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Subject:Israel/Gaza, as seen by four social networks
Time:05:37 pm

How four social networks inform me about the current Israel/Gaza conflict, in order of where I first started seeing things:

  • Facebook: Shares of pro-Israel/anti-Gaza graphics, some of them direct Israeli Defense Force propaganda with the identifying logo at the bottom. All of the sharers are personally known to me, and all are Jewish. Most (maybe all?) of the shares are made without comment, as if the graphic itself says everything the person posting it feels necessary to say.
  • Twitter: Tweets from a number of users, all left-leaning, who link or retweet longer, thoughtful articles examining various aspects of the conflict. Many of the articles are meta-commentary about media coverage of the conflict.
  • LiveJournal: A single user (osewalrus), well-informed, who personally favors Israel, but offers up commentary and advice that takes the motives and goals of both sides seriously. And one other guy who made a passing reference while talking about something else.
  • Google+: Nothing yet. Right now, the only post I see on my G+ stream that mentions Israel does so in the context of criticizing American airport security.

This confirms reinforces for me a number of beliefs I already held about the services (no doubt shaped by my particular use of those networks, and thus possibly not truly representative):

  • Facebook is for shallow, unreflective contact. (Also: Most of my relatives and some of my friends are reflexive and thoughtless in their support of Israel.)
  • Twitter is mostly tech-savvy and intellectual.
  • LiveJournal is pretty much dying off, unless you speak Russian. Also, osewalrus is a pretty smart guy.
  • Google+ is great for talking about role-playing games, not for much of anything else.
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Subject:I voted
Time:05:23 pm

If I were living in Ohio or Florida, I’d have held my nose and voted for the war criminal. But I’m not! I’m living in New York, a state which is going to deliver its electoral votes to the Democratic Party candidate this year, no matter what I did at the voting booth. So I was free to vote my conscience, and did:

President/Vice-President:
Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala, Green Party
US Senate:
Colia Clark, Green Party
US House of Representatives:
Yvette Clarke, who’s a Democrat, but I voted for her on the Working Families line, because NY supports fusion balloting.
Justices of the Supreme Court:
Cheryl Chambers, Barry Kamins, William Miller, all on the Democratic Party line. The only two alternatives, both on the Working Families line, were not approved by the NY Bar Association.
Judge of the Civil Court:
Craig Walker, Robin Garson, on the Democratic Party line.
State Senator:
Eric Adams, a Democrat, on the Working Families line. (I think. I might have messed this one up and voted him as a Democrat.)
Member of the Assembly:
Walter Mosley III, Democratic Party.

The polling place was pretty crowded. It took five or ten minutes for me to get my ballot, and then twenty minutes on line to submit my ballot once I’d filled it out.

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Subject:We're fine
Time:03:36 pm

We’re in a second-floor apartment, over a hundred feet above sea level, so it wasn’t likely we’d see any flooding. There was some chance that we’d suffer the failure of some bit of urban infrastructure (power, water, etc) due to problems in the rest of the city, but things went pretty well. Lights flickered occasionally, but we never actually lost power. We lost our Internet connectivity for a minute or two, but it came right back. (That seems to have been neighborhood-wide. I saw a bunch of nearby people on Twitter making the same complaint around the same time.) Some (but not all) of the cable channels went out around 11:40 PM, but they’re back now.

The subways are still out, so I have no idea whether tomorrow’s NYRSF meeting will happen. The MTA says bus service will be partially restored later today, so Chris may be able to get to work tomorrow.

We are, however, out of bagels.

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Subject:Talk about infinite canvas!
Time:04:17 am

I haven’t explored every bit of the most recent xkcd, but I think I may have found its outer edges:

Given those URLs, it ought to be possible to write scripts that’ll download all the tiles (some spots seem to be procedurally filled with white or black space instead of having tiles) and stitch ’em together into the full image. Maybe tomorrow.

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Subject:Alone, unmourned, and unloved
Time:11:33 pm

On the same day that BoingBoing announces that it’s publishing the newest Elquest story online, I read that Dave Sim seems to be quitting comics.

This is great news for the Pinis, but it’s unfortunate that the creator of the other big indie comic of that same generation can’t seem to figure out how keep his career afloat.

Granted, many of Sim’s problems are of his own making. Not only did his wife divorce him, but I’ve recently learned that Gerhard no longer associates with Sim either professionally or personally, and that Sim is estranged from his family. I don’t know the stories behind those latter two things (and only a bit about the first), but someone who wrecks all of his close relationships probably isn’t doing a great job with business relationships either.

(Also, if you’re building your career on a single massive comic-book project, you might want to think twice about inserting into it a crazy rant describing half the human race as parasitic leeches.)

Still, Sim’s failure makes me melancholy.

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Subject:Walling keeps creeping
Time:02:03 am

You’d think René Walling would have taken his banning from Readercon as a warning, and cleaned his act up. That’s what a sane person would do, right? Take extra-special care not to be a sleazy jerk, just to be on the safe side? Just out of a sense of self-preservation, even if not out of an honest desire to be considerate of women’s feelings? You’d think.

I had hoped so, if for no other reason than that he and I have at least a couple of friends in common, and his bad behavior hurts those friends (in addition to the women he behaves badly towards). But here’s some news from the just-ended Worldcon in Chicago:

From: copperwise
2012-09-05 12:26 am (local)

I was disgusted to find him tending bar at the Commonwealth party. Then he made repulsively suggestive comments to the girl I was hanging out with. She was disgusted by his smarmy, smirking leer, but she didn’t feel he was worth making an issue of. She was unaware of the Readercon issue at the time, though.

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Subject:Boardgames 10 Aug 2012
Time:01:20 am

I decided to skip seeing Lewis Trondheim at Bergen St Comics, and went to NerdNYC boardgame night. Here’s what I played:

Rise!
Simple two-player game. Each player gets to take two actions per turn, which is the primary constraint on the action. We didn’t even bother finishing the game out when it became obvious that I’d win and there was no way for the other player to catch up. There are expansion rules that might make the game more interesting, but we didn’t use them.

Pandemic
Pandemic’s been around for a while, but this is the first time I’ve played it. Players cooperate to defeat a disease-ridden planet. We almost won, curing three out of the four diseases. This was fun; I’d play it again.

Zooloretto
I’ve played this one a few times, and been doing pretty well at it recently. I miss the speed and simplicity of Coloretto; maybe I should buy a copy.

I also saw a group playing the new anniversary edition of Puerto Rico. Fancy! Metal coins, redesigned pieces, new artwork.

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Subject:Digger mystery panel
Time:09:55 pm

I’m finally getting around to reading Digger, and not really enjoying it much, to tell you the truth. But I’m still fairly near the beginning (just started Chapter 2), and maybe it gets better later on. Anyway, I’m trying to figure something out. Could someone tell me what’s going on in this panel here?

mystery panel

Here’s the whole page. I get what’s going on before and after that panel, the action of the page in general. But I can’t figure that one panel out. Here are the possible readings I’ve come up with:

  1. Digger is moving her left hand (the one not holding the pickaxe) horizontally for some reason. For a moment I thought maybe she was pulling a cover off of the pickaxe head, but the thing I thought might’ve been the cover I now think is just part of her vest. I can’t think of any other reason for her to be swinging her arm like that; she winds up with her hand behind her, which makes it less effective for the move she makes in the next panel.
  2. Digger is swinging her pickaxe back and forth. (The speed lines continue past the pickaxe on either side, so it would have to be a back-and-forth motion.) Seems plausible, but her right arm doesn’t seem positioned plausibly for the full extension that would be necessary for the head of the pickaxe to follow that arc. And this still doesn’t explain why her left arm is behind her.
  3. Digger just threw the pickaxe from her left hand (where we see it in the first panel) to her right. This connects the first and fourth panels, and accounts for the pickaxe moving from one hand to the other, but again, it’s weak as a prelude to the action in panel five (she’s using both hands for the pickaxe anyway; why waste time and risk dropping it to switch hands?). Also, the speedlines depict an arc of horizontal movement; a thrown pickaxe would have to arc vertically. And this reading doesn’t explain why the speedlines are continuing past the head of the pickaxe.

Also, when does the actual story start? Like I said, just started Chapter 2, maybe 70 or 80 pages in, and the characters are still just wandering around chatting. I’m thinking Ursula Vernon would have benefited from the discipline of publishing in pamphlet form. Cerebus started out crude, but that first 22-page issue contained a full story.

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Subject:SANity mechanics for WaRP
Time:03:44 pm

Atlas Games has released an Open Games License version of WaRP, the mechanical part of Over the Edge. (For those who haven’t heard of it, Over the Edge was a tremendously influential role-playing game released 20 years ago. And yes, there’s an anniversary edition.)

The PDF included in the download package is so horribly formatted that I had to slurp it into InDesign and rejigger it just to get something I could stand to look at, and while I was doing that, some half-formed rules popped into my head for handling Call of Cthulhu-style Sanity loss. (Odd, because I never really liked Call of Cthulhu as a game.) They look like this:

Instead of having a Sanity rating that starts out high and gets eroded, we have a Madness rating that starts out low and builds. Each character starts with 0 Madness (though you can start higher if you want, as part of your Flaw).

When your character runs into something horrible, the GM calls for a Madness roll. The GM rolls a number of dice based on the horribleness of the thing you ran into. You pick a Trait to use to oppose this roll, and take a number of penalty dice equal to your Madness.

(I was originally gonna have the GM roll your Madness + horribleness dice, but realized that’d be a pain in the butt for testing multiple characters at once.)

If you fail the roll, two things happen: (1) Your Madness goes up by 1 point, and (2) whatever Trait you used for the Madness roll gets cracked.

What does cracked mean? In fictional terms, it means that your character now has a psychological association between the Trait and the horrible thing. In game-mechanical terms, it means you make a mark next to that Trait on your sheet, and from then on, every time you roll that Trait, one (or more, because your Trait can be cracked more than once) of your dice should be of a distinction color or size. If the distinctive dice roll highest (or among the highest, in the case of ties; and in the case of bonus/penalty dice, we’re only counting the dice you keep for your total), you have to narrate some sort of crazy behavior into your action. This doesn’t have to mean success becoming failure; just that your character is becoming unhinged in some way that comes out sometimes when you use this Trait.

A Trait that has been cracked a number of times equal to its die rating is fully cracked. A character goes fully insane if their Central Trait becomes fully cracked, or if every one of their other, non-Central, Traits becomes fully cracked.

Fringe powers should probably start out with one crack each.

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Subject:Hugo nomination
Time:12:08 am

I forgot to mention it here (having covered it on Facebook and Google+, and had it covered for me on Making Light): I’m nominated for a Hugo award this year.

Technically, it’s The New York Review of Science Fiction that’s nominated (for Best Semiprozine), for something like the 22nd time. (We haven’t won one yet.) But this is the first year we’ve been nominated that I was an associate managing editor, so my name’s on the ballot this time (along with David Hartwell, Kevin Maroney, and Kris Dikeman).

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[icon] Avram's journal
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View:Archive.
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