Call to Support Net Neutrality (again)

If you live in the US, call your reps and let them know you support net neutrality. Go to this site, put in your phone number and they'll call to connect you with your reps. It took me 3 minutes. It's also good practice talking to your government.

Do it. I don't want to live in a world where my only ISP option presents me with a screen like this:


I've written about this before. Attacking net neutrality attacks both my values as well as my employment. The free market can't help when there's no competition. It's also really scummy that they're trying to use the Thanksgiving holiday as cover for this. Please don't let them hide. Call your reps.

Call.

❤️ This post proudly created in Gutenberg

Once upon a time there was a dungeon master who really loved the world-building aspect of the job. He would create intricate lore for all the NPCs. Every object had a complete history that the DM could rattle off from memory. The players would wince every time they entered a room, as the DM started rattling off what they saw.

"The stones on the north wall of the room are darker than the rest, implying that they were not gathered locally (since there is no nearby volcanic activity) but instead brought from the mountains. However they are cut in a style of the king's stonemason, so you suspect that they were brought here as part of the mason's expedition recorded 40 years ago, in which…"

The players all made low intelligence, low wisdom fighters in retaliation. Every perception check failed. When one player made a natural 20 on a history check, the rest abandoned her to refresh their snacks and maybe play a couple rounds of Street Fighter.

The DM, seeing his beautiful world being ignored, became cruel. His NPC villains were awful, but the DM would torture both PC and NPC alike. No one was safe. A PC is having a wedding? Kill everyone. A player finds an escape from the prison? Actually that was the villain's plan all along.

The players, fed up, leave the game. The DM still has stories to tell though, so he starts writing them down. Or at least that's how I like to think Game of Thrones got started…

❤️ This post proudly created in Gutenberg

Backyard Camping

I went “camping” in the backyard with our 3 year old. She loved the campfire of course. She was so thrilled to sleep in a tent that she insisted on going to bed early.

Two hours later she was inside in her bed.

I’d still say it’s a success. If she didn’t have the escape hatch of a nearby house I think she could have made it the whole night. Time will tell.

Ready Player One

The first trailer for Ready Player One just dropped:

I read the book and it was a nostalgia-bomb. Laser targeted at my demographic and I loved it. I was still surprised when I heard there was a movie coming out. The book is so chock-full of pop culture that it’s a licensing nightmare. It seems that brands are much more open to being on board with Spielberg directing.

From an intellectual property standpoint, it’s a little weird that the book was fine legally but there were a bunch of hoops to jump through when the story got translated into a different medium. Lawyers ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Carcassonne and Boss Builder

Last night was game night!

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First game was Carcassonne, a city builder. Jenny got this for me as a gift and I’ve been itching to try it out. The game is really quick to pick up and play, and moves quickly. I think I like this better than Catan. There was some deal-making at the table, and there’s something satisfying about building out a landscape. I think it scratches the same itch as jigsaw puzzles – order emerging from chaos.

One strategy that was identified early-on was that you could get 4 quick points by connecting 2 small city tiles (like the 2 cities just left of the big road loop in the pic above), which felt cheap. We checked the rules and it was legal, but it still bugged me. It turns out those cities used to be only worth 2 points, but the rules changed (maybe due the expansions?).

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Second game of the night was Boss Monster. The first thing I noticed were the pixel-art graphics on all the cards. Gorgeous! In this game you are the boss at the end of a dungeon, and you have to set your rooms up to beat the heroes. Each room has abilities.

This requires a little more strategy than Carcassonne, but I was lucky enough to get some cards that worked well together. We used an expansion deck to accommodate all 5 of us. It also went a little slower, but I think with fewer people it would be smoother.

Aside from the games, the highlight of the night was Tim’s Old Fashioneds, but that’s because he’s an amazing bartender.

LiveJournal, Russia, and Reddit

Friends and Blasphemers is a pretty great episode from the podcast Reply All. They dive into what happened to LiveJournal when it got popular in Russia.

One of the interesting parts was a breakdown of how much Russian trolls got paid to disrupt LJ:

PJ: Emails actually leaked out later that had the rates that these guys were getting paid to troll Alexey and his friends. It would be 85 rubles for a comment, and then a bonus: 200 rubles if you could trick somebody into arguing with you.

That part reminded me of some stats on /r/The_Donald:

It turns out that the biggest growth in subscribers happened roughly 3 days after Donald Jr.’s Russian meeting.

Anyway, the point is that I’m going to see if I can import all my old LiveJournal posts here to make it even cringier.

 

Criticize with Empathy

I love these rules from Anatol Rapoport on how to criticize:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Imagine if Twitter (a well-known argument machine) dedicated space in replies for each of these. Changing form fields can change minds.

These rules jumped to mind when I was reading Search Inside Yourself, which is about Google’s mindfulness program. One of the prescribed activities is mindful conversation, which has a pretty similar component:

Let’s say there are two people involved in this conversation—Allen and Becky—and it is Allen’s turn to speak. Allen speaks for a while, and after he is done speaking, Becky (the listener) loops back by saying what she thought she heard Allen say. After that, Allen gives feedback on what he thought was missing or misrepresented in Becky’s characterization of his original monologue. And they go back and forth until Allen (the original speaker) feels satisfied that he is correctly understood by Becky (the original listener). Looping is a collaborative project in which both people work together to help Becky (the listener) fully understand Allen (the speaker).

I think the thing linking these is empathy. If you build your empathy muscles you probably don’t need these rules, but they are still a good reminder.