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A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. (Robert A. Heinlein)

Who are the pinnacle of modern Western society? Our political leaders, variously despised and mistrusted? Our philosophers, who don’t exist in the minds of a majority? Our artists, ignored if they don’t produce carefully constructed entertainment to numb the pain of living our lives of quiet desperation? I think a strong argument could be made that the pinnacle of modern Western society, from the view of modern Western society itself, in terms of those paid the most and getting the most media coverage (easily argued, I think, to be the two primary definitions of status for modern Western society), are professional sports players. (“Most of them don’t make that much and aren’t known”, yeah, yeah. Same goes for all the other aforementioned categories, and everything in general.)

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SOFA

A new plan of attack involves more shorter posts, so that there aren’t months without anything. I stayed away from that here before because I keep really short thoughts to Facebook status updates (would be Twitters if I had any friends on Twitter, but I don’t), but there’s a place between rambling essays and one sentence thoughts that I hope I can use to good effect in the future. In the meantime, a few quick shots:

  • Pushing Daisies be dead. Terrible, horrible, depressing, expected. On the very minor positive side, Bryan Fuller may well end up running Heroes and perhaps save it from the abysmal joke it’s become. (During Heroes’ second season, the first time I watched the show as it aired, I repeatedly took it to task for ugly sexism until I eventually concluded it was just lazy writing, not actual misogyny, and gave up. This is still the case, and still one of the few things I actively despise about the show. Please save it, Bryan Fuller. Make it whimsy and fun!)
  • Far Cry 2 is a great game, but I’ve barely played it (or any other games) since I started Letters from Africa. As a result, I haven’t updated that particular project since then. I hope to get around to it eventually, but at this point I kind of just want to play the game. I also bought Overlord during its 75% price reduction on Steam and played it for an hour or two. It’s cute.
  • I’m a terrible DM. Not really, of course, but not a very good one, anyway. I don’t intend to continue the campaign log, although I do intend to keep the wiki updated with shorter summaries and to post some thoughts on DM-ing (and how much I suck at it). Seriously, it’s hard (especially when the online campaign I’m playing in is so well-designed. Here’s to you, stabs!) I almost want to start something new next semester (with a month of preparation over break), but I think the players would prefer to continue, because they don’t have as much of a problem with what I do as I do (and that’s what’s important, anyway)–and there are still some (hopefully) really interesting moments to get to.
  • Quantum of Solace is a conundrum to me. I’m planning on writing some more thorough thoughts (and I’ve thought a lot about what those will be) but I’m waiting until I probably see it again this weekend.

My face is not my own

I hate being home. It’s not my family–though they are little more than familiar strangers to me, people whom I lived with for so long but have never really known, or allowed myself to know, or allowed to know me. I suppose it is, then, at least a corollary of that. It’s that, when I’m home, I feel–alone. Overwhelmed. This is the place in which I destroyed myself, over and over. This is the place in which I wallowed, decadent, lay for hours on end, night after night, devoured by my own depression. This is the place which I left so desperately hoping to start anew, and I did, sort-of, maybe.

But every time I come home I am devoured anew, trapped by the prison I created and continue to create, because I can’t let go and say, it is just a building. I should leave, walk about this town that used to be mine, and sometimes I do, but I have nowhere to go. I used to go the park and admire–the people, nature, whatever; but it’s too cold now. I used to walk two hours one way to the nearest movie theater, and then come back, six hours gone, because it was better than being here.

The worst part is that I see myself. I never look in mirrors except at home, and here, they are everywhere. I get up in the morning and look into a mirror and I think–not, I wish I was someone else; not even, that is not me; but simply, who is that? Because I do not know. It is a foreign face, a foreign body–gaunt and pale and scarred and so very, very tired.

I used to tell people that I didn’t care about my appearance because I didn’t have to look at it. It wasn’t true, of course–while certainly there is less care involved, I do consider what clothes I’m wearing on what day and why. I would be impressed by someone who has endured modern American society’s conditioning and can avoid that. But it was true, somehow, that I dissociated myself from my own image, not from the clothes but from my physical body itself; somehow I mentally divorced myself from my own embodiment, became a floating brain, always fascinated but ultimately confused and distanced by the way my hands move, tendons twisting on bones beneath the skin, the way my leg steps forward with such instinctual confidence, the way my eyes glisten and contract and stare without comprehension.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lettersfromafrica/

What’s at the convergence of video games, social commentary, and hyperconnectivity? Here’s one suggestion, perhaps. Hopefully it becomes interesting.

So, the bailout. ZOMG, the House rejected it soundly–before they didn’t. A lot was made of that brief blip, calls that at last the government was being held accountable by the American people, etc., but of course it wasn’t to last, of course all they had to do was make a few superficial changes, wait until everyone was properly pleased that they had succeeded in stopping a 700 billion dollar check to a bunch of unrepentant morons, then send the check anyway.

But those guys who called this a major development weren’t wrong, or at least as wrong as they look now. Because the first rejection of the bailout was entirely against the corporate politics (whatever the fuck that word even means) that control the American government, and entirely because the American people for one very brief moment said No. Yes, it was a hop and a skip of political manuevering to get over that hurdle, but if things had been going as they should be for the corporatists/elites/special interests/whatever, that hurdle shouldn’t have existed at all. Hoi polloi are sheep to be slaughtered, not a voice to be dealt with.

It’s interesting to compare this oh-so-brief moment of popular action with the sustained grass-roots support of Obama and other mainstream candidates before him. The difference being, of course, nobody cares about Obama. Why? Because the people behind him–that frothing mass of do-gooding young idealists, absolutely convinced that they are changing the fucking world for the fucking better at long last after all those fuckers before them continually screwed it up–are doing nothing. They are putting all their energy towards getting more people to check a ballot box, which is exactly what hoi polloi are supposed to do, and nothing more.

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I wasn’t really prepared to start the campaign. For quite a while I knew where I wanted to get to with the first session, but not how; less than a week ago the ideas began formalizing. When we started I had a rough sketch, a plan that worked but has a number of holes of immersion, at least some of which I would have corrected had I had more time. But everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves (quite a lot), so I’m pleased for now.

Our four protagonists began onboard the good ship Promise of Tomorrow, only a few days from their destination at the Lapis River colony, the Arkhosian shore distantly visible, and nothing to do. Khaar attempted to chat up Montrose, the half-elf cleric of Pelor, who stood idly on the open deck, but Montrose seemed uninterested in talking. Zan noted a strange mark of fire rising from one of the larger ships, just before it exploded.

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“Half a millenium ago, the Children of Dragons emerged from the Dark Continent, sailed across the Great Sea, and brought the Empire to our shores. From the Jeweled City across the water, they brought order to chaos and light to darkness.

“We do not mean to extol the virtues of the Dragon Empire or to call for its return. Rather we wish to remind all of its unparalleled power and majesty and of the riches the dragonborn brought from their dark home across the sea. It is called the Forsaken Jewel not without cause, for in the chaos of the Empire’s fall, many great treasures were lost.

“We do not refer to the rumors of hoards of gold or magic trinkets hidden by dragonborn desperate to survive the fall. We refer to the natural abundance that birthed the Empire in its first dark days, the verdant wealth that allowed the dragonborn to conquer two continents, construct vast monuments, and collect those hoards of gold and magic trinkets.

“It is for this that we, former subjects, now become conquerors ourselves, at last return to the Forsaken Jewel. Not any temporary treasure, but the natural wealth of an entire continent, since the fall of the Empire tapped only by savage tribes with no comprehension of its possibilities.

“This is our destiny and our duty: to sail across the Great Sea, set foot upon the Dark Continent, and bring order to its chaos and light to its darkness. The Jeweled City that once glittered from across the water has fallen, and it must be built anew. Who will join us?”

the Association for the Advancement of Arkhos

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