Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 23

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Now we return to Batman. I brought up Batman last out of the three because I think that he is more complicated than the other two. Whereas Superman and Spider-Man are very bright, positive characters (Superman is powered by friggin’ sunlight, for crying out loud), Batman dresses up like a figure of the night to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. (Note that when anyone bothers to bring it up, Batman only seems to have as much notoriety as Spider-Man. Also note that heroes themselves are in some level of awe of Batman, while Spider-Man’s friendly attitude and years experience make him a something more of a witty sidekick for his superhero team-ups.)

Proactivity? For the most part, Batman is no more proactive than many heroes. That said, he is always proactive. The watchword for modern Batman is ‘preparedness.’ When overused, it’s a tired cliché (“Trick Question: Batman always has kryptonite in his utility belt.”), but Batman actively anticipates problems and prepares for them. Which never goes wrong. (See OMAC. See “Tower of Babel.”) But when it does go right, it’s effective and it’s cool. Even when it goes wrong though, it isn’t a hit on Batman’s level of heroism. As one of the smartest, most dedicated crime fighters on Earth, Batman is in some way obliged to be proactive and to do more than throw a few batarangs at threats when they pop up. As genre-savvy as he is about not killing, he is equally un-savvy about operating on a larger scale. Superheroes will never be able to solve all of the world’s problems (see “Superman: Peace on Earth”). 

Like Sisyphus, they will try and they will fail time and time again. Unlike Sisyphus, they will continue trying of their own volition because to give up would be far worse. What’s more, for Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman, to give up is not in their nature. Okay, maybe for Spider-Man, but only because he has to fight for both halves of his life instead of getting to have both.

An aside for a moment about Spider-Man: Superman can change between many aspects of his life because of his super-speed and the fact that his job lets him take long stretches of time off of work. Batman…I don’t have to explain why being super-rich and anti-social makes your personal life super-easy. Web-slinging is awesome, and while he could get away with it, making a living taking pictures of himself paid the bills (which many, many disappointed users of social networking sites are now realizing is something that only happens in comics). However, petty social obligations, the need for regular paychecks, the oversaturation of the Spider-Man picture market, and less petty social obligations like marriage meant that Spider-Man has almost always had to work three jobs; something to pay the bills, being Spider-Man, and trying to be a normal person as Peter Parker. That he isn’t gifted with enough power to handle these things easily or little enough interest in connecting with his fellow human beings to simply ignore that aspect of himself, he rakes himself over the coals, not to be human or pay his bills, but to be a hero. Given the choice between giving up being a normal person and giving up being Spider-Man, he opted to give up neither one in a classic example of myopic morality.

Anyway, that determination of Batman to continue trying to improve the world (most recently in the form of Batman Inc.), despite past (catastrophic) failures, is proof that he is not only proactive, but that he is also has a kind of determination that makes it clear why he’s a top-tier hero.

Honesty? Hells no. Yeah, you can trust The Goddamn Batman, but trust is a long way from honesty. One of the appeals of Batman is that he will fight dirty; dirty includes deception and misdirection. Again, depending on what version you’re using, one of his primary weapons against the underworld is his status as an urban-legend. I’ve watched him and Superman “purge” Earth of kryptonite, even fighting new Aquaman in the process. In the end, Superman gives him one of the last pieces, “just in case.” Batman thanks him and otherwise indicates his appreciation for the act, then goes back to The Batcave and stores it in his safe full of fucking kryptonite. Granted, that was “Superman and Batman” and that series is universally terrible (okay, the art is good), but it’s not exactly out of character for him.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm Glad I Brought a Clipboard

My weeklong experiment with ads passed pretty quickly. Shortpacked (optional review) and Hijinks Ensue, who clearly cost more than anyone else, but who also returned the most per cent of that investment.

The numbers themselves--in terms of who's reading are--inconclusive:

The people reading just about doubled from April to May, but then the number of people reading from March to April also doubled, which isn't even "people," but just plain old hits. I could have just doubled the number of people obsessively stalking me.

Still though, if stalkers gave themselves pats on the back for making their stalkees feel...a vague, but powerful sense of positivity, then I've got about two who need shoulder surgery right now.

Maybe someone's just reading the archives.

The ads started on the 22nd, and I clearly broke 100 hits per day while the ads were up, but just like with the larger view, things were already trending up.

Discarding a Project Wonderful conspiracy of jump-dolphin click-ninjas or just plain old internet weirdness, I'm pretty happy with the results, especially considering that the price was right.

And considering that I only expended a quarter of the budget I had set aside for this thing, I will be back at it again. However, things are pretty busy at work right now and I'm having a lot of trouble keeping up with Monday through Friday updates (even if Tuesdays and Thursdays are just reruns people have never seen before.). I'm going to wait until I have a rather have a nice pad of blogs built up before I go at it again.

Also, I think those guys at Shortpacked are tired of looking at my ugly banner ad. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The fulfillment of prophecies ancient and magic

I was going to do an indepth walk-through of the essential elements of Magic. The setting, the game, the design philosophies, the tactics and strategies. I was going to spend about five weeks, giving a Kingdom Hearts introduction to Magic: the Gathering.

It was going to use a different format each week to cover The Mulitverse, planeswalkers, the colors of mana, the card types, then work on casting spells, attacking, and the mechanics and specific color-based tactics, formats, and the current environments and sets.

Five weeks is actually pretty generous in terms of how quickly I could have covered this information in depth. I'm running a six-part series on formats alone that is neither comprehensive, or designed for beginners.

I'd gladly do it; since my Magic mojo is at an all-time low, I could use the filler on my "It's the Magic" feature, but I couldn't do it with enough spice or creativity to make it worth doing. Any beginner could more easily learn the rules and setting on the official Magic website (you should at least be reading the Daily Arcana!) and after quite a bit of brainstorming, I just couldn't find a delivery method that would also amuse experienced players.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's the Magic: It's Not the Magic

The idea I had for introducing people to Magic went awry...in a good way. However, in order to do it I have to break my promise from last week...but I've got Batman instead:

Source unknown.

I hope this makes you feel, in some small way, compensated for your time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: The End of Aberrant

Like anyone whose desire to say something is matched only by their desire to waste time saying it on the internet, I've been blogging for a while. Timewalking Archive Trap is presents select treasures (for very liberal definitions of "treasures") from yesteryear for the sole enjoyment of my readers. This one is dated 2006:

So it's over. The plot twists, the character development. The plot holes and character deconstruction. The puerile secrets, the highs, the lows, the intricately detailed non-player extras who were both the recipients of a great destiny and one of so many nameless bodies thrown on an indifferent pyre, the other non-player characters with hastily-hatched names and concepts to match ideas that were quickly constructed, vaguely defined, and much loved.

The best parts of life are the ones we do not plan for. We hope in those irregular occasions and events that we anticipate, but somewhere between the honest satisfaction and honest disappointment we lie at the end of a rainbow, under a continued hype that keeps us believing things were as good as expected--or at least better than they were--if not out of the simple need of hope for a varied, exciting, and worthwhile life, then out of a plain refusal to believe in failure.

In boredom.

In a daily regularity not worth sharing.

Not worth remembering.

Not worth telling.

Not worth living.

Not worthy.

It is the irregularities that make life more or less than this. It is the unusual which makes one's life special or miserable. It was the unexpected that found us in Aberrant. My controlled chaos, my friends' chaos and control. I have, at times, seen myself as a Disney villain. It fits the toothless acrimony of my villains and make them particularly suitable for portraying comic-action villains. I monologue, I underestimate my players, build superweapons that disable the heroes' superpowers and forget that Warlock carries a shotgun and a flack jacket.

In fact, I don't think Warlock's done much non-dramatic warlocking in a while...

We had characters that were complicated, and some that were simple. A bravo driven to overcome any opponent; one of the most powerful beings on Earth, who when he hears that an experimental compound has exploded in Nebraska calls his parents in Denver to see if they were safe, then flies out to cauterize a giant's knees off.

A redeemable Irish kid who made Spiderman look about as lucky as a millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. He gives up, but when history gives him the opportunity--the hope--to change things for the better, he steps up like a hero.

It wasn't perfect--nothing is--but it was good fun. The adventures were too big sometimes, the tasks too easy, the separation between honest roleplaying and self-insertion was thin at times (on both sides of the storyteller's screen), but we had fun. That's what we were there for, and that's what we left with most days.

"Death is not the end of a character, it is the final piece of character development."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Linkstorm: Your Use of Language is Neither Cunning for Fit for Sex Puns


I don't think I've mentioned the "We Say Gay" thing before. I'm a little late linking it because it got passed, and luckily, the passed version doesn't ban everyone in schools from saying the word "gay." It only bans if from being in lesson plans, which isn't quite as bad, but still isn't so great.

[Caption redundant]

Banning the word, even in this narrow context, smacks of close-minded people trying to pretend that something doesn't exist so they don't have to deal with it and they can keep whistling in the dark while what they call evil continues marching on around them.

Also a pretty big fan of pretending that homosexuality doesn't exist.

Putting aside the issue of the lazy morality that makes ignoring a problem easier than addressing it, language should never be static. Language should never exclude. Language should adapt and absorb and assimilate.

I do lament the loss of Aboringinal Languages, Ayapaneco, and Navajo. Not because of anything unique to those languages, but because they represent an imporant human diversity created by language. I have no hope of a future of humanity dominated by a handful of dominant languages.

New languages are something I like. Scientists have developed a rudimentary language to create two-way communication with dolphins which is totally awesome. Yes, Esperanto didn't work out so well, but Klingon certainly has.

Even learning about how we learn about languages is important. If words are connected too loosely while trying to understand them, nothing happens. If they're connected too tightly your choice of computer-based diagnosable mental illness may result. The assimilation of language and meaning are fundamental to the human experience and understanding that better will always provide a return on our investment. The same cannot be said of being exclusionary, and certainly not being exclusionary for political reasons.

Even disjunctions, those irritating, distracting "er"s, "ah"s, and "um"s that punctuate language can actually help children learn to speak better. Those are not bugs, those are features.

Not a feature.

Yes, some words may be unpleasant, but they and the concepts they represent exist. We cannot simply expunge everything we don't like from our experiences and pretend like it does anything but make our world that much smaller. Life is a series of unpleasant experiences punctuated by brief periods of closeness with others, as well as other nice moments that aren't necessarily sexual at all.

The insistence that we faciliate the willful ignorance of others is nothing short of astoundingly self-centered and should be rigidly opposed and mocked for the absolute childishness that it is.

Whenever there are words we don't like, it would be preferable to simply banning them or crying about them to take a cue from an actual wordsmith and just be a fucking grown-up about it. Guys, every time a British person gets in some verbal fisticuffs with an American and wins, a bald eagle dies. Don't be that guy.

But hey, if you aren't so great with words, or just aren't that smart don't speak.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 22

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Superman is one of the best heroes because he cares about people individually. What he does isn't to help save lives or protect society, but to save people. Individual people. He wants to live a normal human life, but he also can't ignore the ways that he could help us. Then by putting on a costume, he commits himself to being part of a larger society of superheroes that he again can't ignore his duty to. He must become the paragon and symbol of superheroes to the populace of Earth because heroes need their trust to operate.

Source: Kelly Callen

It depends on the interpretation, but Superman isn't who Clark Kent really is. Clark Kent isn't really who Superman is. I think that somewhere in between is Kal-El, the Kryptonian that loves Earth and its people and feels compelled to protect it. Superman is Kal being everything he needs and wants to be, a fully-expressed super-ego of absolute integrity that exudes confidence and inner peace. That's what he shows to the world to let them know that Superman will always take care of them. In reality, he will always take care of them--there aren't many things Superman loves more than humanity—but he's a real person with self-doubt, worry, and even moral quandries. His moral myopia isn't quite as myopic as Spider-Man's, and heaven knows it's not quite as diluted, but...

...man, now that I think about it, I can't think of too many moral dilemmas that Superman's had. I mean, every so often he does snap and you think he's really going to kill Darkseid, but he doesn’t. While he occasionally has certain doubts about himself or what he does, usually, those are personal and he doesn’t have any compunctions about what needs to be done as Superman. In the comics I’ve seen him in, he’s usually presented with fairly straightforward scenarios.

If you know who did this incredible picture, let me know and I'll be happy to link them.

Intuitively, that moral myopia I attribute to him is something that he just has by dint of being in the scenarios I’ve seen him in: something bad happens and he doesn’t hesitate to swat it or repel it. He respects all life and believes in freedom, so his intervention in the affairs of man is minimal. He is almost exclusively reactive, and I think that works for him because we never expect more of him. The people who propose that The Dark Knight proactively murder half his rogues gallery rarely ever volunteer the belief that Superman do the same for Darkseid, Braniac, or the Parasite (though I’m sure Braniac is a special case, seeing as how he isn’t ‘murdered’ so much as ‘destroyed,’ which in turn isn’t much more effective—given his propensity for copying himself—than a good sleeper hold. And how does a massive, complex Kryptonian artificial intelligence store full backups of itself on 20th century human computers? Kryptonian file compression technology? Heretofore unmentioned Kryptonian programming conventions that focus on elegance over keeping up with the Moore’s Law?)

Superman’s vague moral code, lack of proactiveness, and general good faith in the face of being invulnerable are pretty much balanced out by the fact that he’s apparently smart enough to keep expectations pretty low. The man is a hero.

In all seriousness though, he’s proven on several occasions (in the modern age at least, if not earlier ones), that even without his powers, he’s willing to fight the good fight and take risks to do the right thing.  What’s more is that he’s worthy of the people’s trust. While he does sometimes have to fight his urge to return to his Kryptonian roots (New Krypton storyline), he does realize that The Kryptonians are pretty much elitist jerks, and humans, despite also being jerks, aren’t nearly as elitist and don’ t have heat vision, so tend to be a bit more receptive when you tell them to quit being jerks.  So, he has good intentions, he’s dedicated to doing the right thing, and he’s willing to risk everything to help others. 

The depth of his convictions is evident in what he does as Clark. Superman could have been the best construction worker or banker or private eye or politician ever (though inevitably, something heavy would’ve been dropped on him, revealing his secret identity).  In his personal life, he works for truth and justice as a reporter. Whenever stories let Clark Kent be a reporter, they’re given room to explore what makes him a good person instead of just good hero, and while I am generally talking about qualities that make Superman one of the best heroes out there, being a good person is a part of that. Especially when you’re trying to talk about the man between Clark and Superman, a venn diagram of seeing where their decency overlaps is a good thing. Caring for others, searching for truth, and helping people is something that Clark does. In fact, Clark--again, this is when stories focus on it--manages to pick up the proactivity slack that Superman leaves behind. What Superman can’t fix with fists and heat vision, Clark can attack with publicity and proof. There have been a number of Superman stories which have ended in a win with fists, but cemented with a victory in words.

Selflessness, care about people, and honesty define the most heroic aspects of Superman.
Still though, not the best at gift-giving.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Prisoner: The Schizoid Man

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provocation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.

After much deliberation, I read the blurb for this episode before watching it. I was a bit conflicted about it; I'm trying to control the information on The Prisoner (with varying success; I've accidentally discovered there's a Western episode?) to avoid spoiling anything. However, "The Schizoid Man" did have an episode of Star Trek named after it and after the last episode, I felt like I deserved some kind of warning, so as to appropriately brace myself.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Morning Soapbox: Knowing

My latest co-worker (Herman) is an older gentleman. He's been clerking a while and he has this jovial demeanor, so he's pretty easy to get along with. Every so often, he'll try my patience by cracking a lame joke right in the middle of telling me about something important that I need to know for my shift. I know that he'll eventually get to the end of it, but some part of me would be happier snapping his neck than faking giving a shit for the next ten seconds. Other times, he'll insist that what we do is some kind of precise science instead of a bunch of assholes carrying on an oral and typed (mistyped) tradition of record keeping. There isn't a book on clerking, I must often remind him, merely whatever our office instructed us to do last, for so long as they remember it. None the less, he'll insist that others are doing it wrong. One of those 'others' is often my least favorite coworker, so I don't make an issue of it...too much.

Sometimes, sometimes, he'll just drop a "Josh Fact" on me.

Oh, hand sanitizer is poisonous; a bunch of kindergarteners used it and they got sick.

Oh, and it's flammable.

If I were to pass this sage advice on to someone else, I'd sum up roughly: "Hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol, and not the drinking kind, idiot."

It's not that the information isn't correct; it's that the way it's delivered is inclined to present it as a status symbol; he knows something--nay, he knows a fact that most people don't. Heed and beware.

I guess it's common for most people to want to have some secret knowledge that others don't; a leg up on the sleeping drones around them. I get that; that's me. I mean, I'd rather smugly look on as people fail on account of their own ignorance with the slight possiblity that I might be educated at their attempts--should they succeed--and thusly erode my personal mountain of ignorance. Stranger things have happened.

Language exists to facilitate sharing things amongst ourselves, and no doubt having useful information to contribute to the tribe has been a long standing method of gaining acclaim in human culture. I like learning things from people, but people claiming that they know safe from unsafe in a world where that 'unsafe' status is ubiquitous and arbitrary aren't impressing me; they are letting me know I should mentally flag them as assholes.

Imagine someone triumphantly tells you that they don't travel on planes; they have stress fractures all over the wings that the airlines don't tell you about. After you kick them in the balls, maybe you could tell them that thousands of people fly every day. That air travel is safe. That if planes were crashing all the damned time and it is all really that unsafe than maybe they should start spouting conspiracy theories about the media because they're doing a hell of a job covering it up. Except when they aren't.

People who want to extoll the virtues of their own lives and choices versus those of other people based on a random sampling of data with no greater veracity than common knowledge are pretty irritating (Cracked.com, for no reason).

But even those guys aren't as bad as what happens when this is taken to its logical conclusion; conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theorists think a lot of different things. The most common type of conspiracy includes the thought that an upper class of powerful elites are acting to control the common person via war, fear, economics, and/or the media. It often posits that there is a competent force at the head of the government/world actively working to subvert the government/world and all of its inhabitants. Most people are just daydreaming through life unaware of the terrible destruction of their comfortable existence.

Except for the conspiracy theorists.

I mean, they watch the same movies we do, have the same jobs, use the same internet, etc. etc., but they are so totally prepared for the government/IMF/One World Government/<obligatory reference to Xenu> to swoop in and take their guns/money/free will/thetans, even if it doesn't show.

I at least understand the true crazies. I don't know if tinfoil hats are still in vogue, but I know isolated cabins in the woods still are. That shit...so long as you don't end up in a standoff with the government (and, honestly, even a little bit then) is at least respectable because it shows committment.

If the world is sick, don't forward a chain mail or tell people about this crazy video full of conjecture; change your life and do something of consequence. If the problem's that serious--that fundamental--then the response should be absolute. You can't live your life just like the sleeping masses around you with the sole addition of boring/pissing off the ones unfortunate enough to be in your general vicinity.

My real point, however, is the common link between these people. You see, I'm somewhat smarter than the average person, and I've been thinking about this issue since I first started typing (almost twenty whole minutes now), and I'm beginning to think that maybe, if you peel back the layers, you realize that instead of trying to feel special by being informed harbingers of a vague doom, these people are actually engaging in mass, self-fufilling prophecy. After all, what good is doom if it never comes? Not a lot, I'd imagine. It makes sense that all of these self-important people are trying to bring about a single, pluralistic apocalypse. One which is so great and so vast that only the most paranoid minds on Earth could think of it. Indeed, the fact that no one has thought of a conspiracy theorists' conspiracy indicates they're closer than any of us could have expected.

It's too early to do anything yet but be watchful. But be watchful with the greatest urgency.

Remember, I told you about it first.

Oh, and apparently the best way to clean a coffee pot is with saltwater, not dish soap. No, you don't want to know why.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Field Manual Kris: The Docket

In no particular order, this is the list o' things I have goin' on for the next few weeks

The Name of the Wind (Terry) - Finished by tonight.
30 minute writing - Lucio Pavlec/whatever/anything
Blogs - Going public Week
Project Wonderful - Going public on Monday.
DC Adventures PC (Ray) - Fluid guy
Project New Jersey - set date
Richard Project (Richard) - ???
The Ciaren Campaign (the guys) - The D&D RPG that drives me to drink.
Zombie CCG - play and playtest
Unnamed Comic Vlogging Project - Does Booster Gold make the cut? Is "I have no tube, yet I must BOOM!" a good name?
The Doom Effect (the guys) - Aberrant RPG that would drive me to drink if I wasn't already running a D&D campaign.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Game's the Thing: Kris

Instead of my usual "It's the Magic" feature, today is a general gaming feature called "The Game's the Thing."

I once told someone that I was the luckiest guy on Earth. I've got some first world problems, which aren't bad problems to have. There are some rough and dark parts, but everyone has their crosses to bear.  I've got the better parts of my Dad's genes, and only a few of Syl's crazy genes, I've been accepted to the US Naval Academy, I spent an amazing year with amazing people in South Carolina, my family loves me, and I've got friends who don't always get me, but who, unbelievably, just keep trying.

My bad luck actually manifests in the form of my escapism. I love playing with dice and cards, but dice and cards do not love me at all. I've drawn eight lands straight in Magic, rolled double '1's in Dungeons and Dragons, and performed so reliably poorly in Aberrant that I had to, as Storyteller, reverse the Target Number paradigm for ten-sided dice.

If you're not familiar with those games: 1 in 1,035; 1 in 400 and baby-punchingly abysmal.

There just wasn't enough room for a second, -21 ultimate "Punch all the babies."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: Texas

I was born in Texas. As much as I am anything else, I am a Texan. I do consider myself a Southerner. I've lived in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina. My earliest memories were from Louisiana ('87-'90) before my parents divorced. The small town bisected by highway 90 and my first days in school. Things were good in Louisiana. I was a pretty happy kid there. I knew the crew, things went wrong sometimes of course, but there I managed to belong somehow.

Texas ('90 to '95) was one of the many, multiple current shifts in my life. I was an outside for the first time...not to see 'insider' again for some time. If it weren't for being the poor, geek kid, with glasses, and poorly developed social skills with the single mother family...if it weren't for that, I certainly wouldn't be the guy I am today. I wasted a lot of time trying to turn that around as a kid, and spent a lot of energy trying to get past it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Field Manual Kris: Slippage

Blog's late today, and even worse, it's a blog about how the blog is late. This week was supposed to be an introductory theme week about me, but between board game nights, fancy gay nights out, birthdays, gay nights out with board games, and trying to take care of business (diver's licenses, appliance replacement, Amazon returns, house supplies, offshore supplies, snow cone quests, new gadgets, and all manner of other things) before I head offshore tomorrow afternoon, I just haven't buckled down and gotten anything done in terms of blogging this week.

Consider these videos a paltry apology.

Things about Stuff 'n stuff

Trying to do a legit Me Week has been difficult. No, not in that “Oh, I have to fill out my OkCupid profile, but I’m so bad at these things LOL!!! I’m outgoing, but reserved and a total geek that loves to party and I’m really nice unless you cross me then I’m a bitch. I’m deeply passionate about twenty different things, but I can’t remember more than three of them right now, etc.” way, but because I want to articulate perfectly who I am, but don’t know how or where to start. What’s relevant in a short life that is ultimately irrelevant? Why shout my name to deaf heavens?

Oh, I’ve gone poetic now and I blame no one but you.

Women: I’m clearly misogynic, but not in any kind of unprofessional way; I don’t like women as a default in my personal life, but they are, in fact, people too and deserve to be paid the same as men for the same work, be given the same social accord, and be held to the very same social and legal standards as men. I’ve gone so far as to describe Lesbians as “useless.” Oh, I’m sure they’re keen at all sorts of things and many have practical skills that I would be bettered by learning. I don’t mean it in that way. What I do mean is that as far as my personal life goes, they don’t have much in common with me, I don’t have much social capital they can use, and they don’t have much social capitol I can use. Generally speaking, we’re both saving a lot of time not dealing with each other much.

Alcohol: I drink socially, but as I’ve aged, I’ve learned that alcohol is something that people use to ignore how much better the world needs to be. It’s an opiate of masses, plain and simple, and when it’s used that way, it is amongst the evilest of things.

Science Fiction: Science fiction is best used when its feet are in the present, but its heart and eyes are in the future that could be. Dystopian futures, hard sci-fi, and war novels in space are just gutter trash if they don’t elucidate something about the present that is versus the future that could be. I consider fantasy to be worse, much, much worse, but at least amusing in that it’s usually more honest about using magic to make its universe function. Science fiction should ever try to illuminate humanity’s path toward something better.

Getting Sick: My immune system isn’t quite on par with that of The Midnighter, but it’s pretty damned good. I don’t get sick, as a rule, and don’t worry about other people getting sick. That said, if you are sick—coughing sick—I will punch your throat out.

Perspective: As an atheist, I am first and foremost a humanist. I love my country, don’t get me wrong, but nothing good can serve The United States that does so at the expense of the rest of humanity. I’m not endorsing another country or The United Nations over the US; I’m endorsing the enfranchisement, education, and liberation of all members of the human race over the interests of not just one, but all countries, all interests, and all organizations.

Driving: I have always hated driving. It was never a novelty, but a tedious obligation that I hate. The only thing worse than having to drive everywhere is riding with someone else and having to tell them to go fuck themselves with a long, defiant walk home. It certainly gets the point across, but it’s tedious.

Babies/Cats: Parasites, one more odious and other longer-lived.

Nostalgia: I have a tendency to revere my past. I have archives and records about things I’ve half-begun. I should be ashamed of them and bury them instead of chronicling and cataloging them. I haven’t made them into anything good yet, why would I start now? None the less, they remain.

Relationships: I’m notoriously bad at them, but then I suppose if any of us met a guy who married the first girl he’d ever been on a date with, we’d be dubious. Guess that means we’re all batting less than .500.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 21

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Again, just like with Booster Gold and Damien, his desire to do good and his total commitment to good counts for something. He's willing to sacrifice and risk a lot just to do what's right, and that counts for a lot.

The fact that he's kind of a douche about it might hurt him in the long run.

So, Spider-Man is selfless, relatable, uncompromising (in the way that he won’t weigh one evil versus another, but try to fight against both), humble, and committed (in that once he makes a decision, he’s committed to it, until he changes his mind. I know, it’s not exactly, “committed,” but what would you call that?). In many ways, he’s also responsible, in that much of what he does as a hero is done with his loved ones in mind.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blog in Exactly 1000 words: Kris

Pictured: My shit. Location: Terry's house.

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's the Magic: Censor/Control/Sludge/Bender/Blaze

Ever since I recently re-read Mark Rosewater's "When Cards Go Bad," for my Zombie CCG project, something's been bugging me. And since I write most of these blogs about a week (or two) in advance, you can figure that's been a longer time than it might initially seem. Mr. Rosewater mentioned in his article that Magic provides a sense of exploration; poor(new) players initially pick poorer cards over better ones and in seeing how they play out, they learn the qualities of a good card (it's mostly unsaid, but I think it's a reasonable interpretation). I get that. The exact question given is, why pay 1 mana to gain one life off of a spell, when you can do it for free?

However, if you put Crystal Rod and Kraken's Eye together, I think even a novice player can figure out which one is better. Then again, I'm not sure if the two were ever made side by side; Crystal Rod was printed from Alpha to Eighth Edition, while Kraken's Eye ran from 9th Edition to 2011 and Darksteel. Sure, this example doesn't really pan out, but I get that better players will learn that there are cards which are and aren't good. I like the Resounding Cycle, but realize it's only good in EDH and not all cards can work for some specific format.

The implication is, then, that new players don't know how to play the game correctly.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: My Family Guy Romance

Peter Griffin: "...like that time I was in My Chemical Romance..."

*Cut to Peter Griffin standing alongside My Chemical Romance*

"Alright, it's been two years since we were in the studio...ah, let's get's started by playing our biggest song."

: "What do we do again?"

: "I think...it's, ah, You're Beautful?"

: "I don't know...I think that guy's British or somethin'..."

: "Weren't we in that video with the dancing dead girl?

:*thinking* "I think so. Boy, we must do some pretty dark stuff."

"Didn't we do, This isn't a Scene, it's an Arms Race?"

: "No, that's Fall Out Boy."

: This isn't Fall Out Boy?

: "Nope. This is...ah The Breakfast Monkey?"

*walks away.*

: "No, that's the cartoon I pitched to Cartoon Network."

: "Do we do 'Skeleton Crew'?"

: "No, that's the production company I founded for underprivledged bands."

: "Well, does anyone here have their own line of clothes?"

Pause *Everyone shrugs*

*thoughtful*: "Huh. You kinda figure...y'know, one of us would've had our own line of clothes by now--anyway, it's not important. Let's just go to Wal-Mart, find a CD that has our picture on the cover, see if that jogs any memories, and then we can get this whole thing started."

*They begin to leave*

: "So, do you guys gay off in pairs, or is it just like Caligula backstage?"
: "Actually, I'm married to a pop star no one's ever heard of."
: "No surprise there."
: "A girl pop-star."
: "No friggin' way!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Prisoner: The General

I recently purchased--at the unspoken behest of the geek hivemind--the classic BBC series The Prisoner. I'm watching it offshore to pass the time and sharing spoiler-free responses/reviews with the internet without provocation, cause, or request because that's what the internet is for. Enjoy.

Hoo, buddy. "The General" was not a good one. It was exactly what I was worried about when I saw "Checkmate"; the worst fusion of psychedelia and regular old television. It tries to be somewhere between sci-five thirty and freak-o'clock, but ends up half past dead on arrival. It is not encouraging.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 20

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

…okay, I've never known the most about Spider-Man. I just read his wikipedia and there is very little heroic on that page. I mean, the guy retires every chance he gets. I know that his responsibility is his curse; that being Spider-Man is a burden he carries and an obligation he feels he owes to the world. I get that often times it seems like nothing he does is rewarded and yet he keeps soldiering on, not because he enjoys it (though he does sometimes), but because it's the right thing to do. That's pretty heroic, really. That he does something he receives no intrinsic reward for because it's the right thing to do (until there's someone else around to do it. Which there always has been, but maybe he thinks the world needs Spider-Man? I dunno.). Honestly, his actions during Civil War are impressive. He sides with obvious douche-duo Tony Stark and Hank Pym to register and reveal his secret identity, even though it's incredibly dangerous because he thinks it's the right thing to do. Then he changes sides. Though it might look like a pretty weak move on his part, changing sides in the middle of Civil War, when you and your loved ones are sitting in the belly of the illegal arrest and civil rights violating beast to maybe join a side that you've already thrown some punches against?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tallied Up

So the votes are in. 3 votes for "Powered by Indifference, Focused by Caffeine." No votes for anything else. Instead of giving $15 to Japan, I decided to go maverick:

I've also managed to work up most of the images for my banner ads:

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Field Manual Kris: He will/will/won't/will be back.

Big week. I'll admit. I wanted it that way for my big announcement announcement of no particular size. Let's follow this stuff up.

So, Fox News, io9, and Mightygodking (sorry about that election man) did some mentioning of this Superman thing. In addition, Comics Alliance Editor-In-Chief Laura Hudson put a lot of what I said into much, much better words. While I don't agree with all of her points, I'm very, very angry she made them in a better fashion than I did. Also; I agree with most of them.

Canadian Election
It's the same Prime Minister they had before (Stephen Harper, a conservative), but apparently a third party that's pretty cool rose to prominence, so it was a mixed bag for most and reality check for the rest.  A third party bump in Canda isn't as big as one here, but it's important for Canada over the next few years. All of this is thanks to The Torontoist, your source for Canadian news. For whenever you feel like looking up.

And there was much rejoicing.

The only thing that gives me pause about this is that now that bit with Bruce Willis in "Planet Terror" doesn't work so well.  Well mostly it does; it wouldn't surprise anyone if Bruce Willis was a time traveling, terrorist-killing warlock who ad libbed that line as an in-joke with himself[1].

I've Written Reviews For The Prisoner, but Haven't Posted Them Yet
...because the world is now short one terrorist mastermind and I aim to fill in the gap. Tremble infidels, as I withhold vital information on The Prisoner! There is only one god; and The Prisoner actor/producer/writer/director Patrick McGoohan is his prophet! But seriously guys, I'm trying not to put up too many posts at once, so I'm holding off until after this 'going public thing,' which sucks because I'm not watching any more episodes until I get some of these posted and I really want to watch more of The Prisoner. Also, added pictures to "Free For All" and "Dance of the Dead."

[1]You can do that kind of stuff if you're a time traveling warlock of the terrorist-killing kind (plus actor).

Friday, May 06, 2011

It's the Magic: Top Ten Picks from New Phyrexia (not really including the ones last week).

New Hotness

I like charge counters. I probably shouldn’t, but I really do. This set seems to play with them quite a bit and I like that. It’s one of the reasons I like proliferate so much. Granted, I like working The Battlefield, and to a lesser extent, The Stack. Hands, graveyards, libraries, and command zones? Not so much.

Nice idea. Not evocative, but a cool new thing. Evroken.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Timewalking Archive Trap: Hitler & 80's

While I was watching a movie with some of my friends today, we were watching a preview for Valkyrie and we started talking:
Movie: "If they catch you, they'll tear you to pieces."
"...or they'll shoot you."
"You saw it?"
"Yeah, he and I saw it together."
"How was it?"
*Shrug* "Predictable. Hitler lives."
"Yeah. Guess that sucks about historical movies; you usually know how they end."
"It'd be great if there was a deleted scene where Hitler does die."
"It's Hollywood; they could just make that the ending and make the alternate ending what really happened."
*In movie announcer voice* " 'Inspired by the true events of World War Two: Hitler Dies Before WWII.' "
"They'd make a sequel!"
"And sell Hitler action figures with little coffin accessories-"
"Oh, and when you close it and hit the button, the Hitler spins around so when you open it again, it's a dried up Hitler-corpse."
"Nah, I'd use the horror ending; credits roll and a Hitler's hand thrusts upwards from his grave."
"Hah! Better: they're taking him away in the body bag, and he busts out with a fist to knock a guy out."
"No, no: Hitler salute that slices through the bag and catches one of the...dead body hauling guys...right in the windpipe"
"...and then he goose-steps the other one in the crotch."
"Then, he tears through the body bag like Boris Karloff, then stumbles towards the edge of the clearing. There, closes with the camera and we see that he's totally a zombie. He stops and gives another Hitler salute towards something off screen...pan back and there's the real Hitler with a bunch of Hitler guys and soldiers who mysteriously disappeared for the last 30 minutes of the film."
"Sequel city."

The 80's
The 80's were so Eighties that someone once said, "Let's make a movie about Batman?"

And then someone else said, "Who should be Batman, the Dark Knight? The Crusader in a Cape? The living scourge of Gotham's Underworld?"

"Michael Keaton," said the other guy, "He was Beetle Juice."

"Radical! And for this this gritty exploration of a city wrapped in eternal night, this man driven to avenge the grisly deaths of his parents deaths and his homicidally maniacal archnemesis...music?"


"Hell yeah! This will totally fucking beat Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!"

Ten Months Later...

(And it totally beat Indiana Jones.)

So if anyone ever asks you how eighties the 80's were, the correct answer is, "I'm Batman."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


I don't believe in secrets, but there are things left unsaid.

André was like the younger brother I never had. It was the summer of 2002. There were 40 of us, plebes, in 4th Company[1] whenever we had a new member arrive. The subtext was that we shouldn't mind where he came from; he was one of us now and nothing more was said of it. I knew from my enlisted experiences that new arrivals in training were either the result of a rollback due to a training deficiency, or a simple administrative shifting. 

I disregarded the former; The Academy's lack of a year-round class-up cycle like RTC or NNPTC meant that you couldn't knock someone back from, say Alpha Company in Week 1 to Echo Company in Week 5. Every Company was on the same schedule, so I simply assumed that one company had lost some administrative overhead for the summer and the powers that be simply dispersed a few plebes to lighten the load.

So we were resting on a grassy hill on Hospital Point after some pointless exercise or other (probably enjoying bag lunches, given the 'resting' portion of my recollection) when I noticed the new arrival sitting alone. The scene I remember involved myself approaching a withdrawn André and striking up an awkward conversation.

I was wrong. It turns out he was moved to our company for disciplinary reasons. He’d chosen to go to The Naval Academy because it was close to where his family lived in western Maryland. He was quite the civilian and had started his time at The Academy on the wrong foot. It was weeks later, after that discord had snowballed until he was severely disciplined and almost kicked out, that he was moved to our company to give him a clean slate. This naturally repulsed me. My only real failings up until that point were a single, destructive, unrequited love and an errant ability to judge people more as I got to know them better. Naturally, I was unempathetic, but polite.

Yet we became friends. My judgment of his past gave way to his friendliness and indifference to my condescension. Our meeting was a curiosity; over the subsequent months, I was the moody critic who barely tolerated company. He was the lighthearted, good hearted one who rarely held a grudge, and even then did so poorly.

I wouldn't say that we were inseparable. I vaguely remember a moment of doubt just before the start of the school year where I was contemplating whether or not I’d sign up to be his roommate. He’d long since bonded with the company as if he’d been there all along and I was feeling the first of nearly-lifelong urges to slough off old things to begin anew. Also, I was worried; wisdom and revelation had taught me that truth didn’t matter and rumors did not discriminate; if the privacies of my life were to be exposed, our association would only injure him.

Ultimately, I couldn’t be so abstractly cruel; denying his friendship without offering a reason. I wouldn’t be so, not even to save him. A failing. Though nothing went wrong; this isn’t a sad story. It’s a story of what was and why. No matter the outcome, good luck is no justification for recklessness.

Recriminations aside, for those two years we were the best of friends; the kind born from contradictions. Hispanic/Caucasian suburbia and plain old white trash. Wide-eyed optimist and eagerly world-weary cynic. Kind and proud. We spent time with his family, perhaps my first real taste of America’s middle class North. I found it lovely and promising, but alien. In 2004, when The Academy was snowed in, we ventured across Tecumseh Court, freezing in our warmest uniforms, braved the icy steps to the enclosed tunnels of the science, and claimed the scant remains of the Rickover Hall basement sandwich vending machine. There was a prom night in there that I think I ruined in the service to honest doubt and my own stellar…unbelonging to his world, but that’s a tale for another time. We laughed at our room's third man, John, during the ensuing hilarity of Isabel.  We built a Herndon Tree together and spent more than our stated limits on gifts.

For my part though, there was always a divide I would not, could not cross. He was family, but ultimately there were parts of my life that didn’t our friendship. I laughed uncomfortably at the perfectly untimely creation of USNA Out and rolled my eyes at the gods themselves when I was handed a victim book at the Holocaust Museum informing me of the significance of pink triangles[2]. There was never any particular reason to burden him or to compromise myself. Nature, upbringing, and training told me that truth was not the rational choice, but his openness and honesty made lying was no choice at all. Instead, there was a deliberate silence.

And two friends, between truth and lies.
[1] Actually, Bravo Company at the time, but let's keep this simple.
[2] In case you thought my luck with randomization was limited to dice and cards.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 19

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

The Midnighter(Warren Ellis/Mark Millar)
Jenny Sparks(Warren Eillis/Mark Millar)
The Batman
Booster Gold (Geoff Johns)
Damian Wayne (Grant Morrison)
Steve Rogers(Ultimates Vol 1 & 2)
Cloud 9 (Dan Slott)
Superman(All-Star Superman)
Deadpool (Cable & Deadpool)

I guess that's it. It's strange that it’s these guys. There are a lot of other characters out there that are great and have some really good books, but fundamentally, these are the characters I like reading about. They're a motley crew--well, less motley than my original list. One homosexual, two females, two non-Americans (if Damian counts, even though I'm sure he would be an American citizen if Bruce Wayne is on his birth certificate), an alien, a time-traveler, six different tax brackets and two effective amnesiacs, but it is a whole loaf of white bread. Guess I can blame the comics industry for that. Sounds convenient.

That said, with the exception of All-Star Superman and Rorschach, most of these characters have a compatible feel to them that would let them interact in some way. I mean, you'd have the killing versus no killing sides, which would be Batman versus...well everyone but Booster Gold, I guess.

Though I would read the hell out of a Batman/Booster Gold team-up versus a Jenny Sparks lead Authority consisting of Midnighter, Deadpool, Cloud 9, Ultimate Cap, and Damian Wayne.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Going Public

I'm asking about a name (poll on the right) because in three weeks, ads for this site will be put into circulation on a few small webcomics via Project Wonderful. For maybe the first time since Derek was kind enough to put me on Reddit, people I've never met will probably be reading.

Words of Power
A new name is what draws people in and gives them an impression what to expect, however wrong or right. "Sluggy Freelance" doesn't say anything, but somehow it does something. I've got a few new names for the blog on the tablet:

VanVelding: It's the URL and what I generally go by on the internet. It's everything in one mysterious package. Turns up my stuff on search results. Is that a benefit? Mostly.

Honestly, the most shameful thing here is the lesson about storing screen caps as .jpgs.

Number Four Tested Well: It refers to both the overwrought process of finding a name (four is quite popular) as well as being a fairly odd sentence outside of context. It has a sound of clinical detachment to it. However, I may just like it because of all of The Prisoner I've been watching. Pretty unique in terms of search results.

Automated Compromise: I like it, but apparently it's already a computer term. It's a snappy title I've wanted to use for something for a while, so I might be overlooking the fact that it's a two-words-that-don't-go-together title that's so common these days.

Powered by Indifference, Focused by Caffeine: A long, evocative title that's got a simple reversal that subtly funny while still being memorable. Long is good because I'm tired of short names for things and I'd rather have a definitive concept behind the name that makes it stick. It also conveys the low-powered, unfocused expectations I'd like to set up here.

No, too obvious.

Not quite...

There we go.

Anyway, I'm letting you guys (or anyone else really) vote, but since my last comment was from Derek a week ago, I'm not counting on "innate drive to participate" to get results. For the first hundred votes, I'm going to give $5 per vote to The Red Cross to help out in Japan, and about $1 per vote after that. Granted, if I even get fifty votes, I'll know either someone's been practing their amateur hacking or telling friends. I'd rather you just told friends.

So by making myself public, I have to really reign in my internet presence. I've googled both my real name and VanVelding a couple times and with the exception of some My[Confined]Space shenanigans, and a Yahoo Answers thing, it's gone pretty well. Most of my hits are for people using my Bob Kelso and Deadpool Peanut images, which I don't begrudge, so I'm cool.

On the other hand, people like shitty images more than you expected.

That said, I've referred to myself as Kris entirely too many times on this site for me to go back and redact it and, really, referring to myself as VanVelding is incredibly pretentious. The persona associated with this site (and I guess everything I do on the internet ever from this point forward) has to be Kris VanVelding. If I can, I'll even try to score both of those domains.

Me Week
So the are many things you guys know about me that an outsider obviously wouldn't. It's not that presume anyone is intensely interested in the background of a guy who's on blogger for its own sake, but context is worth some explanation. That probably calls for a few more Green Box issues, but in a simpler way, it means that the week after next will be Me Week, where each day will have a blog that's Kris-centric in a new way instead of the regularly Kris-centric blogs, where I pretend to talk about something else.

[Picture of me here. Don't forget this. This will be a professional blog in a few weeks and you don't want to look like an ass in front of three additional people Kris.]
Somehow, showing your picture on the internet is verboten. Well see-boten, or something.

However, my perspective on me comes from me. If there's any particular fact that a regular person on the internet might need to enjoy this blog, I'd be open to hearing about it. I know Jordan did an amazing piece in a game he ran where he had a PC that was everything I hate. It wasn't much more than my own rants made into a person and directed back at me in a game of Vampire, but it was still pretty epic[1] and shows insight into a more distilled view of my preferences than I can usually conjure up.

But why publicity? There's no profit in it. Ego is the first thing I expected of myself as well, but I think it's more than that. Exposing oneself to the beating heart of the internet is fraught with naught but danger. Well, nine parts danger and one part success.

Probably more than nine parts danger for every one of these.

Here's the deal; my friends are supportive folks that give me respect (except my roommate, but he gets a pass because I have to live with him). No, it's that ego mass of criticism that I want to tap. Don't get me wrong; I want people to like what I write--

--well, no. I want write something that people like. Not everyone; I could write porn if I wanted everyone to like what I'm writing (again, depending on the porn).

No, it's not approval I want. I guess I'd like a crucible that can burn away the irrelevancies of what I'm doing and leave truth; truth in its purest form.

Even if that truth is that I quote Star Trek.
[1] Yes, "Epic," used unironically after 2009. On Thursday, I'm calling something "Legendary" and not even smirking a little bit.

Good News, Everyone

No snark today. Just good news.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday Morning Soapbox: All That Other Stuff

Free speech. If nothing else, preserve it for the LOLs.

My country is great. You know I love it. I love its ideals. I love its freedoms. I love that whenever the world has to drop bombs on some assholes, there’s this moment of “who’s got shit over there to drop bombs,” and while we might sigh and act like it’s really inconvenient for us we know that question’s rhetorical because invariably, “The United States” is the answer. It won’t last forever, but that’s how it is now and I love it.


freedom is sometimes treated by my fellow citizens (including politicians) to act like it’s a golden ticket to believe whatever damned fool thing they want. What’s more, they act like it’s a license to make others behave the way they “should.” Freedom isn’t the liberty to deny or repress, to be irresponsible or complacent. Freedom is an obligation.

It is an obligation to truth, not what you want to believe, but real, factual, critical truth. It’s an obligation to education and making decisions. Freedom is not best served by enjoying the experiences of life in all their real, sensual present glory, or to turn away and hide from the darkest experiences of humanity, but to prepare the mind to understand the world around us, not as we want it to be, but as it is. The ability of those living in a world of comfort and ease who do not understand in the slightest how it came to be or is sustained are doomed to let it fall through their grasp and know only to cry to the heavens like ignorant savages whenever it inevitably does. The conveniences and luxuries in the modern world, indeed are a swirl of leaves in an eddy, a strange island of order between strong gusts of wind.

Freedom is an obligation of character, which is the heart of my statement here. How you feel about a person, how you judge that person, and how you treat that person are all very different things. I try to treat everyone I interact with on a daily basis with the same level of professional service. There may be a few Filipinos who combine a general inability to express themselves with a poor command of English, but I try my best to give their issues the same level of attention as any American, despite the fact that those interactions are often quite frustrating. Sometimes I don’t. It’s not that I’m a bad person, or a racist, or ethnocentric[1], but sometimes I do things that aren’t great. You can get angry at me for that, even if you know that’s not how I act all the time. I get pissed at things my friends do all the time; I’m not pissed at them really, more at what they’re doing.

It's sad I wish I should photoshop this well.

Making people angry on accident isn’t a mark against your character, nor should it be. People are entitled to feel an emotion without feeling that emotion on principle. We’re all just slightly-balding apes here and emotional responses are hardwired into us. Mistaking those knee-jerk feelings for more contemplative ones, or trying to fortify them with reason only makes an irrational response linger and is a mark against your character. Being angry at someone is fine and having someone angry at you is also fine. Those things aren’t judgments; they’re just biology.

Which isn’t to say that judgment isn’t biology or that feelings are divorced from judgment. No, you can, and probably should, hate people who are genuinely bad people. That said, you don’t really have to. I’ve had fine conversations with someone, knowing they’re a reprehensible example of humanity. On the other hand, there are some fine people (like my grandfather) that I almost never talk to.

Back when I was a Nuke, there was an engine room upper level operator that I just could not stand being around. He knew his shit, was generally friendly, and was a good guy. I hated every single watch I had with him and I treated him like the senior enlisted that he was. Life is strange, but there’s a big difference between how we feel about people, how we act towards them, and the kind of person we know that they are. Having character and being able to make these distinctions is an integral part of freedom. You may not like someone or agree with them, but you have to put aside the emotional factors and personal factors to realize that everyone is afforded the same freedoms as everyone else. This bleeds into my next point.

Freedom is an obligation to justice. On the surface, it’s simply a call to treat those as you wish to be treated, which shouldn’t have to be written down but is intuitive. Justice is more than punishment for wrongdoers; it’s ensuring that labors and contributions are rewarded just as much as it fails to reinforce parasitism and inaction. The blatant inability of governments to provide equal opportunities to those they serve is the exact cause of the unrest in the Middle East right now and not, as you might have guessed, overextending their armies for a double-attack into Southern Europe.

I think this is how the DHS runs all of their threat scenarios.

Freedom cannot be a noun. It cannot be something you hold or sit on or keep on a shelf or take out on holidays. Freedom is a verb. It is acted, and perhaps that’s its paradox; it is actions that define freedom, specifically breadth of actions and the broader those actions, the greater freedom is. In fact, freedom cannot obligate a person to anything (by definition). What obligates one is the perpetuation of freedom. If you are free, then you may do as you please. If you wish your children to be free, equal, and rewarded for their labors, then, then you have to curtail your own freedoms.

Then you have to reach out aggressively ensure that justice is carried out, that equality is delivered, that truth--and not some branded version of it in warped service to an ideology--is sought and served, not enforced with harsh words, or batons, or bombs, but with knowledge. You can make every savage on the planet act like a civilized man, but you can never make him understand civilization.You can kill every selfish deviant on the planet, but a new crop will grow up and learn to survive.

The perpetuation of freedom is based on education, and truth, and justice, exclusion, self-righteousness, or force.

[1] Remarkably, I will be surprised if I don’t get labeled as anti-American and ethnocentric for this whole post, but hey, worst case scenario, I’m just a wrong guy on the internet.