Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - dubsartur

Pages: [1]
Most of us should be familiar with Sanderson's First Law of Magic ("An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic").  A while ago I stumbled across a blog comment which has also got me thinking:

Quote from: heteromeles
Actually, there's an interesting counter-take. It's a throwaway line in Tyson Yunkaporta's Sand Talk. He asserts that anyone can do magic, but that not everybody can do all the rituals, because that's about knowledge, and that is (for reasons good and bad) guarded.

I tend to think he's right, but his version of magic is basically what Trump was spewing for the last four years. It's not telepathy or levitation, it's forcing others to live in your made-up world, even though they know it's not correct. This can be used beneficently with blessings (getting someone out of a funk to do something they don't think they can do) or as a curse (to mess with someone's head). Sir Pterry called it Headology. Ritual, in the sense of keeping a bunch of complex systems working over time, looks like magic (and it does overlap with the above), but it depends on people knowing what the heck they're doing.

So far as I can tell, the Taoists have a really similar idea: any idiot can do magic, and magicians are the hucksters, fortune tellers, performers, carnie trash, and so forth. The Taoist priests work to heal people and to bring out the good in the changes of the world. They're working at a much different and higher level.

Now I realize fantasy tends to be whiffy about religion and with good reason, but just perhaps, it's over-glorified the "move fast and break things" aspect of magic, glorified the world-wreckers entirely too much, and made fixing complex problems too simple, magical, and dependent on the inner nature of the young, rather than the hard-earned skills of the old. There is something to be said for Yunkaporta's view, that any clown can curse someone, but that's not necessarily a miraculous thing. What's miraculous is keeping a place like Australia habitable for 50,000 years or so.

I am thkinking about this, but it has potential as an alternative to a Law and Chaos / History and Chance opposition.  It harmonizes with some modern (since Aleister Crowley) occult thinking which has to use a 'god of the gaps' argument that the altered states of consciousness are really the point and not just side-effects from calling down the moon or making someone passionately in love with you.

Matt Easton has a handy video on why people rarely carried more than a staff weapon and a shield or a bow and arrows  Computer games and some roleplaying games ignore the practical difficulties and the interesting decisions to make.  If one character in the party is the big axe guy, and another is the crossbowman, those are niches where their players can take the spotlight while the others watch and hold their breath! 

The only thing I would add is that in some places in the last few hundred years, we do see people who wandered around with say a long gun, a sword and shield, and some knives or pistols.  Men in Norway were dutifully following the old law which said they always had to carry their spear in public into the 17th century!  And travellers were very keen to get a donkey or a pack-horse or a mule or a camel, and there were baggage-animals for a wide range of budgets.  But he gives some good rules of thumb for the video-gamey instantaneous weapons swap.

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Canadian Politics 2021
« on: January 12, 2021, 02:53:34 AM »
So, last spring's observation that Canadian politics were in a quiet phase were a bit premature, although this government has run things more or less as expected.

According to a briefing for the Privy Clerk, the 46 year old reservist who broke into the gardens of Rideau Hall with loaded firearms on 2 July 2020 "was seeking to have the prime minister arrested for his policies related to firearms restrictions and COVID responses."  Apparently he left a note in his car saying something about a communist dictatorship.

There is growing anger at politicians and officials who traveled outside Canada over the holidays while telling the public to stay home and not mingle outside their household, and at provincial governments which are handling the epidemic especially poorly.  For many Canadians, spending a few weeks or a few months somewhere warm and sunny every winter is a treasured routine.  Parties which saw this coming and issued warnings to their caucuses tend to have less members to apologize for. 

Date: 9 July 2021

Registration: estimated £10, £5 students/unwaged

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) – a milestone in the history of the science fiction genre – the eponymous scientist is horrified when the creature he has assembled from assorted body parts is successfully animated. ‘A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch’, Frankenstein relates. This comparison – between a figure who represents the potential disastrous consequences of cutting-edge scientific enquiry and the bodies of the ancient Egyptian dead – is one that recurs later in the novel. Having dispatched his creator, the creature’s ‘vast hand’ is described as ‘in colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy’. Nearly two centuries later, Roland Emmerich’s Stargate (1994) also depicts ancient Egyptian bodies in settings infused with a futuristic aesthetic; alien entities acquire human forms in order to extend their lifespans, while sarcophagi are reimagined as regeneration chambers.

Science fiction has undeniably contributed to creating an image of ancient Egypt, and yet it is only starting to be addressed by Egyptological scholarship. Literature, theatre, film, television, comics, and video games all present images of Egypt that have had an enduring impact on perceptions of Egypt by the public. Nevertheless, and despite the involvement of experts in contributing to or shaping these cultural products – in Stargate’s case, in professional Egyptological consultation with regards to written and spoken Ancient Egyptian – the ways in which Egyptological scholarship informs science fiction in particular still remain to be explored. How might Egyptologists engage with this material beyond judging its historical authenticity? And to what extent can science fiction contribute to scholarly discussions of ancient Egypt?

The aim of this workshop is to explore the reception and reconstruction of Egypt in science fiction, fostering a dialogue among Egyptologists, cultural historians, literary scholars, and creative practitioners. The organisers are keen to receive abstracts from scholars coming from a variety of academic perspectives and diverse backgrounds, and who are interpreting science fiction in its broadest sense, including those informed by ancient Egyptian understandings of science.

The organisers seek proposals for 15-minute papers, which should be sent in the body of an email to Dr Leire Olabarria [] and Dr Eleanor Dobson [] by 28 February 2021. Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words and should be accompanied by a short biographical note.

I sent an email about it but did not get a reply or see it in the latest Exilian newsletter.

Exilian Folk Club / Dis Manibus malkingrey / Debra Doyle
« on: November 05, 2020, 09:24:05 PM »
Filker Dr. Debra Doyle of "Song of the Shieldwall" fame has died (her professional site).  With her is dying her Society and her polis and this year. 

You can find the lyrics at and a lot of performances on the creepy surveilled tube site.

I think that many educated people today are missing a lot of ideas from the 1940s through 1980s because they never actually read the original books or a good textbook with a full definition, just tried to absorb the gist.  The handful of experts assume that everyone got the idea and moved on to what is new and exciting to them, and did not realize that most people are at the "maybe light is both a particle and a wave?" level of understanding and that there is a lot more work to be done in educating people about these foundational ideas. 

One of those ideas is identity.  This blog post looks at the habit of calling all kinds of social categories 'identities' and argues that we should return to the clearer, narrower definition that someone identifies with something when they says "I am that thing."

In the tea, Jubal said that people have trouble finding good things and community on the open web.  Obviously a lot of that is people using the heavily censored and wacked internal search engines on closed social media rather than a real search engine on the open web.  So in this thread, lets post some cool things which are on the open web not a giant social media platform.

I don't have a good definition of the open web, but "findable on any search engine not just an internal search engine" is a good sign, and so is "creators can export their work in some simple standard format like bbcode, html, etc. and re-post it somewhere run by someone else."  If you have to enable scripts and log in to see it, that is a bad sign.

Today I will post three out of the United States.

Adventure Cartoonist Lucy Bellwood with comics about tall ships and jerk brains and how soap is a metaphor for breaking up with her ex

Statistician Andrew Gelman of "Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State" fame has a very active blog

Siderea in Boston was posting about the present emergency since January

What about you?  What on the open web still brings you joy?  What do you wish more people knew about?

There don't seem to be any threads right now on the hand work we are doing, lets start one.

I am working on a short round embroidered mantle.  These were fashionable in western Europe from the 14th century into the 17th.  The later ones usually open from neck to crotch and often have fake sleeves, the earlier ones are pullovers with hidden fastenings, ones for men tend to be a bit longer than ones for women.

Example from my period of interest.

Double checking that the red linen lining and the blue woolen cloth facing are the same size and shape.

Test fitting the collar.  The buttonholes are lined with silk dupioni.

Powdering the cape with stars.

My post on the theories of Vincent le Chevalier (real name, not a pseudonym) and Peter Johonsson has popped!

So efforts to contain COVID-19 may have failed, and some areas may be facing something on the order of the 1918 Spanish Flu (about half of the population infected, on the order of 2% of those infected die and very large numbers are in bed for weeks).  Italy, for those reading this in the future, has quarantined itself and some cities in UK are running out of toilet paper due to panic buying.

Edit: As of Thursday 12 March, a friend in Sardinia tells me that Italians are only allowed to leave their homes for work, grocery shopping, or medical treatment.

The World Health Organization has a webpage

This woman, I think Boston MA based, has a pretty sensible amateur site  I love this: "I discount a story's credibility if the content is either explicitly or implicitly trying to tell the audience what the audience should feel, rather than informing them about what they think the audience should know."

I have lacked a full-time job for a year and live in a space with a small shared kitchen and freezer so I am SOL.

So after a couple of very eventful years, Canadian politics are in a sleepy phase.  Newly goateed Justin Trudeau seems to have realized that he does not actually know what he wants to do after his advisors talked him out of his pledges from 2015, the Conservative leadership race is just getting started (Aron Seal seems to have dropped out because he could not secure his first 1,000 nominations by members by 27 February, party stalwarts Peter Mackay and Erin O'Toole are the only candidates who have already passed all stages of the application process), Canada is caught between the USA and China after the USA thought it would be a good idea to charge a Huawei executive while she was passing through Canada and have her extradited south of the border, and Coronavirus is keeping people at home and indoors.

Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / Canadian Politics 2019
« on: September 25, 2019, 01:07:13 PM »
So we are at the beginning of one of our six-week elections.  Would there be any interest in a post on Canadian politics for non-Canadians focusing on structures and the fairly limited stakes?

There are many structural issues which affect most European and settler societies in the 2010s, and idiosyncratic things which are specific to a country, and American and British media are dreadful at separating the two.  Looking at the former in other countries where you don't have preconceived opinions can be helpful.

A few years ago, I got myself out of a slump by reading a gamer-friendly book on the second millennium BCE Geoffrey Bibby's Four Thousand Years Ago.

(Aside: Ken Hite and Robin D. Laws have one-sentence reviews of gamer-friendly books on )

Pages: [1]