tablesaw: The pixelated dog from Duck Hunt, emerging from a real field of tall green grass beneath a clear blue sky. (Duck Hunt)
I follow Live Granades because, although I don't go to the IFMud much anymore, I spent a lot of time there, and really liked Stephen, and even spent some time on vacation with him and Misty. Mostly, I like looking at the pictures of their kids and Misty's craftwork.

But this is a seriously great post:
So to recap: a game intended to be religious was changed by its first disciple so that access to the religion involved either money or being famous. Possible responses include subverting it within or declaring a reformation and forking the project. Sound familiar?
Seriously go read it.

Stephen says later:
You want to know why I care about games? This is why. Chain World has spawned arguments about the greater meaning of games and how they reflect the wider world. Leave aside arguments about whether games are art or not. Games like Chain World have something to say about our lives.
Of the people I read talking about videogames, I really do think that Auntie Pixelante is the most insightful and radical. At a time when the "industry" is obsessed with making sure that videogames are "mature" while remaining juvenile, Anna Anthropy steps up to show what you can do when you're really at peace with the role of sex (even supposedly deviant sex) in a functioning human's life. Recently, Craft and Punishment closely examined the relationship between game maker and game player and the BDSM participants. And
Beyond Indie, presented at this year's Game Developers Conference proclaims:
the promise of tools like game maker—that let anyone make a game with no professional or programming experience—and the cheap broadband internet that allows them to distribute their games without a publisher is GAMES MADE BY EVERYONE FOR EVERYONE, not games by the same small handful of nerds for the same nerds to play.
Geek Feminism points out that the father of the first true videogame console, one that used a microprocessor specifically to play games, was Jerry Lawson, a black engineer. I knew about the Fairchild Channel F from my Encyclopedia of Game Machines, but while the importance of the machine is mentioned, Lawson isn't. (The space is saved for the head of Fairchild, Gordon Moore.)

Just a few cool things in videogames recently.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
I'm still grappling with gender issues that do not conform to a male/female or masculine/feminine binary. I have a lot of cisgender privilege. No, that's an understatement. For all the reading and thinking I've done on ths subject, when dealing with transgender people in non-virtual situations, I am actively fighting transphobic thoughts. It's easier for me online, but knowing how little practice I have usually makes me doubt my critical thinking when it comes to these issues.

Still, in the wake of transphobia in a fandom-related dustup (link addresses the transphobia issues; if you don't know what the underlying wank is, it's not worth it to find out), I had these things in my mind today when I started watching the new episode of The Closer.

The plot features a retired detective who returns to give testimony after an old case is overturned on an unrelated issue. But upon his return to Los Angeles, it is revealed that although the detective had been known to collegues as a man, she is now living as a woman, to the naked disgust of her former partner.

Now, I know that a lot of people can't watch cringe television, like Arrested Development or The Office, but I can, and I often enjoy it. But even still, the casual abuse heaped onto Georgette from all corners, often ostensibly for humor, really sickened me. I had to turn it off before the end of act 2. There's probably a very valuable lesson at the end, but I doubt it will be worth it.

And then I come back to find some disturbing things about LiveJournal. [personal profile] synecdochic has been reading the upcoming changes to LiveJournal's code. The result of these changes (which, as of writing, are committed to go live the next time LiveJournal updates) is:
  • Gender will be a mandatory field at account creation, and it will be able to appear public on one's profile. (I can't tell if people with existing gender specification will be defaulted to "nobody can see it" or "everybody can see it".) (Subsequent changelog reading indicates that the public specificity has since been removed. It is unknown whether this is to require public specificity in the future or if it will remain private.)
  • >LiveJournal is removing the Unspecified option for the gender field. That's right: you get to be male or female. Period. That's it. (Source.)
(Full post.) If this is something that matters to you, you may want to set your gender to unspecified now. It appears that LJ will preserve current settings as unspecified, but it's not clear whether it'll ever be possible to unselect a gender if you don't do it now. (Source). [personal profile] synecdochic also suggests, "go to and politely register your displeasure."

Update: LJ has rolled back the code, and will not be making the change. Synecdochic's entry has details and a response from LiveJournal's general manager in the United States. The response that the LJ Response Team has sent out int response to inquiries is reproduced in the comments here.
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Because I thought of it, that's why.

The Rules to Strip Scrabble

For two to four players.

Beginning the Game:
Each player grabs a standard rack of seven tiles to begin the game. Don't worry about drawing to see who goes first, that's not an issue. It's often a good idea to agree beforehand on a reference that will be used to decide on the validity of words during challenges.

A Normal Round:
All players arrange their tiles for the best possible play on the board as it currently stands. All plays must follow standard Scrabble rules (all words must connect with at least one word in play, all strings of two or more letters must be valid words, etc.), and intended placement on bonus spaces is taken into account. When everyone is ready, they reveal their plays simultaneously. The player with the highest-scoring play puts it onto the board and replaces his tiles. All players other than the winner of the round may choose to exchange some or all of their tiles with no penalty.

The player with the lowest-scoring play must remove an article of clothing. If more than one player has the lowest score, than all players with that score must remove an article of clothing. If all players have the same score, then nobody removes an article of clothing, and the player with the most clothing puts his play on the board. Once the appropriate tiles and clothes have been exchanged or removed, the next round begins with the same rules.

If any player arranges a play that uses all the letters in his rack (a bingo), all other players must remove an article of clothing. This is independent of the normal round, and applies even if the play does not make it to the board. This means that the lowest-scoring player may have to remove two or more articles of clothing in the same round, and the highest-scoring player may also need to remove an article of clothing.

Any player may challenge the validity of another player's word. To do so, they must announce the challenge before a play is placed on the board. The word may be checked in any agreed-upon manner, following the guidelines of Scrabble (no proper nouns, no foreign words, no phrases, etc.). If the word is found to be valid, the challenger wins; if not, the challenged wins. In either case, the loser is penalized in two ways: he must remove an article of clothing, and his score for the round becomes the negative value of his play. (So if Alvin had a play scoring 42 points but lost a challenge, his score for the round would be -42 points.) It is likely, then, that the loser of a challenge may also be the loser of the round. Further, in a challenge involving a play with a bingo, the loser must remove a number of articles of clothing equal to the number of players.

Note: A player may not challenge another play in the same round in which he lost a challenge unless there are only two players in the game. If, in a two player game, a player losers two challenges in the same round, his score does not return to positive.

The conditions and rewards for winning the game are best decided upon by the players themselves, before beginning play.
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It occurred to me earlier that I was probably one of very few people at one of the opening night showings of The Two Towers who had not seen Fellowship of the Ring since that movie's opening night. It inspired some questions:

[Poll #85249]
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A body at rest tends to stay at rest; a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

That's how I feel about me and sexuality. I can usually identify myself in one of two states, very broadly and somewhat inappropriately named "sexual" and "asexual." When I'm in "asexual" mode, everyone around me seems pretty much equal. I talk to people I need to talk to when I need to talk to them. I usually stay focused on my own thoughts or on the abstract ideas; I like looking at buildings and nature. I also like listening to or watching the news. When I'm in my "sexual" mode, I am very aware of the bodies around me. I take special time to notice the form and face of every woman in my line of sight. Sometimes I study them and wonder who this person is as I drive by never to see her again. I find myself smiling a bit more when dealing with saleswomen. I listen to lots and lots of music.

What I find most interesting is that, for me, there isn't all that much difference between the two "modes." That is, each one offers benefits and drawbacks that balance so well that I don't usually mind which one I'm in. While being "asexual", I conserve a lot of mental and emotional energy and am often able to accomplish a lot more in a faster period of time. If I'm really stressed, even if I'm in a "sexual" period, I'll switch back to "asexual" to get everything done. I learn a lot, and get a lot of logical thinking done. Most of all, I usually remain very balanced, emotionally.

Of course, this doesn't offer me some of the thrills I get when "sexual". And I'm not talking about "sex", I'm talking about the brief feeling of elation from the scent of a beautiful girl I pass on the road, or the soft touch of a pretty cashier handing me my change. Yes, there are the pitfalls of heartbreak, but even before that, though, I find myself paying for these thrills with attention. Moments of elation are wonderful, but they can wreak havoc on a long train of thought. Swiveling my head to catch of the glimpse of the woman whose face obstinately remains concealed behind hair prevents me from realizing that I just passed the restaurant whose hours I wanted to check.

Overall, then, it all comes out equal. Dangerously surfing the sea of complex human relations for the rush of adrenaline or stoically passing over the undercurrents of sexual tension dedicating one's self to a longer journey, I find that I get out what I put in. And since I enjoy both outcomes, I tend to let my Fate and Whimsy shift me between the two.

I bring this up because I'm noticing a shift in the last few weeks from "asexual" to "sexual." First, I noticed that my flirting had kicked up a notch. Quite a few notches, actually. I didn't quite notice this at first. Most of my flirting is verbal, as is quite a lot of my interaction, and the verbal componenet of flirting, for me, is much like solving a cryptic crossword puzzle: listening to the conversation, testing out possible double meanings, shaping the words to fit my will, the will to compliment a women. So at first I thought I was just flexing my verbal muscles for a newly appreciative audience. But that wasn't all.

I started "noticing" women to a much greater extent. This probably would have gone unnoticed except that, at the time, I was still finishing up Museum Piece (Shoot, I still have to write about that). Remember how I mentioned that "asexual" mode can accomplish more linear thought? Well, my train of thought was getting noticeably disrupted by the women in my vicinity. No one particularly stunning, just women, around, making me wonder about them instead of wondering about how to finish my poem puzzle.

If I needed confirmation, I got it the other day when I felt my body noticeably change as I exchanged my chair at Bed Bath and Beyond with a very cute, petite girl whose eyes I held for longer than was necessary for a business transaction.

So, what now? Well, I enjoy it and get distracted more often. It's a fair trade-off like always. And maybe, this time, I'll even be able to capitalize on it and bring myself back into the dating world again.

Big day.

Sep. 29th, 2002 04:07 am
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Moving in three hours.

I'm going to skip Mass today, what with so much going on, but I think my obligation has been fulfilled by two discussions with others about Catholicism and my beliefs. Just now, I tried to explain the history of the concept of "salvation by Faith alone." Yesterday, I spent a few hours on IM with a friend discussing the interstice of religion, God, spirituality and sex. Here's a brief summary of the latter:

Sex is complicated but also fun, silly, dangerous and transcendent. Rituals necessarily include arbitrary tasks. I have a hard time talking about sex in great detail because my experience and memory of it decidedly non-verbal. I have a great friend, whose views on sex and life are definitely not frivolous.


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