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Sam Ferguson
Infrastructure support nerd; amateur historian & polemicist; self-identified apostate.
Infrastructure support nerd; amateur historian & polemicist; self-identified apostate.


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So, I know this nerd who's hugely into Star Trek, and spends a lot of time watching it, and thinking about it, and discussing it with their friends, and blathering on about it on the Internet.

And then one day, this website that they've been reading for almost 20 years came along and asked them if they'd like to channel some of that nerd energy into an article.

So they pitched a sort of combination retrospective/prospective about the franchise's recent history and its prospects for the future, and the nice people commissioned them to write 2,500 words on the subject. They wrote over 4,000 words, and this really great editor helped them get it into publishable shape.

Did you catch on that I'm the nerd in the story? I'M THE NERD IN THE STORY, EVERYBODY.

I'd like to thank +Ars Technica for the opportunity to do some writing about my favorite fictional franchise, and Nathan Mattise in particular for working with me to massage my verbosity into something readable. Getting to see my name on an Ars byline is a little like getting to guest star on your favorite TV show — I did it once in 2013 for my review of STID (which was a little clumsy, but I stand by my conclusions), and it's even more exciting this time. Huge thanks to my pals at Ars for making this happen.

I hope to be able to bang out a little something like this for them from time to time. They asked me a few months ago to see if I'd be interested in occasionally writing some general geek culture blurbs for them, and obviously I very, very enthusiastically agreed. So the framework is in place for me to get to to this every so often, which is just the best thing ever. I've got a couple of other ideas in the hopper, but I'm going to just enjoy this piece for a couple of weeks before I start pestering poor Nathan again :)

(P.S. — I thought I was pretty clear in the piece that I find the franchise's future to be very bright in terms of its prospects, and that I generally enjoy the current offerings but acknowledge their problems, and that one of the best things about Star Trek is that there's so much of it that everyone can find something they like. But man, the neckbeards just aren't having it. If it's not a re-hashing of TNG, it's not "real" Trek. Well, I get that everyone is going to have their favorites — I certainly have mine (and while I can find things to enjoy in the Abramsverse and am downright enthusiastic about ST:DIS, neither are my favorite). But never forget that I'm old. I remember when TNG came out and it wasn't "real" Trek because it wasn't Captain Kirk. So feel free to like what you like and dislike what you dislike, and be plenty vocal about either one. But bear the franchise's history in mind before you start deciding what's "real" Star Trek and what isn't :P )
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"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace; more about killing that we know about living." — GA Omar N. Bradley
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“Why is religion so divisive?”

Because when people prioritize faith over reason, they become resistant to logic and can be talked into anything.

Need me to solve any other world problems, CNN?
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As this year's convention — only a week and a half away — is the 50th anniversary, I spent some time last night making some videos about Gen Con Indy 2017. Please feel free to enjoy or not, as you see fit :)

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Dave Lombardo and two of the dudes from Retox wrote themselves a proper hardcore album. Then they asked Mike Patton to join the band and perform vocals.

The end result is a band and an album called Dead Cross, and it is every inch as scary and badass and confusing and beautiful and upsetting and amazing as you'd imagine.

The album isn't out until Friday (on Patton's Ipecac label), but they're streaming the whole thing on Soundcloud between now and then (and it's embedded in this Blabbermouth article I'm linking).

I'd heard a couple of the songs they'd released over the last few months ("Seizure and Desist", "Obedience School"). and I had high hopes. It has exceeded those hopes. In its totality, it's the audio equivalent of breaking the windows out of cars at a junk yard for 28 minutes without proper eye protection.

I like supporting Ipecac Recordings on general principle, and more often than not I'm getting quality independent music at the same time. This is a release I'll be very eager and pleased to pick up on Friday.
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Original artwork by Jess Burn. Please share as desired, with attribution and non-commercial caveats, of course. More sizes/formats available at
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Hey everybody! I'm doing another giveaway for #FountainPenDay this year, finding a new home for a lovely Conklin All American that's been sitting uninked in my pen case for far too long.

All of the details and how to enter can be found at

Thanks and good luck!
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Saturday Evening Earballs!

This got...weird O_o


01. Dio - "Rainbow In The Dark" (Holy Diver, 1983)

02. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Hey Joe" (Are You Experienced?, 1967)

03. Butthole Surfers - "The Lord Is A Monkey" (Electriclarryland, 1996)

04. Jerry Goldsmith - "Main Title / The Mountain" (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1989)

05. Slayer - "Angel Of Death" (Reign In Blood, 1986)

06. Metallica - "Dyers Eve" (...And Justice For All, 1988)

07. Icona Pop - "We Got The World" (This Is...Icona Pop, 2013)

08. Lily Allen - "Fuck You" (It's Not Me, It's You, 2009)

09. Celtic Frost - "Winter (Requiem, Chapter Three: Finale)" (Monotheist, 2006)

10. Beastie Boys & Nas - "Too Many Rappers (New Reactionaries Version)" (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, 2011)

11. Sister Sledge - "We Are Family" (We Are Family, 1979)

12. Primal Scream - "I'm Comin' Down" (Screamadelica, 1991)

13. Skinny Puppy - "Love In Vein" (Last Rights, 1992)
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I don't know if you've noticed, but it's time for #GenCon – the Best Four Days in Gaming – and I couldn't be more excited. I could try, but I would not succeed.

For me, this convention is a week to celebrate and enjoy my favorite hobby – tabletop RPGs. It's also a time to be surrounded by tens of thousands of my fellow gamers, and revel in our shared culture.

However, there are times and places where that culture isn't as welcoming as it should be. My eyes have been opened in the last year or so to how truly awfully many of my fellow gamers are treated, simply because they happen to have a different chromosomal arrangement.

I'm happy to say that I don't think this has ever been the case at my own gaming table. But I also game with a group of people who are close friends first, and gaming companions second. And at conventions and game stores, I've generally had good luck with well-behaved gamers and competent game-masters.

However, the data doesn't lie. It might not be my experience, but there is a problem. I've read story after story of women gamers treated dismally – from unfair, condescending, misogynistic treatment at the table, to actual sexual assault. It offends me as a gamer, and it offends me as, you know, someone who loves people.

I posted something a while back about how I intended to handle this issue going forward. And while I don't want to dampen the excitement for the start of the convention, I think it bears repeating and clarification: To make a long story short, it's not something I'll permit at a table where I'm playing.

So I'm posting this publicly on the eve of the Best Four Days in Gaming, which I truly believe is a welcoming environment for everyone 99.99% of the time. But to my game-masters and fellow players: This kind of thing simply won't happen if I'm at your table. If I observe a fellow player being mistreated at my table (or at a nearby table), I will calmly-but-clearly call attention to the behavior. If the game-master does not take action to address it, I will leave their table and bring it to the attention of the publisher running the event. If they do not take action to address it, I will leave the event and be very public about why – and I'll bring it to the attention of the Gen Con organizers.

Please note that I have ABSOLUTELY NO reason to think this will happen, or that it wouldn't be handled appropriately if it did happen. I've had mostly good experiences with my fellow players, almost exclusively good experiences with the game-masters I've had at Gen Con, and the publisher of my favorite game has a fantastic track record when it comes to issues of inclusiveness and creating a welcome gaming environment for everybody. And if push came to shove, Gen Con is also very strong on these kinds of issues. So if I did observe someone being treated poorly, I doubt it would take more than pointing it out to have it corrected. But I'm willing to go farther than that in the (extremely unlikely) event that it's necessary.

And instead of simply relying on “noticing” this behavior, I WILL BE WATCHING FOR IT.

Moreover, should a woman attending Gen Con find herself in a situation she feels is dangerous, or become the target of harassment or assault, I will help. In a sea of 60,000+ gamers, you're unlikely to spot me by chance. But I'm a very large man with a very large beard, and I will be wearing the button shown either on my shirt or on my bag all week. If you need me, tug on my shirt sleeve. I will believe you, I will help you, and I will do it without judging, being condescending, or trying to “take charge” of your situation.

Because I am just one person in a sea of 60,000, I am also offering my personal phone number to anyone who feels like they might want to have it. I will be at Gen Con from morning until evening every day, and if you text me and are in trouble, I will get up from my table and come find you. I would of course encourage you to seek out event staff as well (or perhaps instead), but I'll be there. If you'd like to have my number just in case, please send me a private message and I will be happy to give
it to you.

And while this post is prompted by the treatment of women in the gaming community, my offer(s) also extends to ANYONE who might find themselves bullied, harassed, or assaulted. I simply won't tolerate cretinous ass-hats ruining my hobby for my fellow human beings. Not if I find myself in a place to stop it.

I expect that there is a 99.99% chance that I will have a lovely convention and my presence as a believer and an ally won't be remotely necessary. I expect to not have to say a single negative thing to or about anyone else for the next five days, and to have an amazing time.

But if the need arises, I'm ready to use my superpowers of being huge and loud to the benefit of someone who might need it. I would encourage everyone else to do the same, and that way we're more than just one person in 60,000.

ADDENDUM: I should have added this. If you're a gamer and me making a big deal out of this bothers you, or if you're bummed out that it's not cool anymore to make sexist jokes at the table or whatever, you're welcome to eat me. Thanks.

ADDENDUM: I wanted to clarify that my belief that the convention will be a positive, fun experience should not be interpreted as skepticism regarding the possibility of hostility toward women or anyone else. Those comments were made in part based on my past experience (which is admittedly biased), and in part to preserve my own excitement for the convention and to try to avoid pessimism. To put it plainly, just because I don't expect there to be an issue, does not mean that I would be skeptical or defensive if someone brings an issue to my attention. I absolutely mean it when I say "I will believe you", and I apologize if the clumsiness of my language implied otherwise.
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"Hi, my name is Jim Tomes. I enjoy writing legislation designed specifically to be overturned in court."

What a buffoon.
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