mother of Dragons and looking for an army).

But there are other people worth cheering for if you pay attention.

#1. Tyrion Lannister

An unlikely hero since he is part of the enemy Lannisters, but unlike his sister and his father he has a sense of morality and a kinship with downtrodden.

#2. Samwell Tarly

You may think he is a minor character, but in reality Sam gets a lot of face time. Sam may be cowardly at first, but he is growing bolder and more determined.

#3. Jaime Lannister

Again, like his brother, he is part of the Lannister family and responsible for making Bran a cripple... but he has some redeeming features and being held captive seems to have made him more philosophical. It will be interesting to watch how his personality changes with time.

#4. Brienne of Tarth

She may look like a minor character right now, but expect great things from the Maid of Tarth. She is a poster child for tomboys and feminists everywhere.

#5. Hodor!

Hodor doesn't say much, but he rocks anyway. For fun I recommend shouting HODOR! every time he gets to say something.

The thing about Game of Thrones however is that in addition to being a more realistic fantasy story, its also a bit like a soap opera. (And if you read the books, very long winded.)

As novels go Game of Thrones can be quite disappointing when you consider the books are so long. Yes, the characters are interesting, but the plot is so slow it feels like they rarely accomplish anything.

In contrast books like Robert E. Howard's "The Phoenix on the Sword" (a Conan novel) or Charles Moffat's epic story "The Paladin Assassin" give way more bang for your time, effort and money. But there is a huge difference in terms of style and approach there. Both Howard and Moffat are fans of the central hero, in these examples the barbarian Conan and the assassin Wynic Doxon, and its pulp fantasy / epic fantasy.

But there is 1 major similarity between George R. R. Martin, Robert E. Howard and Charles Moffat... they all deal with world's that have low magic. Most Conan stories don't even have magic. Usually its just some big beast and some baddies to kill. Moffat's Crimson Companions Trilogy has no magic at all (with the exception of a few legendary weapons). George R. R. Martin's books actually have a decent amount of magic in comparison to the latter.

April 19, 2012

Canadians cure cancer???

In 2009 Canadian scientists cured cancer with an unpatented drug known as DCA... but because there is no patent nobody wants to complete the research on DCA and send it to market because it won't make pharmaceutical companies a profit.


The clip below is from 2009. So yeah, the drug has gone nowhere. You would think people would make more of a fuss about a drug that cures cancer, but apparently if its not profitable nobody wants it.

Research in Motion may be sold to competitor

Research in Motion (RIM) has hired an investment banker, sparking strong rumours that RIM may be sold to a competitor.

The list of interested competitors include Microsoft, Facebook and Google. As the makers of the popular BlackBerry RIM would be a nice purchase for a company wishing to increase their market share.

Samsung and Nokia might also be interested in buying RIM. At this point its all rumour, but time will tell.

India launches missile capable of reaching Europe

India has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile that can reach Eastern Europe and Beijing, placing India amongst other nations that can deploy nuclear weapons at such a great distance.

Countries like Russia, the USA, Britain, Israel, Iran, North Korea and China.

Footage showed the rocket with a range of more than 5,000 km blasting through clouds from an island off India’s east coast. The rocket reached its target in the Indian Ocean.

The defence minister said the test was “immaculate.”

The launch, which was announced and flagged well in advance, has attracted none of the negative criticism from the West faced by hermit state North Korea for a failed bid to send up a similar rocket last week.

Years ago North Korea tested a rocket that splashed down near Hawaii, proving they have the technology to launch nukes at Hawaii or Alaska from mainland North Korea. The North Koreans have been trying to repeat that success on a further target.

Toronto blogger trading for a condo

Toronto blogger Charles Moffat started off small... a Hot Wheels 2008 Dodge Challenger worth $2. But he has a lofty goal called QUEST FOR A CONDO.

He is planning to trade the Hot Wheels car for a condo, but not all at once. He is trading it for something else, and something else, and eventually (after an estimated 17 trades) he should be able to trade it for a condo.

He is only on trade 2 now, but he is already up to a value of $56.

His first trade was with Brampton real estate agent Ryan Anderson, who traded him a Mastercraft Digital Multimeter Kit (usually used by electricians and electrical engineers).

In theory if he keeps trading for other things people don't need and the value keeps going up, plus the added viral component of his website, he will eventually make it to the condo. It might take him 20 trades or more, but its doable.

Blogger Kyle MacDonald did a similar thing in 2005. He started with a red paperclip and eventually got a farmhouse in Saskatechewan.

So it has been done before, but a condo in Toronto isn't cheap. The average price for a condo in downtown Toronto is $360,000.

I say more power to him! If he can pull it off he deserves it.

April 17, 2012

Tiny Dragon found in Indonesia

TECHNOLOGY - What you are looking at is not photo shop. Its a "gliding lizard", a new species that has been discovered in Indonesia and resembles a tiny dragon.

No, it doesn't have a tiny pile of gold nor does it attack tiny miniature castles and carry off princesses... but it might be attacking ant hills and eating insects.

This photo is of a nesting female found in the Lambsuango Forest reserve and was immediately released after this photograph was taken.

To learn more just google 'gliding lizard' (there are 15 distinct species of gliding lizards), mostly found in South East Asia. This one is believed to be a new species within the same genus.

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