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Thoughts on Protest and Wasted Effort

A long while ago I had a chat with some people somewhat idealogically opposed to me. I made a few arguments that I thought I needed to do further thinking on, so I saved a transcript. While clearing out folders earlier today, I came across a partially edited version of that transcript, abandoned for over a decade for reasons unknown. As I read it, the events of the last few years impinged, prompting me to update and finish this.

Trapped in a system we try so hard to escape yet where, invariably, only a half to two-thirds of the population vote – at best. The opiates are quelling the masses and the stifling of activists by media blackouts prevents the hoi polloi being disturbed. Then again, they are more liable to change channel than watch serious news, fake or otherwise. While apathy is the prime motivator, the status quo remains.

Entrapped in the system is how society will stay until a viable alternative is proposed. But along with that, there has to be a way to get to the alternative from here. Noble aims are nothing but propaganda if you cannot find a way that would not cause more grief to the populace. Goals are laudable but, without method, they frequently remain ideals.

Naturally, those affected or motivated get angry. Often it’s ranting on social media. Sometimes actual protest. Sadly, in these times, shouting rarely does anything except irritate or induce fear because ranting rarely does anything to explain the causes – and even when it does, the message will often be lost because of the tone. People have a remarkable, sometimes verging on delusional, ability to ‘tune out’ things they decide are irrelevant – like when they decide you have nothing useful to say.

Take your anger and turn it into resolve. Form a network with other angry people. Draw from each of your skillsets and experience to chose an aspect of the problem to work on. Then dig into it with the fervour you dedicate to posting links by other disaffected people or highlighting crimes to the indifferent and the converted. Get to understand the problem deeply. Become experts on the things you perceive as ‘enemy’. Then, starting from the goals you have, see how you can gradually change this broken society to arrive there. Plan for small stages, small changes, because this is a monolithic, interdependent system and sudden major change will bring grief to those you are trying to save before affecting those things you need to modify, be they people or systems.

This implicit need for anger before action is a fundamental of change that has been dictated by the very systems so vehemently opposed. It is a delaying tactic that is divisive and that can be alienating. Thus, while the opposition argues over how to object, the plan in question continues.

There needs to be a serious reconsideration of the methods of dissention before even starting on the problems you oppose. Revolutionise the revolt before revolting against the system. Rebellion using ‘traditional’ methods can only cause traditionally acceptable change. Not good enough. Any revolution is flawed by its use of outdated concepts that have understood outcomes. Something new is required.

Protest within any framework dictated by those being protested against can achieve little. Those who wish to enact change in the 21st century must stop using unevolved 19th century methods – they will not achieve the fundamental changes that are needed.

I was damn sure that presenting a reasoned, viable solution is the only hope of getting the mass support needed to enact desperately needed change. Now, I am not sure even that will work, should the change be contrary to the dictates of those in control. It seems that solutions are irrelevant if you have a charismatic leader. (Yet again, history served a lesson that we ignored.)

No, I have no cohesive idea of a new way. I find myself a victim of my own restrictions. I believe in the adage “don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution.” That is the only way, but in the current situation I feel a holistic understanding simply cannot be achieved in time to allow the necessary long series of small solutions to reach the defined remedy that averts a civilisation-changing catastrophe. That catastrophe will be prolonged, will end humanity as we know it, and will quite possibly render Homo sapiens extinct.

I believe that man’s venal nature will out, regardless. I hope to be proven wrong.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Horsemen Five and Six

The first horseman is always Pestilence. He’s riding in with Death as usual, but his time he’s brought a pair of new companions: Ignorance and Profit.

Do I think this is the end of the world? No. But the Covid-19 pandemic is going to seem like it for some people and – sadly – feel like it for those bereaved.

You should regard this as a practice run, because the next pandemic is going to be really awful, and that’s before the disease even reaches wherever you are.

Look at how society is reacting. The extremes of behaviour we’re seeing. Fervour. Fear. Deceit. Profiteering. Delusion. Gloating. It’s becoming the whole gamut and, next time, the various herds of man will be determined to not be the ones fighting in the aisles… Or, more likely, will go in prepared to be the winners no matter what.

It’s going to anarchic and chaotic, unless societies learn the lessons from what happens while Covid-19 spreads and fades back to being ‘another flu to be vaccinated against’. People need to adjust the behaviours and responses seen during this pandemic. The best way is to fight the fear of the unknown that lies at the root of so much of this.

You don’t need to be able to tell everyone you can fix it immediately, but you do need to tell people what they can do immediately. Give them guidelines to follow. Make sure that information is available as soon as possible after Covid-19 fades, and it absolutely must be updated as better analysis and understanding occurs.

Ignorance and fear are deadly in urban environments. Feral behaviour is a terrifyingly short distance away (most projections put it at seven days after infrastructure failure). Mob mentality is easily started, especially by miserable fools who enjoy filling the gap left by a lack of real information with material designed to goad and misdirect those desperately seeking answers.

You can’t fight disinformation dynamically and effectively while fighting a pandemic (or whatever the next global threat is). You can only ‘fight’ it by preparing people: give them clear instructions on what to do, how to do it, and – essentially – why they should.

However, I do understand that a wholly informed and united populace is not regarded as being in the best interests of many groups and organisations. To those factions I say the foundations and structures you seek to protect are nothing but sand and glass before the march of history. You think Profit is yours to command and Ignorance is a tool. I say they’ll eventually be your undoing. You don’t control these (or any) of the powers I’ve presented as Horsemen of the Apocalypse. You summon them and live with the consequences.

I hope humanity survives your greed and arrogance.

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

The Day After…

“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”

– H.L. Mencken, July 1920.

Amidst the ashes of the 2019 General Election, I can say nothing better.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Quotes

 

Magic the Gathering: Project ‘Booster Fun’ Breakdown

Rarities remain unchanged, but variant cards within each rarity will obviously be scarcer. Exact distribution to be determined as no metrics were provided in the article.

The Three New Card Variants

Showcase Frame – a unique design for each set, but only for a selection of cards – occurring at all rarities, and in foil & non-foil versions.

Extended art cards (as per Ultimate Edition Box Toppers) – only for a selection of rares and mythic rares, will have foil & non-foil versions

Borderless Planeswalker (as per Mythic Edition) with alternate art – unclear if all or a selection – but will have foil & non-foil versions

Card Variants by Rarity

Common

Non-foil Card
Foil card
Showcase frame with alternate art
Foil showcase frame with alternate art

Uncommon

Non-foil Card
Foil card
Showcase frame with alternate art
Foil showcase frame with alternate art
Borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unlikely, but no specific exclusion stated, and unclear if would be all planeswalkers or just a selection)
Foil borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unlikely, but no specific exclusion stated and unclear if would be all planeswalkers or just a selection)

Rare

Non-foil Card
Foil card
Showcase frame with alternate art
Foil showcase frame with alternate art
Borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unclear if all planeswalkers or just a selection)
Foil borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unclear if all planeswalkers or just a selection)
Extended art (only for some rares)
Foil extended art (only for some rares)

Mythic Rare

Non-foil Card
Foil card
Showcase frame with alternate art
Foil showcase frame with alternate art
Borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unclear if all planeswalkers or just a selection)
Foil borderless planeswalker with alternate art (unclear if all planeswalkers or just a selection)
Extended art (only for some mythics)
Foil extended art (only for some mythics)

Token

Non-foil Card
Foil card (only found in the Collector’s Booster)

Packaging

Draft Booster Pack

The 15+1 card booster we know, with a higher frequency of foils: now averaging 1 in every 3 packs.

Single version with varying wrapper art.
Contents consist of: 1 rare/mythic rare, 3 uncommons, 10 commons, 1 land, 1 ad card/token card

Might contain Borderless Planeswalker or Showcase Frame cards.

Themed Booster Pack

35+1 cards with a thematic (not necessarily colour) link.

Variable number of versions.
Contents consist of: 1 rare/mythic rare, 34 commons/uncommons (always more commons than uncommons), 1 reference card

NB: 1 in 10 themed booster packs will contain 2 rares/mythic rares and 33 commons/uncommons

Collector’s Booster Pack

English & Japanese language only – limited print run – 15+1 cards.

Single version, possibly with varying wrapper art.
Contents consist of:

1 rare/mythic rare with extended art (any card that doesn’t already appear in the set as a borderless or showcase frame)
1 foil rare/mythic rare (can be standard, borderless, showcase or extended)
9 foil commons/uncommons (can be standard or showcase)
3 special-frame non-foil cards (showcase or borderless planeswalkers), any rarity
1 ancillary card (new cards not found in draft boosters, such as those unique to Planeswalker decks or Brawl decks)
1 foil token (only place to get foil tokens for the set. No emblems.)

Planeswalker decks

Multiple versions

Contents consist of:
60-card deck with 10 cards unique to that deck:
1 copy of a mythic rare (the planeswalker the deck is built around)
2 copies of the same rare (card with an effect that also tutors specifically for the planeswalker card in this product)
3 copies of the same uncommon (usually a card synergistic with the planeswalker in the deck)
4 copies of a the same common (a basic effect to make the deck work)

Brawl decks

Multiple versions

Contents consist of:
60-card deck with 7 cards unique to that deck.
Life wheel – a card with a life counter in it.

Bundle

Single version (as per Core Set 2020)

Contents consist of:
10 Draft Booster packs
20 foil basic lands
20 regular basic lands
1 bundle promo card
1 oversized spindown life counter (20-sided)
Storage box

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2019 in Daybook

 

So, Jae Decided to Build an Eldar Titan

I’ve been a roleplayer and gamer for many years, pretty much exclusively in the real world as the motion sickness I have prevents me playing most computer games (good thing too, otherwise I’d never have become a writer – or done much else).

Games Workshop and the Warhammer phenomenon have been at the fringe of my awareness for decades. Of all the things they’ve produced, the Harlequins of Warhammer 40,000 are the only things that really caught my imagination. I even had a set of the original ones, but sold it untouched as my painting skills at the time, while competent, weren’t up to the task of doing them justice. Plus, you needed a lot of money to build a Harlequin army.

Last year, Games Workshop announced Kill Team, a skirmish-level standalone game set in the Warhammer 40k universe. This, I thought, would be an ideal time to get half a dozen Harlequins and have some fun. Then I saw the prices and decided otherwise.

At near the end of last year, a friend gave me a Harlequin troupe. A simple gift, but much appreciated. Scaring up a second-hand Kill team manual didn’t take long, but I found my tendencies to write stories fired by my new Harlequin troupe. Within days, I had a background for them and some daft ideas. As things tend to do when they are meant to be, several things fell into place and I wound up with a part built, part rebuilt, largely unfinished, and long abandoned Forgeworld Revenant Titan. As I laid out the bits, I realised I’d stepped off the deep end as far as my model making skills were concerned. On top of that, the thing is huge.

Given this was to be a Harlequin titan, I had some offbeat ideas for how it should be armed. Upon seeing the parts, I suddenly came up with the idea of adding a webway gate to the build. After some research, I decided a pulsar could remain, but needed power sword to allow closer range work. A fire prism would replace the other pulsar. After all, I reasoned, if I’m going to be out of my depth and making it up as I go along, I might as well try to get it all in.

The concept being that the troupe, named the Masque of Isha’s Grace, had been one of those dedicated to supplementing the defences around the Black Library. Every member had heard the voice of the lost Eldar goddess Isha, calling them from the webway. To what end remains unclear. So, they do what the battle dancers do – defend the galaxy from the encroachment of Chaos. With the change in Cegorach’s approach, and guided by a whisper from she whom they refer to as the Mother of Tears, they have stepped into the real to wage war alongside any who would lay the banners of Chaos down.

Taking some fine hints as to body dynamics and where to start from the tutorial on Oink’s Overambitious Terrain Projects blog, and having the legs already constructed, I chose to work with what I’d been given. All the advice I saw demanded that I start with the legs, but, before that, I needed to have a good idea of the final pose I wanted. That took a while. When a set of Tiny Worlds resin rock outcrops arrived, it came together quite quickly.

As the Titan is to be displayed with the rest of the Masque, the round base was discarded and a 300mm square picture frame acquired, to give base and edging, followed by a 310mm square heavy black resin cutting board to be the base for the finished display.

What followed was somewhere around fifty hours work. There are 78 pictures and as WordPress will have a fit if I try to include the lot, I’ve placed them over on my image blog, Slow Missiles. Photos: 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-78

I hope my amateur efforts are of interest, and possibly save someone else trouble.

The Masque is away being painted and the Titan will be joining them soon. Which is why the build of the Titan is lacking pauldrons, thigh guards and main manouvre jet units, as fitting them would make proper paintwork impossible.

I will put up a new post with the complete Masque of Isha’s Grace, including credits and info, when they’re finished and back.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in Daybook

 

Nearly a Year in the Wilderness Later…

Good morning.

I knew I’d been away for a while, but this is ridiculous. Anyway, this is the apology for lack of content and fair warning that I’m going to try and change the tone a little. Yes, there have been several changes in the real world and in my life that have caused this redirection. I may detail them, one day. But it won’t be for a while, I suspect.

So, observations on the world in general will continue, but only when I genuinely have something new to say. Reading through this blog should not be a quest to find gems in a sea of the same thing on a different day. I remain a paranoid cynic with a very dim view of humanity and where we’re headed. I have a very low trust of those in power and while I admit that philanthropists and petitions show there is still mercy to be found, it’s too late. We are, quite simply, doomed. As to what form that doom will take, I suspect it will be of a slow wasting kind, overlaid by rhetoric and buttressed by manipulated ennui and greed.

With that out the way, what next? I’m going to share stuff about writing, about the projects I do so I don’t write all the time, and a few other morsels from the charmed life I paddle through.

Stick around. It’s going to be (slightly less) infrequent but interesting – or that, at least, is my aim.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in Life & Self

 

Writing Flash Fiction

I write between four and eight flash stories each month. Sometimes many more, as I often use flash pieces as building blocks for my bigger stories.

This article was originally done in reply to a query. When posting the short version in answer to a request on a forum, it (finally) occurred to me that this might be of interest or use to a wider audience.

Inspiration comes from anywhere. Sometimes it’s as simple as thinking what would happen if the accepted outcome of an event didn’t occur. Why didn’t it occur? e.g. You put your cup and saucer down on the table, misjudge the edge, and down the tea goes. But, this time, it just sits there, unsupported, a metre off the floor. Super-superglue on the edge? Invisible alien? Gravitational anomaly? And away the story goes.

Just Write! The words are the medium for the story, but the story is the creative drive. Get that clever idea/plot/scenario written down. You can refine the words over and over, but that moment of inspiration will never come back in the same form, if at all.

Make your title work for you. You haven’t got a lot of room, so the title should do some of the work. Sometimes, you can be cheeky with it – in example, one of my own favourite titles is “Hanging from a Ledge on Mantriss V”. That’s setting, opening act, and hook. That being said, don’t give away the heart/dénouement of the tale in your drive for a clever title.

Action is not the all. Flash fiction is often touted as a medium with a ‘show not tell’ bias. I find it can fit for the poignant, quiet moments, as well. Like before or just after the action, something the action movie would skip. A character’s personal thoughts or interactions, reminiscences or what ifs can be powerful stuff. That being said –

Always try to do something. A good story should have a dynamism about it. You’ll not always achieve it, but do try as the best flash pieces always have it. In the most basic example: A lone character doing dry exposition can be tedious. A lone character remembering a moment and it’s aftermath? Still (could even have parts of the same) exposition, but narrated in a different way. Following on from that –

Information afterwards. If you go for setting up front, your reader is likely to ‘click away’. Get something going on, the old in media res trick (simplest example: the opening of Star Wars IV), then fill in the details. But only for this bit of the tale. A full world build in one flash is impossible and irrelevant. If you find yourself going on and on to set the scene, chances are you’re telling the wrong bit of that particular story.

Keep it focused. Think about your environment when walking down the street. There’s a wealth of information and description involved to detail the scene for those not there, but to walk along, all you need is clear pavement. Your characters will be the same: there’s no need to tell what isn’t absolutely essential for their ‘walking along’ in your story. But –

The reader has to understand what you mean. Common archetypes, descriptions, and set ups can save you words because your mention of a familiar term or accepted description (see how often the neon-lit market/streets of Blade Runner are used as a cue for ‘future dystopia’) allows the reader to fill in details from your ‘shorthand’. Conversely, if you’re being innovative, the audience may not understand from a purely character-based viewpoint. You’re going to have to help them grasp the concept, and being subtle is good: they should become aware without having a brute definition thrust at them. Also, if a clever wordplay/slang/name could be misinterpreted as a typo, find an alternative. Oh, and be careful when using unusual or new slang (or that ‘future slang’ you came up with) – unless context absolutely clarifies it, don’t use it.

Use a thesaurus. When every word counts, variety and using the gamut of available words is essential. Could be as simple as giving a character a unique voice by having her or him consistently use uncommon variants of a word or two.

Never let it out immediately. Wait at least a day, preferably two – at least. I try to get my definite submissions for the following month done by the middle of the previous month, because I know it will take at least four review passes to refine and correct them where necessary.
NB: You really should get at least one literary-capable friend to proofread your work. I have half-a-dozen proofreaders and a pair of critical editors who make sure my books are tidy.
My monthly flash fiction is the only format in which I allow myself to step round the rule, because I found that I intensely disliked getting a virtual kicking from reviewers and readers pointing out my errors. Consequently, my craft has improved. That being said, it’s a Pavlovian way of refining your craft. Save yourself the pain that might put you off. Get a proofreader involved.

Nobody reads your story the same way. All you can do is do the best you can with the tale you’re relating. You can’t say if your stories are good, that’s for your readers to decide. You can create stories you are happy with, stories you are pleased with, and – very occasionally – stories you love. Expect to be surprised: stuff you love gets no response yet stuff you thought reasonable gets raved over. Most importantly, you have to bear in mind that –

Not everyone will like your story. This is inevitable. Many won’t say a thing. Some will mention it. The ones to be ready for are the ones who didn’t like it and are determined to make that your fault. Let it go and don’t take it to heart. You can’t win ‘your imaginary world is not right’ battles. Don’t even try.

Have fun. Above all – and always – have fun.

Hope this helps.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in Life & Self

 
 
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