[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2016-05-05

Definition of “virtue signaling”

Filed under: Philosophy,Society,Writing — bblackmoor @ 10:46

vir·tue sig·nal·ing
/ˈvərCHo͞o ˈsiɡnəliNG/
verb
gerund or present participle

  1. a phrase used by sociopaths when trying to explain the behaviour of someone who has empathy.
     
    “she is collecting cans of food for the hurricane victims, but that’s just virtue signaling”
    “my rape jokes were funny, but I got fired because my supervisor was virtue signaling”
    “people who call Donald Trump a bigot and a sexist are just virtue signaling”

Thursday, 2016-04-28

A game of three factions

Filed under: Politics — bblackmoor @ 09:08

From my own particularly skewed point of view it seems that there are three basic factions in this game.

The first faction is controlled by the super-rich, and seeks to maintain the status quo and push us even further into oligarchy. Their figurehead is Clinton. She’s a puppet, she knows it, and she’s perfectly comfortable with that.

The second faction is basically the same as the first faction, but they are seeking to supplant the first faction by appealing to the angry and ignorant, providing easy answers and asking only that people give up their humanity in return. Their figurehead is Trump, although I don’t think he’s self-aware enough to realize that he is a figurehead.

The third faction is controlled by ordinary people, everywhere from dirt-poor up to moderately wealthy. They want to depose the oligarchs and return some portion of that power to the citizenry. Their figurehead is Sanders, and he knows it, but he does his best to keep telling them that he doesn’t want to be their figurehead — that he wants them to take that power back for themselves, and not make it about him. But people do love their figureheads, don’t they?

Monday, 2016-04-25

Mobile audio 2003-2016

Filed under: Fine Living,Technology — bblackmoor @ 10:49

One of the first things I did when I bought my Hyundai Tiburon in 2003 was to replace the stereo and install an mp3 player in the trunk (mounted on the back of one of the back seats). It was a full size 20 GB hard drive that connected to the “head unit” (the stereo in the dash board) via the interface that was originally intended for a trunk-mounted CD changer (basically a very long extension cord). Imagine that: 20 GB of music in a space the size of a large hardback book! Keep in mind that this was a year before the iPod was released: we are talking some cutting edge stuff here.

Neo 35 mp3 car jukebox

A couple of years later, I upgraded from that beast to a Creative Zen Touch portable mp3 player, which held as much as the Neo did in a fraction of the size. I replaced the stereo with one that had an auxiliary jack in the back, and custom-wired a headphone jack into one of my blank dash buttons. As the years passed, I eventually upgraded to an 80 GB iPod Touch (running Rockbox firmware — I have no love for iTunes). 80 GB in a package the size of a pack of cigarettes? Astounding!

Tiburon dash 2010-07-13

Now it has come time to upgrade again. This time, the stereo has USB ports in the back that can support a standard thumb drive. I removed the headphone jack from the dash, and installed USB ports in the ash tray (which is normally closed). Into one of those USB ports, I now have a 128 GB flash drive: six times as much music storage as the Neo 35, in a widget the size of a nickel, hidden in my ash tray.

Freaking amazing.

Tiburon ash tray 2016-04-25

Wednesday, 2016-04-13

Ethics in building design

Filed under: Comics,Conventions,Gaming — bblackmoor @ 09:05

What the whole “sexism/harassment in gaming/conventions/comic shops” looks like to me…

Someone, we’ll call them Chris, says, “We need to do something about these precipices with no railings. People keep falling — or getting pushed — over the edge, and other folks are just standing around while it happens. If you see someone on the edge of a precipice, don’t just stand there: give them a hand. And maybe put some railings around these things.”

Then a handful of people show up wearing “RailingHate” t-shirts, shouting, “This is anti-precipice liberal hate speech! Precipices are not a problem!” And they start pushing people into the chasm.

Chris is horrified, and a little confused. “Seriously? You just pushed someone over that precipice!”

But the RailingHate crowd shouts, “That’s a lie! They dated a guy whose cousin worked across the street from a company that once made signs for a railing company! It’s a huge conspiracy!” And they push a couple more people over the precipice.

Chris says, “What are you doing?? Are you insane? Why are you doing that? Stop! Please stop!”

Meanwhile, the RailingHate crowd is grabbing people and tossing them into the precipice, while shouting, “There is no need for railings! No one is falling into these precipices — they just want attention! It’s all about ethics in building design!”

It’s the most weird, demented, surreal thing I have ever seen in real life.

Friday, 2016-04-08

Trainwreck

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 21:05

Trainwreck

Watched the first half of a movie called “Trainwreck”. The only funny lines were spoken by a big beefy weight-lifter looking guy (IMDB tells me his name is John Cena), but he was only in the first fifteen minutes or so of the movie. After that… not remotely funny. Not even interesting. Watching the sandwich artists at Subway put together an Italian sub is more entertaining. It’s not even interesting in an “oh my god this is horrible, who thought this was a good idea” way, like that Reese Witherspoon/Sofia Vergara movie “Hot Pursuit” (which is truly terrible, and I do not recommend you watch it). It’s just dull. I started checking the time at 18 minutes. At an hour, we decided to “take a break”.

It’s going to be a long break.

Petula Clark, Harry Belafonte, and Mizhena

Filed under: Civil Rights,Gaming,Television — bblackmoor @ 07:21

There is a computer game called Baldur’s Gate. It’s a fantasy adventure game based on Dungeons & Dragons, along the lines of Lord Of The Rings. An expansion for the game was released recently, and in that expansion there is a minor character named “Mizhena” who, if you engage with them and repeatedly ask them questions, will eventually tell you that they are transgender. If you are unfamiliar with Dungeons & Dragons, you might not realize that transgender characters have been a part of that game world for 30 or 40 years. It’s not new. It is, however, new to the Baldur’s Gate game.

As a result, a small segment of the Baldur’s Gate fan base revealed themselves to be vile bigots. These bigots created a “controversy”, objecting to the inclusion of this character in the game.

Petula Clark and Harry BelafonteThis “controversy” comes at an interesting time. Today, April 8 2016, is the 48th anniversary of the broadcast of the Petula Clark Show on NBC. Petula Clark was a very popular singer at the time, having fifteen consecutive Top 40 hits in the USA, starting with “Downtown” in 1965. Clark was joined on her special by Harry Belafonte, who had made Calypso and Caribbean music popular throughout the world with his singing in the 1950s. During a duet toward the end of the show, Clark touched Belafonte briefly on the arm. Doyle Lott, a vice president from Chrysler, the show’s sponsor, was present at the taping. Lott objected to the “interracial touching”. He pressured NBC to remove the “forced” contact between Clark and Belafonte, to remove this “social justice” from the show. However, Petula Clark stuck to her guns, and the special was broadcast with the “controversial” touching. When the show aired, it received high ratings.

It’s been over 40 years, and the Doyle Lotts of the world are still manufacturing controversies to defend their bigotry. I think it is right and just that people are enjoying the music of Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte to this very day, while Doyle Lott has been reduced to a footnote in the history of civil rights.

There are many cases where people of good will can and do disagree. That is usually the case, in my opinion. However, these cretins who wail and moan and gnash their teeth any time they see someone other than themselves represented are not people of good will. They are the bartender who says, “We don’t serve their kind here.” They are the prejudiced priest who refuses to heal the half-orc in the party. They are the pig-faced sheriff that says, “We don’t take kindly to outsiders around here.” They are the craven peasant accusing a midwife of witchcraft. They’re the corrupt king who doesn’t want the adventurers to fight the dragon because it’s never his daughter that gets sacrificed to it.

These are not people of good will. They are not defenders of the sanctity of gaming. They are, by their own choice and by their own hand, villains.

Tuesday, 2016-04-05

Stability spending in Trail Of Cthulhu

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 08:22

I have created a chart for Trail Of Cthulhu, showing when it is a good idea to spend Stability to improve a Stability roll, and when it isn’t (note: it usually isn’t). Maybe this will be useful to someone.

Trail Of Cthulhu Stability Spend chart

For myself, I do not think I will use this mechanic as written. I think that I will use the following house rules.

  1. Players can’t “spend” on Stability rolls.
  2. A player may choose for their character to lose half* of the potential Stability loss instead of rolling.
  3. A character’s Stability can’t go to -12 unless it is already -11. The character’s Stability has to drop to -11 before it can go any lower. (This gives the character one last chance to survive.)

That’s orders of magnitude simpler, and will always work out better for the character than the standard “spend” rules.

(* Rounded in the character’s favor. Always round in the character’s favor.)

Saturday, 2016-04-02

Tomorrowland (2015)

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 15:04

Tomorrowland (2015)

This afternoon’s matinee at Castle Blackmoor … Tomorrowland (2015).

It’s actually quite a bit of fun after it gets started. Unfortunately, it takes a full half-hour to get started. We were close to giving up on it. So if you’ve not seen it, give it a try, just don’t expect the movie to actually start until about a half-hour after the opening credits.

Monday, 2016-03-28

Playing music into a Google Hangout

Filed under: Music,Podcast,Software,The Internet,Windows — bblackmoor @ 11:04

Here is how I play music (MP3 files) into a Google Hangout.

Hardware

Software

Setup

  1. Install Virtual Audio Cable. Don’t mess with the settings. Just install it.
  2. Run “Audio repeater (MME)”, which was installed by Virtual Audio Cable.
    1. Set “Wave in” to your headset microphone.
    2. Set “Wave out” to Line 1 (Virtual Audio cable).
    3. Set “Total buffer (ms)” to 100.
    4. Click “Start”.
  3. In the task icon area of the taskbar, right-click the speaker, and select “Recording Devices”.
    1. Right-click the headset microphone, and select “Set as Default Device”.
    2. Double-click Line 1. On the Listen tab, select “Listen to this device”.
    3. Also on the Listen tab, set “Playback through this device” to the headset.
  4. Run Chrome.
  5. In Chrome, go to Google Hangouts, and click “Video Call”.
  6. When the Hangouts window opens, click the gear icon in the upper right corner. On the General tab…
    1. Select the webcam for the “Video”.
    2. Select Line 1 for the “Microphone”.
    3. Select the headset for the “Speakers”.
  7. Open VLC Media Player.
    1. Add songs to the playlist.
    2. In the Audio menu, select Audio >> Audio Device >> Line 1 (Virtual Audio Cable).
  8. Invite people to join the hangout.
  9. Play songs in VLC. Other people in the Hangout will hear them. To avoid drowning myself out, I set the VLC output level to about 90%.

Recording

Here are the settings I used to record in Flashback Express.

  1. In the Tools >> Options menu, look in the Sound section.
  2. Under Sound Source, select “PC Speakers (what you hear)”.
  3. In the drop-down under “PC Speakers (what you hear)”, select the headset.
  4. Now, when recording in Flashback Express, check “Record Sound”.
  5. Still in Flashback Express, for “Source” select “PC Speakers (what you hear)”.

When done with the hangout

  1. Close the Hangout window.
  2. Click “Stop” in Audio Repeater, and close it.
  3. In the Windows “Sound” dialog, select “Recording Devices”.
    1. Double-click Line 1. On the Listen tab, un-select “Listen to this device”.
    2. Click “Okay”.
  4. Close VLC Media Player.

Tuesday, 2016-03-15

Retiring abroad

Filed under: Fine Living,Retirement,Travel — bblackmoor @ 14:40

Nova Scotia has an average of 8-10 feet of snow annually, which is too much for me. So retiring to Cape Breton Island is out. Retiring to Cape Breton Island is still a possibility.

Looking at the countries on this list, Cuenca (Ecuador) is still high on my list, because of the climate, the cost, and the existing expatriate community. Boquete (Panama) is a strong second, and Panama (for the moment) makes it very easy to obtain permanent residency. Mexico (Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende) would be a third choice: it’s easy to emigrate there, and like Panama and Ecuador, it rates pretty well for health care and medicine. And it’s a lot closer to the USA, in case we want to come back for visits.

A lot of the other places listed in the attached link sound great in most respects (like Malaysia), but are just too warm for me, while others sound great in most respects but are too expensive for me to consider retiring there (such as Ireland).

The first step will be visiting one of these places to see if we actually like it there. Anyone up for a group vacation in 2017?

I need to remember to check on the internet speed, cost, and reliability in these places.

Update: Internet in Cuenca seems decent. Netflix and Hulu are available, but require a VPN. In Boquete, there appear to be a number of high-speed internet providers, but Netflix and Hulu are only available through a VPN. Guanajuato also has high speed internet, and again, a VPN appears to be needed to access Netflix and Hulu.

Reading the “Gringos Abroad” blog (linked above), two things jumped out at me as possible deal-breakers for me: parasites, and cockroaches. So maybe ten feet of snow is not such a bad thing.

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