[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Tuesday, 2017-11-21

Authority figures

Filed under: Movies,Society,Television — bblackmoor @ 14:33

Humanity’s love for authority figures is annoying. “Alien” (1979) gave us a perfect, self-sufficient, self-propagating alien species. “The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.” So naturally a sequel introduced a superfluous “queen”. “Star Trek The Next Generation” gave us the Borg, a hive mind with no leaders, no individual thought: a society of perfect, remorseless unity. So naturally “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996) introduced another superfluous “queen”.

It’s like we can’t even conceive of a society without authority figures, even an alien one.

Alien Queen by Hideyoshi

Monday, 2017-11-20

Save the boners?

Filed under: Medicine — bblackmoor @ 09:01

Hmm. Prostate cancer is more deadly than I realized.

The number of new cases of prostate cancer was 119.8 per 100,000 men per year. The number of deaths was 20.1 per 100,000 men per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2010-2014 cases and deaths. Approximately 11.6 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2012-2014 data. In 2014, there were an estimated 3,085,209 men living with prostate cancer in the United States.

In contrast, the number of new cases of female breast cancer was 124.9 per 100,000 women per year. The number of deaths was 21.2 per 100,000 women per year. These rates are age-adjusted and based on 2010-2014 cases and deaths. Approximately 12.4 percent of women will be diagnosed with female breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2012-2014 data. In 2014, there were an estimated 3,327,552 women living with female breast cancer in the United States.

I knew that the incidence of prostate cancer is about the same as that of breast cancer, but for some reason I thought the mortality rate was much lower.

Save The Boobie, Support Breast Cancer Research

We have the “save the boobies” campaign to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Maybe a “save the boners” campaign for prostate cancer research would not be a terrible idea. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be surprised at the mortality rate.

P.S. There are people who bitterly oppose the “save the boobies” campaign, and would rather it didn’t exist. I think those people are wrong.

Humans are pretty simple. We like sex, we like pretty people, we like people with whom we can easily sympathize. A pretty girl with an inoperable brain tumor raises hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Save the boobies” raises awareness of breast cancer and raises money. A boy with a beautiful smile and a gift for science gets tons of support. People who entertain us get our attention, and our money. Fat people, ugly people, diseases that are just gross, people who are completely ordinary… not so much.

We can bemoan that we are so shallow, and accomplish nothing, or we can leverage human nature to try and make the world better. Having had more than one family member diagnosed with breast cancer (one of whom is now dead), I think any positive action we can take is a good one.

Not every complaint is valid

Filed under: Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 02:25

There is a trend among people I consider the “good guys” to declare intent irrelevant, and elevate someone’s feelings above all. If someone feels hurt, or insulted, or afraid, it doesn’t matter what actually happened or what was actually said — all that matters is how the “victim” feels.

I have a huge problem with this.

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows this to be a fact: not every complaint is valid.

Monday, 2017-11-06

Vote

Filed under: Politics — bblackmoor @ 11:20

This is what happens when decent people do not vote.

This is what happens when decent people do not vote. Vote.

Friday, 2017-11-03

The Battle Of Vukovar

Filed under: History — bblackmoor @ 13:52

We visited Vukovar, and nearby towns, a few weeks ago. Vukovar was the first major European town to be entirely destroyed since the Second World War. When Vukovar fell on November 18, 1991, several hundred soldiers and civilians were massacred. This is what happens when people hang onto ancient grudges, and turn a blind eye to the injustices of the here and now.

We should learn from history, not wallow in it.

Vukovar water tower Comments Off on The Battle Of Vukovar

Thursday, 2017-11-02

Shadow unmasked

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 16:15

Three years ago today, the cat finally escaped the bag: my “halfling” rogue character got outed as a human! I got to use every dodge and half-truth I had thought of before the whole truth finally came out. I had a lot of fun, and the other PCs were gobsmacked that Shadow the fifty-ish male halfling had been a tween-age female human the whole time I had been playing “him” (about a year and a half)….

Shadow (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn)

We were in the very first town in the entire history of the campaign that had even a single halfling in residence. The dwarf barbarian, Elifonsah, who had been suspicious of my character for a while for reasons he could not quite articulate (other than Shadow (my character) “seemed to be hiding something” — which is true), could not help but notice that Shadow (at 4′ 6″) was a good foot and a half taller than any halflings we see.

Shadow: “I’m tall. So? Focus on the mission.”

Elifonsah: “You’re a giant. You’re practically as tall as I am.”

Shadow: “It was that boon that the celestial gave us. I told you it made me taller.” (In fact, the boon did increase Shadow’s Strength by 2, to 12. Each of the party members got a +2 to a random stat. Elifonsah got +2 Intelligence.)

Elifonsah: “Uh huh.”

Later, when we split up to gather information about the mystery that brought us to this town, Elifonsah took this as an opportunity to find and question the local halflings on how one could tell a halfling from a non-halfling, other than by height. He learned that halflings (in this game) have somewhat elongated heads (when compared to humans), and slightly pointed ears. Shadow, of course, wears a hood almost 24 hours a day.

When the group met up again, Elifonsah grabbed Shadow’s hood and pulled it back, revealing a ponytail of hair on a human-shaped head that had round, human-like ears.

Elifonsah: “Ah, ha!” he shouted triumphantly. “YOU ARE NO HALFLING!”

Shadow: (shrug) “Yeah, and? I never said I was a halfling. What are you even talking about?”

Elifonsah: (blinks) “… Wait. What? No! You said… I am sure we… ”

Elifonsah: (to Coenrad, the human sorcerer) “We knew he was a halfling, right? He TOLD us he was a halfling, right?”

Coenred: (puzzled) “Well, I thought he was a halfling… I.. thought he said that. Didn’t he say that?”

Elifonsah: (to Shadow) “You said you were a halfling!”

Shadow: (calmly ) “No, I didn’t. Why would I say that? Have you been drinking?” (It is well known that Elifonsah is a drunk.)

Elifonsah: “No! Yes! That doesn’t matter! You’re not a halfling!”

Shadow: “Let’s say I’m not a halfling. So what? What difference does it make?”

Elifonsah: “Then what are you!”

Shadow: (indignant) “What am I? What are you?”

Elifonsah: “What am I? I’m a dwarf!”

Shadow: (satisfied) “Well okay then.”

Elifonsah: “What? No! What are you!”

Shadow: (indignant) “What am I? What are you?”

Elifonsah: “What am I? I’m a dwarf!”

Shadow: (satisfied) “Well okay then.”

Elifonsah: “STOP THAT!”

Shadow: “Stop what?”

Elifonsah: “You’re messing with my head!”

Shadow: “I really don’t think so.”

Elifonsah: (to Coenred) “He’s trying to confuse us!”

Coenred: “I think it’s working.”

Elifonsah: (to Shadow) “You’re no halfling. I want to know what you are.”

Shadow: (exasperated sigh) “What if I was a half-halfling? A — what would that be? Quarterling? — What if I was a quarterling? Would it matter?”

Elifonsah: “I’ve never heard of a half-halfling!”

Shadow: “Delgoro is a half-orc. Leannan is a half-elf. Why not a half-halfling?”

Elifonsah: (to Coenred) “Are there half-halflings? Is that a thing?”

Coenred: “I, uh… I really don’t know. I’ve never met one.”

Shadow: “You never met a halfling before you met me, either.”

Elifonsah: “YOU ARE NO HALFLING!”

Shadow: “I never said I was. I just said you hadn’t met one.”

Elifonsah: (to Shadow’s best friend Nigel, the human cleric in his fifties, who joined the group with Shadow a year and a half ago) “Did he say he was a halfling, or not?”

Nigel: “I’m… not… sure.”

Elifonsah: (to Shadow) “I want to know what you are. How can we trust you? You’re keeping secrets!”

Shadow: “Oh, you don’t have secrets? Really?”

Elifonsah: “That’s not the point! You’ve been lying to us!”

Shadow: (offended) “I have never lied to you.” (This is a lie.)

Elifonsah: “I want to know what you are, right now.”

Shadow: (pulls down face mask, which normally covers Shadows face from the nose on down) “Fine: I’m a human, okay? But I am the same person I was yesterday. I am just as good at stabbing people now as I was before.”

Elifonsah: “You’ve been lying to us! How can we trust you!”

Shadow: “Pfft. I could have killed you a dozen times over if I wanted to.”

Elifonsah: “Aha!”

Shadow: “‘Aha’ what? I didn’t!”

Elifonsah: “You are sneaky!”

Shadow: “That’s my job! I go into danger first and then come back and tell you about it! I keep you safe!”

Coenred: “That is his job. He’s the scout.”

Elifonsah: “Nigel, did you know about this?”

Nigel: “Well, yeah.”

Elifonsah: “For how long?”

Nigel: “Always, ever since I met her.”

Elifonsah: (indignant) “Always!”

Elifonsah: (shocked) “WAIT, WHAT!?!”

Elifonsah: (to Shadow) “WHAT ARE YOU!?!?!?!”

Shadow: “I already said I was human.”

Elifonsah: “And female?”

Shadow: “Yeah, duh. (pulls sword) Do you have a problem with that? Because if you do, I will cut you into tiny pieces.”

Elifonsah: (to Coenred) “SEE? SEE? He… she…. she’s threatening me!”

Shadow: “Why do you even care? I do my job. I am just as good at stabbing people now as I was this morning. What difference does it make??”

Elifonsah: “You’ve been keeping secrets! How do we know you don’t have other secrets? How do we know we can trust you?”

Shadow: “I saved Coenred. I helped save Leannan. I’ve fought with you since I was this tall.” (holding up hand to her chin) “What else do you want?”

Elifonsah: (still skeptical) “I guess that makes sense.”

Shadow: “Good. Now can we get on with the mission?”

Elifonsah: “Wait. If you’re human, how old are you? You’re really small for a human.”

Shadow: (shrugs) “I dunno. Why does that matter?” (Shadow is 12, but she does not know that, or even what her birthday is. And she’s small even for a 12-year-old.)

Elifonsah: “Huh.”

Shadow: “Are we good now? Can we get on with the mission?”

Elifonsah: (sullen) “Yeah. I guess. (pause) I need a drink.”

I am leaving out some stuff where Efilonsah was asking Nigel about how he and Shadow met. Short version: Shadow was an 8 year old street orphan, Nigel was bleeding to death, and Shadow dragged Nigel to a temple. They’d been together ever since.

Wednesday, 2017-11-01

Blackmoor wedding, October 31, 1991

Filed under: About Me,Family,Friends — bblackmoor @ 17:37

The wedding of Brandon and Susan Blackmoor, October 31, 1991. There are a few folks in this who aren’t with us anymore, including Susan’s mother and her uncle. The last half is all present-unwrapping the next day: I recommend skipping that.

Wednesday, 2017-10-18

Be very careful of what you type on a keyboard

Filed under: Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 22:34

Be very careful of what you type on a keyboard. There is no such thing as an innocent gaffe, and what may be considered ordinary banter today could be considered unforgivable heresy tomorrow.

I am grateful that I am inconsequential enough that my words and deeds have not been subjected to motivated public scrutiny. I have not always been as enlightened or even-tempered as I would like to be.

Fun fact! My first online nickname, back in the 1980s, was “heretic”. (There wasn’t a “world wide web” back then, but there was an Internet.)

According to this, you're a heretic.

Tuesday, 2017-09-12

The problem with ‘privilege’

Filed under: Civil Rights,Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 14:39

You're not being oppressed when another group gains rights that you've always had.

White privilege“.

Male privilege“.

Straight privilege“.

It bugs me so much that the word “privilege” is used in this context. “Privilege” is something that not everyone has, and that not everyone should have. But everyone should be able to travel without fear of being stopped for no reason. Everyone should be able to live day to day without fearing for their lives if a police officer notices them. Everyone should have their accomplishments respected and accepted without questioning if they had actually earned them. Everyone should be able to go through their lives without experiencing a constant barrage of insults or “jokes” aimed at their ancestry, or gender, or sexual proclivities, or skin color.

Using “privilege” to describe these benefits says that they should be taken away, which is the exact opposite of what ought to happen. These are not privileges — they are what everyone ought to have.

The argument for this terminology is that it points out that a person belonging to group X (males, straight people, “white” people, whatever) has some benefit that those in other groups do not have, a fact of which some (perhaps most) in group X are unaware. (Although how any straight, white, American male could possibly be oblivious to their status relative to other groups is a mystery to me.)

But given the standard response when the phrase “_____ privilege” is used, this terminology fails to convey that. The response is typically, “I am ____ , and I don’t have any special privilege!” And that response is correct — they don’t have any special privileges. What they do have is the ordinary way life should be for everyone, but isn’t.

So what would be better? “Respect”? “Dignity”? “Liberty”?

Personally, I think discourse on this topic would be improved if the focus were less on what group X has, and more on the gap between what group X has and what other groups have. There is a phrase already in common parlance: “income inequality”. I think we need a focus on “dignity inequality”, or “liberty inequality” — the emphasis being not to take it away from people who have it, but to make sure that everyone has it.

To be clear (because someone will read this far and yet still somehow fail to understand this), I am not saying that the disparity does not exist. I think you’d have to be willfully ignorant or just plain despicable to claim that (and many ignorant and/or despicable people do — Google “myth of white privilege” if you want your love of humanity severely tested). I am saying that if we, people of good will, are to come together and eliminate that disparity in treatment, describing it as a “privilege” makes that work more difficult.

Thursday, 2017-08-17

The Confederacy is not the South

Filed under: History — bblackmoor @ 11:37

The Confederacy is not the South. The Confederacy was a six-year tragedy in a history that stretches back over 400 years. There were other tragedies along the way, obviously — the genocide of native Americans and the chattel slavery of Africans being the two biggest ones, but as these were American atrocities rather than strictly Southern ones, I won’t be addressing them here. This isn’t about the crimes of the United States: this is about the southern USA (or just “the South”, as it’s affectionately known), which had its first permanent European settlement in St. Augustine, Florida in 1465, by the Spanish. The South existed for hundreds of years before the stain of the Confederacy, and the South is still here long after the blight of the Confederacy is gone (and good riddance!).

Even some Confederate generals, such as James Longstreet and William Mahone, recognized the value and importance of a United States with racial equality, and worked to make it happen. Sadly, they have been largely forgotten — or demonized — by Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

A Southerner who glorifies the Confederacy and treats it like something to memorialize is like a 50 year old man who met a girl in a bar when he was 18, took her home, and woke up with a dead dog, a stolen truck, an empty bank account, and a case of herpes — but who insists on keeping her photo on the mantle because it’s his “heritage”. He shouldn’t be blaming himself for that mistake after all these years, but he damned sure shouldn’t be reminiscing about it, either.

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