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Heiko Ludwig
Gay sysadmin, humanist, geek, roleplayer, gamer
Gay sysadmin, humanist, geek, roleplayer, gamer

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More Pugmire-like Designs
more at the link, including Mau-esque

Good dogs!

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Al Jarreau (1940-2017), "Take Five"

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+cecil howe's Hex Kit mapper seems easy to use if you want to create maps of a certain style for your RPG. I quite like the look of the resulting maps, actually.

via +Christian Biskup
The Hex Kit desktop app Kickstarter is live! If you want a cool program to make pretty maps, for dirt cheap, then this one is for you!

Shares get smooches, just sayin.

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This sounds like a great premise for a not-too-serious SF campaign.
So, one of the eternal truisms of the internet is that nearly everywhere you go, you'll find someone posting pictures or videos of cute baby animals.

This morning, this reminded of this wonderful idea that Josh Medin came up with for a science fiction setting, one of my gamer comrades from college. It's such a great idea that I really feel I need to swipe it and use it somewhere, making sure he gets full credit.

Basically, there is this alien race of spider-like aliens. They're the size of the Alien Queen from ALIENS, and they are TERRIFYING to behold. Everything about them, from their smell to their multiple eyes and unfolding dripping mandibles, to their chitinous multiple legs, all of that hits the "oh shit it's a spider OH GOD OH GOD" buttons in most human's brains.

But here's the thing. Not only are these aliens ferociously intelligent, with a powerful civilization that is at least on par with humanity in terms of power and advancement and culture... but they adore humans. They think we're just the most adorable things ever! SQUEEE!

And yes, the SQUEE sound that these spider-aliens make is something that many humans will instinctively assume is a battle cry or "I HUNGER" and it makes things a bit nervewracking.

But basically, humans look like infantile spiderlings to these aliens. Their infants only have four limbs -- their youth limbs haven't diverged yet, because at young age, the legs are too brittle if they fully separate into eight.

Their infants only have two functional eyes -- the other ten haven't opened yet, that happens over the course of their adolescence.

Their infant's exoskeleton hasn't hardened yet, so human skin looks rather like their proto-cartilage exterior.

Our mouths haven't grown exterior mandibles "yet", just like their infants.

And best of all, infant spiders are born with a light down of hair to keep them warm until the exoskeleton hardens, especially over their braincore, which spider parents just love to style and braid as a way of showing their affection and to hang little bits of jewelry off when taking their kids out in public to show off.

So when these terrifying Spider-creatures first met humanity, they were overcome with adoration and the urge to stroke our hair, tittering with each other over how cute and sweet and OH MY GOD LOOK AT HER EYES THEY'RE SO SOULFUL I COULD JUST DIE.

Even years later, humanity still isn't quite sure how to handle this. The spiders have been an invaluable ally and trading partner, that's unquestioned. But they do tend to patronize us just a bit, assuming that we're all still basically children, even if they intellectually know better. And of course, many humans still have to resist the urge to unleash primal screams of terror when one of them comes around just out of pure survival instinct, even if they intellectually know that the Spiders are our friends, and would NEVER EVER EVER do anything to hurt us, not our adorable little fur and cheeks WHO'S A GOOD LITTLE BOY YES YOU ARE YES YOU ARE!

There's famous news footage of a much beloved Chief Executive from one of the nations of humanity, sitting down with a High WarCaster of the Spider planet, trying to hash out serious diplomatic negotiations, and all the elderly spider chief can think to do is offer Mr. President another plate of honey-jelly pods, and offer him tissues for his sniffles, and dote on him like a fawning mother while quivering with utter joy. It's the foundation of one of the more famous internet-memes of that decade. :)

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Punching fascists: why I write about it

This is a personal post, but I choose to make it public. It's an huge bet on my part.
This means I will watch it closely, it will be moderated.
Confrontation is welcomed, but negationism, aggressivity, fascism apology will earn the offender an immediate block, without further explanation.
Sharing is permitted.

I lost my spirit before writing this post.
I'm not well, I'm weary and sick, and weak, mentally, very easily. I feel alone, and I hate feeling alone. These posts are stressfull. Since I wrote the other public one I was told I justify violence and thus I was not better than them, or my words were used to point out that I always find vioence useless, bot gross semplifications of what I tried to wrote. I was thinking about excusing myself and forget it.
Then I heard on the silly and wonderful cartoon I'm watching now the exact same tought I wanted to express. It's a silly thing, but it made me feeling less alone.
It's silly, but it gave me heart.

This is a story I never told anyone.
When I wanted to open a blog to talk about history and art and the stuff I like I wanted this story to be the opening post, since it's the story of why I'm like I am and why I love what I love, why I feel a duty of carrying and understanding a memory.

I realize that that blog will not be opened in my current life, so I decided to tell that story here, to not waste it.

It's a small thing, important just for me. It hasn't any meaning for any of the protagonists, just me. It makes senso only if you are behind the eyes of kid Ezio.

I was eight. I was at elementary school. They were the late eighties. We had gummy hairs, were all about Masters of the Universe and Saint Seya and the first brownish students were appearing in the classes and refusing to be taught Catholic cathechism in the State-appointed lessons.

One day our school principal went to visit us and the teachers took us it the small room under the roof that had a TV.
I remember every moment of it.

We watched a movie about an old housewives fighting nazism in the Po Valley (
We were the grandchildren of the Partisans, and those things weren't new for us. We already knew about Resistance and Fascism.

After the movie the principal took the seat in front of us kids.
He was old, thin, dressed in a brown suit too big. He had white hairs and big hazel eyes that had a loose focus: he was watching the class. He never saw the single kid, he saw the whole of us.
He told us a story, and we knew it was a Partisan story, because it begun as every Partisan story begun: "When I was in the mountains...".
It was almost a formula, almost the "once upon a time" of war story: When I was in the mountains... were the words of people who spent two years on the Appennines, fighitng the rear of the Gothic Line. "I decided to go to the Mountains... ", "My father fought in the Mountains...", "I got a brother killed in the Mountains..."

I'll tell the story as I heard it. I never doubted it. The voice was sad and had the ring of truth in it.

"When I was in the mountains, one day, I was walking downhill with my friend. It was early spring, and there was snow and grass. Sometimes we had to use our rifles to balance. The commander would get angry if he knew, but we didn't care.
Suddenly my friend took my arm and pointed. I followed his finger and saw a tomb, with a wodden cross. 'Remember?', my friend asked.

It was the year before. We had a battle against the Germans. Two of us died, but we got a prisoner. A young man, he didn't talk much Italian, and we didn't talk much German.
He was scared and somehow managed to make us understand he wanted to talk to us, that he wanted to trade information with us.
We didn't really know German, so Commander decided to send the prisoner to one of our headquarters, it could have been important.
He tasked us to escort him to the headquarters, that was a day walk away.

We took our rifles, our backpacks, a piece of bread and a bottle of wine, tied up the prisoner and begun to walk.
It was a nice day, but we were happy. We sung, and the prisoner sung too, in his language. He smiled and seemed calm and happy. War was finished for him and he was happy, we think. He was the enemy, he was German, but he was our age and we were three happy boys.
When we made camp for midday we untied him to let him eat something and rest a little.

We don't know what happened. Who can tell what he was thinking, back then? When we gave him bread he took it and then bolted.
He run downhill, arms flailing, shouting.
Maybe we were near German positions and we didn't notice? Maybe he just was scared to madness?
We didn't know, but we can't let him run.

My friend took the rifle and shot.
He took the German here, behind the head, were the neck begins."

There was nothing else, there was no further ending, no explicit moral.
There was an old man remembering suddenly being sad. He didn't like that memory, but had recounted it for us and for who knows how many classes before us. He wasn't angry, he didn't regret anything, he wasn't trying to force some understanding on us. He was sad and told a story, letting us seven years olds make what we wanted about him.

He rose and we gathered to say him goodbye. He smiled with hs unfocused eyes and put an hand on my head, ruffling my hairs with his old man's hand.

It was a casual touch, he didn't even notice it. He was just paternally touching one of the hundred kids he helped educate. He didn't know me.

But, to me, it was a special moment.

Those hands, the hands who tied up the Nazi soldier, who digged his tomb, who remembered aiming the rifle against him had touched me.

It was not a story.
It was not a movie.

It was real. It was real. It was real.
It was touching me and it was real. "When I was in the mountains" stories were different from "Once upon a time" stories.

It was real.

There was an hand tracing a line from that old story up to me and my time. I understood I wasn't beign teach a piece of story, but got a piece of history unveiled to me.
I was the ending point of a long road, a road walked by so many people, who made so many things, who had so much to tell us, so much to teach us. They passed me the torch, hoping to keep it alive.
I couldn't go to the mountains, I couldn't be a partisan, but I could remember.
I could not honor that act and that road by reliving it, but I could remeber it, be a keeper of that memory.

And I did.

I never stopped doing that. I studied and read and tried to understand.
I'm not academia, I'm but a dilettante, but I feel a duty that become, long ago, a passion.
I keep alive that memory, and the memories of the people who came before me.

I was taught how and where to look, and learned how to see.
I looked from the men and women behind the history and found them.
I understood they were not heroes, but only people.
They were not perfect and they didn't perfect things.
For that I honored them even more, because I am not perfect, and that means that I can hold that torch, that I'm worthy it, and that their story is a story worth to be told, because fantasies about heroes don't help anyone, but memories about people do.

I understood why my Principal was reliving that sad memory year after year, too, and it's the same reason I'm writing this now.

They punched fascists. They did, and did it well. They didn't wait for the Powerful to free them, they went and freed themselves. They went and shot a nice young boy in the back of the head and didn't regret it and, ulrimately, won.
They destroyed the monster who was crushing our land, and then rested because they deserved their rest.

Only they didn't. They kept fighting. They were marching on 7/7/1960, when they were shot down by State-sanctioned fascists in my town, they were meeting with kids in 1989, they were still meeting in 2016.

They knew the war didn't end, and they still have to fight a different fight.

Because punching will not end the fight.

Punching could be a necessity, could be functional and useful, and will make fascist shut up and cover in fear.
But punching begins fights, it doesn't end them.

Education ends them.
Memory ends them.
Changing people ends them.
Taking their children and telling them stories about a different world, showing other how just world is possible and preferible to autocracy and violence.
Violence do not change people, stories and memories and examples do.

This is it, and it's simple.

You are pumped up. You want to go out and make that fucking fascist eat their teeth.
Ok, I can get behind you, with all the caveat I expressed in my previous posts.
It could be necessary to do so to protect you and others, and I will support you in punching them.

But, please, rememebr: it will not end there.
It will not be that simple.
That will be just the beginning and you will have to fight for the right to stop fighting and begin the true endgame: the war waged in minds and schoolclasses, in libraries and cinemas and at the feet of the old fighters.

If you want to punch a fascist, you should be aware of what you are doing.

I'm done, I have nothing to add to the argument, and can't express myslef more clearly.
I hope I've done enough.


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