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

543 followers
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I'm like 90% sure I've played this module. Someone get me a Handy Haversack filled with scrolls of "Remove Disease" and a Necklace of Fireballs.
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It’s Independence Day in America, in 2018. Donald Trump has been the President of the United States for 529 days. Barring legal proceedings or natural causes removing him from office, he will be the President of the United States for 931 more days.

Under this administration, America’s sins have been laid bare and have returned to devour us. Dark precedents set and cynical mechanisms built over our 242 year history are now being brought to bear against the very democracy this day purports to celebrate.

We have always been a nation more inclined to right ideas than to right action. I say that not to downplay the moments in history when our country has stood up for what was right, when we’ve achieved what was thought impossible, and when we’ve created better lives for our citizens. America has done all of those things, and that part of our history is part of what I will celebrate today.

But our history of standing down instead of standing up, of implicitly or explicitly supporting, enforcing, and enshrining the cruelest forms of bondage and oppression in our laws, our culture, and our foreign policy — this blood, for me, runs all the brighter today, because what I thought were the ghosts of that history weren’t ghosts at all. They were my brothers and my sisters, trapped for 242 years in an America that didn’t value their lives, let alone their freedoms, as much as it did mine. That America, known to me academically for my entire educated life, is every bit as much — perhaps even far more — the breathing flesh of modern America as the jarringly juxtaposed quest for liberty.

How does one celebrate a country in which so much has gone so terribly wrong, and in which so many continue to be ground to dust within the gears of oppression and apathy?

I still believe that Independence Day is worthy of our attention. I still believe it is wholly appropriate to celebrate the genuinely remarkable things about America’s founding (while never allowing sentiment to erase the truth of history). And I think it’s even more important today — much, much more important — to rededicate ourselves to those right ideas; the egalitarian path on which we stumble and crawl far more often than we manage to stride upright.

I love this country. I can love what it could be if we allowed, while simultaneously mourning what often is because we allow. I can celebrate the bold ideas expressed by flawed, human men when they took — perhaps out of hubris and no small sense of entitlement — the destiny of a million of their fellow colonists in their hands, and created a new nation. I can celebrate that boldness, but also mourn their cowardice and short-sightedness on so many issues that have plagued and continue to plague our country.

You shouldn’t feel ashamed to celebrate today. Because there is a lot to love about America. But you shouldn’t feel entitled to easy celebration. The parts of this country’s past and present worth celebrating, worthy of our love and admiration, are scattered across a moral landscape that is part shipwreck and part graveyard. There is so much to fix, so much to mourn, so much work to do.

Celebrate today. Then get to work tomorrow, with a true, humanist patriot fire in your heart that drives you to work toward the free and equal society that we were promised, and that we all deserve. If I do not see you in line to vote in November, I don’t want to see you reveling in July.

I set myself to the same task, and I ask you all for your help in holding me accountable, and in encouraging me. I will do the same for you.

I’ll close by quoting one of my favorite portions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream…” speech, and certainly the most relevant to today’s celebrations (and hopefully, rededications).

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’

But I refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this nation. So we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

Happy birthday, America. We’re doing our damnedest to cure you of hate and greed and violence. It will not be a pleasant procedure, but it’s for your own good.

#IndependenceDay2018
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“Why so glum, Sam?”

“Because tens of millions died in the 20th Century in the name of defending the democratic West, and now it’s being auctioned off by small, venal men unworthy of the trust of the free societies they have hijacked.”

“Oh...”
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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 :)

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa6wJvD11UKHxlOK5KkITMz9mB1NhTI36


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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.

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/dead-cross-feat-mike-patton-dave-lombardo-entire-debut-album-available-for-streaming/
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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 http://www.lab1663.net/files/keep_em_filing/
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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 fpday2016.lab1663.net.

Thanks and good luck!
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