Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday Art Attack

Today's Art Attack will focus heavily on space opera; in fact, it has a lot of works that are either "alternate" designs for classic Star Wars characters, or other stuff designed for fun by Star Wars concept artists.  But some of it is just regular old stuff, too, like this first image of some kind of dark fantasy warrior.

This is a great space opera rig, but not Star Wars. 

Whereas this, on the other hand, is clearly a fantasy dark lord version of Vader.

And this is just an alternate visual for the Vader concept.

I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to be; a Dathomiri Mandalorian, or something?

A really cool Sith Lord design.

Another awesome alternate version of Vader.

Another awesome Fantasy version of Vader.  With pseudo-Roman trappings, even.

Some stuff flying around on Tatooine.

An alternative Imperial shuttle.

More of these alternative TIE fighters, or whatever they are.

A hangar in Mos Eisley.

Endor or Yavin, with alternative Y-Wing and X-wing fighter designs.

A Star Destroyer in the atmosphere, breaching through the clouds like a sailing ship. What a great visual.

A battle that was never actually committed to film, but noodled around with by the concept artists.

More concept art noodling.

The last (for today) of some concept art noodling.


System: Erai
Hex Location: 1329
Star Type: Single M5 V
Number of Worlds: 9
Gas Giants: 5
Planetoid Belt: Kuiper belt and asteroid belt

Starport Type: B
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 11%
Population: Medium (630 million)
Political Affiliation: Seraean Empire, Outremer, Principality of Tan Kajak
Tags: Pilgramage world, Cold war, Secret cabal
Notes:  Erai, like many of these relatively recently colonized worlds, has a long history before becoming part of the current political order to which it belongs.  Although it's no longer in operation, there are ruins of both the Grays and early Zen Cross temples out in the rocks and mountains of this predominantly dry planet.  The world has a relatively high population of skiffers and other "ne'er-do-wells" of the galaxy as a leftover artifact from the many centuries it spent under Dhangetan control as well, although the Dhangetan was overthrown in a power bid with his rivals.  Nobody else rose to prominence to claim the system officially for many years.

Sacristans live here in large numbers, and come and go on pilgrimages quite frequently.  They've actually discovered, or so they believe, a fair bit of how the ancient Zen Cross order was structured in the ruins and records of the old Zen Cross enclaves scattered across the surface, although these discoveries often come in cryptic and tantalizing hints, and there is a great deal of rancor in the order about how they should be interpreted sometimes.

The political situation on Erai is also quite complicated.  Two siblings vie for the the title of Duke (or Duchess) over the planet, brother Astal Xoensus and his twin sister Thaiah Xoensus.  Because their parents never kept records of who was born first, who should inherit is not clear.  Normally in the Seraean Empire (and through much of Known Space, for that matter) in these types of situations preference is given to the male claimant, under the understanding that psychologically biologically they tend to be more suited to rulership than women.  However, in Outremer, there are many strange customs, and many of those who came to Outremer were specifically looking to build their own types of societies away from the strictures of their home cultures, and in Tan Kajak in particular, there have often been women rulers, starting with Sillla Vatina who ruled the entire Principality when her brother was deemed mentally incompetent.   So on Erai, the brother and sister vie for control, and have convinced many of the power brokers to side with them.  After a hot conflict that lasted for six weeks, they have settled down to a cooler hunkering down approach, and the planet is split between areas that pledge allegiance to one or the other of the two, while their proxies still fight in space and on the airless, uninhabited (but mined for fuel and other resources) worlds in the system.

If this wasn't enough, a powerful and charismatic Sacristan has put in a bid for independence and has small settlements in the desert (see illustration above) that refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of either sibling.  This is politically probably fairly foolish, as the greater powers of Tan Kajak would hardly tolerate a non-Seraean with political independence on a world that they claim.  However, that's exactly the whole point; the conflict between the siblings as well as with the Sacristan is because all three are unwitting dupes of the Dhangetan who was overthrown.  Who did not die, as is popularly believed, but who still lives in a hidden enclave in the desert, and who not only controls events on the surface, but has a greater plot that will seriously weaken if not destroy the entire Principality, bringing all four of its worlds into his orbit.  The cold war on Hentau III and the ongoing civil war on Tr'Udon suggest that he's managed to destabilize the entire Principality quite a bit more than one would think.  The Princips who rules it has been absentee on Phovos Mal, meanwhile, for the better part of five standard years.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Star Wars: Rebels

Star Wars: Resistance is going to suck.  Dave Filoni is not going to solve or fix Star Wars.  He may "get it"—maybe—but he either doesn't have the broad enough suite of talents to do everything that needs to be done, or he doesn't have the leadership chops to put the SJWs who are ruining Star Wars in their place.  (To be fair, George Lucas didn't have the former either.  Which is why the prequels sucked, and the first couple of movies, where he delegated to talented writers and directors, etc. are vastly superior.  So that's not necessarily on him; but does he even understand that he needs to get better writers?  I don't know.)

Will "Dave Filoni Unleashed" without meddling from Kathleen Kennedy be able to save Star Wars?  The fans (some of them, anyway) think so.  I'm skeptical.  In retrospect, the Clone Wars isn't as good as I remember; a good half of the episodes I could skip nowadays and not miss them.  And Rebels was a mess.

Without further ado, this guy again, speaking for me as he does so well.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


System: Perchta
Hex Location: 1328
Star Type: Single M6 VI
Number of Worlds: 14
Gas Giants: 2
Planetoid Belt: Kuiper belt and asteroid belt

Starport Type: E
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 85%
Population: Medium (94 million)
Political Affiliation: Seraean Empire, Outremer, Principality of Tan Kajak
Tags: Death world, Local Specialty, Xenophilia
Notes: The native inhabitants of Perchta are relatively primitive.  Dangerous conditions on the planet meant that they early lost much of the tech that the original settlers arrived with, and they were unable to develop more of it.  Their ethnic origin is unknown, but probably mixed Earth, Altairan and maybe something else.  They have dark eyes, "icy" colored skin and dark blue hair, for the most part; a kind of unusual combination that the Seraeans in particular find oddly and exotically attractive (kind of like Seraeans with a bit of blue, they say.)

Today, they live in relatively protected enclaves and cities, where they have thrived and their population has grown.  This is due to the arrival of the Umbral Crusaders, who built these cities.  Most importantly, these Umbral Crusaders used their high tech fighters and military might to beat back the gigantic, voracious predators that have made life on Perchta so dangerous to the natives that they couldn't expect any of their personal capital for generations (since before the fall of the Marian Empire when the settlers were effectively "lost" from the galaxy) on doing anything except trying to survive.  These gigantic life-forms, which come in a bewildering array of forms and shapes, are not gone, of course, but have learned to avoid the cities of the Seraeans, except when they get really cranky.  This does happen on occasion, at which point the maddened beast tears the town, kills hundreds if not thousands or more of people, until finally chased off or killed by the Seraean war machine.

There are persistent and disquieting rumors that the beasts are evolving to better face the Seraean weapons, and that one day in the near future they will be as intractable to the Seraeans as they were to the native Perchtans before their arrival, but others dismiss this as crazy talk.

Because of the perception that that Seraean conquerors tamed the wild beasts and raised the standard of living for the natives, they see them as deserving almost whatever tribute that they wish, although as they gradually become more and more aware of the greater galactic context, they are becoming more and more likely to simply try and flee the world if they can find a way to do so.  But today, they still provide tribute in the form of slaves that go to Seraean nobility, mostly, as well as highly prized and valuable items made from elements of the corpses of the slain beasts, including items made from their amazingly tough hide, bones, and armored scutes especially.

Lightsabers aren't just for Jedi

As a quick reminder, back during the concept art phase and the older draft phase of the original Star Wars, lightsabers weren't just Jedi weapons.  Here's the MacQuarrie picture that had stormtroopers with lightsabers... and shields, even! Facing an older General Skywalker along with Chewie and two other characters one of whom is I think Leia, and one of whom may be Annikin.  Keep in mind that at this stage of the drafts, Luke was more like Kenobi, and Annikin was more in the role of Luke.

If you haven't ever, I recommend you get a copy of this and read it.  I got it from my local public library. (In fact, I'll go right now and request it again.  I really should buy my own copy, but it's not super cheap.)

And here's the MacQuarrie pic of the whole band.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; as much as I (of course) love the older Star Wars material, I actually liked a lot of it before it was actually finalized.  While the plot needed some polishing—which it got—the setting and tone was better during the drafts than what actually came out.  I actually like the promise of what the Star Wars franchise almost became more than what it actually did become.

If you can get your hands on it still, I strongly recommend reading A Secret History of Star Wars, which covers a lot of this material quite thoroughly.

Here's a few of my own thoughts from last year on that book.

Reading some of that, it's interesting that The Clone Wars TV show achieved, finally, much of what the original Star Wars vision was to be.  But only after the franchise had accreted all kinds of weird ideas and concepts and characters that it had to live with.  And, of course, after it had swallowed a much bigger helping of SJW nonsense than the 70s or 80s would ever have allowed.  Maybe that's part of the reason that I like that show so much compared to much of the rest of the franchise's output.  It's much more of what the original vision of Star Wars was intended to be in many ways.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Janissary pin-up art

Remember that the setting for AD ASTRA started as STAR WARS REMIXED; i.e., Star Wars 1,000 years after Return of the Jedi.  In that setting, the clones, freed from Republic/Imperial oppression, founded their own martial society, got married, raised descendants, etc.  Because the armor and training traditions of the clones were based on Mandalorian prototypes from Jango Fett, they had an interesting relationship with the Mandalorians as both rivals and yet also kindred spirits, and the clone descendant society was intermingled in space with Mandalorian worlds.

In AD ASTRA, they are now the descendants of the Janissaries (and they still use that name) who won their freedom from the Marian Empire during the Slave Wars.  They still often live in systems that are near the Cilindareans, and are allayed loosely with them—sometimes—but they also have a not always friendly rivalry vibe going on.  While the Cilindareans are as Nordic as the Mandaloreans in the Clone Wars episodes that feature them, the Janissaries are tall and fair-skinned, but with dark hair and unusually pale eyes.

So, this girl Boba Fett digital cosplayer is pretty exactly what I'd expect Janissary pin-up art to look like.

Chasing the Dragon

Just finished the latest Galaxy's Edge book, Chasing the Dragon.  It's book two of Contracts and Terminations, the spin-off series that is "prequel" in nature, dealing with the exploits of Tyrus Rechs that predates his appearance, of course, in book 2 of the Galaxy's Edge main series.

I also pre-ordered the last Galaxy's Edge main book yesterday.  Retribution is its title, and it says something new in the description; that it's the end of Season 1 rather than of the series overall.  Which isn't surprising, but it's new and it's not something that I'd been aware of before.

And I've got a slight bone to pick with Chasing the Dragon, quite honestly.  Near the end of the book, and this is hopefully not spoilerish to say, Rechs' big task that he takes on is preventing a war, because war is terrible.  While of course war is terrible, the people threatening war are enslaved by the Republic, really—under its boot heel completely.  And they want to go to war to regain their right to self-governance and to assert their right to sovereignty.  In other words; the cause of the people that Rechs wants to stop are more sympathetic than Rechs' goals himself are.  Anyone who's the descendant of an American Revolutionary who doesn't understand that... mystifies me, I have to admit.  A few quotes from the 16 Points:
5. The Alt Right is openly and avowedly nationalist. It supports all nationalisms and the right of all nations to exist, homogeneous and unadulterated by foreign invasion and immigration. 
15. The Alt Right does not believe in the general supremacy of any race, nation, people, or sub-species. Every race, nation, people, and human sub-species has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and possesses the sovereign right to dwell unmolested in the native culture it prefers. 
16. The Alt Right is a philosophy that values peace among the various nations of the world and opposes wars to impose the values of one nation upon another as well as efforts to exterminate individual nations through war, genocide, immigration, or genetic assimilation.
To someone who believes in those principles, the idea that "war should always be avoided" doesn't make a lot of sense.  Now, the guy who's trying to start the war does so for his own reasons that are not necessarily related to securing the sovereignty of the... other nation involved, but that's an angle that if we're meant to accept that, is insufficiently explored to be convincing.

But that's a relatively minor quibble.  Or, well, maybe it's not, but it's not sufficient to affect my enjoyment of the series, I guess.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Old Republic storylines

Well, I reinstalled Old Republic, but the launcher still won't start.  I probably need a new rig, sadly.  I'm not interested particularly in getting a new rig, but I probably need to.  (My wife appropriated our newest laptop, but it didn't have a graphics card anyway.)  My old Desktop is old, and still has Windows XP.  And my work laptop is probably pretty nice and would run it, but I'm locked out from installing software on it.  I might be able to run it on an SD card that's just copied to that, but I don't know.  Maybe I'll try it, maybe not.  Either way, I decided that actually playing the storylines probably won't happen, barring the game getting an offline version that I can get and just play like I did Knights of the Old Republic back when I played that three or four times on my old Xbox.  Even if I get the game to run, I'll probably lose interest before I get far enough into it.

Of course, you don't really need to, because you can get it pretty good by watching one of the many, many playthroughs on YouTube.  This last week, I watched an edited (but mostly it just cut out a lot of the side quests, the running around planetside, the flashpoints and space missions, etc.) playthrough of the Sith Warrior, along with some commentary by the player.  He not only made the character look pretty good (at least once he started wearing helmets) and picked a lot of conversation options that aren't too different from what I'd have picked myself, I think.  To the degree that CRPGs, especially in the Star Wars setting, scratch the same itch that watching Star Wars movies or TV shows do, then this is pretty decent way to find some new material.  It's sometimes debatable how good it is as a substitute for good movies and TV shows, but what are you going to do?  The TV shows and movies aren't that great anymore.  In fact, most of them outright suck.

I've just watched the first chapter of the Jedi Knight storyline too, but it's not as good—mostly because the character is a boring idiot, and the light side and dark side split is moronic.  If the player had picked more of the cocky conversation options, then the story would have been better, but I already know that he'd be told off literally every single time, and it'd get really, really old.

The way the story is written, with so much r-selection, doesn't help either (Am I really the only one wondering why it is that liberals are so insistent that it's evil to give traitors the death penalty?  Makes you wonder.  That particular choice rankled me quite a bit, that it was supposedly "dark side" to advise the legal ruler of a Royal House execute a traitor who had caused the death of many, many people.)

Michael Whelan's Barsoom covers

I mean, he's no Frank Frazetta.  On the other hand, he did a better job than Frazetta did of actually following the descriptions in the books.  He just didn't make them nearly as exciting.  But Michael Whelan is a highly regarded and prolific book cover artist in his own right, who's done a ton of covers that are highly recognizable and should be.

In order: A Princess of Mars (1912)

The Gods of Mars (1913)

The Warlord of Mars (1914)

Thuvia, Maid of Mars (1916)

The Chessmen of Mars (1922)

Master Mind of Mars (1927)

A Fighting Man of Mars (1930)

Swords of Mars (1935)

Synthetic Men of Mars (1939)

Llana of Gathol (1941)

John Carter of Mars (combines novellas John Carter and the Giant of Mars (1941), attributed to ERB's son, and Skeleton Men of Jupiter (1943)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Art Attack

Dragons, swamps, maybe the thing is undead... cool picture.

In spite of everything, I'm going through a bit of a Star Wars thing right now.  So, how about some gundarks?

Dragons in space.  Of course!

Some lovely Old Republic scenery. 

When you've gotta fight some kind of snake demon thing.

A pretty iconic image from Paizo; fighting the Runelord.

When Cthulhu's come through town...

A bit more impressive than Mickey in Fantasia, I think.

I love a good Sword & Sorcery map.  I really do.

Some kind of yuan-ti critter that you probably really don't want to mess with.

I'm not quite sure how I ended up with so many images of Zuggtmoy.  I don't actually think that she's all that compelling as an NPC, honestly. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Doing Old Republic... again

I'm watching another Star Wars: Old Republic playthrough, done many years ago.  I haven't had good luck with this because my computer that I had it on (which still has Windows XP, believe it or not) couldn't install an update and the game wouldn't start anymore.  I've just yesterday, in fact, installed it over again, and we'll see what (if anything) it will do now.  My laptop wouldn't normally play it very well either, because it doesn't have a graphics card, and because my wife uses it all the time anyway.  My other laptop is my work laptop, and while it's certainly fast and powerful enough to run the game, I'm locked out from installing software on it.

But, according to this guide, I should be able to run it off of an SD card well enough, or even just save it into a folder on the hard drive without having to install it.  So, I'm considering starting up again here in the fall and playing it for real this time.

What I'm concerned about is that the game is getting old.  The MMO servers cost money; do they still make money on it?  Eventually they won't, and then the thing will be shut down and you won't be able to play it anymore.  What BioWare really should do is prepare for this by coming up with an offline legacy version that they can still sell to collectors, but which can be run and played locally.  They've already done a good job (starting with update 4.0) in making the game a credible single player RPG, and converting some of the MMO stuff to RPG capable stuff.  Go all the way, convert the expansions into single player capable content, make all of the subscriber stuff available up front (no credit cap, expanded inventory, all races and appearance options available right away, etc.) and just run with it as a single-player, local game that doesn't need to be connected to anything to be played.  Can you imagine how cool that would be?

Anyway, I doubt BioWare and Lucasfilm is listening to me; if they were, there'd be a lot more besides that that they'd do; although rewriting some of the worst of the SJW nonsense out of the game is probably too much work to be worth it.

But; what if they made up a sample character of each of the character classes?  A white, male version for most (or a credible alien stand-in; I'd take a zabrak or Miralian or Chiss character here and there), and then added the companions to their entourage... and made a show about it, not unlike The Clone Wars, but which stories for each of the eight characters and their entourages interwoven back and forth for several seasons worth of material?  Loosely adapted from the game plots, I'd think, although I've clearly heard that some stories are much better than others.  The Trooper and probably the Inquisitor need some major rework, the Consular could use some polish, and even the really best ones (Sith Warrior, Jedi Knight, Imperial Agent, etc.) need to be reworked into the framework.

Now, how cool would that be?  A Star Wars TV show that banks on some of the most popular Star Wars content yet produced, which doesn't forget who the target audience is and actively courts them (as opposed to the highly offensive constant "Diversity Is Our Strength™" nonsense, etc.  That's how you save a franchise that's literally on death's door today.  But they won't do it, because both BioWare and LucasFilm are made up of too many SJWs who actively hate and feel nothing but contempt for the legion of white male Star Wars fans who are their core audience.

EDIT #1: I mean, what has Lucasfilm got to lose, at this point?  They've tried soyboi Star Wars.  They've tried grrl Star Wars.  It's a huge flop.  It's franchise-killing level flop.  All that it's done is really piss off the fans to the point where the future of the entire franchise is in doubt.  Why not try out Chad Star Wars?  I mean, I suspect that they already know that it'll be successful.  That if they can actually pull it off, that it'll literally be more successful than they can possibly imagine, even though they can imagine quite a bit (pun intended.)  They need to do something drastic to get the fans back on board and to get the casual movie-goer to sit up and take notice.  What in the world have they got to lose by taking the side of the most maligned, most oppressed, most despised majority group in America and telling them that it's for them?  A love letter to the American male.  That's a Star Wars that can be successful.

EDIT #2: Chances are that BioWare's deal with Lucasfilm means that they can't make Old Republic material though, at least not other than the odd nod or two.  But, they can always do something similar to what I did with STAR WARS REMIXED and advance the setting into the future instead, and get equally useful divergences from the canon as it is.  Not only that, they get to do a pithy one-liner where they make fun of Jar Jar Abrams and Ruin Johnson and their work, while telling Current Year characters that all of that jazz was just myth, and confused gossip about what really happened.

EDIT #3: I wonder what they can do to replace some of the markets that they've opened up in Old Republic if it's an off-line, stand-alone title instead of a kinda sorta MMO on a server?  Like, what does the Cartel market look like in this scenario?  I suspect that using it as a real life market, i.e., spend real life money to buy luxuries for the game would get old fast.  But maybe there's a place for it yet.

Are you a liberal?

I've said many times that we have moved so far into a radical, Marxist worldview, that most people don't even realize it and believe that normal, healthy ideas are in fact Nazi cave-man ideas (nevermind that the Nazis were, of course, thoroughly left-wing socialists...)  It's going to snap back, but it won't do so until it reaches a breaking point (although lots of signs point to that being relatively imminent) which will be extremely ugly for everyone to have to go through.

But a lot of people don't believe me, of course.  Let's go through a little exercise.  Vox Day posted this survey or test from James Burnham, who devised this test in 1965.  What you'll find is that conservatives are not, in fact conservative.  What they are is yesterday's radical progressives. Today's radical progressives are merely insane.

In any case, here's the questions, with my answers to them.  What may surprise many, who think that I'm an ultra-reactionary hardline right-winger is that I'm actually more moderate than my grandparents probably would have been, and my grandparents were not necessarily particularly hardline right-wingers back in the 50s and early 60s either.  As the survey says, the more Agrees, the more liberal—a liberal would have 85+% Agrees, and not even unusually, 100% agree.  I've allowed myself to score some as "halves" where I mostly agree with the sentiment, but recognize some really important contextual exceptions or caveats.  I've marked Agrees with A, Disagrees with D and halves with ½.

1. All forms of racial segregation and discrimination are wrong. — Naturally not.  Are you going to be the one who goes to the tribal elders and tells them that they need to give their reservations back because racial segregation and discrimination makes you feel bad?  I didn't think so.  No, most likely what you mean by this is that white people of Western Civilization are somehow uniquely unable to have their own institutions, countries and homes.  Which is, of course, a ridiculous bit of cultural Marxist bigotry.  D

2. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. — This is more a statement of fact than ideology.  There's very little you can do to stop everyone from having their own opinions in any case.  A

3. Everyone has a right to free, public education. — I don't know about the right to it.  But no; there's no such thing as free, and public education has been plague on our people and our culture for far too long, because it's nothing more than an excuse to indoctrinate and abuse and socialize in all of the wrong ways our children.  D

4. Political, economic or social discrimination based on religious belief is wrong. — No, it's not.  Especially when you throw in social.  What does that even mean?  Is it wrong, for instance, for me to teach my children that they should only date and marry people of our own religion?  Of course not, so social discrimination is right there.  The Right of Free Association is a freedom that the Constitution protects, but which "conservatives" are proud to have destroyed.  If you value the right of free association, then you have to accept that people may not want to do business with, be friends with, or otherwise deal with people of a different religious bent.  In reality, most people of course prefer to be with people of their own religion, and any protestations to the contrary are usually vacuous, Pharisee-like virtue-signaling.  D

5. In political or military conflict it is wrong to use methods of torture and physical terror. — I disagree with using torture, but the rest of this is kind of ridiculous; physical terror is how you break the morale of your opponent without having to kill them all.  Many people who would say agree to this would also approve of our use of nuclear weapons on Japan because it brought an early end to the war and saved many lives.  Most of them wouldn't even notice the obvious contradiction.  Most people aren't very bright.  D

6. A popular movement or revolt against a tyranny or dictatorship is right, and deserves approval. — It's really none of our business what government type any other country has.  When America revolted against the tyranny of King George and asserted her rights, we did not suggest that we should support or approve of any other such movements.  While I agree with this in very broad terms, it gets really thorny in the specifics to the point where you have to actually disagree with it after all, I think.  D

7. The government has a duty to provide for the ill, aged, unemployed and poor if they cannot take care of themselves. — Absolutely not.  The government does not have that duty at all.  The friends, neighbors and especially family of the ill, aged, unemployed and poor have that duty, as do churches and other organizations dedicated to charitable activity.  The government has a duty to stay out of it, as a point of fact.  Farmer Bunce, baby!  D

8. Progressive income and inheritance taxes are the fairest form of taxation. — Both are actually unconstitutional, and were only rammed through based on deceit and lies and deliberate misinterpretation of the Constitution by treasonous justices.  Both should be totally abolished.  Tariffs are the fairest form of taxation.  D

9. If reasonable compensation is made, the government of a nation has the legal and moral right to expropriate private property within its borders, whether owned by citizens or foreigners. — No, absolutely not.  D

10. We have a duty to mankind; that is, to men in general. — Yes, we do.  I don't think that this means what most progressives think that it means, but we do in fact have a duty to our neighbor.  But our first duty is to our own people and the only duty that the government has is to its citizens.  ½

11. The United Nations, even if limited in accomplishment, is a step in the right direction. — Completely disagree.  The United Nations is a step towards Trotskyite tyranny and should be immediately defunded by the US.  Who should also immediately issue an eviction notice for its offices in NYC and end of visa notices to all of its foreign staff who should make immediate plans to return home.  D

12. Any interference with free speech and free assembly, except for cases of immediate public danger or juvenile corruption, is wrong. — While I mostly agree, it's again in the details where it turns out that I don't.  In spite of the early and better adherence to the principles of limited government and the Bill of Rights that the Founding Fathers had, they certainly had no problem with protecting their people from lewdness, for example, and today our foolish and quixotic pursuit of the idealized version of free speech has brought us the scourge of pornography, for instance.  In private, people can assemble on their own property and say what they like to each other, for the most part, but that isn't really the same thing as saying that any interference is wrong.  D

13. Wealthy nations, like the United States, have a duty to aid the less privileged portions of mankind. — Absolutely not.  We do not have any duty to give our money to anyone else.  That's communism.  D

14. Colonialism and imperialism are wrong. — Mostly, yeah.  But given that my nation was founded by Colonists, I can't say that it's always true.  Curiously, it's a question of semantics.  If a liberal, for instance, believes that colonialism is wrong, does he have a consistent approach to the colonists from the Third World who are settling in our country?  Of course not.  Mostly, I'd suggest however that colonialism and imperialism are almost always strategically unsound and disastrous in the long term to the imperialists.  ½

15. Hotels, motels, stores and restaurants in the Southern United States ought to be obliged by law to allow Negroes to use all of their facilities on the same basis as whites. — Naturally not.  Freedom of association.  It is not the law's job or duty to tell anyone who they have to do business with, for any reason whatsoever.  D

16. The chief sources of delinquency and crime are ignorance, discrimination, poverty and exploitation. — This sounds great, but it turns out that it doesn't hold up to scientific investigation.  It's not true, and only those who are ignorant of decades of sociological study still believe this.  D

17. Communists have a right to express their opinions. — I'm a bit iffy on this one.  Communism is a profoundly anti-American ideology that, even under the various other labels its gained since the 60s, represents an immediate and dangerous threat to the whole concept of America.  So, although I'm hesitant to disagree for many reasons, I think I actually have to.  Sedition and blasphemy should not be protected by a foolish blind-spot with regards to free speech.  D

18. We should always be ready to negotiate with the Soviet Union and other communist nations. — Trump style negotiations with North Korea?  Sure.  Neville Chamberlain style appeasement with the Nazis, or FDR style collusion with Stalin?  Absolutely not.  I agree, but I would of course disagree very strongly with the type of negotiations that liberals would propose.  A

19. Corporal punishment, except possibly for small children, is wrong. — I don't know why this is something that people care about.  No, of course its not wrong in principle.  Why would this be worse than years of prison, for example?  Better chance of reform at greatly reduced cost.  Especially if its public, so it carries with it community-scale deterrence along with it.  In fact, I think the ending of the tradition of the ducking stool is one of the worst things that we've done in Western Civilization.  D

20. All nations and peoples, including the nations and peoples of Asia and Africa, have a right to political independence when a majority of the population wants it. — I tend to agree.  But I'm not sure what that statement means, exactly.  Does it mean, for example, that we should support the Free Tibet movement? No, I think Tibet can and should handle themselves, for instance.Agreeing with the sentiment doesn't mean that I think we should necessary do anything.  (I'm not ignorant.  I know that at the time this was written colonial holdings like French Indochina, were still a thing.  But I'm trying to update the question to today.)  A

21. We always ought to respect the religious beliefs of others. — Should I respect the religious belief that my people only exist to be exploited (as by the Jews) or dominated (as by the Moslems?)  Did Elijah respect the religious beliefs of the priests of Baal?  While I agree that in general we should be respectful of others if we want to have peace, in reality, we have to be careful that this doesn't get distorted into a bizarre parody of what it really means.  ½

22. The primary goal of international policy in the nuclear age ought to be peace. — The primary goal of international policy should be peace anyway.  But again, I completely disagree with the methods that liberals think will bring peace, because they are r-selected rabbits who don't understand human behavior.  As we've seen just in the last two years, the appeasement of the Obama administration destroyed peace.  The harder, "we won't be bullied, and you bad actors need to knock it off" approach of the Trump administration brings peace.  So this is one where although I agree with the statement, the specifics, of course, mean that I'm in complete disagreement with the liberal on what it means.  Plus; bringing peace to some people who are fighting halfway around the world is none of our business.  D

23. Except in cases of a clear threat to national security or, possibly, to juvenile morals, censorship is wrong. — No it isn't.  Again; free speech doesn't mean that sedition, blasphemy or lewdness have to be tolerated.  D

24. Congressional investigating committees are dangerous institutions, and need to be watched and curbed if they are not to become a serious threat to freedom. — I tend to have a dim view of Congress and their committees, but this is clearly based on Joseph McCarthy, who it turns out, was completely right and justified in his investigation.  In general, it's the lack of Congressional investigating committees, and the lack of action based on the few that we do have that tends to be the serious threat to freedom.  D

25. The money amount of school and university scholarships ought to be decided primarily by need. — The money amount of school and university scholarships should be privately funded, and as such, the private funder can put forward whatever decision factors he pleases.  If the government is involved in this, they need to get out.  All that that has done is cause the runaway inflation of higher education costs.  D

26. Qualified teachers, at least at the university level, are entitled to academic freedom: that is, the right to express their own beliefs and opinions, in or out of the classroom, without interference from administrators, trustees, parents or public bodies. — Absolutely not.  Nobody has that level of lack of oversight.  D

27. In determining who is to be admitted to schools and universities, quota systems based on color, religion, family or similar factors are wrong. — Wrong.  Should a Catholic school be unable to prioritize the acceptance of Catholics?  What a ridiculous idea.  Public schools shouldn't use any such quota, but then again, publicly funded schools shouldn't exist in the first place and need to be torn down as they are a grave threat to American culture and the American economy.  D

28. The national government should guarantee that all adult citizens, except for criminals and the insane, should have the right to vote. — The national government should guarantee that only those with skin in the game have the right to vote.  That's almost the complete opposite approach, and one of the relatively few encroachments on states' rights that I enthusiastically support.  D

29. Joseph McCarthy was probably the most dangerous man in American public life during the fifteen years following the Second World War. — Joseph McCarthy was a patriot, he was right, and he's been completely vindicated by the Venona Papers, among others.  Absolutely wrong.  D

30. There are no significant differences in intellectual, moral or civilizing capacity among human races and ethnic types. — This is of course false.  It takes almost no time at all to look at the average IQ by country, for instance, to see that this is nothing but delusional wishful thinking.  Let other people from other cultures structure their society in the way that suits them, protect our ability to do the same, and leave each other alone.  That's the way to peace and mutual respect.  Nothing else is.  D

31. Steps toward world disarmament would be a good thing. — Wrong.  An armed world is a peaceful and polite world, in general.  D

32. Everyone is entitled to political and social rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. — No, of course not.  What the devil is this even trying to say; that non-citizens have the same political and social rights as citizens?  How absurd!  D

33. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression. — Yes, mostly, although once you get to expression, you're starting to step into iffy territory.  You don't have unlimited rights to express your thoughts and conscience anywhere and to anyone.  ½

34. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. — This is indistinguishable from the above question, so it has the same answer.  ½

35. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government. — Yes, I agree.  But the will of the people should have checks and balances on it as well, hence the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who curbed the mob rule tendencies of "pure" democracy.  ½

36. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security. — Social security is not a right.  D

37. Everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work. — Every employer has the right to pay their employees whatever amount they've mutually agreed to.  D

38. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions. — Even public employees?  No.  D

39. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. — Everyone has a right to pursue such; they do not have a right to have it given to them, no.  D

Total: 6 agrees (although many of those were "halves".  Out of 39 questions; that gives me an 85%  conservative.  Kinda moderate, actually.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Star Wars... New Hope?

Interesting take.  I agree that the Resistance show feels a lot more like the idiotic #Resist movement than anything else.  Plus, much more kiddie oriented than I'd have hoped.  Although the animation style is nice.

This is all a bit thin and speculative.  But one thing is clear.  Star Wars is bombing.  Disney knows it, and is pissed off.  Do they have a plan that will actually fix it?  I dunno; they're still Disney themselves, right?  But Disney isn't doubling down, at least not exactly.  They may be fumbling around unable to figure out (or to admit) that they know what the problem is, but they know that there's a problem.

Honestly, although I think Dave Filoni "gets" Star Wars more than most, I'm not so clear that he's got the leadership chops to really do what needs to be done either.  And I'm not always confident in his "getting it" either.  Filoni did a pretty good job as creative director of The Clone Wars (under a lot of direction from Lucas as Executive Producer, who told him what to do and challenged him in lots of ways) but The Clone Wars has its share of duds. I don't know that Filoni can be blamed for those, but I don't know how much he can be credited with its moments of brilliance, either—some of the best episodes were the ones he didn't think he could (or should) do. Filoni was also the guy in charge of Rebels, which was saddled with... less SJW overt preaching, but more a background SJW worldview that shows through all of the time; as if the canvas and paints used to create the art were just SJW canvas and SJW paints, making SJWisms inevitable.  In spite of that, they did probably as best as they could given the mandate to create SJW friendly (so... inhuman and unlikable) characters, and spending more time on inclusiveness and diversity than good storytelling about characters that I want to see (read here, if you want, characters that I can relate to because they are clearly part of my own culture and reflect my own values.  Say what you want, but a big part of the reason Star Wars was so successful is because who was cast as Ben Kenobi, Luke, Han, Leia, etc.  Without those principles, or making them a "diverse" cast of principles, and you get, at best, Rogue One, not Star Wars.)

Not that guys like Jeremy from Geeks + Gamers are ready to say that.  They'd probably be offended by the notion.  They're still too steeped in the need to virtue-signal their "anti-racist" credentials.  But it's true whether they admit it or not.

And that's why I don't think Star Wars is really going to improve all that much.  Hollywood itself is to blame.  They hardly ever put out anything that's very entertaining anymore, honestly, because they are so caught up in the need to constantly slam their target audience; Heritage American movie-goers.

What we are witnessing, although few have the insight to perceive it, or to admit it even if they do, is a rapidly accelerating preference cascade where the neo-liberal world order and the delusional, wishful thinking, anti-European, anti-American, anti-White bigotry that allows it to exist are falling out of favor with remarkable rapidity.

by Rudyard Kipling (sorta)

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

And, let we forget...  Yeah.  Filoni was in charge of that show too.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Art Attack

I'm not quite sure what this is all about, but that looks like a gibbering mouther, which is a reminder that Yog-Sothothery has always been a part of D&D, because what is a gibbering mouther if not a pastiche of a shoggoth?

When fighting some kind of black dragon, it's important to have a .... ghost dragon sword?  This looks very D&Dish (especially that very specific take on the black dragon) but I otherwise have no idea what's going on.  Cool image, though.

Some Conan related art; the other big races of northern barbarians (besides the Cimmerians to whom Conan belonged) were the alt.Vikings—the Vanir and the Æsir.  The Vanir were the red-heads, if I remember correctly.

Some extra spiky aliens.   I actually think the original design's smoothness is part of it's odd appeal.

Sam Wood's flipped image of the Ubese, which is what Princess Leia disguises herself as during Return of the Jedi, obviously.  They're kind of like the Star Wars version of Shadar-kai.

I personally think the Amazon warrior is kind of hoaky, but it's a genuine trope of Western civilization if you do it kind of right, I guess.  So, here's two images from it.  The skull-faced mask is pretty wild.

Bathymetric map of Antarctica if it had no ice cap.  I don't know if it's accurate or not, but it's a cool looking continent.  I'd do something with it.

The Morrison.  Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Othnielia.

Some more amazonian stuff, but this time let's add snakes and make the girl look like a vampire or something.  Cool.

I can't remember what this art is from, but it's pretty much what a fantasy port city should look like exactly.

Everyone loves a trip to the aquarium.

Aquilops, an early, basal ceratopsian found in Montana's Cloverly Formation.  This raises all kinds of interesting questions about the whole ceratopsian family and their geography.  Derived, big ceratopsians like Triceratops are only found in North America.  Previously, early, basal models like Psittacosaurus or Protoceratops were found in Asia.  So; what exactly is going on here?  Multiple migrations across a Berengian land bridge?  Probably.  But the picture is more complex than we used to think as more and more weird antecessors have turned up.

Cat people sorcerers with energy claws.  Why not?