DnD 5E and FATE Accelerated

Jul. 3rd, 2015 10:36 am
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
DnD 5e

A while back I bought the 5e DnD ("DnD Next" or "DnD") player's handbook and just now have been reading through it. I actually really like it.

It reminds me of 3.5 but streamlined, with a few of the good aspects of earlier editions and 4e. That's about what I wanted out of DnD!

Many of the combat rules are simplified a bit, but look about equally balanced. Progression is simplified -- feats are more powerful, but optional, you can take them instead of a stat increase. Thus they do more to define your character and less to "here's a feat-tree you have to take".

There's no separate saves, you make a "dex save" or "con save". Your character has a single proficiency bonus which scales with level from +2 to about +5, which is added to everything you character is good at (weapons they're proficient with, skills they're trained with, etc).

They've added some fluff to the front page of the character sheet (personality trait, ideal, bond, flaw) and a suggesting for getting temporary mechanical advantage when your flaw comes into play. I have ideas for those bits up, to focus people further on the bits that actually come up in play (whether they matter mechanically or not).

The classes and races are similar to 3e -- there's the classic races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and further races (tiefling, dragonborn, gnome, half-orc) which don't automatically exist in all settings.

Like 4e, all spellcasters have a few infinite use cantrips which function as their standard attack options. I like that all characters have something specific to do in combat. And like 4e, fighter has some abilities beyond "hit it with my axe" to bring into play in combat -- although not many, I think that could be beefed up.

It reverts to generally winging the exact physical layout rather than using a battlemap. Which I like because combat is simpler and faster. Although I admit, it does remove some of the good effects in 4e, that there were many more tactical options for the party to work together, other than "we all hit it repeatedly".

The general power level is flatter between 1st level and 20th level, even more so than 4e. I think this is probably good, since it's almost impossible to balance things at both ends, but it does potentially mean less variation. But it has good effects that a character a few level higher than you" feels like "an adventurer like you, but more experienced" not "a demigod". And that there's less artificial scaling where every PC gets regular stat boosts to increase to-hit and damage-per-second and armour-class -- as does every monster.

It seems like, 1st level is really a tutorial level (although actually, I'd like an EVEN SIMPLER introduction for some newbies) where characters all have stuff they can do, but some of the key class features kick in at second level (eg. rogue has backstab damage at first level, but gets a free disengage/hide action from second which is nearly as class-defining). 4th or 5th feels like a typical point for experienced 3.5e players.

In addition to flattening the power level, the magic-item economy is gone. The classes are designed to be balanced mostly as-is, with a minimum amount of gold and almost no magic items. So you can run a low-magic campaign where the only magic is PC and NPC spellcasters, and add a magic sword for effect when it seems dramatic, not assume that everyone is carting around cartloads of +1 stuff else they're unplayable.

I think it could sensibly by used to run either an old-school "kick in the door and take as much treasure as you can before you die" session or a "mostly about roleplaying with some combat" session which are the sorts I enjoy the most.

4e is probably better for tactical combat -- I like that in theory, but never find it works well for me in practice.

Has anyone actually tried 5e?

FATE core and FATE accelerated

I've also been following a couple of people's suggestions and reading about FATE. IIUC it's based on ideas from FUDGE, based on a very freeform mechanics-light structure. Ideal for "here's a wacky idea about X" or "here's an existing setting (Dresden Files) with clear flavour but vague on specifics, can we adapt that to a game" and producing setting and character sheets with minimal write-up and no need to spend ages trying to balance PC activities.

Basically it sounds really fun if you want an adventure without tactical combat at all (there's still some tactics, but not based primarily on characters specific abilities).

Although some people apparently flounder if they're used to DnD -- there's definitely a "everyone should choose things that are appropriate, not always what would be most effective for the character". (Like Dogs-in-the-Vineyard, it seems it's more fun to pick character traits which come up about half the time -- but some people find it hard to resist arguing that they ALWAYS apply.)

Has anyone actually tried any of the editions of FATE?

Interesting Links for 03-07-2015

Jul. 3rd, 2015 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

[my life in lists]

Jul. 3rd, 2015 10:55 am
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
todo )

tada )

(no subject)

Jul. 3rd, 2015 10:24 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] stardyst!
azurelunatic: Seated baby in incubator shell with electrodes.  (Cyteen)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Called [personal profile] norabombay this morning; she was driving through some spotty coverage areas and it was difficult to hear her cunning fic plans involving a Sherlock + Vanyel the Last Herald-Mage crossover.

The work QUILTBAG club has started up meetings again. The guy who was doing most of the organizing got super busy, yadda yadda, and I think this is the first time I've been able to make a meeting in over a year (and mostly because of lack of meetings). It was lunch and mimosas (bring your own lunch) in the milkshake bunker. I arrived a bit late and slid in at the end of the table. A little later a few other people showed up, making about a dozen of us, and two non-dudes.

We toasted around the table. My friend the usual organizer is nervous of champagne bottles, and somewhere along the line I seem to have become decent at popping the cork with only a little bang and a breath of vapor, given a nice sturdy table to put the thing on. I opened the bottle of strawberry syrup, which made some interesting variations on mimosa.

We talked about where we'd been when we heard about the decision. I'd been at Open Source Bridge, of course, and I'd woken up around 7:30 and I saw the news on Twitter, and I was delighted. [personal profile] kareila came in and told me there was good news. We squeed about it for a bit. That, of course, was the morning after Thursday night; on Thursday night after the code push, some of us had wound up in [personal profile] kaberett and [personal profile] me_and and [personal profile] woggy's hotel room talking until about two-ish, and I'd been up until about three-ish. So after chatting with [personal profile] kareila for a bit, I went promptly back to sleep.

I was not tight as an owl when I traipsed back down the hill, but I was a tad giggly.

I promptly found myself in the middle of the wrap-up meeting for the conference. I have proposed that the search for external speakers commence basically immediately, since that part takes the longest and caused quite a bit of angst last time around.

Readers, if you ever ask a group of which I am a member a question shaped like "What's the minimum amount of work I have to do in order to make my software 508 compliant? Asking for a friend!" -- please do not be surprised if you find yourself in receipt of a broadside from the Accessibility Cannon that begins something like "THE FUCK YOU SAY. HOW ABOUT YOU STOP TRYING TO DO THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF WORK NECESSARY TO COMPLY WITH THE LETTER OF THE LAW AND START THINKING ABOUT 'HEY IF I'M A USER WITH THESE CONSTRAINTS, CAN I USE THE FUCKING SOFTWARE?' P.S. THINKING ABOUT IT AS IMAGES WILL DOOM YOU TO FAILURE, THINK ABOUT IT AS INFORMATION THAT THE USER CAN CONSUME IN A FORMAT OF THEIR CHOICE. ENJOY THE USER EXPERIENCE OFFICE HOURS." As it happens, I got a (public and somewhat defensive) response that they were doing things right really, it's just that they were in review phase and they wanted to know what to expect/brace for, and then I got a (directly to me, from someone else) response dancing around the concept that maybe I could be less of a blistering asshole about it up front.

I topped that off by running into someone who thought that the slide-video based training system was the equivalent of documentation, and wrote "$TRAININGVIDEOSYSTEM is not a substitute for documentation" several times on not!Facebook, with a few points which documentation has that $TRAININGVIDEOSYSTEM doesn't:
* Does not require registration
* Does not require completing a course
* Renders on a maximum number of browsers, ideally in plain ol' HTML
* Explains how to do various tasks without starting at 101 each time
* Doesn't require a title card, theme music, or (necessarily) images

At which point I paused, contemplated life for a bit, and then opened up the Aleve jar on the grounds that I was about to have cramps from hell, because clearly my period was about to hit. (And it did.)

Purple skived off early for the weekend when a friend of his wanted to do something. I didn't stay too late, and wound up back on the correct side of the Bay before Costco closed. I chatted with Nora again, who had made it home safely.

I have had various things from Abney Park in my head all day, because yesterday I introduced them to Mr. Sub-tle and the Dean. I have a long game in mind.

I need to up my game!

Jul. 2nd, 2015 11:09 pm
strangecharm: (Default)
[personal profile] strangecharm
A song came on the radio while we were eating breakfast and all of a sudden my dad said, "Who's this singing, is it Katy Perry?"

I had no idea, I'd never heard the song before. But since my dad had been telling me the day before how much he likes Lady Gaga and that he wishes Adele would come out with a new album, I was happy to defer to his expertise.

It always delights me to contemplate -- as I am so often given reason to do -- that I will never be as cool as my dad.

(no subject)

Jul. 2nd, 2015 09:53 pm
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (HatMan)
[personal profile] hatman
A decade or so back, Marvel did a miniseries about Daredevil's early career. Daredevil's original costume was yellow, so the book was titled "Daredevil: Yellow." (And that really influenced the coloring of the comic. One of the little things I loved about the Netflix series is that they took a cue from that book and had a lot of yellow backgrounds, with the gradual introduction of bits of red towards the end.)

That became something of a tradition for Marvel. In the years since, they've done flashback miniseries about other characters, each named for a color prominent in that character's costume. Spider-Man: Blue, and so on.

More recently, Marvel made a big move by depowering Steve Rogers and having his longtime partner, Sam Wilson (The Falcon) take over as Captain America. You may recall the media buzz over a year ago about the new Captain America being a Black man.

Right now, Marvel is in the midst of what may be their largest event yet, resetting the entire multiverse to introduce a new, more up to date status quo. Spider-Man will be Miles Morales, the biracial teen who took over as Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe, there will be more emphasis on female characters, including an all-female team of Avengers, a spotlight on the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim girl, and so on. On the other hand, while Logan himself will be dead, there will be two characters who go by Wolverine. Because you can never have enough Wolverine, apparently.

It's not clear yet what will happen with many other characters. The event is just starting, and Marvel themselves may not have decided. But they did announce a new flashback miniseries about Captain America's early days in WWII.

See if you can spot the problematic part of that.

I really wonder what they were thinking.


Text: Captain America
Image: Steve Rogers as Captain America shouts as he powerfully holds up his shield.
Text: WHITE)

Recent reading

Jul. 2nd, 2015 05:13 pm
redbird: full bookshelves and table in a library (books)
[personal profile] redbird
This is a few weeks' worth at once, because I was staying at [personal profile] adrian_turtle's home two Wednesdays ago and in a hotel in New York last week.

Recently read:

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, by Josie Brown. This is a weird, fast-moving mix of adventure story and romance. Not really "what it says on the tin," though the first-person narrator is a housewife and CIA assassin. I found this as a freebie for the kindle, and will likely read more of these if I remember before my next long plane trip.

Naked Came the Manatee, by Carl Hiaasen et al. This was also fast-moving, but oddly flat: I thought I was getting a Hiaasen novel, and what I actually got was a 13-chapter book in which each chapter was written by a different author. If you like that sort of thing, and like the Miami background, this might be the sort of thing you like.

Neptune Crossing, by Jeffrey A. Carver. This is good—a first-contact story set on Triton, about a former space pilot who was injured in an accident that cost him his ability to connect to the net and thus to be a pilot, and was left with other neurological issues. And then the alien contacts him, and won't let him tell anyone, at least not until they save the Earth.... This works as a stand-alone but is also the first in a series, and I will be reading more.

Terms of Service, by Irina Rempt. Secondary world fantasy, with actual gods getting involved in things, some people with magical talents, and two rival guilds devoted to specific gods, but with quite similar practices when they aren't attacking each other's members. There's also quite a bit of intrigue within the viewpoint character's guild. I found this one because the author is someone I'd known on alt.poly; it's been sitting untouched on my kindle for I don't know how long. (Creative commons licensed, so if you're interested and can't find it, leave me a comment here.)

A Stoop to a Rake, by A. J. Hall. Part of an ongoing set of fanfics based on the tv show Sherlock and the Bronte sisters' Gondal juvenilia, but I find it works despite not knowing either. Adrian and I have found that these stories work well for her to read aloud to me; I think we did the first half of this one in April.

Nine Hundred Grandmothers, by R. A. Lafferty. Reread of a short story collection; I'd say this is a good place to start with Lafferty's decidedly odd writing, which derives quite a bit from the tradition of tall tales, rather than high fantasy.

Currently reading:

Bryony and Roses, by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon). I started this today, and am enjoying it so far.

I win at adulting.

Jul. 2nd, 2015 06:00 pm
kass: Zoe is made of awesome. (zoe)
[personal profile] kass
The pile of old stuffed animals and toys which has been in the back of my car lo these many days (weeks?) has now been taken to Goodwill.

Every rug in the downstairs of the house has been vacuumed.

Also I swept and swiffer-mopped the kitchen and breakfast room floor.

And the kiddo's laundry has been folded, and the portacrib has been set up for this weekend's visiting toddler.

And I have made a pot of coffee so it will be cold to drink in the morning over ice, and also a pitcher of barley tea now in the fridge.

GO ME. \o/

PT session

Jul. 2nd, 2015 02:46 pm
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
[personal profile] redbird
This was the first PT in a bit over two weeks (because I was on vacation, and then I postponed what would have been Tuesday's session to give the ankle a bit of time to rest/recover).

mostly for my records )
andrewducker: (Back slowly away)
[personal profile] andrewducker
About two years ago, Julie was diagnosed with cancer.

Her Bcr-Abl levels at the time were just over 100. At each three-monthly meeting with her consultant they've (approximately) halved, with the result that in February this year they hit 0.126, which is getting close to the level at which they're happy that you're clear.

Sadly, at today's meeting, we discovered that they haven't dropped any further in the three months to May. Which is a bit worrying - as when the drop plateaus it tends to mean that something somewhere has mutated or otherwise become resistant.

This isn't necessarily the case though, and the side-effects have actually been a bit worse in the last 8 weeks (since Julie stopped taking Omeprazole, which affects stomach acid, and can thus interact somewhat with the takeup of her current medication).

So the doctor had some more blood taken, and we should hear back in about three weeks how things are going now. Nobody is panicking about anything, and there are multiple different options available to her if it turns out that Nilotinib is no longer doing the job.

But if I seem even more stressed and off-hand than usual over the next while, it's because I'm distracted, Julie is distracted, and overall there's a chunk of distractedness going on.

Still not Wednesday

Jul. 2nd, 2015 08:44 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Because, really, I do not have anything worth making a reading post about since last week, what with 4th Street and everything (also, a lot of times when normally I would have been reading, e.g. waiting for things or in transit, I was either plotting or trying to type up on the tablet the next episode of [personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan).

Partner is home - was feeling fit enough to walk home from the hospital when I collected him - although a minor operation is to be scheduled in due course. Many thanks for all the good wishes.

Still gradually catching up with myself - 12 hours more or less sleep and not having to go into work makes a considerable difference.

jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
Will Supervillains be on the Final?

Manga-style comic written by Naomi Novik and draw by Yishan Li, about a girl who goes to superhero school, has more natural power than most people, but has difficulty fitting in, and is affected by the ongoing fallout of ex-superhero and ex-supervillain politics.

I love this genre, and it's a pleasant example of it, I really enjoyed it, though it doesn't add a lot I haven't seen before. It's fairly short, and I was sad to see promised follow-up volumes haven't appeared.

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

This is exactly the sort of book I like, about someone living their life over several times, getting tangled up in the plots of other people in the similar situation, someone screwing up the timeline and causing future cataclysm, and fight between time travellers.

It touches on themes I find interesting in this sort of thing -- how much you meddle with time, and what happens? do you care about the lives of people you know are going to just come alive again? And it uses its premises on what does and doesn't allow an immortal to return well in crafting the overall plot. I would have liked more "now lets try a do over with more information" a la Groundhog Day/All You Need is Kill, rather than descending into standard-ish thriller territory, but it's still good.

Spoilers )

Hello London people!

Jul. 2nd, 2015 07:30 pm
[personal profile] swaldman
Hello London People! And nearby.

I'm going to be in the area 2-6th August. Is there anything going on in that period that I should know about?
Thanks :-)

Radio Silence

Jul. 2nd, 2015 02:11 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

The blog will be relatively quiet for a week or so. I have very important “research” to do up north for the next book.

Sunset Lake at Sugarloaf Mountain Dock

It’s hard work being a writer, ya know?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Reading Wednesday, uh Thursday

Jul. 2nd, 2015 05:24 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
Long Utopia. PTerry and S. Baxter.

Not, I think, as good as the previous. And sadly now PTerry is dead :( I enjoyed it all the same.


Station Eleven. Just started, not really got an opinion yet.


uhhhhh, dunno.

(no subject)

Jul. 2nd, 2015 04:15 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
No deaths. Huzzah.

Born on this day in 1903 to King Haakon VII of Norway and Maud of Wales, King Olav V of Norway (my toy,wikipedia). Grandson of Edward VII. Olav was a very popular King, having been involved in Norwegian defense during WWII.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
[personal profile] ursamajor
post-tags: instagram, crosspost Early blueberries. Still a bit tart, but the birds are snagging them before we can. #latergram

On Caitlyn Jenner And Activist Work

Jul. 2nd, 2015 10:26 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

When Caitlyn Jenner came out as trans, I heard some of my trans friends complaining: Why her?  Why did she get to be the face of trans women in America, when there were so many trans activists who’d devoted their life towards working for trans acceptance? Hell, Caitlyn hadn’t been notably political in any way before this, being a reality show TV star for one of the most fatuous and narcissistic celebrity families.  And even now, there’s no guarantee she’ll work to further trans issues beyond the simple fact of her being a trans person. (Though we can hope she does.)

Why was she the one who sparked conversation instead of the many activists who’d given their lives for the cause?

Yet if I had been asked to predict who would become the most famous trans person in the world – and to be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed that trans issues would have catapulted into the limelight in my lifetime – then my answer would have been, “Someone who got famous another way, then came out as trans.”

Because most humans need to know someone before they sympathize with their plight.

You see that all the time, that prioritizing personal experience over reading knowledge.  It’s a sad fact of black peoples’ lives that when they acquire a white friend, that white friend (if they’re inexperienced) will ask all the usual dumb questions about “Do you tan?” and “How does your hair work?” instead of looking it up from the thousands of freely-available sources.

For better or for worse, humans connect with other humans, not reference materials.  (Which is not necessarily a bad thing – folks are all like “I WISH THEY’D LOOK THIS SHIT UP,” but I think they’d change their tune if these people got their information on the black experience by reading Fox News. The fact is, reference materials can be riotously wrong or skewed, and most people learn where to read about things by asking their fellow humans where to start – and that allows you to point them in the right direction, as exhausting as that is.)

And you know what sucks further?  For a lot of people, knowing someone who identifies as trans when they first meet means that they can shunt them aside and go, “What a freak, wow, let’s keep this schmuck at arm’s length.”  And their shields go up, and they just go, “Well, that person’s trying to cause trouble.”

The reason Caitlyn Jenner is the connecting point for folks is because they’ve known Bruce for years on some level – either as a famous athlete or a reality show star – and have already sympathized with him for years.  And when she came out, they went, “Wow, someone I know is going through this, and I know they wouldn’t do this just to cause a fuss, so… why?  Why the hell are they doing this?”

And they start asking the right questions.  Enlightenment may arise.

You see that in the coming-out stories of gays – that’s why coming out is so powerful.  A lot of the uneducated gay opinion is “THESE FREAKS ARE JUST DOING IT TO CAUSE TROUBLE” – a cry you still hear from a lot of the anti-gay-marriage crowd.  But over the years, thanks to people literally risking their goddamned lives (and, in some cases, losing them) to come out to family and friends, straight people came to realize that these beloved, level-headed friends of theirs could be gay, and they weren’t just doing this for the fabulous social benefits of pissing off mom and dad.

(Which leads to the equally wrong-headed argument that “Being gay is not a choice!”, which I despise, because if someone wants to put a penis in their mouth, and the owner of the penis is both willing and able to consent, then it shouldn’t matter what their motivations are.  But that’s another rant I’ve made before.)

Anyway, the point is that you can have thousands of books written on “the trans experience” and “the gay experience” and none of those stacks of books will be as potent as one person sneaking under the radar to go, “Hey, you respected me before, and now I am also this.”

Caitlyn Jenner is the face of trans acceptance because she flew under people’s prejudices, and now that she’s wedged deep people have to reexamine their attitudes.  Sadly, someone who became famous as being trans could never do that.  Which sucks, but hey.

You know what sucks more?

Black people are never gonna do that.

My sneaking suspicion is that gay equality is gonna shoot right the fuck past black equality in a decade or two, because gay people come from all angles, and some gay-bashing idiot is always going to be dealing with a cousin or a best friend who comes out, and that attitude will soften.

But too many white people have this shield in place when they see black people protesting – the same shield they see when they see gays, and trans, and other minorities protesting – that goes, “Wow, these people are just looking to cause trouble, aren’t they?”  And unfortunately, there’s almost no way for black people to win here – with the exception of maybe very light-skinned black people, there’s no way of forcing folks to question their assumptions about how black people work.

The bright spot, however, is that on Twitter, it’s easier than ever for people to have black friends.  I do – my social group is largely homogenously Caucasian in real life, but online it’s a lot more varied, which is part of the reason I care more about this stuff.  It affects people I love.  And right now, there’s a hot cluster of “Black Twitter” where black social media interacts and amplifies, catapulting ignored stories like Ferguson into the mainstream, which I think will help over time.

Still. I think it’s gonna be a lot slower.  And I think it sucks that there have been trans people working their asses off, some who died to further the cause, and a reality show TV star blossoms into the face of the trans lifestyle.

Yet this isn’t bashing Caitlyn Jenner: I’m glad she’s finally happy, and I’m glad she’s subverting paradigms and changing attitudes.  And I’m not bashing humanity, either: given how different this massive world we’ve created is from the small social environments we were evolved to live in, I’m shocked at how well we’re adapting.

But you gotta know how to hack the system.  And “the system” is, sadly, that the more you can leverage people’s personal vouchsafing for you to change their attitudes on the lifestyles you lead, the better it goes.  It’s why I came out as polyamorous, which I gotta tell you, is not at all always comfortable.

Yet “coming out” is one of the most effective ways to change people’s takes on things, and though you are not obligated to be anyone’s teachable moment in any way, we should never forget that yeah, the teachable moment is a frighteningly potent tool to circumvent the biases of evolved monkey brains.


Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Speaking of Books

Jul. 2nd, 2015 08:29 am
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)
[personal profile] jjhunter
By happy coincidence, my volume of bookshelves have doubled this week just as the check for winning a book prize came through. There is a glorious edged exhilaration in putting in an order of multiple books at my favorite indie bookstore, especially after such a long stretch of being a stickler about either borrowing books from the library or winnowing my collection in balance of acquiring.

List of books behind the cut )

Interesting Links for 02-07-2015

Jul. 2nd, 2015 12:00 pm

On Discrimination and Borders

Jul. 2nd, 2015 10:47 am
pseudomonas: Angry dragon destroys with flame! (flame)
[personal profile] pseudomonas
Racism has a bad image, and quite right too. It's not that it's been eliminated, but that its social acceptability is such that even the BNP pays lip service to Not Being Racist. The very existence of the phrase "I'm not racist but…" is testament to how widely everyone, even massive racists realise that racism is probably not the ideal policy to cling to in life.

But. It seems to me1 that the lines of acceptable discrimination have been drawn such that it just so happens there's no problem at all with discriminating based on place of birth. The UK does it, just about every other country does it; the idea that it's legitimate to say "if you were born here (and/or if your parents were) you are One Of Us and you have these rights and entitlements and may come and go freely, otherwise you are a Foreigner and Not Our Problem" is fully normalised in mainstream political thought.2 We happily abridge the freedoms of myriads of people because they weren't born here. This cannot be right.

I can see absolutely no principled reason for this that wouldn't also amount to an extremely racist justification. I can see many pragmatic reasons for allowing this state of affairs to continue; but working backwards from pragmatic reasoning to a principle is exactly as bad as saying "our economy would collapse without slavery, therefore let us posit that the group we are enslaving are subhuman" (if you think that's too extreme then I would argue that this is merely the most graphic and most recent example of the injustices perpetrated by the mindset).

In the short term I would prefer we accept the cognitive dissonance of saying "this policy is immoral but we will stick to it for pragmatic reasons except in cases where people absolutely require refuge" than maintain the current pretence that there is anything morally acceptable about it. In the longer term, we should work towards (minimally) fully open borders and citizenship on demand for residents of any state3. I would argue that there are pragmatic advantages to that situation too - in particular in terms of increasing economic parity between regions. But even if there were no such advantages we should pursue this goal anyway, on purely principled grounds, just as abolitionists believed in their cause regardless of its undoubted economic impact.

[I considered giving here lots of examples of how the implementations of immigration controls are evil in practice, but actually the point I'm trying to make is that the very concept is evil in principle]

1Yes, I know I'm not anything like the first person to realise this.

2I don't even know of a word or short phrase that means "discriminating against someone based on their place of birth"; there's a lot of pernicious nitpicking by people who hold to this that "oh, it's not really racism because 'people from X' aren't a race", and yeah, OK, it's not exactly racism, but it's ALSO BAD so your argument is crap. [ETA: [twitter.com profile] abigailb suggests "Nativism" which is pretty close, but I would like a word describing the phenomenon of discrimination, not its political application, so as to be able to say e.g. "Nativism is a political doctrine based on _____". ETA2: "Xenophobia" is pretty damn close and well known, so maybe we should leave it at that for now. ]

3I have no major problem with the existence of national governments - just as Leicestershire and Lincolnshire have different local governments but there is no suggestion that people born in one shouldn't be permitted to travel, reside, or work in the other.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
C is nearly 9, and adores the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and all its sequels.  C also seems especially fond of comics, getting The Phoenix each week and positively racing through a number of Phoenix collections I've bought[1], and also digital comics Angry Birds vol 1 and Angry Birds Transformers.

Bedtime stories that seem to have been enjoyed ([personal profile] fanf does bedtime stories so I'm going by impressions in passing) include I think all the Pratchett juveniles, and a set of The Worst Witch and sequels.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was a bit slow going (or I am less good at bedtime reading) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a bit too exciting.

We have a largeish assortment of children's books, mostly from my and [livejournal.com profile] fanf 's collections, but I think we may still need to actively offer and encourage trying individual books and series.  I'm actively happy to buy more, but would prefer to get ebooks and digital comics for ease of travel and storage.


[1]  So far Bunny vs Monkey Book 1, Tales of Fayt: The Crooked Imp, Troy Trailblazer and the Horde Queen and Mo-Bot HighPirates of Pangaea Book 1 seems to be staying in the school book bag but I'm not sure if it's actually getting read.

rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
1. (done) Invitations to N's 3rd birthday "party".  Actually just a weekend gathering for drinks in a child-friendly pub that has a bouncy castle when the weather is good.  I realised this morning that I didn't need to carefully design and print out a set of invitations, when I have a large cache of stationery.  Handwriting the details onto 5 postcards (of children's book-covers!) and addressing 5 brightly-coloured envelopes took less time than designing an invitation to print off would have done.
Read more... )
7. everything else on my todo list

Character design checklist

Jul. 2nd, 2015 09:58 am
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
I wrote up a checklist for a quick-and-dirty way to design an interesting character, something like:

* A code/belief/trait you live by even if it's inconvenient (by choice or inability to resist)
* An aspiration, a dream you want to eventually achieve
* A connection to at least one person in your party
* A connection to at least one person in the world
* Something you've learned how to do well

And then I thought "I shouldn't be applying this to a roleplaying game, I should be applying it to myself" :)
azurelunatic: A spray of $CELEBRATORY_FIZZY_BEVERAGE from a beribboned bottle caught in the moment just after the cork pops. (bubbly)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Today was another day of catching up. It started out not entirely well-omened, with the shadows of distressing dreams, and too hot, to the point that wearing one of the normal thickness cardigans was making me panic at the thought of overheating, badly enough that I wouldn't be able to leave. So I dug through the laundry until I found the thin soft black cardigan, the previously maligned one with the "drop pockets" which drop things out of them reliably. (Bare arms wouldn't have done either: sun, and I have some body-shyness with my upper arms. Though I'm becoming okay with going bare-armed around my team, indoors, out of the sun.)

The rest of Purple's crew had been delayed, so it was just us outside at one of the little umbrella tables for four that we usually cram with at least six, sometimes up to ten.

We'd run into R on our way out; she'd regaled us with tales of horror and woe. She's going to Colorado for a couple weeks to spend time with her ailing mother.

"No meetings this afternoon?" she'd asked Purple, indicating the onions on his tacos. That hadn't really been a consideration for him.

An irreverent onion-related poll )

One of the guys had been trying to poll for dinner soonish, and hoped to get some of the things hashed out over a milkshake. So we went up to the milkshake bunker.

This guy, the new guy, is one of the guys in that notable corner office with the mommy and daddy bananas, the minion, and ET. The office also has 7 of 9, and enough booze to intoxicate an entire Borg cube.

There are plans to renovate the milkshake bunker and add a genius bar. The locals are dubious. I inquired, and got back reassurances that the milkshake bunker will still be good for milkshakes during most of the swapping around, the genius bar is going into the now former catering office, and the catering office is moving into the nearby conference room (I think). They're swapping furniture around as well. We shall see.

There was various hilarity, including wireless networking problems, UK and Australia vs. US electrical woes, a new face comparison for the Australia plugs that is not horrible and is in fact the Scary Movie mask, and accidental desk hockey. Purple and Mr. Zune had been playing with their ice cream cups, and skidding them across the table a bit. Mr. Zune accidentally flung his across the table between Purple's arms. This was declared a goal, despite Purple declaring that he wasn't playing hockey. Then Purple licked his spoon, wiped it off on his pants, and began brushing at the table with it, declaring that he was curling.

I spent a good amount of last week laughing. Today's milkshake walk filled this week's laughter quota.

Shortly thereafter, the Dean showed up. He very nearly threw himself onto the table and slid down it, which would have been exactly perfect. I promptly lost the words that I was looking for to communicate that we needed to set up plans for the ... the ... I gestured a rolling ball, a hat, a whip. The thirteen-year-olds I was with interpreted it all as BDSM. Thanks, thirteen-year-olds. After the Dean headed off, I found words again. "INDIANA JONES." The "You perverts." was unspoken. <3

The guy from the office of the suspiciously gendered bananas has an implanted medical device, and therefore needs to avoid hobbies like arc welding, making tesla coils, and being in the vicinity of that former Hitachi magic wand of mine that interfered with that keyboard. We never did get the dinner plans nailed down.

The attempt to get my entire team on versions of Adobe Creative Suite from the century of the fruitbat continues. Still.

Rocky's father-in-law died last week. The Stage Manager sent a fruit basket, which will do a large part to help Rocky's wife survive the memorial, as her mother does not really keep fruit around and she basically lives on it. I expressed my condolences, and he talked about things.

The weather changed, enough that it could be felt inside. I felt much better, although still sticky.

In advance of the latest round of helldesk software improvements, I tried to order my thoughts onto a wiki page. It took me about fifteen bullet points before the lack of horizontal scrollbars (when content would otherwise get cut off by a narrow aperture) caused me to emit grawlix and promise to publicly embarrass myself and everyone else if it happened one more time. I shared this wiki page with main-channel of internal IRC, and that was when the usually patient guy on a friend's team (who has been watching this whole thing unfold and getting steadily less patient) apparently first got his hands on my wiki page of sortable grousing. I could see him going point by point down the list of tickets and getting steadily more frothy.

There was, at one point, a survey sent around. He expressed disappointment at not getting to see the output of said survey. "Oh, they posted it," I said. "It was a real $NAME special." Then I linked to the not!Facebook post about same, commenting that this was the one where Purple had re-balanced the survey, and everything no longer came up Milhouse.

Dude was not pleased with our now-ex C-level SaaSmonger. To the point where I started explaining the gospel of the Unimportant Fire. And the usual accompaniment of same, the importance of conserving one's water for the important fires. At which point some of the usual suspects started talking about mulch, and that if a certain ex-exec did not care for mulch on his head, well, he could file a ticket.

On that cheery and salubrious note, Purple emerged from the depths of his cave and swooped me off into the parking lot. We chatted about various things, including various people we had known who did not come to particularly great ends. Cheery topic. Also lunch plans for tomorrow -- the QUILTBAGPIPE group is meeting for lunch (bring your own lunch) in the milkshake bunker, and while Mr. Sub-tle couldn't be there himself, he did authorize the organizing principle to expense the champagne for the mimosas. All of which is to say that while Purple is getting lunch, I was going to be waltzing back down, tight as an owl.

"What does that even mean? I grew up in Ohio! I'm familiar with owls!"

Purple had never heard that phrase before. It is an old one, but not apparently super well known. http://freaky_freya.tripod.com/Drunktionary/T-Z.html#tight

So that was Wednesday.

(no subject)

Jul. 2nd, 2015 03:05 am
slashmarks: (Default)
[personal profile] slashmarks
I've been having trouble mustering the energy to post recently.

Classes are okay. Missed all the classes today because I had a doctor's appointment this morning on four hours of sleep. It went okay, I think (It's hard for me to tell if something went disastrously wrong sometimes bc social skill issues) but I was so keyed up on adrenaline I knew I wouldn't be able to sit still and focus for the rest of the day, and then there was the inevitable crash from adrenaline and lack of sleep.

I spent some time at the library and then walking around in the city instead, which was nice. Talked to a bookstore cashier for twenty minutes or so, which was very nice. I can talk to people, I need to remember that, I don't totally lack social skills. It's beginning conversations and following group conversations I'm really bad at.

That was officially the first time I've had a conversation with someone I just met including artificial intelligence and robot workers' rights, also, so there's that.

The new doctor seems... okay. It's a pain clinic that does PT/OT. I have PT and OT scheduled and refused the psychology they apparently do because therapy scares me so much the thought of going to get counseling for something I don't feel all that bad about in the first place (disability) is hilariously counterproductive. They let me refuse it, fortunately, I was going to have to put my foot down otherwise, because I don't have the money, the energy or the time to drag myself into doing something terrifying and retraumatizing and pointless.

So, we'll see. They did seem to think ring splints are a good idea which is the main thing I am hoping for. I'm not really optimistic, but I'm not pessimistic either? I'll try it. I don't expect it to help much. I'm not upset about that fact; I'm okay how I am. So. We'll see and I'll try not to end up with yet another case of worsening my medical PTSD.

At some point I should maybe write about the experiences that gave me medical PTSD in a more coherent and findable format than tumblr, but I don't know that I'm up to that tonight, or will be any time in the future.

linkspam and wednesday reading

Jul. 1st, 2015 09:00 pm
cofax7: Aeryn in gold (FS - Aeryn Gold -- Saava)
[personal profile] cofax7
This may be worth bookmarking if you are in a CSA and overwhelmed by vegetables.

This may be worth bookmarking if, like me, you're aging and unmarried.

I found this essay by a young Rwandan woman to be amazing: honest, blunt, heart-breaking but not pitiful, and strangely hopeful about human resiliency. Do read it. (Link via MeFi)

Oh, god, if Scott Walker is elected president we're doomed.This is a detailed look at Walker's agenda w/rt labor rights, and the facts behind the assertion that killing unions is better for public budgets. The killer quote, from my pov: [A] President Walker would adopt the views of his fellow Republicans in Washington toward federal workers, which these days can be characterized as "Off with their heads." In the wake of revelations about egregious backlogs for appointments at some Veterans Affairs hospitals-backlogs caused, again, by too few federal employees, in this case primary care doctors-Senator John McCain led a campaign to make it easier to fire poorly performing federal managers, and then pressed to fire them faster. Other Republicans are campaigning to transform the Senior Executive Service into at-will employment, which would allow political officials to fire the most senior careerists without cause. Meanwhile, House Republicans are pushing to substantially downsize the federal workforce, including a plan to allow federal agencies to hire just one new worker for every three who leave. It's easy to see a President Walker aggressively championing this agenda.

In other news, have a really lovely review of the Raksura novels by Martha Wells. Everything Foz says here is true.

If you feel like getting mildly peeved, Kate Elliott started a discussion on Twitter today when she quoted someone anonymously saying, "Outside of YA it's near-impossible to find a female main character in modern adult Fantasy". I look at my bookshelves and my Calibre window, and I just shake my head at how some people can be so willfully ignorant.

This reminds me of my long-delayed compilation of epic fantasy written by women. I should probably dust that off and post it somewhere.


I stumbled across a new show on the PBS Hulu channel, looks like another British import: The Crimson Field, about a British military field hospital during WWI. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing, so I watched two episodes. I like the cast well enough, and it has some diversity, but I'm disappointed that, unlike Call the Midwife, which involves all sorts of people trying to get by as best they can, this show has decided to create a Bad Guy. And it just so happens that this Bad Guy is the single older woman on the show, so it is kind of disgruntling for me. I may watch a few more, as they come, but (sigh).


Current reading: Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson. I don't recall where I found the recommendation for this (possibly in James Nicoll's LJ comments), but I'm really enjoying it. In the not-too-distant future, the EU and Russia have both broken up into dozens of small political entities, and naturally as a result there's a lot of political and economic imbalance. Our hero Rudi, a chef in part of what was once Poland, gets recruited as a courier for sensitive (read: illegal) documents and materials. And that's as far as I've gotten, but the wry voice, vivid characterizations (Fabio, the master-spy, complains incessantly about the excellent food Rudi cooks for him, and rearranges Rudi's furniture every day), and blackly-humorous commentary on politics and ethnicity are really entertaining. I don't know if the narrative itself will hold up, but so far it's quite good.

Just Finished: Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't really onboard with the redemption of Mr. Gray. That felt a lot too easy.

Up next: Really need to get back to Leviathan Wakes. Or Kalpa Imperial. Or Rebecca, for book club.


Happy long weekend, for those who get one! What will you be reading/watching in your free time?
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Thanks to everyone who volunteered various ways a young kid could get involved in sports. After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that a Youth Soccer League will be what this teenager-who-is-secretly-a-monster gets involved with, because that’s a casual sport that kids play together where the parents watch.

I talked to my good friend Raven, who lives in Kentucky, and she clued me into the Morehead Youth Soccer League, and how it operates – how they meet at the local Wendy’s, the paperwork involved, how the kids play together.

“Thanks!” I said.  “I’m sorry Morehead is gonna get wrecked.”

Because you know, if you give me all of this fine information on your town, I’m just gonna use it to have a hideous monster lose control and everyone in Morehead meeting awful demises. This is what it means to have a writer for a friend.

Fortunately, she’s kind of excited at the idea of her hometown getting annihilated.  Because that’s the kinds of friends a writer picks up.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
[personal profile] ursamajor
post-tags: instagram, crosspost Flavors at @jplicks for July include sriracha flavors like peanut butter chili, which pairs well with brownie batter :)

follow me all the days

Jul. 1st, 2015 04:02 pm
metaphortunate: (gryffindor pride)
[personal profile] metaphortunate
You know, another thing about Fury Road:
The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.
- Niels Bohr
When Nux is discovered on the war rig, Furiosa roars with anger and lunges to shank him. But she can't; the Wives won't let her. They agreed, Splendid reminds her: no unnecessary killing! They throw him out of the rig instead. And Furiosa's not wrong. He was there to stab her in the back and return the Wives to a life of slavery and rape. They throw him out; and he goes back to Immortan Joe, helps his army find the war rig, and comes back re-armed to try again.

But the Wives aren't wrong, either. It would be quite easy for the movie to endorse the opinion that the Wives are being foolishly sentimental, wanting to avoid killing, because they're not hardened to the necessities of the post-apocalyptic land like Furiosa and the Vuvalini are. Furiosa says it: oh, you got shot, boo hoo, out here everything hurts. The Keeper of the Seeds cheerfully tells the Dag, "Killed everyone I ever met out here." And when the Dag says, "Thought somehow you girls were above all that," how much do I love the Keeper's wry smile, her head tilt that says silently and eloquently that if they were above all that they'd be six feet under all that by now. She doesn't have to say it. I can't get over this movie's parsimonious elegance; it's clear, no words wasted.

But what the characters say isn't necessarily what the movie says. And it's also clear that while the movie supports the Vuvalini in their casual murder; it also supports the Wives in their mercy, in their humanity, in their goal to be above all that. Because what the movie tells us is that the Wives were quite right to spare Nux. Nux is the one who gets the war rig unstuck out of the mud. Nux gives everything in the end to stop Joe's raging son and blow the rig and block pursuit and give them the chance to get home free. Generosity and mercy directly make our heroines' triumph possible.

Furiosa deals violence and death to rescue and protect the Wives. But then Angharad protects her with the physical fact of her vulnerability: she puts her body between Furiosa and a gun, she literally saves Furiosa with the power of life. The power of death and the power of life are explicitly opposed: the Dag says that Angharad used to call bullets "antiseed"; Cheedo explains, "Plant one and watch something die." So, Furiosa and Max plant bullets and watch the flowering of explosions. And without that, none of our heroines would survive. But the future is going to be the seeds planted by the Dag.

The Vuvalini, who live by violence, die by violence. The Keeper of the Seeds has never been able to successfully plant her seeds. The Dag, who rejects killing, is the one who can finally take the seeds to the place where they will grow. There is a generational thing going on here!
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
- John Adams
Furiosa's politics and war make it possible for the Wives to move forward with philosophy and agriculture. Neither of them are wrong. And how much do I love this movie about generations of women disagreeing with each other and caring for each other? My god, compare the way Charlize Theron's character feels about younger women in this movie vs. Snow White and the Huntsman. Why can't we see a million more stories like this one?

No, instead, of course, they made a comic book prequel and got rid of every single goddamn good thing about the movie. I knew they would. There's going to be a tie-in game and I bet there's no playable female characters in it. Let us never speak of these things again. Let's just enjoy every beautiful facet of the film itself.

Important notices!

Jul. 1st, 2015 05:35 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
I did remix this year, thus fulfilling a long-held ambition to be the kind of person who can do remix! And as a reward I got a marvelous remix of my story One Warm Line - that one was about how Ray Kowalski from Due South came to Winter; the remix tells Benton Fraser's version of the story. The original was a Dresden Files crossover that brought in that fandom's Winter magic, but the remix (mostly) sticks to Due South sorts of magic, so if you avoided the original just because of the Dresden Files part you should read the remix.

You should also read the remix if you like Due South at all. ^_^

A Land So Wild and Savage (Love Ballad Remix) (1465 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: due South, The Dresden Files - Jim Butcher
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski
Characters: Benton Fraser

Many years later, Ray would meet the Winter Lady and tell how he fell in love with Winter. This is the story of how Ben Fraser loved her first.


So on Friday I leave for Iceland to visit my sister (And hopefully also some puffins.) It will be my first time outside the US so I hope I survive! I have no idea what sort of internet access I will have while there, or what sort of time/energy I will have to be online as opposed to doing more exciting stuff, but it will be smartphone wifi only either way, so probably not much. Until then I have thirty-six trip-prep todos to tick off in habitrpg...

Before I go, though:

-If anybody wants a postcard from Hella, Iceland, they should PM me their address in the next 48 hours (yes, even if I theoretically already have it, I am terrible at saving those things). It is not guaranteed that I will manage to send them but I will try.

-Somebody should rec me a couple of solid tropey a-t-g longfics I can put on my phone just in case I start jonesing for fic and can't get online.


Jul. 1st, 2015 11:02 pm
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
 There are at least half a dozen things I "should" have done this evening after getting home from work and childcare pickup.

What I actually did was flop in the least-hot (but not actually cool) part of the house with a lot of cool drinks and (eventually) a water-soaked buff to cool my head.

It is now just about cool enough for me to cope better, but I'm badly in need of sleep, rather than doing All The Things, which just makes tomorrow evening even more laden with Stuff To Do but not actually likely to be any cooler.

A siesta culture at work would presumably help here, but I can't imagine us doing so for the few days a year it gets like this. (Just like we don't have snowploughs for the rare days they'd be useful).

Wednesday Reading

Jul. 1st, 2015 09:45 pm
hunningham: Woman reading book (Reading)
[personal profile] hunningham
Finished Recently

The Road to Middlemarch - My Life with George Eliot, by Rebecca Mead.  Enjoyed hugely - I was in the perfect frame of mind for this book this week.  A walk through the pleasures of reading and re-reading Middlemarch, and how it affected the author at various ages from teens to fifties, plus much Eliot's life and writings (probably not so good if you are already knowledgeable about Eliot, but I wasn't). Only thing I could have done without - why this insistence on visiting places where Eliot & Lewes once lived and then being surprised to find a carpark or lots of take-aways?

Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie.  Both of these were a reread. And yes, they're just as good as everyone says - science fiction which takes a good long look at class issues, at imperialism, at gender. Also great characters who have to get things done and manage life where the empire tosses & turns under them.  And tea, tea-drinking is important. Also tea-sets.

I definitely find rereading easier and more enjoyable than a first read - first time through a book I'm much more caught up emotionally, I don't know the plot, and sometimes I just have to stop because "gah! all too much, can't cope".  When I'm rereading, I know the journey the author wants to take, and I know if there are monsters under the bed. It's like going hill-walking, much more enjoyable if you have a map and are not worried about getting lost or hill-fast. 

Currently Reading

I am currently in the part-way through too many books.

I have started Jasmine and Stars - reading more than Lolita in Tehran, and Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year 9 ed Jonathan Strahan, and The Book of Strange New Things, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi and right now I feel disinclined to carry on with any of them.  

It's all too much, it's too hot, I'm too grumpy.

What Next?

Not one of the part-way books (not unless I really feel like it). New resolution for July - no books unless I am really enjoying them.

Annihilation Score by Stross arrived in the post this afternoon, so probably that.

I'm also wanting to reread Middlemarch - it's been a few years since I last read this, and reading Mead's thoughts on the book has left me wanting to go back to it.

Bloodsmoor Romance by Oates is also sitting there on the to-be-read shelf, looking like 600+ pages of victorian-pastiche soap-opera madness. Very tempting.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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