vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Borges on the duration of Hell.

Not a fan of his own favourite myself, for reasons only a few of which are nakedly self-serving and lay, but I am struck at how close this is to a bit of setting fluff for one of our RPG settings:
[Rothe] advocates, finally, a declining, dwindling life for sinners. He foresees them roaming the banks of Creation, or the voids of infinite space, barely sustaining themselves with the leftovers of life. He concludes: As the devils are unconditionally distant from God and are unconditionally His enemies, their activity is against the kingdom of God, and they have organized themselves into a diabolical kingdom, which naturally must choose a leader. The head of that demoniacal government - the Devil - must be imagined as changing. The individuals who assume the throne of that kingdom eventually succumb to the ghostliness of their being, but they are succeeded by their diabolical descendants (Dogmatik I, 248).

rpgs: tdtwwa,pyxolytical: clothed ape,personal: matt is dumb: many stories

This is the best fucking blog ever. The baby trilobites will it.

linkdump: death by awesome

Read this entire post. Remember it every single time you ever read or watch anything on the news about global events ever again.

pyxolytical: clothed ape,political: hoplophilia,political: checkered flag

The Ichthyophagous Club. If nothing else, the starfish bisque article is an inspiration.

pyxolytical: not a vegan,linkdump: fruitcake,pyxolytical: ideas

On a less wonderful note, here's some confirmation of what I've suspected for a while now: the willpower mantra too is based on raw cake-eating privilege.
Nobody except the most out-of-touch billionaire needs telling that having less money means making painful sacrifices. But combining this with the depletable willpower theory suggests a bitter twist: that making those sacrifices makes you less capable of doing the things – saving money, say, or giving up a pricey smoking habit – that could lay the foundations of a life with fewer sacrifices. The Princeton economist Dean Spears had his researchers show up in Indian villages, offering a discount deal on soap, then administering tests of self-control. For the poorest people, just considering whether to take the soap deal proved a cognitive imposition. "Choosing first," Spears wrote, "was depleting only for the poorer participants." Poverty, it seems, is indeed bound up with willpower, and the leftwing temptation to see things only in terms of impersonal social forces is mistaken. But it's not that failures of will cause poverty. It's that poverty causes failures of will.
And for independent if anecdotal demonstration of how that works, I now link for reference John Cheese's Cracked article about what being poor is like.

And now, for something less depressing, here are some awesome comics about murder and creepiness! (better than it sounds) Also, Dune.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Two quest ideas for a Fallout-style CRPG.

When you enter one town, you might learn from a random townsfolk dialogue that they get their water from the nearby stream. There is a quest where the local eccentric is accused of something awful (no one died or anything, but it really was very Not Nice and We Just Don't Do That Around Here) and, guilty or innocent, you are to try to reconcile them with the rest of the town.

Upstream there is an older town that's full of crumbling buildings and a few morose people. The town is dying: it used to be this busy riverside trading post with great cuisine and nightlife, but the land accreted over the port a long time ago, the logging industry that replaced it died when the soil eroded and the forest was gone, and now the one thing that seems capable of saving the town, a newly discovered gold vein deep underground, has been taken over by monsters.

Once you beat the game, you get the following in the town epilogues:

Possible outcomes under cut. )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Pick one of my characters and then provide two people for him or her to consider as potential love interests/hook-ups/what have you. I'll provide you with the character's choice and the IC reasons behind it.
from [personal profile] zafflesia who needs to complete her transition STAT.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
I've been thinking about that blog post about "Millennial" perspectives on American intervention. Drezner's premise: given a childhood of unquestioned national dominance and economic prosperity, followed by 9/11 and the Bush doctrine immediately followed by the worst economic downturn in modern history since the Great Depression, it seems natural to assume cause and effect as a matter of pattern recognition, and for people to hold an extremely isolationist view. He asked for responses to confirm or deny, and the general (albeit self-selected) response has been deny. I think I see why this is.

His analysis overlooks a few points:
- What we know of the Taliban involves really fucking evil shit. It would take a heart of stone and ash to believe what is reported about what goes on there and not at least WANT to do something.
- It wasn't merely THAT the Bush Administration got involved in all these foreign conflicts, it's also WITH WHOM and HOW - they picked a wrong target (Iraq), tortured people, and flouted the rule of law and demolished the United States' credibility when it needed it most.
- The economic downturn wasn't due merely to intervention, but the flagrantly irresponsible fiscal policies of the Republican Party and a banking disaster that had its roots in policies that were formulated even before the 1990s prosperity.

But those are just facts. I'm more convinced that the narratives we've grown up with are a bigger factor in predicting a less isolationist mood.

What do the Lord of the Rings, the Matrix, Marilyn Manson and Brave New World have on common? The books, the movies and the artist's message all run along a particular theme: beneath the happy, comfortable, little world we live in is the real world, a greater world where the real conflicts happen and greatness and horror can be found, and to face that world, break out of our comfortable coccoon and become part of that greater world (whether or not we sever our ties to the old one) is crucial for the protagonist to grow as a person. For those of us who were born on the earlier end of the span that gets the Gen Y label, that seemingly unprecedented international terrorist attack on American soil coincided with the time that we came of age and lost the excuses we had for our ignorance when we were children. For those born later, it may be at a less immediately poignant stage in one's life, but on the other hand it would become - perhaps like Tiananmen Square in my own case - one of the events in one's childhood when one first begins to become aware of the evils outside of hearth and home.

Which brings us to the second narrative I'm thinking about. Between the environmental movement, feminism and civil rights, and the huge profits that our mass media enjoys from promoting expressly counter-cultural symbolism, a good number of us have long internalized the idea that those who came before us got things horribly wrong and the next generation has to fix things. Apply that thinking to all the post-apocalypse stories we get and the nearly obscene sense of prosperity and entitlement we feel from the previous generation (availability of employment and homeownership are the most obvious examples), and the pollution associated with luxuries of the past, and the message is clear as day: We have inherited the ruins of what our forefathers squandered in their ignorance, and for better or worse our generation is the one tasked to rebuild the world.

If anything, I'm shocked that anyone of my generation who has ever read a book of their own volition is a conservative, even in the good sense.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
It's about how to get right, shit that no one who hasn't studied the matter gets right.

The first example I think of as an illusion caused by what we're conditioned to assume is the question and failing to see what the real question is - I never even thought to consider the distribution of the two patterns, let alone that distribution as a thing independent of the probability of that pattern appearing at any given point.

I'm still wondering what the implications are for RPG design, in particular systems with Storyteller-like dice pools. Does this mean that super-crits or super-botches are on average more likely to happen early in a session than long periods of mediocre rolls? Is it enough to make a difference? Is there any way to game a combat (if it involves many rolls) so that your side acts during a clump of good rolls?

The third example bugged me for a moment, when it seemed that you could almost take that logic of ~she had one crib death, so we can infer her chances of another are much higher than the general population~ and extend it to ~she shoplifted once, so we can infer her chances of shoplifting are much higher than a first-time accused~ or ~a member of this ethnic group has threatened a particular sort of terrorism, so we can infer the chances of this member of the same ethnic group threatening such terrorism to be much higher than members of ethnic groups who have done no such thing~.

Then I came back to my senses when I remembered we are artificially forbidden to make that inference, however technically plausible, for some very good reasons of preserving the presumption of innocence and the standard of reasonable doubt - the way you would never point a five-shot revolver at your friend even after you just had it go bang-bang-bang-bang-bang-CLICK downrange and not opened the cylinder since.

As for the racial profiling, I don't think the second and third examples taken together support anything worse than the common-sense notion that you shouldn't bother checking the people who have no commonalities or potential ties whatsoever with the people making the terrorist threats. If anything, with an accuracy rate of well under 99% racial profiling isn't even a viable option except as one tiny part of what I imagine to be a Venn diagram-fest of looking for overlapping points between the subject's circles and the terrorist's.

In other news, am I the only one who finds this whole thing with the babies in an big egg house with a little square window on it bizarrely cute?

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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