I’m rewatching Daredevil in bits and pieces. Came across a great scene, wanted to mention it and talk just a little about it, but this conversation will get spoilery. Continue at your peril, if that’s a thing that concerns you.
Bread and circuses. I can eat – housing costs have been the real enemy of well-being in the USA – so I got bread covered. And circuses are OK, but the economy has hurt my ability to get out to every one of them. I missed Wonder Woman this summer, only got to see Spiderman once, as much as I liked it. But Hollyweird is losing money, and that means it’s about to get crappy.
It’s gonna get crappy because detached billionaire corporate fuckos always take the wrong lesson from travail, change the wrong things. I don’t mind them working smarter with the budget, reducing the level of detail in the spectacle some. I’m betting they could be less shit with how they advertise too. We don’t need saturation advertising to remember to watch something like Guardians 2, come on.
No, they won’t get smarter. They’ll just panic and pander to China harder. Maybe make Chris Pratt a personal slave to Xi Jinping for a week, suck off some party officials, include giant subplots about how the sino-socialist wage slave system makes Stark tech awesome. Nobody committing suicide at the iron man suit factory, pay no mind to the giant nets.
I knew when they were talking about how hot this summer was going to be, when the temperatures were spiking in spring, that there were going to be days that were both hot and hazy. I could feel it coming. They don’t happen often here so a few times in my past have been memorable.
Anyhow, I knew there were going to be days that were both overcast and over 80 degrees, but I had no idea it was going to be from the fucking Pacific Northwest being on fire. Earlier this month Vancouver BC had a bunch of wildfires that sent smoke south of Seattle to where I live. Then there’s yesterday, when Eastern Washington caught fire so badly that ash was raining on cars reminiscent of the explosion of Mt. St. Helens.
So, climate change denialists, if you wanna keep up the bluster, you’re gonna have to put in some extra legwork. Vacuum the haze out of the sky. Clean all our cars. Blow little fans on us, install AC for us everywhere we are, everywhere we’re burning up, and tell us “haha, sure is reasonable out today! Nothing of note here.”
Get a move on, boys. Half the world’s on fire and the other half is drowning.
So the nationalistically named Department of Homeland Security has decided that my peoples in antifascism are terrorists. Even that fucking centrist crapsack Trevor Noah has decided to go out of his way to shit on the movement. I’d actually like to thank the DHS for reinforcing the dogshit coming from moderates right now, because if there’s anything that might give the more clever of them pause, it’s the Orange Regime agreeing with them.
I’ll thank them for that demonstration, but must hector them on accuracy. Antifa are terrorists? What is a terrorist? I could see some individual antifas might meet the criteria, but they’re outnumbered by an order of magnitude by white cops that kill to reinforce mortal terror in the African American population. So. DHS? FBI? DEA? Any other breed or stripe of fucking cop? If antifa as a whole is terrorist because some individuals may have committed some violence for their ideology, then every last cop is a both a terrorist and white supremacist by the same metric.
I don’t have the power to make the terms. The state does. So if the state says it’s terrorist to be me, then I’m a terrorist. Likewise if the state decided to decree people like me to be fifty foot purple nuns with laser vision, then we’d be fifty foot purple nuns with laser vision. It doesn’t make it true anywhere except in this fucked-ass Bizarro world they’re forging.
Anyway, Fuck The Motherfucking Man. Seriously, I’m so goddamn burned out and tired of EVERYTHING in power right now. Able-bodied cishet white men? Fuck all of them, fuck anyone who is any of those things to the extent they fit the description, and to the extent I fit those descriptors (a lot), fuck me too. More than anything I’m tired of LIES, of living in a world run by unchecked lies so bald-faced and outrageous that they make me wanna rip my fucking face off. Fuck you, Trump, fuck your world of lies, and fuck anyone who plays the fife in the goddamn hell parade.
Sincerely, a terrorist.
It seems like the ideal way to be a parasite is to allow your host animals to proliferate and be well. The healthier the host, the more nourishment they can provide the parasite. So I have a few questions for those in the know:
Why do virii and bacteria harm us, when they’d be better off if we were healthy?
Are there any truly harmless parasites in the average human? The mites in eyelashes seem pretty chill.
As I think of it, some diseases can only spread if the host coughs, sneezes, or vomits, but is that the reason for all of it? A sexually transmitted disease that negatively affects one’s sexiness seems like it should be very unlikely.
To wax Agent Smith-ish for a moment, humans seem to be demolishing the planet on which we depend for life. It’s an instinctive race to grab the most resources that has produced economic and political systems that remove all guilt and forethought, do nothing but grease the slide into hell.
Are parasites doing the same? Does life clamor its way into these overly-successful dead ends every time? Is the cycle of mass extinctions a natural mirror of our boom-bust economics? I don’t know. But I do know this: Nature sucks. Nothing more to add, today.
I was thinking on the way players in some of my games have fallen into tropes during character creation that were a bit embarrassing. For example, in one game, there was a space on the character sheet for grade – the characters were in high school. Like, four people initially wrote that their characters had skipped a grade. Much weirder, two separate players came up with an idea of an uncaring father owning an expensive stringed instrument that their character stole during the course of the game. Violin boy ended up breaking the instrument in a teenage rage. Guitar girl just strolled and strummed, as one will. Those players had practically no interaction and came up with that stuff wholly independently. Wild.
So I had a two part idea for how to escape some of these tropes, or at least make characters less baroque and more dramatically resonant: One, come up with everything you think is distinctive about your character without looking at a character sheet at all. Two, when it’s time to fill out the character sheet, intentionally fill in any information you hadn’t thought of (character age, family, eye color, whatever) with something boring and bland.
Your character’s “bastard son of the duke” detail becomes less interesting the more bizarre details you add, and I think character sheets are where people go wrong. This is about RPGs, but the same could be true of fiction writing, if you’re using a questionnaire during character development.
The theory is that no one would have thought to have their character skip a grade if there had not been a question about which grade they were in on the sheet. As soon as you ask a question, there is a temptation to come up with an “interesting” answer. Make a character stand out by having fewer important traits. Hold off on the questionnaire, and round that thing out with bland. That’s the idea.
The current system of AmeriKKKan slavery is conducted through the prison industrial complex. That’s a system of Bastilles long overdue for a smashing. This Bastille day, nearly at an end here in the continental USA? Not the moment. But it will come.
Wish I had something more to say on this. I add sentences and subtract them. It’s all just words for their own sake. The point remains simple: Destroy AmeriKKKan prisons. Free the slaves now.
Hey we might already be a dead species walking. Ocean acidification, a climate change pattern that will continue even if we magically stop producing carbon 100% this instant, treatment resistant diseases with a pool of billions of specimens in which to evolve. Something can get us, may already have us in its sights. That’s all of us, not just the poor, whatever you rich people are imagining.
Given these problems, all the class war the rich are perpetrating against us poor folks? Huge waste of time and resources. The clock is ticking. Keeping the poor in a state of desperation and suffering is great fun for you, we know, but it also makes the world a chaotic, useless place.
We can’t get a goddamn thing done. Education of the next genius to save us? You’re choking the actual merit out of the Ivy League with legacy nepotism, and demolishing the ability of cheaper schools to actually teach. Having a robust competent workforce so we can build our way out of at least some troubles? We’re getting crippled from preventable health conditions, incapable of practicing job skills because employer-friendly legislation has us unemployed or changing jobs constantly, that kind of shit.
You don’t have to give up your palaces, your demonic lifestyles, your vampiric destruction of everything beautiful in nature, your inhuman loathing of us. Hate us all you want. Just let us have what we need to be healthy. It can come out of the military’s budget SOOO easily.
Think what we could accomplish with a world full of healthy people*, without minds and bodies being shredded like lettuce in the struggle to survive. With universities that had actual professorships instead of hordes of homeless itinerant “adjuncts” living like zombies to teach classrooms of fifty and more. With an industrial sector full of hearty Bruce Willis in Armageddon – styled people, able to live up to the national myths we cling to.
And then you can sit there at the top, bathing in the blood of the last rhinos and drinking the jizz of extinct fish, or whatever it is you like to buy with your gold bricks. You can sit there thinking about how your magnanimity is the only thing that allowed the human species to survive that shit show early millennium situation.
You’ll be right. You’ll be as god-like powerful as you are now, but with the added pride of actual moral leadership instead of this insecure self-delusion you’re spitting now. Noblesse Oblige as a good thing instead of a bad joke.
Live the dream, baby. Because something is coming that your money won’t help you escape. You’re going to need us to live through it. Throw us a goddamn bone here. We’re dyin’.
*Not to leave out the disabled. You know poor able-bodied workers love sick people, right? So watching ’em die in your heartless hellworld is bad for our health. Help people who need help. I know the inherent dignity of a human life is something you’ll never understand, so do it for the venal reasons I’m suggesting. Pretty please?
A conspiracy would be better. All you’d have to do is bust it open, out the Illuminati, take down the Lizard People, whatever. In real life, the conspiracies aren’t like that. They are shortsighted arrangements made by petty animals, not the superpowerful world-dominating enterprises we hear about from the paranoid.
They are “think tanks,” board meetings, organized crime, third world juntas, first world Strangelove war rooms. They are just groups of assholes trying to do asshole things for power and money, and in so doing they are trapped, serving the same animal instincts that have had us rocketing toward extinction.
They don’t control shit. Of course they control their fiefdoms. They can make like Mitch McConnell’s fuckboys and kill thousands of us to save a few bucks for their corporate fam. But at the end of the line? They’re owned by nature.
Not in the “mother earth will get revenge” hippy sense, but in that they are driven to eat up every resource like locusts, vie for every advantage until everyone is fucked and nothing is left, just like everyone else in this hellworld we’ve created.
A conspiracy, in the Alex Jones sense, would be better, because it would mean someone, anyone, has control of what’s going to happen to us. Someone would be able to finagle their way through the ongoing ecological calamity, hide out in the hollow earth or move to space in arks, whatever. But a giant pile of animals fucking animals fucking animals? No control, no quarter, no safety for anyone.
Xtian fundamentalists are fond of referring to backslides toward the Dark Ages as “Awakenings.” Social justice activists – particularly African Americans fighting racism – use the slogan “Stay woke.” And of course, conspiracy bros have their classic exhortation to the “sheeple.” Who is awake and who is asleep? Safe to guess what I think.
I think a lot more people than ever before are starting to wake up to the realities we’re dealing with, the danger we’re in, and what will ultimately need to be done about it. But is it too late? I feel like there’s still room to hope, but it’s slim as fuck. Long live the fighters.
Why is it that role-playing games seem to bring out the worst traits in people? Even people you would never have guessed had it in them, people you may have liked before, but come out liking less. I wish the inverse was true – that players displaying good morals would be surprising or have a nice impact – but it’s far easier to be outlandishly awful than it is to be pretty decent. There are millions of ways to harm people and only a few ways to nurture or protect them. Either way, RPGs keep turning into morality tests, no matter the GM’s intent.
I’ve run situations where all a character had to do was say hello to an old friend, and before long the friend has been encouraged to shoot heroin for the first time with a dirty needle. Where all a group of characters had to do was walk down a sidewalk, have a funny interaction with some randos, then one PC goads another into viciously assaulting them.
And I’m sure most of the fellowship of Game Masters have encountered similar. The adventurers pass a travelling show and end up killing everybody for XP and a few silver pieces, or because the entertainers didn’t sufficiently stroke the PC’s demonic egos. The encounter was just meant to breathe life into the setting, give the PCs a chance to experience a different world. Turns out the life they want to experience is that of homicidal warlords.
You often hear the lament on forums, how do I deal with this terrible player? He’s my best friend in real life, so I can’t tell him to fuck off. How can I rein him in? Sometimes, if it’s extreme enough, the bad player’s friend may wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with them. Is my best friend a potential serial killer?
There are a number of reasons, some addressed in my Pitfalls of RP series, that lead players to behave worse in a game than they would in real life. The most obvious reason is that it is just a game, so depending on how real it feels, one could feel no more responsible than they would to video game NPCs. The flipside of this is that some nice people would never dream of killing the jerk rat-pelt collector in Everquest, let alone a character voiced by a present living person. Still, failures of imagination can be understood. The best of us get big body counts in GTA.
Another failure of imagination is just misunderstanding the scene or the world and its rules. In cinema and in many games, a blow to the back of the head will knock someone out harmlessly. In real life and realistic games, unconsciousness isn’t guaranteed but brain damage is certainly a possibility. Likewise, a PC could read an NPC as more dangerous than they are, and end up shooting unarmed characters.
Excuses aside, many players genuinely feel fine playing characters as utter bastards. Can you play evil? Do you like to? I’ve found that the only way I can deal with that is playing a character who is meant to be disliked, meant to be unpleasant and probably doomed. The aforementioned rando-bashing and heroin needling was conducted by a character that was pretty well defined as a jerk, so it wasn’t too jarring, even if it was gratuitous and ugly.
What blows my mind is that people will write a character as all sunshine and light, cutesy woobliness, then turn around and have those characters commit atrocities. I’m sorry, Braden, but blushing boy band-lookin’ sensitive sighs Oliver comes off like a David Lynch villain the second you make him party to a serial killing. His loverboy styles are instantly upended into depraved creepiness, his looks corrupted by the dark light behind his eyes.
It could be a problem of people playing characters beyond their own natural abilities. We don’t physically lift the castle gates when our characters do, but we do have to make words happen, make actions happen, within the limits of our own real life ability. Playing characters as more intelligent or charismatic than we actually are? Very difficult. Playing characters more compassionate than we are? Maybe it’s impossible. How would you even know you were fucking up?
If that’s the case, then the key is knowing yourself and playing within the limits of your ability and imagination. And if you’re paying attention while you’re playing, you might learn a lot about what those limits are.