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Chris Bird on the passing of Gygax

When I was fifteen, I got kicked out of UTS, a private school in downtown Toronto. UTS was a school for the gifted of the gifted, the really, really smart kids. It was the best thing, in retrospect, that I did get kicked out, because I wasn’t popular and it wasn’t conducive to my mental health for me to be there. But at the time, it was devastating. I already “knew” I wasn’t likeable or cool; now, worse, I was being told by authority that I wasn’t smart, and if I didn’t have that then what did I have?

I’d picked up gaming while there, because gamers will more often than not tolerate people they don’t like in order to have a full round of players. (Some like to delude themselves into thinking this makes them more tolerant. It doesn’t, particularly, but everybody has their little, mostly harmless illusions.) I spent that summer reading guidebooks and feeling desperately lonely and absolutely terrified of transferring to public high school, where I didn’t know anybody and was convinced everybody was cooler than me.

I barely talked to anybody the first week I was there, but on my first Friday there, in my morning chemistry class, a couple of the burnouts in the back row who were already on the no-university-for-you track (partially by their own choice, partially not - this is almost always the case) were talking about their recently started up D&D campaign, and how they’d had this hell of a time with a kobold tribe their DM had thrown with them, and come on, kobolds? I said aloud, almost involuntarily, “wait, he threw a Tucker’s Kobolds at you?” [1]

And that was how I got into another D&D campaign, and made friends when I really needed them. [2] And the important thing to understand is that my experience is the furthest thing from unique. What Gary Gygax - along with the other patron saints of nerddom, your Roddenberrys and Lucases and Stans-and-Jacks - did was to give the nerds and burnouts and outcasts their very own lingua franca, their own culture. Even though the paper RPG market is diminishing with every year, a market of late-thirtysomethings not replacing themselves with younger players, it lives on in a thousand thousand iterations: World of Warcraft is just the most obvious, but they’re everywhere.

And I just wanted to thank him for that.

(via)

March 04, 2008

Albany police caught profiling and abusing women drivers

Police: You fit the profile -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

Police records show the officers called out a Signal 38 to alert a dispatcher they were onto something suspicious and about to pull someone over. They would later write in a report that they had pulled her over for failure to signal, although no ticket was issued, according to police records shared with the Times Union.

The actions of police in the minutes that followed would end in controversy rather than with an arrest. They would also leave Shutter, a 28-year-old single mother from Ravena, shaken and angry after one of the officers allegedly inserted his finger into Shutter s vagina on a public street during an apparent search for drugs.

When it was over, I pulled off down the road and I just cried for probably a half hour, Shutter said. I called my dad. ... I felt like I had been basically raped.

. . .

Shutter said she grew increasingly unnerved by her experience with internal affairs -- which is known as the Office of Professional Standards -- because male detectives twice requested she wear clothes from the night of the incident to re-enact the body search.

. . . "You fit the profile," the officer said, according to Shutter. "You're a white girl in a rental car."

. . .

The officer then allegedly reached through her window and plucked Shutter's cellphone from her lap.

He scrolled through the personal information in her phone, she said, asking questions about "private calls" and someone named "Mandie," whose name appeared on her contacts' list.

Mandie Buxton, 28, who is Shutter's friend since childhood, was at home when her cellphone rang that night. The man calling identified himself as an Albany police officer and asked whether Shutter was supposed to be picking Buxton up that night.

Gary Gygax, co-creator of D&D and architect of my childhood afternoons, has passed away

Dungeons & Dragons co-creator dies at 69 - Yahoo! News

MILWAUKEE - Gary Gygax, who co-created the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and helped start the role-playing phenomenon, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.

He had been suffering from health problems for several years, including an abdominal aneurysm, said his wife, Gail Gygax.

Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys, and eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.

Gygax always enjoyed hearing from the game s legion of devoted fans, many of whom would stop by the family s home in Lake Geneva, about 55 miles southwest of Milwaukee, his wife said. Despite his declining health, he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January, she said.

March 03, 2008

Professional Assholes: Advertising bloggers kill adman

via | NYT | Media and Advertising | After Suicide,...