Saturday, December 27, 2014

RIACon 2015!!!

I've just had the worst best idea ever! This is going to be horribly expensive amazing! Sure, it'll cost me anywhere between $500 and $2000, but it's such a bad idea someone stop me please, HURRY! STOP ME! NO! going to be pretty great.

The conversation on NationStates I just had went from this sort of thing:

Me: We should all meet in real life at some point.

To something a bit more like this...

Me: So RIACon is gonna be a thing? IT'S GONNA BE A THING! I'ma become a huge business success and get you all tickets to Madison! It's going to work! This is not at all a bad plan!

It's late, I'm tired, I've just had way too many marshmallows. But I want to meet these people in real life, and an RIACon - basically everyone meeting in the "middle" of all our homes - sounds like a pretty good idea.

Most people are on the east coast. Two people are on the west coast. The people I'm really hoping to meet are mostly the ones roughly around my age. I've determined that Madison is the best place for RIACon because it's somewhat central, two of us live here - me and Babylatia - and it's an awesome place.

So how is this going to work? I'm going to figure that out on an individual basis. I'm going to get money, lots of money, and use it to purchase flights for the people who can't get here -- Acronius, for instance, who lives in Vancouver. And Kzaria too, probably. Yayyyy spending $1000...

So that's a new life goal. Making $1000.

Making $1000:

How do I intend to make $1000? Glad you asked! I'm not positive you asked, but it's a pretty safe assumption, considering getting $1000 is not trivial.

My answer: getting a lot of that $1000 WILL be trivial. Some of it? Not so much. I've already got a considerable amount of money in my wallet, and I have a trick up my sleeve.

The trick up my sleeve is a gameSiks, to be exact. This is a game I first designed about a year ago. In my experience, it's been pretty fun... and considering that board game companies can make money, I think I might have a chance with it on The Game Crafter. This is hypothetical, and the game will need some fine tuning... but it might work.

The Game Crafter is pretty cool. It basically means they make board games for you, you get charged the costs, people buy them online, and you get paid.

It's a pretty sucky trick up my sleeve. I'm starting to realize this is a bad idea. I need to eat more marshmallows and drown the truth in sugar.

I just looked at my "Life Goals" thank-you note for inspiration on how to get some money and my doubts vanished when I saw the little words "Become better friends with people from NationStates." I marked that as one of my life goals. I'll make this work.''

I'm going to do this. Really and truly. I'm going to make this one of my life's focuses, one of my great goals -- getting all my friends from NationStates together in real life.

Parental units, can you please please please help out I really don't want to pay thousands of dollars I doubt everyone on the east coast will be willing to drive all the way here so there might be even more plane flights and OH GOD I'M GETTING IN SO OVER MY HEAD THIS WILL NOT END WELL

Sorry about that. Sugar levels got too low.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear NationStates Friends

I haven't decided yet, with one exception, if I'll share this blog with my NationStates friends.

I posted about this on Facebook, but I should probably explain a bit further -- NationStates is an online nation simulation game. You can create a nation and answer "Issues" to change the way its run. It's fun.

What's more fun is the community I've found on it. In the region of Renegade Islands Alliance (I encourage you to check it out), I've found a community of close friends. My best friends in the world are all on this website, and it's so true that I'm not even worried that my life is meaningless and all my friends are internet peeps.

My closest NationStates friends:

  • Kzaria ( ^_^ )
  • Georgia (he usually uses The City of Atlanta as his nation)
  • Acronius (He's CANADIAN!!! For some reason I find this shocking and exciting)
  • Babylatia (I'm actually best friends with Babyl in real life)
  • Reformed SU (He's a psychopath but we love him anyway)
  • TPSA (dear lord we disagree sometimes, but we're generally on good terms)
To any of you who might be reading this: it's gonna sound weird, but I love y'all.

Yeah, y'all felt like the only pronoun to use. Er... is y'all a pronoun? It is, right? I think it is.

"Love" might sound a bit strong. I don't love you as in "I love you" I love you, but I think you are the greatest friends. As I said, I'm still not certain I'll share this with them - I mean, I've kept my private life at least a little bit hidden. But if they're reading this...

Kzaria: I love how often we both stay up super late, halfway across the country from each other, roleplaying some hilarious scene or touching romantic moment between characters. You've been one of the best roleplaying partners I've met in the RIA. You've helped me when I'm sad, you've made me laugh when I needed a laugh, and you've generally been an amazing friend.

Georgia: I've grown to respect you deeply since you came to this region. We've got pretty similar views, which I think helps; we've also shared some of my very best RPs. Whenever TPSA gets out of control, I can rely on you to lead the debate. You've also given me some really nice insight on life; I can't thank you enough for that.

Acronius: Well, let's begin with the obvious: you're CANADIAN. I find that fascinating, okay? I don't know why! Our friendship was mostly formed on the forum (it's a link! You should click it!), with the relentless back-and-forth of spamming games, but I've grown to know you a little more on the RMB. You're simultaneously hilariously unaware of so many American things and incredibly insightful. You can sometimes be the one harsh enough in a debate to say what everyone knew had to be said but no one had the heart to say; arguably, you do that too much, but no one is perfect. And if you complain that your little entry here isn't as heartfelt as the others, I will remind you it's about twice the length.

Babylatia: I've known you since third grade. We became friends quickly and haven't stopped being friends since. Speaking of which, I'm sorry I forgot to invite you over this weekend -- I sort of... forgot. Your personality on NationStates is a little... odd. It's not like your personality in real life, but it's interesting. I personally enjoy spending time with <NAME REMOVED> more than with Babylatia, but our friendship exists both in real life and online.

Reformed SU: You are a psychopath. You've said it yourself; you're proud of it. You've got a happy personality, a crazy personality, a viciously Soviet personality, a sad personality, and... well... altogether you're one of the most interesting people I've met. But you can be incredibly funny and friendly, albeit in your own special way. The RIA just wouldn't be the same without you. So seriously, stop getting yourself deleted by the moderators!

TPSA: Where do I start. We really have both a friendship and rivalry, don't we? You're a crazy tea party southern guy who hates gay marriage and gun control and drives trucks and is the opposite of atheist. How much more different could we be? And yet we still have a friendship! Whenever you're not invading someone or something.

I spend so much time with these people. We've shared so many experiences, so many exciting roleplays. You've seen my at my best and at my worst. I can truly see you have been the light of my life since I joined NationStates.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What is an Army?

What is an army?

It's a pretty weird question. It's a philosophical thought I had a couple weeks back, and I wrote it on a little blue thank you note. That led to a thank you note containing all my life goals; I'm almost asking the universe to cause a mix-up and send all my life goals to someone.

Getting off-topic. Sorry.

So what is an army? As I said, it's a weird question, but it sort of warrants some thought. I mean, is it just a bunch of people with guns? Does it take a nationality or cause?

Before you go any further, I'd like to just mention: I thought this up late at night and it is currently late at night so I might be not-smart right now. Ugh. Words.

"Words," I say disdainfully, writing a blog post.

Several minutes of off-topic thoughts and distractions later...

What are the qualifiers that turn a group of people into an army? Weapons immediately come to mind, but that's not true -- a mob is a form of army, right? Armies have existed who fight with their fists? says (looking it up in a dictionary is NOT cheating. Yeah, I can say that, I made up the freakin' game) gives four definitions of an army.

...I am at the stage of tiredness where I can no longer count. This doesn't bode well for the quality of the blog post. Five definitions, not four; sorry.
the military forces of a nation, exclusive of the navy and in some countries the air force.
(in large military land forces) a unit consisting typically of two or more corps and a headquarters.
a large body of persons trained and armed for war.
any body of persons organized for any purpose.
a very large number or group of something; a great multitude; host.
Well, sure. I suppose I can agree with those.

The one we're thinking of now is #3, right? But wait... #3 is inaccurate. An army doesn't have to be armed - we just discussed that - and it doesn't really have to be trained. But then, what the hell is an army?

If you told a bunch of people they were the Orillian Army of Orillia, sworn to protect the nation's people, would they be an army?

Well, no. You can't involuntarily be part of an army, right? So that's yet another qualifier that doesn't exist.

The definition of an army is becoming pretty loose... let's go back to definition #3 from before. Our improved version reads "a large body of persons for war." As in, a large group of people whose intention - as a goal - is war.

Oh dear lord. I looked at that for about five seconds and realized the only two qualifiers... well, except for persons... are wrong too. And... wait... nope, persons is wrong as well. Damn these vague definitions!

Let's start with "large." Does an army have to be large? The trouble is, this involves opinions -- how large is "large?" I'd say no. Relying on an adjective which is itself a matter of opinion is bad here because we're trying to get a perfectly correct definition.

Now, let's look at "war." That's not right, is it? I mean, the U.S. Army still exists when we're not at war. Armies can also be used as law enforcement, or border protection, or defenders against ancient long-lost races emerging from the sea with the intention of razing our cities and devouring our children... or, y'know, whatever.

So we've narrowed it down to "a body of persons." This is starting to sound suspiciously like other words... crowd, group, and party come to mind.

But YAY let's remove more qualifiers! Who needs those stupid things after all? NOT US, THAT'S FOR SURE!

Armies can consist of entities other than human beings. Ants? A special form of ant, the army ant, can form - you guessed it - armies. So yeah, it's not just a human term.

"a body." We've narrowed down our definition of an army to become "a body."

I can't see any way of fixing this, so... yeah. An army is "a body."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Torture in the US

Alright, I'm going to branch out with this blog. It's going to include my opinions now!

So I only discovered yesterday... or possibly today, I don't really remember... that torture has actually been happening in the United States? Since when is this a thing, and why did I not know until today? Or yesterday, I don't really remember?

Here's one of the most fundamental ideas our supposedly-moral society is based on: torture is bad. It's a horrible way of extracting information. Sure, it's effective, but it's a violation of basic human rights. And we like those, we're supposedly a country that supports them (even though it often seems quite the opposite).

This article is a brilliant look at Dick Cheney's defense of torture -- even saying those words makes me want to cry. The fact that we can even consider defending torture, this horrible practice, and that we tolerate people defending it, says a lot about society.

Now, that article shows a little bit of Dick Cheney's discussion with Chuck Todd, whose Wikipedia page informs me is a journalist. He asked some pretty good questions, but in my opinion he was much too gentle.

CHUCK TODD: So if an American citizen is waterboarded by ISIS are we going to try to prosecute for war crimes?
DICK CHENEY: He's not likely to be waterboarded, he's likely to have his head cut off. It's not a close call. ...
CHUCK TODD: If another country captures a U.S. soldier, the Iranian regime, water boards--
DICK CHENEY: Chuck, he--
CHUCK TODD: --is that going to be an accepted--
DICK CHENEY: --you're trying to come up now with hypothetical situations.
 Chuck Todd should have pursued that further. He should have pressed Cheney to give a real answer. Instead, he didn't. He let it slide and moved on to other things.

The time has come and gone to talk about this gently. We talked about it gently when torture in the U.S. was merely a suspicion some people had. We let the Dick Cheneys sidestep our questions. But now, now that we know that the U.S. has tortured people, it is time to stop being gentle. When they try to sidestep a question, you should grab them and hold them in place. These are important questions and we can't let them go unanswered.

Let's look at what he didn't. What if another country captured a U.S. soldier? What if ISIS captured a soldier and waterboarded him? Even though this is apparently "unlikely" - which to me doesn't make sense either - what would the U.S. do? If they're taking the stance that Cheney is taking, then they'd say "oh well, they're torturing him, that's perfectly fine so we'll allow it to happen." We cannot allow that to be the U.S's stance toward torture. It is not an okay thing. It is not a useful tool. Torture is a cruel but, alas, increasingly usual punishment.

They even admit they may have tortured innocent people.

Where are you going to draw the line, Chuck? How are -- ...
I'm more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent….
I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11.
Please, allow me a moment to mourn the death of morality.

What the hell is this? Is he saying it's alright if you torture a few innocent people if it helps you get to the actual terrorists? Submitting people who have done nothing wrong to horrible torture just because you have a slight hunch that they may have had something to do with it?

That's like someone shooting everyone in a town because he knows that a few of them are criminals. Can the man be justified? No! The answer is obvious to us. Why isn't it in this case?