The UMM D&D Wilderness Adventure!

Here’s a short solo D&D adventure that I play every day.

Your destination is the university (and specifically, my lab) on the right side of the map. You will enter from the left, or west side, either from town or my house, the blue marker. There are three main entrances: 4th Avenue, on the top, which is a bit round about and only has a pedestrian walkway to the north, and also skirts the perilous cemetery; 2nd Avenue, south, which is really only for vehicular traffic and mainly gives you access to glamorous parking lots; and 3rd Avenue, the middle and most direct route. It’s difficult and dangerous to detour to 2nd or 4th from 3rd Avenue, since there are no sidewalks along College, and the roads are currently packed ice, inhabited by wandering bands of student cars.

Conveniently, there is a footpath from 3rd & College, my starting point, directly to the Science Building. Excellent! Unfortunately, it slopes gently downward, and when we get any snowmelt at all, followed by a freeze, it turns into the Slalom of Death. We’re going to get a brief thaw today, followed by a plummet once again into bitter cold. I may die tomorrow.

That same path becomes more navigable in the summer, but it is surrounded on both sides by leafy ground cover and lots of trees, and is inhabited by clouds of blood-sucking monsters in the summer, the Tunnel of Blood. The stirges hibernate in the winter, at least.

Roll for initiative. Choose your path. ‘Ware wandering monsters. I hear there are bugbears and slime beasts in the administration building off map, to the right, so don’t get clever and think you can just go around.

There is a dungeon in the science building. Also a book store where you can replenish your supplies of t-shirts, pens, and candy bars (not much in the way of books, though).

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers & spiders dwell in unity!

I guess Abe beat me to this one, but I’ll join the party a little late.

Rebecca is looking at a study that found

“…low belief in human evolution was associated with higher levels of prejudice, racist attitudes, and support for discriminatory behaviors against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ), Blacks, and immigrants in the United States (Study 1), with higher ingroup biases, prejudicial attitudes toward outgroups, and less support for conflict resolution in samples collected from 19 Eastern European countries (Study 2), 25 Muslim countries (Study 3), and Israel (Study 4). Further, among Americans, lower belief in evolution was associated with greater prejudice and militaristic attitudes toward political outgroups (Study 5).”

That’s an observation that accords well with what I’ve seen, anecdotally. My most religious family members are also the most racist…or is it that my most racist relatives are the most religious? I don’t really know which direction the arrow of causality is facing.

But also, as someone who has associated more with atheists than theists, we all know that the atheist movement split over precisely this kind of issue. There are lots of self-declared evolutionists who also rail against immigration, who claim that there are differences in intelligence that split along racial lines, and who are confident that women are inferior to men. I’m looking at the study and thinking that maybe this result is an artifact of the godless being swamped out by the numbers of the godly.

But then, they controlled for religion.

“Finally, perceived similarity to animals (a construct distinct from belief in evolution, Study 6) partially mediated the link between belief in evolution and prejudice (Studies 7 and 8), even when controlling for religious beliefs, political views, and other demographic variables, and were also observed for nondominant groups (i.e., religious and racial minorities). ”

Now that’s more believable, and narrows the cause of the effect significantly. It’s not just religion, it’s having beliefs that encourage categorizing some living things as meaningless and subject to murder. That’s a metric that clearly suggests that the most egalitarian and benevolent people are those who even love spiders. (OK, respecting the right to life for fruit flies might be even better, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to that level of enlightenment yet.)

Now I want to see a comparison of NRA members to the general public. People who buy great big guns so they can slaughter large warmbloods might be the worst of them all.

Fancy, but how do you get through the door?

Or feed your little yappy lap dog? Or reach your latte? Or put on your makeup?

Also, it looks incredibly cheap and cheesy, like strapping a bunch of vinyl balloons to your body. If I’m going to have to live with the inconvenience, I want spikes and razors and rigid sharp protrusions that really mean business. I want to step off that NY subway train I had to struggle to board with my tentacles covered with the blood of innocents.

Let’s start a social media site!

It’s easy, right? You could write it in BASIC and run it off the old Apple II in your closet. You just accept a text string from someone calling in, and you post it on a web page, and presto! Fame and money start rolling in.

Even Donald Trump could do it! Or think he could do it, because that man is delusional.

The rollout of Donald Trump’s social network has predictably been a disaster. Truth Social’s debut on Monday was marred by technical problems and a gigantic waiting list, while some people who actually were able to use the service complained of being “censored.”

Truth Social “has been almost entirely inaccessible in the first days of its grand debut because of technical glitches, a 13-hour outage and a 300,000-person waitlist,” The Washington Post wrote yesterday. Trump Media & Technology Group CEO Devin Nunes said on a Fox News show that Truth Social’s goal is to be “fully operational at least within the United States” by the end of March. The waiting list is now over 500,000.

I wonder how many of those half million are lookie-loos gawking at the train wreck, how many are reporters who figure they just have to report on this desperate ex-politician’s fantasy (they don’t, by the way), and how many are sincere followers of Trump AKA chucklefucks?

Of course he didn’t design this himself.

Truth Social was built using Mastodon open source software.

They just grabbed some existing software, plastered some graphics and revised some of the text messages, and called it good.

I have an account on Mastodon. I didn’t have to wait in line to get it, just found an instance that didn’t have the Donald on it, and started typing. Isn’t the point of Mastodon to have a decentralized distribution of servers, anyway?

Also, it’s a bit ironic to name the failing media site created by a politician known for constantly lying “truth”.

Shouldn’t reporters be expected to know a little history?

The front lines in the vicinity of Kiev and across Ukraine shifted back and forth during the bitter fighting for control of the Ukrainian capital city in the waning months of 1943.

Listen to this guy. He compares Ukraine to Afghanistan & Iraq by suggesting that, unlike those middle-eastern countries, Ukraine is “civilized” and hasn’t known “decades of war”.

Iraq: the cradle of civilization. A modern nation before the US bombed it to hell.

Ukraine: They’ve been fighting Russia for 8 years. Multiple, massive tank battles were fought there in WWII. Kiev (the old name) was occupied by Nazis for 3 years. Ever hear of Babi Yar? I think Ukrainians have experienced a few atrocities, and have fought back bravely.

Maybe he should have simply said what he was thinking: Ukrainians are white, Iraqis are brown.

North Idaho. Enough said.

This woman does not believe you should define people by their race, but she carries a sign that says “proud white supremacist”, because white supremacist is synonymous with “patriot”.

No, it’s not.

She’s from Hayden Lake, by the way.

Ireland isn’t going to take it

This is what journalists were supposed to do, I thought. At least this one time, one confronts a liar for Putin with the evidence.

You know, this is exactly what I wanted journalists to do to American politicians when we invaded Iraq. We didn’t get much of it. Instead, we got polarization driving people to Fox News, that nest of lies. And now Fox News is demonstrating that they always were a propaganda mill for conservative authoritarians — could you imagine Tucker Carlson doing anything but fawning over a Russian ambassador making excuses for atrocities?

The Irish people are also protesting outside the Russian embassy, while Irish political parties are calling for the expulsion of the Russian ambassador (although the EU is asking to keep embassies in place, which makes sense if there is to be any hope of a diplomatic solution –– a forlorn hope, but I guess it’s there.)

If you’re “woke”, you oppose Putin

Yesterday was my day for despair. Now that’s over with, and it’s time for rage.

I can’t do anything about Russia or Ukraine, but jesus, do we ever have a bunch of walloping idiot apologists here at home. The curious thing is that they’re neatly lining up across the chasm that has formed in our political divide. If you’re a Trumper, now you’re in Putin’s pocket — and that’s an about-face from Republicans I would never have expected. If you’re into crypto, of course you’re going to take the Russian side, since crypto is little more than a money laundering scheme for oligarchs. And now the IDW is rationalizing for Russia.

It’s like everyone is projecting their pet obsessions onto Ukraine. No, we don’t spend more time talking about pronouns that it does about things that matter. First of all, pronouns do matter, obviously, since they send the Heyings of the world into a frothing fury. And they seem to matter most to the people who hate the idea. If you tell me that you prefer to be addressed as “he,” “she,” or “they,” I’ll accept it as a matter of course and as a matter of courtesy. The anti-woke brigade will react as if you’ve just launched missiles into their Donbass. We aren’t fighting over pronouns, that war was won by the people who recognize that humans live cooperatively in a society.

The people who don’t recognize that side with Putin.

Here’s another thing that pisses me off: when they decide that they must be über-rational because they accept evolution, and therefore evolution must side with the Russians.

The evolutionary lens is logic and first-principles driven, rather than conclusion or ideology driven. Jesus fucking christ. Evolutionary biology is not a formula that you can plug your variables into, and out pops a fixed, flawless solution. Evolution is a diversity machine. It makes peacocks and parasitic worms. It produces humans with a battery of emotional and social needs, and the more complex the organism, the more unpredictable the outcome. Heying is the classic reductionist dudebro who thinks it is reasonable to strip away the complexity of reality to claim that Science with a capital S has decided that their narrow world view is the correct one.

And then they pretentiously announce the superiority of their perspective. I am one of the initiated, and I can tell you that Heather Heying is full of shit. She’s just a dogmatic reactionary who has found a rationale that feeds her ego and allows her to dismiss everyone else as wrong.

Also, Jesse Singal and Heather Heying joining hands to agree that the Woke are bad makes me want to puke.