Friday, September 08, 2006

Speak out

Currently in Parliament is a bill which would make the Canadian government the largest contributor ever to the reelection of the U.S. Republican Party.

You read me right. Below the fold is the full text of an email I've just sent off to my Member of Parliament. He's a Conservative, so I have no real hope that he will actually respond, much less respond as I ask... but I'll be following this with a visit to his office, and I want the betrayal and absurdity of this deal, and his participation in that betrayal, made bloodily clear.

Lots of my readers live in Mill Woods too. Join me; the Mill Woods - Beaumont representative is Mike Lake, and this kind of bullshit deserves action. Others, in other constituencies, should find their MP and do the same.

For fuck's sake. I knew the Conservatives were terrible. But this is ridiculous.

To: Mike Lake (
Subject: Softwood Lumber Sellout


I'm one of your constituents here in Edmonton, living in Mill Woods, and I wanted to write you regarding my deep concerns about the softwood lumber deal "negotiated" with the United States.

I find this deal immensely disturbing.

Forget the fact that we bargained away a position of strength. "Not one cent." That's what they're entitled to. That's what the law - ours, theirs - says. That bugs the hell out of me, but is not half so disturbing as the (fairly) recent revelations of where the money is going.

The White House's reelection war chest is currently, without us, about $300 million. This "compromise" proposes to give the Bush Administration another $450 million dollars in what can only be called a slush fund. (Reputable analysis, not just rhetoric, shows that there's no meaningful accountability or oversight on that money.)

Forgive my language, but what the hell?

In what world does this make any sense at all?

In what world is the Canadian government allowed, in any way, to throw that big a rope to a poltitical entity, one to which most Canadians are opposed, in another country? Who in their right mind thinks the Republican Party needs massive foreign aid?

If you are party to this deal you are not representing my interests as a constituent. You are not representing the interests of any of your constituents. You are not doing your job. It is wildly inappropriate for the Prime Minister to game the system and call this a vote of confidence; it is wildly inappropriate for any member of our government to back this absurdity.

Please respond and reassure me that, against all odds, you will demonstrate some kind of principle and stand to oppose this bill on the floor.

- Eric Finley
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wishful Thinking

For some time, Tom has been maintaining a count of Google News hits, raw hits for "+impeach +Bush". It makes an interesting curve and once I get his data I'll turn it into a graph and post it here. However, of late it's been declining, which is sad; distraction is the mightiest tool of the wicked.


All is not lost. Though the raw count may have declined recently, you can still go read this now. With patience and careful attention; it will repay it hundredfold.

Note also that in more local news here at Hellequin Games, RL trumps design - we have another foster child as of midweek, whilst The Last Supper remains stagnant. A draft shall, shall I say, still exist for the November conference at which it is slated to appear. As you love me, poke me, do.
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Back In The Swing

So I've finally managed to recapture some of the creative juice I needed to work up v2.0 of The Last Supper. I think - as far as one can tell - it's lookin' good. Full text, drafts of all the cards, a little math to figure out how to get it roughly comparable for three Apostles as for twelve... and a set of bleedin' eyes hunting down Old Masters and other public domain art. Over sixty pieces so far, of varying quality.

Thinking about covers, in my opinion two of them particularly stand out. I'd like some opinions, if folks are willing to provide 'em. Images are large so I'll link instead of putting them inline here; view and resize as you see fit.

One is a stark woodcut by Gustave Dore. Nice fit for 8.5x11", too. Obviously I'd strip the text at the bottom.

The other is a surprisingly gripping painting by Simon Vouet. Somehow I find this piece extremely compelling, of all the ones I've looked at tonight. Pretty good fit for 6x9", which is my other likely size of choice.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery on the choice?

I'm going to try and get a really serious playtest draft out by the middle of next week; that's my target. At that point I'm going to be in a scramble for playtest groups, and willing to bribe hard to get 'em. Sing out if you're willing... I do really good backrubs, among other things.
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Friday, March 17, 2006


That shall be my battle cry.

This has been circulating on the tech-geek circuit for a couple of weeks now, but has yet to escape into the mainstream-geekosphere in the volume it deserves. This is a thirty-five minute video which you need to see. It's Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims, talking about his forthcoming creation, Spore. Industry insiders got to see this talk about a year ago, and again more recently, but only in the last couple weeks has this video of his talk become available online.

The descriptor of the movie calls this "what could possibly the best video game ever." And it is not lying. Take half an hour of your day. The link is here so you don't even have to mouse back up to the previous paragraph for it.

Tentative release dates I'm hearing are this coming fall or winter. I don't doubt it'll run late... but I'll be right there in line to pick up my preorder copy on the very bloody day of release, and Star will be right behind me. And we'll probably even let Aria play too. Once she can pry our hands off the mouse.

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Interregnum - On Pedagogy

I've noted this before, but one of the most destructively self-reinforcing behaviours in the world is not blogging. To those who faithfully have keep looking to see if I've updated, thank you, you hardy souls.

As your reward, here's a collection of links which had been intended to be the next post after the preceding. This is all material tracked down during a blog carnival devoted to education and educators, but it's all fascinating stuff - I think I hit the carnival on a very good iteration.

If you needed a reason to remember why teachers are wonderful people, here's one. I'm sure you can think of others.

In case that wasn't moving enough, Feministe gives us a look into a culture which many of us persistently underestimate - or just plain misunderstand. The strength in this piece takes my breath away.

Switching tracks from inspirational to inspired, here's a post by someone whose child taught him a thing or two about money. This is case in point on why good parenting is a skill, folks, not an instinct. It requires the application of enormous creative energy and intelligence.

Combine the above insights with a classical education and a passion for teaching, and watch what happens when someone actually tries using the Socratic Method in the classroom. That example uses math as the subject under discussion, but that's probably not the most important place it could be applied...

And, last of all, we return to the beginning of this post, and the awe that teachers ought properly to command. In case the emotional piece we opened with was not enough... here's an incredible look at what it once took to become a teacher, first part and second part. Oh. My. Lord. Let us now show humility, we who believe ourselves to be adequately educated. Go ahead - actually try it. I dare you.


And, not part of the above carnival, a recent revisit to pedagogy... I was contacted (in the preceding post's comments, then by email) by someone who intends to present The Last Supper as a pedagogical (that's "teaching" to you Philistines) tool for biblibal studies. We're having some fascinating conversations about it by email. I expect at this point that I will actually opt to include a couple of pages on the subject in the game when it comes out. Speaking of which - TLS v2.0 is looking for playtesters, especially ones independent of me and my local gang. The opportunity to receive inside-cover credit is still open, folks... contact me if you're interested.
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Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Random

From the gigglesome to the intellectually splendid, a collection of links for you to savour each by each:

Toys for pitiable children, and toys for older boys and girls. No context required.

A funny montage which requires a little bit of context. And a hilarious video (WMP, QT) which requires a little bit more. Note Olbermann's valiant attempt to keep a straight face... "and they all look like Dame Edna."

Once you pick yourself up off the floor and are ready for sterner stuff, here's a column about someone rightfully handing the anti-abortion crowd their collective moral and intellectual asses. Full text of speech here for those who've managed to preserve an attention span of more than thirty seconds.

How exactly would you define "capitalism"? From the always-incisive left libertarian Kevin Carson comes a piece with a very strong resonance for those who might find themselves needing to debunk the shrill madness of Ayn Rand or the placid assertions of someone like the Fraser Institute. I wish I could afford to send both Phil Eklund and my eggplant-in-law copies of Kevin's book.

Then here's a speech which is simply searing. Playwright Harold Pinter's acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. The RealAudio streams at that link are inundated with traffic, and the full text is available in various places, but don't let either one dissuade you from coming at this methodical polemic straight on... it's 46 minutes exceedingly well spent. If you simply can't wait or can't take my word for it, there's a review/summary here which should whet your appetite. But don't just go read the text instead; just don't.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Coolest. Sport. Ever.

Check it out!

Victory for Tihomir "Tigertad" Titschko in 1st European Chessboxing Championship!
"Fighting is done in the ring, wars are raged on the board" was the motto of the 1st European Championship in Chessboxing held October 1, 2005 at the Salon Ost in Berlin. The Bulgarian Tihomir "Tigertad" Titschko achieved his victory in chess during the ninth round of the fight.

The WCBO (World Chess Boxing Organisation) organised the event in cooperation with the firm, simultaneously opening the world's very first Chessboxing Club (CBCB), which was recently founded in Berlin's Mitte district. Chessboxing's mastermind is the Berlin-based Dutch artist IEPE.

The lights were dimmed, music pounded from the speakers, the crowd of 500 onlookers welcomed the opponents with cheers as they made their way into the ring, and the 1st European Championship in Chessboxing began after the Bulgarian and German national anthems were played. Chessboxers go through interchanging four-minute rounds of chess and two-minute boxing rounds. In a maximum of eleven rounds, a K.O. or checkmate can lead to an early victory.

During the first round of chess, "Tigertad," one of the world's ten best players in bullet chess, was able to disorganise his opponent's preparations: a skilful move adaptation of the Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence caused confusion for Andreas "D" Schneider of Berlin.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

On Wisdom

I just finished reading a Spider Robinson book I'd never even seen before, called Night of Power. It's about a race riot - race war - and some people caught in it. It's excellent and you should read it, but that's not the point of this post. What struck me most, while reading it, was the simple observation that every time I crack Spider's work I am astonished by the depth and breadth of his grasp of the human heart. The fact that he can write of it with such eloquence, with an unfailingly hopeful ring of truth, moves me. Occasionally to tears.

This intersects with a conversation Star and I were having earlier, about poetry, and the incredible line between good and bad in that medium. (She's reading Tanith Lee at the moment, you see.) And my observation that, perhaps even more so than prose, poetry as a form requires a mastery not just of words, but of language - the context and nuance that allows you to say things with what you do not say.

Interestingly, I intersect this with a near-criticism of Spider's style. I notice that he has two quite distinct ways of writing dialogue, with basically no middle ground. On the one hand you have dialogue as game. One-liners, puns, wit and cleverness. Never more than a couple of lines per utterance. On the other hand you have dialogue as exegesis - sometimes of plot, more importantly of wisdom and of soultruth and being human. And when writing in the latter form, Spider is prone to a flaw of my own: each point is invested with paragraphs or even pages, built by a kind of exchange of soliloquies.

Crystallizing out of this I have a single thought about wisdom. About why it comes so seldom, to so few, with such difficulty. Wisdom requires, above else, a completeness of perspective on an issue. Patient and thorough examination of it from many sides; understanding of the repercussions, corollaries, and assumptions underlying each of those angles; synergy of the whole into true comprehension. To me, that's a big part of the essence of wisdom. Very different from analysis, and I don't presently have the precision of diction to explain the distinction properly. But it implies, and demands, the level of detail and focus that Spider gives to the dialogue form described above.

Most likely this is the root of why wisdom usually comes so late in life. We are, on the whole and through the bulk of our lives, inefficient, unfocused thinkers. I class myself in this group, with certainty. As such, the kind of comprehensive study of an issue which gets you to the threshold of wisdom has to be built up gradually over a period of (usually) decades.

But I also class myself with those who can see the glimmer of it far more quickly. And it brings me, for closure's sake, to an exhortation. When you have children, if you have children, teach them to take pleasure in the investment of thought and the completeness of understanding. Teach them the concentration skills and the discipline which will allow them to layer thoughts - quicker than by decades' scale - into the kind of measured whole which gives full understanding. Teach them to focus, to think critically, to think expansively.

Without it, one cannot be a scientist. Cannot be a scholar. Cannot be an artist, I think. And cannot be both wise, and young - a condition which I wish most devoutly (and I use the word precisely, for those who know me) upon all your blessed spawn.



On a tangentially related note, I also have a message to my worthy readers from Star. She tells me that what you really want is not this blather of design, of politics, of philosophy. Then she took off her shirt to demonstrate what you do want.

Y'all can have the philosophy. Sorry.
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