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Population: One

Notes: 2023-01-26

Mmm, a whole month’s worth.

Look! Finally an article about “the average rural voter” that doesn’t turn out to be about a local Republican activist!

I need to remember to check out this online course about modern Ukrainian history from Yale.

The trap everyone falls into with technical debt is basically the result of the fact that human instincts are terrible at risk analysis. “It’s been OK so far!” And then your entire airline stops being able to fly.

Have an excellent list of the best movie action scenes of 2022. Baby Assassins is so cool.

There’s some neat insight into Cronenberg’s process in this interview about Crimes of the Future. Also it’s hilarious that Ted Turner wanted to censor Crash because he was worried about kids having sex in cars.

Living on a boat, building new assembly languages by hand, the usual kind of thing. For my money this is somewhat more interesting than the guy who went off the grid in Manhattan, although that was neat too.

There is no way that Shopify will change underlying behavior with this much change in one shot, but good experiment, will come back and check it out in six months. I am working out of a Dublin office this week and the ability to have uninterrupted blocks of a couple of hours of time every single day is magical.

When thoughtful conservatives read about fascism, they produce one kind of reading list. When thoughtful progressives read about fascism, they produce another kind of reading list. Both have value but only one comes away thinking we’re not in danger of fascism because of, uh, feminized societies.

Pallet cleanser. (YouTube, music.)

Gretchen Felker-Martin pulls the old “I’m gently ribbing you, it’s not a micro-aggression” trick.

Good summary of what the 1/6 Committee learned about social media. You can also read the full report, which is wild, and not just because it tells us that there were Rumble employees worried about violence.

Have a decent summary of why each release of the Twitter Files has (mostly) sucked, from — of all places — TechCrunch.

And now S. and I are off to have pancakes.

2022 in Movies

Something weird happened in 2022: I watched 423 movies.

This is pretty atypical for me. It’s over 20% of the movies I’ve watched in my life. I’ve never watched as many as 100 movies in a year before. I’ve been trending up a bit recently, particularly during the pandemic, but 423? Sure, some of them are shorts, but that’s balanced by the 7 hours of Les Vampires and the 5 hours of Fanny and Alexander (TV version) and the 4 hours of Ludwig. At the end of the day — uh, of the year — we’re talking 730 hours of movies. WTF?

Well, I quit playing World of Warcraft, and that’s a huge time sink right there. I also just got into a rhythm. On any given weekday night, it’s easy to catch a movie after dinner. If you’re not doing anything else during a weekend, what’s a movie after each meal? I joined a couple of subreddits that watch a movie a week collectively, I took on a challenge to watch 52 Criterion movies, and about halfway through the year I realized I was on pace for over 350 movies. All those neurons I’d been using on making WoW numbers go up got dedicated to making my movie count go up. Whoops. Fortunately S. is supportive of my whims and obsessions.

An aside: Letterboxd, which I am linking to throughout this post, is amazing. Also a total enabler of my numbers go up obsessions. Worth every penny I pay them as a patron, which is not all that much. It’s been a great way to find movies I might want to see, it’s way more comfortable to use than IMDB, and I just love them to pieces.

At times it was a grind. The trickiest month was October, because S. and I took on a horror movie challenge together. I didn’t love the way I was engaging with challenges in general; I love movies but I want to watch them because I love them, not because they’re leaving my favorite streaming service or because I need to finish a checklist. I am not taking on any challenges next year, although S. and I made a list of 50 date night movies. (Each one has a connection to the one before, and we swapped picks. It was really fun making the list.)

But you know, it’s like anything. If you spend a lot of time on something you love, you’ll discover new depths and new joys and new preferences. Or I guess you’ll start hating it, but that wasn’t me and movies. I’m still not a guy who can breezily analyze Kurosawa in terms of his shot choices, but I know which directors and actors make me happy, which is good enough for me.

Dungeon23 in Bastion

My rough plan for Dungeon23 is to write one borough of Bastion per week, as follows:

  • Monday: Basic map of transit lines
  • Tuesday: Points of Interest named and described
  • Wednesday: Complications written
  • Thursday: Three to five One to three factions outlined
  • Friday: Three to five One to three NPCs outlined
  • Saturday: Encounter table
  • Sunday: A Treasure

Update: three to five NPCs and factions was optimistic. One to three is better.

I will capture the day’s work on Mastodon, hash tagged #Dungeon23 and #Bastion23. The completed borough makes a Sunday blog post, which are also tagged as #Bastion23.

I’m not at all sure how far I’ll get but it’ll be fun trying.

Delta Green & Mutual Aid

I’ve been thinking about Delta Green in relation to copaganda for a long time. That is a different blog post, because it’s a long topic, but recently I started wondering about collective action in the Delta Green world. As a practical matter, I believe that mutual aid is a better environment for mental health than any police force. What would that mean in relationship to the Cthulhu Mythos?

Let’s start with the existing rules for using Bonds.

A Delta Green Agent can reduce Sanity loss by projecting trauma onto a Bond. This weakens the Bond, because it’s meant to represent the tension between the horror of the Mythos and the people or groups an Agent uses to maintain connection to their normal life. That makes sense in context but doesn’t allow for the concept of a group which is explicitly there to support members against those horrors.

An Agent can repress temporary insanity the same way, with the same consequences.

During downtime, there’s a rule for Agents who focus on ordinary obligations and relationships: they can Fulfill Responsibilities by working to support a Bond. This rule works as is to represent mutual aid.

There’s also a rule for generating new Bonds, which weakens one other Bond. That contains an assumption which I think doesn’t necessarily hold for mutual aid groups, because they’re groups that exist in order to strengthen community-wide connections.

Finally, Delta Green is a special kind of Bond: “Powerful Bonds form between people who have to look out for each other to survive.” Oh, hey, there’s what we’re looking for. The special rule here is that Agents who suffer trauma develop and deepen their Bond with Delta Green, again at the cost of weakening other Bonds.

Put all that together and I think we have the makings of a community-oriented house rule.

A Special Bond: Mutual Aid Groups

Powerful Bonds form between people who have to look out for each other to survive, but even more powerful Bonds form between people who choose to help others survive. Collective action with full knowledge of the Mythos in mind creates a powerful structure for cushioning the impact of the horrors your Agent faces.

Your Agent may take a Bond with a mutual aid group that is aware of the Mythos as a special Bond. This may be at character creation, particularly if the entire group wants to be part of a mutual aid group, or during play as per the usual rules for gaining Bonds. Bonds with unaware mutual aid groups are treated as normal Bonds, with the exception that they may convert to a special Bond at any point if the group discovers the Mythos or a portion thereof, and elects to take on fighting the Mythos as a core cause for the group.

Every time someone in your Agent’s mutual aid group undergoes a catastrophic trauma, there’s a chance your Agent develops or deepens Bonds with their teammates. Such traumas include those listed on page 37 of the Delta Green Agent’s Handbook. The rules for this are the same as the rules for the Delta Green bond, except that your Agent does not lose points from other Bonds. Also, reducing Sanity loss or repressing temporary insanity with the help of this Bond does not weaken other Bonds. An Agent cannot reduce Sanity loss by more than the value of the special Bond, even if they roll higher on 1d4.

All other rules for this Bond are as per the rules for the Delta Green Bond.

Your Agent may not have a Bond with Delta Green and a Bond with a mutual aid group. However, other Delta Green agents may have Bonds with your Agent as part of their Delta Green Bond.

Ramifications

This new type of Bond is clearly superior to other Bonds, including the special Delta Green Bond. This is intentional. I don’t think it means Agents can defeat the Mythos: you still have to spend Willpower Points to reduce Sanity loss, and those aren’t an infinite resource.

It would be possible but awkward for a Delta Green agent to also join a mutual aid group. This is intentional and true to life.

The obvious campaign frame here (which I may write up at some point) is a mutual aid group which discovers the Mythos and decides they need to fight what is obviously a fascist tendency. There are plenty of non-pacifist mutual aid groups.

References