Sunday, November 13, 2016

Your words, your actions, the whole of what you present yourself as is what you are. Live like the person you want to be. Resist acting like, and becoming that which you hate.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nick Spencer is Hydra and why you should care


Plenty of Spoilers. If you are interested in reading Marvel's Captain America, Steve Rogers issues 1 and 2, I would urge you to not bother. But if you do want to, and wish to do so spoiler free, stop reading this and come back later.  For full disclosure, I have not read this series, and will not for reasons outlined here.  My knowledge of this story comes from online posts that either support or deride the story.  However, I have been a Marvel fan and have read comics passionately since the early 70's.

In the newest story line about Captain America, Steve Rogers has been revealed as a long time sleeper agent for Hydra. In issue 2, we find that the Cosmic Cube, a reality warping device, has change reality so that Steve was recruited into Hydra as a young child.  If you are having problems with the reality changing concept, think about it as someone went back in time and changed young Steve's life so he became a Hydra agent.  That's happens all the time in Star Trek.  As an aside, we always hated it when our Game Master used the reality changing plot device when we played Space Opera.

For those that fear this is a permanent change, fear not. When the storyline is done, and some time has passed to prove they are not just caving, reality will be changed again. Or it will be ignored and treated as if it never happened.

This does not excuse the betrayal of the writer and editor. I dislike betrayal more than any other plot device.  I dislike it even more in real life.  I believe this is wrong on many levels, more than I'm going to cover, but I'll break it down into the levels that are important to me right now.

It's a bad comic book story. #DontReadBadComics

I see an abundance of defenders of this story saying that, it's probably not people who go buy the comics that are complaining about this. They say that true readers of this comic know that this is a temporary change.

Ok, let's take a look at that. Are they saying that they are writing off anyone that does not read the story right now?  Obviously these fans are interested in the character, or they wouldn't be so angry.  So would it not be a better idea to write stories that will draw them in, instead of insulting them with both the story and the response to their outrage?

Next they are admitting it's a temporary change. How is that a valid argument? "Read my world changing story where I change the direction of this favorite character, that we are going to undo in a year."  That is just insane.

They admit that this story does not grow the character.  Worse, the story they are trying to tell goes against the nature of the story of this character. What do you think of when you think of Captain America? I would say integrity is in that mix in a big way. Patriotism is also high on that list. A story of betrayal is a misuse of this character.

I have also seen many references to how "fans" have been angry at Thor being a woman, and other changes they have made over the years.  These may be connected, but not in the way they think.  In most cases, especially Thor being written as a women, the anger was at bad writing.  There are ways that could have pulled that off that I believe would have been very interesting.  Instead, it came across as forced. They were determined to make Thor a woman, and that was the focus.  There was no attempt to tell a good story around it.

It's bad writing. #DontAcceptBadWriting

Godzilla is really a frog! Ha! did I shock you?  Read my story about how Godzilla is really a frog.  You're probably saying no to both those sentences.  If you were to read my Frogzilla story, it's going to be because you want to know how I could pull that off as a writer, not because Frogzilla is interesting to you.  I, the writer, become the focus and the story is secondary, if that much.  This is not writing. This is cult of personality.  This is egotism in the fullest.

A good story teller, or writer, pulls you into the story.  If they write about characters like I try to, they make you love or hate the character, but you are invested in that character.  If they write about situations or worlds, they take you there and make you live it.

I actually saw the Marvel editor responsible for Captain America say something to the effect of, "we think people will read this to see how we get out of it."  Not how Steve get's of it, but how the writers and staff of Marvel pulls off this betrayal and keeps their readers.  They have become the focus of the story, not Steve, Red Skull, or even Sam Wilson.

By the way, I do not have a story about Frogzilla, nor any intention of ever writing one.

It's bad mythology.  #HeroesAreImportant

I read someplace that Superhero stories are our myth and legends.  Who doesn't look to myths such as King Arthur, Robin Hood, and many more for inspiration?  I read a story many years ago that made Robin Hood out to be a woman.  Well, Robin Hood was still Robin Hood, but he was an average archer, and not much of a hero.  All the epic things attributed to Robin were actually done by Maid Marian.

It was an interesting story, and obviously has stayed with me a long time.  But it's one of the few books by this author I only read once.  That's fine for fiction, but when I need inspiration that can be satisfied by a hero that stands up to an overbearing government the people suffer under, I don't even think of that story, but of the legend of Robin Hood.

Steve Rogers is an Epic Hero.  A true Paladin in every sense of the word, except the ones about being a knight of Charlemagne's or a D&D character.  But I think this is the point Marvel is trying to destroy.  They want to tell a story that says, "no one can be that good.  No one is worth being looked up to."

One of my favorite quotes comes from C.S. Lewis "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. "  Marvel has set out to make this and the next generation's destiny darker.   There are no heroes; there are no brave knights to fight, or save, the dragons; heroic courage is for chumps.  I think of people who have done something heroic saying they simply thought about what would someone like Sturm would do.  

I choose that hero because I heard a story from the Dragonlance authors, who gave them his medal and told them when he was in the situation that earned that medal, his thoughts were, "What would Sturm do."  It left them speechless.  Me as well.

Marvel's mindset destroys that world.  This doesn't just make me sad.  This makes me angry, furious, incensed, enraged, and infuriated.

It's a political hit job. #PromoteGoodIdeas

You probably scoffed a little at the subheading.  "Rik, why bring politics into this."

I didn't.  The editor responsible for this travesty has said at least a couple of times that Nick was chosen for this project because of all his political knowledge.  Unless they have removed it by now, wikipedia says that Nick Spencer was a politician, a Democrat, before he became a full time writer for Marvel.  There are tweets posted by Nick about how evil Republicans are.  You cannot get a more bias political hack than Nick Spencer.

The story comes out in a presidential election year.  If you don't believe politics have influenced this story, and that this story is not meant to influence politics, you are not paying attention.

There is a segment of the population who does not like the people and institutions I believe are good.  Patriotism is considered bad form, unless you can redefine patriotism to agree with your bias.  The founding fathers are all evil white men who should be ignored as much as possible, unless their words can be twisted to your bias.  The constitution is a moldy irrelevant document, unless it can be made to support your bias. Captain America is a backstabbing turncoat, unless he can be corrupted towards your bias.

I'm tired of the attacks.  I intend on fighting back in the only way I know how.  I will write about good things.  I will, with respect, call out those I see degrade good institutions.  I will promote those concepts that I find good and worthy.

I will not be Hydra.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mostly successful FreeBSD implementation

Decided to go back to FreeBSD on an old PC I was given.  I've always enjoyed FreeBSD and this would be a chance to get reacquainted.

I also thought that this would be a great blog post for my work blog; setting up a Java development environment on a older PC using FreeBSD.  It would be a great alternative to Linux for those that don't appreciate Windows or OSX, or have an older PC they want to use for development.

After a couple of frustrating days, I've decided not to write that blog entry.

Don't get the wrong idea. I still very much like FreeBSD, and am writing this post on that very machine, which is finally running FreeBSD.  I always remember that it takes a few days to get a Desktop environment up and running on FreeBSD.  This was no different.  It took about 4 installs of FreeBSD to get desktop that worked.

Since I knew this would likely be the case, I tried both PC-BSD and GhostBSD.  Both had graphically installers and claimed they would install a desktop version of FreeBSD.  PC-BSD also had a few features I wanted to try out, especially the support for jails (more on jails later).

I wish someone would develop a good configuration tool for XOrg and not force the user to plod through the configuration.

Neither would install to this computer.  PC-BSD and GhostBSD both failed during the first install with errors that were not helpful at all. I got PC-BSD to finally install, but then on reboot, the system simply went to a black screen.  If you are interested in FreeBSD for the first time, I still highly suggest these projects to get your started.  Unfortunately, they did not work for me.

Finally, I got the standard install to work with the Mate desktop.   I had intended on getting Gnome 3 to work, and a couple of others for when I wanted a more spartan environment. I'll work with this for a while until I can gradually get other desktops to work.

Why FreeBSD, especially since it seem to be giving me trouble?  I've always like it once I get it running.  I believe it's well laid out and as stable as it can be.

I also wanted to work with two new features.  ZFS, which is a fantastic file system, and Jails.  Jails allows you to partition off part of the system so it does not have access to the rest of the system.  You can run a test app server in a jail and not worry about changing the configurations on your development server, for instance.  With ZFS, you can template the jails so that they can be created and destroyed quickly.

Since I finally have a (somewhat) working system, I will still work on doing those things.  And I hope others do to, but until the base system is easier to configure for a graphical environment, I'll keep that suggests to those who are experienced, or want to experience another operating system.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

D&D Is 40 years old

There are numerous posts on the fact that Dungeons and Dragons was first published forty years ago.  Wizards of the Coast, the current owners of the game have an article and video from the Father of Forgotten Realms, Ed Greenwood, here.

Seems like a good time to think about the game and my own history with it.

Like a lot of people about my age, who have played role-playing games, Dungeons and Dragons was my first.  I don't remember if I bought my first game before I played it, or played it first.

I bought the Basic D&D game at a toy store in Edgewater Mall, in Biloxi Ms.  I still remember seeing the box set in the store and thinking my friends would find this to be cool.

My first actually game would have been in 1980. I remember that we had some downtime in band class because it was the end of the year, and we had nothing to prepare for.  We were pretty much left alone to find something to do during that hour, as long as we didn't get too rowdy.  Somebody brought the game and some dice with them and I sat in on campaign that was already underway.  I had no idea what I was doing, so they had me roll up a magic user, and I remember the DM gave me a necklace of magic missiles.

In the game, we started off in a bar; pretty standard stuff.  Somehow we got into a bar fight, and within just a couple of rounds, my character was dead.  So basically I got to play all of about 10 minutes, not including rolling up the first character and then rolling a second character that never got a chance to play.  I hope it is needless to say that I never played with that DM again.

So, a year or so went by and I found the Advanced Dungeon and Dragon rules and began getting a few friends interested in the game.  I think I started out as the Dungeon Master (DM), but occasionally one of my friends would run a game.  I started out as a terrible DM.  I remember I didn't read the map of the dungeon they were in correctly and the map they tried to make from my descriptions was no where near accurate.  I also remember in later games, I would prepare for what I thought they would do that night, and almost inevitably they would take a turn that would take them someplace else entirely.  I had to get good at improvising on the fly.  Probably why I still do it when teaching, etc.

We also made up so many house rules, I basically had to relearn the game later on when I played with other groups.

I also, very vividly, remember one week that we had a break from school.  I had tested for my brown belt in Shotokan the weekend before, and had gotten it, and I guess I was so psyched from that I setup a game every night that week.  I didn't realize I had done that until one of my friends pointed it out at the end of the week.

Up until this point, I had only played D&D, or AD&D.  I had found Zocchi's in Gulfport, a warehouse sized distributor of games and was interested in other games, but I moved to Georgia then joined the Air Force soon after.

After being stationed at Offutt AFB, in Omaha, for a while, some of my roommates and I started gaming together.  We would trade off on running the game.  I believe we had advanced to using the AD&D v2.0 rules at this point.

I'm not sure if I would have been interested in the SCA had it not been for D&D or not, but soon after this, I did find and join.  And found more gamers than you can shake a stick at (and I've shaken and swung a stick at many of them).

During this time, I found it funny that all my dice were bought in Omaha, but were distributed out of Zocchi's in Gulfport, the warehouse/distributor I mentioned before.  Kind of a connection to home, in a way.  Ok, I'm weird that way.

My knight invited me to join in the group he was involved with.  They weren't playing D&D at the time, but were actually playing Space Opera.  I played with that group for quite a number of years.  We did use the AD&D rules a few times, but also played many other games including Space Opera, Shadowrun, and the Hero system.  D&D, Space Opera, and Shadowrun remain among my favorite RPG's (I'm not calling them pencil and paper or tabletop rpg's. Just realize that's what I'm talking about).

I picked up the D&D 4.0 rules a couple of years ago and played a few games with my kids.  For now, that is pretty much the end of my gaming.  In a few years, when the kids have their own lives and I have copious amounts of spare time, I might find a group again.

So far, I've played the Basic D&D rules, AD&D 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0.

I don't know if the friends I've made during gaming are lifelong friends because of gaming.  But I appreciate the friends I have made because of this game.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Should comic books be real time.

Do you think comic books should go with real time stories?  Currently, most of the majority of popular Marvel characters were introduced in the 60's, with a few very popular ones introduced in the late 70's and 80's.  Still for them less than 10 years has passed.  Entire story lines have had to be retconned or forgotten completely to make the characters make sense.
DC is even worse, with many of their characters going back much farther.  The new 52 has made that less a problem, as the characters are starting now, but it costs us much of their history.  That history is dear to many of us, as much as the characters themselves.  Also, are they going to have to do this again in 10 years when the fact the characters don't age again becomes a problem?
Also, would the characters be anywhere as near as iconic had they aged.  Peter Parker was 15 in 1962.  He'd be 66 this year, if he survived the punishment his life dealt him.  You figure he probably could have adventured until mid 20's when mundane life would have curtailed a lot of that, and may be 30's or so when the damage to his body would have sidelined him drastically.  So late 70's early 80's and he becomes at best a supporting character for another hero.
The same argument could be made for Batman, but there we're looking at him retiring in the 40's or early 50's.  But Batman I could see handing off the title to someone else, which he has done a couple of times now.  To make someone else Spider-man is way to contrived (oh, this guy just happens to have the same accident with a spider, unless you take JMS's storyline into account or the "May Day" Parker stories).
As time goes by, the whole thing is just going to get worse.  So do you think comics should just have their characters age in real time?
I can see several ways to do it.  DC could do it now with the new 52.  Just declare from this point, they will age in real time.
Marvel could do the same.  Reboot the entire universe and declare that it will be real time.  Someone online also suggested that they could wake up and realize that they were born in the 50's and 60's but were only in their 20's and someone big is messing with them.  Could be a good storyline along the level of Secret Wars.
Personally I'd like to see Marvel start a new imprint where they write stories now as if it had been real time all along.  What would that world look like?  Stark would have retired and passed on the Iron Man mantle at least two generations ago.  Parker would be retired; would May Parker (his daughter not his Aunt) have replaced him? Would she have retired and passed on the mantle by now?
Thor would still be around. Probably Dr Strange and Iron Fist as well.  Would we find out the combination of the Super-Soldier Serum and deep hibernation has made Steve Rogers nearly immortal?
Who would have replaced all the heroes who are not immortal?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Trying Blogger Again.

I was requesting more blogger functionality in Google + and +Vernon McGuffee mentioned Blogger.  I had stopped blogging here because I was doing all my posting about the things I thought about over there.  Since there was no good connection between the two, I simply stopped posting here.

Since Vernon mentioned blogger, I came back over to check it out, and found that Google had intend make some significant upgrades to the service, including some to tie the two services together.

So, for the time being, I will be using this to write some of my longer, blog like, posts about things I'm thinking about.  This blog is typically will likely be more about "personal" stuff, like my hobbies, writing, celiac issues, general technology, and the like.  I already have other blogs, one for Coding where I blog about programming and one for political posts.  I may even start another about Theology.

Feedback is welcome.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scones on the grill

(Originally published on Buzz Aug 1)

After cooking outside on the Weber for lunch to keep the kitchen cool, I began thinking about gluten free scones and whether they could be done on the grill. Then it became an obsession. If you're looking for a short story, it was a complete success. Here's what I did. 

First, the dough was made from Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. This is a must have for a gluten free household. You can find the recipe here, look under Breakfast & Lunch for Scones. We replace the currants with cinnamon chips. Next time we use the grill, I think we'll add dried apples. 

Once the dough is made, and the grill is still hot (I wanted to wait until the fire was burning clean, so as not to get too much smoke), fold pieces of aluminum foil into triangular pans. Mine were about 6 inches on the longest side. I also did one 6 inch square pan that I then cut into two triangles with an additional piece of foil. Both types worked well. They don't need to be able to hold a liquid in, as the dough is pretty thick, but they do need to be able to hold the rising dough in. Don't fill them completely. Mine barely touch the sides when I filled the pans, but completely filled them when the scones were done. 

I put them in the covered grill (a Weber charcoal grill), not directly over the coals and cooked them for about 15 minutes, turning them every five. Once they are done all the way through, I pulled them off the grill and let them sit for about five minutes. The aroma was fantastic, and made it hard to wait. But as Alton Brown would say, "your patience will be rewarded". 

This will become a standard when we use the grill. I always hate to just let the coals die down. And will probably become a staple when we camp (those of you in the SCA near me, come by and ask for one). 

Only one lasted long enough to get it's picture taken.  It didn't last much longer.