"So fair, yet so cold..."

Well, it seems as if Hillary Clinton has won some campaign support from the most unlikely of places: Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, where the forces of Sauron, long oppressed by the so-called “free” peoples, have made common cause with the Witch-Queen of New York. 

Mature and Reasoned?

Earlier today, on the Book of Faces, a friend of a friend commented:
"In this country, we desperately need a mature, reasoned discussion about..."
About what doesn't really matter. What I want to talk about is my reaction to that particular phrase: "mature, reasoned discussion".

When I saw that, I had to stop and take a step back. My friend has a fine, upstanding, intelligent, insightful group of folks that participate in and comment on various posts. I had no reason to believe that this individual meant anything by their comment except that they think we need to have a... well. a mature, reasoned discussion about that particular topic.

That's what the words mean.

That's what I read.

What I heard was: "Shut up", he explained.

Which pretty much stopped me in my tracks, because that is not the sort of reaction I am used to having in that context. I was struck by just how negatively that phrase impacted me. I had a very visceral, gut level, negative reaction to those words. I had to do a mental reset to keep it from coloring my opinion of the comment.

Thinking about it, I am pretty sure that it comes from wading deep into 2A discussions online recently. There, use of that particular phrase (or close variations) almost seems to be a talking point. I am pretty sure that you know the general conversational template:
Person #1: "Why can't we just enact reasonable gun control laws?!?!?"
Person #2: [explanation of current gun control laws]
Person #3: [discussion of problems enforcing current laws]
Person #4: [points out problems with gun control legislation du jour]
Person #1: "What we really need is a mature, reasoned discussion..."
When Person #1 hauls out the "mature, reasoned discussion" phrase, what they are implying - whether they actually mean to do so or not - is that they do not consider anything proceeding their comment to be mature or reasoned. Which says something about their opinion of the previous commenters.  More to the point, since they have decided those comments are neither mature nor reasoned, then they cannot be part of the discussion.

It is an insulting, dismissive phrase.

In other words... "Shut up", he explained.

If Jane Austin Worked for a Startup

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a company in possession of a good product, must be in want of someone to diagnose Unicode issues."

Schrödinger's Amendment

"Seriously. Who needs an AR-15? All they're good is for killing people!"

"Eh. Not me. I want one, mind you. They're fun to shoot. But no, I don't need one."

"Right! So we should pass a law that makes them illegal, then confiscate all of them!"

"Then I'd need one."

"... I thought you said you didn't need one?"

"If they make them illegal and start to confiscate them, then I'll need one."

"What? Why?"

"Because someone will try to come and take it away."

"But you don't even have one!"

"At that point, I won't want to have one. But I'll need to have one."


"To keep someone from taking it away."

"But you don't have one!"

"Right. But I'll need one."

"But you don't have one now!"

"No one's trying to take it away, now. So I want one, but I don't need one."

"But if they try to take it away..."

"Then I'll need one, but I won't want one."


"Because I don't want to have to shoot anybody."

"I don't want anybody shooting anybody!"

"Then don't try to take away my AR-15."


"Right. Because I don't need one... yet."

If It Was Hard To Write, Then It Should Be Hard To Read

OK, yes. I admit it. I laughed out loud.


Then I started to memorize the insults.

Life's A Bitter Shame

I took the #1 Minion out for a burger at Five Guys last night, and while we were there, "Crazy Train" started playing...
I've listened to preachers, I've listened to fools;
I've watched all the dropouts who make their own rules.
One person conditioned to rule and control;
The media sells it, and you live the role.

It's a hard, cold bite of reality when freaking Ozzy Osbourne has a better insight into the political process than a vast majority of voters.

Well, now.

According to Google's blog stats, the two most heavily represented countries of my readers are the United States (no real surprise, there) and... Russia?


Rounding out the top five are Japan, Brazil, and China; the remainder of the top ten are various European countries (Germany, France, Portugal, Poland, Italy).

Well, then - for my foreign readers...

  • Добро пожаловать в мой блог!
  • 私のブログへようこそ!
  • Bem-vindo ao meu blog!
  • 欢迎来到我的博客!
  • Wilkommen auf meinem blog!
  • Bienvenue sur mon blog!
  • Witam na moim blogu!
  • Benvenuti nel mio blog!

(No, I speak not a word of of any of these languages.  Credit - or blame - goes to Google Translate.)

Warcraft Quick Review

Two thumbs up for Warcraft. They did a solid job with the story, and the best part of the special effects is that they were well-enough done that they mostly faded into the background and just... were. It didn't take too long to stop thinking, "Oh, look at those special effects!" and think, "Wow. Durotan is really worried..."

The actors did a great job, particularly Travis Fimmel as Anduin Lothar and Toby Kebbell as Durotan. Gul'dan was especially loathsome, exactly as he should be, and Daniel Wu did a great job of bringing that across. I'd be lying if I said I didn't really like Ben Schnetzer as a (young!) Khadgar, too.

Someone who's a Warcraft player will obviously get the most out of the film - for example, there's a scene with a young Varian, which was amazingly cool. There were lots of little things like that which will have significance if you already know Warcraft lore; but knowing them really isn't essential to understanding the story, which can stand on its own.

I'm looking forward to watching the director's cut.  I heard that they trimmed the movie about 40 minutes, and I'd have a feeling that the story will flow better if it's spaced out slightly more. Based on the plot points and the box office take, I'm going to bet that there's at least a second movie based on TBC in the future.

Oh, and there's a murloc, which everyone rode past and just ignored. That made me laugh out loud :-)

A Modest Proposal

"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts."
– Proverbs 31:6
Given the way this upcoming presidential election is shaping up, I think it is well past time that the US lowered the drinking age to 18 across the board.

I mean... honestly? There are folks who are getting ready to vote in their first ever presidential election. At this point, it looks like they are going to have to choose among voting for the amateur liar, voting for the professional liar [1], or voting their conscience and pulling the lever for somebody who has less than a snowball's chance of winning.

And you want to force them to make that kind of choice sober?

That's just cruel and unusual punishment. 

[1] I will let you argue amongst yourselves as to which is which.

A Few Of My Favorite Time Sinks

I made a comment to a friend the other day about time sinks, so I thought I'd document a few of my favorite here, in case anybody is interested.  Please comment if you have your own recommendations!

The SCP Foundation. Secure, Contain, Protect. The world is not what it seems, and the SCP Foundation is there to help keep things sane. Well, sane-er. Sane-ish. This isn't a web comic, but a shared mythology site where many authors contribute to help describe the SCP Foundations and other world-spanning organizations dealing with the paranormal, the occult, the extraterrestrial, and the Just Plain Weird.

TV Tropes. The all-devouring pop-culture Wiki. Enough said.

/r/nosleep. Just found this a few weeks ago. A Reddit forum for posting original horror stories. Read "Search and Rescue" and "Room 733", definitely. The quality of the stories can be all over the map, but there's some good ones in there.

Narbonic. If you haven't burned several hours reading this yet, go ahead and start from the beginning. The adventures of a middle-aged mad scientist and her favorite henchmen/experimental subjects.  The artwork was never bad; a little rough in the earlier strips, but it improves dramatically as time goes by. The storyline starts off nicely, mutates into awesome and then kicks it up a notch or eleven into uncharted territories of incredible.

Skin Horse. Essentially a follow on to Narbonic, with a few crossover characters. If you find the idea of a secret government agency dedicated to providing social services to the creations of mad scientists intriguing, this is the webcomic you've been waiting for.

Schlock Mercenary. A very, very long, very large scale SF webcomic. The artwork starts off very rough, but improves dramatically over the life of the strip, and the story lines and characters are amazing. Author John Ringo has done a series of books ("Live Free or Die", "Troy Rising", "The Hot Gate") set in the early days of Humanity in the Schlock-verse.

Digger. Dead gods and wombats. Won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story back in 2012. It's a truly delightful story, and one that I've re-read more than a couple of times, finding something new in each pass.

Order of the Stick. OotS started off as a Dungeons & Dragons funny comic, and... as they say, Things Happened. Rich Burlew is a fantastic artist with a very distinctive style, a great storyteller, and man... the *story* that grows out of those first few gag strips? Amazing.

Sluggy Freelance. One of the Ancient Elders of the webcomic world, the strip alternates between silly, serious, trivial and terrifying. Plus, it has a murderous, sociopathic, talking lop-eared rabbit. What more could you ask for?

Freefall. A SF webcomic. With DOGGY! Oh, and a morally-challenged space quid, about a bazillion robots, a veterinarian, and a story arc that is really, really quite impressive.

A Redtail's Dream. A incredible, very visually impressive story based on Finnish folklore by Minna Sundberg.

Stand Still, Stay Silent. Minna Sundberg's new story, about a world-ending virus and what comes after: zombies, trolls, giants and things that go bump in the night... sometimes, very, very forcefully.

Basic Instructions. You're living your life - do you want to know how to live it *well*? They you probably don't want to follow Scott Meyer's advice, unless you want your life to be more... interesting than it is now.  Eh.  You know what? Forget that. Take everything he says as a lesson in life. You might have some problems, but the rest of us will be amused.

Broodhollow. A sweet yet creepy webcomic by Kris Straub. The artwork is wonderful. Still in progress, and just returning from a hiatus.

Experience Boost. Not a WoW comic. Nope, nope. This is all about... World of Quests! Yeah! Totally different! Except in all the ways that make you laugh.

Girl Genius. by Kaja and Phil Foglio. Yes, FOGLIO. Go. Read. Mad science means never having to say your sorry (though it probably is polite, dear.)

Goblins. What happens when a group of goblins, guarding a poorly secured treasure chest, decide that THEY can be adventurers, too! Starts off kind of rough around the edges, and without much of a plot, but really grows from there, and ends up going into some dark places (and planting lanterns there, in a very satisfying way). Updates are not all that regular, but the wait is worth it.

Full Frontal Nerdity. A comic about gaming and gamers that really is really about... well, gaming and gamers. But, like, done really, really well. By Aaron Williams. who also does Nodwick, which is just as good, if not better.

Nodwick. Every party of loot-crazy adventurers needs a henchman, right? Well, that guy's Nodwick.

Use Sword on Monster. From the creator of Nodwick and Full Frontal Nerdity. What happens when universes collide? Well... heroes. Just not the heroes that you'd necessarily want.

The Whiteboard. Alaskan paintball, things in the fridge, romance, particle accelerators, and generalize silliness. Definitely worth a mention as Doc, the main character, has appeared as a cameo in more than a couple of other comics on this list... so if other web cartoonists think it's cool enough to read, you should read it, too. Obviously.

JL8. Ever wonder what the Justice League would have looked like in middle school? Wonder no more!

The Mansion of E. The artwork isn't as much bad as it is minimalistic; but the storyline and the world are... wow. Creative just isn't a big enough word to describe it.

Wondermark. An Illustrated Jocularity.

XKCD. You're probably already reading this, even if you're not. At least, that's what multiverse theory suggests. You should start reading it so you end up in one of the good universes.

Xylobone Tomes. A lich, a plant girl, and... well, strangeness is afoot. Lovely black & white artwork, and what seems to be an intriguing story so far.

This Is Not The Samantha You Are Looking For

A while back, a young lady in the UK managed to mistype her email address for an online Victoria's Secret order, and I ended up getting all her shipping updates.  I would have let her know, but... wrong email address.  I am pleased to report that her shipment arrived on time and (as far as I can tell) she got what she ordered.

Now, though, I am getting daily email updates on specials from Victoria's Secret. I would unsubscribe and/or relegate them to the spam folder, but I've put it off for too long. I mean, after their Panty Party Sale emails, it really feels like we've bonded, you know?

Plus, how else will I know that the "#1 New Sexy Summer Bra" is on sale?  (Though they never seem to have it in my size, for some reason.)