Lil' Bandit, ferret, NSFP

On creationism and anti-science

If you want to challenge evolution? Fine and dandy. Happens all the time. There's a reason the theory as it stands is not identical to the one that Darwin put forth; science has not stood still for the past two hundred years. Darwin would have had no idea what a "gene" was - the incorporation of genetics into evolutionary theory was one of the bigger shake-ups in biology.

If you want to suggest that "intelligent design" as it currently stands is anything but religion in poorly-concealed drag? You need to take a good hard look at yourself.

What predictions has ID made that can be experimentally verified? What facet of biology does it purport to explain, that evolution can't? Frankly speaking, what use is it?

The reason I say "creation vs. science" is that, again and again, we've seen places like the Discovery Institute claiming two things:
1) Evolution is flawed, faulty or otherwise unworkable (a statement which, though it requires supporting data, could understandably be put forth), and therefore,
2) Because of (1), creationism is the way to go.

The big problem is part 2. Saying that if the currently-accepted theory is no good, then your pet theory must replace it? That just doesn't fly. A hypothesis must stand on its own two feet, and creationism just plain hasn't done that.

Creationists, by and large, don't try to do the science. They don't do independent research, they don't publish papers; for the most part, they try to appeal directly to the public, or change what's taught in schools, or open theme parks or creation museums.

That isn't challenging dogma. It's changing the rules of the game when the score doesn't go your way.
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

Magic: the Gathering - Why I Play the Game

I was at 10 life; he was down to 7.

Each of us had been sniping at each other for most of the game, whittling
each others' life totals down - he had just beaten me handily, so I knew I needed to pull out a win here or lose the round.

On the table, I had seven lands, a Thraben Sentry (2/2, vigilance, flip if any of my creatures die - that gets important later), an Avacyn's Pilgrim (1/1, tap for 1 white mana), a Runechanter's Pike and a Trepanation Blade.

The Blade is definitely one of the more interesting cards in the new set that's coming out. It's a 3-mana artifact with an equip cost of 2, and it works as both a mill and a creature booster. Whenever the equipped creature attacks, the defender starts flipping cards from the top of their deck, until they hit a land. The attacker gets +1/+0 for each of the revealed cards, and all of the revealed cards - land included - go to the graveyard.

I'd been using it to whittle down his library while I sniped at his life, trying to get rid of his more dangerous cards.

A new turn rolls around to me, and I realize two things - one, he's got more than enough creatures to beat me down over the next couple of rounds, and two, I just drew a Demonmail Hauberk.

His position was much stronger than mine - an Abattoir Ghoul with a +1/+1 counter on it, a Bloodline Keeper (vampire that can create other Vampire tokens), one 2/2 token from the Keeper, a Falkenrath Noble (vampire flyer - and while it's in play, if it or any other creature dies, I lose 1 life and my opponent gains 1. Nasty little critter), a Screeching Bat, and an Armored Skaab.

I took a quick count of my available mana, weighed the chances in my head, and decided to take a risk.

Tapping my seven lands and the Avacyn's Pilgrim gave me 8 mana total. Four of that mana went into casting the Demonmail Hauberk - and then I sacrificed the Pilgrim to pay the Hauberk's equip cost.

When the Pilgrim hit my graveyard, the Thraben Sentry, loyal solider that it was, flipped - into a Thraben Militia, a 5/4 trampler. With the Demonmail Hauberk equipped, that brought it up to 9/6.

The other four mana that I had left over went into equipping both the Runechanter's Pike and the Trepanation Blade to it. I had a couple of instants in my graveyard, so the Runechanter's Pike gave it an extra +3/+0, up to +12/+6 - but more importantly, it gave my Militia first strike, too.

I swing at my opponent with a 12/6 with trample and first strike, and watch him start to mill his deck down; it only takes him two cards to pull a land, which makes it a 14/6 until end of turn.

He throws all his critters together into a desperate defense, and manages to block all of the damage from my Militia - but at the cost of all of his creatures but the Skaab. Unfortunately, since he just lost five creatures - including the Falkenrath Noble - that deals 5 damage to me and gives it to him, bringing me down to 5 and him up to 12 life. Things aren't looking good.

He draws on his turn, and plays a chump-blocker and a Skaab Ruinator before passing the turn to me. My heart sinks as I realize that he has enough on the field to keep himself alive for a turn, and I don't have anything that can block a big flyer like that.

Then I look at his deck. He has only two cards left in it. He follows my gaze, and realizes the same thing I just did.

When I attack with my Militia, he has to start flipping cards. If that top card of his deck is a land, then I don't have enough damage handy to kill him, and next turn his Ruinator will splatter me.

If the top card of his deck is anything BUT a land, he'll have to mill both cards. His deck will be empty. When I end my turn and he tries to draw, he automatically loses.

The entire game, the full twenty minutes or so of earnest play, all comes down to this - a single flip of a card. A roll of the dice.

I look across the table to my opponent, both of us full well knowing what this comes down to, and grin. "Do you feel...lucky?"

I attack with the Militia. He flips the card. It's not a land. VICTORY.

Of all the things I've done in Magic: the Gathering, I don't think I've ever been as tense as I was for that fraction of a second before we both saw what the top card of his deck was. After I shook his hand, I was shaking - literally, shaking.

Sometimes it's very easy to remember why I play this game.
  • Current Mood
    accomplished accomplished
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

Conservatism and Religion

There is a list of religious murderers and pious monsters longer than my arm, and no fewer of them are Christian than are any other religion.

I have been a conservative for most of my politically-active life, and one easy way to get under my skin is to equate conservatism with Christianity - or with religion in general. The urge to defend against the encroaching grasp of the government, to fight for the rights and responsibilities of the individual, belongs equally to any and all religions, and taking any one faith as a cause diminishes the dignity of conservative thinking as a whole.

This is especially disturbing when it is taken as a given that Christianity is the only valid path - that the author's own particular way, out of all the thousands out there, is the only one worth following, and that calling on others to convert to it should not be taken as a personal affront. There are many things I would rather endure than have someone force me into Christianity; I doubt that I have the mental fortitude to become a martyr, as so many Jews have, but I bet that the Congresswoman currently recovering from grievous wounds would feel the same way I do.

There is no Hell. There is no Satan gibbering at the doorstep of Heaven. There are no demons but what you conjure up in the darkness of your own mind. God may be real, but Jesus was a human, nothing more - and he was no true Messiah. Conservatism is, at its root, about the responsibility and the power of the independent citizen - our worth and our right to determine our own destiny, to defend ourselves and our families. Don't let the yoke of religion replace that of the ever-so-well-meaning government; both are equally anathema to liberty.
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

Winter on Long Island

I was out walking the dog a few minutes ago, just a brief walk by the house.

Spotted a mockingbird taking a drink from a pool of meltwater, and a grey squirrel with a gigantic piece of fluff in its mouth (probably for its nest). I guess this place isn't as lifeless as all that in the winter - just have to keep your eyes open.
MRL, head, mad science, mouse


Finally saw [i]Toy Story 3[/i] last night.
Verdict: I...*sniff* I'm not crying, I just...just have something in my eye.

If you haven't seen this trilogy, I highly recommend that you watch all three movies at the soonest opportunity.
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

Back from Nekocon!

Picked up a bit of a cold, but thankfully it doesn't seem to be too bad; just a runny nose, a sore throat and a cough. I was also pretty low on sleep, but thankfully my parents didn't give me any crap about sleeping late today (woke up at 7:30 to walk the dog, then went back to bed until noon), so I'm a bit closer to being on an even keel!

The 'con was a blast, though I still feel a bit awkward in LARP sometimes, when I can't find a scene to get involved in - and playing Charlotte Yeager was just weird. First time I've played a female character, and I felt like I got way too chirpy as her...though that could just be my imagination.

I got to design a giant mecha exploding race course of DOOM. Got me a commendation from the GMs! :D

No more 'cons for awhile, next big thing coming up is Thanksgiving. And Cataclysm. Ooh crap I don't have enough time left before that comes out.

(Side note: Charlotte Yeager is a character from an anime called Strike Witches, which is excellent but has a lamentable tendency towards underage fanservice. Eeugh. The character is a sixteen-year-old, female version of Chuck Yeager - and yes, she does break the sound barrier in one episode!)
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

Possible party at Merle's this weekend?

This is just a heads-up, but my house may be free for people to hang out this Saturday, October 23. It's in Oceanside, NY; I'll post up the full address when I know for sure that I can host.

We've got a brand-new downstairs with comfy couches and a nice big TV; however, we currently don't have any way to play movies or games on that television. If someone has anything that they'd like to bring that works on an HDMI port, feel free!

More on this as it develops!
MRL, head, mad science, mouse

On druids and dorfs

I'm actually playing a dwarf druid in a Pathfinder play-by-post game.

He's a miner. Grew up with a pick in his hand, saw it grow from a little one-shaft deal to a prosperous mining town - and grew up watching the life under the surface. He learned the ways of the mushroom and mold, of the soft whisperings of earthworms and moles, to love the feel of rock and soil under his feet and above his head.

He's travelling now, far from home, but on his back is a loving gift, filled with the fruits of his finest mushroom crops, and a tiny vial carried close to his heart with the earth from his front doorstep.

Other druids love plants; dwarf druids love the earth.