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irregular_comic August 20 2014, 10:34

Irregular Webcomic! #879 Rerun


Comic #879

That's a lot of pistachio ice cream. I like ice cream, but I have to say pistachio is not one of my favourite flavours.

2014-08-20 Rerun commentary: Well-made pistachio ice cream looks great. It should have a light olive green colour - not the fluorescent green that comes from artificial colouring.

My favourite gelato bar often has hazelnut gelato, which is much nicer (in my opinion) than pistachio. Which is weird, since I like pistachio nuts more than I like hazelnuts.

There are a few flavours like that, where people like the flavour in cooking but not the raw ingredient. Bananas seem to be a big one - I've met many people (my wife included) who love banana flavoured things or things with banana as a major ingredient, but who can't stand eating a banana by itself. I think it's a texture thing. Bananas have that sort of mushy texture which can turn some people off.

fjm August 20 2014, 07:19

My Loncon3 Report

If I don’t do this convention report now it won’t happen.

My convention was rather strange, in that it was very much confined to the space of the Exhibits Hall. That might sound dull but it really wasn’t. It was also strange in that for me the fun was in seeing everything I’d had in my head for two years come into place very physically. I had realised years ago that my mistake in theatre had been to get involved in performance. I should have gone in for direction, so much, much more fun and I hold by that now. For all I enjoyed my panels, the real joy of the convention began when Shana Worthen and I stood in that empty hall, the banners newly rigged, and realised it was ours.

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natalief August 19 2014, 22:36

Things NOT to say to a person with a disabling chronic condition


From the “Chronic Perseverence” Facebook page

Or, as my up-to-then favourite aunt said when I told her that I was considering that I might have Aspergers/ASD;

"Aren’t we all a little bit eccentric?"

Also, on a second reading of this list, I realise that my mother has at one time or another said all of these to me. :(

jennycrusie August 19 2014, 21:19

Questionable: Staying Attached When Characters Do Unlikable Things



Sure Thing asked

How do you manage to place your characters in difficulties/conflicts that are still emotionally readable? . . . You still create vulnerability in your characters but nothing that makes me feel they are too flawed . . . . How is it that they hurt, or do hurtful stuff (Cal) and I still want to keep reading?

Here’s my theory on that, without comparing myself to anybody else because I can’t speak for anybody else’s process.

It starts and ends with character. Any realistic character has strengths and flaws, and those strengths and flaws are often mirror images.

Since you brought up Cal, he’s a good, loyal friend, empathetic and concerned about others. Because of that he’s also sensitive about things that might hurt them and (the part that’s hidden but the reader knows is there) himself. So while you admire Cal for his charm and the way he listens to Min and tries to understand her, it’s not out of character when he blows up at the end because he thinks she was playing him. (It is, however, a Big Misunderstanding, and I’m not proud of that at all.)

Or take Bill in Crazy For You. He’s a great teacher and a great coach, sure of himself and in control of his classroom and his team, a terrific role model. But the flip side of that is that he can’t lose control and he can’t see anyone else’s world view, so what works on the football field (play hard, play fair) becomes dangerous in the complications of adult life. When he starts to lose it, it’s not a character violation, it’s a logical extension of who he is, just pushed to its limits. Doesn’t mean you forgive him, but it does mean, I hope, that you understand how he got there.

I think one mistake authors make (no author in particular, just in general) is saying, “Yes but he had this lousy thing happen in the past [see prologue] and that explains why he’s like that now.” First, it doesn’t explain anything. People can come out of the same traumatic experience and take vastly different paths. Second, what happened then isn’t important, it’s what the character is doing now that establishes our attachment to him. A dog bit him when he was twelve, so he kicks puppies now. Lots of people have been bitten and do not kick puppies, and beyond that, we’re watching him kick puppies now. We don’t like him.

So understanding why a character does something is half of solution but only if because it’s part of his personality (“he’s cautious about relationships” not “he was abused as a child”) and we see it in dimension (“and that makes him a careful judge of character and especially protective of children”).

The other half is that the character makes amends. Bill can’t apologize because he still thinks he’s right, so he’s going to jail. When people explain to Cal what he’s done, he apologizes without reservation and then goes beyond that; he grows, he changes, he commits. He’s forgiven. That puppy kicker better start his own no-kill shelter and take down a dog-fighting ring if we’re going to forgive him.

If you create a character with strengths and flaws and demonstrate them on the page so that the character becomes three-dimensional, her screw-ups become forgivable because she’s human and everybody screws up, but only if she sets things to right. If she creates pain and chaos, then she has a responsibility to clean up the mess. If she does that, we can maintain our attachment to her because we’ve been there, too.

One other aspect is important in establishing sympathy for a character: vulnerability. If he’s a master of the universe, then even if he hurts someone and apologizes sincerely and politely, we’re not going to be engaged because he’s invulnerable. The apologies that are the most devastating are the ones that cost the character real pain to make because they make him or her vulnerable, not just admitting that he made a mistake, but making it clear on the page that the admission is painful, that it hurts him that he’s hurt others, that it matters to him beyond social courtesy. Establishing your characters vulnerabilities through small things throughout the story can make their transgressions more understandable and their apologies more acceptable, and therefore maintain our sympathy with them.

irregular_comic August 19 2014, 11:11

Irregular Webcomic! #878 Rerun


Comic #878

This is a gamer joke, pure and simple. The ten foot pole first appeared in the now venerable Dungeons & Dragons as an item of miscellaneous equipment. It just seemed like an odd thing for a group of adventurers to carry around, and yet in the early days of roleplaying we all did so, simply because it was listed on the equipment list, so presumably had a good use.

And it was amazing the improvised uses we came up with for it. Poking piles of bones to make sure they were really dead, setting off traps without getting too close, probing murky water for holes or monsters, etc, etc. But I'm still not sure what a ten foot pole is supposed to be used for, or how one conveniently carries such a thing. I doubt any groups of knights or crusaders really carried around a ten foot pole with them, "just in case".

Of course, the other use of a ten foot pole is refusing to touch things with it. But that hardly seems a compelling reason to carry one around.

2014-08-19 Rerun commentary: In 1999, Iron Crown Enterprises published a generic roleplaying game supplement called "... and a 10-Foot Pole" The book contains a listing of well over a thousand different pieces of equipment that an adventurer might want to acquire and carry with them on their adventures.

The book got some very good reviews, but quickly went out of print, alas. It's been on my wishlist for some years now, but I haven't secured a copy yet. Though looking at Amazon now, I see I can pick up some second-hand copies quite easily.

I think I'll be putting an order in...

were_gopher August 19 2014, 11:01

My tweets

  • Mon, 12:14: You would think I would know better than to admit competence after 28 years of fandom. Now running lights for #beforethedawn at #LonCon3.
  • Mon, 12:54: The teen tent at#LonCon3 has made a tribble their god. God of what is the question.
  • Mon, 16:26: Almost show time for #beforethedawn at #LonCon3 and no way will the queue fit. Hope tech can get a video feed running next door.
  • Mon, 18:45: First half of#beforethedawn done. Not too many dead.
  • Mon, 18:48: RT @sazza_jay: If you can remember to call your married friend by their new surname, you can remember to call your trans colleague by their…
  • Mon, 21:49: Finally at the @loncon3 dead dog. It's been a great time even with doing a musical as well as a play. Now need a tardis to see the con
  • Mon, 23:00: They just announced free bheer at the ops tent at #LonCon3 dead dog. Not too many trampled in the running of the fen
  • Tue, 00:19: Chucked out of the #LonCon3 convention centre so reconvened in the Ramada bar
  • Tue, 02:09: Good night @loncon3 . Its been fun.
sbisson August 19 2014, 11:00

My tweets

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peterbiddle August 18 2014, 23:01

Augmented Reality meet Modified Perception



This is, once you think about it, a total no brainer. As are most good ideas.

And it’s really freaking awesome.

The time has already come where it’s increasingly easy to fake things in video post production FX so that you can make videos appear to be “real” when they aren’t. Augmented Reality technology lets us apply things to the reality we are viewing, typically through glasses. If I’m wearing the glasses I can see the augmentations while if you aren’t wearing glasses, or you don’t have my exact same augmentation system and parameters, you can’t.

This projects a new reality onto the real world *for everyone present to witness* in real time.

This can make the reality you witness with your own eyes suspect. This doesn’t just augment reality, it can modify everyone’s perception of it.


lamentables August 18 2014, 19:23

Wandering round Builth Wells

Builth Wells is appealing


This morning we went for a walk down the lane, listening to buzzards and watching clouds. This afternoon the rest of our party needed to do some supermarket shopping, so we got a lift into town and wandered while they shopped.

In between, there was some playing of Minecraft (not me) and some therapeutic doodling (me).

And now? Now there is delicious home-cooked food and wine.

Comment here or comment there (where there are comment count unavailablecomments).
pennyarcaderss August 18 2014, 19:16

News Post: Mr. Popularity


Tycho: Just as in days of old, the resting position of my hand on the keyboard naturally conforms to the QWER required for at-any-moment League of Legends play.  It’s got that kinda cats paw thing dialed in and I’m ready to hit them in my warded brush with my E, pop W on my way in, and Q anyone else fancy enough to remain.  I don’t give a shit, that’s fine.  I can dig two holes. I have no idea what’s going on around me in the physical world.  It’s just not where I spend my time, I’m sorry; there isn’t much to recommend it. …
were_gopher August 18 2014, 11:01

My tweets

feorag August 18 2014, 11:00

My tweets

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