Free men are not equal, equal men are not free.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Cruxshadows - a few more songs

Next up, as I started digging into the Cruxshadows - and no, not all sources were originally legit, though iTunes already existed so I started buying the albums once I was satisfied with a few songs - "Seraphs" caught my eye. Especially the Revox Lost Souls mix.



My body's made of fire
black and deep and cold
burning for the choice i made
so many years ago
And love will keep me tethered
for my wings are stripped of flight
but into my mad deluded world
they cross the battle lines
into their end
One dream of God
One dream of less
one dream of strength and cowardice
with the rage of the seraphs at my side
One dream of man
one dream of hate
one dream of love
one dream of hate
with the rage of the seraphs at my side
The punishments I carry now
are of my own design
for once I brought the hand of God
and now this gift is mine 

A fallen angel who once stood among the holy host and now is cast out, in punishment.

Next up, a strange piece, apparently written for an album inspired by the RPG Vampire: the Masquerade.


The Words:

She cries, children often do
When they're cold, and hungry too,
Come closer, look deeply in her eyes
So delicate, quite unlike her smile

Life clinging backwards,
In the fall of dread confusion,
Still this silence gnaws upon your fingertips,
All-yielding prayer, for instant isolation,
Far more sinister than the price of doubt,

Yet you remain,
Still you remain,

And she says:
Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception,

Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception...

Life clinging backwards,
In the fall of dread confusion,
Still this silence gnaws upon your fingertips,
All-yielding prayer, for instant isolation,
Far more sinister than the price of doubt,

Yet you remain,
Still you remain,

And she says:
Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception,

Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception...

(Violin solo)

Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception,

Pray for daylight,
Pray for morning,
Pray for an end to our deception...
(X3)

This one actually has a fair bit to unpack - but it's an interestingly creepy song about a girl vampire on the hunt.


Last up, "Marilyn, My Bitterness." Yeah, it's your typical breakup song, but it's still got cool music.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Digging into the Golden Rule

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

Simple enough. Those of us in the west have heard it before, and likely have heard one of the common versions from other cultures.

From Buddhism: Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.

From the Talmud: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men.  That is
         the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.

It is important to note though: the majority of other versions are negative, proscriptive, whereas the commonly stated Christian version is positive - it tells you how to act, what to target.

There are several key things that that brings about.

First of all - what you focus on is going to shape your behavior and thoughts toward that. If you focus on avoiding a problem, you're not looking for a path to a solution. For that matter, focusing on that negative may very well cause you to self-sabotage. 

When athletes visualize how they'll sprint, lift weights, or throw a ball, they focus on how they'll successfully do it, not on how not to screw up. Among other things, the set of workable solutions is much smaller and easier to focus on.

More importantly to me right now though, is the relationship this has to game theory, the iterated prisoner's dilemma, and what Stefan Molyneux refers to as universally preferable preferences. This is important because there are several common criticisms of the golden rule that boil down to, among other arguments,  about "but a prisoner", and "I don't know what he would want."

You see - if your actions are not avoidant, but instead, you're treating others as you expect to be treated in turn in a reciprocal moral framework, then how you treat others is a map for what you consider acceptable behavior.

But what if they don't think it's reciprocal? What if they're borderlines, or malignant narcissists, or convinced they're god?

So?

A man willing to abuse those he has power over is advertising that he cannot be trusted until you establish that you won't accept that behavior. A man who proves he's not willing to work under rules you can both agree to is taking himself outside of the requirement to be treated well under those rules. This is where the prisoner's dilemma comes in. 

The winning strategy is to open with the co-operative choice - treating the other party as you would wish to be treated in turn, and establishing what your standards are for dealing with each other. If the other party screws you over, they've just advertised that they're perfectly willing to take advantage of you. At that point, you hammer them until they start playing fair. At the extreme end, well, rabid dogs won't get any better. It doesn't matter if they understand why they're trying to bite you.

This isn't just tit for tat - they're establishing what they consider their standard for conduct even if they cannot or will not articulate it, speak it. All you're doing is applying their own standards to them.

Col. Kratman has noted before in his blog posts, and commentary on his Carrerra books, that for the laws of war to work, there has to be a mechanism for reprisals. In short, if the enemy won't wear a uniform of sorts, uses hospitals, ambulances, and schools as defensive positions, etc., if they demonstrate that they're not willing to "play fair," - there is no reason to play fair in turn.

But, I wouldn't want people hurting me!

Let me ask you this then.

A bully advertises they're willing to use force to get what they want. They're not likely to stop just because someone asks nicely. Is it any more moral to proclaim through your actions and choices that you're willing to be beaten and be stolen from because you won't hurt those who clearly are fine with doing you harm?

Are you willing to demonstrate that you accept the strong and abusive taking advantage of those they deem weaker?

But what about hierarchies of authority, or a judge condemning a prisoner?

OK. So?

No, the prisoner is not being treated how he'd "like" to be treated at that moment - but that didn't stop him from robbing someone, or killing someone, or beating someone earlier, did it? By his choices he demonstrated that he is willing to take life, time, or property from other people against their will. 

I'll leave aside honest human error, but if a judge is abusing justice, sentencing a man in a kangaroo court, then he declares that justice is not his priority either. A commander who abuses his troops advertises that it's perfectly OK for his superiors to abuse him.

Take a look at the parable of the unforgiving servant
Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?"

Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But because he couldn't pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!' The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

"But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!'

"So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you!' He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him in, and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?' His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don't each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."
Does this sound like "don't imprison the guy who owes you no matter what because you wouldn't want to be imprisoned?"

No.

The master forgave the servant. Yet, when the servant showed that not only had he no mercy himself, but was willing to abuse others over petty things, the master rescinded his mercy. The wicked servant displayed what his moral standards were, and so the master - though he first gave the guy a chance - treated him according to the standards he displayed.

Vox complains, rightly, that many who quote scripture do so incompletely or without the context of the rest of the bible. If turning the other cheek was meant to act like a welcome mat, if the golden rule was meant to prevent you from ever doing something someone else would find painful, you wouldn't have the parable of the servants, Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip, or ordering his disciples to sell their cloaks for swords.

Update: It just occurred to me that this also ties into "SJW's always project"

Review: Blame

What do you get when you cross Gregory Benford's Great Sky River with a spaghetti western?

Blame.


A brief voiceover gives us the setting. In the far, far future where humanity lost the ability to communicate with the city it constructed, that they lived in, and so the city deemed them illegal residents, and began to exterminate humanity. Our story starts generations later.

An aside. Yes. Given the word choice, I'm sure some people would love to make it about the current immigration kerfluffle, but keep in mind this is a Japanese comic from 20-30 years ago, and Japan isn't exactly an immigration capital even now. Also, it's not the first to posit total war between man and machine - Saberhagen's Berzerker stories come to mind, as well as the future of the Terminator movies, of course.

The action starts right away - you see a small team of people scurrying through giant metal caverns and claustrophobic spaces, in search of a new food source for their village - these details being picked up over several minutes from hints dropped in conversation. The team is composed of kids, teens, and if that fact itself didn't show their desperation, it's later reinforced.

They get in trouble...

...and are rescued by a quiet, almost speechless man calling himself "Killy" - who is searching for humans with the net terminal gene.

Already, the similarities with Great Sky River show up - the desperate straights of the dwindling human population that found a sanctuary of sorts, but must still forage in the world of the machines to get by, living like rats in the walls in constant fear of being found, of their sanctuary broken.

And the westerns - a lone stranger shows up, rescuing the hunting party from the "safeguard". Back at the village, he brings with him the chance to survive, to secure a source of food, and perhaps return the city to human control. And so a team of villagers set out.

And so - through numerous twists I won't spoil - the village is brought to the brink of disaster, yet saved, and the lone stranger wanders off on his quest, never to be seen again.

The action sequences are amazing. The 3d-rendered shading style has vastly improved over efforts I'd seen in the past. The characters are memorable, with the competent and wise village leader, "pops" and his dutiful, competent son, are both noteworthy. Despite a few infodumps, they are short, added only as needed, and the personalities are drawn out with economy and clarity.

Well worth watching.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Leftism's Strange, Procrustean Bed

I've mentioned before - socialism is evil. I'll go further. Leftism is a death cult of the mind, of the spirit, of thought, and finally, of bodies. Jordan Peterson can indeed argue that post-modernism didn't come about until the 70's - which explains why, even as murderous as they were, the leftism of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were at least coherent, and so were their followers in the west - but I would argue that while it may not have gone off the rails until then, the seeds were there, and it was inevitable.

And as has been repeatedly noted: they eat their own.

First, Procrustes.
In the Greek myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on Mount Korydallos at Erineus, on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. There he had a bed, in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, and where he set to work on them with his smith's hammer, to stretch them to fit. In later tellings, if the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fit the bed exactly. Procrustes continued his reign of terror until he was captured by Theseus, travelling to Athens along the sacred way, who "fitted" Procrustes to his own bed
Leftism isn't a true Procrustean bed - they don't generally stretch people to fit. As long as your ideology, your beliefs fit within the current "bed" - you're safe. Woe betide thee if your beliefs don't fit - if an ideological limb hangs over. You better be able to curl up and keep those limbs over the mattress, never stretching out, or they'll be lopped off. In the real world, you're imprisoned, hammered down, and if a sufficient example needs to be made of you, killed. 

But here's the rub. The size of the bed is determined by beliefs, procedures, policies that will supposedly bring utopia - an ideal society, where everyone is equal. But, equality is a myth - the best we can hope for is something close to an equality of opportunity. Give a hundred kids from the same socioeconomic background, age, gender, etc. a huge box of legos, and no two will build the same thing. Some will not play at all. Some will build houses, some will build bridges, and excepting maybe a copycat, they will all be different. Kids have different insights, different spatial awareness, different interests, different desires. 

So given the freedom to try anything they want, some will be doctors, some will be farmers, some will be gardeners, some will be plumbers. Some will never have the interest and intelligence to become programmers, to model the world in that fashion. Start factoring in the observable differences in interest between men and women,for example, and suddenly the demographic breakdown of any job in society is not going to look like the demographic breakdown of the region.

Add to that people change, and sometimes even still learn, as they grow. The desired outcome is not achieved. Obviously, either we have enemies of the people, or the policies, what's allowed, are not pure enough. In either case, the ideology is purified and made smaller. Words are redefined to attempt to make a tail a leg. 

The size of the bed shrinks. A more careful watch is kept for stray limbs to keep things that don't fit from corrupting the result. Suddenly, those who comfortably fit within the ideological bed while still keeping a conscience, still applying their own standards of what is true or not, find themselves at odds with the new outlook. What was fine yesterday, or a year ago, no longer is. At first, it's just shaming, but history shows it always ends in blood as those with the power to choose struggle to maintain more and tighter control.

Since people never will fit into assigned boxes very well, it will never stop.

The people we've seen recently pushing back on the left include a number who even ten years ago would have been comfortably ensconced in the "liberal" side of the spectrum, and unthinkingly accepting the leftist worldview that has poisoned our institutions. The constant redefinition, the attacks, and the changing standards have caused them to wake up in small part. No, many are still liberal, but they realize there is something deeply wrong with where the left is, even if they don't recognize it was inevitable. Dave Rubin comes to mind. The Bernie-voting professor mobbed by students angrily shouting for his resignation because he wasn't going to go along with a "day of absence" does as well. Despite the words of Reagan spotlighting this trend for decades, despite the history of multiple revolutions such as the French revolution, most didn't realize the left had changed until they themselves were attacked.

And so, day by day, as the left loses touch with reality and insists that the emperor is indeed wearing clothes, more and more see it for the vicious and deadly thing that it is. And though we should never trust a "moderate" or a recent convert with leadership of the fight against the left, the globalists, the left offers them no chance to stay out of it, indeed forces them to choose sides.

Their mask isn't just slipping, they are taking it off to scare us. 

be not afraid.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Snowflake Day

Courtesy of the Didact, he finds a millenial who writes:
Sure, some Millennials are guilty of being entitled. But turn on the news, and you’ll see some bigly examples of entitled, narcissistic Baby Boomers. Every generation is diverse. But at 75 million people, Millennials are the biggest, most diverse generation in the nation. We’re also the most educated. We know human-caused climate change is real. We know why the Civil War started. We know what Aleppo is.

But society has a lot of misunderstandings about Gen Y. We’re overflowing with ideas to shake up our workplaces and make them more creative, collaborative, meaningful, meritocratic, and fun. And since we’ve grown up in a fast-paced world, we’re impatient to have an impact. So people say we’re entitled upstarts who don’t want to put in our dues. We want to collect experiences, not possessions. So people accuse us of being unambitious. We want immediate feedback more than an annual bonus. So people complain we need constant praise. We like to use (and invent) technological short-cuts. So people call us lazy. We post selfies on social media because we value connections with others. So we’re labeled “self-obsessed.”

We’re sick of the stereotypes. We want to counteract the fake news and bust the myths about Millennials. We want to be recognized for who we really are.
Uh. OK. Isn't that special? The degree of sheer ignorance here is astonishing.

"you’ll see some bigly examples of entitled, narcissistic Baby Boomers" - yes, you will. A lot of examples. And that's why not only a fair chunk of millennials, but the rest of us post-boomer crowd generally dislike them as well. Two wrong's don't make a right - and the writer, for all they want to be taken seriously as a "real" grown-up, is already displaying his childishness.

"We’re also the most educated" - confusing time spent in school with an education. Look at the reviews of this 6th grade reader from 1914. That also leaves aside necessary skills no longer taught at schools.

"We know human-caused climate change is real" - science is a process, not simply a body of "facts". The latter are subject to change, either because we learn or develop better models for the physical world, or because people make up facts to suit their biases. We know for a fact the lead researchers into climate science aren't following a truth-finding process, but are instead interested in hiding the decline, not giving out the raw data because it may be used to dispute them, and developing computer models that get the desired result even if fed a flat line series.We also know the predictions made have not come to pass, and that the lead proponents of "it's all our fault" cannot tell us how much of an impact we have.  I strongly recommend reading "The Skeptical Environmentalist" if one gets a chance.

"We know why the Civil War started. We know what Aleppo is" - Yet most of them don't know what evil is shared by Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot. Or why postmodernism is a worldview that leads to the death of the mind, of cultures, and people. Do they understand why the horrors of the French revolution were inevitable given the driving ideology? They know what they've been told on why the civil war started, but likely haven't dug into the diaries of the figures involved at all, or looked at sources that contradict those claims. And Aleppo? Who cares? It's a way to take cheap political digs at non-leftists (even if Johnson is an idiot). In a decade another city will be important, but the ongoing 1400-year war with Islam will still be going on. Do they know Vienna, Tours, Lepanto or why 1492 is significant beyond Columbus coming to the Americas and initiating an age of exploitation and ruin, or somesuch? Do they know Platea? Salamis? Thermopylae? Do they know the Anabasis? Do they truly understand the Magna Carta's significance in the rights of free Englishmen, in conceptually restraining the power of not only the king, but of government in general, as they scream for the government to assume more control over everyone else's lives?

"But society has a lot of misunderstandings about Gen Y. We’re overflowing with ideas to shake up our workplaces and make them more creative, collaborative, meaningful, meritocratic, and fun. And since we’ve grown up in a fast-paced world, we’re impatient to have an impact. So people say we’re entitled upstarts who don’t want to put in our dues." - One of the most disliked guys in a workplace is the new guy who comes in and starts wanting to change everything around without first understanding how things are actually working, and why. Respect has to be earned, and that takes time. Not all consequences of a change are immediately obvious, and understanding the second-order consequences of how things are working aren't either. Also, patience is a virtue, impatience... isn't. Change can be good. It can also be bad. So yeah - a guy who comes in without understanding what's going on and wants to change everything and gets upset that people don't get on board right away when he's not in charge and thus not responsible for the consequences of the change is an entitled upstart, and he's trying to handwave away the dues.

"We want to collect experiences, not possessions. So people accuse us of being unambitious." - if that was all, sure. But ambition isn't just about stuff. It's also about the willingness to take on responsibility, to guide and lead others. The author of this bit has a fundamental misunderstanding of ambition. Also, experiences are also ephermal. They are of no more value to one than what one can get out of the experience of using a possession. What about a legacy?

"We want immediate feedback more than an annual bonus. So people complain we need constant praise." - No, they complain you need constant praise because of how you deal with criticism.

"We like to use (and invent) technological short-cuts. So people call us lazy." - "Constructive laziness" is hardly a new concept.

"We post selfies on social media because we value connections with others. So we’re labeled “self-obsessed.” - Then connect with others. Show other people off at their best. Oh, wait, yet another picture of you doing something "awesome" or hanging out with your friends or that cool dish from some ethnic place? If one believes everything you post shows what you care about, then I have more respect for the food porn, especially if it's something you made, than of you being in the damn pics all the time.

All in all, a completely self-unaware portrayal showing that the author really is the child he insists, stomping his foot, that he is not.

The whole post is worth reading.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Girl Friday

Have a good weekend, guys.











Myth and Meaning

I was first introduced to Jordan Peterson on Stefan Molyneux's show. 



Jordan Peterson is an atheist. Regardless, unlike many, even if only on a mythological level, he has a far more understanding view of religion and the role it, or something like it, needs to play than many who are not believers, and a far deeper understanding of the symbology than many who are.

It's hours and hours of listening, but episodes 9, 10, 12, and 13 of his podcast, "Maps of Meaning" are well worth every minute. Casting further out, you'll also find him tearing apart modern social justice and postmodern thought - in fact, what brought him to the attention of the screeching SJW horde was his argument against personal pronouns.
Episode 9 – Maps of Meaning 1 – 3 
Episode 10 – Maps of Meaning 4 – 6 
Episode 12 – Maps of Meaning 7 – 9 
Episode 13 – Maps of Meaning 10 – 13


Two Bits of Awesome

What do you get when you mix the inherent awesome of Space Battleship Yamato with the inherent awesome of Sabaton?

An epic space battle set to the song "Midway."

Enjoy.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Slow Burns and Explosions

The difference between a fast fire and an explosive device can sometimes simply be that of whether or not the fire is contained. Thus the use of pressure cookers and pipes in explosives - to contain the explosion until it's sufficiently powerful, instead of burning out over time, or scattering itself uselessly. As the infogalactic article states:
The containment provided by the pressure cooker means that the energy from the explosion is confined until the pressure cooker itself explodes, creating a relatively large explosion using low explosives and generating potentially lethal shrapnel.
Something similar holds true with immigration, and what happened recently in Manchester. 

Yeah, I am, as Vox put it in a recent periscope, a civic nationalist in ideal. That said, even before the last few years I had far higher requirements for "let them in" than the majority of civic nationalists did - which I've elaborated on elsewhere. I concluded:
We can do it the relatively humane and low-friction way, getting rid of obvious troublemakers, not taking people in, expecting assimilation, and encouraging the rest to leave, or we can do it the really ugly, violent, high friction way. Or we can avoid rocking the boat, and in the end, go away, little but a memory. That said, if we don't choose a), low friction, then I believe we won't go away, and things will get very, very nasty indeed.
I also followed up a bit after Razorfist discussed the wall. 

So, pressure cookers?

Well, we have the option to let them out slowly, and fairly painlessly (I'm under no illusions there will not be fights and even some killing as people resist) by discouraging them, cutting off the benefits of being here, so that only the most die-hard stay, and stop them from trying to change our culture. We also have the option of pretending we don't have a problem - lock the lid on it and let the pressure build up until there are explosions of blood and violence.

The longer we cannot speak the truth, the longer we tolerate those who have no interest in joining us aside from taking our stuff and living like parasites off the largess of the culture we created, the more violent and sudden the explosion will be when it comes.

So, what inspired this? The excellent post here by the Didact. I've excerpted what brought this to mind, but read the whole thing.
They need to get out, permanently- preferably voluntarily, but by force if necessary. There is no place for Islam in the West, not any more. Enough is enough.

For their own good, for their own sake, for the sake of the people of the West and of Western civilisation itself, go, and do not come back.

Attacks like the one in Manchester have become a virtual fact of life to Europeans now- and sooner, not later, they will become so to Americans as well, unless Islam and its adherents are told in no uncertain terms to leave.

I do not make this claim lightly. Several of my co-workers are Muslim. A daughter of my family's very dear friends in London is married to a Muslim. Such folk have lived for decades and even generations outside of Muslim lands.

It is likely that I, too, would be caught up in a drive to push Islam out of the West. I am not white. I come from a country with a significant Muslim minority. I dress and act and sound entirely like a Westerner, but it would not be difficult to mistake me for a Muslim.

So when I say that Muslims need to leave, I want you to understand my full meaning. It has to happen, for the sake of peace.

Make no mistake, this will exact a terrible human cost. Those affected would in most cases be even less welcome in their nations of origin than in the West.

But if the alternative is to permit them to stay, and therefore to see yet more supposedly "British" young men fall prey to the siren song of Islam and slaughter yet more innocent girls, then it is clear that the only humane outcome is to cleanse the West of Islam's taint.

One way or another, that cleansing WILL happen. The lessons of history and the facts of human nature make this outcome absolutely and unequivocally certain. The only question is how much blood will be spilled in the process.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

When Morrissey Makes You Look Like a Pussy.

Morrissey back in the day was known for somewhat upbeat music about being very, very sad. Very sad. To the point that several comedians used that for fodder. This is of course as opposed to Robert Smith of the Cure and downbeat music about being so, very very sad.

So, when Morrissey is calling people out for being a bunch of pussies...
Celebrating my birthday in Manchester as news of the Manchester Arena bomb broke. The anger is monumental.

For what reason will this ever stop?

Theresa May says such attacks "will not break us", but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues. Also, "will not break us" means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken - thanks all the same, Theresa. Sadiq Khan says "London is united with Manchester", but he does not condemn Islamic State - who have claimed responsibility for the bomb. The Queen receives absurd praise for her 'strong words' against the attack, yet she does not cancel today's garden party at Buckingham Palace - for which no criticism is allowed in the Britain of free press. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an "extremist". An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?

In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private. Politicians tell us they are unafraid, but they are never the victims. How easy to be unafraid when one is protected from the line of fire. The people have no such protections.
Back in the day I was more of a Cure fan than the Smiths/Morrissey, but he had singing chops.

It also looks like he's managed to grow up a bit. That said, given his sexuality, perhaps he, like Milo, is a little more aware of who most wants to kill him.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Soft Targets

A long, long time ago, I read a book by Dean Ing called "Soft Targets."

In it, an interesting solution to terrorism was proposed. Laugh at them.

No, nut just laugh at them of course, but stop treating them in the news/etc. as monsters, but as fools, dunces, etc.

Of course, in the story, several agents were nonetheless doing their best to prevent attacks, and if not entirely successful at first, caused enough issues with various attempts to make it easy to label the terrorists losers, clowns, etc.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, today, Scott Adams noted a new bit of persuasion unlimbered by the God Emperor.
As you know, “annihilation” of the Losers in Loserdom won’t stop the loser’s ideas from spreading. You still have to kill the ideas. And that takes persuasion, not bullets. President Trump just mapped out the persuasion solution: Evil Losers.

Quickly, name one other way you could label/insult the Losers that would be as powerful as the word Loser. You can’t do it with any other name or insult that is also repeatable in polite company.

What kinds of people join the Losers? Mostly young males. And you know what brand young males do not want on them? Right: Losers.

If you call them monsters, they like it. If you call them ISIS or ISIL they put it on a flag and wave it around. If you call them non-Muslim, it just rolls off their backs because they have Korans and stuff. Almost any other “brand” you can imagine is either inert or beneficial to Loser recruitment.

Loser is different. No one joins the Loser movement.





Monday, May 22, 2017

A little Metal

I was out of town on short notice to deal with some family issues, and my ISP decided, while I was gone, to bollix up internet access. That said, if only courtesy of the Didact, I still have something to post.

Go look at today's metal selection, you'll likely find something you'll like. I'll certainly be looking into more Unleash the Archers.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hear Hear!

Ah, the space opera kerfluffle, cause in part by Tor celebrating space opera by having articles written on it by a person who doesn't like it, and by others who don't get why "opera."

The latest entry, with some insight.
Science fiction is about fiction and space opera is about opera. If people want to read about science or space, there are plenty of non-fiction books, magazines and journals to choose from. If people want to delve into ordinary human drama, they just have to live ordinary lives or pick up lit fic. The science in science fiction makes the fiction fun, and the space in space opera is the setting for the opera. 
Science fiction is not about dragging readers through muck and demanding they derive pleasure from it. Science fiction turns their eyes to the stars, and space opera takes them there. Space opera is about opera: the glory, the terror, the joy, the horror, the sorrow and the wonder that awaits the intrepid starman who dares to brave the infinite expanse.
Go read the thing already.

On Lasers and Spaceships and Explosions

Jon Del Arroz just posted over at superversive on space operas.
It’s #SpaceOperaWeek and I can think of no better way to launch my first regular Superversive column than to celebrate the genre in which I write and love. I’ll be doing more top fives as they feel appropriate, but as a writer of Space Opera, it makes a lot of sense to launch in celebration of some of my greatest influences. Naturally, these are just my opinions, so I expect outrage, disagreement, fist shaking, and the like at my choices. Just know that you’re wrong. It says definitive in the title, and we all know the internet never lies. 
Without further ado, your Space Opera Top Five!
While I'm sure some would have a few alternate suggestions, I'd say by and large they're all solid choices. No, I'm not a huge fan of the Vorkosigan books, but they're pretty entertaining, as are Elizabeth Moon's books.

Of the three I wholeheartedly recommend: 

The Hyperion Cantos. Dan Simmons gives Gene Wolfe a run for the money for "literary" and still writing compelling stories, though Simmons takes it more in the self-conscious direction. Hyperion very deliberately borrows from the structure of Canterbury Tales. Poetry and poems feature prominently, along with literary analysis of them. His Ilium includes space-roving artificial intelligences that analyze Shakespeare's sonnets. He's also guilty of badthink in the form of a time travel short story.

The Thrawn trilogy by Tim Zahn is everything that the prequels and sequels to the "original" Star Wars trilogy wished they could be.

And Lensmen - I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that, in addition to everything Jon mentions, we have massive fleet battles, and planets used as weapons as entire galaxies go to war.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Know Your Enemy

We've all seen it before. The left, especially SJW's, like to call their enemies stupid, ignorant, bigoted, etc.. The old gag goes that "racist" is what a liberal calls you when he lost the argument, and Scott Adams certainly puts his own spin on it, and expands on it a bit.

The problem is that eventually, you start to believe it, and I certainly know a few people who sincerely believe Trump goes around grabbing pussies, etc., as if they never heard of groupies, or parsed the actual words.

So, again, the NY Times and David Brooks...
We've got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.
There's the Sun Tzu saw about if you don't know your enemy... well, not being aware of an enemy's strengths or actual weaknesses is not knowing one's enemy. The problem with narcissistic/borderline "splitting" is that once someone is bad, they're all bad, and there's no "good" or respectable traits - thery're all seen as defending the indefensible.

The literally cannot imagine Trump is smart, because he doesn't talk like them, despite having gone through Wharton school of business at U Penn in a day and age that it was absolutely, provably, a challenge.

More Monster Hunting Goodness

Larry Correia, International Lord of Hate and Mountain who Walks, has a new short story out from an upcoming collection of weird west tales. It's about Bubba Shackleford, the founder of MHI, and it's available online for free.

He also rates Iron Fist a resounding "meh".

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seth McFarlane, Computer Updates, and Iron

In no particular order...

First, over at the reach, the Didact talks weightlifting, and fitness, and how it helps out in life.
We endure the pain and soreness, the exhaustion, the nagging injuries caused by past poor form, the commitment of time and effort, because the iron has repaid our initial investment in it a thousandfold. It has transformed us physically, mentally, and spiritually. 
There is a calmness and a peace to be found in the steel. The barbell takes away our inner pain and exorcises our demons, and replaces these negative things with the feeling of bestial triumph that comes from lifting just a little more than we thought we could in the previous session.
On a lesser note, it looks like Seth McFarlane has a new project, a TV show called The Orville that looks like a joyless attempt to capture the utter magic of Galaxy Quest.

If it's anything as cringe-inducing as a million ways I wish he'd die in the west... 

Well, look at the picture.


Last but not least, I've manage to scrape together a fairly respectable computer out of various spare parts. Nothing that will run VR, but the graphics card is just shy and still more new than the SSD drive I bought to install windows on after I got the case, power supply, etc. together and a boot issue tracked down to two of the RAM sticks. 

I'm not that impressed with Windows 10. It's not the utter suck 8.0 was, does a few things better than Windows 7, a few things worse, but is still lacking compared to my Mac or Linux Mint. a year ago I'd have installed 7 but since I'm starting clean I don't want to deal with "upgrades" later, and would rather skip any version of 8.

Item the first, what moron made firing up a VPN even more complicated than it used to be? On a Mac I can click one menubar item, then one item in the dropdown. Similarly linux for L2TP as well. Short of playing games with batch files and shortcuts, it takes 4-5 clicks by default in different areas. It gets annoying very fast given there are about twelve sites I VPN into.

At least openVPN is still a two-click affair. 

Most of the applications I use have a reasonable equivalent, but I'm glad I'm not ditching my laptop anytime soon as I'll really, really miss Day One.

At least Sublime Text is available.

It's also nice they have Bash available, but the hoops to jump through to get the fish shell working aren't worth it yet. 

Anyways, enjoy.

Those Who Forget The Past.

Yes, I know there's usually a "doomed to repeat it" that follows it, but frankly, of the coterie over at Tor, etc. could manage to repeat the great works of the past, or something that rhymes, it would be a vast improvement.

Jon Del Arroz takes a couple stabs at why this problem exists, and closes with this.
And it comes down to the Cult of the New. Because Anne is no longer with us (may God have mercy on her eternal soul!), there’s nothing “new” about Anne’s work. It’s from an age past, something to be forgotten by the current cultural elite that want to erase history. Older works are things to read “before we knew better” to them. To them, our elders are people to be put into old folks home and forgotten about so they don’t disturb us, rather than revered as they should be. As a consequence, there’s no respect for true greatness because the great works are discarded. 
Tor wrote an article on space opera today for their space opera week wondering why no one talks about Leigh Brackett, CL Moore and Andre Norton. Is it because they’re anti-woman? the author posited. No, it’s because of this, the lack of care for anything that didn’t drop to stands this week. 
It’s horrible. And this is why the Hugo Awards are in such a tarnished state in a nutshell. Who in Science Fiction would want to be associated with that?  This is another reason why our fandom is dying. We need serious reform not just in the big publishing houses and markets — but in our souls.
Anything in the last 15 years is more relevant than everything Anne McCaffrey's done? Imagine. Space Raptor Butt  is relevant, but American Gods, Game of Thrones, and Anne, who was still writing less than 15 years ago, aren't.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How Reviews SHOULD Be Written

I stand in awe.

As I already commented the other day, "this review makes me want to watch the movie."

What movie? King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Yeah, that. Saw the trailers and it looked like a hacked together bit of CGI with little respect for the source material or the viewer.

Saw go read the whole review, but I'll give you a taste - for I'm utterly floored, and applaud, the writing, and sheer enthusiasm that comes off the page.
Ritchie does not mess about (this will be a theme).  The movie opens with 200-foot tall olyphants straight out of Lord of the Rings assaulting Camelot.  Mages from the tower of the kaiju elephant’s back incinerate soldiers manning the walls.  It almost veers into the lazy disintegration CGI trope, but it still looks great.  Magic isn’t easy to translate to the screen; Legend of the Sword does it very well.

The fair knights of Camelot are screwed, no?  Well, no, not when King Uther (this is backstory) has his Sword +5+25 of badassery.  He leaps from the remains of a stone bridge onto the side of the elephant, scales it, uses the power of the Sword to dispel Mordred’s magical attacks, and single-handedly slays him.  This is a king who gets shit done.

Mordred is defeated, but all is not well in the kingdom.  There is fighting in the castle, and both Uther and his brother, Vortigern (played by Jude Law) are rushing their families to seeming safety.  But if you’ve seen any of the trailers, or, uh, that his name is “Vortigern,” you can guess Law’s character is up to no good.  While Uther is trying to get his wife and son to safety via the water (why he is running now when he just faced down a kaiju without blinking isn’t explained), Vortigern stabs his wife by the water (Why?  Give it a few minutes.)  A young Arthur watches Frazetta’s Death Dealer kill his mother, then is off on a boat to be raised in a brothel.

This is an origin story, but Ritchie spends about 10 minutes on what another director would have burned an hour on.  A rapid fire sequence shows Arthur growing into a man.  Defending prostitutes, making a little coin on the dock, learning how to fight from a Chinese guy named Kung Fu George.  Why?  Because it’s cool, that’s why.
Still have no idea if the movie is any good, certainly others over at Vox Pop disagree, but either way, the review made me reconsider watching a movie I'd already decided not to watch.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lending Meaning to Choice

A drum I've beaten over and over again with my game group - I want the choices my characters make to mean something other than "I get through the adventure, I gain XP".

It's one reason that, if I'm running a game, I'm running ACKs, though I'm looking forward to some Traveller (book) play at some point as well. It's why, as I alluded to earlier, I also prefer modules to "adventures" and "adventure paths".

So, someone going by "Raging Owlbear" posted that, after the game expectations were set, as they were rolling up characters, one of his players suddenly wanted a different set of bonuses for his elf, and why the hell not?

Jeffro had posted it to G+ and there was some discussion, Owlbear even joined in. I'd written the following:
IMO there are several ways to handle this.

One - make a game wide ruling that elves will have these different abilities. Preferable before people are rolling up characters

Two - not sure how this applies to 5e but ACKs has a point trade system built in. If you really really want that int up, you can trade something else at 2-1

Three - define a new class/race of elves. ACKs allows you to do this via the player companion in a way to ensure relative ability changes balance out.  This one should also be done in advance.

For one and three , especially three, okay, what makes them different from existing game-world elves? What other quirks or issues will the character have to deal with?

Four. "You want gnome abilities, play a gnome. Want to play an elf? Adapt, improvise, overcome. Breathe life into your character."

You may not think it's a core mechanic, but the classes as defined represent trade offs. The GM should "say yes" to anything the characters try in game, but ultimately he arbitrates how the world works, and should not be changing how it works and the expectations people have of elves, whatever after the fact to placate a player.  Changes in what makes an elf different from humans, gnomes, etc change he natures of the society they create, and how they'd react. If one can choose their abilities and bonuses on a whim by whining at the gm those choices have no meaning.
Then someone posted a Youtube Vid by the complex games apologist.


OK - I thought, "let's write this up" and took another look at the article, and realized there was a lot more to unpack. There are a couple philosophies about gaming and rules that I fundamentally disagree with.

Assumptions


First of all, the tone is very... enthusiastic... with profanity tossed in a few times. Not a lot, and hey, cursing like a sailor comes with being one so I'm hardly one to complain, but I really due try to avoid it. Takes away from the emphasis if over used.

We've already gone over the setup - I want my elf to have +2 INT, +1 DEX instead of vice versa.
Here’s the thing. In 5th Edition, a Forest Gnome can get a +2 INT / +1 DEX (and also has Darkvision, etc), so we know that this minor change doesn’t break the game mechanics at all. All non-human races get some combination of +2/+1, and Elves already get a boost to INT and DEX… so it isn’t a stretch at all to just swap their bonuses.
Let's pry that apart. OK, so a forest gnome has the adjustment the player wants. So? Is it an elf? Why not? What makes the players desired elf different from a forest gnome beyond some body paint, and choice of equipment? If they have access to different powers, then that may be balanced in. If not, sure, the combination may not cause a severe imbalance, but there's already something that has those swapped bonuses. The Gnome.
The racial bonuses are completely arbitrary anyway (and even differ significantly from one edition of D&D to the other). Why does an Elf get +2 DEX? Because Mearls and Thompson decided that’s what they thought an Elf was at this one moment of time. Why does the Gnome get the bigger INT bonus? Who the f@ck knows. It’s just a game of “Let’s Pretend”. The Player’s Handbook is not some religious scripture handed down by the gods.
No, it's not scripture, but it is the agreed-upon set of rules for how the game works. One edition of elf may be different from another, but those abilities were - hopefully - put in place relative to all the other factors and available classes and races in the game in a given edition. Those differenced are reflected in how elves behave, how they organize themselves, and what players expect when they see or interact with an elf. As much as I dislike how Pathfinder's skill bloat, "adventure" writing with necessary skill checks to succeed vice role-playing, and the society play "play strictly by the rules" requirements interact, one reason that last bit is in there is to ensure a player can sit down at a random convention table and reasonably expect how the adventure will work.

"Say Yes"


There is an improv comedy/acting exercise where you "say yes." - whatever you're handed to work with by the person you're acting with, you roll with it. No matter how ridiculous. You turn it around and work with it by saying "yes, but", or "yes, and".

A good GM and ruleset - and one reason I like lighter, OSR/ACKs style games over the rules bloat of Pathfinder, is that it gives me more ways to say "yes, let's try that" when the players want to try something. The game is more dependent on what they imagine and what they describe than on "roll 18+ for knowledge(local), wait, you don't have a point in that skill, sorry, it's only learned"

Look at the first three options I presented. As a GM you are free to house-rule what you want that varies from the rules, but there has to be a consequence. Option one requires you the explain why elves are different in this world, and the GM will now have to explain those differences to the other players, or at least keep them in mind for all elf interactions in the game. If you're playing with "adventures" that have the original assumptions about elves, you'll have to modify them.

Option three also makes major changes in the world. Wait, another race of elves? Where do they live? How do they get along with the other elves? And so forth.

Option two can be done on the fly without changing the world. It's baked into ACKs, but unless one is doing the equivalent of Paizo/Pathfinder "society play" it's a ruling the GM can make. Have the player answer "Why is this elf different?" - tell the player yes, he can bump up INT by one more but he has to sacrifice, and take something down two. It allows people to modify their characters without simply reshuffling their points. It also throws the decision back on the player.
SO WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU TELL HIM NO?
Because we're not playing a point-buy game, and even those, like GURPS or Hero system, have places where the GM makes the judgement call on what number of points, types of abilities, negatives, and swaps are allowed, based on what kind of game is being played. Even in PF society play with twenty points for stat buy, the cost is not linear. Getting to 18 on any one stat effectively sucks down all your available points.

Frankly, I'm amazed he hasn't thought it through as to why "no" may be a valid answer, adn when.

If I'm playing a game, I'll initially assume the designer had a clue, and stick with the rules on teh assumption there's a purpose. Later I'll mess with it, and, as mentioned earlier, if I make a change in the world, I now have to accept the consequences of that choice.
The most important job of a DM is help the players have fun. The players only have power over their characters. The rules on everything else in the world -- setting, genre, NPCs, cities, populace, everything -- is basically in the control of the DM.
This is where it wanders off the rails.

No, they are not. At least not in Basic D&D, AD&D, Traveller, GURPS, Teenagers From Outer Space, Paranoia, Vampire the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2013, ACKs, D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, or D20-based games.

Remember that thing called a rulebook? The GM may run the NPC's, may decide if a rule applies, but if the GM is at all fair, there are tables, die rolls, and results that he should adhere to. Sometimes characters will die - like that crab spider that dropped onto your party and poisoned two of them - sometimes they'll make that unlikely roll - and the GM gets to figure out and describe how gloriously you died, or how you narrowly escaped certain death, or why the kobolds are friendly.

Hell, in Paranoia, even letting on you know how the rules work may get your clone killed. You get less choice about how your stats are modified.
By saying "No" to this entirely minor and arbitrary change, you are telling the player “the trivial rules of my game world are more important than your character concept or enjoyment of the game.”
Let's flip that around. By insisting the GM change the rules for them, the players are insisting that their desires are more important than the GM managing a consistent game, the kind of game he wants, or overcoming challenges and obstacles.

And if the rule is that trivial, why is it a big enough deal for the player to want to change it? Why is it a problem if the GM says no?
If he enjoys a tiny amount of PC optimization as part of character generation, why not let him have fun with that part of the game? Who cares if he gets to INT 20 at 8th level instead of 12th (assuming he picks no Feats)... It will make no difference to the game at the table.
If it makes no difference to the game at the table, then why is the change necessary? For that matter, why is the mechanic in the game?

To Wrap It Up


Part of this comes from a desire to escape rules that feel constricting. Especially in Pathfinder, I can see where you may want to escape the mech-pilot existence trapped within a rules bloat. 

Part of this is wrapped up in "who's game?". I submit that yes, it's also the player's game - they have to buy into the world the GM is willing to create, and they certainly drive the story far more than the GM sometimes appreciates. That said, the GM is the arbitrator. He has every right to decide "no, that doesn't suit the game we're playing" - and if the players want to play that kind of game, they have a responsibility as well, to look ahead and say "hey, this is the kind of game we want to play, can you make it work?" Hell, FATE makes a point of the players and GM sitting down to decide the style, setting, scope, etc. of play.

But once the setting is set, once the game is running, the GM has to have the ability to make final choices every bit as much as the players. The players get to make choices, but without limits, without tradeoffs, even "trivial" ones, the choices have no meaning.

Why? Because someone has to make the final call. Either the game needs a GM, or it does not, and the rules are the final authority. And he is also playing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin

I normally would not pick up a YA book. But John C Wright is a fantastically literate and aware author who's integrity in making recommendations I trust, and in posts and comments his wife, L. Jagi Lamplighter, has been warm, very well spoken, and insightful. So I decided to give her book, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, a shot.

The short version is that I am very glad I did.

From Amazon:
Nestled amidst the beauty of New York’s Hudson Highlands and hidden from the eyes of the Unwary, Roanoke Academy is a place of magic and wonder. It offers everything a young sorceress could desire—enchantments, flying brooms, and the promise of new friendships.

On her first day of school, Rachel Griffin discovers her perfect memory gives her an unexpected advantage. With it, she can see through the spell sorcerers use to hide their secrets. Very soon, she discovers that there is a far-vaster secret world hiding from the Wise, precisely the same way that the magical folk hide from the mundane folk.

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, she investigates. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel bravely faces wraiths, embarrassing magical pranks, mysterious older boys, a Raven that brings the doom of worlds, and at least one fire-breathing teacher.

Described by fans as: "Supernatural meets Narnia at Hogwarts", The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin is a tale of wonder and danger, romance and heartbreak, and, most of all, of magic and of a girl who refuses to be daunted.
So, yes. We have a magical school. The lead character is a girl instead of a boy. There is magic. The "wise" - humans with magic - exist in parallel with, and mostly hidden from the normal humans, most of whom are "the unwary."

Yet, It's hardly a simple knockoff of Hogwarts.

First of all, it exists roughly in the same universe as her husband, John C Wright's, "Moth and Cobweb" books. The wise are families which have magic because their forebears had been, in part, magical creatures. There are wars among the wise at times, and of course, multiple schools of magic. The wise in this world tend to take a more active part in managing the world of the unwary to keep them ignorant of magic behind the scenes than the magicians of the Harry Potter universe, but then, it's not quite our world. Monotheism, as in Christianity, is almost unknown.

The pacing is spot on - and the story doesn't artificially drag through an entire school year.

Rachel is an interesting character, and not particularly gifted with leadership by author caveat, or many other skills that her friends have in abundance. The one thing she does have - an eidetic memory - she learns how to use to see what is hidden, and the competence she develops at magic are done through repeated, often embarrassingly bad, practice before she finally gets the hang of things.

Her persistence is far more important to the decisions she makes than anything else, and unlike a certain other magic school series, she is certainly a protagonist here, making choices.

The romance aspect is sweet, somewhat innocent, yet real, which is different from what I'd seen, and far different from the worst of what I'd heard is considered acceptable in YA fiction.

As to the bad guys and the conflict - yes, the adults don't really listen, a trope so old that Eight Legged Freaks explicitly made fun of it, but  are not morons and when trouble comes calling they are near universally competent and people you would not cross. There are bullies, straight out of central casting for Mean Girls. The magicians in the house of bad boys living on the edge of dark magic are shown to be far more nuanced than their reputation allows.

And Rachel makes several decisions that I expect will lead to interesting times and hard choices later on.

I could say far more, but only at risk of spoilers.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On Identity

One could TL;DR with a snarky "well, duh, you can call a tail a leg but a dog still has five legs", but Eric Raymond is worth listening to. He had discussed a vapid SJW-infested article on identity where all sides were huffing unicorn paint, but more things came to light, so now there's a full length post.
There was a very silly news story recently about “Claire”, a transsexual “girl” with a penis who complains that she is rejected by straight guys for ‘having male parts’. Er, how was “she” expecting anything different? By trying to get dates with heterosexual teenage boys using a female presentation, she was making an offer that there is about her person the sort of sexual parts said boys want to play with. Since “she” does not in fact have a vagina, this offer was fraudulent and there’s no wonder the boys rejected it. 
More to the point, why is this “girl” treated as anything but a mental case? Leaving aside the entire question of how real transgenderism is as a neuropsychological phenomenon, “she” clearly suffers from a pretty serious disconnect with observable reality. In particular, those delusions about teenage boys… 
I can anticipate several objections to this transactional account of identity. One is that is cruel and illiberal to reject an offer of “I claim identity X” if the person claiming feels that identity strongly enough. This is essentially the position of those journalists from The Hill 
To which I can only reply: you can feel an identity as a programmer as strongly as you want, but if you can’t either already sling code or are visibly working hard on repairing that deficiency, you simply don’t make the nut. Cruelty doesn’t enter into this; if I assent to your claim I assist your self-deceit, and if I repeat it I assist you in misleading or defrauding others. 
It is pretty easy to see how this same analysis applies to “misgendering” people with the “wrong” pronouns. People who use the term “misgender” generally follow up with claims about the subject’s autonomy and feelings. Which is well enough, but such considerations do not justify being complicit in the deceit of others any more than they do with respect to “I am a programmer”. 
A related objection is that I have stolen the concept of “identity” by transactionalizing it. That is, true “identity” is nececessarily grounded not in public performance but private feelings – you are what you feel, and it’s somehow the responsibility of the rest of the world to keep up.
Language is a tool. If you ruin the utility of the tool by making a word meaningless except within the context of the moment, you ruin the tool. Sometimes shifting a definition is necessary, but different concepts should have different labels. Also, it is utterly chaotic to expect everyone around you to bow to your subjective reality as they expect you to do the same. First of all, because being subjective, it is subject to change on the whim of a moment or your perceptions, and not something that someone can learn in an objective sense and go on to other things.

We may never reach the platonic ideal of the labels we apply - as useful as binary logic is, the world is not binary - but if we, say, call a tail a leg, then we've conflated "leg" with "arbitrary body part" or "limb", when leg is supposed to be a more specific version of the above, and not only utterly loses its utility, but confuses those who learned "leg" as a particular type of limb.

We may also never entirely escape the subjective - we possess, after all, imperfect knowledge, memory, and senses - but if we are to communicate with others, there needs to be a degree of objective, common understandings to the words and phrases we use, otherwise meaning, communication, beyond raw emotion and body language become steadily more and more impossible.

This goes hand in hand with the destruction of truth, of it being disparaged as a western, white, male thing. We may never achieve perfect understanding of truth, a perfect vision of the platonic ideal, but without a dedication to staying in the same ballpark, all the things we depend on, which in turn depend on objective consistency, crumble away, not to be replaced by a people no longer willing to acknowledge that a bridge is, and either stands, or doesn't, no matter how you feel.

And already an update - an SJW-type tried to assert that she could assert any identity she wished, and Eric couldn't stop her. Implied - that other people had to accept it.
>As a trans woman, in fact, *I* do get to assert what my identity is 
Yes, you do, I agree. You get to “assert” anything you like. It doesn’t follow that anyone else has to accept that assertion. 
That is the failure of reasoning I am arguing against. Your feelings are not an entitlement. Your demand that other people conform to your self-belief doesn’t create any obligation that they do so. You can offer any identity you like; it is up to other people whether they accept.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Another aspect of "Games are the new TV"?

From "How the War on Video Games is Hurting Your Son".
Parents who may have played video games a bit when they were younger but have now stopped, when they see their sons and daughters sitting in front of a TV and playing games, they often think that the kids are essentially watching TV. That it’s just a waste of time. 
But really,  video games are so much more in children’s lives. They play with each other in games; in fact, kids more often  play socially than alone. But beyond that, even when the games are off, they serve as a common language. When kids are out in the schoolyards talking about building levels in Minecraft, it’s similar to watching a baseball game and then talking to your friends about your favorite players and so forth.
Elsewhere, we see articles pointing out that the plethora of entertainment options means that people have fewer common cultural touchstones outside of megahits like Game of Thrones (blech). It hadn't occurred to me before to consider how the relatively small number of games that involve live play with others, and the fact that there are a number of broadly-known popular games in that category, replace the "things everyone can talk about around the water cooler" function that TV shows did as common touchstones.

You're DM'ing Wrong

First, They're Called Modules for a Reason.
So the moral of the story is this: Modules are better than adventures.  They force the players to play like grown ups.  They force the players to make decisions and direct the play.  The give the DM infinite amounts of flexibility.  Go ahead and try dropping your average Dungeon adventure or Pathfinder movie-script – er, I mean ‘adventure’, yeah right – into an ongoing campaign without doing more work than you would have if you just wrote your own damn adventure.
For our purposes, a module is something like Keep on the Borderlands, or it's spiritual successor, The Sinister Stone of Sakkara. There may be an end-goal or ultimate "big bad" of sorts for the module, but there's enough in the surrounding terrain,and various seeds, that by the time the characters get powerful enough, the module is itself just a seed, or a beginning. The DM can drop in more, entice them off the edges of the map, find a new threat, a new dungeon, or even drop the whole thing into an already existing campaign.[*]

Other modules aren't even "starter" modules, but can simply be dropped into an existing map (like Sakkara) or whatever world you create.

Pathfinder adventures, especially those intended for society play, are stories, not open ended sandboxes with opportunities for the players to make, or get into, trouble. I'm not the only GM I know who's remarked on the number of pages spent on detail and character descriptions that will almost never impact play - as if the writers want to consider themselves "authors" - the utterly "on rails" set of encounters that are dependent at times on particular (and not always common) skills, in an overall narrative arc.

So we stumble across this in Google plus - Rick Stump on how he started a campaign. Jeffro reacted in the predictable way:
How I Started a 2e Campaign
-Made sure I had the AD&D 2e books, including all skills and powers
-Sketched out all the available classes, including making 4 custom builds with the Skills and Powers rules
-Sketched out a world map
-Wrote a precis of history from the Late Paleolithic through current day
[Yes. Really]
-Dove down and made a regional map about the size of the eastern seaboard of North America
-Sketched out the 5 largest cities, made a series of political grouping, and wrote up over 120 NPCs, the most prominent of them including family trees back 5 generations
-Sketched out the capitol cities of the largest nations outside the main game area, about 40 NPCs each
-Wrote the arc for 4 major campaign-long stories adding NPCs and magic items for them, too
-Wrote up a full evil humanoid nation and 8 associated tribes, including lairs and loot
-Conlanged 20-90 words and basic syntax for 3 in-universe languages
-Filled in major trade routes and trade seasons
-Made the first 6 or so adventures to get a new party to 2nd+ level
All before anyone rolled a character!
Apparently I'm not the only one who has spent faaaaar to much time creating a game world. Sadly, in real world terms, both the Paizo Pathfinder adventures, and excessive world building all stumble over one minor obstacle.

The players.

If you're wondering what happens when a GM takes his world and adventure building too seriously, the following image is spot on:


This, in the hands of a GM who isn't willing to learn, or who is too full of himself to figure out it's at least as much the players world, may result in the GM listening to Wendell's evil twin.


I had some players in High School, and we were running a Traveller campaign. They didn't have a ship. Sucked to be them. Well, they were approached about infiltrating a local crew of shady "fast merchants" that sometimes dabbled in piracy that needed a few extra hands. I'd based it off of the standard patrol cruiser in the Traveller book, had deck plans standing by, including normal watch rotation schedules, and waited to see how they'd take over the ship in a clever and epic firefight.

Yeah, about that.

One spectacularly lucky computer skills roll while overriding the security protocols (after lobotomizing the other watchstander on the bridge) and suddenly the entire ship was evacuated to vacuum, with only the players in vacc suits.

I suddenly had to figure out what came next.

Since they were such a sloppy and ill-disciplined pirate crew the ship of course needed major repairs, and of course the local authorities wanted to contest the salvage....

Nevertheless, it was an early lesson that the best laid plans of GM's aft gang agley. That having a loose idea of how the world worked was great, but the players weren't going to start out "epic." - you could work up to that.

In this context, the several page Auran Empire primer for ACKs is spot on. A very, very rough map, a few notes on gods, a few paragraphs of history, and that's it. Enough to give you a framework, but loose enough to wedge almost anything in.

* Added a minor update for a missing thought.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Girl Friday

Another instagram model - Sara Underwood. She's apparently at home in nature.

Have a good weekend.