On Killing Book Review

On Killing

I finished Lt. Col Dave Grossman’s book On Killing recently. It’s about soldiers’ resistance to kill, how the military overcomes that instinct, and the larger reprecussions of that type of training on society. It is not a “how-to” book as I feared many people might’ve thought whenever I read it in public.

At the start I should say that Grossman presents a good case. He backs it up with hundreds of interviews with soldiers and his personal impressions from being in the service. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of hard data to support his point. Why? Because for the most part there just haven’t been a lot of studies on how to get someone to kill another person. It ranges into the unethical territory of psychological studies. The data he does have is convincing. Continue reading

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 5

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 4

This post marks the end of the Avian race as a significant force in our Dawn of Worlds game.

We’d started playing Dawn of Worlds with four players, but one of us ended up not having enough time/energy to commit to the rest of the turns, so their creation was phased out.

The Avians lost the war with the Merfolk. Due to the largely racist motivations for the war we decided that the Avians became a slave race of sorts. Avians are captured by Merfolk and exported to the rest of the world through the Great Canal.

Kind of horrible, but if people can rationalize it based on skin color then why wouldn’t slavery be rationalized based on “I’m a fish person and they’re bird people.”

It’s likely that an abolitionist movement will be introduced into the game at some point, but that will have to wait til later in the creative process.

644 BE: At Drolfo’s command the Merfolk built the city of New Drolfonia at the tip of the Swordback Peninsula.

632 BE: For long centuries the Avians had mourned the loss of the Wing-prophet, Trebor Ydorg, and the new Merfolk city proved the final straw. Word spread throughout the whole continent and eventually the Avians converged on New Drolfonia. The garrison at Tortuga could not be alerted in time as what seemed like the entire Avian race fell upon the Merfolk. The new city burned and the underwater caverns were buried under mountains of rocks dropped by the bird people. Accounts vary on what exactly happened in the aftermath of the sacking of New Drolfonia, but all agreed on one point, there were no survivors. Their bodies were viciously impaled upon stakes and set to line the coast between the remnants of the city and its sister, Tortuga.

629 BE: Drolfo demanded retributive action from his Merfolk followers. The faithful followed his orders to attack Nanatok. They were at first held off by its defenses. Then Selcatnet entered the fray and his fifty tentacles buried Nanatok in stones. No Avians were spared.

473 BE: The Kenracktopar oversaw the founding of a third Dwarven city, Iron Wing, forming the Triad.

432 BE: The Books of Dwarven Legend told of dark times ahead before the world was ready to accept the wisdom of the Dwarves into its heart. The Dwarves fortified their cities as per the Books instructions. An army was drafted and spread through the Dwarven lands to defend every corner of the Metal Tiers.

322 BE: The Cold Woods grew, and the New Ice fertilized the Pure Plains with water.

145 BE: The Landers used their skill with water to attempt irrigation in the Maw Islands. The first three attempts failed miserably, with far too much water taking over the islands. The final attempt created a lush paradise on Crautor Island, similar to the Hrududu Jungle.

-Mister Ed

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 6

Skyfall Movie Review

The other day I watched the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.

In the past I’ve been a little disappointed by the newer James Bond films with Daniel Craig.

The newer movies are too violent.

Not that the old movies weren’t violent, but in the newer James Bond movies, James Bond himself is too violent.

In the older movies it was always the villain who was doing cruel things, like how Goldfinger dipped people in gold to kill them.

The new character doesn’t torture people, but he is reckless and uncaring for civilian life beyond what I would expect from a secret service agent.

Part of that is required in a James Bond movie. If he acted more reasonable then it would be a cop movie, not a spy movie (Not that the cop genre doesn’t have its own problems in this area).

For example, in Skyfall the opening scene is a perfect example of Bond’s recklessness.

In the process of chasing down a criminal he wrecks pretty much every street vendor cart in the city’s market district.

The criminal gets trapped in an open area and fires on Bond with an Uzi or something. Bond isn’t hit, but what are the odds that the dozens of bystanders weren’t?

The criminal shoots three cops who showed up on the scene and steals one of their motorcycles.

Bond steals a civilian’s motorcycle to follow the criminal on the rooftops of the historical market district.

They end up on a bridge where the criminal jumps onto a passing train.

As the train speeds up, Bond wrecks his stolen bike into the side of the bridge to give himself the momentum to catch the train.

On a cargo car of the train, Bond starts driving a backhoe and wrecks the 5 BMWs on the next car with it to try and reach the criminal.

The criminal decouples his car, but Bond won’t allow that! He digs his backhoe into the roof of the passenger car in front of him to keep it attached to the cargo car.

Bond climbs up the backhoe and jumps through the hole he created in the roof to stay on the train.

The cargo car then detaches fully, leaving an obstacle in the railroad.

Total casualties: Several business ruined, several civilians shot, three policemen shot, one wrecked motorcycle, five wrecked cars, three wrecked train cars, and other possible obstructions created during the chase that could create further accidents.

It just didn’t seem worth it to me. Any rational person in Bond’s position would’ve told himself, “I can chase him, but I have to do it discreetly or the people around me will get hurt.”

So that’s why I don’t like the new Bond films. He did this sort of stuff in Quantum of Solace too.

The villain is introduced after the first hour and the film improves rapidly from there. I just wish the movie could’ve skipped to that point a little faster.

-Mister Ed

Game of Thrones Spoilers

One of my friends hasn’t read the latest Game of Thrones books yet.

So whenever we try and talk about the books he’ll shout out, “No spoilers!” and then cover his ears.

I’ve heard about this sort of thing happening more and more since the TV show became popular.

People watch the show, but don’t read the books.

So you could be talking with someone about Game of Thrones stuff and then casually mention something from Dance with Dragons. The book came out three years ago right? You can’t say spoilers in response to a three year old plot twist can you?

Apparently you can.

I guess I’m a little surprised by that.

When I was reading Harry Potter this sort of thing didn’t happen.

If you were interested in talking about the series it was assumed that you’d read all of the books that were published.

The movies came out afterwards, but from my own experience very few people watched the movies that didn’t also read the books.

Why is Game of Thrones different?

At first I thought maybe book size, but both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones books are massive.

Adult content might be it, but why?

The TV show has more sexual content and violence than the book. That’s also the main reason why I don’t watch the show.

I already know what’s going to happen, so there’s no plot mystery.

But the added sexual content just makes me uncomfortable.

My opinion on sex in TV shows and movies comes from an early filmmaker named Ernst Lubitsch.

Sex couldn’t be shown on screen and you couldn’t show someone in their underwear either.

Lubitsch represented sex by holding the camera on a closed door.

That was all.

And it worked! People knew exactly what was happening on the other side of the door, but you didn’t need to show it.

Game of Thrones goes way too far on this for my taste. Many of the scenes seem like they’d fit in a porn movie better than a high fantasy TV show.

But maybe that’s what’s attracting people to the show, but not the books.

The show has more sex scenes and they’re obviously more visual than those in the book ever will be.

So maybe more people watch the Game of Thrones show than read the books because its a guilt free way to get some softcore porn.

Or maybe its some other reason, but I’ve run out of space.

-Mister Ed