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Major sources of worry seem to behave like a stack. The current major worry nags at you until something bigger goes on top of it and starts occupying my attention. Then that resolves, and I'm back to the previous worry.

This is distinct from minor worries, which seem to be additive.

There's one fairly unshiftable major worry on my stack, currently about three layers down, namely my ongoing body/species issues. I wonder what would be beneath that if I ever found a way of addressing it.


Sep. 25th, 2013 11:09 pm
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I really must stop forgetting this thing exists.
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I had an absolutely brilliant dream last night. It gave me an interesting new world to explore.

Picture, if you will, the typical "furry" world: something very similar to modern western society, but with all the humans replaced by anthropomorphic animals of varying species. This is a pretty well-established trope at this point, and one I use (both consciously and subconsciously, apparently) as a jumping-off point more often than I'm entirely comfortable with.

Now add to the mix the fact that everyone has three identical bodies. This is not to say that everyone has two doppelgängers; this is one person, one mind, who happens to have three physically separate bodies. And this applies to everyone. Moving one or more of your selves more than a few meters from the others is physically uncomfortable, the discomfort rapidly increasing with distance, to the point of actual pain beyond ten meters or so.

This leads to some interesting societal adaptations. Nearly everything was arranged in threes, from simple doorways, to rows of subway turnstiles, to seats and stairs, and so on. Having only two bodies is seen as a major disability, and it does happen whether due to accident or birth defect, and only one is crippling. Most of how the world works assumes you can be in three (reasonably nearby) places at once, and things get awkward if you can't, much as someone stuck in a wheelchair must be frustrated by how there are stairs absolutely everywhere.

There was no specific narrative to this dream. It just followed a day in the life of a fairly typical cohabiting couple, cats I think they were, and the logistics inherent in their daily routine.

I think this is a setting I would like to revisit at some point. I have certainly been meaning to start writing again.
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Hello, everyone! My, but it's been a long time since I've posted here, isn't it? Five months by my count. Let me tell you why.


The simple fact is that I've been far more active on Twitter than here. This is not anything in particular against Dreamwidth or Livejournal; Twitter helps me keep my thoughts concise. If I can't say it clearly in 140 characters, then it's worth examining exactly what it is I'm trying to say, brevity being the soul of wit and so on. Before I got a Twitter account, you'll notice that my LJ feed was mostly composed of infrequent, brief, and often meaningless entries. These days, I keep my mental diarrhoea short-form.

For those of you that have followed the link here from the relevant tweet: hi! This is where I come to express my longer thoughts, when they can't really be condensed. I always tweet links when I post here, so you've not missed anything.

With the administrativa and social politics out of the way, let's get on to why I'm here.

Dragons and Griffins

Whether you spell it griffin, gryphon, or anything in between, there has been a definite trend lately among dragons to have some sort of special liking for griffins. A few months ago, I took it upon myself to learn why. Here are my findings.


Oh dear, did I say we were done with the social politics? The number one reason I have determined for dragons having developed a thing for griffins in recent years is, in fact, the perception itself. Dragons, I have observed in the past, are a group largely in denial about themselves - while projecting a façade of fierce individualism, they will also tend towards the group average.

Up until a few years ago, it was foxes. No one really questioned it, there was just this connection between dragons and foxes. This is simply a mutation of this same concept, largely self-reinforcing in nature. You can even spot the nucleation sites, the originators of the new idea, if you go looking for them. I leave this as an exercise for the reader.

In short, the dragon-griffin connection is a meme in the truest sense, a self-replicating idea.

Like Meets Like

The other main reason the idea of the griffin is so attractive to the dragon is that we see a lot of ourselves in them. First, both groups have a strong mythical basis. There are simply no real-world examples of dragons or griffins who are not masquerading as human in the physical, offline world. This alone is not enough to form the connection - we have no special relationship with unicorns, after all, and they're something of a rising star in the online world - but it does help reinforce it once memetics have done their job as described above.

There is also the matter of shape. With the gradual collapse of the dragon community into the broader furry movement over the last ten years, we've often found ourselves the only quadrupeds in a sea of bipeds. Griffins are more inclined to eschew the standard anthropomorphic shape and keep four feet on the ground. This appeals to many dragons for the same reason that the aforementioned bipedal shape appeals to more mainstream furries - we prefer things shaped like us. It is, if you will, a case of dracomorphisation.

Personal Variations

These are all generalisations. Everyone I have spoken to about this justifies it slightly differently. This is the perfect manifestation of the group/individual dichotomy so common in dragons, that I described earlier: most having similar thoughts for what we say are different reasons. But it's interesting the sort of things that have been said.

One respondent called it a simple power trip; griffins are rare and fragile, and we like to possess them, control them. Another expressed the view that it's an appreciation for the combination of elegance and sturdiness inherent in the griffin form: the flowing, aerodynamic shape of a bird with the added bonus that you won't break it if you pick it up and hug it. Or, er, do other physical things to it.

My personal view is a bit simpler. I just really, really like birds. The mammal back half is just an unnecessary coda, but it doesn't spoil the view.


There are a lot of personal factors at work here, and of course this is hardly a rigorous study, just an informal gathering of opinions among a rather small sample of dragons. But what I have seen convinces me that the main factor at work here is the memetic one. It is because everyone knows it is.

Feel free to comment with your own thoughts. I welcome any input in this matter, and the debate is by no means settled by anything I've said here.

Enjoy your catbirds responsibly.


Mar. 26th, 2013 08:24 am
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Did you ever play a browser game called Glitch? It was strange, wonderful, and utterly unique. A couple of my friends dismissed it as just another "social" Facebook game, because it superficially shared a couple of aspects, but in truth it was something else entirely. It was a glimpse into a bizarre and beautiful world, where eggs grow on trees, grain is harvested by squeezing sarcastic chickens, and every rock has a story to tell. A place where people would fall over each other to help the new guy out, asking nothing in return, for no other reason than wanting to be nice.

At the end of last year, the architects of this unique experience announced that the game wasn't making enough money to pay the server costs, and would have to close. The forums and website would remain online for a time but, after one last big farewell party, the world was gone.

Now the forums are gone too. As of today, the community site is in read-only mode, and will soon disappear completely.

I'm not ashamed to admit I cried for hours when the game servers shut down, and I'll shed a tear today. Glitch was something special, and we'll never see its like again. If you were there, take a moment to remember with me the good times we had.

Pandemic 2

Sep. 6th, 2012 08:38 am
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Who remembers Pandemic 2?

It was a flash game made in the mid-2000s in which the player takes the role of, as the name suggests, a highly infectious disease. The goal of the game is to wipe out humanity by tailoring the traits of the disease, and its ongoing mutation, to first enhance transmissibility and reduce visibility, and then to raise lethality once enough people have been infected. In response, the people of the world will kill your infection vectors, shut down transit systems and eventually develop a vaccine to try and stop you, but only if they realise how big a threat you cause.

This structure makes for a briefly interesting game, but far more amusing is the various unrealistic things in incorporates and implies.

First of all, as we know, there is no planning behind the progression of any given disease, so it's quite amusing to have something milder than the common cold spread throughout the world and then suddenly cause millions to drop dead from brain haemorrhage.

Then there's Madagascar. Known in the real world as a relatively poor island nation with interesting wildlife, players of Pandemic curse its name, and its government tendency to shut down its one port at the first sign of someone sniffling in Japan. More often than not, Madagascar becomes the last bastion of humanity against the disease, to the point where some commentators at the time suggested simply restarting the game if you didn't actually start there.

My first disease, back in 2008, was a virus, Disco Fever, which ravaged most of the world but left Australia and Madagascar untouched. How about yours?

Want Ad

Jul. 18th, 2012 09:18 pm
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Moderately experienced tabletop roleplayer seeks online World Tree GM in a European timezone for the obvious. Please, for the love of bacon, apply below. I need to play this game.
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Today's Futility Closet contained a quote that expresses a sentiment that I often come across:
An omnipotent god can create a being that performs an act known only to itself.

An omniscient god cannot do this.

It would appear, then, that no god can be both omnipotent and omniscient.

(From Richard R. La Croix.)
This is a variation on the old argument that an omnipotent god could create something that is impossible even for said god, and is therefore itself impossible.

Honestly, this is rubbish.

People making arguments like this, in my view, are missing the idea of true omnipotence. Let us define it here, then: omnipotence, n., the capability to do literally anything without restriction or limitation.

I have rephrased the definition to make my point, but the idea remains the same no matter which way you slice it: without limitation. Take a moment to think about exactly what that means. In stating that an omnipotent god (or, as above, one who is both omnipotent or omniscient) is logically impossible, we are imposing a limitation on it. A being with truly unlimited power cannot, by definition, be fettered by the rule of logic. Indeed, such a being could do something with is logically self-contradictory - a paradox - and yet still have this be logically consistent; to say such a thing is impossible is to implicitly deny omnipotence. I could go on, and will if anyone asks me to, but I believe I have made my point.

In closing, I would like to state for the record that I am an atheist, and that I do not see any reason to believe such a being exists. But as the original quote demonstrates, it is far too easy to become complacent in such a view. We must constantly re-evaluate our ideas, or we risk falling prey to the same problem of unchanging dogma that is often seen as the failing of the religious.
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I live in what is quite possibly the most exciting period in history. I enjoy personal rights and freedoms unparalleled throughout the history of civilisation, and many of the biggest problems in every area of science and engineering are on the cusp of being solved, at least those that haven't been already. I live in the first age where my survival is almost guaranteed; because I live in a "developed nation", I need not fear starvation, exposure or pox, a situation unheard of even a hundred years ago. Every day presents something new to be interested in, so much that I could never possibly have time for all of it.

So it occurs to me that maybe I could stand to be a bit happier about being here.


Apr. 14th, 2012 11:46 pm
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Rowyn is a dangerous person. Last week, she put out a general call asking if there were any interested parties for a world-building game called Microscope. I was in the wrong timezone for that to really be practical, but I was interested enough to try it with some more local friends. Today, I managed to get a session of it going.

It. Was. Awesome.

We started with the idea of using it to generate a setting for another RPG, but it rapidly evolved into its own thing. Our starting premise was "the return of magic propels humanity to the stars," but it really didn't take us long to get way, way off message. What should have been the creation of an interstellar empire for Jaxeth to run a Traveller game in quickly turned into an examination of race politics and slavery on our very own planet Earth. Faster-than-light travel didn't even appear until half way through the timeline and... well, let's just say that the left hand side was much richer in events and scenes than the right.

It began with a meteorite. By some poorly-understood process (I suppose we could have explored it more, but we didn't), its impact spread some mystical energy all over the world, awakening magical power in a lucky few. This led, in turn, to the use of said magic, combined with the latest in bioengineering, to grant wolves the vital spark of intelligence thus far only known only to humankind.

They started life as a curiosity, moved on to becoming domestic servants, and eventually moved into the space programme as their adaptability became more prominent. The idea of a "manned" mission to Mars becomes a lot more palatable when you can roll disposable astronauts off the production line, especially if they want to do it.

Eventually, something changed. We didn't examine the events leading up to it, but at some point, a group of these wolves (referred to generally as the Canis, shorthand for Canis Sapiens) became organised enough, independent enough and sufficiently aware of their situation to rise up and drive the government of Kenya into exile, beginning a process of what can only be called "ethnic cleansing", declaring the country a human-free zone. True reconciliation between the two races would not occur for centuries.

Probably not much use as a campaign setting as we originally planned it, but it was interesting to see how it took on a life of its own and went in directions none of the players expected as a natural consequence of play.

If anyone's interested, there's a screenshot of the final timeline here (1364x654, 48.0KB).

Yes, we really did call it "unobtanium".


Apr. 4th, 2012 07:13 pm
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Last week, my grandmother died at the age of 93. I travelled up to Scotland for the funeral service, which was today.

It's my opinion that the function of a funeral is to allow people to say goodbye, achieve closure and start to move on. In that, today's service was a total failure. The whole affair was terribly impersonal and disgustingly Christian throughout. The guy leading the service mentioned my grandmother exactly three times and spent the rest of the half hour going on about how awesome God is. Then asked for donations at the end.

While a Christian herself, my grandmother was also a deeply practical woman, and I can't imagine her wanting to say goodbye in such a manner.

Despite my distaste for the service, I held my peace. To do otherwise would have been even more disrespectful. But I think both she and those attending deserved better.
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I have a list of things I should be doing - a literal list sitting in front of me - and instead I'm sitting, getting bored. This is not good. I don't know what it IS, but it's not good.


Jan. 25th, 2012 09:47 pm
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I'm teaching myself 3D modelling, for no particular reason. I'll probably get bored of it inside of a week, but before that happens, I'm quite pleased with how I'm doing so far. This evening's work:

Image behind the cut )

No, it's not grey to be "arty". I just haven't learned how to apply a texture yet. It's really not bad for something done in two hours, even if I was following a guide.

Goldkin massively upstaging me in 3, 2...

Still Here

Aug. 4th, 2011 09:10 pm
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I may not be making posts, but I still love you all. Keep on doing your respective things, and stay awesome.
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Well, this is nifty. ICANN have decided to start selling TLDs.

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Some slightly more in-depth research than I did previously reveal that I cannot, in fact, afford a car. Oh, well. So much for that plan.
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The Good: I finally got the mental health clinic to give me an appointment after three weeks of being fobbed off with excuses.

The Bad: It's in July. Mid July. What am I going to do for two months? The prospect of getting some sort of direction was all that was keeping me stable as it was, and even that wasn't doing such a great job. I don't know what I'm going to do now.
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It happened a while ago, I'm sure, but when did this spinny thing become the standard symbol for loading stuff? Don't get me wrong, I like it. I think it does its job very nicely. But doesn't it just seem to be everywhere?
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