Browsing the blog archives for October, 2006

Pure Gold

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Miscellaneous

“One must strive to eat dangerously as one comes into the Will to Power Oneself Thin,” Nietzsche wrote. “What do you fear? By this are you truly Fattened. You must embrace your Fears, as well as your Fat, and learn to Laugh as you consume them, along with Generous Portions of Simple Salad. Remember, as you stare into the lettuce, the lettuce stares also into you.”

Link to The Onion article. Hat-tip, 2Blowhards.

Also, the newest Yu-Gi-Oh: Abridged Series video is out.

Emet

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Culture, Literature, Politics

This is probably going to be a very long and rambling post with only sketchily drawn connections between various ideas.

More below…

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Deep in the Game Closes

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RPGs

Chris at Deep in the Game has decided to close up shop. That’s too bad, as I enjoyed Chris’ work there a lot. Even though I’m not a Forge-er by any means, I do like to make forays into that strange and alien world of RPG theory and design.

A few months ago I started out with nothing more than a buzz inside my head when I read things like Deep in the Game — A vague sensation of recognition of what was being talked about, even though it can often sound like a foreign language (bangs, keys, what the heck?). I think I have a little bit more of a grasp on it now, a bit of understanding such that I’m able to think in some of the terminology I’ve been introduced to. An example might be Treasure Tables’ recent post on Pants Stealing. I just now got off the phone with a guy from our group discussing Pants Stealing-type behavior and resolving to discuss the issue in a mature fashion at our next session, rather than letting things slip into passive-aggressiveness. Being able to sit down and look at expectations of play, styles of play, and the social contract of our group is at least helpful for me in thinking about my gaming experiences and how to deal with issues that arise.

Fortunately, what’s already up at Deep in the Game isn’t going anywhere, and Chris seems to have an interest in compiling Deep into the Game into PDF format. Might be good for passing around and discussing.

YouTube Disappointments

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Culture, Politics

It’s hard to expect much from YouTube videos: A little bit of copyrighted material here, a little bit of people making fools of themselves to music there.

This first video is a supposedly Muslim perspective on portrayal of Islam in the media, link via Dean Esmay.

I had to stop watching about halfway through when I got too sick of the speaker’s ridiculous assertions. A Muslim Terrorist is an oxymoron in the same category as “loud silence”? Please. This isn’t some parable of the cave where any Islam that you can see is merely a shadow of an ideal Islam. When he got to speaking about construction of stereotypes, as if there’s some kind of malicious conspiracy pushing some sort of racist agenda, I had to stop. Subjecting yourself to such a deranged alternate reality is just going to cause brain damage the more you expose yourself to it.

If the intent of this video was to claim that Muslims are poorly represented in the media, it, quite frankly, did a worse job than what I can see on the BBC.


This video
showed up on PopURLs.

The video starts off by being offensive, but seems to have a wry cynical edge created by playing the Apple ad music in the background. Unfortunately, it’s not smart or clever, it’s just tediously pedantic and deceptive. Supporting use of stress techniques that do not cause lasting physical harm is torture? Stress techniques do not provide reliable evidence? If not, why does every police force and military in the world use them in interrogations, for fun? If stress techniques violate the Geneva Convention then jihadis will retaliate by using even harsher tactics than decapitation with knives and corpse desecration?

Sorry to say I actually wasted part of my life listening to this kid.

I was going to leave comments for these videos, but, unfortunately, YouTube limits the length of a response to 500 characters. In other words, I couldn’t even write a proper sentence in the space YouTube allocates for a comment.

In related news, I suppose it’s good that Google bought YouTube, as it means the site’ll be staying around awhile.

Guild Wars Halloween Contest

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Guild Wars, Miscellaneous, Personal

I went to the Guild Wars website yesterday and came across this:

GWHalloween2

You are invited to put your imagination and your creative talents to work in crafting Halloween art with a Guild Wars theme. We have some suggestions here for projects you might want to undertake (and you can see last year’s winners for inspiration, too):

* Carve a Guild Wars Pumpkin or create a pumpkin-carving pattern.
* Fashion a Guild Wars costume for yourself.
* Design a costume for your Guild Wars character.
* Create a Guild Wars Wallpaper or Desktop Art.
* Devise a “treat” with a Guild Wars flavor.
* Decorate your house in a Guild Wars theme.
* Find your own way to bring a Halloween twist to Guild Wars, or a Guild Wars twist to Halloween.

GWHalloween3

Kind of interesting. This sounds like the sort of thing I’m inclined to do anyway, in particular the bit about designing a costume for a Guild Wars character or creating a Guild Wars wallpaper. I looked over the prizes– First prize is nice, the others aren’t remarkable but it’d hardly be worth complaining if I won something. The page links to last year’s winners. Some of them are nice, but there are a number that I’m certain I could beat if I tried. I linked only the best images here — Some of the others are noticeably bad.

GWHalloween1

As such, I’m thinking about entering. We’ll see if I can make time between now and the end of this contest.

Battlestar Sharklactica

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Culture, Personal, Politics

Has Battlestar Galactica jumped the shark?

That’s a question a lot of people have been asking since the season premiere aired on Friday. I haven’t decided just yet how I feel about it. Even though Battlestar Galactica is one of my favorite shows, and is definitely one of the better shows on television, I’ve been a bit disappointed with it for some time now. Many people’s feelings towards the Season 3 opener, to me, are just symptoms of the disease.

Spoilers below…

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Battlestar Galactica

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Personal

Battlestar Galactica returns to TV today, and I can’t wait.
The past couple of years I’ve been struck by how many good television shows there are available. It’s like a Renaissance of television, led by HBO programming and now having spread out even onto network television. Lost, Prisonbreak, House… I’ve had any number of shows recommended to me by trusted sources as truly excellent. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time in the day to dedicate to watching TV shows, so one must pick and choose. Battlestar Galactica is mine.

Here’s hoping the DVR doesn’t end up malfunctioning, as two shows I set to record last weekend have mysteriously disappeared without my having deleted them…

D&D 4th Edition

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RPGs

or, “My Hopes for the Future of D&D.”

The hints are in the air. I heard from a friend, of a friend, of a friend that Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro is considering thinking about looking into the possiblity of maybe someday entertaining the idea of a 4th Edition, sometime in the future.* This rumor probably precedes the appearance of an actual 4th edition by about two years: One to substantiate the rumor, and another as the project is actually worked on and readied. Nevertheless, we are in the long-toothed days of 3.0 and 3.5 Edition.

So what will 4th Edition be like? My hope is that they throw away some of the long-term issues that have plagued D&D. Personally, I’d like to see:

* Removal of the alignment system. Goodbye, clunky, antisocial mechanics.
* Removal of the Vancian casting system. Goodbye, clunky, bookkeeping mechanics.
* A classless system. “Classes” might be provided for ease of use, but the core system ought to be classless.

These are about the only possible major changes that could convince me that a 4th Edition would be worthwhile. There’s an extremely lengthy thread on the ever-unstable Wizards forums on slaughtering some D&D sacred cows. As long as it’s for the greater good, right?

Elsewheres

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Miscellaneous

Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series.

I’ve never watched Yu-Gi-Oh before, but if you’ve ever seen DragonBall-Z and you’re passingly familiar with Pokemon then you’ll pick right up on what the show is about. The Abridged Series is a homemade (?) parody of the absurdities of Yu-Gi-Oh and all those others childrens’ game-promoting anime shows. There seem to be 11 episodes in the Abridged Series so far, each roughly four minutes long. They remind me a lot of Shamus’ comics in the sort of self-referential humor they employ. Great fun, I was laughing out loud at every episode.

Halo Wars: A real-time strategy game in the Halo universe. I’m not a huge Halo fan but I do think it is one of the best console shooters out there. I have to wonder what sort of liberties they’re taking with the background of the Halo setting, though. According to everything I’ve read about the game universe, the Covenant aliens completely overwhelm the Humans militarily. It’s also a bad sign that it’s not being developed by Bungie.

I don’t recall where I originally found this article by John Derbyshire. It concerns the religiously-motivated enslavement of Christians by Muslims on the Barbary Coast from roughly 1500 to 1800 AD.

The effect on the European coastal populations was dramatic. Entire areas were depopulated. The author even sketches out an argument that the culture of baroque Italy was determined in part by a turning inward from the terrors of coastal life — from the “fear of the horizon” that afflicted all the regions subject to slave raiding. He tells us (he is professor of Italian Social History at Ohio State University, by the way) that to this day there is an idiom in Sicilian dialect to express the general idea of being caught by surprise: pigliato dai turchi — “taken by the Turks.” The distress of those left behind, deprived of a husband of father, is painful to read about.

The blog 2Blowhards is one of my regular reads, and I occasionally peruse the blogs in the Blowhards’ sidebar. One of the ones that I checked on a semi-regular basis was Sixteen Volts, a blog by Ilkka Kokkarinen, apparently a professor at a university in Canada. So, through the magic of the internet, I was reading a blog by Dennis Dale. I don’t recall how I ended up there, but I ran across this sermon by Dale, on engagement with the world. Then, once I had finished the sermon, I reloaded the page and noticed this post on “Suppressed Voltage.” Apparently, Sixteen Volts was shut down by the Political Correctness police, and Ilkka’s blog now only displays a message that has been fabricated by the brownshirts and posted under his name:

A reader asked me not to delete this blog so that some spammer wouldn’t grab it. So I will leave this post as the tombstone for this ugly little blog that brought out the vilest in me and has now left me in deep shame for the rest of my life. Always remember this, kids: you may not really be as witty and edgy as you think you are; the Internet amplifies everything, especially your most ridiculous stupidity, so don’t go writing callous things even during those days that you happen to feel depressed and like shit and you need that feeling of not caring; limits usually exist for a good reason; your imaginary enemies are not the same as the real breathing people; groups are not monolithic so that all their members equal the one you hate the most and who may or may not return the favour; and finally, remember that regardless of their labels, all people are individuals with feelings, fears and hopes that you really, really should always respect.

Steve Sailer has an excellent writeup here.

Via Aaron Haspel I find this little gem. A few months ago I downloaded, via iTunes, a series of poetry readings held at Yale or Princeton or some-or-other place. Sadly, I just can’t bear to sit through them, so tedious and dreary they are, and so horrid the poetry. Good to know that I am not the only one who finds the literary social cult to be the anathema to good. A money quote from Aaron on his Ideal Reader, Conrad Roth: “we both regard “poetry-lovers” as the very people from whom poetry urgently needs to be rescued.”

Typical internet-stumbling also caused me to run across this little rant by Andrea Harris on the Oprah-fication of literature. Inspired by this Udolpho rant, the one thing in particular that strikes me about Harris’ rant is the eerily accurate characterization:

And paired with this evil liquid substance is the older, yet no less poisonous, potion that is traditional female morbidity. Too many women of my acquaintance (young and old) are addicted to those creepy medical shows that seem to only feature children with deforming diseases or people who have been in horrifying disfiguring accidents. … The morbid nightmares that too many women are attracted to all have the smell of hospitals and the grave about them.

Curious, yet seems to be true. I think I prefer the realm of the living.