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{ Monthly Archives } February 2011

Actual People, Actual Play

When our weekly RPG session fell through yesterday, I turned to the web for solace, reports of actual gaming experience to confirm or contradict my developing expectations (read: concerns) for the FATE system. In the process, I came across Actual People, Actual Play a podcast devoted to playtesting RPGs and reviewing how specific mechanics affect […]

Keep the Envelope; Let Me Guess

I rarely pay much attention to the Academy Awards. I’m not enough of a movie fan to have strong opinions—hard to have opinions without seeing more than one film in a category—and there’s too much bullshit interfering with the stated purpose of the awards: sympathy votes for beloved actors nearing death, for example, or apology […]

Strapped Out

Along with my fobbie, my nylon briefcase gave up the ghost, the nylon parting and shredding where seams had formed, to the point where we simply had to get another. And mostly I like it. It’s not perfect, but nothing would be; many things I want from a briefcase, like compactness and capacity, are contradictory. […]

Death of a Fobbie

My fobbie died on me. Perhaps I should explain; I picked up the term “fobbie” from Eileene, and I’m not sure “fobbie” is a term in widespread use. It means one of those little portable USB memory chips about the size of a finger that contain more computing power than the entire eastern seaboard in […]

Unions and Education

Now here’s an interesting little factoid. Among the arguments teabaggers like Wisconsin governor Scott Walker put forward for busting teachers’ unions is that teachers’ unions perpetuate bad teaching, as measured in depressed scores on standardized tests like the SAT. Now, far be it from me to put forward standardized test scores as the measure of […]


Small press RPGs continue to be printed. Perhaps they’ll never vanish entirely. Happily, one has proven that they can still generate buzz. Some roleplayers are drawn to games that offer ever more spectacular powers to paste onto the same old ass-kicking, some are drawn to intriguing settings, and some—the system geeks—are drawn to interesting rules. […]


My kids are having trouble with determinants. I can sympathize; determinants involve fairly complicated and tedious calculation, and the motivation for handling determinants is not at all obvious. They get used later, of course! Not much point in teaching a technique that won’t be used. But, apart from some minor immediate applications that take more […]


Naturally, I got Eileene a card for Valentine’s Day. (No, not just a card.) It features a young girl with a dopey tongue-extended expression of concentration on her face and an electronic gadget in her hands. The caption reads something like “Hbppz Vcldmtimfs Cay!”—a joke about texting and the difficulty some people have with it. […]

Promise Kept

Pundits wondered what the rise of the Tea Party, and especially the election of teabaggers to major offices, might mean. Now we know. In Missouri, it means an effort to eliminate child labor laws, that we might return to the blessed age when children could work 16-hour shifts in any industry, with no minimum wage. […]

Job Killers

About a week ago, the Washington Post printed a list of existing and proposed regulations businesses identified as having a negative impact on job growth. The identifications were solicited by a Republican congressman from California, who will no doubt use them as a target list. I cannot imagine that he will invite close scrutiny of […]