Issue No. 11
It’s a difficult week for the world and I’m praying for the people in Ukraine, the results of writers having to be heterodox, what if the US was actually geographically divided by politics, the Faith No More RPG, going to the Monster Manual and VR as an equalizer.
As I mentioned this week, my great-great-grandfather moved his family from the Ukraine to Minnesota in the 1870s to escape Russian persecution. He was part of the first wave of Mennonites to leave. It got worse for the ones who stayed when the Bolsheviks and Anarchists came through with their assaults on a peaceful people who refused to fight back (though some of them finally did—you can only push people so far). I am praying for the people in Ukraine as they bravely stand up to the Russian aggression, which even the people of Russia do not support. I have hope that this will end badly for the dictator in Moscow.
Normally, I don’t like long tweet threads (haven’t these people ever heard of blogging?). However, this one, from Mark Hertling, is worth looking at to understand why the Russians will have a difficult time capturing and holding Ukraine.
I’m currently reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and, spoiler alert, the bigger guy doesn’t always win (for some of the same reasons Hertling mentions in his tweets).
Isaac Saul, writing for the centrist news site Tangle, on Glenn Greenwald and others who insisted on a counter-narrative, despite all the evidence that Russia was going to invade Ukraine.
This whole shtick is a good reminder that being heterodox is in and of itself an ideology, if you become so committed to it that you cannot see what is plainly in front of your face. Many on the left and right — from Tucker Carlson to Saagar Enjeti to Krystal Ball to Aaron Mate — suggested we were being lied to when our intelligence agencies told us what was right there for the world to see. Sometimes, in fact more often than not, the mainstream narrative is the one most rooted in truth. That's why it is mainstream.
It’s been interesting to read bloggers ridicule the idea that Russia would invade Ukraine over the past few weeks. They noted the US government had been warning repeatedly that an attack was imminent and had not happened. The iconoclastic writers apparently missing an almost 200k troop buildup and every other sign of an attack was in plain sight. One blogger, Paul Robinson, who ran a blog predicated on the premise that worrying over Russia was consistently overblown, made good on a promise to shut down his blog if an invasion took place.
In line with my last post, Irrussianality has ceased operation as of today.
It’s hard to fathom there were those in the US who chose to believe Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who called the talk of an invasion “hysteria,” just last month, over the US intelligence community. They seemed determined to be what were called “useful idiots” by the disinformation apparatus in the USSR. How many times does the Russian government have to lie about, well, just about everything, before at least people in the US will see the truth for what it is?
There is a whole niche of writers and podcasters who get by solely on the notion that they are offering a more real take than you will get from the mainstream press. That becomes their value proposition, so they have to offer alternative views, despite how irrational or untruthful they may be.
Though I’m trying to stay away from yet more articles that bemoan the divided state of America, I found a particular piece from NPR on how political affiliations are driving people to move pretty interesting. Hypothetically, if the trend were to continue, and people go to where they feel their political beliefs are best respected, I could imagine a situation where our nation really does get divided geographically.
What are the implications of people clustering in Sean Hannity's America, or Rachel Maddow's?
Groups of like-minded people tend to become more extreme over time in the way that they're like-minded," says Bill Bishop, a journalist who wrote the influential book The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart in 2008.
I wouldn’t want to live in either Sean Hannity’s America or Rachel Maddow’s. However, I do think Hannity’s would quickly turn into a totalitarian banana republic, if the GOP keeps on their current trajectory. The reality would also hit that the blue states are in large part subsidizing red states.
Of course, In reality, none of this will be brought to its logical extreme. Once the Covid menace dies down, people will have less to fight about and less incentive to move either to escape restrictions or to feel safer.
→ Americans are fleeing to places where political views match their own | NPR
Jason Ward is kickstarting a new tabletop RPG using the Powered by the Apocalypse engine. Its theme: the band Faith No More. The game takes its title from the band’s breakthrough LP, which featured the hit song, “Epic” as well as a pretty popular cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” I’ve played Dungeon World (which relies on PbtA), so I’m familiar with the gaming mechanics, which are pretty robust and yet rely heavily on the fiction to tell a story through the game. I just never thought that Faith No More would be the subject of the next game to use this engine.
Get ready to roll two six-sided dice to succeed in beating Anthony Kiedis in a rap/rock battle.
→ The Real Thing RPG | Jason Ward — Kickstarter
🔗 Via @toddgrotenhuis
At work, we name our teams after fancy monsters, so I’ve gone back to the venerable old D&D Monster Manual for ideas on titling the new operational kanban team.
I like this piece from Andy Nicolaides on VR. Many have poked fun at the applications people have designed for virtual reality. It can be an easy target when you see people wandering around with the giant headsets guiding their legless avatars. Or when you witness a "rave" in a virtual space where you just see avatars (with legs) standing around while a video plays on a screen. As one Twitter commenter asked while watching one such rave, "if this is the rave, what does the cool down party look like?"
Nicolaides sees the benefit of such spaces, though, because they give access to those who may not have it in the physical world.
As someone who is socially awkward, though not as extreme as many, I can fully appreciate true social anxiety as a form of mental disability, but there are, of course, many people that are also physically disabled. A VR environment could, potentially offer truly life changing experiences to people that without it couldn’t even dream of taking part in many activities available to VR users today, let alone in the future.
This mentality doesn't have to apply only to VR, though. It could also apply to offering streaming video options for events that are typically thought of as being in-person. Thinking this way makes me strongly supportive of churches continuing online services after pandemic protocols have been lifted.