Monday, February 25, 2013

SB 10 Goes to the House Tomorrow

The IL House votes on SB 10 tomorrow.  This bill, already passed by the Senate, will allow legal adults of either gender to get married in the state of Illinois.  This is the "gay marriage" bill and it will extend basic civil rights to ALL in Illinois.

Call your state house Representative today.  Please urge them to vote YES on this.

What's the old quote? "As long as some of us are not free then none of us are free."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Have a Hard Time with Pagans/Wiccans

If you follow my other gaming blog you well know that I like Witches.

A lot.

I like that fantasy archetype. I like the Jungian Archetype and I love the stories.

When it comes to religion I have a hard time with Wiccans and other Pagan groups in general.
Why?  Well. To be blunt most are just so darned nice.  Really.
You can talk to them (and please excuse me lumping all Pagans together for this, right now "them" means anyone "not me") about science and evolution and they get it.  They really do.  They all seem to be very reasonable and, again, nice.

You don't even see

It's the "woo" stuff I don't get.
Now an aside.  "Woo" or "Woo Woo" is in my mind a fairly derogatory term.  Not that I am concern so much with insulting people, it is though lumping a bunch of ideas together and assuming they are all equal.  It is dishonest and intellectual laziness on our parts and unnecessarily derogatory to the audience.   IF I am going to be derogatory then I want people to know it and to know I know what I am talking about.

Ok. Back to it.  I will say it is the "baggage" or even the "magic" stuff.
The basic idea of most Pagans is to go to perceived earlier form of practice that is more in-tune with the cycles of the earth.  Hey that is cool, if you are an agrarian society then celebrations based on certain times of the year that coincide with planting and harvesting are fine.   If you are doing it as some sort of way to get in touch with a past (that may or may not have existed) then that is fine too. 
To assume that ghosts and the spirits of the dead are more active on Samhain than other times of the year though...sorry.

The trouble is there is still the element of the fanciful. The unreal.
So spells, healing crystals, homeopathy, auras.  All that stuff makes for great fiction but terrible for real life.

I remember once I had been duped by this guy that gave me some homeopathic remedy. I had hurt my back and my insurance company wanted me to go to physical therapy or a chiropractor.  I was only about 20 and never been to a chiropractor before, so I gave it a try. Yes he made my back feel better. So would have a massage therapist or physical therapist.  But this guy was also one of those homeopathy nuts and he pulled some slight of hand trick on me.  I never figured it out and can't recall all the details.  But it involved me making a fist and not being able to move my arm then taking his so called wunder-drug and then being able to move it.  Again, I never figured out, but it sure left a bad taste in my mouth.  I should have known that after I stopped going he kept harassing me (yes my bill was paid up) to come back.  The cure should have been enough for me to stay to be honest.

I have talked to some pagans in the past that were, for all intents and purposes, atheists.
I asked one about even about their belief in magic one guy told me that of course there is no magic, but the "spell" I do is just a way of me imagining my goals, they don't get done unless I do something about them.
That is not a bad philosophy I guess.  I'd remove the whole spell and magic bit.

I guess in the end that is what confuses me the most.
Reasonable people that choose to believe in crazy stuff.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Illinois Senate Passes SB 10

Illinois Senators passed SB 10 today.
This is so called "Gay Marriage bill".,0,5929022.story

This is a huge step forward for the state of Illinois, so of course mindless fear groups like the Illinois Family Institute feel this is bad thing.
I suggest going to their site and using their action menus to email your state representatives to tell them to pass this bill when comes to the House.

You will need a valid email address, but isn't that what Hotmail is for?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Darwin Day!

My current big project is "Darwin's Guide to Creatures, Mythical and Mundane" a creature book for the Gaslight RPG (OGL and Savage Worlds)

I got on this since it covers many of my interests well.  I love old bestiaries, the Victorian age and my interest in Darwin himself.

I thought that since today was Darwin Day, Id spend some time talking about this book.

For starters it is a monster manual.  Creatures mythical and mundane to pit against your Gaslight characters.
It is circa 1888 and we are at the height of the Late Victorian Empire.

The book is written as a naturalist guide, similar in some respects to Darwin's work on the Galapagos Islands in his study of finches.  I tried to put myself into Darwin's shoes and write about orcs and trolls as if he had seen them himself.  Not an easy task.  I also tried whenever possible to avoid any supernatural agencies.  That was particularly difficult.   I rather like what I did about elementals, but less so about undead and will have to edit them a bit.

To prep for this book I reread Darwin's greatest work, "On the Origin of Species".  If you have never read this, then please do.  It is a masterwork and so ahead of it's time.  This man, through careful and painstaking observation put together this theory of common descent and change of species over time.  I know from reading his autobiography that this was not an idea he took lightly.  He knew that this would not sit well with the clergy and especially his religious wife.  But he also knew it had to be done.

Reading his autobiography got me to one of the key conceits of the book.  The book is "published" in 1885 or thereabouts.  Darwin was of course dead by that time.  It is edited from years worth of notes by his son William Erasmus and his daughter Etty.

I wanted to stay true to the spirit of Darwin, if not the letter, but I also wanted to stay true to the game system and world.  Gaslight is a world where Dracula preys on maidens in their bedchambers while Sherlock Holmes peruses Jack the Ripper and Mr. Hyde in the streets of White Chapel.

This is also giving me a chance to stat up some monsters that I have not had the chance to try out yet.  In particular some dinosaurs.

Looking forward to getting this one out there too!

Cross posting this to the Other Side.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Save Me White Jesus!

So this picture showed up on Pharyngula today.

Again, it would be better to laugh if so many didn't take it do serious.  Not taking Jesus serious, but White Jesus.

To start off I know this is sub minority of Christians out there. Plus many Christians probably would agree with me on all of this. Or most of it.

I can recall having a conversation when I was younger.  I am not going to say with whom, it was too long ago and they could have changed their minds by this point.  But the conversation basically went along the lines of them telling me that since Jesus was God's son he therefore looked more like god and thus blond hair and blue eyes.  I remember asking if this person was getting Jesus confused with Superman.

I can also recall sitting in the library at college and looking some of this stuff up.  Yes, there is scholarship where people go to great lengths to explain how this 1st Century Jew would have looked like a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, or at least like a less-Disco BeeGee.

But you don't have to pull an anecdotal comment out of my past.  Just go over to right wing whack job Victoria Jackson's Facebook page.

Ok, Ok, I know poking fun at Victoria Jackson is like picking on a child, but ignore her and read the crap posted about the picture.

There are two big issues at work here.  Both of course are denied by the people that partake in this.

Issue 1, Racism.  This is the easy one.  While the defenders (and you can read this all for yourself) will say that they see Jesus as some sort of shapeshifting Pooka that changes to fit who is worshiping him, it is really about white Americans being uncomfortable with a guy that probably looks more like a stereotypical cab driver than anything else.   It's just racism pure and simple.

Issue 2, Stupidity. Sorry this is also the big one. Not only is it racist, it's also stupid.  I mean honestly do they really expect us to believe this shit?  Back to the scholarship above, a lot of the claims are based on what sort of lineage Jesus had.  Hmmm Did they all miss the fact that by tracing this all through Joesph they are missing the big picture? According to the tale, Mary was a virgin and Jesus had no biological relationship to Joesph or anyone in his line. So they can't even keep their own story straight.

Both issues only serve the same one goal.  To make this group of Christians a laughing stock.  Really.
To other Christians, you should cull your herds a bit more.  Their stink will rub off on you as well.
Don't like it?  Well remember that the next time you lump all atheists in with Stalin.

Though I have to admit there is one other Jesus meme that cracks me up so much I can't stop laughing long enough to even take it serious.  You think White Jesus is bad?  Allow me to introduce Super Mega Fighting Jesus!

I can hear it now like a bad movie sequel.  "It's the Second Coming and Jesus is Pissed!   This time there will be no forgiveness "  You can almost hear the the wood splintering.