Friday, April 20, 2018

On blood, the giving of

In movies and TV shows you often see people cutting themselves to extract blood.  The power of blood for rituals, for spells, for magic, is a common thread in our stories.  Somtimes you test to see if people will go berserk, or if they are a vampire, or perhaps you just want to gather their blood because they are special and it has power. 

The really foolish part about all this bloodletting is that people always seem to want to slash their palms.  They grab knives, slide their hands down swords, and slice n dice their palms to bits.

This is a terrible idea.

Look, if you want to cut yourself in an obvious way you should *clearly* make a slash on the back of your arm just above the wrist.  Easy to bandage, easy to keep an eye on.  When you slash your palm though you have a bandage around your hand.  This is a disaster from a utility standpoint.  You are clumsy, you risk opening the wound if you use your hand for anything, the bandage will be hard to apply properly and will easily come off.  The back of the forearm doesn't have any of these penalties!

Plus the back of the forearm has little in the way of nerves so it won't hurt nearly as much.

So the next time a wizened old warlock tells you that your blood has the power to do some big exciting ritual blah blah blah do yourself a favour and don't cut your palm.  When the big powerful leader demands a show of loyalty and for some reason they want that to include blood, keep in mind that you need your hands for things and the big power leader wants you to be effective.  Back of the forearm, that is the ticket.

You are welcome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A nice conversation

On Friday I went to a family party for a large chunk of my family in law.  I wasn't really expecting to click with the majority of people there, as I am quite a lot younger than them, live in a different country, and have nothing else in common.

But I figured I can make polite noises at people and socialize, when I have to.

Instead I ended up sitting beside an older American man who was yelling loudly about politics.  He led off with "And no government in the history of the world has ever done anything better than a private company would."

I was really going to try to not argue politics with these people... but I'm not made of stone!

I stood up and said "How about healthcare?" and the debate was on.

And by debate I mean he leaned in close to me and said "Fucking Bullshit!"  After recovering from my surprise I told him that the US has private healthcare that costs drastically more and delivers drastically less per dollar than any other developed nation, and then he told me that the profit motive is necessary because the land we were standing on would still be forest if not for profits!

I had some choice comments about how the natives living here when it was all still forest probably aren't such big fans of the effects of profit on North America but I figured if was to have any chance at progress I needed to keep my focus narrow and stick to health care.

Sticking to health care was not in the cards.  Before allowing me another word in he talked about how socialism was destroying the world because the Fed is just printing more money.  Also the Fed is controlled by 12 powerful families who are the real Illuminati and they are trying to make everyone their slaves.

Additionally, according to him, he reads 4 hours a day and is extremely well informed and intelligent.

Then he demanded to know what my wealth insurance was.

I was a bit surprised because honestly I had no idea what he was talking about.  It turns out that according to his sources when the great collapse happens the only thing that will have any value is gold and silver, so he is invested in gold.  They are the only thing that has retained value over the last 5000 years, don't you know.  (Not at all true, btw.)

I really, really wanted to tell him that my biceps are my wealth investment, because if our entire civilization collapses I will use them to take his gold if I have any desire for it.  I probably won't have any desire for it though because civilization just collapsed, so the only things I want are weapons and food.

Eventually a four year old dragged me away from the endless stream of nonsense, much to my relief.

He spent the rest of that evening leering at me at every opportunity, telling me what a great discussion we had, obviously trying to get me involved again, and he very clearly felt he had gotten the better of me.  Then we had another event the next day and he did it again.

This whole thing was really interesting inside my head.  Director spent the whole time thinking that there is no point at all in interacting with the crazy.  This guy is a right wing nutjob conspiracy theorist and nothing in the world a Canadian socialist will say will have the slightest impact.  The only thing I will do is upset the other family members there.

But Passion wanted to yell.  Fuck this guy, dominating the conversation with his nonsense.  If we have to talk about this stuff, then at least I should spend the entire evening tearing his arguments down around his ears so nobody mistakes it for fact.  Plus I can be savagely disrespectful and insulting if I want because if he doesn't ever want to see me again that is a bonus.

I felt dissociative, particularly when he was goading me, trying to get me involved in another 'debate'.  A sense of disconnection, of being far away from myself.  This is often the case when my two natures are at war.  Director wins, as is virtually always the case, but it is uncomfortable.  I feel Passion straining at the bars of his prison, wanting to get out and run amok.  Keeping him imprisoned takes energy, and gives me that dissociative feeling.

When we left Wendy asked how the event had been for me.  I told her it was a success because I avoided tossing the angry man out a window, and that seems like a win given the circumstances.

I think it is funny because people often accuse me of not having any filter at all.  I find that hilarious because no one has ever seen me with no filter for more than a few moments at a time.  I feel like I spend my whole life filtering most of the stuff I want to do out, keeping Passion locked away from the world.  Maybe someday Director will just throw his hands up in despair, walk away to a corner of my head, and say "Fine, I am not in charge in more.  *You* deal with him." and then I will only be Passion.

That will be an interesting day if it ever happens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

We have air

The premise that humanity needs to go to another planet because Earth is too polluted is a common one in science fiction movies and it drives me bonkers.  Somehow writers don't seem to get that even if Earth gets nuked, climate change runs amok, and resources get used up, it is still about a billion times better than anywhere else.

You know what Earth, even a wrecked up Earth, has that Mars and Titan and Ganymede don't have?  AIR.  We have AIR here, air a human can safely breathe.  That alone makes Earth, even a sad, down on its luck Earth, better than anyplace else.

But you know what else Earth has?  Livable temperature ranges.  Even with climate change Earth has temperatures in the -50 to +50 range.  We can survive those.  Mars is -60C.  Titan is -179C.

Our water here is polluted.  Our resources are being used.  But you know what Mars and Titan and everywhere else doesn't have?  Pure water!  Fossil fuels!  Strong sunlight for growing things and generating power!  They don't have that stuff.

I mean, unless you go to Venus or Mercury.  They have lots of solar power available.  Also instant death, either by burning or disintegration, depending on which surface you land on.

It irks me even more when this sort of thing is used as a justification for colonization of other planets.  Other planets are useful for research, certainly, but we haven't colonized Antarctica, and it is about a billion times more hospitable than anywhere off planet, so until we bother with that, then we have no business whatever thinking that colonizing other planets is a useful endeavour.

Maybe we will try to colonize other planets because GET EM, THAT'S WHY but let us not pretend it is useful for anything.

I just watched the movie The Titan and it set me off.  The whole premise was standard nonsense - the Earth is in rough shape, so we will genetically engineer people to live on the surface of Titan, not requiring oxygen, and capable of hanging out in -179C temperatures.  If we can do that why the hell aren't we genetically engineering people to live on the parts of Earth that are wrecked?  It has be about a billion times easier and cheaper.  The Titan was also a complete piece of garbage from about fifteen other angles too, but the idiotic premise was the cherry on top of a poop cake.

I know, I know, I shouldn't get all worked up about sci fi movies having idiotic premises.  But the thing is, they don't have to be stupid.  You could have a premise like Seven Eves, which requires humanity to find a new home in a way that absolutely makes sense.  I don't mind people making up worlds with new cosmic phenomena or lightsabers or whatever but I do mind when the worlds they make up don't hold together at all and the characters' decisions make no sense.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

14 year old writing

I like zombies.  Also apocalypse stories.  So it was no surprise that I liked The Walking Dead.  I love playing through scenarios in my mind, wondering how I would react if I were in such a situation.

One of the things I am sure of is that I would make better day to day decisions.  The people in The Walking Dead do all kinds of stupid things but I completely buy into their emotional, immediate choices even when those choices are bad.  Kill that person, let that person go, empathize with a zombie, these are all things that would totally go wrong.

But geez, can you stop making awful choices day after day when there is no pressure?  The zombies are pushing on the fence.  Go kill them all!  You can kill one every ten seconds, so if you work on stabbing for an hour you kill 600 of them.  There won't be any more zombies then, and you can stop worrying.  Clear the damn zombies out around your base, don't just let them accumulate to disastrous levels.  Get four people, build some spears, go get your stab on!

But no, they just let the zombies stand there until it all goes bad.  Fools!

I would be a much better zombie apocalypse survivor than most people, that much I am sure of.

The show was really great up until the end of season six.  People told me that it went bad in season seven, but what they didn't mention was that the finale to season six was a travesty.  I watched it and was all bitter and grumpy and then I finally realized why:  The writers had done all the same awful things that me and my friends did when we were telling stories in Dungeons and Dragons when we were teenagers.

You see, back in those days, we were terrible at storytelling.  We would have bad guys who always just knew what the heroes were up to.  The bad guys had infinite supplies of troops, traps, weapons, and plans, and could have easily defeated the heroes at any time.  They often captured the heroes and taunted them, only to dump them off somewhere for no reason at all.  The players often wondered why exactly such powerful villains had nothing better to do than spy on the heroes all day and try to be a pain in the ass.

And the finale to season six of The Walking Dead was exactly that.  The series has had plenty of good villains so far and they didn't resort to all these idiotic setups to establish the bad ass nature of the villains.  This time around the villains knew everything the heroes did, despite that making no sense.  They had unlimited soldiers, fuel, trucks, and weapons and spent lavishly of those things just to taunt and annoy the heroes.  In a post apocalyptic landscape where all these things are precious, scarce, and irreplaceable the villains tossed them away simply to be brats.

It wrecks the world.  It makes me feel like all the previous struggles for supplies that everyone went through were a joke.  Dealing with hunger and desperation in previous seasons was trivialized because obviously there is enough of everything just sitting around for these idiots to waste it to no purpose.  The immersion is gone.

I can't be too harsh in sum - the show was great up until now.  But geez, when you can't do any better at writing a season finale than the whimsical creations of a teenage DnD player you have lost your way.

No I just need to do what I did after watching The Matrix 2 and 3.  "Gee, The Walking Dead was so good.  It is too bad that they never finished season six.  I am sure it would have been great."

Monday, April 9, 2018

An important thing that doesn't exist

Wendy and I were talking about soulmates the other day.  Not as in some mystical nonsense, but rather as a way of talking about someone who is so much the same as you they see all the same things.  A soulmate is someone who understands you instinctively, wants the same things you want, loves the things you love, and who you see yourself reflected within.

That is our definition, at any rate.

We concluded that we aren't each other's soulmate.

That sounds kind of strange to say.  We are good partners and compliment each other well, but that is a different thing than being soulmates.  Wendy finds my relentless hedonistic desires puzzling.  I don't understand why she values a PhD.  Wendy wants to build models of the real world to better understand it; I want to build models of imaginary worlds to better understand them.

A soulmate can be a good partner, but the two aren't the same thing.  I could be a good partner to my soulmate, though our lives would look quite different than the one I lead now.  There would be a lot more gaming conventions and orgies and a lot less children, for example.

On the other hand I don't think Wendy would be happy being partnered to her soulmate.  The things she wants in a partner are different than the things she offers.

I wonder how many relationships struggle along because people decided they had to be partners with their soulmates instead of seeking someone more suited as a partner.  You want to have things in common, of course, and to understand one another, but you don't need that reflection of yourself to be perfect, just good enough.

This discussion was really interesting in my head.  There was a juxtaposition of opinions like "Well, obviously you aren't soulmates, duh, what a silly concept.  Who needs it?" and "But wait, isn't that the thing you thought you had?  Shouldn't you be sad about it not existing?"

It is easy for me to not be sad about a thing and yet consider that perhaps it would be logical for me to be sad about that thing.

In the end I concluded that the term soulmate is arbitrary and not useful to me in this context.  I already knew that Wendy and I are a good team and happy together but that we want different things - why should a label have any relevance?  Thinking about this did make me curious though about other people I know, and whether or not they would use the term soulmate for their partners.  I honestly don't know what way to bet on that one.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Almost famous

Last night my parent council group got an email asking us for someone to do an interview about the signs outside Pinkie Pie's school.  Apparently there were signs near the school telling drivers to slow down and then the signs were removed.  None of us felt interested in being interviewed about the subject.

Today when I was dropping Pinkie Pie off at school a man with a big television camera approached me.  He starting talking really fast and tried to get me to talk to him about those same signs.  I suppose their attempts to round up somebody to interview about them had failed so he resorted to randomly asking people on the street about it.  After just a few moments it became clear that he was looking for exactly one thing:  Outrage.

I don't know exactly what sort of outrage he was hunting for.  He might have been wanting someone to shout "Think of the children!" because they were angry about 'slow down' signs being taken away.  He might have wanted me to be angry about the signs going up in the first place, something like "Damn city hall, always making my commute longer!"  Heck, he might have wanted me to be outraged about the waste of "My taxpayer dollars!"

Or maybe he would have been happy with any sort of outrage at all.  Hard to say.

Unfortunately for him all I had was a shrug and a lack of interest.  I didn't much notice the signs, I don't know why they were put up or taken down, and I certainly lack any good data with which to decide what they should have done.

I know that sometimes the government does wasteful things, but you can't expect perfection.  Sometimes you try stuff to see if it works and then it doesn't so you try something else.  That isn't a sign of inefficiency, it is just how people try to fix problems.  I also know that if you want to supply useful news to the public about an event it is nearly worthless to get a random person on the street to be outraged on camera about a topic they are clueless about.

If I had thought I would get on TV I would have been really tempted to give him his interview and turn it to my own purposes.  I would have happily been outraged about how news programs trade on emotional people and ignorant outrage to get ratings instead of supplying information from people who actually know what the hell they are talking about.  I would happily have chastised the news program for trying to use me for shock value and being focused on upset people instead of facts.

But no way would they put that on TV, so there was no point.  I just acted like I didn't know anything and didn't care about the subject, which was easy because I don't know anything about it and I don't care about the subject.  He quickly realized that he was not getting what he wanted from me and went away to find someone who would be angry on camera for him.

I hope he didn't find anyone.  But he probably did - people like to be angry about stuff they don't know anything about, I have noticed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Partying with the kids

In four days I will be going Back To The Lounge.  Every year on Good Friday I invite everyone from my gamer group at the University of Waterloo to come back to the Comfy Lounge and play games for a day and that time is once again upon us.

You should come join us!  Comfy Lounge, Math and Computers building, UWaterloo campus, 11 to 11.  Do it.

Originally it was all a bunch of recently graduated gamers but now a significant number of the people coming are kids.  Lots of the Comfy crowd have spawned rugrats or otherwise acquired them and they like games too, it turns out.  Up until this point I have always left Pinkie Pie with the inlaws because we wanted to party hard and not spend our day following a toddler about.

But now Pinkie Pie is plenty old enough to play games for hours and really enjoys them, so this year she is going to come Back To The Lounge with us.

I have invited people to join me at the party before who weren't part of the original crew but it never worked out.  The trouble was that I wasn't willing to commit to spending a day with someone at the event - I wanted to go to the event, and I was happy if they wanted to attend too.  But I am going to randomly end up in a three hour game of money Bu, and I won't be quitting early.  I am going to want to reconnect with people I only see once a year, and even some I see less often than that.  It isn't exactly a great invite "Hey, want to come to a party with me, where I will largely speaking ignore you?"  I love the idea of inviting people but I want to spend a day in hedonistic delight with no responsibilities.  Those invites probably sounded as messy as they were.

But this time I am bringing Pinkie Pie.  She will want to play games with me no doubt but I think she will also be happy playing games with lots of other people, and at worst we can park her in a corner with an ipad or a kobo and let her do her thing by herself for awhile.  We had a trial run this past weekend when I had a board game night and she played many games of Santorini in a row and was eager for more so I have some degree of optimism that she will enjoy the event without dragging us down any.

So now it is time to pass on my tradition to the next generation.  The tradition of going to a smelly old lounge with crappy furniture to play games all day, once a year.  It is so random, as traditions tend to be, I suppose, till they are around long enough that people forget why they started and just continue to go through the motions.  Then they are just a part of life, not something strange.