yeloson: (pic#459018)
Stars Without Number is a tabletop rpg where you travel around the galaxy to different planets and get into adventure and intrigue. (The link goes to the free PDF ebook version). It uses an old-school-ish system with some really smart updates, and great rules for generating different worlds and conflicts.

It's not Hitler's Future

So, you know at this point our expectations for rpgs and representation is pretty much bottomed out. SWN does the following things right:

1) Images of POC are in the book!
2) No default assumption about the cultures that you'll encounter
3) ...backed up by the name list in the back! There's several name lists, divided by culture, with a few paragraphs about clothing or food, and the acknowledgement that odds are good that what was traditional for us in the 21st century would be a massive throwback by the 31st century. The full cultures listed include: Arabic, Chinese, Nigerian, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English. Obviously not entirely comprehensive, but the fact that it's not euro-centric is awesome.
More about the game... )
yeloson: (Default)
My friend Jono had a point awhile back that he wished cars had more ways of communicating to other drivers than just the horn/turn signal combo - stuff like, "Please go ahead, I'll let you in the lane", and such.

One thing I've noticed about email, is that when you have to email a bunch of people, it's almost guaranteed that the important info will also get crowded under non-important or poll responses to that info.

It'd be pretty neat to have something, like say a Gmail conversation, which had a button that takes you to a list of everyone emailed in this. And those people could change their "status" for this conversation and you'd see those statuses as colored dots next to their name:

Grey - "I haven't picked a status yet. I may not have even looked at the email."
Green - "I'm good with what has been decided/whatever you decide."
Yellow - "I'm waiting to hear more info/see where this is going/I need to go get some more info before I can respond."
Red - "I'm out of this conversation. I will not receive any more emails on this."

This does two things:

1. You don't have to clutter your inbox with these kinds of responses
2. It fills the "effort gap" below writing a full email- it means you have something better than silence, but not quite requiring real typing.

Obviously, the big problem for this kind of system is that it has to work with classic email in some fashion, and still requires people to do some minimal clicking. There's always going to be people who never read the email and slow the whole process, but generally I figure the easier you make things, the easier it can go for groups.

Of course, maybe stuff like Evite and similar "Yes/No/Maybe" RSVPs are the best way to go, though I could see projects and work using this system for much better results.

ETA:

Probably the easiest way to do this would be to incorporate it into something existing like Gmail or an email client like Thunderbird, with special links auto-generated as headers in each email for the folks who aren't on the tech to just click to respond or see the responses thus far.

Another issue is that this also doesn't track history like general email does, so it's not as useful if you need to track a history of agreement/delays like with classic email. That said, though, I've found that those trails rarely get acted upon anyway, when you have those problems.
yeloson: (Oh NOES)
While I wouldn't recommend Linux for anyone who wants to do anything beyond the most basic stuff (web, music, etc.), I will recommend that everyone burn a Linux Live Boot CD and keep it around.

A live boot CD will let you get your computer up and running if your OS gets jacked, you catch a ridiculous virus, your harddrive is damaged, or even dead. There's a lot of types of Linux which will run straight from your RAM, let you do some basic disk repairs if the HD is damaged, get the data off the harddrive or allow you to upload it somewhere else. You can still access the internet and email with a dead HD with many versions of Linux.

All you need to to do is pop the disk in, and boot to it (Most computers will have some kind of "press F12" or something to let you boot straight from a CD, otherwise, it's usually holding the C button).

If you want to have one around, this is what you do.

1. Download a CD version of Linux.

I use Peppermint because it's fast and has solid features*. For more features and included disk utilities, Mint will have you covered (Get the LXDE version at the bottom of the screen - it'll fit on one CD).

2. Burn the ISO to a CD

If you don't have a program for this, you can download an ISO burner. I'd have to dig up the one I use at work, but a quick cnet search for ones with lots of good reviews gives me ImgBurn and BurnRights.

And... that's it. If you've got a blank CD, most of the time is downloading the distribution of Linux and an ISO burner- the CD usually takes a few short minutes.

If you lack access to a CD burner and can wait a week or two, you can even buy the Live boot CDs for a pretty reasonable price: Peppermint OS $9.

*One caveat about Peppermint. The file manager is under "Accessories". Once you figure that out, you can access your files and get your data off the system if you need to.
yeloson: (Default)
OMGWTFBBQEPICWIN.

I remember seeing the preview for this like a year or two back and thinking, "That looks awesome.", but, over the years, I've been so jaded by neat previews and bad or meh movies it got filed away and forgotten.

It's on Netflix Instant Streaming and this movie is fucking win.

Queen Hijau is beset on all sides by enemies and raiding see pirates who are led by Prince Raval and his pirate sorcerer Black Raven. The queen hopes to marry her sister, Princess Ungu, to an allied country to bolster their military strength before everything comes tumbling down.

Fighting the pirates is the Chinese weapons engineer Lim Kium, the hardcore royal guard Jarang, and Paree the village fisherman/warrior-mystic who utilizes Dulum, a type of magic that allows you to divine from the water and control aquatic life.

There's a lot of interesting characters and I really felt this was fun to watch. It feels like it should have been a tv series or extended series of movies with more time to develop all these folks.

Let's see - crazy sorcery in battle, cannon fights, a mix of different cultures (Thai, Javanese, Japanese, Chinese, asian Muslim, etc.), giant boat battles... yeah, this movie has a lot going on.

The movie does give us a lot of awesome women, but doesn't let them shine or do as awesome things as the men (of course)...and we end up with 3 sacrificial women along the way (of course), but I like the fact that really, the Queen remains an important character throughout and is proactive in getting her nation solid.

The fights are ok for most of the movie, getting better towards the end, but you do get to see a lot of different weapons, including kris blades, scimitars, pistols, rifles, swords, shields, tiger claws, blowguns, crossbows, bows, and cannons all at work. Oh and sorcery-magic attacks as well.

There is a rape scene and a near-rape scene, both of which are short but, they're there.

I'm giving this movie 4/5, big thumbs up on POC focal story, action, cracktastic epic battle scenes, magic, great costumes, and fun characters, and I wish the awesome women got to show us more of their awesomeness and the other women weren't sacrificial.
yeloson: (Default)
Of Activists, Feminism, and Mammy Issues breaks down the whole expectation that black folks are somehow supposed to also go fight everyone else's battles as well as their own.

I think it's real interesting, clueless, and fucked up how many folks can't be bothered to learn something about black rights and the battles fought here, and simply buy into the McDonald's/American Kumbayah story that "Now all the black peoples are free and happy!" and imagine that, now everyone's sitting on beemers and Oval Office desks, and dammit, why aren't they helping anyone else?

The Reference to the Court of Appeals post puts it nicely:

The reference to ‘court of appeals’ is a metaphor for how (‘american’) Blacks are often expected to authenticate the suffering of non-Black people of color. For instance, I’ve read the work of diasporic South Asians who have faulted ‘american’ Blacks for not caring sufficiently about (or even supposedly participating in) the profiling of people-who-look-‘Muslim’ at airports. What gets erased is that, before Sept. 11, diasporic South Asians weren’t organized against racial profiling because it was Blacks who were (and still are) being racially profiled.

So ‘solidarity’ is always supposed to go in one direction, *from* ‘american’ Blacks *to* non-Black people of color. When non-Black people of color are in trouble, Black people are supposed to be front and center validating the struggle with their presence, even though non-Black people of color are only there for Blacks when it’s convenient.


There's a real split between "Get mine activism" and actual, equality & human rights activism. The former has a simple, fucked up goal - which is to get the same privileges as white men. Not to actually get equality for everyone, but just for themselves and maybe a few folks like them.

That mentality shows itself really quickly- they're only upset when it comes to power being used against them, but no one else, and unsurprisingly, accept that basic concept - that black people are supposed to be magical negros mammies for the cause subservient StepinFetchit "Allies" when they need it, though they remain silent in the face of police murder, economic targeting, focused relocation (who remembers Katrina?), and a host of other, goddamn-it's-blatant bullshit.

I had a conversation on Twitter awhile ago, pointing out the problems of how quick a lot of East Asian Americans are to buy into being #2 on the racial hierarchy system. If you have any understanding of racism, then it's pretty clear that your duty is to step up as an ally MORE if you've got privileges than it is expect more from the people with LESS or NO privilege.

And frankly, if you couldn't be bothered to know the people and listen to them who you're now asking for support? That you understand their history through the propaganda of the oppressors? Why should they ally with you?

There's no such thing as "equality for one" - either we all get it or it doesn't exist. "Get mine" greedy activism, in the end, only becomes the oppression it claims it's fighting, and in the end, supports it the entire way.

ETA: A nice commentary on willful ignorance with regards to black folks while demanding servitude in activism
yeloson: (pic#459019)
In the mood for cheesy sci-fi, I watched Skyline on instant streaming. I wasn't expecting anything good, really, and could have been happy with a not-so-great B movie with special effects.

And in the last 5 minutes of the movie, I got treated to a graphic alien tentacle rape scene.

Do not see the movie, and, based on how crass and fucked up it was? I'd probably also recommend not watching any of Rogue Films movies on general principle.

(C) Control

Aug. 3rd, 2011 10:45 pm
yeloson: (Default)
This is one of the most interesting, and fun anime series I've watched in a good while. I wouldn't have believed that a supernatural Pokemon-battle based on economic systems would be fun, but this actually is great.

Kimimaro, a struggling college student, gets sucked into the magical world known as "The Financial District" - where you put your future up as collateral for vast sums of money. The people who can access this place have magical ATM cards and are forced to battle each other, once a week, and gain money (or lose money) from the battles. That said, the show avoids the "fight of the week" trope, that it could have easily done, and instead skips most duels or cuts them short and comes back to look at the fallout of these duels.

Each "Entrepreneur" has a magical spirit, known as an "Asset" who fights alongside them. The Assets can use magical attacks which take money directly from the person's savings. Successful attacks cause the opponent to spew black money which looks a lot like blood the way it geysers forth, and that adds to the attacker's account.

If you're ever forced into bankruptcy, you are ejected from the Financial District, and then, since the money was "your future", reality rewrites itself to make your life wack and the lives of friends and family around you, also wack.

This actually solves one of the big questions that comes up- how do you have these massive influxes of money without screwing up the economy? And the answer is, reality is constantly rewriting itself around people who make money through this.

The story revolves around Kimimaro trying to figure out what's going on with all of this, while major groups in the world are attempting to game the system - either to simply make themselves rich, to improve society, or, at least, to reduce the negative reality re-writes that occur with massive wins/losses, that end up completely reshaping economies, and, countries.

Although it seems like it's about money, the show is actually a fun look at the literal question of "borrowing from the future" and what does it mean? How do you prioritize living life in the moment, as tomorrow is never guaranteed, vs. planning and making long term life choices?

There's only 11 episodes and it's up on Hulu. If you're up for something fun to watch that moves quickly, this is a great series.
yeloson: (Default)
Though I've been sick this whole week, I saved up my energy reserves to go see Attack the Block at a free screening. I was worried that given all the hype, it would be "just ok", that I'd be expecting too much.

Wrong. That shit was filthy.

The action moved at a good clip, I never felt like anything was dragging, and all the kids' personalities got a chance to shine a bit. I like the fact that we don't get the kids' names until a third of the way through the movie, because there was never a reason for everyone to be yelling each others' names all the time. I really liked all the references that reminded you that these are teenagers ("I shoulda stayed home and played FIFA", "Call us back when you're done playing Xbox" etc.)

I also like the fact that the kids were never held up as "ZOMG GHETTO URBAN PLIGHT" children, but just kids who happened to live here and have stuff to deal with - they even had parents and not all evil orphans who exist because ghettos spawn children magically.

Action: Awesome. Acting: Awesome. Cinematography: Awesome. Soundtrack: Awesome.

Go see this movie, give them money, and tell your friends to do the same.
yeloson: (southside)
http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2011/07/01/137537350/grind-and-shine-blue-scholars

ANN POWERS: People might be surprised to hear that. But in bigger cities, the various ethnic communites are larger and don't mingle as much.

GEO: That's one of the things about Seattle that's cool. It's big enough to be a city but small enough to be a town. There's a global identity, but there's also very local identity. We grew up, we spent time here, like I know a little bit about the history of Eritrea, and the Philippines, and Vietnam, and Cambodia, because I have friends that all came from these different places. So, New York and L.A., obviously they're cosmopolitan cities, obviously there's people from all over the world there, but in my experience the kind of mixing among those communities that happens here doesn't happen in those other places.
yeloson: (Default)
Between white people pretending to be lesbian women of color and trying to get lucrative book deals (in order to, "better direct white people to listen to real women of color and real stories..."UM), and People of color still needing white people to stand in as metaphors in 2011 in movies...

I'm reminded more and more why I organize stuff like the Remyth Project or the APIA Spoken Word Summit:

Our stories are our voices are our lives are our history. These are the words they put in our mouths, steal from our mouths, silence with time and gatekeepers. These are the ways they turn us from people into imaginary beings and magical Not People in a Not History.
yeloson: (Default)
"White Identifying" indicates people of color who imitate white privilege behaviors, and support and defend privileged behaviors, in the hopes of white approval.

Notice that this doesn't have jack to do with whether someone has grown up completely surrounded by white people, what languages they can, or can't speak, what food they eat, what music they listen to, who their friends are, whether they can "pass" or not, etc.

None of that is the problem- privileged behavior, supporting racism, and, policing other people of color to do the same? That's the problem.
yeloson: (pic#459020)
It's been a hot minute since I've done some music posting! Music on play recently:















yeloson: (pic#459020)
A timely article: White Feminist Privilege Diary Series

"Why," they wanted to know, "can't we attract women of color to our organization? And when they do show up, why don't they stay?" Sometimes I worked alone, but often I worked with an African American feminist partner. We found, over time, a depressing similarity of pattern as, one after another, the organizations we counseled decided that our suggestions would be "too difficult" to implement. This diary describes my experiences in the world of white feminist organizations and NGOs, and offers an analysis of the key problems of white privilege and the investment of many white feminist institutions in racist practices.

I found this bit at the end particularly on point:

Anyone who has done anti-racist work for more than a few years has run up against this problem: most racists are happy being racists, and simply don't want to change. But at the same time they want to be protected from accusations of racism, and resent anyone who makes them "feel bad" about it.
yeloson: (Default)


This whole damn video is gangster.
yeloson: (pic#459020)
Between listening to the Yuri Kochiyama cut and reading Ta Nehisi Coates on Malcolm X, I'm reminded how much white folks freak out about the phrase, "By any means necessary" and ignore the fact that, you know, the means could be as simple as "Hey stop that." "Ok" and what level of investment white society had in oppression that made discussion a non-functional tactic without further action.

And, you know, the levels of cognitive dissonance necessary in the face of firebombings, assassinations, rape and lynchings to believe that the problem was it was black people who weren't being peaceful enough.

Ink

Apr. 29th, 2011 09:47 am
yeloson: (Default)
I wanted to like this movie... but. The premise sold to me was, "Little girl gets kidnapped by monster into magical world", which, is pretty much story crack for me, as I'm down with magical door fantasies in general.

What I got was one white dude who's a dick, and his manpain, and another white dude who's a dick and his mansplaining.

There's two groups of spirits at war - the Storytellers - who bring people good dreams while they sleep, and the Incubi, who bring nightmares. And then you have Emma, a girl with a strong imagination who's basically living her life, when, Ink, some strong monster spirit who kidnaps her in order to deliver her to the Incubi, so he, too, can become one of them.

One of the Storytellers, Allel, is charged with rescuing Emma. She ends up working with Jacob, a blind "Pathfinder" who is supposed to be able to find her and has unnamed magical powers. Allel is portrayed as being this tough, kinda awesome warrior, who... doesn't get to do much, while Jacob basically says a bunch of stuff to piss people off because he finds it funny, and randomly blurting out supposedly deep things about the universe. (Also: magical disabled character!)

Yeah, that got old real quick.

Along the way, one of the Storytellers also gets captured and tells Emma, "The second you stepped into this world, you began transforming into a lioness." So, we have the set up- girl with lots of imagination, in a dreamworld, being told she is a lionness... you're expecting awesome "I've discovered my power" kind of stuff right?

Well, instead it ends up focusing on her estranged father, who is a high powered executive who has basically lost custody after spiraling into the winning trifecta of overwork-alcoholism-drug abuse. It becomes clear early on that Ink is some kind of version of him, hoping to become an Incubi and become "Numb" to his life's fuckups. Yes, it's about him and his manpain.

Overall, this looks like the kind of movie I would have thought was awesome when I was 16. Now I'm just disappointed.

The visuals were awesome. I liked the idea of the Storytellers as dream-pakour-warriors with women and POC kicking ass all over town. I liked the Incubi's creepiness as smiling glowy weirdos in glasses. I even liked their funky doors to alternate realities set up... but I didn't get to really learn a lot about any of that, instead it was a movie about assholes and the women who get run over in their bullshit.

Meh.

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