Trying to find a reasonable conversation in 2015 is like trying to stand between raindrops to stay dry. There is no context. There is no humour. There is no spectrum between virtuous and despicable. There is only self-righteous rage, and the imperative to vent it… somewhere.
Ten things I learned from Mad Max: Fury Road…
- Bad people are ugly; good people are pretty.
- Pretty redheads have the power to turn a bad person into a good person (if the bad person was not actually that ugly to begin with).
- Gasoline and bullets are mandatory; food and water are optional.
- Breast milk can be used as a medium of exchange. (Eeeuuw.)
- Spitting gasoline into a carburetor makes a car go faster.
- Pouring thousands of gallons of water on the ground in the middle of the desert is not ridiculously wasteful: it is performance art (see #3).
- Never leave your citadel undefended.
- When starting a post-apocalyptic cult, marketing is essential. A simple but distinctive logo is vital; a thematically similar mask is also helpful in establishing the “brand”.
- When running a post-apocalyptic cult, it is important not to get personally involved in “away” missions.
- Being a pretty young woman in a post-apocalyptic cult is horrible. Being anyone else in a post-apocalyptic cult is worse. If you can’t be the one who started it, it’s best to just stay away.
My opinion on ethnicity and religion: they are, at most, as important as being a fan of a sports team or a film franchise.
If it causes you to share good times with people in the same group, great. If it entertains you and a competing group to be opposed in a safe and friendly contest, that’s great, too. If it’s an excuse to be mean to other people, or take something away from some other group, or reserve some benefit solely for your group, you are doing it wrong.
Both liberals and conservatives have their good eggs and bad. I feel comfortable stating that as a fact. And yet, something that has been growing more and more apparent to me is how often those who are most fiercely conservative are also blinded by their own hatred, to the point where they will refuse to see plain facts as facts, and will imagine all sorts of nonsensical ideas with the flimsiest basis in fact — if they have any factual basis at all.
If you’re a fan of science fiction, you might be familiar with the kerfluffle over the Hugo awards. That’s one example that seems to have been going on for a painfully long time, but it seems there is a new example almost every week, usually delivered to me as a link shared on Facebook.
So I wonder… does a fiercely conservative point of view lead to blind, irrational hatred — or vice versa? Does one cause the other, or do they just come together as a set, like salt and pepper shakers? Or is none of that real at all, and it’s just that Facebook is distorting my perceptions?
I have seen a meme going around lately to the effect of, “I had to get drug tested to get a job, so you should be drug tested if you are on welfare”. There are so many things wrong with this.
First, I don’t think anyone should have their medical privacy invaded in order to earn an honest living. Also, I think “I have been mistreated, therefore others should also be mistreated” is a terrible foundation for public policy.
Second, in municipalities that have instituted this plan, they have found that the rate of drug use among those on public assistance is generally about one-ninth of the national average. It actually costs taxpayers more to institute this mandatory invasion of privacy than it would to just accept that some tiny percentage (generally less than 1%) of those receiving assistance have used recreational drugs. So it’s not only insulting, unkind, and uncharitable, it’s also a waste of taxpayer’s money.
Finally, the people who receive TANF benefits are the caregivers for minor children. The benefits that would be taken away would directly — not indirectly, not eventually, but directly — result in children not having food to eat. So even if you are willing to spend extra in order to be deliberately unkind to people who are already having a rough time of it, do you really want to make children go hungry as part of that? Really?
Exactly one year ago, I held a rum-tasting at the Midnight Frights party at RavenCon. The best one we tried was the 12-year rum from Trinidad, followed closely by the 5-year rum from Barbados. The 8-year rum from Haiti was a distant third. The New Orleans rum and the Cruzan 5-to-12-year rum were not very good, but perfectly serviceable when mixed with orange/pineapple/banana juice and ginger ale.
(I am posting this here so that I can easily find it when I am at the liquor store. If you find it useful, that’s a bonus.)
Happy Mother’s Day, Moms of America! Now go back to work.
I agree more with libertarians than I do with any other political cubbyhole that I have been able to find, but I think I might not actually be libertarian. Libertarianism is all about putting theory into practice, without exception (that theory being, in essence, “an it harm none, do what ye will“). There are, as far as I know, few libertarians who consider financial exploitation “harm” (I may, in fact, be the only one). But I think one would have to be deliberately blind to look at the USA around us and fail to see the harm done by financial exploitation.
Being “rich” in the USA in 2015 means you have a house and you can pay your bills.
That’s messed up, and it’s getting worse every year.
The thing is, twenty years ago, I was a hardcore libertarian. I sincerely believed that the world would be better if there were no laws preventing, say, an employer from tracking your every move, 24 hours a day. I sincerely believed that the world would be better if there were no laws requiring cars to be safer, or requiring employers to pay no less than a certain minimum, and so on. I didn’t believe these things because I wanted people to be underpaid and driving death traps — I believed that freedom of choice would result in the greater good. So what has changed in the past twenty years? What changed my mind?
Seeing how the world actually works for twenty years is what changed my mind. Because in theory, if everyone is free to choose, they can all choose not to work for employers who invade the medical privacy of every applicant. In theory, they can choose not to work for $2.13 an hour.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
I am writing up my opinion on Savage Worlds here, not because I think anyone actually cares or because I want to talk anyone out of playing it, but because from time to time someone asks for my opinion, and I would rather direct them here than write this repeatedly. So here we go:
“Hey, Blackmoor, what do you think about Savage Worlds?”
I have played Savage Worlds with people who loved it. I may in fact be the one human being on Earth who does not like Savage Worlds. I do not like the extraneous fiddly bits just for task resolution (dice AND cards AND poker chips AND … wtf). Imagine having a roleplaying game where each time there was a test to see if your character is successful at some task, you had to play a game of Bop It — but the outcome of playing Bop It had no effect on whether you were successful or not. Whether your character is successful is actually based on a flip of a coin, but the color of that coin changes depending on how good your character is at a particular ability. If you are really good, you flip a red coin … after playing a full round of Bop It.
I do not like the “growing dice” mechanic that, when coupled with the “moving target based on dice size” mechanic makes character advancement an illusion, and in fact renders the multiple dice sizes merely one more extraneous fiddly bit. There is no way in Savage Worlds to set a task difficulty such that it is nigh-impossible for a novice but nigh-automatic for an expert. If you have an expert and a novice in the group of PCs, it makes virtually no difference which of them attempts to pick the lock or crack the code or hack into the computer system.
That’s how I experience Savage Worlds. It may be the most needlessly (and pointlessly) complex game system that I personally have ever played.
Personally, I do not care for it.
Just finished watching Gaslight (1944), with Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten. It’s interesting to contrast Cotten’s performance in this with his role in Shadow Of A Doubt, released the previous year. If you’ve not seen these two films, I suggest that you do.
And is that a very young Angela Lansbury as the saucy house maid with aspirations “above her station”? Why yes, it is! In truth, I did not recognize her. I only know this because I read the credits.
When confronted with the “antis” — anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-gun, anti-women, anti-science, anti-South, anti-sex, etc. — who seem so devoted to their agendas of hatred, ignorance, and irrational fear, I am reminded of a line from Anaïs Nin‘s “Seduction of the Minotaur” (echoing a much older idea):
We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.