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Rachel E.S. Walton
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Rachel E.S. Walton

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A librarian created a #BlackLivesMatter booklist for teens. These books look like good grist for discussion and thinking about really hard, sad, and important things, neither to baby teens or to strip them of hope.
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+Sherman Alexie is one of my absolute favorite authors, and he tried his hand at a children's book, which just came out today. It's a delightful book! Funny and sweet. It captures a kid's frustration with his unusual name. It addresses some Native American/First Nations particulars while telling a broadly appealing story of a father, son, and identity. My 6-year-old was smiling the whole time while reading it, and he gave it bonus points for mentioning farts. 
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+Robert Bohl ohh! Thanks for the heads up!

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Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books by the African American Literature Book Club.

There are some great books on this list! And some I'm looking forward to checking out. Also cool: there are some great books not on this list that could be, meaning this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a list of some of the riches.
Children Book authors and avid readers contributed their favorite children’s Books to a list of the, “Top 100 Recommended African-American Children’s Books.”
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I'm home with a sick kiddo today, so why not dig into some of the changes to Apocalypse World in 2nd Ed, right?

I don't have it in me to write a detailed list or comparison, but as I was reading through the character playbooks and moves, I kept nodding my head going "YES!" Not because of some mind-blowing new content, but rather it's so clearly refining some of the trouble spots. It feels like a back-and-forth conversation was had and both parties came away richer for the experience, and meaningfully changed.

What got me excited (besides the easier-for-me-to read bifold):

I love...

...how some of the the special moves give a little more direction on a miss. In play, some outcomes for a miss are obvious, but sometimes they end up being this creative pressure point where the MC has to keep coming up with meaningful stuff. A little extra help is great. And this help keeps the genre tone tight.

...that even the Basic moves end, "On miss, be prepared for the worst." Which doesn't give the MC specific ideas, but it does a nice job of amping the tension so the MC can either play into it or occasionally go easy. Except now, contrasting with the statement, it seems like an act of generosity, not a whiff.

...the HX questions! They're all outward-facing, like, "which one of you most evidently dislikes and distrusts me?" Instead of saying who, you ask for volunteers. I sometimes like what "saying who" does and how it lets others have a little say with each other's characters, but from all I've played, consent-based questions are more reliably good. If you ever picked someone for a thing and had them not be into, you know what I mean. Volunteers will more reliably remember and play into the answer harder.

...barter! The Operator's gigs have been dealt out among the Playbooks and it's awesome. It gives you specific ideas for what gigs to do if you need resources. Fun things! Things that cause trouble! Things that evoke the essence of the Playbook! SO GOOD. Because sometimes players lose their way and forget to do what their character is primed to do in that world and the game suffers a little for that loss.

Can't wait to play. It's been refined without losing its edge. Awesome +Vincent Baker & +Meguey Baker! :D
#AW2e

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I got to run last night, so I'm just gonna sub and leave my own link: plus.google.com/+WilliamNichols/posts/4WboSmexJtN

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"When you're out that far and the Earth is a tiny, blue pinpoint, you're going to need someone you can hug."
#AdorableSciFi

(Maybe not science fiction. We'll see!)
A new nonprofit hopes to launch a man and a woman on a Mars flyby mission.
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Oh lord... Inserting a Hitachi would be akin to fisting. 

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This is so cool! I wonder how it tastes. :) Looks like it might fit in with winter squash types. 
Seeds found during an archaeological dig on First Nations land revive a long-lost varietal.
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Life finds a way. 

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I've seen a bunch of posts from various folks these last few weeks talking about the War Birds Kickstarter and the important issues it addresses as a game anthology and the works and stories of women during wartime that the games help bring to light. And how relevant these not-so-distant stories are to now. That's all true, but that's not what I'm going to talk about.

I'm going to talk about baser things like money and design because the truth is, there are a lot of unplayed games collecting dust on my shelf and many more that I've given away and I'm a little more hesitant to throw money at just anything that sounds cool or worthwhile these days because there are a lot of cool and worthwhile things out there competing for my and your resources. Why do these games sit unplayed? Sometimes it's just logistical issues, of course! But for some of them, I can appreciate them as creative efforts but don't actually enjoy running or playing them, or worse in some ways: I really want to run or play them but I can't figure out some crucial pieces of game play - something doesn't quite add up. And maybe if we put our heads together or asked around or contacted the designer, we could figure it out, but sometimes that minor barrier is enough to pass over it for something clearer.

What does that have to do with War Birds? About a year ago (if I recall correctly), +Mo Jave asked me if I'd be willing to run a playtest of the cornerstone game Against the Grain at a house con. It hadn't been playtested yet, so this would be the first round. Normally I'd be hesitant to say yes because playtests can be frustrating and I don't feel like I always have the right skills to approach them fruitfully, but I love Mo, she's good at communicating, and the situation was relaxed so of course I said yes!

There was really nothing to be anxious about. I read it over and had a pretty good sense of how it would go and what I should do. That is actually pretty huge. Communicating the basics seems like it should be simple but so many people (myself included) struggle with writing clear game text. Mo killed it right out of the gate.

And the game went really well. Of course there were bits here and there to be tweaked or polished, but it worked and it did a wonderful job of setting up and facilitating a story about an important historical situation with all of the tension of multiple perspectives and agendas and lives on the line.

There was minimal space set-up, warm-up exercises to break the ice, and solid read-aloud text to set up the historical situation without overwhelming everyone with too many details. Just enough. And there were richly designed characters charged with conflicting desires and needs. I didn't have to work hard as the facilitator. Just kept an eye on things and prodded a little here and there to twist the knife on internal and external conflict. The players felt empowered by their characters to push most of the conflict all on their own.

So I'm really excited to support Against the Grain in its finished form! And I'm all the more excited because there are several other brilliant minds adding games to the War Birds anthology and there is support to help these games reach their best potential as well. 

The Kickstarter will be over fairly soon, so if you're thinking about it, it's a great time to commit. It's already funded, but your support could actually add more games to the anthology - games that also sound really good. And you can help kickstart it because you want to support these awesome writers and because you think the topics are important - these are valid reasons! - but also? The design is really solid. These are games to be read and played.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/721113354/war-birds-0
Unruly Designs is raising funds for War Birds on Kickstarter! An anthology of live action games exploring the untold stories of the experience and contribution of women during World War II
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Yeah... I kind of want it get this, but I KNOW it will sit on my shelf next to Godlike and Flames of War and NEVER get played..... I might have a chance in like 12 years when my boys are at the right age.
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Yessss. This weekend NYCers! A sword-fighting tournament (plus freebie beginner classes) for ladies, run by ladies. Fecht Yeah indeed. <3
 
This Sunday at SCNYC!
Meet the women of NY's Historical European Martial Arts fighters, who battle in ancient disciplines including German longsword, rapier, saber, and...
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Neat. My friend Sara teaches there! 

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I am so excited about Ibtihaj Muhammad making it to the summer Olympics. She is the coolest. I mean she's from Jersey, she's gotta be awesome. ;)
The inspiring Ibtihaj Muhammad will be representing the United States at the Summer Olympics, while making history as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to wear a hijab while competing.
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She didn't want To hurt him, I agree.

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Mars 244: The Liberation of Sisyphus
Ready for its Dreamation debut.* :)
Asteroid miners rescuing Martian miners!
Tragedy in spaaace!
So excite!

The blurb:
This is how your world ends for the second time: “You are under arrest for the crimes of arson within occupied pressure, manslaughter, rioting, escaping prison, and resisting arrest in interplanetary space.” This story is about what happens in your fugitive weeks leading up to this moment. You play individuals from an outpost Martian community of miners and convicts exploited for brutal work in dangerous conditions, seizing a fragment of hope for asylum on Earth. What will you find in your moments of liberation? Who will you have by your side? This is a collaborative tragedy and epic journey inspired by the structured freeform design of Montsegur 1244. Includes themes of oppression, violence, rivalry, redemption, romance, hope, and death. For 3-6 players.

*Nooo, sorry, it's not ready for external playtesting yet. :)
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Wanty! 

Rachel E.S. Walton

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Hey, so there's a lot of hang-wringing and gnashing of teeth over the new G+ interface. I find it a little weird too, and it is understandably annoying if you're trying to do a specific thing with it now. BUT! It's also important to understand that some of these inconveniences are temporary. They did not roll out a fully finished interface. You can read the launch post below if you missed it (it includes details for properly communicating feedback that they'll see) and also this update from the guy who wrote the post:
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All, A few clarifications that should be useful.

1. Please look for the Let's GO button to appear on Classic G+ to try out the new preview. "Forcing" the new experience in other ways won't give you all the new updates.

2. This is a preview release and yes not everything is there.

3. We're doing regular launches fixing things/adding features etc. So you should see the preview improve as we go.

4. During this time the Classic G+ experience is available and you can switch between the 2 as you please.

5. We'd like to hear your opinions, so please use the official channels listed above. They're where we are collecting issues & ideas.
 
Dive into the new Google+
As @111742562190411471360 shared this afternoon (goo.gl/2QjBGx), we’ve spent lots of time talking to people who are passionate about Google+. We visited them in their homes, we invited them into early testing communities and we learned more about how and why they use Google+. The predominant answer? Having a great place to keep up with and talk about their interests. From Astrophotography (goo.gl/HRQmIh) to Wild Hummingbirds (goo.gl/6FscI6), people are not only discovering amazing things, but meeting others who share their passions as well.

Today we’re taking a big step toward making Google+ an even better place for your interests. To do so, we’ve drastically simplified nearly every aspect of the product. You’ll see this clearly in our new navigation centered around Collections and Communities. Collections let you immerse yourself in content about topics like surfing (goo.gl/vvv5QD) or tiny tilt-shift photography scenes (goo.gl/nWyicL) . Communities enable groups of people with the same interests to join up and geek out on anything from Game of Thrones (goo.gl/aaqtgq) to Painting (goo.gl/kmlM7m). With Collections and Communities, discovering amazing things is simple: just follow or join whatever happens to pique your interests.

But we didn’t stop with Collections and Communities; the new Google+ also makes it easier to post, search, connect, and keep up with great content in a fully redesigned home stream. And we’ve worked hard to make our new web experience load fast and work beautifully on devices of all sizes.

You can preview the new Google+ on the web today by signing in and clicking “Let’s go” when you see the prompt. (And since not every feature of Google+ has made its way into this new design, for now, you can toggle back to the classic Google+ with one click in the bottom left-hand corner.) In the coming days, we’ll roll out updated apps for Android and iOS.

While this is an exciting new beginning for us, we’re definitely not done yet. We got here by listening and learning, and will continue doing so. Please visit our Help Center (goo.gl/gWsFeh) or drop us a line in our support community (goo.gl/eMFVj) to share your thoughts, questions, and more. 
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MORE RAGE WITHOUT END

Rachel E.S. Walton

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This is a pretty good post on creating, consuming, and criticism and focusing on what matters. It's not in depth, but the reminders are solid.
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I LOVE THIS BULLET POINT: "Stay on the side of the creators, not the consumers or the critics." If I just keep this in mind it solves a lot of personal questions I have as a consumer.
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Rachel Speirs
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epic killer of demon bears
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