Tuesday, March 31, 2015

D&D 5e First Impressions

Picked up the D&D 5e PHB yesterday. So far I'm liking it. Shows real signs of evolution from the previous versions. I can see a lot of elements from other game systems borrowed and blended, which makes sense, since game play - and games - are constantly evolving and influencing each other.

I cut my teeth on 3e back in college, and played a lot of that. I played a bit of 3.5, 4e and Pathfinder. 4e still feels like a video game adapted to tabletop play, and in that context, can be a lot of fun. 5e seems to have borrowed heavily from +Monte Cook 's Arcana Unearthed, in subtle design and flavor elements, but that may just be my perception.

I like that a lot of the historical characters from the D&D novels and adventures show up all over the place in the text. It makes it feel like all those hours I spent reading and playing are coming full circle to old friends.

That's what I *said*! - It's Class Warfare, Bitches

"Many [neo-]conservatives realize that an educated population is bad for the oligarchs they serve. Keeping the masses ignorant, over worked, and superstitious is the only way they can stay on top."

(Note that I added the [neo-] to distinguish the would-be neo-feudalists, from real conservatives, who do actually tend to see the value of a educated electorate and generally oppose oligarchy.)

"It's Class Warfare, Bitches!"

I've been using my catchphrase for years, trying to generate a meme to get people to pay attention. Tim Crawford posted his quote above on G+ one day, and I grabbed it for this post, simply because he very succintly summarizes the nature of the problem, and it needs to be shared far and wide.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Musical Monday: "You Will Know My Name" - Arch Enemy

Oh, yeah! You will so fucking know my name! Ha. Okay, if you've followed me, you know I can laugh at myself as much as anyone else. I do have a very strong self-esteem, and it can sometimes come across as arrogance, so I just make fun of the whole thing. Well, that and I'm planning to someday become a Benevolent Demagogue and conquer the world.  Because, you know, someone has to sort this shit out, right?

Alissa White-Gluz is a Canadian singer, best known as the former lead singer and one of the founding members of the Canadian metal band The Agonist, and current lead singer for the Swedish melodic death metal group Arch Enemy. (Source: Wikipedia).

Again, apparently I have this thing with the Swedish melodic death metal. I like it.

Rage on, sister! Rage on!

This post is about benevolent demagoguery.  I keep trying to decide if - after I declare my bid for world domination as the Beloved Figurehead - I should have assassins, or not. (If you've followed me for five minutes, you know I don't really take myself anywhere near as seriously as I come across.)

Let's face it. Human nature both chaffs and cherishes being controlled.  Look at Life of Brian - "We are all individuals!"  Look at the Tea Party - "You can't tell me what to do!" is the mantra of a bunch of people who dogmatically obey religious figures, media figures, political figures, or all three.

So, the ideal would be that people would follow me, because they have Woken the Fuck Up, and understand that my messages are good and helpful. That I want everyone to have an education, to get along, to treat each other with respect and dignity, and Just Be Nice To Each Other.

But, in practical terms, assassination is just so useful for removing obstacles to control, such as pesky competing demagogues (such as Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz), individualistic ideologues (such as me), and people who want to control things for evil and selfish purposes (such as the Koch brothers, or Rubert Murdoch).

Ultimately, I'm opposed to murder on ethical terms (it being so permanent), and on practical terms I'm inclined to think that if - as Enlightened Figurehead - if I had to resort to assassination, then the world really isn't enlightened or awakened enough for my leadership.  In other words, the world remains too stupid, selfish, and wrapped in greed, for me to lead it the final steps into a better place.

So, no assassins, and I'll just need to keep reincarnating until the time is right.

Meanwhile, You Will Know My Name ;-)

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Accuracy of My Remarks

My remarks only need to be accurate enough to hit the "Wait? What?" area of your brain.

Let's be clear: I do make an effort to check my facts, to understand what is really going on, and to be truthful. I even correct my mistakes when found, and have been known to apologize for making errors. However,...

My goal is NOT to try and convince you to agree with me.

My goal is to shake you from entrenchment and complacency in whatever belief system you have.

I want you to periodically re-evaluate that belief system, and decide if it still works.

If it does - great!

I may, or may not, agree with whatever belief system you hold, but as long as you understand the true nature of your belief system, and the true nature of your attachment to it, then I'm satisfied.

First and foremost, I just want people to use their damn brains.

Once they're doing that, then we can have meaningful conversations about what I consider moral and ethical behavior.

You might even teach me something, and that is a win-win.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Suburban American Slavery: No Sanity, No Boundaries, No Age Limits

In a previous post, I remarked how I'm outside the target age group for women in America who get kidnapped and held captive for years as slaves.

Turns out I was wrong. Apparently there is no age limit on this kind of fucked up, scary-as-shit insanity.

This is so freaky screwed up, I'm seriously going to start studyig kung fu and seriously consider getting a gun and a concealed carry permit, and learn knife fighting, and carry one of those, too. Will this guarantee my safety? Will this stop me from freaking out and killing an innocent person? Will this prevent bad things happening? will this ensure no asshole assaults me because I'm carrying a gun and the asshole thinks I'm going to shoot people? No, but it would make me feel less afraid. I think.

Shit, even having a panic room isn't going to guarantee anything, since I saw that movie, and that worked out so well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lying on television is not illegal

It is legal (if morally bankrupt and unethical) for the people at FOX NEWS (TM) to lie, distort, cheat, and make up any shit they want and claim it is true, because of a 2003 Florida court ruling.

In other words, because no fool ever thought "Well, we'd better make it a clear rule or law, and not just a suggestion, that lying on television is wrong, or you just know someone from that profession of people who cherish their reputations for honesty will start lying all over the place, and make a business model and power grab out of it."

Note, this isn't the same thing as "having fought a legal battle for the right to lie." Alas, while quite believable, that is just an urban legend.

However, as I said, the cited court case firmly cemented the legality of lying as totally legal. Journalism as a professional has a sense of ethics, and proper conduct, but there are no laws requiring people who call themselves "journalists" to tell the truth, any part of the truth, or even to not completely invent shit on the fly.

So, yeah, pathological liars like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly can actually call themselves journalists, and no one can stop them.  Well, that is unless we can embrace their own mantra of "free market" and convince advertisers to pull the plug. Which, actually, given the false adherence to any kind of principle of their leash-holding masters, Rush's program has been on life-support for years. Yep, his program has been dying a slow death in many markets, but the people who own those radio stations keep airing his program, despite lack of sponsors, despite dead air time. "Free market" should say his program got cut years ago, but the plug hasn't been pulled, because the people who use him as their whipping boy are hoping to win the war of attrition by keeping him on the air.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Batting 3000!

Huge "Thank You!" to everyone who visits my blog!

The jump from 2000 site views to 3000 was crazy fast. I'm a small time blogger, and that's a lot of hits for us small fry, and so I'm very happy and very proud, and I really appreciate all of you who visit my blog and share your time with me.

It means a lot when you re-share my posts, and tell the world about my writing. It's all part of my subversive agenda to get people to think.

The top three credits are:

1. Paul Willard

While Mark (below) might technically be reponsible for more hits, I'm putting Paul first, because he is my biggest evangelist. Apparently my words hit him just right, and I think I make him laugh. Paul re-shares a lot of my links, which is really kind of him.  When I do finally announce my bid for world domination, with my intended role as Benevolent Demagogue, I'm definitely going to formalize Paul's contribution by naming him Most High Evangelist.

2. Mark Knights

Mark runs an awesome gamer blog, and floored the world by listing my site as one of his daily reads (my site was totally incogruous on the list). Totally stunned the Hell out of me, but really meant a lot, too.

3. Some porn site in India,

...which I found too uncomfortable to figure out how it's driving traffic to my site, but it keeps showing up in the traffic sources, so credit where credit is due (plus, it's just kind of funny to put it on this list).

It was both disappointing and refreshing to have it thrown in my face like that how porn is universal. The site was in English, too, which made it even more surreal (and it was a .in extension).


Batting 3000

In a weird bit of serendipity, 165 posts got 3000 views in 200 days.

That's an average of 18 views per post, at 15 views per day.

Batting 2000

...and another 72 days for the second 1000 (about 14 views per day) and 137 total posts (about 15 views per post).

So, 94 days to hit the first 1000 (about 12 views per post, about 11 views per day).


Musical Monday - "Wrong Side of Heaven" - Five Finger Death Punch

America shits on its military veterans  You don't often expect hardcore cynical metal rockers to make a vid that looks like a Public Service Announcement, with onscreen text calling us out as a nation for treating vets as disposable, but this one is brilliant.

These Five Finger Death Punch guys created a short film, and set it to their music.

They remind us that veterans are human, and they are heroes, and we owe them a huge debt - a debt that starts with common decency, dignity, and social support to help them reacclimate to "normal" society we take for granted, to keep their families together, to keep their homes - and to keep their sanity.

Christ on a crutch, what the fuck is wrong with America?

Okay, don't answer that, since there either is no answer, or there are too many answers to be useful.

Meanwhile, we shit on the bravest men and women in the nation - the military veterans.  Watch the vid - note the list of websites at the end - and do something to help a vet.


I never served in the military, but I've had a lot of friends who did. I've met and talked with a lot of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. These are just people. Some of them volunteered to go to war, some of them just wanted job training, some of them just wanted to make a difference and serve like good patriots.  They've all been through Hell.

I'm going to leave politics out of this post. This post is just about realizing we throw these men and women through the meatgrinder, demand everything from them, then leave them hanging in the wind on the back-end.

Share this vid around. Maybe we can wake a few people up. Maybe we can make a difference in how we treat our veterans. It's the least we owe them.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I want to move to Estonia

My blog got a hit from Estonia. I knew it existed, but had to look it up, since that was the only thing I knew about it.

I want to move to Estonia.

"A developed country with an advanced, high-income economy,[13] Estonia is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It ranks very high in the Human Development Index,[6] and performs favourably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties, education, and press freedom (third in the world in 2012).[14] Estonia is often described as one of the most wired countries in Europe"

I'm fluent in English, still remember a bit of French, and will happily learn Estonian or Russian really fast.

Think they'd take me?

I would love to visit Brazil, Australia, the UK and France.

I'm torn on Uganda. I'm sure I'd love it, but I live in the United States, so I don't know crap about how safe Africa really is, especially for cranky women from middle-class America.  Thoughts?

Find your Voice - Part 3 - the Practical and Philosophical Bits

Don't sweat the little stuff. Decide what your goal is for saying things, and do it. I mean, my entire blog is about me saying what I feel, and conversation is the icing on the cake.

If you want conversations to occur, then you'll get people making dumb remarks, sometimes just because they're not thinking, and other times because they're assholes. Don't get bogged down in arguments;  they are distractions.

(Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

Just pick your voice, let things shake out, learn lessons, and refine as you go along.

Be conscientious how you say things. Good grammar and spelling are important. Put thought into how you want things to be heard.

The best way to get your message across is to first understand what you want to say, then say it clearly. There is an important balance between too many words, and too few words. Too many words, and you might very well get yourself lost. Too few words, and your message lacks information ("insufficient data"), and therefore cannot be conveyed.

Stay focused; stay on target.

Pick the point of the message, and stick to it. Everything must support that point. You can have asides only as long as they fill in information gaps, in order to support the main point.  If you try to have more than one point, your message will get lost, because the audience will get distracted.

When the comments come in, keep steering the conversation back to the point. If alternate points or topics arise, make a note for a future - and separate - post (again, one point per post).
(Tangentially, see my posts labeled "anti-troll" for additional ideas how to stay on topic.)

Promote yourself.

If you have previous posts on the same subject, that are relevant to the topic, then cross-link to your own posts. This is a great way to address tangential points that your readers may want to explore, without losing focus in your main thread.  This is a way to add value - if someone likes this one post, he or she may like similar posts on the same topic. "Stickiness" is a magical term is website design, and it means keeping people looking at your stuff. Be sure it is relevant - no one likes gratuitous garbage links. If it isn't relevant, leave it off.

Love/Hate relationship with feedback

Some people will love what you write, and that is a great feeling. That kind of encouragement is important. However, there is a natural tendency to try to chase the feedback and this is distracting. It becomes "What did I say, so I get more of that?" At which point you've surrendered your Voice and have defeated your own goal.

Some people will hate what you write. Mostly you just have to ignore these people. On rare occasions, you can glean something useful, such as "Ah, I see that my point wasn't made clearly here," or "Ah, I see I did drift off topic," or "Well, okay, maybe obscure references to Rune Quest in a post about Milla Jovovich movies was kind of a bad idea."  Mostly, just ignore these people.

Your real audience are the people who like some posts, don't like others, yet always keep coming back to see what you say next.

Have fun.

If you're having fun, then your audience will pick up on that and have more fun also.
(Tangentially, see one of my most viewed posts where I talk about Being A Personality.)

If you're not having fun, then stop doing it. Seriously, life is too damn short to waste time on trying to express yourself only to make yourself miserable.

Have a closing remark.

Just as a book or movie needs an ending to wrap things up, so use a single sentence to close the loop.

Well, okay, that works well for me, anyway, so maybe there's something useful to you in there :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Find Your Voice - Part 2 - Why I Rant

I rant because I can't afford therapy.

I rant because I don't think like normal people. Not necessarily better or worse, just differently.

I rant because I have an insane amount of creative mental energy, and it needs to go somewhere.

(Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I rant because that insane creative energy is driven by hamsters, so writing something long and coherent or interesting, like a book or novel, is really out of the question. I have too much to say; I can't focus that long on any one topic. Maybe if I rant long enough, I can compile the essays into something.

I fantasize about writing my opus, and calling it "It's Class Warfare, Bitches." The biggest problem is actually that other people articulate individual points often better than I do. Oh, I think I'm really good at hitting the points, and often at hitting them in a way that get people thinking, but I don't usually explain them very eloquently, and that's fine for a rant blog, but wouldn't work for a book.

I rant because my Secret Agenda is to get people to use their damn brains.

I rant because I have things I want to say, and this is an effective way to say them.

I rant because I can make a difference. I touch people, and they reciprocate, and the world becomes a slightly better place.

I rant because I can.  Strangely, not everyone can. Perhaps I am a voice for the voiceless. I don't know.  I can rant, therefore I do.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Find Your Voice - Part 1 - It's Totally Worth It

If ever, for an instant, I feel bad about myself, in any way, I only have to read this.
Mark Knights has paid me one of my top ten favorite compliments ever.  I mean - this guy is a pro and he enjoys my rants!

(Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

Hey! Doubt! Depression! Angst! Fear of irrelevance!


Monday, March 16, 2015

Musical Monday: Julia Dales at TEDx

Julia Dales is amazing.  This is awesome that not only has she chased her passion of beat-boxing, and overcome the mental limitations of thinking "it's impossible," but now she is standing on a fucking stage, in front of a huge audience, sharing her experience and teaching other people how to do it. 

That takes passion, practice, courage, practice, training,  practice, focus, dedication, education, and practice.  

This isn't so much a "musical" video, but it has lots of music. It is about music, heart and dedication. Julia Dales is just awesome.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Perspective on achievement and remembering people in the Interweb-age

Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the office of the most powerful man in the world. That takes a lot of intelligence, a lot of focus, a lot of education, and is a grueling selection process to weed out incompetent people.

What have you achieved?

Paula Deen vs Rush Limbaugh

I find it a sad commentary that Paula Deen, who appears to be a genuinely good person that has done and said some dumb things, which in context seem to be more Very Bad Taste than malicious intent, and some of which were decades ago, can have everything she has built stripped and broken within a few months, but Rush Limbaugh, who is easily proven to be a venomous, lying, hypocritical, and (by any yardstick) a Very Selfish Pig, has managed to be a destructive, malignant pig every fucking day for well over twenty years, and continues to thrive without significant penalty, let alone destruction of his evil empire.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

RIP Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett apparently fell off the Discworld today. Now he soars in the endless vista of forever.  May the wit, charm, compassion and passion found in his fiction infect everyone, and - like me - teach them new ways to use their damn brains.

RIP Terry, from the devout pupil you never knew you had.

Thank you for everything.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Humans I understand; humans on the Interwebs, not so much

I just... I don't... I can't...

IF (LogicFault=0) AND (Comprehension=NULL)
           SET (FacePalm=TRUE);
           GOTO (DefaultResponse)

~~Kermit Wave~~


To Get Rich Quick: Start Off Being Rich

I commented a while ago about how the members of the T-Mobile Board of Directors get paid $250,000 per year, and have to meet one time per year, and do ten phone calls per year. If they do more then ten phone calls, they get more money.

Well, turns out the guys at Apple get even MORE (according to the 2015 shareholder report) - $250,000 in stock (not options, but actual fucking stock, at market price), and a cash bonus on top of that.

If you're the Chairman of the Board at Apple, you get $200,000 in cash, plus that quarter-million in stock.  That's a $weet, $weet deal. 

Like I said, the best way to get paid for doing nothing is to start off rich, because then you can arrange to get yourself into more of these sweetheart deals where you can pay yourself insane amounts of money for doing nothing.

Yes, yes, fine, so the Board of Directors has major influence on the leadership and direction of a company like Apple Corporation, which ultimately affects its health as an organization and its profitability as a corporation.

So, let's see, $250,000 a year is $685 per calendar day, or $962 per week day, or $121 per work hour, assuming an eight-hour work day.

(Just for contrast, a $10 minimum wage is $10 per work hour, $80 per work day, $400 per work week, so you can see that the compensation for butt-warming a figurative "chair" could instead be used to pay twelve Americans minimum wage, or about eighty Chinese sweat shop labores.)

Except bullshit if these guys are spending an eight-hour work day, 50 weeks per year, making Board of Director Decisions.

Let's assume it's more like... hm, a total of 120 hours per year?  That would be three weeks, full-time.  If you compare to T-Mobile (which is probably more like 20 to 25 hours per year), then I'm probably giving these people way too much fucking credit.

So, if we generously assume 120 hours (remember, that's three work weeks) per year, that's $2082 per hour in compensation by stock (and note that these guys at Apple get a cash bonus on top of that $2082 per hour).

So, yeah. I call 1) bullshit on the entire upside down class warfare system, and 2) bullshit on these whiners for saying "oh, poor us, getting taxed for doing fucking nothing.

You want to see if these guys are worth $2082 per hour?  I have the perfect test: let me be on the Board of Directors for one year.  If I can do the job even one-tenth as well (meaning a mere $208/hour), then they're not worth that, and bullshit on them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bathroom query

Someone said to me, "Did you know there was a study that showed the vast majority of people close the bathroom door, even when they know there is no one else in the house? It's true!"

And I thought "people?"

What percentage of the world population has indoor plumbing?

I mean, I know there are still rural areas without it in the US, and we take our shit way too seriously.

So, how about South America? Africa? India? China? I mean, India and China combined make up 1/3 of the world's population, right? And, no offense, but you guys came late to the industrial revolution (or it fell upon you late, depending on perspective), so still have enormous markets for porcelain products, right?

Anyway, is it really the "majority" of people that close the bathroom door? Or just the majority in the self-obsessed industrialized nation where people have leisure time to do studies about people closing their bathroom doors?

Women don't have the luxury to NOT fear for our safety

Fear on the Interweb

It is funny,  the core perception we have of the world (collectively, as well as specifically), instilled in us simply by gender-based experiences. Unfortunately, I rarely can't keep personal safety in the back of my mind. Not necessarily because I might be in greater actualized danger than a male counterpart, but because those with predatory or aggressive behaviors are more likely to perceive me as an acceptable potential target for their behaviors, simply because I am not my male counterpart. For example, either because of genuine misogynist tendencies (positive filter match for target), or simply because I'm not male (absence of negative filter match, for which animals might also qualify as targets, which says a lot right there, also).

Bullying and Predation are gender-neutral

In the physical world, since time immemorial, women have been targets of bullies and predators, and the greatest danger was from men.

The truth is that women can also be bullies and predators, and women are still the prefered target.

The emotional disassociation from the victim, and perceived anonymity provided by the Interwebs, only emboldens bullies of both genders, and sadly often shields them from retribution.

Why counter-doxxing is bad tactics for women

I oppose doxxing the doxxer, because if we become the enemy, then what was it we were fighting for?

Also, simple practical self-interest. Anyone sick enough to dox isn't going to back down or be frightened or suddenly become reasonable when counter-attacked using his own methods. He's going to feel validated and become more aggressive or more psycho, and thus more dangerous. Also, third party onlookers - psycho and sane alike - are going to muddle the moral murk and start to think the original victim somehow "deserved" the assault (or battery, or death), because the victim "was also dirty."

(Again, my own words ripped from a conversational thread, but still has philosophical value.)


Monday, March 9, 2015

One world, one species, one ranting locus for all

I'll never get tired of audience view charts like this. I love how this demonstrates we're all human under the skin.

I put up words, and people around the planet find common ground with those words.  While the minutiae of our daily grind differs wildly, deep down philosophically, spiritually, whatever, the daily grind has common and repetitive themes - we all need to eat, crap, feel self-worth, love our spouse or children, walk the dog, have  a roof over our heads, enjoy talking to (or yelling at) the neighbors, get some downtime to do something fun, waste time on the Interwebs, wish there was more (or less) sunshine, etc., etc.

It's a small world, it's a short life, be kind to each other, do good deeds, compliment someone, challenge ignorance, arrogance and Stupidity wherever they may roam.  May today be a day more glorious than yesterday, and may the trend of tomorrows-over-time be even more so.

Love to all!


Musical Monday: "Can't Hold Us" - Pentatonix (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis cover)

These guys blow me away. I love purely vocal music, and these guys are so talented it literally becomes impossible to tell they're not using instruments other than their vocal cords.

Truth is that I often enjoy Pentatonix song covers more than I like the original artists.  I think they bring a lot more life to the music.

Their vids are fun to watch, because they obviously have crazy passion and love for what they are doing. They obviously have great chemistry together as people, which is lucky and wonderful, since their backstory is on YouTube and they literally only came together the day before their first major competition.

Avi gets insane credits. Apparently he has the freakish magical ability to generate two tones at once. I can't hear it, which is probably also why I can't sing :)  But, Avi has great presence. Kevin has a wonderful voice. Scott just radiates team leader/team glue charisma. I like Kirstie and Mitchs' voices the best. Kristie has this kind of quiet sass, while Mitch is a very flamboyant sass.

These guys are young, and their lives have gone nuts. They seem like nice people and I wish them all the best personally and professionally.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Damnit - I don't do weekends!

Long ago, I set a policy of not posting on weekends. I need weekends for down time. But, then Mark Knights posted such a complimentary review of me and my blog,  that I allowed myself to be  swept up in chasing the numbers, and broke my own rule that I'd set for my own sanity. (Well, that and I have Views.)

So, back to my rule. This is going to be my last weekend post for as long as I can contain myself.  I've still got about four weeks of material queued up, but I didn't start this blog to "chase numbers," and if I start chasing the numbers, then I'm going to screw up my content, because I'll focus on "what do I think people will want to read," rather than just being colorful ol' me, which is the entire secret of my success to begin with - just being me.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Post #150 - hitting another milestone

Post Number One Hundred Fifty!


So, we'll celebrate with an out-of-band post and "Fifty Shames of Earl Grey," I mean, a parody that mocks Walmart, and includes gamer references? I'm so in.

"Young, arrogant tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?"

Handcuffs? Really? That's soooo pre-Interwebs!

But, since that's only 50, let's throw in ...

"50 Shades of Bacon", because BACON!

and "50 Shades of Chicken," because ... well, I needed another 50, and "Mustard-Spanked Chicken" just made me laugh ;-)

Ah, but what you're really looking for, in my post #150 is

Now, I know you're thinking "But, that's 300!" and the answer is ... um, no, no, it's only 150 twice!

 #300 won't be for another seven months, or so, which will give me plenty of time to find something else equally silly and amusing to celebrate so many posts.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Redemption: Punishment with a Purpose

I'm a big fan of redemption, and much less a fan of pure judgment/punishment, for much the same reasons I'm a fan of recycling, rather than landfills.

Punishment that has no purpose beyond revenge is worse than nothing at all, since there are neither lessons nor benefits, and merely more bitter and angry criminals (i.e. "more waste").

Our modern "penal" system is all about revenge (for the real victims, and the self-righteous imaginary victim of "society at large") and revenue (conversion of public-responsibility projects, such as road clearing, crisis management, or prisons, to for-profit institutions is just so stupid on so many levels).

I'm not a huge fan of "Hell," in general, because at the core it is merely a for-profit bogeyman, intended to coerce and frighten children and adults into correct behavior as proscribed by dogma.

However, at a purely philosophical level, there are definitely uses - and a point - to Hells for people who have harmed and committed evils against society for people like Charles Manson and Rush Limbaugh, as long as there is a time limit, or a point, so the recycled soul can be re-made into something useful.

Also, people make mistakes. Sometimes they are honest mistakes - teenager goofing off and driving carelessly accidently kills someone - sometimes it is malicious stupidity leading to an accident - e.g. drunk driving. At what point does revenge end, and forgiveness (or even just letting go) begin?

Redemption allows for those who make mistakes to turn their lives around and do better, and contribute to society.  You see it all the time, people who served their penance - community service, prison time, fines, whatever - and want to do better the second time around - they realize life is precious, they fear re-incarceration, they fear public shame, whatever.

Revenge is petty, short-sighted and wasteful.  Revenge, like trash in a landfill, serves no long term purpose, and just piles up waste that becomes expensive to store and move around.

Redemption is important.   Redemption, like recycling, serves a greater purpose and benefits society as a whole. Call it enlightened self-interest to support redemption and forgiveness.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

People Fascinate Me: However some things are not meant to go up the butt

Searching General's Warning: Go read that header again, and decide if you want to proceed, because I ain't putting up with complaints if you feel disturbed (or even bored) after continuing to read.

I'm a broad-minded person. People fascinate me. Especially the things that people do that require a lot of thought and effort.

Getting a PhD, for example, requires years of concentration and focus (yes, even the people who take ten years, because they keep changing focus).

Getting a collection of tattoos requires thought and planning at some level. The first simple tribal image might be a daft drunken accident, but the many-colored religious faith images across the hand and wrist didn't happen overnight.

I can, in some way even understand how people can go to all the effort to become racists, or classists, or just generally assholes (and really, being a big asshole requires putting effort into it). I think very little of these people and their selfish emotional security blanket stupidity, but I can understand how they fall into it.

But, there are some things I can't understand. There are some things that I can only imagine come from being mentally damaged.

There is no Olympic event for "Shoving Things Up Your Butt." * However, clearly there are people who TRAIN their bodies for this very thing. And then they post the pictures on the Internet. I mean, I just. Eh. Um. Ew. Even I can't fathom this one.

And, just so we're clear: men do this, too. The infamous "goatse" was a guy.  And I'm not talking about anal sex, which is practically vanilla anymore. Been there, none of your business.

However, I can only assume this requires a certain kind of mental illness for somehow to say "You know what I'd really like to do? I'd like to spend hours every week training my internal organs to stretch, distend, and move the Hell to one side, because - in defiance of millions of years of evolutionary engineering - I really want to shove a watermelon up the wrong end of my digestive track and post pictures of it on the Internet! Whee!"

And, seriously, apparently it is possible - with training! - to eventually - without causing injury during the event - insert an 18-inch long object into the human body via the anus. There are so many things wrong with how anyone can know that.

Get help people. That's a really unhealthy thing to spend years of your life training for, and I am certain you will regret it, should you manage to survive to retirement age without killing yourself first.

Just, ew. Just stop; and get help.

* (If, Heaven forbid, there is an Olympic event for this, Do NOT correct me on this, I do NOT want to know. Really. Ewww.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I don't need dogma; I have empathy

Most people confuse faith with religion, when organized religion is really more about dogma.

Just to repeat my important mantra at set expectations early: I'm not "anti-religion," I'm not even "anti-dogma."  What I am is Anti-Stupid.

Here is an interesting Op-Ed piece citing studies that show "non-religious" (I'm going to say "non-dogmatic") people are more sane, compassionate and empathic than "religious" (i.e. "dogmatic") people.

“Many nonreligious parents were more coherent and passionate about their ethical principles than some of the ‘religious' parents in our study,” [Vern] Bengston told me. “The vast majority appeared to live goal-filled lives characterized by moral direction and sense of life having a purpose.”

Now, the sociopaths at the Freedom From Atheism Foundation will almost certainly be the first to say "how can you have morality without some skygod telling you what is right and wrong?" which I think says a lot about their own broken - or simply absent - moral compasses.

Dogma is about behavior control, and behavior modification. That means that it is, by definition, amoral. Oh, sure the proscribed behaviors might actually be ethical, but dogma has been used to justify and mandate all kinds of immoral crimes against human beings like murder, slavery, war and robbery.

All the "Bible churches" that have sprung up over the course of my life time are doing so with the intention of escaping the dogma of the older, more established flavors of Christianity. The two ironies here are 1) they develop their own, enitrely new, and often incompatible (and incoherent) sets of dogma, i.e. proscribed behaviors, and 2) their new dogma lacks the insights and wisdom provided by the centuries of practice and sorting out and shaking out the crap-that-doesn't-work that the older, better established religions have.

So, it's actually kind of tragic that "wanting to return to the roots" turns out to backfire and create a terrible disaster of warped dogma, twisted behaviors, and unhappy faithful.

The point remains that dogma cannot provide a native sense of morality and ethics. Only empathy can do that - the ability to see things from a different point of view. The ability to see what suffering looks like, and seek to bring relief. Dogma proscribes behaviors within a rigid framework, so you can get bullshit like relief agencies only helping those willing to convert to the dogma, while empathy is open-ended - just provide aid, because that's just the right thing to do, and don't play "carrot and stick" games with people's lives.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Musical Monday - "Seven Widows Weep" - Sirenia

My apologies, I forget who asked the question on G+ "Why do you hate bards in D&D?"

Thing is, that I don't. I'm a bit of a charismatic, eloquent, speechifying jackie-of-all-trades (with piles of Diplomacy and Insight, but curiously short on Bluff) so the bard class is perfect for me.

When I play a bard, she is Epic From The Start. I watch this vid, and it has that epic sound and feel that I love.

I've made bards and "wasted" Skill Focus (Perform) at level 1, with 17 Charisma. At mid-levels, my bards are holding rock concerts between dungeon delves, and at high levels, even the demons want her autograph before the fight starts.

Watch this vid, and when the sirens come for my crew, my bard is on the prow counter-singing those bitches back to their watery lairs empty-handed. My bard has the lungs and tones of Ailyn - the very landscape shakes to her song. That's MY bard.

Apparently I'm developing a thing for the goth/melody metal of the European north countries.  q.v. Amaranthe.  I'm definitely going to listen to more Sirenia.

And before you ask: No, I can't carry a tune in a bucket, so playing a bard in a game is as close as I'll get to the real deal (although, maybe I could pull off the "unclean" singing thing...)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nigeria and the World Cup

I was remarking one day on how I'm blessed and ecstatic that my blog is being viewed by people all over the world. I joked that I don't have any hits from Africa, and really wanted some, because that would just be cool.

Joey Mullins suggested I write about the World Cup and Nigeria, which I thought was a wonderful and creative idea. Of course, that just opens the door for me to write about the Nigerian Finance Ministry, too.

Everything I know about world soccer (or Real Football outside the USA) consists largely of what I saw in the movie "Alive," that Brazilian football hooligans make the Scottish look like pikers, because they take it way too seriously, and that when Brandi Chastain ripped her shirt off, me and all my girlfriends thought that was the most Fucking Awesome Thing Ever.

So, let's see what I can make up About Nigerian Football.... okay, let me come back to that...

(Edit: Turns out "Alive" was about the Rubgy team, which just goes to show exactly how much I know about World Cup....)

The Nigerian Finance Ministry starts as the running joke about the spate of emails that used to circulate asking naive, desperate and foolish people to provide bank account info so someone in a foreign country - typically really was Nigeria - could launder money thru their accounts for a cut of the money.

I remember hearing that so much money was being stolen in these scams that it actually did become a measurable part of the Nigerian Gross Domestic Product for one calendar year. This might be pure urban legend, but it wouldn't surprise me.

It did become running fodder for Irregular Webcomic - produced by a guy with a PhD in Physics, who co-wrote GURPS Biotech, if I remember all my pieces correctly.  Some people really know how to make the most of their lives and make the rest of us feel like shallow underachievers.

(No, I take that back. The choice of feeling like an underachiever, or not, is entirely my choice. I can compare my life to his, or not. I have done some really amazing shit in my life, and I'm very proud of a lot of it.)

So, um, there you go. I've talked about Nigeria.  Think this will score me any hits from central Africa?  Yeah, probably not, but at least you learned some interesting factoids, and I had fun writing this, so it all works out ;-)