(1) HERE’S ONE ROLE YOU CAN’T PLAY AT RPG.NET. The RPG.net Forum Administrator has declared a “New Ban: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration”.
The following policy announcement is the result of over a year of serious debate by the moderation team. The decision is as close to unanimous as we ever get. It will not be the subject of further debate. We have fully considered the downsides and ultimately decided we have to stay true to our values. We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.
We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.
We have a community here that we’ve built carefully over time, and support for elected hate groups aren’t welcome here. We can’t save the world, but we can protect and care for the small patch that is this board.
1. We are banning support of the administration of President Trump. You can still post on RPG.net even if you do in fact support the administration — you just can’t talk about it here.
2. We are absolutely not endorsing the Democrats nor are we banning all Republicans.
3. We are certainly not banning conservative politics, or anything on the spectrum of reasonable political viewpoints. We assert that hate groups and intolerance are categorically different from other types of political positions, and that confusing the two legitimizes bigotry and hatred.
4. We are not going to have a purge — we will not be banning people for past support. Though if your profile picture is yourself in a MAGA hat, this might be a good time to change it.
5. We will not permit witch-hunts, progressive loyalty-testing, or attempting to bait another into admitting support for President Trump in order to get them banned. The mod staff will deal harshly with attempts to weaponize this policy.
6. It is not open season on conservatives, and revenge fantasies against Trump and Trump supporters are still against the rules.
There is a lot of reaction on Twitter. My favorite is:
It's as they say, when you lose the scheming Machiavellian dungeon masters that try to kill you and your party in every way possible, you've truly crossed a line.
— John Harris (@rodneylives) October 29, 2018
Bounding Into Comics’ John F. Trent says it’s hypocrisy: “Popular Forum RPG.Net Bans Posts Supporting President Trump”.
…They also try to state they won’t be targeting Republicans and conservatives, but have openly banned support for the duly elected Republican administration. That sure sounds like targeting of conservatives and Republicans. They actively banned support for them!
Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg favors the decision.
I don’t personally frequent many online forums like this. But in the almost two years since Trump’s inauguration, I can’t recall seeing any other website introduce a policy that takes such a specific, strong stance Trump-related discussion.
It’s a welcome breath of fresh air, frankly. As the current administration finds new lows to sink to virtually every day — just a few days ago, Trump blamed the horrific synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on that congregation’s lack of a security presence — people and interests should be taking a stand like this.
(2) SPACE FORCE DRESS REHEARSAL. Harrison Smith tells Washington Post readers how “We crashed a science-fiction writers convention to ask about Trump’s ‘Space Force’”.
So on a Saturday in late September, I dropped in on some 400 mostly gray-haired sci-fi enthusiasts gathered inside the Hilton hotel in Rockville for Capclave, the annual convention of the Washington Science Fiction Association, to ask them what they thought of the president’s plans. The convention, one of the oldest of its kind in the country, is a staid contrast to Comic-Con, where attendees are more likely to dress in costume. Capclave tends to draw more bookish, serious-minded writers and fans. The convention’s motto: “Where reading is not extinct.”
“Science fiction is a rehearsal literature, not a predictive literature. We take ideas and rehearse what they might be like in the future,” said Nancy Kress of Seattle, who has won a Hugo Award, one of science fiction’s top honors. Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” with director Stanley Kubrick, dreamed up communications satellites in a 1945 magazine article. “Star Trek” envisioned the flip phone. “We don’t know what the future holds any more than anybody else,” Kress told me. “We can, however, see that certain things are coming.”
… John G. Hemry, a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy who was wearing a Hawaiian-style “Incredibles” shirt, envisions the Space Force evolving into an interstellar armada that functions not unlike a 19th-century navy: long days of cramped, lonely travel in a hostile medium (space, the new water) followed by sudden close-quarters engagements.
In Hemry’s “Lost Fleet” series (he writes under the name Jack Campbell), the fighting “ships” are trailed by “fast fleet auxiliaries,” mobile factories making weapons and fuel cells that enable them to travel one- or two-tenths the speed of light….
(3) HOW MANY BITS IN A BITE? From The Irish Times: “Central Bank commemorates ‘Dracula’ with €15 collector coin”.
Just in time for Halloween, the Central Bank has launched a commemorative €15 Bram Stoker Dracula collector coin.
The silver proof coin commemorates the life of the Dublin-born author and his famous novel Dracula, which was published in 1897 and became world-renowned after an American film adaptation starring Bela Lugosi opened in 1931.
(4) NEITHER DEAD OR ALIVE. Olga Polomoshnova explores “Wraiths the writhen” at Middle-Earth Reflections.
…Two of these meanings can be applied to the Nazgûl. To begin with, Sauron’s most terrible servants can be identified with ghosts. We know that they were formerly great kings and lords of Men, but ensnared by Sauron and the Nine Rings of Power, they fell under the dominion of their own Rings and Sauron’s One Ring. Thus, through using their Nine and becoming thralls to the One, once mighty Men faded into ghostlike figures invisible in the Seen world, but visible in the realm of the Unseen….
(5) BABY BOOMER. On Facebook, Joe Haldeman remembers why a little chemistry knowledge is a dangerous thing.
An odd footnote to the home chemistry riff . . . I was a school patrol boy in grade school, I guess sixth grade, and got along pretty well with the old lady — maybe thirty — who supervised us. Her own kid got in trouble with his (HUGE — forty-dollar!) chemistry set, making pyrotechnics, and to punish him, she gave the set away to me. She had removed the chemicals that she knew were dangerous, but MWAH HA HA she didn’t know as much chemistry as little old me!
Of course if you know what you’re doing, you can make pretty good explosives out of chemicals available at the hardware store….
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY
- October 30, 1959 — The Wasp Woman hit theatres.
- October 30, 1938 — The broadcast of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theare radio drama, “War of the Worlds,” caused a national panic.
(7) MARS ATTACKS…NEW JERSEY. ABC News celebrates the anniversary of the legendary broadcast: “It’s been 80 years since Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast terrified the nation”.
The year is 1938. The cost of a gallon of gas is 10 cents. Franklin D. Roosevelt is president. The primary medium of entertainment is the radio, and it caused panic in the eastern United States after listeners mistook a fictional broadcast called “War of the Worlds” as an actual news report.
On Oct. 30, 1938, future actor and filmmaker Orson Welles narrated the show’s prologue for an audience believed to be in the millions. “War of the Worlds” was the Halloween episode for the radio drama series “The Mercury Theatre on the Air.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin,” the broadcast began. “Martians have landed in New Jersey!”
(8) NOTH BY NORTHWEST. CinemaBlend applauds “The Wild Way Doctor Who Used Law And Order Vet Chris Noth”.
Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Doctor Who episode “Arachnids In The UK.” Read at your own risk!
Doctor Who has had plenty of notable guest stars names guest star in the past, and its writers are often aces at creating the perfect roles for the temporary talent. “Arachnids In The UK” carried on that tradition by utilizing former Law & Order and Sex And The City star Chris Noth in some wild ways.
(9) TOP BOOKS OF THE FIFTIES. Bradbury, Tolkien, and Ayn Rand make Emily Temple’s list — “A Century of Reading: The 10 Books That Defined the 1950s” at Literary Hub.
(10) GREATEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILMS. A few genre items on BBC’s list of “The 100 greatest foreign-language films”. Chip Hitchcock says, “I count 5-7 depending on where the lines are drawn (is Crouching Tiger standard? is Pan’s Labyrinth all hallucination?), but there could be more as I don’t recognize all of the titles.”
…And as the poll exists to salute the extraordinary diversity and richness of films from all around the world, we wanted to ensure that its voters were from all around the world, too. The 209 critics who took part are from 43 different countries and speak a total of 41 languages – a range that sets our poll apart from any other.
The result: 100 films from 67 different directors, from 24 countries, and in 19 languages. French can claim to be the international language of acclaimed cinema: 27 of the highest-rated films were in French, followed by 12 in Mandarin, and 11 each in Italian and Japanese. At the other end of the scale, several languages were represented by just one film, such as Belarusian (Come and See), Romanian (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), and Wolof (Touki Bouki)….
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ. With an assist on the first by OGH.]
- October 30, 1919 – Walt Willis, Fanwriter. He was the center of Irish Fandom. With Bob Shaw he wrote The Enchanted Duplicator (1954). He won a 1958 Hugo Award as Outstanding Actifan. Willis was MagiCon’s Fan Guest of Honor in 1992. His fanzine Slant was published on letterpress; its successor Hyphen on mimeograph. He wrote a column, “The Harp That Once or Twice,” for Lee Hoffman’s Quandry. The “WAW with the Crew in ’52” fund brought him from Belfast for the TASFiC (Tenth Anniversary Science Fiction Convention, “Chicon II”), which showed the way for the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund. He published two trip reports, “Willis Discovers America” before he left, and “The Harp Stateside” after he returned. His fanwriting was collected in The Willis Papers (Ted Johnstone & George Fields eds. 1961), the climactic 600-page 28th issue of Richard Bergeron’s Warhoon (1980), and Fanorama (Robert Lichtman ed. 1998). In 1969 he published a mundane book, The Improbable Irish, under the name Walter Bryan.
- Born October 30, 1923 – William Campbell, Actor who appeared in two Star Trek episodes, as the god-child in “The Squire of Gothos” and as Koloth in “The Trouble With Tribbles”, a role which he reprised in an episode of Deep Space Nine. He appeared in several horror films including Blood Bath, Night of Evil, and Dementia 13. He started a fan convention which ran for several years, Fantasticon, which celebrated the achievements of production staffers in genre films and TV shows and raised funds for the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a charitable organization which provides assistance and care to those in the motion picture industry with limited or no resources, when struck with infirmity and/or in retirement age.
- Born October 30, 1947 – Tim Kirk, 71, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan. As a student, he was a prolific contributor of artwork to fanzines, and he won the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award five times, and was a finalist three times, between 1969 and 1977. He provided art for dozens of fanzines, magazines, and books, and hundreds of interior illustrations. In 1975, he was a finalist for the Best Professional Artist, and he was finalist for the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist every year between 1975 and 1978. Professionally, he worked as a designer and Imagineer for Walt Disney, and as an illustrator for Hallmark Cards. His thesis project consisted of a series of paintings for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; 13 of these were published by Ballantine Books as the 1975 Tolkien Calendar. He runs a design firm in the Los Angeles area, and sits on the advisory board of Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.
- October 30, 1951 – P. Craig Russell, 67. Comic illustrator whose work has won multiple Harvey and Eisner Awards. His work on Killraven, a future version of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, collaborating with writer Don McGregor, was lauded by readers and critics alike. Next up was mainstream work at DC. I think his work on Batman, particularly with Jim Starlin, was amazing. He also inked Mike Mignola’s pencils on the Phantom Stranger series. He then segued into working on several of Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné projects. Worth noting is his work on a number of Gaiman projects, including a Coraline graphic novel. Wayne Alan Harold Productions published the P. Craig Russell Sketchbook Archives, a 250-page hardcover art book featuring the best of his personal sketchbooks.
- Born October 30, 1963 – Michael Beach, 55, Actor and Producer who has been in numerous genre films, including Aquaman, the Red Dawn remake, The Abyss, Deep Blue Sea 2, Insidious Chapter 2, and the upcoming movies Superintelligence and Rim of the World. He had recurring roles in Stargate: Atlantis and The 100, and has had guest parts in episodes of Scorpion and Knight Rider 2010.
- Born October 30, 1972 – Tammy Coxen, 46, Fan from Michigan who has been chair of numerous conventions, including Mystery God ConFusion, Astronomical ConFusion, ConFusion and Her Friends, Midwest Construction 2, and Detcon1, the 2014 NASFiC, as well as serving on the concoms for a large number of Worldcons. For more than 12 years, she has run Tammy’s Tastings, a business which provides cocktail and mixology classes, personal cheffing, private bartending, food workshops and tasting events for individuals, groups, and corporate clients, and she is a regular commentator on Michigan Radio’s Stateside program, discussing drinks with a Michigan twist.
- Born October 30, 1989 – Sarah Carter, 29, Actor from Canada who starred in the series Falling Skies, for which she received two Saturn nominations. Other genre appearances include the films Killing Zelda Sparks, Mindstorm, Final Destination 2, Skinwalkers, DOA: Dead or Alive, and Red Mist, and guest roles in episodes of Smallville, The Twilight Zone, Dark Angel, Wolf Lake, Wishmaster 3, and The Immortal.
(12) CAPTAIN TVIDEO. Via Buzz Dixon I learned that Heritage Auctions is offering the entire “Captain TVideo” MAD magazine parody drawn by the legendary Jack Davis. Click on the images for incredible hi-res scans.
(13) SAILING THROUGH SPACE. At National Geographic, “‘The Science Guy’ explains a solar-powered space sail”.
In contrast, the momentum of light is a concept outside our ordinary experience: When you’re out in the sun, you don’t feel that sunlight can push you around. The force of light, a single photon in particular, is tiny—so on Earth the sunlight pressure, as it’s called, is overwhelmed by the other forces and pressures you encounter, such as friction and gravity.
What if we could harness the energy of a tremendous number of photons and we had nothing holding us back? There’s only one place we know of to get away from all the friction and gravity: outer space.
(14) BIGGER IDEA. “Civil engineer proposes statue of mythical giant to prop up Wales bridge” — The Guardian has the story.
The Welsh government says it will consider a proposal to prop up a new £130m bridge across the Menai Strait with a mythical Welsh giant.
Civil engineer Benji Poulton, from Bangor in north-west Wales, came up with the idea after dismissing the existing designs for a new bridge between Gwynedd and Anglesey as “underwhelming”.
His design replaces the central support with a giant statue of Bendigeidfran (Brân the Blessed), who went over to Ireland to wage war against the king, Matholwch.
According to the legend, the Irish soldiers retreated over the River Shannon and burnt all the bridges. Bendigeidfran lay over the river, uttering “A fo ben, bid bont.” (“He who would be a leader, let him be a bridge” – now a popular Welsh proverb.)
(15) FLEET OF FOOT. At Smithsonian.com, Steven Tammariello reports on DNA tests carried out on Seabiscuit, and how they may give clues to his late-blooming races success (“Scientists Extract DNA From Seabiscuit’s Hooves To Figure Out How He Was So Fast”).
Eighty years ago, the horse famously trounced Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Did genetics make him an unlikely success?
Seabiscuit was not an impressive-looking horse. He was considered quite lazy, preferring to eat and sleep in his stall rather than exercise. He’d been written off by most of the racing industry after losing his first 17 races. But Seabiscuit eventually became one of the most beloved thoroughbred champions of all time – voted 1938 Horse of the Year after winning his legendary match race as an underdog against Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1938.
…A few years back, Jacqueline Cooper from the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation got in touch. She wanted to genetically test a fifth-generation descendant of Seabiscuit [and] asked if any genetic information about Seabiscuit could be obtained […]. But since Seabiscuit was so far back in the pedigree, our lab really couldn’t be sure which of [the descendent’s] genes came from his famous great-great-great grandsire. It would only work if comparison tissue from Seabiscuit still existed – an unlikely proposition since he died in 1947 and is buried in an undisclosed grave at Ridgewood Ranch in Northern California.
…It turned out that Seabiscuit’s silvered hooves – think of a baby’s booties coated in metal – were on display at the California Thoroughbred Foundation
(16) TRASH SPOTTING. BBC says another experiment is in progress — “RemoveDebris: UK satellite tracks ‘space junk'”.
British-led mission to test techniques to clear up space junk has initiated its second experiment.
The RemoveDebris satellite ejected a small object on Sunday and then tracked it using a camera and laser system.
This vision-based navigation (VBN) technology essentially tells a pursuing spacecraft how its target is behaving – how it’s moving and even tumbling.
It would provide the information to safely approach the object ready for capture.
(17) J IS FOR JACK O’LANTERN. LAist insists “JPL Carves Better Pumpkins Than You Ever Will”. Photos and GIFs (I’ll spare you the latter – they drive Filers crazy.)
NASA’s engineers may spend their days designing parts for spacecrafts, but once a year, they get a chance to break out of geek and unleash their creativity. Think Pimp My Pumpkin — by some of the best scientific brains in the business.
The competition is fierce. After weeks of planning, designing and dreaming, they’re given one hour to create their pumpkin extravaganzas. Then the struggle for creative supremacy begins. Loud music. Flashing lights. Battling spaceships, animated moon discoveries, ET on his flying bike, Cookie Monster and Manuel of Disney’s Coco playing guitar.
Here's What Happens When NASA Has a Pumpkin-Carving Contest. Pumpkins created by engineers at #NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory are on display every year during the laboratory's Halloween festivities, which also coincide with JPL's birthday. https://t.co/UhcsUxyWcV #EPDC #STEM pic.twitter.com/J3B0Btm6Du
— NASA EPDC (@NASAEPDC) October 30, 2018
(18) TIMELESS TREAT. Pottery analysis shows cocoa has been cultivated for millennia: “Chocolate: Origins of delicacy pushed back in time”.
Chocolate has been a delicacy for much longer than previously thought.
Botanical evidence shows the plant from which chocolate is made was first grown for food more than 5,000 years ago in the Amazon rainforest.
Chemical residues found on ancient pottery suggest cocoa was used as a food, drink or medicine by indigenous people living in what is now Ecuador.
Until now it was thought that chocolate originated much later and in Central rather than South America.
“The plant was first used at least 1,500 years earlier than we had previous evidence for,” said Prof Michael Blake of the department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, a co-researcher on the study.
(19) LIVING AT HIGH ALTITUDE. BBC finds “Climate change is ‘escalator to extinction’ for mountain birds”.
Scientists have produced new evidence that climate change is driving tropical bird species who live near a mountain top to extinction.
Researchers have long predicted many creatures will seek to escape a warmer world by moving towards higher ground.
However, those living at the highest levels cannot go any higher, and have been forecast to decline.
This study found that eight bird species that once lived near a Peruvian mountain peak have now disappeared.
(20) IHOP GOES GREEN. A signal boost from Food & Wine: “IHOP Adds Official ‘Grinch’ Menu Items for the Holidays”.
IHOP is adding several Grinch-related menu items in a promotion themed on the upcoming animated movie The Grinch (with the title role voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The movie opens 9 November. The Grinch menu at IHOP will be available through the end of the year.
[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, BravoLimaPoppa3, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day microtherion.]
@Lis Carey: Thank you — you’ve restated my point more clearly than I was able to.
Matthew: I second this.
(15) That’s really interesting. To find out more about Seabiscuit, read Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit: An American Legend, one of my favorite non-SF books.
@JRLawrence. Interesting. That’s not a meaning I would have guessed. Taken by itself, I thought it meant to be a leader you have to help people bridge their differences. In context, I can also see – to be a leader, you have to do whatever is necessary for your side to win even if its unpleasant.
Also, does this mean Bran the Builder is in the Wall?
Apropos of nothing, here’s a video I took in Zurich (outside Fraumunster church, said to have been founded by Charlemagne) of a pair of street musicians playing the Game of Thrones theme: https://twitter.com/IrregularVerbal/status/1057708805306208257
Joe Sherry: What an innovation! Maybe I should mention Nerds of a Feather in the Scroll sometime.
For some reason, I’m remembering an old Tom Lehrer line: “I know there are people in this world who do not love their fellow humans–and I hate people like that!” 🙂
But paradoxical moral absolutism aside, it’s a false equivalency to claim that just because two groups both have bad people among them, both groups must be equally bad. Several years ago, a Linux developer, Hans Reiser, was convicted of murder. But that doesn’t mean that Linux Developers are all just the same as Hells Angels (another group which includes murderers).
So, yeah, there are bad people amongst the ranks of those opposed to bigotry. But the bottom line is that it’s a lot harder to weaponize anti-bigotry than to weaponize bigotry. Even though it is possible, as we’ve seen in fandom in the past, it’s not a reasonable assumption that opposition to bigotry means you’re a bad person. Contrariwise, it’s a very reasonable assumption that being a bigot means you’re a bad person–even though there may be rare exceptions. Heck, there are probably a few good folks among the ranks of the Hells Angels! Maybe even among Trump fans, though that seems less likely. 😀
(1): I like this comment by a mod in that thread:
@Wailing Oboli I do think that having a generic account avoids a particular staffer getting targeted elsewhere, personally, by the person censured (and their buddies)