ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

A potpourri of reviews

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A couple of quick reviews, simply because I've been lax and haven't gotten to them (all links are to Amazon):


Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. Okay folks, I've been seeing the io9 writers say they unexpectedly loved this film for a year, so I finally decided to trust their taste.  HOLY MERDE GUYS I AM SO GLAD I DID.... if for no other reason than that they came up with a real reason for Cruise's character to be the single savior for the world. Okay, so they somehow forgot to explain why they'd shove a journalist officer into sophisticated tech he wasn't trained on, but I'd rather they botch that than have him be the savior of the world because he's the Special White Male. Blunt's acting is top-notch, and there's a dark sharp humor throughout that makes this far more than any of the trailers made it out to be.

Indelible Ink by Matt Betts: Matt's writing is as sharp as always. He's come up with an interesting and consistent world, and while the plot isn't particularly surprising, it has enough twists and turns to make it a fun ride.

(Full disclosure: I published Matt's collection of poetry and short fiction, See No Evil, Say No Evil because I liked it so much.)

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig: Chuck's writing is best when he puts his characters into horrible, but relatable situations... and then makes them squirm against both societal norms and their own impulses. Blackbirds serves this up in spades. Awful in the most delightful way.

Lock In by John Scalzi: This novel very definitely has a "big idea", and doesn't let you forget it. It's probably a shame that I read this closely after re-reading Redshirts, simply because the former completely absorbed me despite the big ideas, whereas the Big Idea of the Lock In was so front and center here. That said, Scalzi is a masterful storyteller, so while I didn't find this to be his best book, it was still a damn fine one.


War Stories, ed Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak:  This Kickstarted anthology really hit me in the feels. Particularly with a topic like "war", it's hard to walk that line where you both convey the reality of the situation while not glorifying it or wandering into tropes. This anthology manages that balancing act well.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects, ed. John Joseph Adams: This Kickstarted anthology suffers from one flaw: the sheer number of stories that are told in the format of crowdfunding campaigns. It isn't that the tales are repetitive, but the format is so restrictive that after reading several in a row that the delight starts to fade. The same thing happens with flash fiction, so while I recommend this book as well, I would suggest you dip your toe in every so often rather than try to binge on it.

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I think Donald Trump is serious about running for President. Just not the way you think.

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Look, it's not hard to find Trump saying awful things. Whether it's claiming that immigrants are criminals or the sexist ways he talks about women, he's pretty consistently coming across as a horrible, awful, nasty person.

That's the point.

Because everyone's talking about Trump.

They're not talking about Scott Walker's "no exception to save the life of the woman" platform. They're not talking about... well, any stupidity that Cruz has said. And so on.

This isn't about 2016. Since the 80's, the GOP has been playing a long game. This is no different.

Because the exact same policies that were extreme just last election cycle are now not the extreme. Now, compared to Trump's clown act (and I'm pretty convinced it is an act), the idea of "extreme right" in America is shifting even further to the right.

Trump is dangerous.

Not because he's going to win.

But because he's going to make extreme conservative policies look like the "moderate" option.

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This is the Winger speech of Winger speeches.

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I made the mistake of reading John C. Wright's blog and realized something important

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I just read two entries of Mr. Wright's blog, mind you.  I lay the responsibility of this squarely at the feet of Nick Mamatas, who linked to one of them.

I thought they were satire.

Seriously. They are so over the top and contradictory... for example, this paragraph:
The support of abortion, sodomy, and euthanasia rather unambiguously put a soul into the position of open rebellion against Christian teachings. In addition, any man who bears false witness against his neighbor, delights in poison-tongued gossip, and destroys writing careers of anyone who does not support his politics not only disobeys Christ, but violates the ordinary decency of ordinary men of good will of any faith.
Apparently he did not realize that writing long screeds against Tor editors and asserting huge-ass conspiracy theories (if you're really interested, go look up GRRM's thorough debunking of his assertions) counts as poison-tongued gossip.



 
Oh, and in the same post he claims that Theodore Beale's current behavior (along with the Rapid[sic] Puppy rebellion) is entirely due to other people's influences.



And then this delightful gem (apparently referring to people like me):

Hate is their diet. We are motivated by love of the genre, the simple pleasure of reading, and delight in all things in the cosmos, from the normal romance of man and wife to the sublime glories of spinning galaxies, clusters and superclusters in the vast and burning cathedral of light we call the universe.
All that is ours. Our works and our ways should and do reflect this, including our works of art.
They are perverted sexually, mentally, and in all ways. Their petty acts of outrage-masturbation and self righteousness harm them as well as us, and are quite unsightly to boot. A pool of sticky liquid best left unidentified.

And really, that quote deserves this:
 

Seriously, folks, while I have a tendency to do a Winger-esque speech when given half a chance, just these two blog posts are so... just, wow.

But the real problem - and the reason I'm glad I read these posts - lies in this paragraph (despite its hyperbole):

If we retreat or show weakness, the gibbering baboons will rejoice, can claim the heap of poo they have shoveled together in their own camps and kitchens is their mountain of victory. One need only look at the world of painting and sculpture to see the result of that.
Because apparently he's not taken any classes in art history, and wants us all to go back to painting tryptichs of scenes from Jesus' life (I wonder if he's aware that Christ is a title, given how much he uses it)?  And man, while I don't "get" all modern art, I don't always "get" classical art either... and some modern art is just freaking amazing.

But the problem is embedded in that paragraph. It's not the victim mentality; it's not even the overgeneralization.

It's the false dichotomy that only one or the other can exist.

Can John C. Wright write such floridly purple prose? Absolutely. Can he continue to act just like the people who drove me away from Catholicism? Sure can. And I can write about abortion, or publishing, or liberalism, or postmodernism, or whatever too.  That's kind of how this works.


I really don't care what Wright, Beale, Torgerson, Correia, etc write. I think they should write what they love to write.  I think they should market to people who love that kind of writing.

That's how I write, and how I publish. I publish the anthologies that I want to read, and market them to people who feel the same way. Some people don't like what I write and publish, and that's cool too.

Write what you love. Sell it to others who love that kind of writing. Get it recognized by others who love to recognize your kind of writing.

That is showing love for the genre.

Calling for - and I quote: "So this year’s effort to pursue a moderate and measured response failed. War without mercy or let is all that remains."? Trying to force people to like what you write? Trying to get rid of and eliminate other people's works?

That's not love of the genre.

That's pride. Mr. Wright, perhaps you should revisit your catechism.




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...it's already started again (another quick note for those who were on slates) #Hugos

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First off, congrats to the Hugo Award winners!

My sympathies to those works which (probably) weren't on the ballot due to Puppy slates.

And I wish that was all there was to this post.

Sadly, it's not.


Because for those who found themselves on a slate: It's not over for you yet.

[dramatic music plays]

Not because of anything I am doing.


[dramatic music disappears]

Because if you were on a Puppy slate, and unlike Rajnar Vajra, you did not distance yourself publicly from them... they're already using you as a poster child for their martyrdom dance. They're claiming you're a victim of the ... whatever acronym they're using this week for anyone who disagrees with them.

And look, it does suck if you got on the ballot and don't agree with the homophobic, sexist, and racist things that the various head (or lesser) Puppies have said. It sucks that you got labeled by those... idiots.

They're the ones making you into victims.

This isn't some weird "blame the victim" thing - I mean this quite literally.  They claimed you as their own. They tried to make you into their mouthpiece - going so far as to actually speak for other authors.  Back in May, Brad Torgersen already literally tried to make Juliette Wade into a victim and martyr for the Puppies... until she spoke up for herself.

And I'm already seeing it done (semi) privately1 about those who remained on the ballot. They're calling you victims. They're using this as evidence of a (really, there isn't one, have you met us?) left-wing cabal.

They're tying your name and reputation even more solidly to theirs.

So the voting is over. You kept your head down, hoping that for the most part, this would blow over. And many of us wish that would be the end of it.

But I'm already seeing that's not the case. Hopefully this is just a quick little burp of activity... but I doubt it.

I'm afraid they're going to try to keep using you as a symbol. That you'll become more and more associated with the racist, sexist, and bigoted elements in the Puppy camps.

So I'm going to repeat what I said back in June:

I am asking you to take a stand against the racism and sexism and homophobia that the most visible Puppies seem to enjoy (or enjoy being linked to).
Not some feeble "let's all get along" speech, but simply taking the time to denounce racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia.
Because right now, whether you like it or not, you are being linked to a slate - one that is associated with racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia. 
And in this case, silence means that you're okay with that.

It sucks that you have to state that out loud.

Blame those who are making sure your reputation is tied to theirs.


1 Because I haven't looked. I understand that positioning was already being done weeks ago, though. And no, I'm not linking to other people's FB feeds for this post.

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Writing Music Review: Tycho

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I first became aware of Tycho through the excellent podcast Song Exploder. While I definitely intellectually enjoy all of the Song Exploder episodes, I don't always enjoy the music.

Sometimes I do, and discover that the song featured on the podcast is unlike most of what the album's like. (This is one reason I love preview features so much, especially as they're done on Bandcamp.)

And sometimes, just sometimes, I discover that the entire discography has the same spirit and quality that got me interested in the first place.

That describes my experience with Tycho.

Tycho is slightly electronic, slightly acoustic, slightly chill, slightly atmospheric, slightly beat-driven, slightly ambient.

Yeah, I know.

It has enough energy to get you moving, but enough class to get out of the way and let you do the rest of your work. In my book, that makes it excellent writing music.

You can get Tycho's work at most digital stores (Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes, Google); you can preview "Awake" (which sucked me in) below via Bandcamp, and check out the Song Exploder episode as well!


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Why I Am Not Judging Anyone Who Has An Email Address in the Ashley Madison Leak

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On episode 456 of the Savage Lovecast, Dan's intro pointed out essentially what I've said here, but it's worth listening to after you read this. His podcast is NSFW.

Let me just quote you the first line of Wired's article "How to Check if You or a Loved One Were Exposed in the Ashley Madison Hack":
WAIT. STOP. DON’T do this. Don’t check these websites.
Obviously, people are.

Otherwise I wouldn't be seeing people already snarking about (edit: I should have said "talking about" here instead of reacting from a.place of feeling judged myself.) certain "media personalities" already being found out as having an account on the site. (The same thing goes for the hack of AdultFriendFinder a while back.)  Ashley Madison had forty million subscribers. AdultFriendFinder had sixty four million subscribers.

Even if we assume that all members of Ashley Madison also had accounts at AdultFriendFinder, that's 26.45% of all adult Americans.1

That's a lot of people.

But I think there's one big reason you shouldn't judge anyone whose e-mail addresses were associated with an account.2

It's because those of you on the outside don't know the story.

First, you're assuming what someone else's relationship is like. You don't know what arrangements other people have in their marriages or relationships. You don't know what spouses have agreed to - and they're definitely not under any obligation to tell you. What people do in their marriages is between those people - not the rest of the world.


Second, you're assuming that everyone who had an account did (or was even going to) actively do something in real life. Not all of them were planning to - because that's the category that I fall in.

Yes, me. You can find one of my e-mail addresses in the leak.

And you can know my story:

After a devastating breakup, I was heartbroken and felt worthless. Suddenly single, lonely, and sad, I made accounts on both of those sites.

I didn't do anything with them, didn't meet anyone on them. 

Why did I make the accounts? Because I was lonely, and depressed. There was a bit of a thrill of the idea that these people might be interested in me. I looked around, checked the site, saw some of the pictures that were posted, got a little thrill out of the possibility...

...and that was it.

If someone had tried to hit on me with the AshleyMadison account3, I don't think I would have actually done anything. I try to be ethical in my behavior, and participating in someone else breaking their commitments isn't ethical. While I've messed up with that before, it's not something I want to do again.

Was making an account there stupid? Yes. Am I glad I didn't even have the opportunity to be tempted to do something unethical? Yup.

But I know that even though I did not do anything unethical, there's no distinction between my e-mail address and everyone else's. And there's no distinction for people who were acting with a partner's knowledge.

So I'm not going to judge anyone else by whether or not they had an account on that site. As I meet new people, I'm not going to look them up.

Because I don't know their story.

And I'd rather know them.


1 I'll let the fact that not all accounts were in the US, etc, compensate for the fact that we don't know what overlap there was.
2 Aside from the very real possibility that people's emails were hacked.  As they said: "The site also did not conduct email verifications, meaning unpaid accounts could be falsified."
3 Though I didn't meet anyone on AdultFriendFinder, I don't find it unethical.

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Can you be extroverted in some situations when you're typically introverted?

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So here's a strange thing I noticed last weekend:

I had no spoons.  I had imaginary freaking spoons.

But I went out to a discussion group about dating etiquette, and that was great, because it was really kind of academic, and not personal.

But then I was able to be an emotional support for other people, and that gave me energy.  Not in a vampire kind of way, but as if I'm only extroverted (and therefore feeling energized) when I'm helping other people.

Anyone else feel something like this?

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The Compendium Relationship Resource Post (Please add your resources in the comments)

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Oh, crap, he's still talking about relationships.

Yeah, I am.

First, I want to publicly express my gratitude and thankfulness to both friends and to the poly community of Dayton, both for their understanding and their wonderful examples of clear communication and healthy relationships.

Second, I want this to be a kind of link aggregator post - where I (and others) can point people when they're having problems with their relationships.  I'm going to suggest a variety of resources here - and I think these are useful resources for anybody, regardless of what kind of relationship type you have.

Redefining Our Relationships: Wendy O-Matik's book is what really started me on the road of intentionality in relationships, and is a good introductory read.  (Disclosure: I did the eBook conversion of this text, which is how I was originally introduced to it.)

The Ethical Slut: This book does a lot to explode the "default" ideas, so that you can start having some intentionality in your relationships.

More Than Two: On an interview with Cunning Minx (see below), the authors of this book said the highest praise they'd gotten was that some people realized that polyamory wasn't for them. That communicates to me that their goal is helping people create the relationship(s) that works for them, instead of forcing a particular model on someone. You might guess that this appeals to me.  The tips at the blog (https://www.morethantwo.com/), especially those relating to jealousy, are helpful for everyone.


Non-Violent Communication: This is a way to be able to communicate your wants and needs in a way that respects others. Not only is it a great guide for reforming the way that you communicate... well, see below.

I would also highly recommend The Elephant Journal and Tiny Buddha as great resources.


Becoming familiar with these resources - again, regardless of what kind or type of relationship(s) you have - is a good thing. In my experience, the people who are predatory will have learned some of the terms and concepts outlined here, but won't actually grok what is meant.

Some posts of my own that I refer back to:

The Relationship Escalator and Certainty In Relationships (Questioning is hard, but good)


Intent Matters In Relationships

The difference between boundaries and rules

Moving Beyond Toxic Empathy

Sometimes a logical fallacy isn't a fallacy when you're talking about human interactions

The danger of (emotional) self-diagnosis

the cardinal rule of relationships

There's more than deciding to "round up" a partner

If there are particular posts or resources (of mine or someone else's), please post them in the comments.
 




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I'm telling you, you're messing up the story. Get it right!

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Special Call For Submissions: No Sh!t, There I was

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What: No Shit, There I Was, an anthology of short speculative fiction sharing one common thread: each story begins with that immortal line. Where they end will be up to the writer.

Why: The world is full of unbelievable, hilarious, and sometimes tragic no shit, there I was stories. Can speculative fiction writers rise to the challenge of creating something even more fantastical than the everyday product?

Who We Are: Alliteration Ink is run by Steven Saus (member SFWA/HWA), focusing on anthologies and single-author collections, with over a dozen titles across two imprints.

Rachael Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. In addition to her steampunk novella series, she’s had short stories in Strange Horizons, Waylines, Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra, and more. She’s an active member of SFWA, the Northern Colorado Writer’s Workshop, and Codex.

Who: This will be an open call. All who read and follow the submission guidelines are welcome in the slush pile.

When: Rachael wants stories no later than 6 Jan 2016. No exceptions will be made. The Kickstarter will occur after the table of contents has been set.

What We Want From You:

Stories 2,000-7,500 words long. Query for anything shorter or longer.
All stories must begin with the line, No shit, there I was. It can be dialog or part of the regular prose.

Stories must contain a discernible speculative element, either fantasy or science fiction, and the speculative element must be integral to the plot. Dependent upon submission quality, the intention is for a 50/50 split of fantasy and science fiction.

The intention is to cover a wide range of subgenres to show the versatility of a single opening linecomedies, tragedies, and everything in between are welcome in the slush pile. That said, Rachael is not terribly interested in horror, and erotica is right out. Salty language is okay, gratuitous violence, gore, or sex is not. Feel free to query if you have questions.

We are particularly interested in seeing stories from underrepresented populations (eg: people of color, people with disabilities, LGBT people).

Original fiction strongly preferred; query first for reprints.

Submitted stories must be in standard manuscript format and submitted in rtf, doc, or docx file format. Please make sure your name, email address, word count, and title of your story are on the first page of your manuscript.
Stories that do not follow these guidelines may face summary rejection.
Submissions should be sent to noshit@alliterationink.com

Payment: We intend to fund this project via Kickstarter. Authors are encouraged to provide backer rewards for the campaign, but that is definitely not required. The initial funding goal will provide for a flat $0.06/per word (US) for all stories. In the unlikely event a reprint is accepted, payment will be $0.03/per word (US). There will be no kill fees. Higher per word payment will be one of the stretch goals for the project.

While the table of contents will be mostly set prior to the Kickstarter for advertising purposes, contracts will not be sent out until the Kickstarter is completed. Should the project fail to fund, it will continue, though with a different payment structure to be determined. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Rights: Exclusive English world first print and digital rights for one year. Nonexclusive print, digital, and anthology rights for term of copyright. All other rights are reserved to the author.

Contact Information: Editorial decisions are to be handled by Rachael Acks and questions regarding them should be directed to her at noshit@alliterationink.com. Contract, money, publicity, and business decisions will be handled by Alliteration Ink, and should be directed to steven@alliterationink.com (or any other e-mail address you have for him - they all go to the same place).

This call for submissions can also be found at http://noshit.alliterationink.com/

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You might be acting like a bigot - and never mean to.

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There's a correlary to the "Nice White Guy" post I made a while back. It's implied, but worth explicitly calling out.

Many of us are familiar with the problems that people with privilege have with understanding structural racism versus personal racism. The latter is easy to identify - they say things like this asshat.

But many people have a much harder time identifying structural racism, which is far, far more common and insiduous. It could be something like the way funding of classrooms from property taxes perpetuates the problems of redlining without any conscious effort, or how racial profiling of traffic stops creates the selection bias that creates the results that supposedly "justifying" racial profiling.

Because it's a hard task to get white people (and it's almost always white people) to accept that structural racism creates a system where people who aren't personally racist can act in horribly racist ways. 1

A similar problem occurs when otherwise sympathetic (but still privilege-blinded) allies propose their suggestions for solving problems... which as I pointed out would work great for people with privilege, but would fail spectacuarly for those without privilege.

The problem is not just that it's hard for privileged folks to see the problems, but a larger problem is that it becomes interpreted as a personal attack.

It is extremely difficult to understand that one's privilege and/or structural racism can not only blind you to racism, but that you perpetuate it without meaning to.

And so any critique, any demonstration of the racist system, gets taken personally by the person with privilege.

I've not only seen this myself, but I've done it myself. It is a frustratingly difficult task to not only objectively evaluate oneself 2, but to even further be able to realize that your actions (and ideas) may produce results diametrically opposed to the ideals that you espouse.

But trust me.

It's not personal.

Learning that racism is bad and you should do something about it is the first step.

Not taking it personally is the second.


1 This goes for sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and so on as well.
2 Lots of people claim to... emphasis once again on claim.

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Sometimes It Only Looks Like A Torture Device

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This horrible contraption is called a pigg-o-stat.

I have a confession to make. I've used it before. On children.

They cried and wailed as I closed the device around their frail forms.

Of course, that was what was supposed to happen.

This particular device was (and may still be) used to ensure that it's possible to get a good chest x-ray of infants. The plastic holds their arms upright and out of the way. They're supported and held still. Their legs straddle a miniature bicycle seat.

Oh yes, the crying. That's on purpose, too.

Babies don't like being restrained, so they scream like nobody's business when you put them in this device. And they cry and cry and cry and cry and take a deep breath before crying again.

That's when you take the x-ray. That deep breath in makes a world of difference in the clarity of the x-ray and ensuring that the radiologist can read it well.

I had a mother once insist she be in the room for her child's x-rays...and promptly freak out about the pigg-o-stat. Even after I explained its purpose and use, she still insisted that it not be used. My supervisor said I should just go ahead and do as she asked.

She and her husband held the child's limbs down, spreadeagle, as the infant's head and back were on the hard edges and surfaces of the x-ray table and film. He struggled and pulled against his parents, and cried erratically.

If I remember correctly, between the child's struggling, erratic breathing, and parents getting in the way, it took five exposures to get a useable chest x-ray. Five times the radiation exposure... and a barely-readable image.

Let's not talk about how hard it was to get a lateral picture.

The parents were not subject matter experts in that situation. Their "kindness" did actual, empirical harm to their child (and themselves!) in the form of higher radiation exposure and suboptimal images.

Sometimes knowing why - and knowing how that "why" impacts the outcome - is the difference between something being a good decision or one that hurts those you're trying to help.

Jumping right in because something seems right or wrong when you don't have all the information can lead to far worse consequences than you expect.

And it sometimes requires a little bit of distance from the situation to be able to see what the right decision really is.

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Writing Music Review: Osmos OST

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It's always a delight when good music is both part of a game and something that you'd like to listen to later. And it's even better when it's free.

To backtrack:

Osmos came out in 2009. As Wikipedia summarizes it:

The aim of the game is to propel oneself, a single-celled organism ("Mote"), into other smaller motes to absorb them. Colliding with a mote larger than the player will cause the player to be absorbed, resulting in a game over. Changing course is done by expelling mass. Due to conservation of momentum, this results in the player's mote moving away from the expelled mass, but also in one's own mote shrinking.
It's a challenging, but fun game. It's also available for pretty much every platform out there as well, and reasonably priced. (Check it out here.)

It stood out for being an indie game with beautiful graphic design and a wonderfully ambient minimalist soundtrack. It's one of the first games I really thought about making sure I could get the soundtrack for...because it so clearly provides just enough background to help me focus, but not so much that I get distracted.

And in 2010, my wishes came true. The entire soundtrack was released for free (mp3 and m4a formats) at Create Digital Music. So you have no excuse for checking this one out!


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Murderhobos: THE T-SHIRT (and more)

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I was recently introduced to the term "murderhobos". It's a pretty snazzy classification for, oh, every Dungeons and Dragons party ever.  (Yes, and Pathfinder, and Iron Kingdoms, and 13th Age, and and and and.)

Because think about it. You're a bunch of (essentially) homeless wanderers who go around and murder people (or goblins, or orcs, etc) for profit. Hence, murderhobos.

Well, that deserves a gorram t-shirt.

And a coffee mug.

So I made it.

http://shop.spreadshirt.com/472381/?locale=us_US

You can get it all through my Spreadshirt shop (men's tee, women's tee, mug).

I've also got some other designs up there right now as well, like the imaginary spoons (men's, women's, mug), the cows are not as they seem (men's, women's), and my nod to how everything's better online: this would be funnier as a gif (men's, women's).

http://shop.spreadshirt.com/472381/?locale=us_US

http://shop.spreadshirt.com/472381/?locale=us_US

http://shop.spreadshirt.com/472381/?locale=us_US

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The question pro-life advocates don't care about: Why should I bring an unwanted child into the world?

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I don't often make a big deal out of this, but I'm personally pro-life.

Politically, I hasten to add, I'm pro-choice.

If somehow it were to be a situation where I was personally involved and my opinion was asked, I'd try to find a way to be pro-life... but I'd also acknowledge that the decision is not mine to make. I mentioned this before in "Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion".

Unfortunately, the problem I mention there and in "On Any Given (Pro-Life) Sunday" still plagues us:

The pro-life movement isn't actually pro-life. It's only pro-birth.

I wrote the essay below back around the turn of the century, when I was still a practicing member of the Church (hence the change in tone after the break below). It's sad that it's still true today.

It's sad that after more than a decade of people pointing this out, the "pro-life" movement is still more concerned with abortion than with life.

And it's not just me saying it either:





It is a common "pro-choice" argument; at some point we've all heard it, thought it, or maybe even said it. 

"Why should I bring an unwanted child into the world?"

I thought about it before my first son was born, but not in the way it's usually meant. This question can lead quickly into arguments about adoptions and orphanages, but that's wasn't it. His mother and I discussed abortion just long enough for us to agree we were both strongly against it, and it was settled.

What kept bothering me was the implied question, the one behind the common argument. Why expose a child to all of... this?

Why bring another child into poverty? Why bring another child into a world torn with war and violence, where pollution is increasing, where children labor for pennies to produce disposable products for our leisure? With all the negative things in the world today - crime, racism, bad schools, the list goes on - why would anyone want to subject another innocent to any of these things?

I am lucky. Most of these don't personally affect my family. But what about those who aren't such fortunate sons, no matter where they live? How can I tell those parents-to-be that thier concerns don't matter? How can I tell them that they should bring thier child into this world? How can I convince them to bear, love, and care for a child who may suffer as much as they have, or worse?

That is when I realized something I didn't want to admit. The "pro-choice" people were right.

We all - on both sides of this divisive issue - want the best possible for our children. We don't want children, innocents, to suffer. I have hope and and faith in God's plan. For those who do not share that faith, though, that isn't enough. 

The pro-life movement doesn't - and cannot - offer a universal, convincing argument that thier children won't needlessly suffer. I could think of no rational reason why those already facing the horrors of the world should allow that to happen to thier unborn children.

The next step then became obvious: the "pro-choice" argument must be proved wrong. Proved wrong not by rhetoric, but by our actions.

"Pro-life" cannot simply be synonymous with "anti-abortion", even if that's what it is now. We can't just be "anti-abortion" - not if we wish to be honest to ourselves, not if we want to have others to share the hope for all children. The pro-life movement must fully live up to its name to counter the "culture of death" in all forms.

Protesting at clinics, harrassing doctors and nurses, and other actions to stop people aren't answering the very real problems in our world. We need to give all people - and thier unborn children - hope.

We must work to end the causes of abortion, the things that make abortion a desirable option, the horrors that plague our world. This is no simple task. 

Sweatshops, war, terror, poverty, starvation, illness, racism, injustice - all these things are intertwined with the cause to which we are committed.

"Pro-choice" advocates rightly point out that abortions happened before Roe vs. Wade. Outlawing abortion will not make it suddenly cease. Simply denying abortion - even though justified - promotes despair rather than promoting life. The pro-life movement should not - cannot - be concerned only with whether someone is alive, but also with the quality of that life. We must make it so that no one would ever want to have an abortion. Rather than the tired tactics of fear and hatred, we must instead offer hope.

It may take decades to reduce - let alone remove - these causes of abortion. We may not ever be able to remove them all. Still, we must try.

After all, it's for the children.

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