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Everything posted by Ran

  1. Georgia's GOP is going to work very, very hard on "preventing voter fraud" this year.
  2. Tokar, lock-step legions, religious bloodsport, strange foods -- that all speaks Rome. Early civilization, ziggurat style pyramids -- that does speak of Mesopotamia. The multiple wars with Valyria changes its role to being more Carthage to Valyria's Rome, IMO, than the Parthian/Sassanid empires, but sure, that's no doubt in the mix. The Unsullied are certainly inspired by mamelukes and janissaries, but they also fight in the style of the lock step legions of old, which sound basically very much like like early Roman Republic legionaries. It's really a blend of influences, more than any one thing, with a liberal heap of fantasy.
  3. A little update on Sweden. First, today they released some information regarding a sampling of people in week 17 (specifically form April 21 to April 24th) across the country, and found 0.9% returned as having active infections. The subsection for Stockholm County, a quarter of the tests, showed 2.3% active infection at that time. During week 14, testing in Stockholm showed 2.5% with active infections. This survey will be repeated every few weeks to show development over time. Next week they will present results of antibody testing from, I think. week 17 as well, but that'll capture the picture of the situation 2-3 weeks earlier as I understand it. In a different vein, Joakim Rocklöv -- one of the more trenchant critics of FHM's approach for a time, and still a bit skeptical but he has recently distanced himself from a group of much more outspoken detractors who repeatedly shot their credibility to shreds with bad modelling and decidedly uncivil language (calling FHM's modellers 'untalented') -- has revised a paper that in its earlier version from early April painted a very negative picture of the situation in Sweden, and presently he finds that Sweden's efforts were largely successful to its stated goals (he doesn'tcome out and say it but he essentially indicates that their 'simple' models were more correct than his own), and were much more effective in reducing R than he gave it credit for. However, he also proposes that with a 10% improvement in effective infectious period (from an average of 3.3 days to 3 days -- this is more a mathematical construct than representing actual infectiousness for any one individual) that he thinks deaths could be nearly halved by September 1st and some 1.5 million fewer people would be infected. The paper lays out all the math for those interested in epidemiological models.
  4. I know I said I was going to jump back into the Miyazaki rewatch, but then was reminded that Dead To Me had its 2nd season out, and saw Rick and Morty started releasing fresh episodes. I am huge fan of Linda Cardellini, I am very fond Christina Applegate, I think James Marsden is charming and seems like a swell guy... but jeez, they need a better show than this. I liked the first season well enough, but this one just piled coincidence atop coincidence from end to end. There's a joke about how the city of Laguna Beach is said to be a small place when in fact it's a town of a few tens of thousands and that's noted... but rather than being a meta moment of awareness, it just ... wasn't? If there's a third season, I ... am torn. I really, really like Cardellini, and her breakdown/fight in the penultimate episode was wrenching, and I like the rest of the cast. But the writing stinks. As to Rick and Morty, terrific meta episode about narrative construction and story. Rarely does one see a show this smart able to also revel in fart jokes and
  5. We know the skin tones and colorings of pretty much all the ethnic groups in Randland pretty clearly, so sure, he doesn't say so-and-so is copper-skinned or pale or dark all the time... but if he tells us they're a Domani or a Cairhienin or a Seafolk, we know approximately what they look like.
  6. Speaking of Asian outbreaks, I found this piece regarding South Korea eye-opening. Hadn't realized there was so much stigma against LGBTQ people there. Google tells me some regions have no or few anti-discrimination laws and so on. This will be a challenge for place that have any sort of stigmatized groups.
  7. Ah, fair enough. Yes, this is probably true. Cancer treatment options are limited in Vietnam. For SE Asia, Thailand's probably the place you'd want to be, and even so, that's not really up to the standards of most of Europe or the US. There's some EU countries where you can get residency pretty quickly, to be sure, but it generally entails property purchases. Portugal, Spain... Better to seek job opportunities and a work visa thereby, I guess. In any case, that's a digression. To the broader subject, the US will still be there, whether one is there or not. If one cares to see Trump be re-elected, there are things a citizen can do to help that. Or one can oppose it, and there are things you can do for that as well.
  8. He did cite quality of life as being lower. I also have to say that it's unreasonable to say that being in Vietnam means no quality of life...
  9. https://mobile.twitter.com/RedHourBen/status/1259759084309446657 RIP, Jerry.
  10. Walking the dogs, shopping, and mucking out a stall. I use Spotify, as well, for podcast listening. I'll download a regular set at home. Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, Three Questions with Andy Richter, The Weeds, Rational Security, Lawfare are the main ones I listen too regularly. After watching and loving Community, I've added The Darkest Timeline (Ken Jeong and Joel McHale's video/podcast) and am trying Comedy Bang Bang as it regularly has Gillian Jacob. Her second appearance alongside Jermaine "The Gentle Giant" Johnsob, controversial American Idol contestant expelled for outstanding warrants related to alleged crimes possibly related to what was in the drinking water that led to his gigantism (FYI, he finds the term offensive) was hilarious.
  11. This is true, but I think everyone who is thinking seriously about it is trying to determine what is the path that best balances all public health concerns in the long term. The ideal method, according to a paper I saw (will try to dig it up), was that you basically ease restrictions to what is a socially sustainable level that keeps R at 1 or under long term, and then you just hold steady. Cycling up and down at unexpected intervals doesn't really work economically or socially in the long term. Then there's the question of whether holding tight for a bit longer to get in place infrastructure or technological innovations that in theory could reduce the need for social distancing and thus leading to more freedom sustainably is better than going ahead now with loosening restrictions even if it undermines those infrastructure/innovation efforts.
  12. He has three tiers. The $5 tiers are one that gives access to the new Black Heart chapters only, and one that gives access to world-building material (new maps, the Historiae Mundi, presumably the Geographiae that he intends to start working on that will be an atlas type project, and any other sourcebook-style material for the setting or RPG), then there's the $10 initiate that provides both. It's a monthly recurring subscription, cancel when you want, etc. All the PDFs, images, etc. are downloadable and are not tied to continuing your subscription.
  13. It's the John Woo factor, gun play is such a big factor in some of the action films. I do think it would have worked better to better mix situations where it was all gun play vs. kung fu, but so it goes. The game's the source of one of my favorite bits of video game NPC dialog:
  14. Let me take a look at the reviews to understand what they mean by subpar. And I'll try and see if I can see DPI or something. ETA: Oh, it looks like someone just did an OCR of the print book and caused a mess with that one. No, no, this one is very professionaly produced. Smylie's quite good at book design. Check out the full preview available at the page for it.
  15. He intends to have it available print on demand, so I think yes. I can't see the DPI, but the image quality is high. The Artesia RPG was nominated for six Ennies in 2006, including for interior art, production values, writing, and campaign setting (as well as best game and best product), and he wrote, illustrated, and designed the layout for it himself, as here. This one seems very comparable in quality. It's 164 pages long, covering the history of the setting from creation to the present of the novels. Very dense with information. There's eleven maps (well, 2 maps, with the 2nd one being simpler in style and then featuring details relevant to various eras, showing movements of peoples, expansion and collapses of borders, etc.), and I don't know how many illustrations -- several dozen at least. There are still some freebies at DriveThruRPG that you can check out before taking the plunge on this book, if interested. The Artesia Compendium contains some of the same information as the Historiae Mundi, and includes the first map as well as some additional regional-level maps. So if reading that leaves you intrigued, I'd definitely recommend the History of the Known World, either through DriveThru or by trying the Patreon (which'll get you access to the history, some more maps and illustrations, the chapters of Black Heart, and Smylie's responses to questions from patrons).
  16. Smylie's completed his Historiae Mundi: A History of the Known World, filled with maps and information. Some of it was present in the RPG and in the various material he previously published, but there's a great amount of new stuff, including a section bringing the history up to present. It's available on DriveThruRPG for any fantasy world-building nerds out there... but if you subscribe to the Patreon, you can get it as part of that. This reminds me to bring up one interesting thing that's become evident in these two novels, and which Smylie has been explicit about: his sense of the world has changed a bit since the comic days. It was originally a sort of late Medieval to early Renaissance kind of world, but he's increasingly expanded it to encompass something a bit like the Early Modern as well -- at least when it comes to fashion (tricorne hats and buff coats) and weaponry (pistols have started showing up), but in some other areas (printing presses are an important plot point in Black Heart). While bombards were referenced in Artesia Afire, it felt properly medieval, limited to large artillery, but pistols is quite new. The explanation he has is fairly clever, though: weapons that use Black Elixir (as it's called) require a trained magician to be usable (so it's not exactly like our gunpowder). So armies may have magicians on hand to operate siege cannons and bombards, but personal weapons like rifles and pistols just aren't worth doing since no one has armies of magicians on hand ... and if you did, they wouldn't be in the frontlines anyways, too valuable. A piece of art for the Historiae Mundi shows a naval battle with cannon on both sides, and in the foreground you see a cannon being readied to fire... and rather than a gunner with a lintstock, there's a magician clearly casting a spell.
  17. Sleeping Dogs is really great, IMO. It's the only "GTA"-ish type game I've played, and its evocation of Hong Kong and Hong Kong action films -- particularly John Woo films like Hard Boiled, as well as Infernal Affairs and even a bit of Jackie Chan's Police Story series -- was terrific. Looks pretty decent, too, all these years later. Good voice acting, good story, etc.
  18. Yeah, Highlander: The Raven was pretty much DOA -- no real chemistry between Gracen and the guy playing Nick, writing was mostly uninspired -- so one could wish they tried something different. They even were noodling with it -- there's an episode that was basically a back-door pilot in the later seasons -- but I guess they felt a female lead was more important. I liked Amanda well-enough as a character, but of the backdoor pilots they did in S6, I recall my favorite was the one featuring Claudia Christian. May be my B5 fandom speaking, though. But I recall she had great chemistry with the male lead played by, Steven O'Shea (who, Google tells me, was also a cop named Nick -- they basically copy-and-pasted the pairing to The Raven).
  19. It's basically the latter, and is Stannis's original sin, so to speak. It's no coincidence that Cressen's prologue has the matter of Ned's friendship to Robert brought up, and we see how small and petty a person Stannis is about it -- it explains exactly why he fled to Dragonstone and stayed there, waiting for Robert and Ned to fall rather than reach out to Ned or even be gracious enough to respond to his request to return to the small council. When George said he was basically righteous, I think people took it too far and read Stannis wrongly. His intention was narrow, and the Stannis we see -- especially in ACoK and ASoS -- is righteous only in coming to believe that the greater threat to the world lies beyond the Wall. OTOH, once realizing this, he soon turns around and resumes trying to win a throne, so the degree to which his righteous beliefs become subordinated to his selfish, self-righteous ones has to be considered.
  20. Oh, forgot to mention I did watch the Middleditch & Schwartz three-part long-form improv special on Netflix. I've enjoyed more short-form improv of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? variety, and after having listened to them as guests on the Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend podcast awhile back I figured I'd give it a try. It was modestly amusing, with some inspired moments of madness (especially in the third and final part).
  21. Hah. I'm at 86 so far, and have ... uh ... 6installed. Fortnite (haven't played it in ages, was never good, mostly just played with my niece when she was into it), Subnautica (very cool game), Abzû (pretty chill little barely-game with some lovely moments), Batman: Arkham Asylum (doesn't work well with my Steam Controller, but I didn't spend much time trying to get it to work), and Unreal Tournament (which I don't really know why I have installed, come to think of it). Oh, and the Jackbox Party Pack which we played with friends once. And then there's some 120 games on Steam... and I've barely played any of those, either. This feels like a problem, like I'm a hoarder or something...
  22. Getting back to my Miyazaki watch-through after Community interrupted it, I decided to take a detour and watch Whisper of the Heart, which he did not direct but which he wrote as an adaptation of a manga, and I believe he designed the storyboards. It'a sweet romantic story about junior high school students, set in contemporary Tokyo, and it really captures what feels like an authentic slice of life there. Also, "Country Roads" features very heavily, as the main character (Shizuku) keeps writing different Japanese lyrics to the tune for her classmates. There's nothing fantastical in it, per se, but there is an imaginative moment in the back half that unleashes that full-on Studio Ghibli fantasy design that was really breathtaking. Next up, I've changed my mind, I think, and will re-watch Princess Mononoke. Also continuing watching What We Do In the Shadows. A couple episodes behind -- just watched the Superb Owl party episode, and that remains good fun, although I did prefer the first two episodes a little bit.
  23. @frenin Good quotes. There's plenty in there about Renly and how he saw things and why he did what he did. Mileage obviously varies.
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