Rannm Thawts Ten

Random thoughts.
  • People keep citing Clarke's Third Law (the "sufficiently advanced technology" one) as if it's a real scientific principle. It's not. It's Clarke demonstrating that island savages are prone to Cargo Cultism, no matter what island they live on. Because magic doesn't have to take thermodynamics into account; technology does. Go look up how hard it is just to make things float, via technology; now consider how easy it generally is for wizards (moving objects up to 5 pounds is a zeroth-level spell, in D&D).

    This is not only why hover-tanks and "nanomachines are magic" plots are stupid, it's also why shows like Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There are stupid. A wizard who can make portals isn't going to be impressed by physics, except in the sense that you're impressed by things some disabled people can do; they can already do things our physics says are probably impossible and almost certainly practically impossible even if they can technically happen.

    And a "great red dragon" in a blatantly D&D-based setting isn't going to be impressed by your tank shells, son; it's wholly immune to the half that's fire damage and little if any of the half that's just regular damage is going to get through its damage reduction. Those five or so HP of damage you might do are going to piss it off, though—it'll probably take about six seconds to land, dig open the hatch, and turn the crew (and upholstery) into a fine coating of white ash inside the tank. Maybe you don't know how many attacks a dragon gets in a full-attack action?
  • The reason critics praise "subversion," even when it's manifestly moronic, and will defend even mean-spirited, incoherent dreck like Star Wars: The Last One Anybody Will See in Theaters, has little to do with politics or being adherents of post-structuralist or postmodern ideologies, and much to do with the fact critics are unhappy people, basically damned while still alive. You see, to be a critic is to do something that real humans do for fun, as your job.

    Film critics, for example, go to see every movie, whether they want to or not. They see far more movies than anyone else. Hence why they habitually mistake all tropes for clichés (the fact they don't know tropes from clichés is why assertions that they're some kind of ideologues are doubtful: they would need real educations for that). Hence also why they will snap up anything novel, no matter how mean-spirited or half-assed. They're dead inside, and novelty is the only thing that makes them feel anything.
  • It is 100% fair to call Thundercats Roar badly-drawn crap. Ditto Steven Universe, though its bad art is the least of that show's problems. But it is not fair to call that art-style "CalArts"; that term, as a form of abuse, was actually coined by John Kricfalusi, the talentless psychopath behind Ren and Stimpy. And he actually applied it to the usual form of Disney animation. Which he presumably didn't like because, unlike his art, it doesn't look like an unsolicited dick pic. (I'm not really picking that analogy at random.) Also the hacks behind Steven Universe went to the School of Visual Arts in New York.

    The art-style of Steven Universe and Thundercats Roar, aside from being much closer to Kricfalusi's art style than to the one the mongrel was attacking, really ought to be called "Tumblr Arts", because that's the place you'll see it most. Remember that "let people enjoy things" comic that's the only defense that people with no taste can make of the trash they're into? That art style. Now, admittedly, good shows have been made in a similar style—Gravity Falls and Star vs. the Forces of Evil, for instance. But those shows are made by people who know what they're doing, unlike Steven Universe or Thundercats Roar.
  • My Common Tongue has an agreement system somewhat similar to Uto-Aztecan or Bantu. Because they're prefixes rather than unbound morphemes, it's kinda hard to use possessives predicatively ("this dog is mine" vs. "this is my dog") in Uto-Aztecan languages, and predicative possessives are important in a particular type of phrasing that I like. Tribute must be paid to the greatest fantasy currently being done in English, as once 'twas paid unto Tolkien and Howard and Vance. But there is an equivalent, in Nahuatl: you basically say "O [...] that I have" rather than "O [...] mine".

    The power of undeath behind the nightshades, by the bye, talks in trochaic heptameter. I'm not sure how that actually works in the Common Tongue; I also haven't really worked out how the beast-totem chants being in trochaic tetrameter ("Kalevala meter") works. I should probably give their poetry more kennings and parallelisms, which A, work largely independent of language (one of the reasons the Bible is such a great work of literature is its parallelisms usually translate well—in which you may certainly see the hand of God if you choose), and B, are the two features that define Nahuatl poetry.
  • It occurs to me, that theme I like about how individualism and collectivism are both really bad for civilization, and are fundamentally errors with regard to the Problem of Universals, is also kinda similar to the existentialist concept of "bad faith". Except that existentialism mainly starts from the ethics end and I start at the epistemology/metaphysics end. Existentialist epistemology is generally pretty vague, if not actually incoherent; it thus tends to be too easily corrupted into Postmodernism and Social Constructionism, where all truth is reduced to power-relationships—or as those schools' most consistent adherents know the concept, the Sword Logic.
  • I don't understand people's inability to be pleased. There are mongrels claiming that the writers of Halo 5 didn't know who the game is about (you're actually fighting logic if you just deny that it's the best game in the series except ODST and maybe Reach). I admit I automatically award significant bonus-points just for not involving the Flood, who as I've said turn a top-notch shooter into third-rate survival horror, and for having been actually playtested (not like that's the only reason Halo 3 is better than Halo 2, but it's a big one...though admittedly Halo 3 does have the level "Cortana").

    Others of these beasts of the field will claim that Destiny 2 is worse than the first one in every way, which is actually the opposite of true. The second has a better inventory system, a better interface, better loot, and public events are much easier to participate in. Yes, Warmind was kinda lackluster, and while Curse of Osiris isn't terrible it could've stood to be longer and go more places (there was apparently some funny business with the experience calculation, which is an issue of the game as a product but not of the game as a "text").

    However, it's not like The Dark Below was particularly brilliant, and I personally don't give a damn about Rise of Iron beyond its resolution of the Fallen plotline making Destiny 2 make sense. Hell The Taken King is near-universally regarded as the best expansion of the first game (I don't know how so many people can misspell "House of Wolves" like that), and that was when your character became a mime, for no apparent reason. Also the Taken show up in various areas before your character has actually encountered them in the game's story (which you'll note they don't, in the second game).
  • Reading a lot of tie-in novels lately; there's a summer-reading thing at my local library. I find I like tie-in fantasy more because I don't have to sit while Sandon Branderson or somebody lucubrates on forty-three different kinds of metamorphic rock and how each affects the color of your astral cord when you mix your astral-projection potion in a mortar made of it.

    One thing I noticed is that not only are the Warhammer Fantasy novels less pointlessly grimdark than ASoIaF (despite being the people who literally invented it), they're actually less pointlessly grimdark than the Pathfinder ones. Ain't even passing references to people being raped by ogres (or "greenskins"), in Warhammer. It's basically impossible for Pathfinder to mention ogres without that coming up.

    I'm really looking forward to Kingmaker, but I can't escape the worry that I'm going to be subjected to something out of a tenth-grade creative-writing club-member's attempt to be edgy.
  • Noticed something watching E3: people are actually praising "gritty" environments. Um...what? Every game has "gritty" environments, and basically has ever since the hardware was up to displaying that many objects on-screen. Actually what they should be praising is the few games where everything isn't bombed-out hovels plagued by nuclear mutants. At least Destiny is the ruins of a bunch of space-colonies, but would it seriously kill you people to have a video game where people don't all have gravel-pits in the middle of the living room?

    Sure, the occasional bombed-out building makes sense, in a shooter or war-game, even an RPG or open-world. Every building being a bombed-out shell? No. Halo 5, especially in the Sanghelios levels, hit a nice balance between clean modern buildings, ancient ruins, and bombed wreckage, and when the Guardian started breaking things in Sunaion it actually meant something. I suppose this is just a broader thing about how post-apocalyptic settings are fundamentally lazy; even in Destiny the "wreckage of
    the Golden Age" thing is the weakest part of the setting.
  • Tangentially related to the tie-ins thing, it is utterly inexplicable to me that 40K is more popular than Fantasy Battle. The black-and-gray morality of WHFB was Flanderized into evil-vs.-evil; the Empire that could maintain cordial relations with elves and dwarfs became genocidal totalitarians. The one time science fiction (in the very broad sense of "set in space in the future") does better than (traditional) fantasy, and it's the markedly inferior product!