Friday, October 18, 2002

So, I was playing Delta Green last night with the guys, our normal Thursday night thing. The game was going great, really exciting and all sorts of crazy stuff going on, until an unfortunate sewer disaster called our Game Master Frank home. So that got me to thinking about roleplaying games and how people think about RPGs.

The wives of all of our gaming group tend to make fun of us at times. Yes, sometimes it's amusing, mostly it's just annoying. I know this girl at work, Gina. Her boyfriend comes in sometimes and we talk about RPGs and she laughs at us. I tell her that she should play sometime. And then she says something like "oh, I'd really not be interested in something like that." Which only shows her ignorance.

You watch TV, or go to the movies, right? RPGs are just like that, except that they require more of you. They require you to be a participant, rather than a passive viewer. The only reason I could see for someone not enjoying something like that is just sheer laziness. Or ignorance of how much fun it can be. RPGs require intelligence and skill and an active imagination.

So, the next time one of the wives starts in on us, I'm firing back with something like, "you'd rather we go to Hooters next Thursday?"

It gets old being told that something you really enjoy, something that is so utterly cool, is stupid and dorky. Especially by people who really don't know what they're talking about.

Also, read check out this rant in relation to my rant.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Militantly Utopian

Ok, I was discussing some thoughts with two friends, Scott and Meredith the other day, at work, in relation to my Extropian beliefs. And they were making claims about what is natural and what's not natural. Death being one of the natural things. I must say though, that I feel differently. I truly do think that we're on the cusp of some radical changes in technology, changes that will make it possible for us to control matter on the atomic scale. That's not too shabby.

So, I was thinking about what is "natural" and what is "unnatural" as far as technology and the human condition. Let's say that human beings have existed for about 150,000 years. Modern homo sapiens, that is. And then when we factor in that what we call "civilization", that is, farming, living in cities, all that stuff, "civilization" has only been around for about 5000 years. That's a pitifully small slice of time compared to the total existence of humanity.

What it boils down to for me, though, is that I don't feel beholden to the past. I'm not obligated to live a certain way just because my ancestors did. My grandfather was a farmer in Mississippi. Then a carpenter and a postman. My father was a priest and a police-chaplain. I'm not obligated to be any of those things. I'm a bookseller and a musician.

Fire was once magic. So were antibiotics. And electricity. Meredith thinks that "just because we can do a thing, that doesn't mean that we should do a thing."

And I say that the vast majority of humanity suffers, at least on the physical level, because of the global economic system that we have, which is based on scarcity of resources, or in other words, suffering. Why is something worth more than something else? Because fewer people have it. Wealth requires poverty. But if you have control over the very foundations of matter, if industry can be automated so that people can spend more time being people instead of being cogs in an economic machine, then you can eliminate need. Economics are primitive, almost voodoo. Currently we let products (stuff) go where people want it to go, instead of where it needs to go based on need. So in America crops rot to support higher prices while in other places people starve. And it's all based on illusory ideas about what things are "worth."

People are programmed to die. Genetically. It doesn't mean that we necessarily have to. If we can create sane and rational economic systems based upon human need instead of greed, if we can manipulate the atomic structure of materials and basically eliminate need, then shouldn't we? If we can reduce suffering, shouldn't we? That is ultimately what I'm talking about. Most people think I'm crazy to even talk about such things, but I think that we're on the cusp of a new era in human history, as different from the last 5000 years as they were from the preceding epoch of human history. That's the dream.

Call me a dreamer, that's ok. I don't care. I'll continue to be militantly utopian though. Why? Because I believe that it's possible. That's the hope.
Luscious Dame posted this (for me, how cool is that?). I thought it was too cool. She and I share an appreciation for old records. I think her collection dwarfs mine, though.

When I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of ventroloquist dummies. I remember the commercials for "Magic," the 70's movie discussed in that little thread at Luscious Dame's journal. I would run screaming any time it would come on the TV, tear off down the hallway, and lock myself in my room. My older brothers would follow me and try to make me watch the commercial.

It was a hoot. Ah, abject horror. Those were the days.

So, I finished reading all the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics last night, the ones Mike wanted me to read. I have to say, that is one amazing story. Alan Moore is a god.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Mike and I were walking down on Dickson Street tonight, when this car passed, and a girl leaned out the window and yelled, "You know, if you run your balls will jiggle."

Very odd.
Need to organize my record collection. Anyone who knows me knows two things about me:

A) I'm entirely too addicted to vinyl.

B) I'm entirely too much of a slob.

I have Thursday off, and no D&D game to prepare for, so hopefully I can organize it then.

So Graham Hancock has a new book out today, called Underworld. Very interesting, but I've only done a cursory examination. I'll have more comments on it later, to be sure.

My friend zenandjuice has some comments and a picture that fit right in with this subject.
So I'm rereading All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman. It's very nuanced. A very well put together little bit of science fiction. The universe that it paints is subtle and complex, but Haldeman doesn't fall into the trap of putting in too much exposition.

Basically, the main character, Otto McGavin, is a Anglo-Buddhist who has been trained as an assassin for an interstellar government called the Confederacion. He doesn't really like what he does, but he's too good at it for them to let him stop.

You should read it. Find a copy. It was written back when people still knew how to write science fiction (David Weber my ass...).
I've been rereading a lot of biological anthropology books lately. Like Sperm Wars: the Science of Sex, and the Moral Animal. One of the things that that biological anthropology posits is that genetics influences behavior. In other words, that aggression and other bad behaviors may be inherited because they grant an advantage in spreading your genes. A man who is promiscuous, or who rapes, may end up having more progeny than a man who does not. And therefore, if those behaviors are genetic in some root cause, then by some estimations about 30% of our genetic material is derived from rapists.

Scary thought.

So, that got me to thinking about Iain Banks and his Culture novels. The thing I love about Iain Banks is how militantly, almost evangelisticly utopian his novels are. The Culture is a space based civilization in his novels, with no crime or poverty or war (with notable exceptions). It is explained better over at kuro5hin and by the man himself.

One of the ways that the Culture insures sane and rational behavior by its inhabitants is a practice Banks calls "genofixing". That is, undesirable genes have been weeded out of the population over generations. Not in any ominous way, like eugenics or genocide or whatever, but by basically practicing genetic therapy with every generation.

And with world events going on, I'm wondering if perhaps something like that might be necessary in our future. To build a sane and rational world, are we going to have to "fix" people basically? Are we hardwired for rape, war, murder? Will we have to change human nature in order to save humanity?

And what will be the cost? If we do something like that, and we met the Borg, Aliens, or whatever, will that doom us in the end?

Monday, October 14, 2002

Thanks to Heather, I now have some info on some cool websites devoted to cool bands and such in NWA. Such as Arkansasrockers. Also, mothheart. And apparently, if you subscibe to the mailing list, you can get some cool info on hardcore shows over at the fallenwebsite.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Well, there's much discussion over on Metafilter about this link about the DC sniper. So Mike and I had a long discussion about it this afternoon. So I found this commentary on the same events. While I question the political motives of the writer, I do find his points interesting.
Hey, I found a pretty cool website that has a whole bunch of Fayetteville bands online. Check it out. Some of the links seem to be dead, but the idea is great.

I've noticed that there's really no good all inclusive online source for information on cool stuff going on in NWA. There should be. Like listings of bands and art shows and so on, and online forums so that people can connect. It would also have to have links to local bands, artists and writers websites.

And maybe local blogs and community forums?
Hopefully, soon I will have a new track up on my Abstract Sound Collective site. It's called Andromeda Cloud. It should be up there in a few days, as soon as it's done uploading, and as soon as they have approved it.