My not-LARPing experiment

At some point in the recent past I thought a lot about LARPing and roleplaying games and decided, perhaps foolishly, that others will never accept this hobby of mine if I am afraid to talk about it openly, myself. This is partly an attempt to be principled about it, and also because I suspect part of the reason it is looked down in some circles is because nobody from within the gamer "subculture" expresses positive examples to counter the negative stereotypes.

Also, yes I think it's a subculture, and lets not forget blame where its due: the biggest reason is the part of human nature that likes "hammering down errant nails" so to speak, especially when putting down others is an easy way to raise one's own status. However this is a topic worthy of another post and I digress.

I haven't made a habit of it, but I brought up LARPing among non-gamers when the topic came up, with no attempt to cushion it by calling it an "interactive improvisational theatre game" or anything like that. I'm sure it will surprise absolutely no one reading this, but the first several comments that came up were "do you cast lightning bolt at people?" and "what's your secret larper name?", as well as something related to furry sex.

I wouldn't make too much of it, because the two people who made those comments are frankly jerks, and also overly concerned with status. However if the original premise behind this is true, obviously instant gratification is not a result.

RPG query

(hopefully this will be in a different vein from yesterday's post)

What tabletop RPG system/settings would you say are the best you've ever experience or played in? Interpret this question however you wish.

A completely separate question, which system/setting do you think is the most accessible to someone new to roleplaying/gaming in general? For example I get the feeling games like Nobilis or Fair Folk may be excellent games but are probably too much for new players.

Feel free to explain your choices, or just to go ahead and list them.

(Attempted) Citizen photojournalism

Today I was taking the Airport shuttle bus back to my place when I noticed a massive traffic jam on Wilshire Blvd, and some commotion in front of the Federal building. Though traffic on Wilshire can be bad, it's never this bad on a Sunday evening, so as soon as I got back I grabbed my camera and ran to the scene.

Apparently the local Iranian/Iranian-American community has been staging protests in front of the Federal building all weekend. It was really orderly, in fact. The crowd was peaceful and didn't block traffic, and mostly ended 30-45 minutes after I got there as apparently that's when their protest permit ended (the jam was probably because of the massive number of people crossing the street combined with the overenthusiastic supporters driving around in cars honking their horns).

Through chatting with some of the people, I was interested by the fact that a few of the protesters went above merely protesting election fraud, and were protesting the entire political system in Iran, which isn't very democratic at all. This seems to go beyond the protests in Iran, which I think only calls for the elections to be redone.

In any case, a mostly unedited sample of my photos can be found below. I discovered that I don't know my D40x as well as I should, and so wasn't able to really adapt to nighttime conditions.

On the new Star Trek movie

It's been far too long since I had an update.

The new Star Trek movie is really well done. I was worried about whether or not it would be any good, but it has the approval of this old trekker. I think like other "reboots" recently (of which the new Bond/Batman movies and the Battlestar Galactica series come to mind) the setting has to be updated considerably from the originals, which in some cases date back to the sixties, or in the case of Batman the thirties. However I think such updating is easily forgivable as long as the final product is of high quality and as long as they retain some amount of faithfulness to the originals, which isn't always the case with Hollywood. In any event, given by the critical acclaim and the amount the theatre was packed, J. J. Abrams is going to have ridiculously huge clout in the movie business now.

I do think that I may be taking too many space physics courses because Collapse )

Finally, people who talk at the theatre are going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and executives who cancel critically acclaimed TV shows really early on.

After the fall

I have a lot of thoughts on why I wax and wane in livejournal activity. I have many thoughts to write down rather than too few. Probably that has something to do with the problem, as the anxiety over the mounting list of things to write about makes me avoid it even more, and yes I do realize the irony as I don't "have" to write about anything. Nevertheless I have considered doing something like troglodyteking is doing and forcing myself to post a lot in succession as a way of forcing myself back into the habit.

In addition to my rather random musings I do mean to talk about atmospheric/climate science related stuff, and also gaming and travel posts (the latter of which may degenerate into food blogging), so we'll see if I muster the willpower to do so.


I've talked about the OCO in the past, albeit briefly, but this is relatively big news. The launch happened early this morning and it ended quickly and not well. I have a number of coworkers who were involved with it they are understandably quite bummed by the news. There's some talk of maybe rebuilding, as because a lot of the groundwork is already done the second time around the cost should be considerably large. A lot of people feel like it's big enough to warrant a second try, and hopefully this time around the people in charge of the launch rocket will have *ahem* fixed the problem with their payload launch bays.

Title error - insufficient lemmings sacrificed

I was going to have my next entry begin with a somewhat repetitive self-deprecating apology for the lack of activity on this blog, followed by a summary of and musings on the events of the past several months, and I still intend to, but I'll write the following while it is fresh in my mind.

I'm currently in Hong Kong as of today. How and why I'm here is kind of a long story, but it's my second time here and I'm enjoying it as much as I did the first time, which is quite a lot. I was wandering through the central district today when I noticed one of the bookstores would be having a book signing for Thomas Friedman's new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded in a couple of hours.

Those of you who know me know that I'm something of a fan of his, because his writing is pretty good and his ideas usually make a lot of sense, and also because he's one of the few people in journalism today who take climate change seriously, a subject I've become really interested in from my line of work. Anyways, I considered it a stroke of luck (after all how often is one in Hong Kong, much less walking by that very bookstore), so I "made sure" I was walking by the bookstore at the right time, and sure enough he was there.

I really wanted to talk to him, but I already had a copy of Hot, Flat, and Crowded (thanks sabournine!), and it would be pretty gauche to get in line without intending to purchase a book. Thus I settled for asking him to autograph a copy for my dad, who had expressed interest in the book, and soon enough I was face to face with him. I didn't think at the time about how I was jet-lagged and sleep deprived (still am), or how I hadn't really showered since getting off a 14 hour plane flight and wandering around Hong Kong, but in retrospect I hope I wasn't too much of a mess.

I couldn't help but mention to him, "I saw you speak twice." He looked interested and said "Oh really, when?" I told him that I had heard him once while an undergrad at Stanford and once while at Caltech, and he seemed happy to hear that (or so I hope). He then asked me what I was doing now and I told him that I was a grad student at UCLA and that "a lot of us study climate and we all love your columns."

As he looked like he had to sign a ton of books, and I was getting worried that someone behind me would throttle me if I took any more time of his time, I said goodbye and walked off, feeling rather pleased. Also I recommend the book to anybody reading it, it's really well written and well suited for anyone with an interest in either climate or energy policy.

Collapse )