||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Ruins of Intrigue
I've been looking through my old D&D materials, of which I have rather a lot, and I found one I hadn't read at the time. This was Mike Mearls' Ruins of Intrigue. It is billed as a
RoI is set in the Arcana Evolved setting "Diamond Throne". Way back in the early 2000s I'd bought Arcana Unearthed, the first edition of this; the "evolved" edition came out (too) soon afterward, and I resented having to pay twice. So when I got RoI it was, I admit, by accident. Since then I'd broken down and found a used copy of AE. But I still hadn't read RoI until the last few nights.
So, background: the Diamond Throne setting was the brainchild of Monte Cook, to house the Arcana Unearthed rules itself part of Cook's larger project of bending the rules of Dungeons and Dragons' third edition (which he had helped author). Among AU / AE's deviations was to do away with alignment - sort of. The main protagonists were (supposedly) not evil, they just had their own agendae.
In the world of the Diamond Throne, though, there used to be evil.
One of the "totes not evil, reallies" powers of old, a dragon by name of Nithogar, during his planar jaunts stumbled across some magical artifacts called "tenebrean seeds". The seeds' nature evolved over the course of Cook's imaginings of the setting. First, they were just banes that corrupt sentient beings. As of AE they could be used to "evolve" certain races (but not, interestingly, humans) to be closer to a Platonic ideal of such races. Anyway Nithogar used them on his own race, the dragon, adding some further eldritch substance to his experiment. What came out was an arachnid-humanoid-draconid hybrid. (Why arachnid? Ask Monte.) These dragon-scions, the dramojh in Draconic, grew powerful and prolific - too much for the dragons to control. They struck out east and conquered the human lands there, enslaving the humans and subjugating every other race to varying degrees. Later some giants from even further east, across an ocean, sailed west and conquered the land from the dramojh, slaying every last one of the abominations. In the second edition of our story, which is AE, the western dragons have been contacted and are now re-exploring the east.
The Ruins of Intrigue are where the western dragons and the eastern giants have met, upon a just-discovered ruin - the city Serathis. This city is where Nithogar had first created the dramojh. Now, one dragon in particular, Krovacatharis, is keen to explore the place. The giants have arrived here too because they worry about potential banes getting loose.
Mearls has clearly been steeped in Da Rools of Diamond Throne, which is that "good" and "evil" are relative. Every major agent in RoI has two or even three possible ways the DM can play him/her/it, as a good guy or as a bad guy or as a mix of either. However worthy this ideal is - personally, I think it adds confusion - I don't think Mearls has succeeded.
Serathis by its nature cannot be other than a dramojh nursery. The giants have no interest and no ability in reviving the dramojh. That goes double for their human subjects. The only entities here who could use Serathis are the dragons and the dracha, and maybe some lunatic mojh (human draconic wannabes). It becomes clear when exploring this ruin that its founder Nithogar was the greatest villain in this world's history: so callous in his experiments that he let loose a plague. Even if Krovacatharis himself isn't attempting Nithogar's example, other dragons will.
Given that, a good proportion of Mearls' "maybe this, maybe that" text boils away to superfluity. The giants (as a whole) are the good guys and the dragon is the villain. Anything else is a distraction - maybe it can extend the life of the campaign, but that's it. So this "sourcebook" is not a sourcebook at all: it is a frame for an adventure against a scheme to revive the dramojh.
If Mike Mearls had accepted this, his story would have been more coherent.
I learnt a new word today! Unfortunately it's Russian and I cannot pronounce it. I can barely transliterate it based on my Byzantine Greek background: ne-dogovoros-posobnye? I'll have to look that up later. I don't have to look up the definition, though, because the Saker is on it (h/t Beale):
What that word means is literally “not-agreement-capable” or unable to make and then abide by an agreement. While polite, this expression is also extremely strong as it implies not so much a deliberate deception as the lack of the very ability to make a deal and abide by it. For example, the Russians have often said that the Kiev regime is “not-agreement-capable”, and that makes sense considering that the Nazi occupied Ukraine is essentially a failed state.
The Saker goes on to apply this to the United States under its system where we elect a Field Marshal every eight years and a usually-oppositional Congress every two. Goooood bye Vietnaaaam!
What I'm also reminded of, is the Umayyad caliphate - Khalid Yahya Blankinship's "jihad state" - as defined and defended (after its death) by Awzai. Awzai claimed no or little responsibility for whatever Muslims might do to infidels. Every treaty signed with such a state is, therefore, worthless and deliver to its enemies a ready-made excuse any time they choose to sucker-punch the caliphate. Which, indeed, Constantine V did. (One of the 'Abbasid regime's early reforms was to assert its sovereignty over Syrian Muslims, which entailed wiping out Awzaism.)
As long as the US remains недоговороспособны, other nations have little choice but to treat it as a rogue state or even, as Vox Day puts it, as an oversized Libya.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
And in the folders bind them
In light of Skittlegate, which the media claims to care about, I'm taken back to 2012 when Romney made his "gaffe" about Binders Full Of Women. Romney's intent was clear but it's not like any pack of animals cares.
There did exist some feminists out there who saw Romney's stammering comment as objectification but that slander was easy to dismiss. Others claimed this was Romney being a tokenist, with a little more support, but not many took that serious-like either.
The real problem, deep down, is that Romney's claim was defensive and poorly worded. It looked like Romney had gotten flustered. Those who weren't going to vote for Republicans anyway that year seized upon this, because they figured they could rattle him some more. They brought with them the sort of hominid who loves to join in on a good gang-bang.
I went to high school too. I know how this game is played.
As for Trump (Junior)'s comment here, meh. I don't think the ginned-up narrative is going to work so well at forcing "lulz" this time. It'll just reinforce the underlying imagery, of a box of Whatevers among which some may be toxic. Which image Sadiq Khan has reinforced, that we just have to accept terrorism once we allow Muslims among us.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Iraqi time capsule, 2014
One Benjamin Isakhan (Mizrahi Jew?) back in 2014 delivered a fascinating rundown of how Maliki connived to take power in Iraq: Shattering the Shia: A Maliki Political Strategy in Post-Saddam Iraq. He is not above some sneering at "Orientalists", but he only does this once that I noticed. Besides that bow to academic fashion, he argues an unpopular position: that it was the Shi'a in Iraq who clamoured for Americans to come give them democracy, and it was the Shi'a who bickered amongst themselves until Maliki took over.
After the 2006 "surge", when Americans and their Sunni allies in Anbar defeated Islamist rebels there, Americans didn't care much about the squabbling in the more-peaceful Shi'a regions. We remembered what a rabble-rousing jerk Sadr had been in the early years, which goes to explain why we later supported Maliki when the two came to blows. Also, I'll add, the Communist victory of Obama and his voters here meant people like me had more to worry about at home. So we forgot about Iraq.
Isakhan fills that void in our knowledge. He stops at 2014, which is the year Baghdadi's goons in Syria crossed to take Mosul. But his essay explains how it is that Iraq couldn't keep Mosul.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Why Goodell doesn't care
Theodore Beale this evening (Italian time) whined ineffectually about Goodell the coward. But, still, he won't tolerate commenters who ask the obvious: why are you watching people who don't represent you.
Just now members of the Eagles team have pulled a black-power salute during the Americans' anthem.
This, Mr Beale, is called "calling your bluff". So far you have displayed no willingness to act upon your stated principles. You are quicker to act against your own commenters who do recommend some tangible action, like not paying tribute to these anti-American players and to that commissioner you yourself know is responsible. Like what the considerably less rightist blogger Ace recommends.
As long as pro-white and pro-American and, really, pro-civilisation people continue to send money Goodell's way, Goodell is going to keep doing what he's doing. People like this oppose the anthem itself. They are not going to stop unless they are forced to stop, or until they feel like their demands are met which basically means when we become their slaves. Tangible action, against the NFL and their sponsors, has to start with us.
The New Life Church is a cat-lady hugbox
When I learnt that Darryl Glenn attends New Life, I got curious. I did a little rummaging around and, I gotta say, as churchmen go, Pastor Boyd strikes me as a pandering faggot. "Let Her Lead"? Let her preach, if she's deemed worthy (by the cat-ladies)? The endorsement from Lisa Bevere (
I can see why Glenn attends this place though. I can also see why he chose Cruz over Trump at first. Man's got daddy issues.
All this means that Glenn, in addition to writing off the secular vote, will have trouble with the redpilled Christian vote. We have social-justice drones a-plenty in the Senate already. And that forces me to re-read Glenn's platform's
I did (eventually) get around to voting for Glenn in the primary, so he remains my candidate and I will continue to speak for him as I meet Colorado voters. But he hasn't, yet, earned my financial support. For that, he could stand to answer a few more questions.
Darryl Glenn: pre-mortem?
I don't want to deal with Trump much here from now on, because I figure I got him pegged (and yes, I still support him). Also his polls are looking good, not to jinx him. So let's move on to the next-most-important race, that for Senate.
Start with the disclosures: I despise our current Senator, one Michael Bennet. If anything I dislike him more than I disliked creepy Mark Udall. I think that in 2010 Bennet slandered his opponent, the manifestly better-qualified Ken Buck, to get where he is today. Bennet's margin then was slim and his seat as late as last spring was considered vulnerable. Now we have a candidate who took over 70% of the state assembly, and who then won the primary, in El Paso County commissioner Darryl Glenn... and he's not winning.
Early last month the Denver Post asked if the Republicans are writing Glenn off. So far the answer has to be "yes, they are". Coloradoans hear many Bennet ads on their radio; we hear few Glenn ads. So I gather that the money is still not here.
The Post offers some background. The Majority Leader of the Senate, Republican Mitch McConnell, had - through his "National Republican Senatorial Committee" - supported an opponent. When that opponent lost, McConnell and the NRSC snubbed the winner. In July the NRSC and Glenn sort-of patched things up. But that cost Glenn time and drama. And, to this day, it is difficult to argue that the NRSC has done its part.
For the part of the NRSC, it might be that Glenn, coming from a Cruz supporting assembly and endorsed by Cruz himself in June, is considered uncontrollable by McConnell. What the NRSC've been doing smells to me like a "nice doggie" tactic, meant to keep Glenn from making any gaffes here that might hurt other candidates mainly elsewhere.
As for the donors, the big one AWOL from this fight has been the infamous Koch siblings. There I think the issue is that the Kochs are libertarians more than conservatives, and Glenn is running (still) as a "Christian Constitutional Conservative" (lots of C's...). Glenn belongs to Brady Boyd's New Life church. I question how Christian that place even is, but more on that later. I do know that the mere word "Christianity!" hurts candidates up and down the 36: many Asians, Jews, and aspergery agnostic techies live here, and such people distrust Christians.
I also hear on the street that Bennet has been good for Colorado - which I dispute, given Bennet's support for the "Affordable" Care Act and for that Iran deal. This much must be the fruit of the Democrats' ad-blitz.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
A #BLMer meets with a constituent
A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, as they say.
So-called "Black Lives Matter" is of two groups - the anti-white racists, whom George Soros funds; and the useful idiots, who also start out as anti-white racists. The leaders of this movement get private security. The useful idiots ... well, sometimes they get what's coming. It would be nice if they could get a clue before they met reality in person, but that's racism for you.
Mike Pence needs a dictionary
I am a Trump supporter, at least since Cruz's implosion; I even paid for the hat. (This isn't much of a disclosure by now.) When I hear comments against the Republicans this year, it's generally against Trump. I was surprised yesterday to hear a Trump supporter - a contractor working the rich neighbourhood I was canvassing - complain about his running mate, Michael Pence. Pence was an "ideologue" where Trump was a "pragmatist".
I'd thought it was the other way 'round.
So today the HuffPo tells us Mike Pence doesn't want to be called the VICE Presidential candidate. Why? because there is VICE in it. This sounds like jokes I made about "vice" deputies for this or that when I was in high-school and early in college. Even then I'm not sure those jokes were all that funny; they were definitely immature. I had no idea anyone in late middle age after a long political career could take this seriously.
Pence is telling the Internet and the media how he can be trolled. John Ashcroft as Attorney General had to put up with trolls in the media angling their cameras for hurr durr boobies, to the extent he burqa'ed them.
Pence needs to get over himself and learn a thing or two from his running mate.
The Maryland Territories
On this "Constitution Day", Vic teaches me that Maryland never signed that Constitution. (Perhaps because it was about to lose territory to the future District of Columbia.) The Constitution was forced upon it, and it's just gone along with that. Central Maryland to this day agitates against the rest of America, using American time and monies to do so. Despite despising us, it justifies DC's rule over us (and its profit thereby) by a constant self-reminder how much more righteous DC is than us.
As a general principle, tax consumers shouldn't be voting on what they get to steal, and this blog has expanded that principle over the States. Ceding the consumers into other, productive states, like DC retrocession, isn't the answer. (Unless America changes its capital.)
In 21 February 2004, I suggested what we should do, so here's the proposal re-proposed...
Central Maryland shall be Greater DC under law, not just de facto as now. The east and west extremities would then be cut off. As such these new territories too small - but so's Delaware, so a shotgun marriage contingent on Delaware remaining a state will handle the east. The west gets a referendum: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Virginia.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
On the wretched NFL, I got mores to says.
Seahawks, like a cowardly team on the third yard on fourth down, are punting: they'll lock arms in solidarity with each other. No respect but "no disrespect" either. Also, let's add the Dolphins to the roster of teams tolerating this nonsense.
I don't worry that the NFL players hate America. There are going to be bad apples in any organisation. The black players there - since all this comes out of BLM - are probably more conservative than most American blacks. I'm not even picking on them so much, certainly not as a group.
I am concerned with the NFL franchise owners, and with Roger Goodell, for coddling those bad applies. It's the NFL that takes the money and it's the NFL I want to punish. As for the players, they should look deeply into their hearts and decide what side they're on.
Vox Day is on a mission to tell the "Judaeo-Christians" to take a back seat. Some Jews agree with him.
Which is not to say I agree with the Jews to whom Vox links. I'd argue that Jews who argue that the couples of Sodom and Gomorrah are equal to Adam and Eve are also abusing Judaism. Their further demand that the secular State enforce upon the nations the banning of free-association is outright hypocritical - not to mention selfdestructive: such a Jew cannot anymore police who uses his establishments. (And to the Forward: good luck refuting Christian Dominionism when you support social-justice Dominionism.) Anyway I've said before that the non-Orthodox Judaisms have been overthrown by Jews' internal enemies. I have found nowhere in Jewish texts to instruct the Jew to promote homosexuality or, further, to inscribe such immorality into Gentile law.
But back to Judaeo-Christianity. I admit I fell into this error early on. (In fairness, for mixed-ethnic children like I was, this is difficult to avoid.) I wasted far too much of my youth trying to square this circle, usually in the middle of the night trying to sleep. For other Westerners, I suspect Protestantism. This started as a drive to out-Christian the Pope; which can only be done through another Prophet or else through another reading of the base texts. When one goes back to Jewish texts one ends up rebooting Judaism: like the Samaritans, like the Karaites.
The present generation of Jews deserve a reboot. They also deserve gentiles' interference, to the extent they've arrogated to themselves the right to interfere in gentile life. The reason Christians shouldn't give to these heretics what they deserve is that such an act would (further) corrupt Christianity.
Don't watch the NFL
Ace suggests a way to save some cash and some time per week. This year I've been looking for an excuse to that end. Even more so, I was looking for a way out of sending money to the Buffalo Wild Wings chain.
It's not about the anthem, much less the Pledge (disclosure: I've always opposed the Bellamy Pledge) or the other patriotic rituals. For the players involved, it's why they do it: they're doing it because they are full of black asabiya at the expense of everyone else, especially of whites. I happen to be white (asterisk). As for the team owners all the way up to Goodell, they despise us, in their upper-class twit way, and want us broken. So does the BWW chain. Do I want to await with bated breath which other players and franchises and corporations hate and/or despise me too?
I got better things to do on my weekends. Screw those overpaid meatheads in particular.
UPDATE 7:35 PM: Had a day to think things over. Clarified this and offered additional clarification above.
Friday, September 09, 2016
So much for Pons-Brooks
The astro wikipedians have upgraded my article (to B Class). I've put in enough footnotes that whatever "original research" I had done for Pons-Brooks, it was foreshadowed to the extent any other moron would have to end up with the same results. B's about as high as my "editor" Geogene felt authorised to go; he's been fair throughout this process, so I have no problem with this.
Now the bad news: what I wanted out of this comet was an appearance in the late seventh century AD, to put a control on the early-mediaeval annals (Papist, Irish, Syriac, and Asian). I've learnt that Daniel Kirkwood, of Kirkwood Gap fame, traced this comet back to a meeting with Neptune in 991 AD. Of course nobody saw this from Earth; it's projected from an orbit based on the 1884 and 1812 perihelia, along with 1313 (since vindicated). 991 AD could well be the year this comet was captured. If you're going to argue with Kirkwood you'd best bring your A game. Since I am a B class amateur, at best, I can claim no control on wherever this comet was as of the 600s AD.
I still think it was worth looking into. Researchers of other civilisations with their own annalistic traditions can use the post-1000 approaches.
Thursday, September 08, 2016
Muhammad regrets nothing, and neither should Robert Spencer
Robert Spencer in his Life of Muhammad relied upon translations of the Sira, of which one source made up the first two volumes of Ibn Sa'd (d. 230/845)'s Tabaqât which two volumes Moinul Haq had translated (since then Aisha Bewley has translated most of the rest). Danios @loonwatch January 2012 had some fun over one of Moinul Haq's "mistranslations" which Robert Spencer passed along, here. I posted about it that September. I must pull that analysis up here, and revise it, because I've been alerted to new evidence.
There exists a hadith in which the pre-Prophetic Qutham - excuse me, "Muhammad" - got involved in one of those tribal skirmishes that the Arabs used to get into. Qutham's uncle dragged him along; where, since Qutham was still too skinny to wield a sword, he served as an archer. The Hadith then explains that the youth "shot some arrows". On this much everyone agrees. Add to that that the hadith, in some form, does seem to be authentic to a Zubayri milieu.
The controversy is over Muhammad (now Prophet)'s later statement wa-mâ ahibb' annî lam akun fa`altu. Did Muhammad express regret, or was it denial of regret?
That first mâ as negative versus mâ as "what?" is an annoyance in the language. Spencer chose the former; Danios's article makes some strong points for the latter. Also I must buttress that Danios point which called out Moinul Haq's translation as imperfect overall - some years later on, I had to add into my review that "sahib al-lulu" does NOT mean "Lulu's pal".
Today I learn that in 1986, Ella Landau-Tasseron - surely the most underrated Islamic researcher of our age - had already looked into this. She dug up a fuller account of the saying from the Aghani:
Context matters. Especially for Ibn Sa'd who sometimes truncates his hadiths.
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Immigrants and liberals killed the Harappa
Jongko's item #6 raises the notion that Climate Change killed the Harappa circa 2000 BC. This notion is very 2000 AD. ("It's 2016.") And it might not be the main cause.
Recently two other factors have been raised: disease (consumption and leprosy mainly), and immigration. Immigration hasn't been raised as a factor in the Harappan downfall, as far as I know. I think it should be.
First, population movement is associated with disease: new peoples bring new bugs directly, and indirectly they strain infrastructure and supply so as to induce overcrowding, malnutrition, poor sanitation, ethnic strife, and on and on. Harappa was BIG on sanitation. Wasn't too shabby at food-supply either. The cities weren't walled, so didn't argue amongst one another. The Harappan "founding fathers" had finetuned all this over many centuries. How long was that golden-age, 2600-2000 BC?
Also I must point out that incoming foreigners will not understand how to maintain the local infrastructure - see listicle #3 for how that worked out for the Nazca. Additionally the first generation might not even care: they either hope to return whence they came, or they figure they can keep movin' on. So you won't often find them investing locally, except as a means to either end.
Third-generation "foreigners" might figure it out, because they've forgotten how to move, and have put down some roots. But it might already be too late by then. The Harappans never recovered. By the time the Vedic Aryans came - centuries into the collapse - they came upon deserts; that wave weren't even "immigrants", but mere nomads.
The "Climate Change" might have spurred all those moving peoples (who lived in more marginal areas) to migrate in the first place. And the climate, during the first wave, assuredly didn't help the Harappans absorb the shock. But if people can't do much about the weather, they can raise defence against invaders. The Harappans, it seems, didn't try.
Hey, a listicle that taught me some stuff
Yahoo sent me to Listverse, where Paul Jongko has his article "10 Recent Discoveries That Shed New Light On Ancient Civilizations". Usually I think listsicles suck. But this one actually taught me some stuff.
I mean, not (#2) that Carthage sacrificed little children. Everyone knew that, excepting perhaps Orientalism readers. #9 on warfare among the Minoans, also, seems obvious; one doesn't get far in trade without - first - securing one's own position in one's one island and - next - hunting pirates. I'm unsure what to do with the Garamantes (#4); I think they were tamazight speakers, but we've not even scratched the surface.
Here's what strikes me immediately. (We'll get to #6 right afterward.)
#5. Women were the brewsters of the Wari. Women had also been the brewsters of Sumer, as Vicki Leon taught me, and the surname "Brewster" in English suggests they were at least equals to the male brewers there. I do wonder why it's women who first drifted into this field the world over, independently. Perhaps because women are more social during downtime, so better at tending a communal space.
#8. The Minoans were European. That is very interesting because it re-raises what language Linear A was for. Cyrus Gordon long ago successfully deciphered the mathematical vocabulary as West Semitic - KU-RO (=Myc. tosos, total) seems to be Semitic kl, "all of it". But this stuff is exactly the sort of stuff which gets borrowed. So I've never thought it useful for the base language.
So I'm glad Mr Jongko took the trouble.
Seek spoilers even in China
Meet Lily Tang Williams. Haven't heard the name? Well, she's polling 1% of the vote here so apparently that means she belongs on the same stage as the incumbent Democrat and the convention-sweeping Republican.
Williams is running on the so-called "Libertarian" ticket, currently headed by strident antilibertarians William Weld and Gary Johnson. She wasn't born in Colorado; she wasn't even born in this country. (Disclosure: neither was I; but you don't see me demanding that podium.)
There is no way Williams got there on her own, and there is no route for anybody from a 1% base to an electoral plurality. There are lots of people who want her on the ballot, though. Hint: not libertarians.
Monday, September 05, 2016
RIP, Phyllis Schlafly
Shlafly's core was to formalise the 1950s-era American culture into law. Among her crusades - the only one this blog had noted - was the canonisation of the Ten Commandments and of (Christian) prayer. As you see around you, she didn't win every battle. Lately she'd been clutching at straws, to preserve anything of the America she loved as a child of the 1930s - straws like Donald J Trump.
Sometimes I didn't agree with her, as you see. Sometimes we did agree. Sometimes what she said has grown on me (as in the case of Trump). But where the Respectable Right merely
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