2017-08-14

Slippery Slope

The slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

Saying “If we’re okay with doxxing people at white supremacist rallies, isn’t that the same as doxxing people for any viewpoints we don’t agree with?” is bullshit.

“Why are we okay with people being fired from a job for far-right beliefs when that might lead inevitably to people being fired for any political or religious beliefs?” Bullshit.

Here’s the thing. Free speech gives you the right to say whatever you want. Then the cultural standards and legal system of the country you’re living in determines what happens as a result of you saying whatever you want.

If you go out in public and loudly threaten to kill someone, you’ll get arrested. You’ll be on the news and everyone will learn your name, see your face, and know that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone. If I’m your boss and I get word that you went out in public and threatened to kill someone, I’ll fire your ass in heartbeat. And none of these consequences would surprise anyone.

“But it’s wrong that a person could be arrested and fired from a job for going out in public and loudly threatening to kill someone, because won’t that inevitably lead to people being arrested and fired for going out in public and just talking too loudly?”

No. It won’t. Because the slippery-slope argument is bullshit.

White supremacy is a movement predicated on the threat of killing other people. The appropriate response to that shouldn’t be so difficult to figure out.

2017-07-18

Lower That Blast-Pistol

Okay, I saw the Blade Runner 2049 trailer. Here’s what I think (because I know you’re all dying to hear it):

Hampton Fancher is credited for both story and screenplay on this film. Hampton Fancher was the first screenwriter on the original Blade Runner, whose script was so freaking bad that Philip K. Dick originally disowned the project before shooting even started. Fancher’s original script is, in fact, a complete pile of shit. (You can find it online. Go ahead and read it; I’ll wait.)

In the end, Dick got to read the revised version of the script that David Peoples salvaged, and he liked it. He was very positive about the direction of the film (which departed even more from Fancher’s original as it was constantly retooled during shooting). But in the final interview he ever gave (Dick died five months before Blade Runner was released), this is what he said about Fancher’s script and why he hated it:

“There were good things in Fancher’s screenplay. It’s like the story of the old lady who takes a ring into a jeweler to have the stone reset. And the jeweler scrapes all of the patina of years and years and shines it up, and she says, ‘My God, that was what I loved the ring for — the patina!’ Okay, they had cleaned my book up of all of the subtleties and of the meaning. The meaning was gone. It had become a fight between androids and a bounty hunter.

“I had this vision in my mind then that I would go up there and be introduced to Ridley Scott, and be introduced to Harrison Ford, who’s the lead character, and I’d just be so dazzled I’d be like Mr. Toad seeing the motorcar for the first time. My eyes would be wide as saucers and I’d just be standing there completely mesmerized. Then I would watch a scene being shot. And Harrison Ford would say, ‘Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!’ And I would just leap across that special effects set like a veritable gazelle and seize him by the throat and start battering him against the wall. They’d have to run in and throw a blanket over me and call the security guards to bring in the Thorazine. And I'd be screaming, ‘You've destroyed my book!’ “

In the Blade Runner 2049 trailer, I’m seeing a whole lot of “Lower that blast-pistol or you’re a dead android!” That’s all I’m saying.

2017-04-26

Don’t Be Afraid

A few people have asked what the text is that was seen peeking into the cowbell post from a few days ago. It’s a quotation that runs along three walls of my office, and which says the following. (Forgive the exclusive use of the male pronoun; the 1970s were a less enlightened time.)



“Don’t be afraid.

“That simple; don’t let them scare you.

“There’s nothing they can do to you. If they kick you out of films, do TV. If they kick you out of TV, write novels. If they won’t buy your novels, sell short stories.

“A writer always writes. That’s what he’s for.

“And if they won’t let you write one kind of thing, if they chop you off at the pockets in the market place, then go to another market place. And if they close off all the bazaars, then by God go and work with your hands till you can write, because the talent is always there.

“But the first time you say, ‘Oh, Christ, they’ll kill me!’ then you’re done.

“Because the chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage. And if he has none, he is more than a coward. He is a sellout and a fink and a heretic, because writing is a holy chore.”

— Harlan Ellison

Ten Concerts

Here are ten concerts I’ve been to, but thirteen are a lie. See if you can guess which.

The Rolling Stones

The Dave Clark Five

Queen with Freddie Mercury

Dazzler

Queen with Paul Rodgers

Bill Haley and the Comets

Queen with Adam Lambert

Glenn Miller

Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Queen with Freddie Mercury, Paul Rodgers, and Adam Lambert (Man, that was a long show)

Hannah Montana

Kevin Federline

That school dance where Marty McFly played Chuck Berry

2017-04-24

More Cowbell

It became very clear to me that what my office needed was more cowbell.


2017-03-26

Call Us First

This is a point on Highway 1 between Kamloops and Salmon Arm that I’ve been driving past pretty regularly for twelve years now. And each time I do, I am awestruck by the double-barreled irony of a) Putting a billboard for a realty company directly next to an abandoned shack, and b) having “Call Us First” as your slogan and not providing a phone number.


This is alternatively either the saddest sight I’ve ever seen, or a cutting-edge piece of installation art. But even after twelve years, I’m not sure which.

2017-03-19

Observation

Observation: When you’re under doctor’s orders to sit on the couch and do nothing, it’s surprising how much work you can get caught up on.

2017-01-10

Our Time Machines

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams.”

— Jeremy Irons

2017-01-06

You Are Welcome Here

For me, the issue of gender and inclusivity in games isn’t always about sexuality or gender issues per se. It’s about acknowledging what your narrative choices say about the world you’re creating, and about the people in that world. And with respect (and in response to some discussions taking place elsewhere), I think people who say, “I would include LGBTQ content in my game if I had those people at my table” are missing a larger point.

In a (stereo)typical FRPG setup, if I say, “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to his wife where she works behind the bar…”, it says something about the world of my game. It’s probably not intentional, because we create these narrative moments by instinct, and our instincts are honed by our own experience of living in a world where men own things and women work for men. But contrast that to “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to her husband where he works behind the bar…” Because that says something slightly different — and, in my view, something important — about the world of my game. Just as “The owner of the inn welcomes you, introducing you to his husband where he works behind the bar.…” says something more important still.

The thing I hope that last one says to LGBTQ players is “You are welcome here.” The thing I hope it says to non-LGBTQ players is “This is the world you’re a part of.” Even over and above creating games and game narrative geared toward LGBTQ characters and players (because that’s obviously important), this is big part of what inclusivity means to me.

2017-01-05

Questions

From Facebook, just because.

Why not take a break from negativity* and learn about each other. 

[*Hey, I don’t knock your hobbies, so don’t knock mine, all right?]

1. Who are you named after, if anyone? 

I’m named after/by my maternal grandparents, the Fitzgeralds; and my paternal grandmother, who was dying when I was born, and who when she saw me for the first time, said I looked like a Scott. (The additional context you need for this is that I was adopted on unexpected short notice, so my parents hadn’t spent any of the time thinking about names that most parents do.)

2. Last time you cried? 

Watching The Force Awakens on New Year’s Eve. You know which scene.

3. Do you like your handwriting? 

I’d like it better if I could read it, and if writing didn’t make my hand hurt. So, I guess, ‘No.’

4. What is your favourite lunch? 

One I don’t have to make myself.

6. Do you use sarcasm? 

Never. I mean that sincerely.

7. Do you still have your tonsils? 

Not sure. I had them out when I was three, but sometimes they grow back if you remove them at that age. I haven’t had any reason to find out since then, though.

8. Would you bungee jump? 

Fuck, no.

9. What is your favorite kind of cereal? 

Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats.

10. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? 

Never.

11. Do you think you're strong? 

Emotionally and psychologically, not particularly. Physically, more so than I sometimes want to be (see 13, below).

12. Favorite ice cream? 

Mango.

13. What is the first thing you notice about a person? 

Whether they make eye contact with me, or whether they’re inadvertently intimidated by me because I’m six-foot-three and look like I’m prone to beating people up, which I’m usually not.

14. Football or baseball? 

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

15. What color pants are you wearing? 

Black.

16. Last thing you ate? 

A handful of cashews.

17. What are you listening to? 

A mix of various film soundtracks.

18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? 

Sky blue.

19. What is your favorite scent? 

The smell of fresh-baked bread.

20. Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? 

One of my sisters-in-law.

21. What is your favourite sport to watch? 

Again with these questions that don’t make any sense. You’re trying my patience, here.

22. Hair color? 

Brown/grey.

23. Eye color? 

Blue/grey.

24. Favourite foods to eat? 

Chinese, pizza, nachos, black forest cake, baklava. Don’t ever get between me and a plate of baklava. It’ll end badly.

25. Scary movies or happy endings?

Happy endings.

26. Last movie you watched? 

The new Sherlock, if that counts; The Force Awakens if not; Rogue One if The Force Awakens doesn’t count because I already used it to answer number 2, above.

27. What color shirt are you wearing?

Black.

28. Favorite Holiday?

Last summer’s.

29. Beer or wine? Can't I have both? 

Coke Zero. Seriously, I’m just going to make up my own questions next time.

30. Night owl or morning person?

There is no morning. Any time from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. is “day”; any time between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. is the middle of the night, and not fit for human activity.

Distant Planets Spin

“It will take months to get my inner world peopled, and the people moving. How else to do it but plunge out of this safe scheduled time-clock wage-check world into my own voids. Distant planets spin: I dream too much of fame, posturing, a novel into print. But with no job, no money worries, why, the black lid should lift. Look at life with humor: easy to say: things open up: know people: horizons extend…"

— Sylvia Plath

2017-01-03

Another Day

Another day; another dream of winning several billion dollars in the lottery, buying Adobe Inc., giving the InDesign programming and development team a well-deserved retirement, piling up every system and archive holding the source code for their program in the center of their empty offices, and then burning the building to the goddamn ground.

I Wish

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

2017-01-01

Nice Try

Achievement unlocked: Fixed unexpected New Year's Day failure of washing machine.

Nice try, 2017. Nice try.