Writing "Rules": Show, Don't Tell

“Show, don’t tell” is one of my all time unfavorite of the commonly passed around “rules of writing.” It’s also one of the most poorly understood. A lot of the “rules” that get handed from writer to writer are just silly. At best they’re applicable to one sort of story, at worst they’re head-scratchingly ridiculous.…

Writing “Rules”: Show, Don’t Tell was originally published on Ann Leckie

Kanaya/Rose :: Spoonful of Descent

Title: Spoonful of Descent

Pairing: Kanaya/Rose

Rating: M


Troll boys aren’t the only ones with bulges. Kanaya puts off having sex with Rose because she knows that human females are built differently and she’s worried that Rose will react poorly. But in the end, Rose is 0kay with having even more tentacles in her life.

Warnings: Ad-libbed alien biology, tentadick, awkward teenage lesbian interspecies exploratory sex.

I thought long and hard about putting this on tumblr, but after Jabberwock manned up about her most recent Dave/Tavros fill, I said what the hell and just did it. Who needs dignity and anonymity when you have potentially incriminating porn to post?

So glad I finally finished this, though. Hopefully I can start on the next parts within the week!

==>Kanaya: Be overwhelmed by self-consciousness.

Keep reading

Emptiness 3 Quest Miracle

And lo did the people live, and die, and dwelt Death then in his ivy-clad mansion, his ivy-clad mansion and its dust. He walked and where he walked he left footprints, and in time they faded too behind.

And lo did another generation pass, and still dwelt death in dolor there; where he walked he left his footprints, yea, and his footprints would fade away.

Now there lived a woman named Elsa in that time among the folk of human flesh; she was born, she came screaming to the world, and later died, and still Death walked; though it is said that on Elsa’s passing that he looked sideways then and sighed.

And he walked; and he left his footprints, and his footprints faded in the dust behind.

And Elsa’s daughter Elsabeth bore Brion, then, who was her son; and Brion sired Vayn; and Vayn gave rise to Elyon, who was later called the Just. And Elyon’s daughter Emma she gave birth to seven more; and they, to a brood of thirty; and twenty in the generation next; and withered then their line in the years that followed, it thinned, then, and it passed away, until only young Sasha and his sister Susan yet remained of Elsa’s line. And still Death he walked in his dusty halls and left his footprints in the dust behind—

Until time came o'er and it coated them with a dust that was of its kind.

And Sasha died, and Susan grew old and as lined as the night was dark; and she came to spend more and more of her days and nights and years sitting out and quiet by the shore; and one day her chair it tipped forward and she went sliding then towards the lake—

But at that very moment, and for no reason that is ever anywhere spoken, save, perhaps, that it was time, Death looked up from his endless trudging, from his mansion covered o'er in dust; and he twitched, and writhed, and he shed his skin, and he spread his wings, and he came to Susan, by the shore.

And he was in the form of a great bird of shadow, and she of wrinkles piled on wrinkles like unto a tangled ball of yarn, but still when Death’s wings passed o'er her, she saw a light; and he, the most beautiful of girls….

please remember:

“a stripper” is a person

a stripper breathes and thinks and cries

a stripper pays taxes and gets their driver’s license picture taken in front of a scratchy gray screen

a stripper has favorite pajamas and little cousins and bottles of nail polish that are too pretty to open

a stripper is a sex worker, someone who performs in a stage-show for payment

“a stripper” is not the same thing as “a stapler” or “a lemming”

please please please don’t use “a stripper” as a dismissive replacement for someone’s whole personhood or identity, or the object of a violent/sexist/classist joke

the same goes for “hookers” and full-service sex workers

GOP Crazies Tell GOP Crazies to Stop Being So Crazy.

It’s a case of the message being correct, but delivered by a perfectly inappropriate messenger. As Republicans sort through the rubble left behind by the 2012 election cycle, they’re beginning to divide into two camps: “we’ve got to stop being so danged crazy!” and “we weren’t even close to crazy enough.” It’s pretty clear who’s right here. After all, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Allen West didn’t lose their races because everyone thought they were big ol’ flaming liberals. They lost because their electorates were obviously tired of rightwing frootloops.

The problem with this intra-party division is that one group bleeds over into the other. Crazy people are demanding other crazy people stop being so darned crazy.



Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” and make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive economic message that pre-empts efforts to caricature the GOP as the party of the rich.

In his first interview since his party’s electoral thumping last week, Jindal urged Republicans to both reject anti-intellectualism and embrace a populist-tinged reform approach that he said would mitigate what exit polls show was one of President Barack Obama’s most effective lines of attack against Mitt Romney.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”

Pretty on the money. Only one problem: Bobby Jindal is the stereotypical Republican whackjob. After all, it was Jindal who bizarrely criticized volcano monitoring as a waste of money. Ironically, Jindal later blew $200 million on a scheme to protect Louisiana from the Deepwater Horizon oil slick – after being warned by scientists that it wouldn’t work. For the record, Louisiana’s not a wealthy state with hundreds of millions of dollars they can flush down the toilet whenever the governor thinks he’s an engineering genius.

If Bobby Jindal represents any wing of the Republican Party, it’s the crazy anti-science and anti-fact wing. This is a man who participated in an exorcism in college and signed what is most likely the most backwards piece of education legislation into law. Among the “facts” kids in Louisiana are now allowed to learn are that dinosaurs and humans lived side by side, that “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ,” and that slavery and the Great Depression are being misrepresented as bad things.

This is the guy who’s telling other Republicans to stop being so crazy.

But my point isn’t to single out Jindal. The point is that Jindal represents a real problem for the GOP – namely, that crazy people don’t know that they’re crazy. He’s absolutely correct that the GOP needs to stop being the party of morons and lunatics, but he has absolutely no idea that he’s one of those morons and lunatics. He wants to see Republicans stop promoting every brand of conservative craziness but the science-denialism that embraces creationism and believes global warming is a hoax perpetrated by socialist scientists. Republicans have to reject every form of insanity and idiocy except his particular brand, because his isn’t crazy or stupid.

And that’s the entire GOP’s problem in a nutshell. They all need to stop being nutjobs, but they all think the other sort of nutjob is the problem. So the anti-science nuts blame the anti-abortion nuts, who in turn blame the economic flatearthers, who point their fingers at the next group of crazies down the line. You can see how well that’ll pan out for them.

No, what Republicans need is not for one group of lunatics to start listening to another group of lunatics. What the Republican Party needs is new Republicans. And the old Republicans aren’t exactly willing to be replaced by a saner brand. Nor are Republican voters eager to replace them.

So they’re left with Bobby Jindal as a prime example of their dilemma; he both put his finger directly on his party’s problem and totally misunderstood it at the same time. And so, it’s unlikely that the problem will be solved anytime soon.


[image source]
Cthulhu Fluxx Takes You To The Brink Of Your Insanity

Cthulhu Fluxx combines the frenetic gameplay of Fluxx with the beloved characters of H.P. Lovecraft. If you’re unfamiliar with Fluxx, it’s a card game that starts simple: each player has three cards, and you draw one card, play one card. From there, you can change the rules of the game, depending on what’s in your hand. Suddenly, a few rounds later, you’re drawing three cards and playing two, or drawing four, playing one, and you’ve got a hand limit of one card.

Sound confusing? It’s not. It’s a simple game where you make the rules as you go. The way to win is by fulfilling whatever the present goal is. For Cthulhu Fluxx, that goal is related to the Lovecraftian universe. And, since it’s such a dark place, there are also some Ungoals, too – meaning there are ways you can lose to darkness. Certain characters can be drawn and placed in front of you with an action. If you draw Keepers, those are good characters – the Socialite, the Poet, and the Reanimator are just a few. The Creepers are the bad guys who prevent you from winning – this includes the Body, Shoggoth, and, of course, Cthulhu. Creepers have Doom counters too, which adds to the chances of everyone losing. Put Creepers in front of you automatically; Keepers you play within your regular actions.

Goals and Ungoals have various criteria, each one tickling the Lovecraft geek’s horror bone. “The Whisperer in the Darkness” goal says that the player with the Professor and the Fungi on the table wins. The Dunwich Horror Ungoal says that if the table’s Doom count is six or more, and Yog-Sothoth is on the table, the game ends with no winner. Well, actually, the winner is Yog-Sothoth!

For me, Fluxx is a really fun game that can be played quickly and without that much competition. There’s not much to dislike about it: it’s super portable, easy to learn, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space to play, so you can really bring it anywhere. My friends and I played it in a diner booth the other day, and even when the food was on the table, we had enough room to keep going. But some people don’t like the frenetic energy of it, and avoid it at all costs. I played it with both kinds of people (as well as some newcomers!) and found that, no matter what, I enjoyed it. And being a Lovecraft nerd only helps with Cthulhu Fluxx.

tl;dr – Cthulhu Fluxx is a super entertaining game for anyone into Fluxx, Cthulhu, or any kind of fast social game. It’s quick, easy, portable, and most of all, fun!

Original Article

Meat Less Mondays / Alternative Diets


Meat is a tender subject for me, it’s easily my favorite food. Steaks, seafood, and pulled pork are all things I crave on a regular basis. The worst part to my addiction to bovine and swine is that it’s one of the priciest items on the grocery bill. The average American consumes approximately .21 pounds of meat per day (according to the USDA). Realistically, I think it’s far safer to say we consume .5 pounds of meat per day, especially if you’re a carnivore like myself.

Which means at $3.79 per pound for ground beef, we consume about $1.90 per day in delicious animal flesh. I’ve never considered being a vegetarian or vegan (I’m afraid I would starve to death) but looking at the financial data definitely makes it more tempting. At $1.90 per day your average vegetarian saves around $693.50 a year on being meatless. Vegans would save even more considering they don’t buy milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and a bunch of other random things.

One caveat to this whole comparison is it’s difficult to estimate how much vegans would need to spend on substitutes to ensure they are getting the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients.

I’d really like a bite of that $693.50 in savings per year but don’t think I can manage going full vegetarian. However, I do think there are a few different techniques we could use to get a piece of that veggie loving action.

Meatless Monday’s for example (no meat every Monday) would save the average American $7.60 a month or $91.20 a year. It may not seem like a ton of money but it also requires essentially no effort (cooking with no meat involved should technically be less work). We could also step it up and cut meat out two times a week and save $182.40 a year. That’s a decent chunk of change and if we add in 6.8% compounding interest over 2 years, we’ll save a total of $402.85!

However, I have another idea, what if we simply used half the meat required for our recipes? If our lasagna calls for 2 pounds of ground beef, reduce it to 1 pound. If all year long we cut our recipes meat requirements in half we would save $346.75 a year! It’s the best of both worlds, bacon and eggs in the morning. While we simultaneously save $765.84 over 2 years at 6.8% compounding interest.

I believe that the concept behind alternative diets will be different for everyone and your dietary needs (and mental preparation). Hopefully the data I calculated above can help you figure out the best way for you to save some money on meat. If you’re unsure of anything because of health issues be sure to talk to a doctor or nutritionist. I also found this awesome comparison by LearnVest comparing daily meals between different diets, you can read that here.

If you have any other alternative diets I’d love to hear about them in the comments. My next post is about an alternative diet I’ve personally been using since November and it’s saved me a ton of money. I can’t wait to tell you all about it and it’s financial impact on me.

Meat Less Mondays / Alternative Diets was originally published on Student Debt Sucks!

The Argument that 99-Percenters Offer No Solutions is a Really Stupid Argument

Imagine you’re driving along and you hear a sound somewhere under your car. “Ka-chung, ka-chung, ka-chung…” You’re going to take that to a mechanic, right?

Now imagine that the mechanic asks you what you want to do about the sound. “I want you to fix it,” you tell him.

“Sorry,” he’s says. “That’s not specific enough. I need you to tell me exactly what needs to be done. What component I need to replace. What tools I need to do it. I need step-by-step instructions on exactly what repairs you want done.”

“I’m not the mechanic,” you answer, “you are! I just want you to fix the noise. I don’t know how to do it.”

“Come back when you have real solutions,” the mechanic says.

That’s the problem facing the American people and, specifically, the protesters in the streets of New York and other cities right now. The problem is obvious – unemployment, a tax structure that’s way to lopsided toward those at the top, corporate crime and runaway greed, out-of-control higher education costs, etc. Our entire economic system is going “Ka-chung, ka-chung, ka-chung.” Yet, when the protesters point out there’s obviously something wrong here, they’re dismissed by politicians and the media for having no solutions

But here’s the thing; it’s not their job to have solutions. That’s what we hire politicians for. In our metaphor, they’re the customer, not the mechanic. Yet the media is constantly asking what the customer plans to do about the noise, then snicker behind their hands when the customer shrugs.

Even Paul Krugman comes close to falling into this trap – before sidestepping it expertly. In an excellent piece on the protests, he praises protesters for correctly identifying the problem and addresses the “no solutions” argument.

A better critique of the protests is the absence of specific policy demands. It would probably be helpful if protesters could agree on at least a few main policy changes they would like to see enacted. But we shouldn’t make too much of the lack of specifics. It’s clear what kinds of things the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want, and it’s really the job of policy intellectuals and politicians to fill in the details.

Yes. It probably would be better if they came out with wonky policy proposals, but that’s what policy wonks are for. As critiques go, “they don’t have solutions!” is just plain dumb. Thankfully, he pulls out of the media argument with the last sentence of the paragraph. But this is perilously close to calling the criticism valid.

I’ve been pushing this a lot lately, but that’s because I think it’s important; go to We Are the 99%, scroll through a few pages of posts, and see if you don’t notice something. That’s right, a lot of the stories are extremely similar. There’s a big, big problem out there, all of these people are pointing right at it, but the media are pretending – completely illogically – that if you don’t know how to fix it, the problem must not exist.

The Washington crowd should not be looking at average Americans for solutions. That’s not what we pay them to do. The American people need to tell them what they’d tell that mechanic; we’ve told you what the problem is, now quit being a dick about it and fix the damned thing.

Or we’ll find someone else who will.


Plunder for gold in Scallywags! ARRRRRRRR!

Who doesn’t like talking like a pirate, and everyone should love it on September 19th, but it’s more fun when it’s done with a purpose. Enter Scallywags, a quick game appropriate for youngsters and adults alike. If you’ve ever wanted to plundering without the risk of walking the plank, here is your chance. And on this raid you can bring the kids along!

Let’s dive into Scallywags, and afterwards listen to game designer Chevee Dodd talk about his game on our podcast!

The point of the game is to acquire more pirate booty, gold pieces, than anyone else. Do they do this with cards that have a picture of gold coins like other card games would? Nope! The game comes with pieces of gold! Alright, they are really plastic coins, but it is a sturdy and unique game component. On the face of the coins are values ranging from zero to eight. Pieces of eight anyone? Way to keep with a theme! And they don’t take the easy way out and print a 0 on the zero coin, they take the theme all the way home an put a Jolly Roger on those. The only thing I wish were different about the game is a better contrast on the number side of the coins. They do have raised embossing of the numbers, but the coin is a little difficult to read at times.

There is a different mechanic for taking face up and face down coins, so you are encouraged to dump them out onto the table so there are a random number of face up and face down coins. And besides, the chaos of cascading coins onto a table top is just plain old fun. Once the coins are sufficiently randomized in the center of the table, everyone gets dealt 3 cards and the rest of the cards are placed next to the coins. At this point you can either play a card from your hand or take a face down coin from the pile. If you play a card you get to draw another one to replace it.

Use of the cards are the only way to get the face up coins. There are cards that let you give a face up coin to an opponent or take one for yourself. Other cards let you do things like look at some of the face down coins and take one of them, steal a coin from an opponent or merely swap a coin with them, and put another pirate’s coin back. All of them are titled things that keep with the theme. My favorite card is the one that stops someone from taking one of your coins which is aptly titled, “Hands Off Me Booty!” I tend to shout that one a little too loud when we play.

The game ends when every player has 6 coins in front of them. No player may ever have more than 6 coins in front of them. This becomes paramount near the end of the game since you want to try and get high number face up coins away from other players and maybe get low point face down coins out from your pile of treasure. For your last couple turns it is possible you do not have a legal play with this 6 coin limit, so you’ll have to discard a card and draw another.

The game is easy to learn and plays quickly. This definitely isn’t a game where players get distracted since it’s so short between turns, so I think it would work out well with kids. It does have a little strategy involved if you play it with adults. Pirates are forced to keep their booty in order in front of them, so you can remember that sinister player across the table stole your eight for his second coin and you can try and swipe it back later.

You can plunder a copy of it for yourself here or at your FLGS.

tl;dr - Aimed at kids, but still fun for adults. No one’s going to choose walking the plank over playing it.

Original Article

Stories to Watch: ½/13.

While everyone’s eyes are on fiscal cliff fiasco postmortems, filibuster reform may quietly be dying. Harry Reid’s punting until the next congress is sworn in, hoping to get a more favorable Senate. Once again, the words “seeking a bipartisan ____” carry with them the stench of death. Partisan steamrollers are needed to get anything done. That’s the new reality. You wonder why Democratic leadership are so slow to learn that.

The War on Drugs is the best thing to ever happen to the prison-industrial complex. There’s a lot of money in incarcerating people that every other sane country in the world treats for addiction. Want to reduce wasteful spending and promote liberty? Gutting and defanging the private prison industry and their lobbyists would be a real nice way to start.

John Boehner preemptively walks away from any future negotiations with the White House. I’m not kidding. I guess from now on, all the heavy lifting will be done by the Senate, because that made everyone in Boehner’s caucus so damned happy in the fiscal cliff fiasco, right? I swear, I becoming more and more convinced that Boehner’s a bona fide moron with each passing day.

Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, is shocked to discover that being a Republican means not giving a crap about people in need – especially those Tea Party-type Republicans like, say, Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey. Someone find him a fainting couch.

Rep. Brian Sims officially becomes Pennsylvania’s first elected openly gay official.

Hillary Clinton has been released from the hospital. Apparently everything went great with removing her blood clot. Good to hear.

Ezra Klein says the White House won the fiscal cliff fight – with reservations. Meanwhile, Nate Silver argues that it’s hard to tell who won, since no one was extremely clear on exactly what they wanted.

As promised, part two of Sam Wang’s ongoing report on Republican election-rigging shenanigans: “How many voters were disenfranchised?

Can we please stop worrying about violence in pop culture in relation to mass killings? Everyone sees the same movies, everyone watches the same TV shows, everyone listens to the same music and plays the same video games. Yet only America suffers massacre after massacre after massacre in non-combat situations. The problem is guns. Period. Anything else is a distraction. Stop falling for it.

Finally, you might not want to take too much time catching your breath after the fiscal cliff fiasco; here comes the debt ceiling. It could be just a stupid and frustrating. Our government is broken, because gullible people keep electing stupid people who hate government to run government. Knock it off.

[cartoon via McClatchy Newspapers]

Ep #00056: Perpetual Geek Machine Podcast

We’ve got a smaller Machine for you this week. You’re going to basically be a “fly on the wall” for a conversation between Ryan and Kevin. Don’t worry though, nothing gets that weird. Just a little weird. And uncomfortable. Yeah.

Here’s the link to give Perpetual Geek Machine: Show #00056 a listen!

Here’s the breakdown on where to find/follow us online!

Show Notes to show your battery-powered bipedal:

What’cha Been Doing? (3:02 - 35:00)
  • They ramble on about:
    • Kevin has some sort of strained muscle in his neck and a fine cocktail of drugs to soothe the pain.
    • He’s also been rewatching Louie now that his wife is into it.
    • We played Scallywags and Tsuro recently.
    • Ryan been enjoying the “outside”, whatever that is and playing a bunch of Wipeout on his “Vita”, whatever that is.
    • He also increased the bicycle count at his house to 5 between two people.

Break (35:01 - 37:46)

Let’s Talk About… (38:23 - End)

Total Run Time - 1:02:18

Original Article

Stories to Watch: 1/8/13.

Courage isn’t some guy hiding behind a gun, courage is Gabrielle Giffords.

Rep. Tom Cotton is really turning out to be one worthless POS.

Norm Ornstein writes that the incoming class of Senate Dems are historically liberal and activist. This is a big deal, one that could reshape politics in Washington.

Illinois does the most common sense thing in the world and offers drivers licenses to undocumented people.

RIP Jeanne Manford, founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). She was 92.

Krugman doubles down on the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, arguing that critics of the plan don’t have fact-based arguments against it.

And speaking of facts, Republicans don’t seem to need them. They just make shit up.

Finally, Glenn Beck apparently doesn’t understand irony.

[photo via the Flickr]