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Month: August 2003

And then

Absolutely awesome campaign concept, plus a bonus first session writeup. Man, I am beginning to yearn for some good pulp. Here’s the most brilliant gem out of all the brilliant gems:

The characters were all previous associates who had been in Paris just before the bombs were dropped. They don’t talk about what happened there, but as a result of it they all swore an oath — an oath which takes preference over loyalties, family and faith. Each of them can call on the others to help them with any situation once and once only. For the first time, one of them has invoked the oath.

This turned out to be a nice way of getting people together, and ensuring that they’d stay that way. We didn’t go into detail about what happened in Paris, just saying that they never talk about it, but the players could, and did, allude to it in play. I’m hoping that after a number of sessions there will have been enough hints that I can run a flashback scenario set there tying all the allusions together.

One of my favourite moments in the game came when someone said something like “It could be worse – we could be back in Paris.” and everyone nodded sagely and shuddered. “What happened in Paris?” asked one of the NPCs.

“WE DON’T TALK ABOUT PARIS!” chorussed the entire player group.


Voices from abroad

Baghdad Burning is a new addition to the blogroll; it’s written by a 24 year old Iraqi in Baghdad. It’s strong and angry and educated.

No- I’m getting great at it. I can tell you if it’s ‘them’ or ‘us’. I can tell you how far away it is. I can tell you if it’s a pistol or machine-gun, tank or armored vehicle, Apache or Chinook… I can determine the distance and maybe even the target. That’s my new talent. It’s something I’ve gotten so good at, I frighten myself. What’s worse is that almost everyone seems to have acquired this new talent… young and old. And it’s not something that anyone will appreciate on a resume…

Feed me, Bush

Ah, those wacky politicians. The Bush campaign is very excited about their news feeds. You can now get a feed of the latest headlines from the Bush campaign site right on your blog! Exciting!

You accomplish this by means of a Javascript include. You have the choice of two possible layouts. Enjoy.

This is actually about right for a lot of people; just cause you keep a blog doesn’t mean you know an RSS feed from a hole in the ground. If I’m Howard Dean, which I’m not, I take notice and get something quick and dirty like that up on my site. But it also misses everyone who knows how to deal with RSS feeds, all the people who use aggregators, and so on.

Kind of missing the early adopters, in other words.

The nature of failure

I don’t have anything really brilliant to say about the Baghdad bombing. What’s there to say? A lot of people died — a lot more people died, I should say, because it’s been a busy summer for terrorists in Iraq — and that’s depressing.

The buzz is that it was an Al Qaeda operation. Oddly, Jay Bremer disagrees. “These are probably people left over from the old regime who are simply fighting a rear guard action by attacking Iraq’s assets.” I’m not sure what that means; the Bush administration has been pushing the theory that the US occupation will act as flypaper, and if the UN bombing was not carried out by Iraqis, that would support their theory. But maybe Bremer just thinks Bush is wrong.

I’ll say this, though. If Iraq becomes a breeding zone for anger against the US, we’ve failed no matter what. Doesn’t matter if we’ve pulled out or if we’re losing ten soldiers a day; we’ve failed.

Folks talk

I’m still braindead, despite any appearances to the contrary, but Jonathan Walton writes a mean campaign prospectus. I am not sure I’d want to play in it, but the prospectus makes me want to want to play in it, if you see what I mean.

Also, it has the best tag line ever, which I won’t ruin for you. Read to the bottom.

Dang judges

I lifted the Tom DeLay quote of the day from Talking Points Memo. You can read the whole transcript here, or just marvel at my carefully selected quote:

“We’re supposed to, by Constitution, apportion or redistrict every 10 years. The state legislature in Texas couldn’t do it in the last legislature, and three judges did it and they did a very poor job, as evidenced that the fact that we have a minority of Republicans in our congressional delegation.”

Now, first off, that’s a lie. We’re supposed to enumerate; it doesn’t say anything about redistricting. Article 1, section 2 says:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative…

And Amendment XIV says:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

There’s nothing about Congressional districts in there. It just says that states get Representatives in proportion to their populations. (And he does mean the US Constitution; go read the full transcript.)

So, first off, DeLay is a big fat liar.

That said, yep, it’s a horrendously gerrymandered state. In 2002, 1,885,178 people voted for Democratic Congressmen and 2,290,723 voted for Republican Congressmen. And there’s a Democratic majority in the Texas delegation?

This combination of lying and accuracy is what gets me about major party politics.

Capture and?

Some good news, which seems awfully slim in the wake of today’s Baghdad bombing: Saddam’s vice president was captured. No idea what he was doing in Mosul — is there Iraqi resentment up there because of the Kurdish activities? Saddam’s sons were up there too. I wouldn’t have thought it would be hospitable territory for ex-Ba’athists.

Anyhow. He was a bad person, and I’m glad he was captured. There are now two necessary tasks ahead of the United States… no, three.

First, getting information out of him. If he knows where Hussein is, and if we can get that information without torture, we should. Whether or not the US should be in Iraq (and at this point we have responsibilities there, engendered by our conquest), Hussein and his lieutenants were and are criminals. Capturing them is a net boon for the world.

Second, turning him over to the Iraqis for trial. It’s not our job to try this guy, and if we’re taking the Iraqis seriously, we need to show that we believe they can do justice to someone who — after all — killed many more of them than he ever killed of us.

Third, make sure he gets a fair trial from the Iraqis. This is pretty difficult, because there are a lot of people in Iraq who have every reason to want to see him suffer. But it’s gotta be justice. And we have to ensure justice without being seen as conquering overlords.

I have absolutely no idea how to accomplish #2 and #3. But that’s one reason why I wouldn’t have invaded in the first place. Some of the necessary goals don’t fit well together.

Recycled memes

Yeah, I’m pretty brainless today, so I’m just gonna steal something I said over at Mike’s LJ.

You pretentious little punk. You Rebels make me sick, and the Imperials do too, so stop trying to involve me in your petty little wars. Listen. Your political arguments are obsolete, and you’re too calcified to realize it. We have achieved happiness, but because you’re running the Force meme, you haven’t noticed.

The world is not what you think it is. The real fun — the real world — exists in the interstices between the planets. Starships are merely achingly slow vectors for meme infection. There is a very old AI in a sector you’ve never heard of; we think he’s playing a complex game of chess with himself using Star Destroyers as pieces, but we’re not completely sure. It doesn’t matter enough to find out.

Every inhabitant of Aldeberan uploaded into nanohostels three hours before Vader waved his dick at the planet. The Ewoks are bored furry fans playing at primitivism. Every Mon Calimari you’ve ever met has been a high school student using you as a science project.

The midichlorians are man-made. Listen. Wake up.

I like it even though it’s not terribly original.