xiphias: (Default)
Why is it so hard to understand how people who are politically different from you are thinking?

Most of us get a lot of our news, and even more of the commentary on our news, through social media. And modern social media algorithmically decides what will make us feel best to see, and that is things which comfort us by reinforcing our mindset.

You and I are genuinely not seeing the news stories that would be letting us know why people on the other side feel the way they do, and they're not seeing the ones we do. We can't understand, because our social media are literally preventing us from seeing the information that we could use to understand why other people are coming to the same conclusions they are.
xiphias: (Default)
So, I've decided that I've gotten sick of not running a regular tabletop RPG, and so I want to stop not running one.

Currently, my thought is Sunday afternoons, with a homebrew system I've been working on, and a pulp-SF setting I've been thinking about.

Who's in? And how often can we do it -- every Sunday? Every other Sunday? Or are there enough people who are interested in some other day that we should do that?
xiphias: (Default)
I've been thinking about it, and I think it's important to note that there are at least four sides here. It's not only Antifa and Nazis/KKK/bigots/white supremacists/fascists. Two other sides are bystanders, and police.
The police are a separate side. And that's what necessitates Antifa in general, and the black bloc active-force branch of Antifa in specific.
Because the alliances break down in different ways in different places. Mostly, the police are primarily allied with the bystanders. And, mostly, the bystanders are allied with "whomever is least disruptive."
In Boston, "bystanders" were allied primarily against Nazis, and that meant that they were incidentally, and loosely, allied with Antifa, and that meant that the police were primarily allied with bystanders and therefore more on the side of Antifa than Nazis -- but that doesn't mean they were on the side of Antifa.
The GOOD news is that, in Boston, the police are allied primarily with "bystanders". And, when we were sitting next to a black bloc guy on the train into the demonstration (nice guy, named Tim, he was going through a lot of trouble in his life, but having the direction of working for social justice was giving him something to hold onto -- he'd been clean from heroin for two months, which is longer than he'd ever done before, and he looked damn good for two months clean. I should have got his contact info -- I really liked him, and should have tried to keep him as a friend), I mentioned that I was hoping that he'd give the police the benefit of the doubt, because I expected them to be more on the good guy side than in, say, Phoenix or Charlotte. And the black bloc folks mostly did, and the police mostly were.
In places where the police are honest and decent, they ally with the bystanders. In places where the police are corrupt, they form their own separate side.
And in places where the police are honest and the bystanders are generally not assholes, we, frankly, don't strictly speaking NEED Antifa, at least not as much as in other places. It's USEFUL to have an Antifa presence in Boston, but, for now, if we didn't, we wouldn't be screwed.
In general, violence is a tool, one that we hope never to use, but, if you lack the capacity for it, then those sides that DO have the capacity for it can roll right over everyone else. The police are the side with the greatest capacity for violence, and, in places where they are on the side of the bystanders, the weight of the power of force is on the side of the status quo.
And that's not great, but it could be worse.
Nazis/Fascists have no compunction of using force. So we can always assume that white supremacists have some degree of option-of-force in their pocket.
People who are "against Antifa" or, more accurately, against black bloc tactics, are saying that they want the good guys to unilaterally disarm. If they really thought about it, they'd want the Nazis to unilaterally disarm, too, but it seems like they're working under the assumption that the Nazis ARE disarmed, which is, y'know, not only false but actually stupidly false.
If the police were reliably good guys, this would be reasonable. But in Charlotte, the police allowed Nazis to carry weapons and even fire them, and didn't act until black bloc Antifascists responded. The police in some places are actively in the bad guy camp.
If the bad guys have the capacity for force, and the supposedly-neutral guys who have the greatest capacity for force can't be reliably assumed to be neutral, then it is necessary for the good guys to have the capacity for force.
And that's what the black bloc is. In places where the police do their job, they're not needed. But if the bad guys have the capacity for violence, and the good guys don't, then the police have a reason to side with the bad guys, because the goal of the bystanders is to keep everything quiet, and letting one side roll right over the other is the easiest way to keep things quiet.
Having the black bloc means that the police have to remain honest.
And, let's face it -- that's exactly the theory behind the Second Amendment. Even if the black bloc doesn't use firearms, the Second Amendment is a recognition that the Founders were aware that the capacity of the people to use force is a necessary condition to keep those who have official sanction to use force honest. The existence of the black bloc makes it less likely for them to be necessary.
xiphias: (Default)
Not Gal Godot, not Lynda Carter -- Diana of Themyscira herself used to live in Wakefield, Massachusetts, one town north of me.

In George Perez's foundational run on Wonder Woman in the Eighties and Nineties, Diana's base of operations was in and around Boston, living with Harvard archaeology and geology professor Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa. The Kapatelises were quite wealthy, and had a place on Beacon Hill -- and another in Wakefield, about a mile from here.

I feel like the Jordan's Furniture IMAX, which is in Reading, just barely over the border on the other side of Wakefield, and is showing WONDER WOMAN, ought to do something about this...
xiphias: (Default)
Our cat has cancer. Lymphoma + leukemia. Without treatment, she'll die in a couple weeks; with treatment, in about six months. We're going to go with "with treatment", because her quality of life for those six months will likely be better than it would be for those couple weeks.
xiphias: (Default)
Dinner tonight was started yesterday. I'd intended to cook up some beans flavored with oxtail, but it got out of hand...

Take some oxtail and start it browning in a Dutch oven. Chop up a couple onions and some garlic, and get those frying in there, too. Do some deglazing with just a bit of red wine, and add a pound of dried pinto beans. Fill it with water, add some salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano, and let it simmer for a while. Remember that you got those really tasty beef frankfurters in lamb casings from the dairy, and they were DELICIOUS, but rather tough to eat as hot dogs -- I think the people putting these things together are still kind of learning as they go, and they're getting really good at flavor, but still working on texture. Chop the rest of them up and put them in the beans.

After many more hours, you have something in between franks and beans and a cassoulet. There are arguments that, if you squint and go technical enough, franks and beans kind of IS a cassoulet, anyway.

Stir everything up, and start picking out the tailbones, and serve.

It's pretty darned good. Lis asked what the shreddy meat in there along with the sausage and beans was, and I explained that that was the oxtail meat; she hadn't realized that you can eat the actual meat, since she was just familiar with oxtail broth, but the meat had actually finally cooked down to shreddy deliciousness, so we ate it, too.

On another topic entirely, though, you may be aware that I buy random interesting-looking booze sometimes. And I was at Total Wine a few months ago, and I decided to see what mezcals they had. I like my mezcals the way I like my scotch -- the smokier the better -- so I looked at the half-dozen they had, and looked for the one that they described as smokiest, and I got that one. It wasn't the cheapest, nor the most expensive, which, in my experience, is where you're most likely to find a hidden treasure.

Or, as in this case, a fascinating failure.

I have been taking the occasional taste of this bottle ever since, each time thinking, "No. I couldn't have remembered that correctly. It really wasn't exactly like THAT, was it?"

The first time I tasted it, I thought, "Wow. Now I know what a gas station tastes like." Then I took a second sip, and thought, "No, this isn't a gas station -- what IS it?" I took a third sip, and thought, "It's a workshop of some sort." A fourth, and I thought, "This mezcal tastes exactly like a junior high school metal shop smells."

I'm happy to give tastes to anybody who is nearby to see if you have a different opinion. But, to me, it is SO specific, and SO clear, that I can hardly even call it "bad". I mean, yeah, objectively, I'm sure that "tastes like a junior high school metal shop" isn't a good thing in a mezcal, but I can't help but be impressed by it nonetheless.
xiphias: (Default)
This is a test post to see if I can crosspost from my RSS feed.
xiphias: (swordfish)
"May Not post ... political materials."

Well, I'm out. I've got a facebook and a tumblr, which I'll start using more. I've got a dreamwidth, too.

Look for me as xiphias, xiphiasgladius, IanOsmond, and IanDavidOsmond.
xiphias: (swordfish)
Will emoji replace written language, says the occasional overwrought clickbait headline? Well, no. It works the OTHER way.

🐮 :cow:
🏠 :house:
🐫 :camel:
🚪 :door:
🎦 :cinema:
⚓ :anchor:
🔪 :knife:
🏢 :office:
🚲 :bike:
✊ :fist:
✋ :hand:
🔱 :trident:
🌊 :ocean:
🐟 :fish:
💈 :barber:
👀 :eyes:
👄 :lips:
🎣 :fishing_pole_and_fish:
💉 :syringe:
😐 :neutral_face:
😄 :smile:
❌ :x:

Ox, house, camel, door, window, hook, weapon, wall, wheel, hand, palm-of-hand, goad, water, fish, support-pole, eye, mouth, hunting/fishing, needle, head, tooth, marking symbol.
xiphias: (swordfish)
One of the big songs in "Moana" is called "We Know The Way", which is about how the main character's ancestors were island-discovering travellers, rather than villagers who lived a, frankly, pretty darn idyllic life on just one island. And it starts out with lyrics in a Polynesian language, before going into the English lyrics that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote. Opetaia Foa'i wrote the part in his own native language, Tokelauan. Tokelauan is a language with only a few thousand speakers, which means that Google Translate doesn't help much.

That said, over at Bustle.com, someone made a game try at poking together a translation by running it through Samoan, which it's a cousin of, and Maori, which it's a more distant cousin of, and was able to pick out a few words and concepts that seem to make sense. But I'm wondering if anybody has an ACTUAL translation somewhere.
xiphias: (swordfish)
The Ted Chiang short story "The Story of Your Life", is, like all Ted Chiang short stories, too internal, too thinky, and just too abstract to be filmable.

But they did anyway.

And it's brilliant.
xiphias: (swordfish)
So, what IS that distinctive bubblegum-like smell and flavor? What is it made of, and what is it supposed to be?

It's a simplified artificial strawberry flavor/scent plus a simplified artificial banana flavor/scent. It makes me wonder if it would be possible to do something with actual strawberries and bananas to play off of that, but I suspect not. Real strawberries and real bananas are far to complicated -- and I think that the artificial banana flavorings are based off of the might-as-well-be-extinct Gros Michele banana, rather than the modern Cavendish, so, unless I got my hands on enough Gros Micheles to experiment with, I'm never going to find out.
xiphias: (swordfish)
I got my firearms safety certificate last night, which means that I can go ahead and apply for my LTC today. So I spent last night with gun rights folks -- people who are very much not politically like me. It gave me a chance to socialize a little during breaks, and get a sense of what they're like.

I mean, I've done construction and stuff, so it's not like I HAVEN'T known blue collar people, but my life's been mostly in the liberal bubble for decades. So this was a good chance to get out of that for a night.

And I remembered, yeah, these people DO have a lot of good qualities.

And there there are still a bunch of 'em I don't like very much. *sigh*

I was going to suggest that a bunch of us should all sign up and get our licenses together, and then start making friends at gun clubs, and build some bridges, and then break some of the bubbles, get to know them, let them get to know us, be less polarized. And I still think that's a good idea. But... do I really want you guys hanging out with people who complain about how awful it is that schools let kids be upset these days, instead of telling them to shut up and suck it up when people beat them up? I mean, yeah, I do, because I think it would be good for them to get to know us, and good for us to know them, but... it'd be kind of a difficult thing to ask of you all.
xiphias: (swordfish)
I know that at least some of you know Charlie Stross, Neil Gaiman, and/or Joe Hill, and I found out something that one or more of them might find interesting.

Miskatonic University was based on Bradford College, in Haverhill. Bradford College closed in 2000. Since 2008, the campus has been a Pentecostal ministry college.

Pentecostal Christianity has a focus on encouraging possession by good spirits and discouraging possession by evil spirits, and offers absolutely no training or theory in HOW to do it. It is based on having people just open themselves up to demons and then freak out. Voudonistas, Catholic exorcists, shamans from every culture everywhere on the planet have established rituals and objects and things to lean on; Pentecostals don't, and just try to do exorcisms on sheer instinct, bravado, and willpower. Also, they are completely democratic in this, and let everybody try, not just cadres of trained experts.

I just want people to think about that for a minute.

But really, I want Charlie Stross, Neil Gaiman, and Joe Hill to think about that for a minute.

xiphias: (swordfish)
Lis and I just watched STRANGER THINGS, and I've got something to say about one of the controversies about it...

Spoilers for STRANGER THINGS.Read more... )
xiphias: (swordfish)
As I've changed my diet, I've reduced the amount of sweets I give myself as treats. In compensation, I've increased the amount of alcohol I drink -- not cocktails, which, they way I prefer them, include quite a bit of sweet liqueur, but as neat liquors. As such, I'm drinking a lot more straight scotch, bourbon, rye, gin, and the like.

I must start by apologizing to Canada. It turns out that Canada CAN turn out a delicious rye, a feat which I had previously deemed possible only by the United States; I had previously believed that Canadian whiskey was only called "rye" out of politeness. I have previously commented that the only reason that I drink Crown Royal is that they throw a bottle in every time I buy a dice bag.

Turns out that the Crown Royal Northern Rye, however, is worth every penny it costs, and, indeed, is a bargain at the price.

Although it's not expensive (more expensive than the baseline Crown Royal, but not by THAT much), it's impossible to drink enough of it to get drunk upon; you are forced to drink it slowly, to savor it, simply because it tastes that good.

The downside is that I ENJOY being buzzed. And I DON'T enjoy drinking bad liquor. So I've been looking for stuff that is good enough to drink a fair bit of, while being cheap enough to drink a fair bit of. Beefeater Gin, for instance, hits that point for me. As does Bacardi rum, if I find decent things to mix it with, Jose Cuervo Tradicional (their silver reposado offering), Rittenhouse 101, and several others.

Anyway, the point is this: during the "Gin Crazes" which happened periodically in the first half of the 1700s, people were buying and drinking gin by the PINT, rather than the shot, as is more typical these days. Given that a pint is more than ten shots, I used to think that this was absolutely mind boggling.

But nowadays, with my greater consumption of gin, I must admit that, while I would never DRIVE in this condition, I apparently can still TYPE after a pint of gin.
xiphias: (swordfish)
an ungendered, multi-use monogarment for everyday wear. It will be disseminated in two forms: as a pre-made garment for purchase, and as an open-source pattern, available to download free of charge. The Rational Dress Society is currently developing a comprehensive new sizing system that can accommodate up to 248 different body types using gender-neutral terminology.

It reminds me of Soylent, in that these are both products which provide a suboptimal solution to a problem that does not exist, by inventing a brand new thing which already exists and anybody can easily buy.

These things are mansplaning and columbusing in physical form.
xiphias: (swordfish)
Thing I learned: George II of England, who reigned in the middle of the eighteenth century, 1727 to 1760, had several mistresses, but wasn't really THAT into any of them. However, his wife wouldn't let him get rid of them, because she felt, and he agreed, that it would be inappropriate for a man in his position to NOT have mistresses.
xiphias: (swordfish)
I'm nearly finished watching Season 2 of Daredevil. It follows a number of classic Daredevil and Daredevil/Punisher plots pretty closely. The only downside: I'd forgotten just how close a parody both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Tick are. I keep giggling at bits for which I'm more familiar with the parodies.

It is impossible for me to get drunk on good whiskey. Ignoring the cost difference between good whiskey and bad whiskey, it's impossible to drink good whiskey fast. I am physiologically forced to drink it slowly and to savor it.
xiphias: (swordfish)
As some of you may know, there's a new THE TICK series coming out, and being released for Amazon Prime. The first episode has dropped, and, on the heroin dealer premise, it's available for free.

Lis and I watched it, and we like it. It's a slightly different feel than the cartoon or the Warburton series, but is slightly closer in tone to the earliest comics. THE TICK has always been a reflection and parody of the superhero-related media at the time: the comics were a direct parody of the Daredevil comics that were right then (to the point that one of the characters was a female martial artist named "Oedipus" whose costume was a canary-yellow version of Elektra's costume). The cartoon took on the basic tone of the Batman Animated Series, and so forth.

This one takes the visual and tonal qualities of the Netflix Daredevil/Jessica Jones shows; indeed, the director of the new show worked on the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies. As such, THE TICK has shifted slightly, visually and tonally, to match what is current. But it is still absolutely the same Tick. Arthur is somewhat different, although recognizable, because he is filling a different role.
The first episode is available here.

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