My Thoughts on the Election

I hate politics with a fiery, burning passion.

Oh, politics are interesting to read about, the moving and grooving of opinion, this, that, and the other.  But only in fiction or in the history books.  Anything more modern that twenty years ago and odds are good I’m going to be irritable when it’s brought up.  And sometimes red-hot furious, depending on the subject

This election, though, I thought I’d might like to say something.  Maybe because I’m up so early in the morning, for once not as a night owl but as a guy who’s been going to bed and rising at regular times, and four am ain’t one of them.

When Barrack Obama became President, I cringed.  Not because of anything he had done or said, or for who he was.  Because I knew that whenever anyone said anything that might be interpreted as critical about him there would be an immediate cry of “Racist!”  And I spent eight years being pretty much right about that.

What I didn’t expect to see–and maybe I was being foolish–was that this would become the default response for pretty much everything.  You make the wrong comment about women, you’re a misogynist.  You say the wrong thing about gays and you were homophobic.  In fact, if you weren’t toeing the right line, you probably were -phobic, with whatever it is they thought you were against put in on the left.

Now when there’s general wrong doing, well and good.  That’s not how it happens.

For instance.

In 2014 a group of gaming journalist were up in arms over the mistreatment of a female game designer.  She received (and for all I know continues to receive) hateful email and what not.  These journalists wrote simultaneous articles condemning all gamers (that is to say people who play video games as a serious hobby) as misogynist basement dwellers who didn’t want women in video games.

Not just the gamers who sent the emails.  You know.  The ones who deserved condemnation.  All gamers.

Including me, apparently.  Thirty some years a gamer and I’d never known I was supposed to be keeping women out of the culture.  What was I doing with my time?

When people complained about this, the game journalists and their allies began to do things such as referring to the complainers as worse than ISIS.  You know.  The terrorist group.  The one that kills people.

I would simply love to be making that up.

In 2015 and again to a lesser extent this year journalists referred to the Science Fiction literary group known as Sad Puppies as racists, homophobic, and misogynists because they tried to get certain names on an awards ballot.  The word “Nazi” even came up.  Never mind that there was a wide selection of people chosen for the awards.  Never mind that women had been picked to run the silly group this year and, I assume, next.  The Puppies didn’t behave as they were supposed to do, thus.

Then again in 2015 we have Nobel Prize-winning biologist Tim Hunt who told a joke during a speech about not wanting women in the lab.  He was needless to say publicly humiliated and lost his career over it.  Never mind that in the people there realized he wasn’t being serious when he said it.  Two journalist did not and they destroyed him for it.

On and on.

The problem being with attacks like this, the slinging of names, is that like in the Hunt case they all too often worked.  Lives ruined, and sometimes over words.  Just words.

Yesterday the American people elected Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.  This has shocked a lot of people, what with him being often described as a misogynist, Islamophobic, and no doubt other words describing hatefulness.  They can’t believe it’s happened.  They’ve even begun suggesting that his win means that entirely too many Americans are like him

I’m not among these people.  I’ve suspected Trump would win for some time.  And here in the odd hours of the morning I’ve come up with a theory about why.

My father had a favorite poem.  He kept it on his desk where he worked, and as I’ve always appreciated it I’ve set it down on my site for pretty much its entire existence.  It’s by Stephen Crane and it goes something like this:

“Think as I think,” said a man,
“Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad.”

And after I had thought of it,
I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”

I think the majority of Americans just declared they’re alright with being called a toad.  That they are tired of being called names and quite frankly dehumanized whenever their thoughts and ideas don’t mesh with other people.

I also think the anti-Trump people don’t realize this at all.

I don’t like Trump.  I wish he wasn’t the President of the United States.  I wish the Democratic party had put up a candidate for every American and not just the ones they didn’t find deplorable.

That didn’t happen, and for four years, barring something terrible happening, Donald Trump is the President of the United States.  Maybe it’s the worst thing that’s happened to this country.  Maybe it’s the best.  We’re going to find out no matter what side we were on or who we voted for.

What we need to do as a people in the next four years is find a way to communicate with one another.  To actually listen.  To understand each other.  To be flexible in our thoughts and in how we relate to one another.  To be at times willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assuming the worst possible motives.  To not hurt people because they said something perceived as unpleasant.

This is my hope, my wish, my prayer.

As it has been for the past forty-three years of my life.

You can see how well that’s worked so far.

NaNoWriMo 2016: Day 1: The Nightmare Begins

I’ve done this silly contest for over a decade (Mein Gott!)

I’ve written up a detailed chart on the number of words I need to make every day.

I even have a site to go to tell me that tells me this information.

And yet…  And yet I botched the word count for today.

By two hundred some words.

Of course, that was two hundred words more than I really needed.  BUT STILL!!!!!!!!

Last year was the best NaNoWriMo ever for me, as I won it with an actual, honest to God short story that probably no one but me will ever read.

Hopefully this will be the Year of the Novel.

Which is something I’ve said for over a decade around this time (Mein Gott!).  But still.

Playing Baldur’s Gate: Extended Version (I) – Setting Off

I’ve made mention Baldur’s Gate around these parts.  As I owned the new fangled version, I thought I’d give it a whirl.  As the blog has run fallow of late, I thought I’d do a series on it as I played.  Spoilers abound.

Small note to any newcomers: this series might be stopped dead for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to a.) me forgetting to do an update, b.) me stopping playing Baldur’s Gate, or C.) me getting a social life.

Stop laughing.  That last part might still happen.

I also may switch games on whim.

And in November I stop all of this for NaNoWriMo.

So.

Baldur’s Gate.

The portrait I picked for my Hero.
The portrait I picked for my Hero.

For those not in the know, this is a Dungeons and Dragons game.  It begins with some big, deep voiced scary dude offing some smaller, not so scary dude.  From there, we get introduced to Our Hero, a spunky orphan living with this Wizard name Gorion fellow in some library monastery called Candlekeep.  For reference, the Hero is named Cullen.  For some reason I can’t rightly think of right now.

Anyway, after running some errands for several terminally lazy characters in order to pick up a pittance (as well as well as needed Experience Points to reach my character’s far off next level), Cullen and Gorion head out into the world.  Seems like there’s some sort of problem heading towards the monastery focused around me.  In fact, a couple of assassins have already made a couple of half-hearted attempts.  Hard to find good help these days.

The two no more than get into the woods when who should appear but big, deep voiced scary dude (from here simply called Gary.), accompanied with a few expendable henchmen.  Gary is all “Your ward or your life,” which Gorion gives all due consideration.  Doesn’t seem like a bad deal, really.

Actually, he tells Cullen to book and tries to take on the bad guys on his lonesome.  To the surprise of no one, he goes the way of all mentor figures in these Fantasy stories.

It should be pointed out at this juncture that the magic in this world can resurrect people.  At no point will Cullen even try to use said magic to reunite with his fallen father figure.

Those two were tight.

Pretty girl.  Pity about... what happens.  DUN DUN DUN!
Pretty girl. Pity about… what happens. DUN DUN DUN!

Cullen spends the night alone in the woods within easy walking distance of the ambush.  You’d think that this is a good way to get killed.  Seems like Gary had things to do, you know, and split once Gorion stepped off the mortal coil.  Or something like that.

Soon, Cullen begins picking up companions like they’re going out of style.  First up is Imoen, his childhood friend and local pickpocket.  You might think that there’s some romantic tension between the two.  Don’t.  You’ll be happier for it, assuming we get that far.

Anyways, the two head off for this huge inn-town place called the Friendly Arm, in accordance to Gorion’s plans (which have worked so well up until this point).  Within a few minutes, they meet two more people, a Halfling Thief/Fighter called Montaron and a Wizard named Xzar.  These two are clearly evil.  So very, very evil.  Likely to slit your throat in your sleep evil.  Like bury you up to your neck in fire ants evil.  Like politician evil.

But Xzar is voiced by the legendary Frank Welker, so Cullen asks them to come along anyways.

He sounds like Freddy Jones from Scooby Doo!  How could Freddy Jones from Scooby Doo ever hurt us?

(He also sounds like Megatron, too.  But leave us not go through Mr. Welker’s list of credits, or we’ll be here all day.)

baldurs-gate-montaron-and-xzar-000
Montagard and Xzar, folks. Don’t they look friendly?

After a bit of shenanigans the four heroes (well, two heroes and the men who will murder them in their sleep if given the urge) arrive at the Friendly Arm inn.  Waiting there happens to be a third assassin, urged on by Gary to kill Cullen.

Now get this.  The Friendly Arm Inn is wall to wall guard.  These guards have a tendency to tell visitors not to incite violence least violence be incited upon them.  They’re very clear on this.

So what does this brainiac do?  He attacks Cullen and crew by himself.  In front of guards.  Who promptly attack him, too.

This goes about as well as you’d think it would.

Gary simply has to stop hiring his assassins off Craig’s List.

Jaheria
She’s judging you right now and you’re coming up… lacking.

From here, Cullen and crew enter the inn, where we meet the next couple of companions, the married couple Jaheria and Khalid.   Jaheria I described in an earlier essay thusly:

[She] is, how to put it politely?  Outspoken.  Yeah.  Outspoken.  If she has an opinion, she will share it.  And if someone gets his head battered in by said opinion, well so be it.

In case it matters, she’s a Druid/Fighter.

Her husband Khalid is just a plain old Fighter.  He is also a chicken.  So chicken you wonder why he even came along.  Nice guy, though.  Wonder what he sees in his wife (and visa versa).

In talking, Cullen learns that his four new friends want to head south to a town called Nashkel.  Since he and Imoen haven’t anything better to do, they decide to tag along with.

Thus the Fellowship of Cullen is formed.  And we take our leave of these boon companions, for the nonce.

"Wait, d-don't I get an appearance?  Everyone else did..."
“Wait, d-don’t I get an appearance? Everyone else did…”

Keeping the Blog Alive Post #1700

So I’m driving down the streets, minding my own business as is my style and brand, when Fame comes on the radio.  Not one of the favorites, but it’s been a while, so why not let it play?

Any way, the chorus comes up, and right at “(Fame) I’m gonna live forever/Baby, remember my name” I suddenly realize I can’t remember the last time I heard of the song.  Or of the movie/TV show it was attached to.  Hell’s teeth, who’s even singing it? (Irene Cara, for the record.)

I was going to go on about how it’s amazing what sticks in popular culture and what doesn’t, but Fame has had a long running Broadway show, a reality TV show, and a remake in 2009.  I knew none of that.  Well, the reality TV show rings bells, but beyond that.

So the question is, am I out of touch or am I out of touch?  And do I care?

Catchy song, though.

Strange Dialogue VI: A New Hope Force Awakens the Phantom Menace.

“What’s this?”

“What’s what?”

“That.”

“Oh. That. A dead body.”

“A dead body.”

“Right. Thought it be obvious.”

“What’s it doing in my living room?”

“Decomposing, I should–”

“Why is there a dead body in my living room? And why are you here, come to that?”

“Ah. Well. Reasons. And… ah… reasons.”

“Which are?”

“Yes. Well. I needed to murder someone, and I didn’t have any place else to do it.”

“No place else to do it.”

“Right.”

“In the whole world, it had to be my apartment.”

“Well it couldn’t well have been in my apartment, now could it?”

“Why?”

“Well that would have given the game away. Wouldn’t have come there. Not when I’ve been ready to kill for the past few weeks.”

“You know, on further inspection, that seems to be one of my new roommate’s friends.”

“Oh. Er. Really?”

“Yeah. Hard to recognize with the ax in the face, but I’m certain of it.”

“Huh. Well. Small world. Small world, isn’t it?”

“You know, incidents like this are why I kicked you out in the first place.”

“Yes. Funny you should say that. I’ve been let out of my apartment for, uh, unspecified reasons.”

“Have you.”

“Yeah. And I was wondering if you could–”

“No.”

“Oh, come on.”

“No I think my roommate might object. What with you killing visiting friends and all.”

“Huh. Unreasonable sort, eh?”

“On certain matters, yes.”