[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2015-10-07

Misfits, Gotham, Agents Of Shield, Heroes Reborn, Powers

Filed under: Television — bblackmoor @ 17:53
Misfits Season 1 Blu-ray

I’ve reached the end of Misfits (eight seasons on Netflix, but there’s only eight episodes per season). While it’s a bit uneven, and sometimes it takes some effort to care about the characters, I like it so much more than the current seasons of Gotham, Agents of Shield, and Heroes Reborn.

The thing that irks me most about Heroes Reborn, and why I won’t be watching it anymore, is the tiresome “there’s no time!”/”it’s too dangerous!” enforced secrecy, without which the whole plot would collapse like a deflated bouncy house. If the main characters just had a five minute conversation, they could save us all the trouble of sitting through a dozen episodes of nothing. But no: there’s no time/it’s too dangerous! “No time” is right: life is too short to watch an exercise in padding.

Agents of Shield is just boring. I don’t care about the characters, don’t care about their mission, the plots are dull, the villains are dull, the outfits are dull, yawn, goodbye.

And Gotham… I liked the first season of Gotham, but FFS, I get it: the red-headed kid is the Joker. Except he’s not, because the Joker won’t show up for another 10-15 years (after Batman does), and when he does, whoever he used to be is a huge mystery, so he can’t be some famous over-the-top psycho from when Bruce Wayne was a kid. Seriously, he’s way over-the-top. Jim Carrey in The Mask is looking at this guy and going, “Whoa, dude: dial it back a notch.”

I hope Powers comes back for another season. The first season was slow, the production values are… frugal, and Eddie Izzard’s character will probably not return (he was the shining beacon of the first season), but I would still like to see where it goes from where the first season left off.

The noise and haste

Filed under: Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 11:35

There should be a name for the phenomenon of, “I’m right to believe this even if the reasons I state for believing it are false”. I see it all the time. Guns. GMOs. Black pets around Halloween. Being offended at someone’s costume. No matter how portentous or trivial the topic, facts just don’t seem relevant. It’s not a “liberal” vs “conservative” thing, either: it’s universal.

But it’s easier to block people who spew nonsense than argue with them. It’s not like an argument on the Internet ever changed anyone’s mind, anyway.

Friday, 2015-10-02

A brief review of the facts related to violent crime in the USA

Filed under: Firearms,Society — bblackmoor @ 16:20

A brief summary, which is all that I intend to say on the matter for the foreseeable future:

Should we provide greater support for the mentally ill? Yes.
Would it make a significant difference in violent crime? No.
Are gun owners without criminal records a danger to society? No.
Are the mentally ill a danger to society? No.
Does the USA have the highest intentional homicide rate among “developed countries”? No.
Is the rate of intentional homicide in the USA higher now than ever? No.

Is intentional homicide tragic? Yes.

Do I wish there was less of it? Yes.

Can we wave a magic wand and make it go away? No.

P.S. As a student of criminology, it vexes me terribly when people trot out the same old banners any time a tragedy makes the news (lately, I just look away until the shouting is over). This article by Mark Manson makes some excellent points that I am usually not patient or calm enough to make.

I have no idea who Mark Manson is. I hope I won’t be embarrassed by linking to his blog.

P.P.S. Reading pro-gun people and anti-gun people argue is like listening to a flat-earther argue with a creationist.

Friday, 2015-09-25

Manos Rising

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 21:11

Me: You know, I watched “Manos: The Hands Of Fate” the other night, and I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone says.

Susan: … Really.

Me: Yeah, really! I mean, yeah, the pacing is pretty bad —

Susan: And the acting, and the sound, and the cinematography…

Me: And the directing, yes. But other than that —

Susan: The writing?

Me: Okay, not the writing itself, no, that’s terrible. But the basic premise

Susan: The plot?

Me: Yes, the plot. The essential concept of the film. That’s actually pretty cool. This family goes on vacation, takes a wrong turn in the desert, and they wind up somewhere that normally isn’t there. It’s off sideways, and most people can’t find even if they are looking for it.

Susan: I don’t remember that.

Me: Yes! Everyone says that road doesn’t go anywhere. So where did this family end up? It’s like some otherwhere. And there’s a creepy caretaker, and a Master who’s always with us but “not dead as you know it”, and then the Master returns, and the family runs away into the desert but they come back… it’s actually a pretty cool idea.

Susan: Huh. So maybe they should remake that.

Me: Yes, they should! Only bad movies should have remakes, and only until a good movie is the result. They should never remake a good movie, because there is no need to — there is already a good movie with that concept. That’s how we got “The Maltese Falcon”.

Susan: So what do you think about the new Ghostbusters?

Me: sigh

Monday, 2015-08-24

Why Dracula has such incompetent henchmen

Filed under: Civil Rights,Movies,Society — bblackmoor @ 09:12

Years ago, while watching The Wraith, I wondered out loud why “cool” villains like Dracula (or Nick Cassavetes in The Wraith) were always surrounded by incompetent creeps and toadies like Renfield (or “Skank” in The Wraith) — people I wouldn’t trust to guard an egg salad sandwich. Her reply was, in essence, because those are the kinds of followers they deserve — that they are not, in fact, “cool” at all.

I am reminded of that conversation whenever I read comments by Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen where they make weak attempts to distance themselves from Theodore Beale without distancing themselves from what Beale says or does. When you find yourself on the same side as the Theodore Beales of the world, it’s time to reevaluate your position.

Friday, 2015-07-31

Windows 10 tips

Filed under: Windows — bblackmoor @ 15:56

These are notes for my own purposes, but they might be useful to others, as well. Note that it might be helpful for you to download the Windows 10 installation media yourself, rather than waiting for Microsoft to send it to you

  1. Re-install video drivers and mouse drivers
    I had weird problems until I did this. Make sure you get the newest drivers.
  2. Enable Privacy
  3. Turn on System Protection
    1. Open a File Explorer window
    2. Right-click This PC and choose Properties
    3. Select System Protection in the left pane
    4. Select C: drive in the dialog box that opens
    5. Click the Configure button
    6. Select “Turn on system protection” option
  4. Modify Start Menu
    1. Open the Start Menu, right click each pane, and select “Unpin from Start” (optionally, keep the Weather pane, but open it up and set the correct location)
    2. Unpin the Edge and Store icons from the taskbar
    3. Right-click the taskbar and hide the Search and Task View icons from the taskbar
  5. Clean Up Programs
    1. Open the Start Menu, click Settings >> System >> Apps & Features
    2. Sort by name
    3. Uninstall…
      • Get Office
      • Get Skype
      • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  6. Install Classic Shell
    The settings below are only the changes from the default.

    1. Right click the Start menu icon, and select Settings.
    2. Toggle Show All Settings.
    3. Controls
      • Shift+Click opens: Nothing
      • Windows key opens: Windows Start Menu
    4. Main Menu
      • Show Metro apps: unchecked
      • Programs pane width: 60
      • Minimum menu height: 30
      • Show Start Screen shortcut: unchecked
    5. General Behavior
      • Highlight newly installed programs: unchecked
      • Enable touch features: unchecked
      • Enable accessibility: unchecked
      • Show next to taskbar (when taskbar is vertical): checked
    6. Search Box
      • Search the Internet: unchecked
    7. Skin: Windows Aero
    8. Customize Start Menu
      • User files: Don’t display this item
      • Videos: Display as a link
      • Downloads: Display as a link
      • SEPARATOR (above Games): Don’t display this item
      • Games: Don’t display this item
      • SEPARATOR (add above This PC): Display this item
      • SEPARATOR (above PC Settings): Don’t display this item
      • PC Settings: Display this item
      • Devices and Printers: Don’t display this item
      • Default Programs: Don’t display this item
      • Help: Don’t display this item
      • Windows security: Don’t display this item
  7. Customize Quick Access Toolbar
    This is a small drop-down arrow at the top of Windows Explorer.
    Select “Show below the Ribbon”
  8. Customize Windows Explorer
    Click “View” button on the Ribbon, click the “Options” button, and select “Change folder and search options”. As above, I am only noting changes from the default settings.

    1. General
      • Open File Explorer to: This PC
      • Show recently used files in Quick Access: unchecked
      • Show recently used folders in Quick Access: unchecked
    2. View
      • Always show menus: checked
      • Display the full path in the title bar: checked
      • Hidden files and folders: Show hidden files, folders, and drives
      • Hide empty drives: not checked
      • Hide extensions for known file types: not checked (this is the most idiotic option ever)
      • Hide folder merge conflicts: not checked
      • Hide protected operating system files: not checked
      • Restore previous folder windows at logon: checked
      • Expand to open folder: checked
      • Show libraries: checked
      • Click the “Apply To Folders” button, and click OK
  9. Move the Taskbar
    Move the Taskbar to the left side of the screen. With a widescreen monitor (which any new computer will have), it makes much more sense to waste a small strip on the left than a strip that runs all the way across the bottom of the screen, making a narrow display area even narrower.
  10. Show drive letters before the drive name
  11. Disable World Wide Web Publishing Service
    1. Open Settings
    2. In the search box, type “Services”
    3. Click “View system services”
    4. Right-click “World Wide Web Publishing Serivce” and select “Properties”
    5. Click “Stop”
    6. Locate the “Startup type” dropdown, and set it “Disabled”
    7. Click “Apply” and “OK”
  12. Install Search Everything
  13. Install KeyTweak and remap the Caps Lock key to Left Shift
  14. Add a Take Ownership context menu to Windows Explorer
  15. Install Ditto clipboard manager
  16. Disable Aero Snap
    1. Open Settings >> System >> Multitasking
    2. Set Snap to off
  17. Install AllSnap (the 64 bit version, if you are running 64-bit Windows, which you should be)
    I set the horizontal and vertical grids to some number that divides equally into the screen resolution. For example, my horizontal setting (which is actually the vertical spacing — AllSnap labels them backwards) is 270 and my vertical setting (which is actually the horizontal spacing) is 160.
  18. If you use Photoshop, install FastPictureViewer Codec Pack
    It costs money, but it’s worth it if you use Photoshop.
  19. Remove Homegroup link from the Explorer navigation pane
  20. Remove Documents, Music, etc. links from This PC in the Explorer navigation pane
    Unpin them in the Quick Access section, too.
  21. Add Libraries link to the Explorer navigation pane
  22. Disable and remove OneDrive
  23. Remove the user folder from the Explorer navigation pane.
  24. If you use DropBox, remove DropBox link from the Explorer navigation pane
  25. If you use DropBox, pin the DropBox folder to Quick Access
  26. Install Q-Dir
    Despite the changes I made above, I still found the default Windows File Explorer frustrating. I tried a number of alternate file managers, including Explorer++, FreeCommander, and XYplorer. Q-Dir met my needs better than anything else I tried. As above, I am only noting changes from the default settings.

    1. In the layout toolbar, at the top right of the screen, left click “3-Dir (Tile vertically)” (or “2-Dir”, on a smaller screen), then right-click the same button to make the panes the same size.
    2. Click Extras >> Tree-View …
      • Select “Each has one”, then click the “Tree” icon in the toolbar above each pane.
      • Select “I hate colors”.
      • Select “Expand the system favorites at program start”.
    3. Click Extras >> Title-Bar …
      • Select “Show the full path”.
    4. Click Extras >> Address-Bar …
      • Select “Modern address bar”.
      • Select “Modern address bar >> No icons”.
    5. Click File >> Restart
    6. Click Extras >> Status-Bar …
      • Select “Size of the selected objects”.
    7. Exit Q-Dir, and then “Run as Administrator”.
    8. Click Extras >> Q-Dir as default browser…
      • Folder
      • My Documents
    9. Exit Q-Dir, and then run normally.

Now that you have done all of that, there are a few essential applications you should consider installing:

  1. 7-Zip
  2. Bulk Rename Utility
  3. Firefox You might also consider these addons:
  4. FontExpert (It costs money, but if you work with fonts a great deal, it is worth it.) When you put fonts into groups, make sure you create shortcuts, rather than copying the font files.
  5. Irfanview and the Irfanview plugins
  6. Ninite Updater
  7. Notepad++
  8. SmartDefrag

Tuesday, 2015-07-28

Musings on cinematic duels in roleplaying games

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 09:31

Ran across this (“Cinematic Lightsaber Dueling“) today, which reminded me of an ongoing game-design problem that I have never solved to my own satisfaction. In the source media from which I draw inspiration for my own games, it is often the case that a combat ends when one opponent successfully hits the other: a single hit ends the fight. This isn’t the case for every fight, even within a single genre — fistfights, in particular, tend to lend themselves more to the traditional “whittling down the hit points” game mechanic. But in duels with lethal weapons — whether using lightsabers, phasers, or rapiers — a single successful hit tends to end the combat.

The biggest problem is not in coming up with a game mechanic to replicate this. The “Extended Tasks” rules in Bulletproof Blues, for example, could easily be used to model this sort of combat. The hurdle for me is combining this type of conflict with the more traditional “whittling down the hit points” combat in the same fight. They don’t really work together.

At the moment, I am thinking that a possible solution might be to use the same “Extended Tasks” style of resolution for conflicts that seem, on the surface, to be more traditional fights, and treating the “whittling down the hitpoints” as a “special effect” rather than a fixed number representing a concrete (rather than abstract) effect.

It occurs to me that way back in the day (the early to mid 1980s), this is how some people interpreted combat in AD&D (first edition, although of course we did not call it that back then). It was not a widely held interpretation, and was observed more in theory than in practice even among its proponents.

Monday, 2015-07-20

If I am not black or gay or poor, why do I support them?

Filed under: Civil Rights,Philosophy — bblackmoor @ 16:48

Someone who has stumbled across my blog as a result of my firearm-related posts or pro-Southern posts or “anti-Obama” posts (that’s in quotes for a reason — I am not actually anti-Obama) might wonder… why do I also post things in support of “welfare” recipients? Why would I post, in full, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail“? Why would I combine the rebel flag (often erroneously referred to as the Confederate flag) with the rainbow flag associated with “gay pride”? I am a middle-class pasty-white Southern male — so why would I support poor people, and black people, and gay people?

(Aside from just basic human decency, that is — this explanation is intended for people whose grasp of “basic human decency” is … lacking.)

Southern pride rainbow flag

It’s not complicated. It is because I believe that these things are inextricably linked. For example, the rebel flag and the rainbow flag both represent pride in who you are, even in the face of bullies who would would mock you and attempt to shame you for it. They both stand for dignity, and defiance in the face of those who would treat us as “less than”. And neither of them, in any way, stand for demeaning anyone else — the people who claim that are bigots.

Similarly, I myself am not poor — but I used to be. I was on the “free lunch program” as a child. I got paid minimum wage (or less) for years as an adult. I still know people who struggle to earn enough to feed themselves and afford a safe place to live. The fact that I support the right of peaceful, law-abiding individuals to own and carry firearms goes hand-in-hand with my desire to see people paid fair wages for their work. Everyone’s life has value. No one should have to live in fear — not fear of being assaulted, and not fear of being homeless.

What it boils down to is that while I am not gay, or black, or poor, I want to live in a world where it is safe to be me, regardless of who I am.

And, as I said, it’s just basic human decency.

Self awareness in machines

Filed under: Society,Technology — bblackmoor @ 09:01

How long do you think it will take for us to get from this

To this

Wednesday, 2015-07-15

Hustle & Flow

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 21:55

Just watched Hustle & Flow. To my surprise, I liked it a lot. Craig Brewer and John Singleton get the South. They get it.

Everybody gotta have a dream.

Hustle & Flow

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