[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2016-05-18

Potatoes

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 09:13

A group of 51 Muslim states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the United Nations next month on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

People who are anti-Muslim are using this as ammunition to attack people who are anti-bigotry. I find that peculiar. No, all Muslims are not terrorists. That doesn’t make Muslim countries all beacons of tolerance and love. Some, like Saudi Arabia, are dictatorships that behead people (over 150 in Saudi Arabia last year). Some, like Albania, lack any form of religious fanaticism at all — except that which is imported from other nations (such as, you guessed it, Saudi Arabia).

And while yes, Muslim countries are, in general, far less accepting of homosexuals, etc., we shouldn’t be too smug about that. It wasn’t that long ago that American homosexuals were prevented from enjoying the basic human right of being able to marry the person of their choice. It wasn’t all that long ago that a “queer” would be at risk for a brutal, perhaps even lethal, beating in many parts of the USA. Some Americans would like us to go back to that.

So, yeah, this is wrong… but don’t get cocky. We don’t behead people in the USA, but we do execute them in other ways (a couple of dozen a year, at least), and we have the highest prison population rate in the WORLD. And of the three front-runners for being our next President, one has taken tens of millions from Saudi Arabia, and another is a notorious liar and bigot.

The point I am making is this. First, a potato ain’t a cow pie, but that don’t make it a pumpkin pie, either. Second, don’t be too proud just because we are a few decades ahead of some (some) countries when it comes to treating people like human beings.

Wednesday, 2014-05-28

Facebook vs. Google+: a comparison of conversations about gaming

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 10:18

I recently posted the following question/comment to both a Facebook RPG group and a Google+ RPG group, to see if there would be any substantial difference in the quantity and quality of the resulting conversation. This was not a “troll” post, in so far as 1) the post accurately described my opinion, and 2) I was careful not to denigrate the games or the people who wrote them (in fact, I complimented the games, and those compliments are sincere). However, I did choose this topic because I hoped that it would spark a conversation, and I did deliberately phrase my initial post in a manner intended to elicit a polarized response. So take that for what it’s worth.

So… transhumanist games. On the one hand, Eclipse Phase and Nova Praxis look like well-made games with interesting settings. The skill and the creativity of the authors are admirable. On the other hand, a core premise of these games is that people will willingly — even routinely — commit suicide in the process of having some sort of copy of themselves made. I just can’t fathom any sane person ever doing that.

Even if you could have a duplicate of yourself made, why would the real you bother killing yourself? I can’t think of anyone other than a “suicide bomber” — someone willing to die for a cause — who would be willing to undertake such a thing. It’s madness. The closest comparison I can think of is Paranoia, but as crazy as Paranoia is, it doesn’t feature people routinely dying on purpose in order to activate their next clone.

As the conversations progressed, I kept my contributions to each conversation as similar as possible, in order to keep the experiment as unbiased as possible.

The Google+ post received 10 responses (excluding mine), from 4 people. The first response began with the sentence, “This is a lack of imagination on your part.” That generally sums up the tone of the responses on Google+: adversarial, and not focused on gaming at all.

The Facebook post received 41 responses (excluding mine), from 16 people. The first response began with the sentence, “People aren’t always logical.” This generally sums up the tone of the responses on Facebook: conversational, and focused on the characters in the setting. The Facebook conversation also branched out into the themes and genres of the games I referred to in my initial post, particularly Eclipse Phase, which I was reminded was a horror game.

Draw your own conclusions.

P.S. As a result of the conversation on Facebook, my own attitude toward playing these “transhumanist” games (particularly Eclipse Phase) has definitely changed. I can see myself actually playing in them now.

Thursday, 2014-05-15

Django Unchained

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 22:02
Django Unchained

Susan and I just watched Django Unchained. Wow. This is officially my favorite Quentin Tarentino movie, and it makes me want to go back and re-watch a bunch of my favorite spaghetti westerns.

Monday, 2013-01-21

Grudges

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 23:18

Grudges are a waste of time. They accomplish nothing and only make you unhappy. So don’t hold grudges — especially against yourself.

Thursday, 2012-04-26

Bulletproof Blues: Headquarters

Filed under: Gaming,General — bblackmoor @ 22:41

Bulletproof Blues coverA random bit, just for fun. This is an Advantage, which are small not-quite-powers that characters can have:

Headquarters

The character has one or more bases of operation, equipped with supplies and equipment reasonable for the character’s background and skills. If the character is a member of a team, the base(s) might be shared with the other team members, at the player’s discretion. A headquarters is primarily a convenience for the GM and a fun asset for the character. It is not generally useful in combat, and is mainly used for flavor and a setting for roleplaying. For example, a high-tech base might have an air-tight security system, complete with laser turrets and knockout gas, but this won’t keep the base from being broken into by villains or taken over by an evil computer virus.

Wednesday, 2012-01-04

Now that’s a warranty

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 23:10
black Swingline stapler

My black Swingline stapler broke a week ago, and I finally got around to buying a new one today. When I got home and was looking at the packaging, I noticed that it had a limited lifetime warranty. Wondering if my old stapler was also under warranty, I called the 800 number on the package.

After navigating through the menu, I finally reached a human being: a young woman, judging by her voice.

“ACCO Brands customer service. How may I help you?”

“Hi. I have a Swingline stapler, and it broke, and I was wondering if it was covered under warranty.”

“What is the model of the stapler?”

“It says Model 646 on the bottom.”

“And how long have you owned the stapler?”

“About fifteen years.”

… pause …

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I am being serious.”

… pause …

“Okay… I think the warranty on that is one year, but let me check… Ah. That has a lifetime warranty. We will send you a new stapler. May I have your address?”

So I gave her my address, and she said the stapler should arrive in seven to ten days.

Now that’s a warranty.

Monday, 2011-08-29

Subtext and misplaced enthusiasm

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 11:27
Enthusiasm

I read an article a while back comparing how Japanese people express emotion in public to how Americans express emotion in public. The gist of it was that Americans tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, while Japanese people generally don’t. That’s probably not news to anyone with a passing familiarity with Japanese media.

However, an interesting side effect of this is how Americans and Japanese people tend to interpret the emotions of others, based on what the other person is expressing. Japanese people, according to the study I was reading, tend to assume that people are feeling more than they are displaying, when compared to how Americans would interpret the same person’s behaviour. There is (according to that study) a common cultural bias in Japan, and everyone adjusts their perceptions up accordingly. Or, to put it another way, there is a common cultural bias toward excessive displays of emotion in the United States, and Americans reduce their perception of the other person’s emotional state accordingly.

(I am giving the study I read astonishingly short shrift. If you want a scholarly evaluation, there have been a number of studies done on the topic, and you’ll have no trouble finding some.)

This came to mind recently when someone assumed I was insulting them when I expressed enthusiasm over something. I said, effectively, “This is awesome! Check this out!”. The other person interpreted this as, “You are an idiot if you don’t try this!”

I freely admit that I sometimes get wound up about things — quite often, things that have no real importance. I am a fount of misplaced enthusiasm.

However, if I think someone is an idiot, I generally say so. My personal bias is that I say pretty much what I think, and I expect that others are doing the same. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether people are sincere: I assume they are until I find out differently. I think this is a good way to live. If you trust too much, you will occasionally be deceived, but you will live in torment if you cannot trust enough.

However, I have known for many years that not everyone shares this cultural bias. Some people do, in fact, mean “you’re an idiot if you don’t like waffles” when they say “I like waffles”. And so, they expect that other people mean that, too. They project onto others their own nature.

I think that’s really sad. I can’t imagine how dismal it must be to live in a world like that.

Thursday, 2011-08-25

Blarf

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 19:28

Rested for a while, and I’m feeling marginally better. Stomach is still uneasy, but perhaps it will settle down. Wondering whether eating something would be a good idea or a bad idea. Today was almost a total loss. Aside from a fifteen-minute bit of philosophizing around lunchtime, I don’t think I accomplished a single useful thing today. Which is bad. And I seriously doubt I will rectify the situation this evening. Still so nauseous…

But tomorrow is a new day! I’ll get an early start, tackle a project that I have been banging my head on for much too long, finish it, and start the weekend knowing that I have accomplished something!

In honor of my upset stomach, queasiness, and general malaise, I bring you “I’m so sick”.

I’m So Sick from BaronSoosdon on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2011-08-06

The Mugs of August – Very large Star Wars mug

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 23:14
Very large Star Wars mugVery large Star Wars mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

This is a very large Star Wars mug, given to me by my mother for Christmas last year. I am and always have been a huge Star Wars nerd. I saw Star Wars (not “Episode 4”, not “A New Hope” — that crap came much later) when it opened, and over a dozen times more before I was 11.

As it happened, Susan and I watched the Phantom Menace this afternoon. First we watched the Red Letter Media review, which is both hilarious and insightful. Then we watched Hitler’s reaction to the Phantom Menace, which is, surprisingly, also hilarious and insightful.

In a strange bit of synchronicity, we had Black Swan (another Natalie Portman movie) on Netflix sitting here, so we watched that afterward. Strange film. It reminded me of American Psycho — what is real, and what is in the main character’s imagination? I won’t give anything away, but I will say that Black Swan is slightly less surreal than American Psycho.

Sunday, 2011-07-17

Netflix price increase is decrease for Linux users

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 16:59
Netflix

Netflix recently announced that their prices will increase slightly in August, which is too bad, but not really a source of major concern for me. On the other hand, they separated the streaming cost from the DVD cost, and since Netflix foolishly and inexplicably uses Microsoft Silverlight for their streaming, their streaming service is unavailable to the bazillions of Linux users — including me. I was therefore able to cancel the streaming service (which I am unable to use), thus reducing the cost of my Netflix subscription ($3 less than its current cost, $8 less than its post-increase cost). In other words, Netflix lost $8 per month from me by not supporting Linux.

I love you Netflix, but crippling your service by using Microsoft Silverlight was a stupid, stupid move.

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