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October 1st, 2018

01:37 pm - Musings on the Worlds I Create
I was thinking about the games where I’ve come up with the idea and then either written it, or (in the case of Blue Rose, worked with a bunch of other talented people to create it), and also about my ideas for future games. I have no interest in creating entirely new rule systems for games – I’m generally against the idea of any rule system that’s custom built for a single game and setting, and there are many excellent game systems out there already. Instead, what I love it creating settings for existing rule systems and in the process, fitting the rule system and the setting into a single (I hope) excellent whole. I’m very pleased to have managed these without having to become my own gaming company, since doing this would involve many skills I neither enjoy nor excel at.

The first game I did this with was Blue Rose, which is thriving and is now in its second edition. My initial idea was loving the fantasy novels of Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Elizabeth Lynn, and Mercedes Lackey, and wanting to change the fact that there were no romantic fantasy RPGs. Also, after years of anti-heroes and grim settings, I wanted to see more RPGs where the characters were heroic people that defended a setting that was worthy of defense. Green Ronin did an awesome job with it, and I’m proud to be associated with it.

Next was Eldritch Skies – I wanted to do a mythos game as sense of wonder SF rather than horror. If you drop all the later ideas about imminent doom (which aren’t in Lovecraft’s work at all) and root out all the racism and misogyny (which is unfortunately found throughout Lovecraft’s work), Lovecraft’s mythos is an absolutely wondrous SF universe filled with truly alien creatures, grand civilizations, and a whole lot of wonder.

I love how the setting turned out, but unfortunately it was don’t before anyone had much experience with RPG kickstarters, and I’m sad that it’s no longer available for Cinematic Unisystem. I’d love to do another edition with improved layout for a system other than Savage Worlds (which is a fine system, but not one I love) – ideally Ubiquity or perhaps Traveller. Also, reading Ruthanna Emrys utterly brilliant Innsmouth Legacy series – “The Litany of Earth”, Winter Tide, and Deep Roots has changed my ideas somewhat, and so I’d likely tweak Eldritch Skies a bit if I ever get a chance to do a new version.

After that, there’s After the Vampire Wars. Having read the Anita Blake vampire hunter novels, the Sookie Stackhouse novels, watched True Blood, and read Robyn McKinley’s utterly brilliant novel Sunshine, I wanted to do an urban fantasy game with a setting where the supernatural was all out in the open, and where the various supernatural beings and people using magic were to a fair degree subject to the rule of law and actually part of the larger culture. The first version, with Chaosium was a bit of a mess, because it happened when Chaosium was a bit of a mess, before Greg Stafford and others stepping into to restore it to glory. In the midst of all that, I got the rights to it back, talked with Design Mechanism, and did an awesome very for Mythras that I’m very proud of.

My next version isn’t out yet, but should be out in a few months, and is one of my older ideas – I wanted to create a setting and a game set at least several decades after Well’s The War of the Worlds, when humanity begins making use of all the Martian tech lying around after the invasion. So, I talked about this with Design Mechanism, we agreed to set it in 1959, I added an inhabited jungle-covered Venus, incorporated Well’s short story “The Crystal Egg”, and the psychic powers it implied, included a dash of Afrofuturism, and Worlds United was born.

I have two current ideas that I’d love to work with – a version of the first looks likely in a couple of years. I’ll keep looking for someone to interest in the second. The first is vast expansive space opera filled with interstellar trade, a few deeply alien species, lots of modified humans, and a fair amount of weirdness. It’s a setting where conventional technology isn’t too far in advance of our own. Instead, FTL travel, antigravity, force fields, and similar space opera wonders are all magic and psychic powers – AIs might even be bound spirits. I’d also include various mythos touches (again not focused on horror, because horror holds little interest for me).

The second idea is Steam Age Hellenistic Greece. In a world with magic, nature spirits, and fantastic creatures like centaurs, the Ptolemaic city of Alexandria is the center of an ongoing technological revolution that started 160 years previously, when Archimedes invented steam engines and steam cannon to defeat Rome. Then Ptolemaic Egypt acquired some of this technology, built on it, and the Mediterranean is now about at the mid-Victorian age in terms of technology. However, after suffering defeat in all of the Punic Wars, Rome under the command of Julius Caesar is looking to try to again conquer the Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean.

I’m not certain what these various settings say about me other than that I like weird settings, settings where the characters are actually part of the larger culture and settings that are not doomed or grimdark, but these are the sort of ideas I think of and make into games.

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September 11th, 2018

02:56 am - Worlds United Cover
One of my many recent projects that I'm exceptionally pleased with is Worlds United a setting for the rpg system Mythras by Design Mechanism. It's an atomic age + psychic powers & post War of the Worlds RPG setting set in a nuclear powered, non-racist & gender egalitarian 1959 where the primary foes are blood-sucking Martians and a USSR that's run by kleptocratic social darwinists (including a longevity-enhanced Stalin), and which includes a high tech Zambia that got early access to Martian technology.

It also now has a lovely cover, which includes the train with an art deco t-rex head as the front of the engine: here's the coverCollapse )

Also, here's a link to a full-sized (quite large) version of the cover.

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August 22nd, 2018

04:46 pm - Awesome chicken & waffles
I’ve made chicken and waffles before, but never quite this awesome. The basic are easy.

1) Marinate 3 half chicken breasts for at least 2 hours in: 5 TBS lemon juice, the zest of 1 lemon, 1 TBS crushed garlic, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, & ¼ tsp cinnamon

2) Sous vide the chicken for 40 minutes at 62 C (each half breast in a separate bag with 1/3 of the marinade), and then remove, dredge in flour (I use America’s Test Kitchen’s GF flour blend). Then, beat 2 eggs, and dip each half breast in eggs and fry in a wide pan filled with 1” of 350 F oil for 3 minutes, flip chicken and fry for another 3 minutes.

3) Make waffles – I use the recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook (which makes fabulous waffles that are indistinguishable from ones made with wheat flour). I use a waffle maker that makes thick Belgian waffles.

4) Make the honey mustard sauce, which my partner Becca suggested the idea for. I didn’t measure the honey, but use roughly 1/3-½ cup wildflower honey, 2 TBS Dijon mustard, 1 TBS softened butter (or in my case Earth Balance buttery spread), and mix until thoroughly combined.

5) Serve and pour sauce over both chicken and waffle. The result was amazingly delicious.

Chicken & Waffles With Honey Mustard Sauce

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August 16th, 2018

02:43 am - Books that are important to me
Here are some of the books that were important to me when I read them and remain important to me.

Books From My Childhood
Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon & The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke exposed me to ideas about deep time and the wonders of the universe.

Witch World, Web of the Witch World, and Ordeal in Otherwhere all by Andre Norton gave me early glimpses into how wonderful mixing SF & fantasy can be, while also providing me with a model for egalitarian romantic relationships that hold up to rereading.

Dreamsnake by Joan Vinge provided me with more insights into truly egalitarian gender interactions as well as a model for fantastic stories that were not about fighting.

The Halcyon Drift (and the rest of the Hooded Swan series) by Brian Stableford showed me that fun fast-paced actiony SF could have a pacifist as a protagonist.

The Starkahn of Rhada by Robert Cham Gilman/Alfred Coppel provided me with my first exposure to the idea of the idea of profound psychic linkages between different individuals creating a mental fusion that’s more than the sum of its parts while also helping the individuals involved to become part of a chosen family, which is a trope I still find wondrous and powerful and something I would love to find a way to fit into more RPGs.

by Clifford D. Simak is a deeply humane & hopeful novel that I’ve read many times and that still moves me every time I reread it.

Books I Read as a Young Adult
Godstalk & Dark of the Moon by P.C. Hodgell (as well as the many novels in the same series that have followed) both showed me that there is fantasy about fate and prophecy that I actually love (this is typically exceedingly not the case) and was also one of the first examples of fantasy I encountered which had truly excellent worldbuilding where the entire world, including animals, and plants, and even geography was magical and wondrous, rather than just another fantasy story set in a dull world too like Earth’s pre-modern past. It also doesn't hurt that these books are how I met my beloved <user name=teaotter> 

Consider Phlebas by Ian M. Banks – Gloriously wonderful space opera that also showed me how space opera could not merely be not conservative, but wonderfully progressive.

The Door Into Fire & The Door Into Shadow by Diane Duane – powerful early romantic fantasy that I read act exactly the right time in my life, which provided me with both a vision of a world where not only were humane romantic interactions the norm, but where bisexuality was also the norm. The second book also introduced me to an idea of what dragons could be that was far more interesting and deep than most portrayals of them.

Recent Books That Touched Me
Daughter of Hounds by Caitlin R. Kiernan despite loving well done mythos fiction and enjoying well done urban fantasy and paranormal romance I avoid almost all horror. This novel straddles the line between dark fantasy and horror and is a complex and wonderful gem that showed me that at least some horror could be truly excellent.

The Quantum Thief
by Hannu Rajaniemi used language and concepts in ways that I had never seen before and was a gloriously complex and fascinatingly allegorical joy to read (avoid the two sequels).

Winter Tide & Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys showed me how Lovecraft’s mythos could be used not merely to explore diversity and weirdness, but also to actively celebrate it in positive and humane ways while also remaining true to the mythos' weirdness and focus on deep time. The fact that it also has a magically bonded chosen family makes me love it even more

The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone provided me with a vision of fantasy that both had the same social commentary aspect that all good SF does and also integrated magic in the world and cultures in ways that I loved, while also providing a very different take on combining aspects of fantasy & SF.

The Raven and The Reindeer & Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon both made me profoundly happy to read, and since Summer in Orcus was serialized in late 2016 and early 2016, reading the installments helped me through the election-related despair.

A Succession of Bad Days (and the other Commonweal novels) by Graydon Saunders, which combined amazing worldbuilding, fascinating magic, a fascinating and humane culture, and chosen family.

Also, looking at this list and thinking about the many books that almost made it also got me thinking about the factors in novels that draw me too them and have done so since I was quite young:

• Characters with magical or psychic powers or significant technological enhancements.
• Chosen family
• Magical or psychic bonds between individuals (especially in the context of a chosen family or a romance)
• Deep time
• Complex and detailed worldbuilding that involves creating worlds very unlike our own.
• Stories where violence is not the preferred solution
• Stories that at their heart are either humane and kind.

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July 6th, 2018

01:34 am - Television Old & New – Lucifer, Legion, Cloak & Dagger, & Pose
Since I last wrote about TV I’ve been watching, several shows have had their finales and I’ve started watching several new shows. I’m not worrying about spoilers for Luciferor Legion, so skip if you care, but you likely really want the Legion spoilers – it got seriously problematic and bad.

Luciferhad what was supposed to be a series finale, because it was cancelled, and while I’d previously heard it ended on a cliff-hanger, I was OK with how it ended, because what we were left not knowing was simply an emotional reaction – how would Chloe deal with seeing that Luciferwas in fact the devil? This is (IMHO at least) vastly better than cutting the series off with the season 2 finale, which ended with Luciferin the desert with his wings back and where the audience has absolutely no idea why this had happened.

I’m pleased the show was picked up by Netflix, but I’m also concerned. Season 3 was very uneven. I quite liked the mid part of the season when Pierce/Cain & Luciferwere working together, but the seemingly endless jealousy plot before and after this was exceptionally tiresome. OTOH, the last two episodes were very good, and the show’s handling of Charlotte Richards’ death was (for me at least) very well done. OTOOH, the showrunner has some big choices to make now. I’ll be exceptionally annoyed if the end result of Chloe seeing that Luciferis the devil is some sort of amnesia caused by a blow to her head or some similar cheezy crap, but I’m also not certain what the show looks like if they let her know the truth. However, it has moved to a new and quite different network, so maybe the showrunner won’t have her forget or ignore what she saw. If so, then I’ll be exceptionally pleased, since I always love it when shows are willing to move beyond their initial premises and be daring. So, I’m (very) cautiously hopeful.

In vivid contrast, I’m utterly done with Legion barring some astoundingly major changes that the showrunner seems uninterested in making. The season started off exceptionally well, but first we saw notably less of all the female characters except Syd, Melanie was largely eliminated. Then one of the few characters of color was likely eliminated, and at that point I was dubious and annoyed, but hopeful that the show would do better with the last few episodes.

Then, Melanie was completely reduced to a pawn, the Shadow King managed to turn everyone against David, and effectively out of nowhere, in the last two episodes David went from being a fairly kind and humane individual who was also mentally ill and had been seriously abused by the Shadow King for all but the last few weeks of his life to a rage-filled murderous rapist, and we are told (by the Shadow King, but in a way that was clearly intended for the audience to believe) that David was always like this. I found this ending repugnant – rather than a mentally ill guy with vast power struggling to be a good person despite both his mental illness and the massive abuse he suffered, he’s just another hideously evil guy, and the most villainous individual in the entire series (and David’s abuser) is shown to be entirely correct about David. My take on the season finale is that the Shadow King understood David better than anyone else (having lived in his head for decades) and knew both how best to turn people against his and how to break him in ways that would make him act like a monster.

This ending was terrible in several ways. If they’d want to make David a villain, they needed to foreshadow this a bit with his behavior before the last two episodes. Season Six of Buffy stank in the middle portion, but from the very first scene, with Willow standing on a crypt with her eyes jet black and doing exceptionally powerful magic, it was clear that she might well be the season’s big bad.

This ended felt more like the ending of Season 1 of Hannibal – except instead of Hannibal convincing everyone that Will was an insane serial killer, while the audience knew this wasn’t true, Will was actually an insane serial killer. Given that the showrunner has talked at length about how pleased he was with the ending and having David be the villain, and also the fact that there’s really no way to excuse what David did, I’m utterly done, barring some cheap nonsense like making the last two episodes a dream or alternate world sequence that never actually happened.

The new shows have been notably better. Cloak & Dagger definitely isn’t as good as Runaways (which remains by far my favorite Marvel TV show – Jessica Jones is second, but I prefer media that I don’t find painfully difficult to view), but it’s also vastly better than Agents of SHIELD or Inhumans. I’m interested to see where it goes. I also think giving both characters limited touch telepathy was an excellent idea, since it gives them something to do with their powers other than fight people.

Also, Pose is completely awesome. It’s odd to remember where I was in 1987 (Madison Wisconsin). I was heavily involved in the local bi community, but AIDs was something happening elsewhere (there were only a handful of cases in Madison in the 80s), then in 1990, I moved to LA and met lots of people with AIDs, including one in my coven.

In any case, I love Pose and find myself listening to 80s music again (which I largely haven’t done since the mid 90s). Also, one of our current theories is that Stan is actually a transwoman in serious denial – it would be interesting if this was true, and it fits with what we’ve seen so far, but I’m betting it won’t be.

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July 4th, 2018

01:18 am - Adventures in Baking
I was about to make my cherry blueberry pie for tomorrow, I knew I had 1 can of sour cherries, before I went to the store today I had seen a second large glass jar of organic cherries, that I didn't remember buying, but which looked good - then I got them out and saw the jar actually read "organic cherry tomatoes", so no pie making tonight - thankfully the store nearby is open tomorrow morning, and our gathering isn't until the evening, so all is well. Also, when making the pie crust (which is already made and in a ball in the fridge, awaiting being rolled out), I had my regular double check with my three clear plastic spice jars of bulk ingredients - xanthan gum, cream of tartar, and onion powder are all fine white powders, but are not remotely interchangeable when cooking. I have never mixed them up, but I always double check before using one.

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June 29th, 2018

01:13 am - RIP Harlan Ellison
I have read and enjoyed quite a number of stories by Ellison. Before meeting my partner [personal profile] amberite, my favorite was Jeffty is Five, which I first read a very long time ago. AJ introduced me to Ellison's 1993 story "Susan". Upon reading of his death, I briefly went looking for a copy to reread and discovered that doing so would take more searching than I felt like doing, and so I looked online, and found a video of Ellison reading it. It's quite a short piece, the video is less than 8 minutes long and is, I think, quite worth your time.

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June 26th, 2018

10:32 pm - Upcoming Academic Paranormal Romance Series - A Discovery of Witches
The trailer below for the upcoming TV adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ “A Discovery of Witches” looks to be good and I’m very much looking forward to it. The books are also well worth reading. They are pretty typically paranormal romance fare – witch with powerful magical gifts falls for dashing vampire, except instead of the witch being a cop, waitress, or bookstore owner, and the vampire being a nightclub owner or a crime lord, the witch is a history professor from America who is doing research at Oxford, and the vampire is a chemistry professor at Oxford. Also, Dr. Harkness is a historian of science who has done extensive research about John Dee, so it’s basically really well researched paranormal romance written by and for academics, and thus catnip for me.

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June 22nd, 2018

02:52 am - Update on AJ's friend
Discussion of suicideCollapse )

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June 19th, 2018

04:15 am - Problems Both National and Local
Today, in breaks from redlining an RPG project I’ve developing, I have been reading more about the various concentration camps the US now has, two years ago I had no idea this could possibly be a thing in the US, but it very sadly is now. Then, how crappy the US is got somewhat more personal. My partner [personal profile] amberite is in the Bay Area, first going to their younger brother’s college graduation, and then visiting friends. They’re coming back tomorrow, which will be awesome.

In any case, my partner [personal profile] teaotter and I were planning on a quiet night at home. Then, there was a knock on the door. On of AJ’s friend’s C, who I basically don’t know at all and who has moderately serious mental illness, just got out of what sounds like a fairly horrid-sounding residential facility, and is currently living in her van. Said van needed a new battery badly, and so she showed up, limping and on crutches, looking for help from [personal profile] amberite. Not currently having a phone, C did not know AJ was out of town.

We gave her some food, then Becca went out and got her a car battery, and I lent her my tablet so she could search for a place to park her van that wouldn’t be hassled, because after she’d been here 30 minutes some jackass who lives nearby was out walking his dog. and upon seeing the van parked in front of our place, threatened to call the cops (which he did – the cops showed up 3 hours later, and basically did nothing, because there was nothing to do, the van had at that point been there less than four hours and by that time had a new battery (thank the gods that I had a set of socket wrenches, which I’d never used before, but which proved to be the only thing capable of getting the battery cables off the old battery and that the cops weren’t monstrous) and was ready to drive away. She couldn’t stay in our driveway, because it’s shared and thus a very large van would block our next-door neighbor in.

We live in a wealthy nation, and in one of the most liberal states, and there’s pretty much nothing both official and functional that can be done for someone with mental illness sufficiently bad that she repeatedly ends up getting kicked out by whatever roommates she finds, and thus she’s living in a van, which is essentially illegal within the limits of pretty much any US city. I’m far from certain what the state would do to help C in one of the vastly more humane nations of Western Europe, but I suspect it would be more that is being done for her here, and at minimum she’d likely at least have less of the stress of dire poverty.

This nation disgusts me and so do many of its residents. The scumbag who called the cops on here is merely one example of the far too many people who see someone in trouble and because seeing that person makes them uncomfortable, their answer is to try to drive them off. I’d often uncomfortable around people I don’t know, and doing stuff like that would never occur to me. On the positive side, another neighbor who lives across the street, and who I also don’t know, but who has several very sweet, well-cared for indoor-outdoor cats came over and asked if he could do anything to help, so there is that.

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May 4th, 2018

03:04 am - Awesome Mythos Fiction
So, I’ve discovered an interesting Mythos subgenre that I never knew I needed in my life, which can basically be summed up at “Just because you’re an eldritch horror doesn’t mean you can’t also be a big damn hero.” Here’s a well done piece of mythos+MCU fanfiction that I utterly loved: The Miskatonic Project

I’m less surprised by my realization than by the fact that a story like this exists, and I’d love to see more. I’m also reminded of my other favorite type of mythos story – mythos urban fantasy (which is my best description for Ruthanna Emrys’ brilliant novella The Litany of Earth and its equally excellent sequel, the novel Winter Tide (which has a sequel coming out in a few months).

As anyone who has ever looked at my mythos SF game Eldritch Skies should know, I love the Cthulhu Mythos, but vastly prefer versions of it that are pretty distant from horror.

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April 26th, 2018

02:34 am - Marvel Musings
The most recent episode of Legion (episode 4 of this season) is one of the finest episodes of television I’ve ever seen, and I urge everyone to watch this show. However, I’m now wondering about another Marvel show, the upcoming Cloak & Dagger series (link is to one trailer, and here is another trailer) that’s premiering in June.

Being an older Gen-Xer, I remember reading the characters’ introduction, back in 1983. Back then, only 43% of the US population were in favor of interracial relationships, and so a comic about a young black man and a young white woman who were crime fighting partners and also in love was well more ground-breaking than it should have been, and I’ve read many well done comics with these two characters. However, there are some inherent problems – specifically, the characters have racially coded powers. Dagger can produce blades and bolts of purifying white light, while Cloak can create large amounts of terrifying darkness that he can engulf his foes in, while also being able to become intangible and teleport.

In short – he’s a terrifying, unstoppable black man. However, the trailer looks good, and it looks like the show is focusing less on him being an almost faceless figure of black terror, so that may be OK. However, I really hope the show runners drop the other, even more problematic element – Cloak is inherently and eternally hungry for Daggers white light. A number of writers have done excellent things with these two characters, but they are not without problems, and I really hope the black man hungering for the white woman’s whiteness goes.

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April 6th, 2018

01:54 am - Musings on The Legion 2nd season Premier
I watched the first episode of the 2nd season of Legion, like first season, it was both odd, and I think, awesome. This episode managed to be somewhat more surreal-looking than most of 1st season, and that’s definitely saying something. I hope they tone that down a bit, or at least don’t increase it, since there’s definitely such a thing as getting too surreal, but it’s also one of the few shows I’ve seen that is openly surreal in this fashion. As a side-note, if you are interested in the show, start with episode 1 of season 1, it’s all excellent, and starting with season 2 seems like it would be painfully confusing.
cut for minor spoilersCollapse ) Then, it occurred to me. What if all mutant powers in Legion are nothing more or less than focused reality warping. You get the change you want by reshaping the world in highly specific ways. This could work as a general theory for super powers (and nicely justifies the common idea, which doesn’t show up in Legion of super power damping devices), and also explains how there could be a single X-gene that control mutation – it’s the gene for reality warping.

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01:51 am - Trinity Continuum: Æon Done!
I started contracting for Trinity Continuum: Æon in March 2013. A few hours ago, I sent in the book to layout, meaning that other than making a few comments on art based on my art guidelines, I'm done!!! I'm very proud of the book and think it looks awesome, and in a few small but crucial ways even better than the pre-edited version the kickstarter backers got.

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March 25th, 2018

03:03 am - Fun Novel – Edge of Time – Donald A. Wollheim, 1958
I read a fascinating short novel yesterday – Edge of Time by Donald A. Wollheim (writing as David Grinnell), written in 1958. I primarily know Wollheim as the founder of the SF&F press DAW Books (named after himself) and a YA novel I read when I was maybe 8 or 9 - The Secret of the Ninth Planet (1959).

Without giving anything away (because it’s surprisingly worth reading) – most of the novel consists of late 1950s humans observing the development of various humanoid intelligent species in a different galaxy, and doing so on what amounts of fast forward, so over (rather lengthy) observation is a few centuries after the last. One such observation involves watching the first journey a species makes to their moon. You have a description of what sounds a lot like the Overview effect, astronauts from two very different rival powers working together for mutual survival, leading to a lasting peace between the two rivals.

Later on, there’s a wealth of interstellar travel, but all of it, relativistic. Nevertheless, the various species eventually create a peaceful and lasting galactic confederation, based largely on instantaneous communication which honestly sounds a lot like quantum entanglement. There are also mentions that all these species seem to survive their eras of national rivalry, unify into humane and peaceful states, expand out into the galaxy, and then (mostly) peacefully encounter other species, and eventually create a peaceful union of worlds, with comments from the humans that given how widespread this seems, they expect the same will happen on Earth.

Then, there’s the fact that which there’s only one female character among the humans (out of what in practice amounts to half a dozen characters – there are a few others, but they play little part in events), but she plays an impressively crucial role, is extremely active and smart, and the (male) protagonist delivers a very brief lecture on what we’d call toxic masculinity to a man there who get jealous of her attentions to someone else, despite her lack of interest in him.

There’s no deathless prose here, it’s only 140 pages long, and while the female character is well better than expected, don’t expect anything like modern attitudes about gender equality. However, it’s a fun, fast read that’s surprisingly humane and optimistic and is again making me think about how a SF RPG setting with instant communication and relativistic travel might work.

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February 17th, 2018

11:14 pm - Musings of a Hardcore Neophile
This article about how most people’s musical tastes and favorite song are from their teens finally convinced me to write about the fact that I’m not like that, and in fact I don’t truly understand what it’s like to be like that. There are books and songs from my teens that I still enjoy, but when I reread or listen to them now, most of my enjoyment comes from the fact that they contain elements I like, and that I now often like better in far newer material. I have been fascinated by Lovecraft’s mythos for a very long time, but I’d definitively say that (for now, and such things regularly change for me) my favorite two mythos works of fiction are (in order) Ruthanna Emrys Winter Tide (2016) and Caitlín R. Kiernan’s Daughter of Hounds (2007), and while I love the sense of wonder I got from Arthur Clarke’s The City and the Stars, but these days I’m far more likely to think of Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief, or one of many excellent novels by Alastair Reynolds when I think about my favorite novel for evoking a future that is wondrous and strange.

Even more than that, assuming roughly similar quality, I’m always inclined to like a sequel to the original for pretty much anything. Obviously, quality matters – I enjoyed The Matrix Reloaded more than The Matrix, but the last one simply wasn’t as good. Also, while my two favorite Star Wars films are (in some order that shifts regularly) Rogue One and The Last Jedi, I thought all three of the Star Wars prequel films stank when I saw them, but if the recent Ghostbusters film had merely been as good as the original (instead of IMHO considerably better) I would have said I enjoyed it more than the original, because it’s the one I saw most recently.

Similarly, while I still like music by a few artists that I discovered in my teens (primarily Al Stewart and Renaissance), I am far more likely to listen to Al Stewart’s albums from the last 15 years than I am to his older work. Naturally, this also applies to RPGs – all things being roughly equal, if there are meaningful differences between editions of a game, I always prefer the later edition.

Also, the above link about musical taste and favorite songs also mentions that musical taste as a general thing also tends to be set in the teens. This is mildly true for me – folk-rock still forms the core of my musical taste, but rap didn’t even exist when I was a teen, and there’s a moderately amount that I quite like (Flobots and Guante head that list), and I disliked punk music in my teens and disliked industrial music in my 20s, and now there’s a moderate amount of folk-punk and other forms of post-punk that I love, especially EMA’s music.

In any case, from what I’ve noticed about other people, my sort of neophilia is fairly uncommon. I’d love to know if anyone else feels the same way.

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February 16th, 2018

03:29 am - GF/DF Cooking Adventures, Puerto Rican Pastelon & Boston Cream Pie
So, I've been doing a lot of cooking of late and have created the first soft cake like gluten free cake I've ever managed (nut tortes are easy, more normal cakes are not), and have also created a version of a Puerto Rican dish called Pastelon. Pictures and recipes behind the cut. click for pictures and recipesCollapse )
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February 2nd, 2018

09:24 pm - Musings on Culture & Het Sex
This excellent article about women, men, and problems with inequality during sex is an excellent response to the issues raised by the article about the woman who wrote about her experiences with Aziz Ansari. I think it’s also an excellent depiction of the harm that rape culture does beyond encouraging criminal sexual assault.
This article also made me think about this article from 3 years ago, which discusses a study which shows that on average women are just as interested in casual sex as men if (and as I discuss in a bit, this is a huge if) “ they wouldn’t suffer the social repercussions or safety risks?”

First you have the fact that (depending on the study) 4-6% of men are serial rapists, and so that’s a definite risk and very real risk – a roughly 1 in 20 chance that someone a woman considers hooking up with will drug or get them drunk and rape them. However, there’s also well more than that going on.

As the first article points out, even when nothing that could be prosecuted as sexual assault occurs, women still risk have an exceptionally unpleasant evening:
”A casual survey of forums where people discuss "bad sex" suggests that men tend to use the term to describe a passive partner or a boring experience… But when most women talk about "bad sex," they tend to mean coercion, or emotional discomfort or, even more commonly, physical pain.”
In short, the reason that so much data suggests that women are notably less interested in sex outside of committed relationships than men are appears to be the fact that so many men are not merely inconsiderate, but actively horrid. Some of this horridness is clearly criminal, some of it isn’t, but it’s pretty clear to anyone reasonable, that none of it is humane or reasonable behavior.

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December 31st, 2017

03:24 am - Down an increasingly likely political rabbit hole
Months ago, before the first arrests began, I was talking with my partner [personal profile] teaotter about the Mueller Russia investigation, and she said that for it to be done at all well, Mueller and his team would need to not only clear 45 or prove that he was involved, but would also need to do the same thing for the line of succession, and that nothing would be released until all this had been done, since getting rid of all the corruption at once is vastly superior to either a continual string of dominoes falling, or the people not yet indicted attempting to pardon or cover up for the people who were indicted or impeached.

Three days ago we found out that Mueller is investigating whether the RNC worked with Russia, and today we find out that covfefe boy George Papadopoulos may actually have been the person setting up the initial promises of anti-Clinton leaks for easing sanctions, and he’s been cooperating with Mueller since late July.

In short, Mueller may already have 45, and while I would strongly doubt that Pence was directly involved with arranging this deal, I think it’s exceedingly likely he knew before the election, in which case he’s gone, and at this point Mueller may know this, and so now he’s trying to see if Paul Ryan is clean. If we’re lucky, we might see 45, Pence, and Ryan all fall, which would leave us with president Orin Hatch, and while Hatch is another hideous conservative, he’s not a Nazi, and he’s also not a smarmy self-serving monster like Ryan. Also, if 45, Pence, and Ryan all go (presumably along with Sessions and likely Tillerson), then the GOP is in sufficiently dire trouble, that 60% of the US will likely be associating GOP candidate for federal office and Russian-owned traitor for much of the next decade.

On one hand, this all looks like a premature journey down the rabbit hole. However, the facts match up remarkably well. If anything like this happens, it will be unique in US history, and will make Watergate look relatively tame and minor in comparison. This is especially true because I’m betting that one result of this will be something ranging from a moderate increase in mass shootings by far right nutjobs to a minor uprising by the same sorts of people. It’s not like 45 and Bannon won’t be fanning those flames, especially since Mueller is also investigating Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica, which is controlled by Robert Mercer, the man who bankrolls Breitbart.

If I’m correct, and I think I am, then I’m betting all this happens well before the 2018 election, likely in the next 6 months. Of course, we may have to deal with the rather horrifying specter of Mueller finding solid data and Congress not being willing to do anything about it, at which point, we’ll all need to take to the streets. We shall see.

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December 23rd, 2017

08:36 pm - Too many damn nazis
My partner [personal profile] teaotter and I are visiting my parents in McLean VA, which means watching TV news - something I never do (normally getting all my news from the online versions of newspapers like the New York Times. My parents are centrist democrats who would never consider watching faux news. Instead, they mostly watch the local NBC, ABC, or CBS news.

Last night, I learned a term I'd not heard before "chain migration" - I learned it from any ad from some nazi anti-immigration group that decried the imaginary evils of allowing people's family members to immigrate to the US. Other than the basic disgust of nazis being nazis, I didn't think anything of this, until today, on the 11 PM ABC news out of Washington DC, when the newscaster talking about the alleged terrorist attack on police officers in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, mentioned that the supposed terrorist was "part of a chain of migration going back decades" Hearing this made me sick. I'm astoundingly tired of all the damn nazis shaping US discourse.

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