Monday, August 31, 2015

Musical Monday - BIGBANG - Fantastic Baby M/V

Yeah, I don't know. It just appealed to my sense of weird shit, and love of anime.

It reminds me of Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, of which I've only ever seen parts, but I did read the RPG version ;-)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fictional Friday: More D&D5 Random Thoughts

I miss Ability score damage. I thought it was an absolutely brilliant mechanic in 3e. It expanded so many options for dealing and suffering damage, and it just made so much sense in a flavor context.

For example, poisons that damaged the brain or nervous system caused loss of Dexterity, Intelligence or Wisdom. That just makes so much sense.

Now, we're back to poisons causing hit point damage. Boring and illogical.

I do like how Petrification is handled. Those "instant death" effects suck, and there are so many of them. For Petrification, the new mechanics have that cinematic feel of "slowly being turned, does our hero resist [Y/N]??"

The flip side to "watering down" the "instant death" effects is that some of them just feel lame (even if less "suck"). For example, Paralysis seems to last one minute, unless you save first, and you can try every round. So much for the drama of rescuing the prince after him being dragged off by ghouls to be eaten later. I mean, either he'll escape by himself, or they'll just kill him early to stop him escaping. I admit, when my PC is taken out of the fight by paralysis, I am glad for the chance to recover every round, because I hate twiddling my thumbs until the cleric gets around to burning a scroll of remove paralysis (reason #7 she took the Scribe Scroll feat), but there just isn't a lot of cinematic drama in "Oh, quit whining, you'll save it off in a round or two!"

Disintegration and "Death Ray" effects cause hit point damage? That doesn't even feel right, let alone have cinematic impact. Yes, the damage types are well matched (Force and Necrotic, respectively), and now I can resist them, because they have damage types, but was that a "Death Ray" or "cause wounds"? Yeah, I can't tell either.

I like 5e. It does a lot of things well, and like 4e, everything is built around the "play faster, adventure more" model. It just isn't the cumbersome do-everything-right(ish) that 3e was :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And Kablooey goes the GOP bullshit

The key thing to remember is that there is no "logic" in consistency of policy - the real logic is in the agenda that drives the seemingly random policies.

And "kablooey" goes the fake logic of the bullshit premise

If you examine - even casually - the practices exposed in the meme, you realize the agenda is to Divide and Conquer.

We, the Plebian masses, who have never outgrown our need to argue and enjoy a good circus or bloody gladiator fight, are easily distracted. We know our rights, our wealth, and our opportunities are being stolen from us, and it makes us angry, and we want someone to blame.

Along come the extremely and expensively well-educated assholes behind the propaganda machines, who find amazing ways to make anyone into a media pupper. Honey-Boo-Boo? Duck Dynasty? The Duggers? Seriously? These people are all embarassments to humanity, and yet we buy into them as entertainment and make them rich and famous.

Meanwhile, the boardroom lawyers and marketing gurus find charismatic and immoral (not merely unethical but wallowing in sin immoral) slugs like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh to spin the false tales of who the villains are, and how we need to turn on our fellow Plebians.

And we buy the lies. We buy them, because as poor idiots, we don't have access to the assholes in the boardroom. Seriously, try to get yourself anywhere near Donald Trump, the Wal-Mart Waltons, or any other billionaire. You might get close enough to see them, but not their evil little hearts.

You DO see people of a different race all around you every day. You DO see people who might just be illegal aliens every day. You DO see union people, and "thugs" and riff-raff, and wow the conspiracy theories about the New World Order or the Zionists and Rothchilds have been around for so long, you don't even need to see any of those bastards to know they're out there.

So, O'Reilly just tells a few lies, and your anger is misdirected to someone else getting screwed by O'Reilly just as hard as you. Limbaugh or Wisconsin Gov Walker have you fighting with the people who should be your allies against the Waltons, not your enemy.

The policies have no logic until you can see the agenda behind the lies.

Once you see the agenda, you know the truth: It's Class Warfare, Bitches.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I'm Voting for Carol Gregory - Whomever the Hell she is

Carol Gregory gets my vote. Well, if I can vote for her. I'm probably not even in her district. I don't know who the crap Teri Hickel (R) is, but I like to let YouTube mix vids run, and I've suffered this vid for Teri Hickel about 9000 times. That alone is enough to chap my ass and make an enemy of me.

However, my first flag was "services, not taxes." Yeah, okay, it's been my experience the last ten years that anyone claiming "no new taxes" is a Republican selling "make rich people rich, while screwing the public" schemes that 1) don't solve the problems of the little people, 2) just don't work at all.

And then, oh yeah, buried right up there at the front is the "(R)" that reveals she does officially have a party affiliation, but she knows that particular affiliation is toxic crap in Western Washington, so she's trying to hide it.

Oh, and notice the iconic and mandatory "Show my candidate in bright colors, smiling, with her family," while showing her opponent in harsh black-and-white, looking grumpy or angry, and standing alone, like some kind of nutjob stalker."

That last bit is just standard commercial design, but it's illustrative of how you - as the viewer - need to learn to separate the message from the packaging.

"Unconstitutional budget"?  Really. That's a big claim, without substantiation, and a massively loaded word to the "state's rights" and "Obama is out to throw us all in camps" loons.

"Paid for by": Chick Named Icarus Tired of Suffering Teri Hickel's YouTube Advert

Monday, August 24, 2015

Musical Monday - Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

I think this is a great video. The music is fun and catchy, but even more than that, the visuals are hilarious. 

I think Ms Swift does a great juxtaposition of her "ineptitude" next to the artistic professionals, e.g. the ballerinas, the cheerleaders, the break-dancers, and even the guy does the crazy shit with his fingers. 

We laugh at her “goofing off” and “screwing up” these “simple things” and that grabs out attention so we really notice the ribbon twirler who can make that mile-long ribbon orbit around her body, or the guy whose arms have got to be made out of Silly Putty. 

She doesn't mock them – she mocks herself, forcing us to actually SEE their incredible skill.

My first encounter with this video was partial, in the "Nine Inch Nails vs Taylor Swift" mashup.

Friday, August 21, 2015

G+ beta-testing ideas for blogging

I refuse to feel any shame in converting my G+ posts into blog posts.

Consider G+ as beta-testing with a highly intelligent, hard ass test group.

Similarly, I refuse to feel shame referencing my old posts, when it makes sense to do so.

It's all code re-use. Why write the same thing more than once, especially when blog posts are fairly easy to find, and get all that nice value-added commentary going.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lowest Gov't Spender - So Says Forbes

Forbes is generally considered a "conservative" publication. If they're going to run data making the Republican high-rollers look bad, then any reasonable person has to take it seriously, and credibly.

Just by paying attention, I've long know that the Republicans are the "slash taxes, spend money" party.  Note, that this is direct contrast to their "tax and spend" propaganda they demonize the Democrats with.

See, I'd much rather have "tax and spend" Democrats in charge of things, than the "cut revenue and spend money we don't have" Republicans.

It's not rocket surgery. It's just paying attention to what's really going on.

One of the things "really going on" is the conservative media spinning piles of emotionally loaded stories, that are clearly one-sided persuasive arguments meant to convince the listener to a point of view.

One you realize the "news" people are selling you something more than just the facts, then you can start dissecting what they are selling, and realize that sales pitch is just bullshit, just like every sales pitch is bullshit.

Once you smell the bullshit, the obvious question is "If that's what they're selling, and it smells like bullshit, the real truth must be something very much like the opposite."

Then, you go out and discover "Yep, it's the opposite."

Welcome to the really, real world.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Batting 10 000!

Wow! Thank you all so much!

When I launched this blog in September, 2014, I really didn't know what I was going to do, let alone did I think I'd have over TEN THOUSAND page views in under a year. And that's just "Icarus Rants!" The two sister blogs ("Church of the Ignorant Fool" and "I Tell You, You Decide If You Care") are getting all kinds of love, too!

I feel confident I've found my voice. I know what I like, and what I dislike, and the things I want to draw attention to. I've made friends, and influenced people. I'm having fun, and enjoying your company, and it seems reciprocal, so It's All Good :)

view count days
days (total) views per day
during the period
posts (delta) posts (total) views per post (total average)
1000 94 94 10.6 85 85 11.8
2000 72 166 13.9 52 137 14.6
3000 34 200 29.4 28 165 18.2
4000 21 221 47.6 16 181 22.1
5000 15 236 66.6 12 193 25.9
6000* 30 266 33.3 17 210 28.6
7000 17 283 58.8 18 228 30.7
8000 34 317 29.4 18 246 32.5
9000 14 331 71.4 10 256 35.2
10 000 18 349 55.5 10 266 37.6

* 6000 views happened while I was on hiatus, so I have no concrete values, and so extrapolated based on available data.

(As I said somewhere, at this rate, my inevitable bid for world-conquering demagogue should peak about the time the Enterprise-D is ready for launch ;-)

Okay, now that I've hit 10K, I'm going to stop doing one of these every 1K views. The love seems to be accelerating, and if I'm lucky, every 1K would get really silly. I'm going to do 15K, 20K, and 25K, because those seem like natural checkpoints. After that, we'll see what happens, but "35K" seems like a silly number, so I think there should be a jump after that, right?

Thank you all so much for the love, and for sharing this ride with me!

Image text from

Trump playing you for a chump

So, this is what our political process has fallen to?

The used car salesman that comes forward to say "I'll be honest that I'm dishonest, and I'll sell you nothing but an empty dream, and you can't later claim I broke my promises, because I didn't really make any, so I'll do whatever the Hell I want, and wow Look At The Show!" is the candidate that people think will save us.

Lord, hear my prayer...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Musical Monday - Rammstein - mocking America and loving the sound

Rammstein "Keine Lust" is all about making fun of the fat, lazy Americans?  Somehow, that seems to totally fit with these guys.  They seem  to mock everyone in one way or another.

Oh, and let's face it: we are fat and lazy (especially white people).

Hell, they even made a video about how the Americans are exporting their shallow culture to every corner of the world.  We're quite insidious that way.  It will be interesting to see if we can hold onto that lead in cultural dominance as the Indians and Chinese increasingly get their shit together and start to dominate the world economy because they actually still value education.

Frankly, I find these vids funny, because I can laugh at myself, and I can laugh at my country.  I'm a woman - our motherly instinct is to encourage those we love to improve themselves.

So, yes, I'm a fucking patriot, and I want my country - and my fellow American men and women - to pull our collective shit together, value education, value human beings, and again be the leaders of the world in a good way, and not simply leading in being the biggest joke on the planet.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Google is making me visit the EU

So, blogger has this obscure notice buried in the design interface, that I came across by accident.

If you're in an EU nation, would you tell me if the blogger cookie usage notice is working? Apparently I'm responsible to make sure their mechanism is working.

Or something. Whatever. 

European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent. 

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies. 

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities

Maybe I should send a letter to the Google people demanding the send me to Paris, so I can fulfill my responsibility to make sure their shit is working. 

As long as I'm dreaming about visiting the EU, where are you, and what are good sites to see?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

another one about unwanted pregnancy

If you are going to congratulate yourself for righteous responsibility ensuring 'the innocent' are dragged into this world, then you must also accept responsibility for ensuring they have a quality of life. Failure to follow-through is merely kicking 'the innocent' to the curb, and the equivalent of consigning them to Hell, while patting yourself on the back. God keeps a special place for those of such deep hubris.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I hate "Self-checkout"

I loathe "self-checkout" lines in stores.

Whenever possible, I will stand in line a few extra minutes to have a human being physically scan my purchase and put it into a bag.

This isn't because I dislike technology, or can't figure it out. Hell, self-checkout is simple enough, when it operates correctly and doesn't fight with me over whether or not I put the cotton balls in the bag.

I use human checkout because I like human beings, and I want human beings to be employed to do work, rather than to be replaced by automation.

See, somewhere, far away, is a bean counter looking for an excuse to cull expensive human beings from payroll, in exchange for cheap machines.

Oh, some people will say those machines are expensive. But, seriously? Those machines last five years, at least, and at minimum wage, a pack of part time employees, assuming a store "only" open 8 AM to 8 PM, and "only" six (6) days per week costs a crapload less than human beings.

Here's the calculation:

Twelve (12) hours per day, six (6) days per week is 72 hours per week.

At eight (8) dollars per hour, that's $576/week, or $29 952 per year, or $149 760 over five years.

That's assuming it's only 72 hours per week. My local Fred Meyer store is open fifteen (15) hours per day, seven (7) days per week, so now we're up to $840/week, $43 680 per year, or $218 400 over five years.

And we've stores open to 1 AM, and some open 24 hours.

This is all assuming US Federal minimum wage, of part-time staff, to avoid expensive benefit packages, which generally add 50% more. 

So, if it's a union shop, or they pay more than Federal minimum wage, you can see how those "expensive" machines become dirt cheap really fast.

(Note to my readers in other countries: the US has - and I realize some of you will consider this backwards, barbaric and embarrassing - a policy of paying ZERO benefits - i.e. no health, dental, child care, retirement, vacation, nothing - to anyone working less than thirty (30) hours per week. Yeah, I know, and we like to tell ourselves we've moved beyond the Dark Ages. It's not my fault, please don't hold it against me. It's actually part and parcel of the modern plutocrats effort to create a new Dark Ages, or Neo-Feudalism as I've been calling for at least 15 years. In other words, It's Class Warfare, Bitches.)

Think I'm exaggerating about the bean counters and pure-profit motive?

“If you can cut payroll and have the same productivity and even increase it, it’s a great move,” Diamond said.

Does this bad boy look familiar? Bet it does. Cost? About three weeks of part-time employees. After that, it's pure profit, baby - tens of thousands of dollars per year per machine.  Cha-ching!

So, I like to use human beings and force the bean counters to see a blip on a spreadsheet that says cash-paying customers are using human beings, and therefore human beings remain relevant and important to keep on the payroll, or risk losing cash-paying customers.

Not because I hate computers, but because I love human beings.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Musical Monday - Scarborough Fair - old song, modern legend

Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" - is probably the most famous of the modern versions.  It's certainly the one I think of whenever I hear the line "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme."

It's interesting to see that they used a  vocal counter-point borrowed from an earlier anti-war song by Simon.

This vid shows the lyrics. The "anti-war" counter-point is almost impossible to hear, even if you know to listen for it.  It makes a beautiful sound, the background lyrics, and perhaps is a subliminal message, too.

This version, by the Gothard sisters (who are not triplets), is just for fun.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Clerics in D&D 5e - musings about magic

I was thinking about D&D 5e clerics, and spells.

I think the 5e magic system is internally consistent, and I like the ability to use higher level spell slots for greater effects with spells.

But the whole "your cleric gets one domain" is kinda lame. I guess I'm somewhat colored by having cut my teeth on 3e, where you get two domains, and each extends the spell list, making the cleric of one diety more distinctive than clerics of a different diety.

I also miss the custom spell lists, where different classes can cast a spell at different levels, e.g. flame strike was 4th-level for druids, and 5th-level for clerics. This made different spellcasting classes feel radically different from each other.

In 5e, the only difference, really, between the classes is at what level your character gets the spell slots.

I've read some 2e books, and the whole clerical spheres thing looked super awesome, in terms of custom spell lists by diety. That did really set a cleric of Ehlonna apart from a cleric of Thor, from a cleric of Thoth.  Spheres were cool in that way, even if they didn't come with domain powers (3e), or bonus feats (5e).

With 5e, the different domain powers are pretty similar, and most of them offer Heavy Armor Proficiency, even when it seems dubious (really, Life domain equals plate mail?).

I like that the community is doing extensions, and Mark Craddock has craploads of diety-specific feats on his blog, although I've also decided I wish he'd note which domain he thinks that diety should have, just because I think that would help define the flavor of said diety. While I'm probably over-thinkinking that last point, you should check out his blog.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nectarines ... and now for something completely ...

Where do nectarines come from? 

I can see how people inherit the farm. I can see how Big Agra decides to run the farms.


Does anyone every seriously say "I want to be a nectarine farmer when I grow up"?

(Can't be serious all the time, right? Where would be the fun in that?)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Legalized Corruption

It's all part of the game - the slow degradation of ethical and legal standards. The degradation of expectations - getting the public to accept as "normal" worse and worse people, and bigger and bigger scandal and abuse.