dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Tinkering away with various RPGs, but I thought maybe I should do more actual worldbuilding for the game I'm running. I've been thinking about the societies in the world and how their governments work. Here's a lot of works on that topic.

The different countries are detailed in this post and this post.

RPG Worldbuilding )

It can happen here

2017-Aug-16, Wednesday 09:05
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
Posting today instead of tomorrow because there's no farmer's market dinner this week. Now that the school term is starting at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's workplace, her summer break is over and she can't consistently make time to gather ingredients for dinner anymore. There may be sporadic farmer's market dinners before the market closes in October--those meals are really good--but it's no longer a routine thing.

Charlottesville affected me more than I thought it would. Some of it was reading accounts like this one from a local synagogue, about how the police refused to provide protection and they had to hire private security to protect from roving bands of Nazis. Or this account of weapons caches, similar to what happened in Rwanda, indicating that the Nazis were using Charlottesville as a training exercise for a para-military operation somewhere else. And then the President of the United Sates of America revealed that he's a Nazi sympathizer at a press conference, so the Nazis' goals were mostly achieved. Great. 2017. emoji head in hands

It reminds me of an old statement I read by a rabbi from centuries ago that history was divided into periods of persecution and periods of leniency. A lot of young Jews seemed to think that the cycle had been broken, at least in America, and that the concerns of their elders were overblown. I suspect they don't think that anymore.

At least the weather's nice. I'm not sure we've had a day over 30°C for the entire month of August and the weather report shows that it won't get higher than that for the next upcoming week either. Since my preferred clothing style includes pants at all times, I appreciate the deference the atmosphere is showing me.

I started playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (well, ゼルダの伝説:4つの剣+) and I'm filled with immense nostalgia for A Link to the Past. Four Swords Adventures reuses a lot of the sprites and music from ALttP, but also has a lot of toonification from Wind Waker. The bomb explosions are cel-shaded, a lot of the enemies are round and blobby, and the water effects are much more liquid-based than pixelized. The gameplay is all hack and slash, but I'm finding it surprisingly fun so far. We'll see if that's still true after I get past the second area.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
This is about the Nazi rally yesterday.

Not about how the President of the United States of America is a Nazi, sympathizer, though he clearly is. Trump is perfectly capable of making strong, unambiguous statements when he has something he's actually interested in condemning. Saying "hatred, bigotry and violence on many side" is implicitly blaming those targeted by the Nazis as much as the Nazis. Trump cannot condemn racism and white supremacy because Trump is a racist and a white supremacist.

This isn't about the idiotic free speech arguments claiming that Nazis arguing that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I should die are equivalent to us saying that perhaps we should not. It's the worst kind of Is-Ought fallacy, arguing that because that's currently the way that the First Amendment is interpreted that makes it somehow the best possible interpretation. They may say that this sort of free speech makes America great, but what I hear is, "We will only come to your defense when it's already too late."

Well, it's about those inasmuch as I've mentioned them. Emoji Cute shrug

No, it's about the claims that this "isn't America" that I've seen from politicians. In response to those, I submit this article. Madison Square Garden, 1939. Twenty thousand people showed up to cheer Hitler and complain about Roosevelt's "Jew Deal." And before that, when the Nazis were laying out the Nuremberg Laws, the meetings they held on the topic repeatedly returned to American legal segregation as an inspiration. The Nazis were, of course, perfectly capable of coming up with these laws on their own, but the fact that they looked to America is a lesson that many of us need to remember.

This is America. Most of the problems we still have can be directly traced back to slavery and the legacy of racism it left. The lack of socialized health care (partially scuttled by southern politicians' fear of integrated hospitals), the police state, Republican voter suppression efforts, a lack of a robust welfare state...

The hatred is coming from inside the house.
dorchadas: (Chicago)
So recently, Chicago Dyke March had an incident where they threw out three Jewish women marching with rainbow flags that had Magen David on them. The march organizers claimed that they made people feel unsafe and that the women had been asked to leave for expressing Zionist opinions at an explicitly pro-Palestinian march, but the women say they were approached and confronted about their flags. And since the march organizers put up a fundraiser for a self-care retreat where they used the phrase "from the river to the sea," leapt immediately to a Nazi analogy when explaining their decision:
"But, we need to be in control of our space just like you wouldn't accept Nazis in your synagogue."

-Alexis Martinez
and then used the phrase "Zios" when celebrating how they got the journalist who covered the initial incident demoted--they claim they didn't know the term or its usage, but I believe that as much as I'd believe someone who claimed they just happened to shorten the word "Hispanic" and why are people so angry--I believe the three Jewish women who were exiled.

And just recently, the Chicago Slut Walk said they stand with the Dyke March and also plan to ban "Zionist displays." What are those?

Is it any Jew who is identifiably Jewish? Is it merely the Magen David, a symbol of the Jewish people for centuries which long predates the modern nation of Israel? The Slutwalk claims that they're not the same thing, but I do not trust them to make that distinction. Slutwalk seems to uncritically believe the Dyke March's version of events, where the marchers were changing chants and being openly "Zionist," whatever they think that means. Of course, the Dyke March was happy to leave up comments about how Zionism is an insidious cancer (sound familiar?) and one of the women they banned was an Iranian Jew, and they also describe Zionism as a "White supremacist ideology."

Tell that to a Nazi.

There's a good article on the New York Times about the incident titled I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars that talks about how intersectionality so often fails to consider Jews:
One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

She isn’t. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.

That’s why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur. Their evidence: She works at an organization called A Wider Bridge, which connects the L.G.B.T.Q. Jewish community in America with the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Israel. The organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression — a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.
I saw claims that A Wider Bridge has an anti-LGBTQ stance, which is just blatant lying. But it serves the struggle, so I guess it's okay.

This is why I give money and don't directly participate in activism. Israel is a complicated issue, reducing it to indigenous Palestinian vs white settler colonialist Israelis is 1) insultingly stupid and 2) blatantly applying American political dynamics to the rest of the world, and I sure as hell don't want some leftist crusader subjecting me to an inquisition about Israel while they decide if I'm a good Jew or a bad Jew. I don't trust them to be able to understand my answers, and I don't trust Slutwalk to be able to able to distinguish between "Zionist" and "non-Zionist" uses of the Magen David. The Slutwalk already has the attitude that most pointing out antisemitism is spurious, so of course they're going to lean toward antisemitism. If you think a lot of it is fake--that's there's some kind of, say, world-wide conspiracy--in an environment where antisemitic incidents almost doubled in early 2017, then in practice, you're not going to end up much different from those people who immediately assume any black person shot by the police must have deserved it.

Shabbat Shalom.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Love it when someone I knew in university reposts a status from a Nazi in his zeal to condemn people for caring too much about the Manchester bombing and not bombings in Syria or Iraq.

The shared post only mentions "Zio-Imperialism," which is a pretty big red flag. So I tracked down an essay by the writer about how accusations of antisemitism are offbase and, well...

Blatant antisemitism )

I can probably stop there, I think.

I'm going to defriend him regardless because he's been close to this edge before multiple times without stepping over, but I at least want to hear his explanation.

Death panels

2017-May-05, Friday 09:13
dorchadas: (In America)
I was a bit surprised that Deathcare passed yesterday, but not as much as I once would have been. There is no depths of evil to which the American fascists* can sink that would surprise me anymore. Especially after reading all the testimonies from American fascists* who voted for it without reading it and then were astonished to learn they voted to murder hundreds of thousands of their own constituents slowly with bankruptcy along the way. Emoji stabbing I was a little mollified to hear that the Senate won't even be considering the bill until it's CBO scored, and possibly not at all, but since all American fascists* are human garbage I have no faith they won't also vote to murder their constituents.

I think there's an important lesson to be taken from their behavior as well. Real evil isn't charismatic, visionary, or commanding. It's smug, banal, hypocritical, and kind of stupid. We need more depictions of realistic evil in fiction.
"We have to live with people as they are, and people are dangerous."
-Rabbi Joshua Haberman, Foundation for Jewish Studies podcast
I have excellent health insurance through work and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is a public employee, so while I spent most of yesterday in a state of pure rage I at least don't have to be afraid. Instead, I spent it wasting my time debating a libertarian crypto-Confederate on [ profile] jmenda's Facebook wall about the necessity of taxation, especially as it relates to allowing an expansive government with the capability to enforce the rights of the oppressed--the Slavers' Rebellion, the Civil Rights Act, Obergefell v. Hodges, etc. As it so often is, it was a complete waste of time and I should have just played Majora's Mask all night instead of constantly tabbing over to answer questions. I'm halfway done--just beat Snowhead Temple on Wednesday--and I want to finish this weekend if I can.

Tonight is [ profile] kelley.christensen1's emoji-themed karaoke birthday party and it's without walking distance from our apartment, so I'll have something else to concentrate on. It's box karaoke, and while I'm not going to link the website because I just went there and they've been hacked (thank you NoScript Emoji La), but it looks promising. I'm not sure they'll have all the songs that I sang in karaoke korokke or karaoke U-style or karaokekan, but hopefully they'll have something. And [ profile] kelley.christensen1 is bringing cake!

Alright, back to mucking around in databases.
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)
So the American government decided to send a carrier group to the Korean peninsula as a show of force against Korean nuclear ambitions, which prompted the representatives of the Eternal Lich President to issue its own response.

And then an hour ago, I saw that [ profile] nhk_kokusai had tweeted this out:

Here's my translation:
Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga [Yoshihide] highlighted that, in relation to President Trump's deployment of the military toward North Korea and refusal to lift sanctions, while America and South Korea maintain their cooperation, [Japan] must be prepared in case an evacuation of Japanese citizens living on the Korean Peninsula becomes necessary.
So, they're at least admitting the possibility of another war. Remember when people assumed that our Dear Leader would be an isolationist who wouldn't go around starting wars, unlike that hawk Clinton? Those takes, as they say, did not age well.

At least Twitter will keep us entertained in the 20 minutes after the missiles launch.
dorchadas: (In America)
I hadn't listened to the songs at all, originally just because it's not my favorite kind of music. Then it was slight annoyance with the saturation, but after we learned it was coming to Chicago, I told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I wanted to wait to see all the songs in context and not listen to them beforehand. And that's what I did, so last night was the first time I heard any of Hamilton that wasn't quoted by my friends.

Something something the room where it happens:

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd told me she spent the first part of the musical glancing over to me and thinking that I was going to hate it. And it's true that the early part wasn't to my taste. The choreography was great, but the music I tend to listen to is heavily if not exclusively melody-driven, to the point where probably more than 80% of it is instrumental, or whatever you'd call chiptunes (is "a gameboy" an instrument?). It wasn't really until "Wait For It" that I really started to warm up to it. I mean, that song is a perfect encapsulation of my life philosophy--things are often terrible, much of your circumstances are completely outside of your control, but it is what it is and you have to make the best of it:
Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
It remains my favorite song and really the only one that stuck with me. A lot of the songs I either didn't care for or they just weren't memorable to me.

The other moment that I clearly remember is "Best of Wives, Best of Women" because it's the sort of thing I'd have a very hard time not doing if I were in a similar situation. A problem I had caused that I could fix, which would cause incredible worry in [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd if I told her? It would be extremely tempting to try to fix it and avoid the worry entirely. Not ethical, you understand, but tempting.

It didn't much stay with me, though. I'm not going to be listening to the soundtrack on repeat or thinking about the character interactions. It was pretty good and I can see why other people love it so much. But that's that.

It does make me want to read more founding father biographies, though. Especially after seeing this quote yesterday which seems like an angel of G-d came to Hamilton and granted him prophecy:
The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may "ride the storm and direct the whirlwind."
-Alexander Hamilton, Enclosure: [Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration], [18 August 1792]

Ach, mein discourse!

2017-Feb-08, Wednesday 09:51
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Multiple people have sent me this article about a parody of Wolfenstein 3D that relates to the current controversy. It is not subtle, but neither are Nazi calls for genocide. Hiyooo!  photo emot-sun.gif

Though actually, I think this is an excellent example of games as art, using the mechanics of the game to support its central point. "Isn't fascism just another political ideology?" you consider. What about their free speech? Isn't the best way to deal with bad speech more speech? If you resort to violence, aren't you no better than them?

And meanwhile the Nazis keep advancing, and keep shooting, and keep shooting, until you are dead. Because they don't care about free speech except insofar as it allows them to subvert and destroy liberal democracy from within. As the article says:
Naturally, people playing by a completely different set of rules will take advantage of this, and you’ll suffer.
This and a version of Papers, Please set in Dulles Airport are the games of our time.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
So at the inauguration today, some reporter was interviewing Nazi scum Richard Spencer, the guy who coined the term "anime Nazis*" and has managed to fool a large portion of the media into treating his views as worth of attention by the devious tactic of "wearing a suit." He was explaining the frog lapel pin he was wearing and then this happened:

Richard Spencer getting punched

I could watch that gif all day.

Of course, on Twitter a lot of white men are worried about his free speech rights. And those were definitely violated, which we tend to frown on in America. But there's a reason why espousing Nazi viewpoints is banned in Germany and why I've never thought the free speech we have in America is somehow morally superior just because we allow Nazis and assorted garbage humans to spew their bullshit.

For one thing, Nazi ideology is inherently violent. Spencer talks about an ethnostate and is deliberately vague on how that would be achieved, because it's not like there's any prime land they can move to and "we're going to dispossess everyone we consider subhuman at best and murder them at worst" means he wouldn't get glossy portrayals in unwitting Nazi-sympathizer magazines. Other Nazis are less subtle. As someone who would be subject to the purge if the Nazis gained power, consider that I have a different viewpoint on how threatening a man is just because he's wearing a tie and a frog pin while talking about taking back America.

In a way, it's self-defense. They want to kill us.

Second, Nazism is a cancer on democracy. The whole point of it as a political movement is to use the methods of democracy to attain power and then destroy democracy. We know this because it already happened once before, and while the Weimar Republic had a lot of structural and political issues that modern democracies are less subject to, here in America we don't have some kind of magical blessing passed down to us from the founding fathers that would prevent a Nazi in power from declaring himself a dictator and seizing power as long as he had enough support. And the amount of support necessary isn't that much. One terrorist attack that's bad enough and a huge portion of Americans would happily hand over their freedom only to find that hypothetical Nazi was no Cincinnatus.

This is also why I roll my eyes at any "but what if they were in control of your free speech?" counterpoints. They're Nazis. They have no respect for free speech at all. They only talk about it now because it allows them to spread their poison, and if they seized power they would overturn it immediately. It's another tactic in their mission to undermine democratic processes.

The argument is that the cure to bad speech is more speech, but people who say that haven't been following up on the science. The most obvious counterpoint to this is the Backfire Effect, now well-established, that often trying to convince someone with evidence makes them more secure in their beliefs, not less. Another is that being more intelligent is no cure against false beliefs, since intelligence allows its possessor to justify those beliefs easier. Argument can work, but its efficacy usually has nothing to do with the substance of the argument itself and more with how similar the other party considers themselves to the persuader. And I'm sorry, but Nazi trash are obviously not going to listen to someone they think is subhuman. Here's an example of what I mean.

Twitter itself is actually a great argument about the harms of free speech. It's not subject to some limits that the physical world is, like the harassing mobs all having to be physically present, and also multiple people all independently deciding to argue with someone can look like a coordinated assault to the person being argued with, but there are plenty of examples of people being harassed off Twitter for daring to be a woman or black person with opinions.

So yeah. If more Nazis get punched, if they can't leave their homes and go out in public without worrying about being assaulted, I'm not going to cry. All ideologies are not equal. Sorry.

("But what if they said that about you-")

They already do. Thanks for playing.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
"Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph."
-Exodus 1:8
How timely.
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
My paternal grandfather joined the Army Air Force during World War II. He flew bombing missions in Europe, mostly focused on infrastructure--destroying roads, bridges, railway lines, and other things the nazis needed to conduct their war effort. When the war was over and he came back home and married my grandmother, he used the G.I. Bill to go to university and study engineering. He worked for Eastman Oil Well Survey Company, then retired on a generous union pension. Generous enough that for a short time, he had a summer house in Oregon and a winter house in California.

My parents have a display in their house dedicated to him:

He died nearly ten years ago, but I'm almost glad that he didn't live to see what's happened since then. The death of unions, already pretty far advanced by the time he died. Wholesale abandonment of the notion of expertise. Electing a fascist to the presidency. Literal nazis marching in support of the president.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Fall of Night

2016-Nov-09, Wednesday 09:30
dorchadas: (Nyarlathotep)

I went to bed at eleven, since I knew that staying up and refreshing Twitter would just ruin my mood without actually affecting anything. And though I didn't get much sleep, partially through worry and partially because that dastardly baby is at it again, I did get enough that I didn't hear the results until I woke up at 6 a.m.

Hindsight bias will inevitably corrupt our memories in the future, but I think it's important to remember that while the polls were wrong, they were consistent. They almost all showed Clinton winning, to a greater or lesser degree. Including the internal polling by both candidates. This was legitimately an upset, because for once there actually was a silent majority of white rural voters who turned to support Trump's platform.

I don't see how the Republican Party doesn't become an explicitly white supremacist party after this. After 2012, they had those roundtables and discussions and decided that they needed to appeal more to Latinos, Asians, and other growing minority groups. Then they picked a candidate that said we should build a wall, ban Muslim immigration, consistently insulted women, mocked the disabled...and won probably the greatest coup the Republican Party has had in a hundred years. They will conclude that covert racial appeals are no longer necessary and overt racism works, and they are almost certainly right. White women went for Trump by ten points, white men at 2 to 1.

And they also learned that voter suppression works too, and that whether they explicitly say they want to prevent black people from voting or not, as long as they get they keep their majority, well.  photo cripes.001.gif

Assuming Trump has any intention of keeping his course, this is the end of the post-war economic order. I expect we'll default on our debt now, which will almost certainly kick off Great Depression 2.0, Now With Social Media. It's setting us on the course for the end of industrial civilization. And it has far more immediate effects on anyone who relies on Obamacare for their insurance, or on the marriage equality ruling for their marriage, or what little federal trans rights protections there are.

I saw this on Twitter earlier. It made me laugh, for a moment:

The Chinese government is already saying that this is the problem with democracy, and in despairing moments it's easy to agree. But there's no alternative, is there? And Clinton won the popular vote, so perhaps the problem is with American democracy. Enough brake points that a determined group can seize the levers of power and keep them despite the actually population of the demos. Or maybe a reminder that demos doesn't mean "the people," it means "the body of citizens" and quite a lot of Americans have a less-expansive view of what that should contain.

At the moment, that's all I have.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
At least, I hope so!

We bought our plane tickets back in March, and while they would have been a lot cheaper if we bought them a month later and we would have gotten a direct flight--right now we're flying Air Canada to Toronto and then Toronto to Tokyo--but there's no use complaining about that now. We reserved our hotels in May and got pretty good prices (~$110 a night on average) and close to shinkansen and transit lines. On Monday, I ordered our JR Passes from JTB, and yesterday they arrived. On Tuesday, I went to the bank and got new debit cards sent out. Chipped versions, so we can use them in 7Bank ATMs.

Then there was trading our currency. I asked about it at our bank and the banker told me not to do it there, do it somewhere else, but I asked for a quote to compare. Then I checked against the place she suggested and the rate was worse, so I looked around and found a third place and asked [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to go there and make the trade. Then that place didn't allow credit card payments over $500 and slapped a surcharge on top of them to prevent fraud, didn't take her debit card for some reason, and didn't take checks, so at the end of the day yesterday I asked her to go back to the bank and just do it there, since they can easily accept payment since they already hold our money. So that went through.

Then the Brexit vote happened and the yen took off like a rocket. When we did our trade, it was 104.5円 to the dollar minus fees and so on, so we got something like 99円 to the dollar. Today the yen is already trading around 99円 to the dollar (though up to 102円 at the time of writing). The Nikkei is down over 1300 points and when I went to sleep, they had suspended trading when it lost 1000 points in an hour. Who knows what the Bank of Japan is going to do--Kuroda is already trying negative interest rates and it didn't help at all.

I just got a phone call that our yen is waiting for us at the bank. This is pretty much terrible news all around, but at least we managed to get lucky on something small.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I wrote a few months back about whether I actually hate LARPing, and since then I've signed up for [ profile] drydem's Scion LARP starting in April. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I are playing scions of Izanami and Izanagi, respectively, since we've lived in Japan, know some Japanese, and otherwise are at least moderate qualified to do so. I was a bit reticent about this, because there's barely any information about either of those two. The 古事記 (Kojiki, "The Account of Ancient Events") has the story of them stirring the waters with a spear and the drops forming the islands of Japan, of Izanami dying in childbirth and Izanagi descending into Yomi after her, which goes as well as people doing into the underworld after their loves always goes in mythology. And that's about it, really. But I figured I could always do some more general research.

In pursuit of that aim, I'm reading Shintō and the State 1868-1988, which [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd checked out from the library and I asked to read when she was done. It's currently describing how Shintō in its modern form was basically invented whole-cloth during the Meiji Restoration out of various local cults and influential shrine practices for the political aim of unifying the nation. They repeatedly described it as not being a religion, because that way they could eat their freedom of religion cake while still having their compulsory state rituals.

Which gets to one of the problems I have with Scion. Most of them come down to "the rules are a dumpster fire," but that's not a problem in a LARP. However, Scion's depiction of the Shintō "pantheon" annoyed me because it has basically nothing to do with reality.

I mean, the Greek pantheon (it says "Greco-Roman," but Ares is a crazy berserker, so there's nothing Roman about it) is called the Dodekatheon, but if you asked a Hellene about it, they'd ask you "Which twelve?" At least there, though, there was an ancient concept that there were twelve Olympians even if there was disagreement on which gods counted among those twelve. There's nothing like that for Shintō. The most important deity for most ancient Japanese was the local diety of the fields or forests, or the tutelary deity of their family if they were nobility. Amaterasu was originally a tutelary deity of the Imperial family and was barely worshipped--and probably barely even known about--outside of that small circle.

As an example, the most important deity to the people of Chiyoda, to the extent that any deity is important to them--something like 75% of Japanese people describe themselves as 無宗教 (mushūkyō, "without religion), though that doesn't stop them from praying at shrines and participating in rituals and often just means they aren't part of a formal religious organization--is Sanbai-san, the local rice god who comes down from the mountain he lives on once a year to bless the rice planting.

Sure, it's a game that needs playable splats of roughly equivalent power level. As fun as it might be to play a scion of Sanbai-san, I wouldn't be on the same power level as a scion of Hera or Manannán. And other pantheons have the same issue, but I know more about Shintō so it bothers me more.

Then again, extending modern practice as though it were a glorious unbroken tradition into the past is a political tactic that itself is a glorious unbroken tradition, so White Wolf is just upholding that with Scion.

(And don't get me started on how the game has an Atlantean pantheon but doesn't cover the beliefs of over half the world's population in any way. Not even some kind of Canaanite pantheon.)
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
So I saw this picture on Facebook yesterday, and now it's time for me to rant about it:

Original source here.

First of all, I take schadenfreude that statistically, half of the people in the comments who are complaining about McDonald's jobs are for kids and not meant to live on, that the workers should work harder if they want to get paid more, that they should go back to college, and all the other standard anti-labor talking points, will have their jobs replaced by robots. What's that, Mr. CPA? Your job was taken by a robot? Well, maybe you should also work 24 hours a day without food or sleep. You're obvious just lazy.  photo troll001.png

I'm not going to claim that I have the moral high ground with that, but since a ton of those comments are spiteful "I don't get paid that much, so they shouldn't either" whines, I don't particularly care.

But mostly, they don't seem to understand that one person's expenses are another person's income. I mean, giving money to the poor is incredibly effective in terms of fighting poverty, and it's one of the situations where the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats" is most accurate. Poor people spend all their money because they have to to survive, that money becomes profit for other businesses, who also spend it, which benefits other people, etc., etc. Give that money to someone like me (or for that matter, raise my salary) and I'd just stash it in investments that may or may not do anyone any good or a savings account that definitely won't do anyone but me any good, but give it to people who have to spend it and it gets spent, and since the majority of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, well...

On the subject of inflation, here's a reasonable article. As it points out, the impact is likely to be minimal, and nowadays we need more inflation anyway to convince people to spend some of that money they've got locked away.

I suppose there's always the Shania Twain Defense for low wages...
dorchadas: (desu)
So I was reading one of the cyberpunk image blogs I have on my RSS feeds (Flesh-coated Technology, for the curious), and a post popped up there that wasn't an image or a piece of tech news, but was instead a musing on how terrible the world was. Unlike most of the ones they reblog, though, this was one of those libertarian screeds about how come people don't care about the issues that are really important.

For example:
Here’s the truth about social justice and feminism. It’s a diversion. A smoke screen. Because if people ever realized exactly how bad things are, sexual and racial inequality would be the last thing on their minds. Women making 80 cents to a man’s dollar? How about the fact that fifty percent of your income is stolen at the point of a gun.
It goes on and on from there--you can read the rest here if you want.

Most the responses on Tumblr correctly point out that a) shockingly, it's possible to care about more than one thing at the same time and b) a lot of the problems there are related anyway. But the reason I'm writing about it is that the first thing the immediately leapt out at me is that all of it is complaining about issues that affect the (presumably white, straight, and male) author of the piece.

Nearly everything there is structured as, "You're worried about [issue that affects minorities and women]? What about the real [issue that could potentially affect straight white men]? Huh?! Why aren't you thinking of the real problems?!" I've noticed that in a lot of discourse over the years. Not just the focus on issues that affect them personally, which is pretty much a human thing and, while perhaps not laudable, shouldn't be condemned, but the whole "your worries are facile and dumb, you should worry about real problems, like the ones that might hurt me!" line of attack. It cropped up during the 2012 elections too, when some pollsters and commentators were baffled that women stubbornly refused to care about the economy as much as they were supposed to because they were carrying about reproductive rights.

The point about divide and conquer is somewhat well-taken, but see above about caring about more than one thing at a time. This kind of "your issues are just stupid fluff" line of criticism is part of why I find most libertarian thought so repulsive.

And if you're wondering why I'm blaming libertarians, it's that "stolen at the point of a gun" line. It's a dead giveaway.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
I admit, the main reason I'm taking this in stride is because I have an incredibly low opinion of the average person--I mean, the American electorate apparently decided that it wanted minimum wage increases, continued abortion protections, legalized marijuana, and that the Republicans were the best people to provide these things--and I'm already convinced that civilization is doomed from a variety of angles: climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, ocean acidification, the end of the antibiotic window, etc. And this isn't likely to accelerate any of that any more than the Reagan presidency, the 1994 elections, or the Bush years already did, though if the Democrats run screaming from any sort of liberalism again in 2016 I'll be wrong.

I expect two years of BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI, internationally embarrassing impeachment proceedings, and a whole lot of nothing. Though the worst-case scenario on the national level is probably the Democrats deciding they need to "move foward" and "work with the opposition" and getting a bunch of totally-shit bills turned into not-quite-totally-shit bills in the Senate and then passed in the spirit of reconciliation, and our uninterrupted 40-year-long slide into cyberpunk dystopian neo-feudalism will continue apace.

But on the local front, at least we got marriage equality passed already before a bigot got into power. And on the personal front, I only had to wait thirty minutes to vote. It helped that I went literally right as the polls opened and I didn't run into any of the problems that afflicted the judges in some precincts of the city. Not everyone I know was so lucky.

Tisha b'Av

2014-Aug-05, Tuesday 17:58
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
So I was going to write a somewhat rambling blog post about how I'm not sure about mourning the destruction of the Temple when its rebuilding, even assuming the myriad difficulties involved in that were resolved amicably and to everyone's satisfaction, wouldn't impact my life in any way, not to mention the destruction going on now in Gaza makes it kind of hollow...

...but then I found this post that says pretty much what I was going to say already anyway, so I'll leave that link there and quote part of it:
During the Nine Days preceding Tisha B’Av, the 25-hour fast commemorating the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, we reflect on baseless hatred (sinat chinam). The Talmud teaches us that it was the baseless hatred among the people Israel that partially brought about the destruction of the Second Temple. (Along with, you know, high-level political drama with Rome.) We learn in Tractate Yoma:
“But why was the second Sanctuary destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, [observance of] precepts, and the practice of charity? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause.”
...and so it is incumbent upon us to reflect on the baseless hatred in our own lives – and in the world today – as we fast to commemorate its manifold victims.

If you ask me, we in the Jewish community have a lot of reflecting to do: baseless hatred is eating our community alive as the war in Gaza continues.
There's quite a bit more there, and I think it's worth reading.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
This post is borne out of my annoyance with this article titled The Tragedy of Mozilla and with various comments on the internet complaining about how mean people are being to Eich, how if we decide to boycott Mozilla then what happens when "they" decided to boycott something we agree with, when will it end, stop the madness, but free speech lol, and so on.

And another example, here's Andrew Sullivan making the "but both sides!" argument:
When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason.
Of course, as the subject line I mentioned above should tell you, I think this is an incredibly sophomoric view.

You can read plenty of opinions that agree with me here on Sullivan's Facebook page, but I'll quote a bit from Marco Arment because he's one of the hosts of the Accidental Tech Podcast, which is great and you should totally listen to it if you're interested in tech news. Anyway:
Suppose, rather than fund an anti-gay-marriage bill, Eich had instead funded a fringe bill that prohibited black people from getting married. Or suppose he said during a press conference that he believed women shouldn’t have the right to vote.

Would it be reasonable for the public to be outraged and call for his firing then?

Assuming your answer is yes (I don’t think I can really help you if it’s not), why is that different from funding an anti-gay-marriage bill?
More here.

The main thrust of a lot of those internet arguments is basically this:

That all opinions should be freely expressed, and that by not letting Eich talk about his views we will slide ever-downward on a slippery slope toward some kind of censorship hell. Where will it end, asks the straight white male (and it's almost always someone who won't be personally affected by these opinions, though Sullivan's piece above shows that's not the entirety of the counterpoint), and cue the wringing of hands and the gnashing of teeth.

Here's my response to that:

And there's a number of reasons for that.
  1. Someone leaving a company because their behavior reflects badly on that company isn't censorship, it's capitalism. It's just that usually it's poor people getting fired and no one cares, but when the rich have to do it, all of a sudden people are up in arms. Hmmm.

  2. As I said in the subject, not all opinions are of equal value, and treating them as if they are is an abrogation of moral responsibility. "Let's give people their civil rights" is not the equivalent of "those people are subhuman and do not deserve civil rights." Some opinions deserve condemnation whenever they appear. As Marco Arment says above, if Eich had donated to the KKK this wouldn't even be a controversy. The only reason people are freaking out is because of societal bigotry.

  3. Similarly, bigot organizations like One Million Moms boycott equality groups all the time. Boycotts are not some kind of horrible censorship unless you think that capitalists are morally entitled to our money. They're one of the few methods that the powerless have to affect the behavior of the powerful.

  4. Prop 8 wasn't some kind of mere disagreement among ivory tower intellectuals. The proponents' ads in favor were full of insulting bullshit about gay people being too dangerous to allow around children. Slate has an article about it here.

  5. If firing people for their opinions is so bad, how about we repeal right-to-work laws and work to institute employment protections across the entire United States, conservatives? Does that sound good? I think we can work together on this to...hey, where are you going? Were you even listening to me? Again, Slate to the rescue.

  6. It is still legal in 29 states to fire QUILTBAG people for existing. The situation is not remotely comparable, and pretending like it is is...well, see above about the abrogation of moral responsibility.

American culture loves its Golden Mean Fallacy, to the extent that we have rich people apparently sincerely arguing that pointing out that they're destroying democracy and the middle class and leading us toward a nightmare cyberpunk dystopian future is exactly like the treatment of Jews before the Shoah. That's obviously ludicrous, though. Context matters, and treating this like some kind of horrible witch hunt does an incredible disservice to the actual substance of the argument.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
I've been reading a webcomic for three months that I just stopped reading, and the reason why drove me to write about it.

Let me explain. The webcomic is Quantum Vibe, which was mentioned on as pretty good, though with a libertarian bent. "Well, whatever," I thought. "I read Atlas Shrugged[1], I can read this if it's recommended on somewhere I trust the opinion of." And for a while, it did work. The story starts out with the main character losing her job, running out of money, and then being hired on as the assistant of a famous scientist who seems excessively paranoid about his newest assignment for no obvious reason, having to perform really suicidally dangerous tasks like diving under the corona of the sun to detonate some nuclear bombs in order to get some data for his experiments... All in all, it seemed to get off to a really promising start.

Then the Lunar arc happened. The characters started talking about the Lunar government, and that's when the ideological hammer came out. It started with having to go through Lunar customs, which is weird and odd and Lunars (loonies?) do it but no one else introduced has because apparently people living in fragile habitats floating in the endless dark of space don't care about what people are bringing on board? Then the main character is pulled aside for a "random screening." Then at the money-changer, it turns out a post-scarcity civilization still uses gold-backed currency but Lunars are weird because they use FIAT CURRENCY. Then this happens.

That's about the point where I threw up my hands and closed the tab.[2]

I think the problem was the bait-and-switch. I wouldn't have minded if the entire comic had been like that from the beginning, since then I would have had that warning and wouldn't have had all my exceptations changed out from under me. Like I said, I read Atlas Shrugged. And I certainly wouldn't have minded if it hadn't turned into an Author Tract. Changing after I got invested both felt like a betrayal and got really annoying in the way any preaching is annoying when you aren't expecting it.

In writing this, I also realized something else that annoyed me: Lunar society isn't contrasted with any of the other future societies because up to that point almost nothing is described about them. Earth is a cyberpunk hellhole ruled over by a bunch of megacorporations where the population has been genetically engineered into a caste system...and that's about all that's revealed, so Lunar society is a transparently obvious critique of modern America with out-of-control cops, corporations bribing the government, two tiers of justice depending on whether you're rich or poor, a ban on the carrying of personal weapons without a permit, FIAT CURRENCY, etc., etc., etc. So the two societies we know anything about are dystopic, and the main character's habitat is apparently a libertarian paradise which maintains its liberty by virtue of not having to tell us how it actually works.

While looking around the internet for other people's opinion on the topic, I found a Charles Stross essay about how space is often cast is a frontier. In American fiction, the big frontier we always think of is the West back during the days of Manifest Destiny[3], and so space is often cast as the Wild West. But when you think about it, space is really nothing like the Wild We-


But seriously, the usual categorization is Earth groaning under bureaucracy and extreme regimentation, while the true free spirits head out to the asteroids or the outer colonies or whatever to make their fortunes away from the panopticon and obsessive nit-picking of all those dirtgrubbers. But really, this makes no sense. As Stross mentions, on Earth it's easy to strike it off alone and go live in your own community in the wilderness because there's actual wilderness where people can live. In space, the environment is actively trying its level best to murder you literally every second and only constant effort prevents your horrific death by decompression or asphyxiation or radiation poisoning or any of the other ways to die that are really unlikely on Earth. To avoid that, any government in space is way more likely to be a dystopian hellhole than to be some kind of minarchist utopia. And I guess Quantum Vibe does have 2 hellholes to 1 utopias, so that's a start. But one of those is Earth, which gets no points because it doesn't need a dystopia to maintain its very existence.

Summary: Bait-and-switches are terrible, especially if you initially expected it but were lulled into a false sense of security.

[1]: I am aware the Objectivism and Libertarianism are overlapping circles on the Venn.
[2]: Though finally noticing the author's Twitter feed on the side of the page didn't help either.
[3]: To the extent that those days are over, anyway.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
Still working on my NaNo. But in the meantime, there's this.

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Ideally, all contributions would go to the same source and be equally divided between all candidates running who successfully met some threshold (signatures, established party, whatever).

My idea about the influence of money in political campaigns is basically, "If money is speech, then speech isn't free."
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
And now, time for another update. They're rare because my life is a lot of sameness, so I save it until I have interesting things to report.

I got into a big discussion about health care with a libertarian acquaintance on Facebook. It went on for around two weeks, hit 70-something posts, and only ended because of his passive-aggressive status sniping and complaining that my posts were too long so he was only going to respond in person now (and then posting a Ron Paul interview on my wall the next day). His arguments were the usual libertarian idiocy--I can basically summarize them with, "Free market invisible hand free market rational actor free market government fails at everything free market income tax is theft RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRON PAUL!" and give you a good idea. There's a subsidiary discussion on my Facebook wall if anyone wants to read that for a more in-depth analysis.

The best comment was 'sociology has no impact on the market.' I'm a bit curious about this, because I thought he lived on Earth, but clearly he's from the Perfect Robot Future where frail meatbag weakness has been replaced with pure, flawless, metallic logic.

Suzugamine's cultural festival is next week. I've been asked to do some calligraphy at the festival, and I'm finding it more difficult than I thought I would. I'm going to write (matsuri, 'festival'), and that's not a problem. The problem is in public Japanese calligraphy, the way one writes the character is just as important as technical proficiency. So if I just draw straight lines with minimal flourish and get it perfect, it's still not a good performance. That's proving a bit difficult for me. I practice again on Wednesday.

Last weekend was the fall festival in Chiyoda. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I thought there would be food stands and so on around, but we went all over the place and didn't find them. We eventually went to the Arima (our local neighborhood) community center and found out that that's where everyone had gone. There were the traditional kagura performances, including one comedy version of "Tamamo-no-Mae" where the warriors had hard hats and the monk, when Tamamo-no-Mae transformed into a fox and tried to eat him, pulled out a gun and shot her. We also had oden, which was actually good this time. My previous experience with it was last year, but it was only lukewarm when I had it and oden is designed to be served hot.

On the geek-RP front, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is finally running a game for me. It's a dark fantasy game using nWoD as system and reference material (using this thread, written by John Snead, one of the freelancers for White Wolf, as the basis and expanding from there), drawing on Vampire Hunter D, Claymore, and so on for inspiration. It's pretty awesome to actually get to play in a face-to-face game after spending literally years just running. I even used Campaign Cartographer to make a map of the campaign area, though it lacks a lot of detail (because we're going to fill it in in play).

Scribblenauts is fun, and the Large Hadron Collider is hax. That is all.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)

Change you can believe in. :)

And someone on had a good summary of the Republicans losing:

Too bad bigotry is now the law of the land in Florida. I haven't heard results from California, though, but things are looking grim.

Crusade time!

2008-Sep-04, Thursday 23:48
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Sarah Palin on the Iraq war:

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."


Also, God wants us to build more oil pipelines in Alaska. Who knew?


dorchadas: (Default)

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