AF 10 Johnny XP: Adventure Log 1

I will be posting this story on RoyalRoadl.com, or at least an edited version of it after I’ve rewritten the story into this new idea of mine.

Adventure Log. Day 1.

I have just done battle with four of the Lizardfolk. They weren’t much of a challenge. I managed to collect the arrows that I’ve used, but one broke. I neither have the time nore the patience to make more. And I don’t think my character has the skills necessary for rudimentary survival craft. Looking at my sheet, I feel I may have made a mistake in adventuring into a dungeon. Be that as it may, I decided to make the most of it.

I gathered the bodies of the dead and laid them before their weird god. I replaced my stock of ammunition and retraced my steps back to where I left my pack. This I brought back to the guard post, deciding I should make it my first checkpoint. And besides, there was a bit of investigation I wanted to do before delving any further anyway.

My language of caves is limited, so please bear with me.

This world’s reality and its parameters were built on the content and mechanics of an old school rpg. This means most of the objects that populate the gameworld weren’t all products of a procedural generator. For example, take the Lizardfolk. Based on the pre-fall rulebook I used, these creatures were jungle and swamp dwellers, not cave dwellers. And yet, even when transposed from their natural habitat, they seemed to thrive here.

On account of a prominent religious icon carven into a permanent feature of the cave’s first point of interest, the hunting parties stalking a subterranean ecosystem for large game, the barest hints of civilization on their bodies, and the establishment of a guard post, I assumed a strong argument for a culture that evolved outside of their natural habitat.

This I found very interesting. While my game engine may have used modules and pre-constructed packages for its objects, how these objects spawned and behaved in relation to each other was still due to the engine’s procedural storyteller. Meaning, something in this Lizardfolk tribe’s past forced it to abandon its original culture and develop a new one here based on alien circumstances.

That was the beauty of the engine. It was simple and still needed human input, but the things it could do with what it was given were always full of surprises. Every world was a unique experience waiting to be lived through. Unique histories, unique legends, there was always something left to explore and discover.

With that, I resolved to find the answers to the following questions:
1. Who was the god the Lizardfolk carved into the rock?
2. Did the Lizardfolk really even make it in the first placed?
3. What brought the Lizardfolk here to this cave?

I started my intelligence gathering on the guardcamp itself. And besides, I needed more details to give me a better sense of what I might find the deeper I go into the dungeon.

Starting with the corpses, I rifled through their things. As it turns out, only the Hunt Leader had anything of worth on him. 5 measly coins of ruddy gold. I didn’t recognize the stamp of the coins, so I assumed they were valuable and worry about it later. Next, I rummaged through their camp to get a better estimate of their technological aptitude. Inspecting their weapons, their garb, and the state of their camp; these were all things straight out of the stone age. Flint arrowheads, tattered leather wrapped about their necks which were more for decoration than actual protection. Being this deep into the earth probably meant less danger of predators, hence, less need for innovation. What tools they had were only the bare essentials necessary for survival. Finally, I studied the Idol. On closer inspection, no evidence actually supported a connection between it and the Lizardfolk. But, at least I knew then that the rock-hewn image might be older than the Lizardfolk. Satisfied, I turned my attention to the game they brought back from deeper in.

All I could say of it was that it was a snake, a fat snake, with the head of a snub-nosed crocodiles and a body wider than it’s head or its tail. It’s eyes had glzed over and the flesh hadn’t yet hardened, so I set about to finding a way to preserve it for when I get back. I had checked my pack and found I had only enough rations for ten days. Time spent in the dungeon might not be that understanding of my food situation. So, I made the best of it and spent the next hour cutting up the corpse. I searched the camp again for anything that could help me, and found that I had everything I needed for preparing rations. I found salt, skewers, and what looked to be a set of seasoning kept in little clay pots. I counted myself lucky and set about preparing the meat for salting.

I set the scaled hide of the create near the fire and carefully placed my salted meat there. I didn’t how it would turn out, but I hoped the temperature would keep it dry and the salt would keep it from rot. Hopefully, this’d keep me from starving after I’ve cleared out the dungeon.

[Scene ends. Chaos factor at 5, progressed to 6 due to a battle.]

Another feature of the engine I’ve integrated was a sort of automated gamemaster that managed events along narrative lines. This way, the Story engine always had something going on no matter who the actors were.

Should I end it here? I believe I should,  I’m tired now anyway. Zen, log me off.

[Zen.0] Copy That.

On Duterte’s Call to Federalism

Federalism is a simple but sophisticated promise. Its principles create a government that brings leadership closer to its people, that tempers sovereign powers with accountability, and provides an exclusive political framework for a cultural milieu as diverse as ours.

On structure

Federalism is leadership from below. It first principle is self-determination. Rather than creating an all powerful central government that controls everything, decisions are brought to the local level. It is now the local governments that decide what to do with the revenue they generate rather than apply for a proportion of a national budget. Crucial economic and social policies are developed at a level for which they are tailor-made for the unique circumstances of every locality. Fiscal oversight, then, is drastically reduced and compartmentalized. Such things essential to Federalism are impossible to a mere Local Government Code.

On economy

The problem with the current system is that it breeds political entrepreneurship. The act of statecraft has dire consequences for when it becomes a commerce of favors more commonly known as rent-seeking.

But, what is rent?

Rent is an economic benefit created by an act of government through any of its three organs of power. A Supreme Court sitting en banc might decide against a competitor. A piece of legislation might destroy certain industries while creating new ones. A local chief executive might carelessly clue a private citizen in on some juicy innovations for construction projects or the franchise of utilities. The ramifications are myriad, as rent can be both legal and illegal. Such being a question of laws and how willing we are to enforce the law.

When you seek rent actively, however, the doubt is removed. Since its practice began during the Commonwealth era, seeking rent turns every political act into an economic one. The special interest, suddenly, must play sycophant to a president. Conflicts of interest mildly considered, elections could make or break the employment numbers and growth as administrations change from hand to hand.

The political entrepreneur, then, becomes imperative. The building of a dynasty finds its foundations not on a warlord with a private army, but on the barong-sleeved hand holding tightly to a stamp engraved with these letters in bold, “APPROVED.”

Federalism breaks this system.

Rent-seeking flourished in the current system because all of the power was concentrated where it was easiest to court. Much to the delight of the oligarch, the Presidency became our round-robin game of who gets to have the biggest slice of the pie. Every six-years or so, the politics of its are brokered. Transparency might discourage this behavior, bot how do you scrutinize permits for mining in Surigao when all of the decisions that mattered were made far, far away from Surigao? A far, far away place that had never heard of the towns that would be leveled in exchange for one measly classroom from a socially responsible corporation. How can you establish a local car manufacturing company in Basilan when all of the documents proceed from and are processed in a far, far away place? Hence, the smart money is to build in close proximity to a national capital.

Federalism will reform the current dynamic. Its second principle is trust. You build trust on reliable and informed decisions, especially where these decisions have direct consequences for the next foreseeable years.To be reliable, the chief executive must be held accountable for his policies. To be informed, the executive must make his decisions in close proximity of the lives whom he directs and decides for. How then, can a congressman from Antique be held accountable, for decisions ha made in Manila? How would you ever even know when you have been robbed of your promised projects, when he is only in Antique once or twice ago.

To be reliable, your decisions must be made in the same locality where they are to b enforced. To be informed, the decision-maker must be kept abreast and in close proximity among those for whom the public servant decides.

Thus will rent-seeking be checked and fair trade protected.

On language and culture

Federalism is an opportunity for us to change what it means to be a Filipino and free it of its post-colonial baggage. Said baggage claims our political immaturity with no sign of progress or moving forward. It claims our continued role as victims of oppression. It claims that our only solution is our history of revolution and its stranglehold on our sense of self as a country. Its no wonder, then, how Manila remains our only narrative to nationhood.

What then of our claim to the Filipino?

Yes, our identity is an unfinished process, relatively young and fragile. But is not the stake of our claim to it a legitimate exercise of our place and obligations in this republic? Because, right now, at this very moment, that chance is ours.

The question of the Filipino remains open and we can answer it. With Federalism, every ethnolinguistic group and historical experience across our country is finally given a voice. In providing self-determination, we are assured a third principle: empowerment.

Federalism is a system of empowerment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the diversity it allows in nation building and how leadership is organized. With Federalism, a Mindanaoan history of the Philippines becomes possible in Mindanao, a Visayan one among the Bisaya. No longer should any of us feel as strangers would when we speak Kapampangan in Pampanga, Akeanon in Aklan, Tausug in Jolo, Waray in Samar, or even Chavacano in Zamboanga. Our narratives may be different, but our history becomes a truly shared one. It brings us closer together in mutual respect of our unique heritage as many peoples and nations in one country; and we are finally able to move our sense of self forward. Then, we might say, that while we were forged in revolution, we found ourselves in triumph.

On Ending an Empire

Teddy Boy Locsin argued in favor of an Imperial Manila. Even before he wrote his opinion The Truth of the Myth of Imperial Manila, I’ve long been convinced that he was not an ally even while his father fought the same language policy I am fighting to reform. Even then, their rhetoric was more out of disgust for Filipino rather than a cause for the survival and prominence of all Filipino Languages. But language activism is my own particular bias; and Imperial Manila isn’t so limited. The problem isn’t just a problem of culture, of history, or even of power. Locsin was sure to elaborate on each with his usual acerbic wit.

In his sarcasm, his intent was a wholesale justification in favor of the Myth that is Imperial Manila. Not to dispel, no, but to maintain the construct. Imperial Manila, in his words, is necessary, and his logic is as insistent as his choice of imagery is visceral. His venom brought to mind such a clear reminder of Conrado de Quiros that I expected Locsin’s picture to share the latter’s smirk. It did not surprise me at all, then, to know that this man was utterly convinced that the Philippines could not exist without Manila. His impatience with the issue resonated as well. In just eleven paragraphs, Locsin admitted to an Imperial Manila, argued for its continued existence, and sought to secure its posterity. These the thoughts of an educated man making it clear that Imperial Manila was built on a strong intellectual base, its position absolute.

But it is also doomed. Locsin’s rhetoric was one that alienated the very principles that brought this country together. The Philippines is not an empire; it is a republic. So how can Manila even justify acting like one? How can there ever be a pretender to the throne when there is no throne. Ours is a country of free men for free men; and every time Manila acts as empire over free men, we the free are bound to chafe. Republics defy empires. When first we fought against one, it was not to replace it with Manila. We did not fight for Manila alone. We struggled and shared in the shaping of this country and to direct its future is our due. Manila has no claim to what we all paid for with blood. Our flag carries three stars in the wake of the sun’s eight rays and not one. Ours is a shared history and not just one written by Manila. And that is the problem with Locsin’s argument.

Locsin sees the glory of Rome but ignores the days after when Irish monks sacrificed their lives to maintain its legacy. He calls Manila our one true home, the source of all our comforts and security, but what does that make us who live and struggle outside of Manila? Are not our contributions just as significant? Does Manila not live on our produce? Does not Manila take its soldiers from our peoples? Someone must remind him that Manila is not the Philippines, and yet it acts as if it is: hence the call for secession.

Locsin’s version of history demands unity but commits to only its own experience. Ninoy Aquino may have been shot in Manila International Airport, but Evelio Javier was brutalized by assault rifles in Antique while guarding the very votes that spelled the end of a dictatorship. Does that make the latter’s sacrifice any less dear? Yes, the cry was in Balintawak, but the Spaniards surrendered at Plaza Libertad in Iloilo. Does that make the struggle in Iloilo any less legitimate than that in Cavite? Emilio Aguinaldo fought for Manila, but Araneta fought for Negros and Delgado fought for Panay. Does that make Araneta and Delgado’s cause for freedom any less real?

Is the only claim to our history that of Manila’s? What of our claim? Is our claim forfeit? This reminds me of Renato Constantino’s condescension when he saw the regions’ experience of history to be fit only for chauvinism and ill deserving of a place in building out country. This is dangerous.

If we allow Locsin his logical conclusion, we forfeit our right to our country. The Philippine’s belongs to all of its people’s and not just to one place where everything is expected to be found. Such is the product of a rotting system, an oppressive and abusive set of rules that allows Filipinos to colonize Filipinos in their own country. For if Manila is empire, does that not make us second-class citizens, our homes mere tributaries? We are free men, citizens of a free republic, and it is as free men that we must end an empire.

Manila must change; and we will change it.

An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping

Whatever

The last couple of months have been a really interesting time for geekdom, as its had its face rubbed in the fact that there are a lot of creepy assbags among its number, and that geekdom is not always the most welcoming of places for women. Along that line, this e-mail from a con-going guy popped into my queue a few days ago:

Any tips on how not to be a creeper? I try not to be, but I don’t know that I’m the best judge of that.

Let’s define our terms here. Let’s say that for this particular conversation, a “creeper” is someone whose behavior towards someone else makes that other person uncomfortable at least and may possibly make them feel unsafe. A creeper may be of any gender and may creep on any gender, but let’s acknowledge that a whole lot of the time it’s guys creeping on…

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Creationist Fail: Michigan State scientists and philosophers refuse to engage creationists at a student-sponsored conference

Why Evolution Is True

This is a good example of how scientists and science-lovers should deal with creationists. And that is not to deal with them, at least in debates and meetings.

A while back, religious students at Michigan State University announced that they would hold a one-day “Origin Summit,” a meeting about creationism at a public university. That was legal because the summit was actually organized by a student religious group (The Baptist Collegiate Ministry), which has the right to book rooms on campus for its own activities. According to a piece by Mark Joseph Stern in Slate, though, the students didn’t have much to do with the conference, which was organized by Outside Influences. (Could it be. . . . Satan?)

The Origin Summit“‘s speakers and program are shown below; note the distinguished lineup. Sadly, I have never heard of any of these scientists or science educators.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 5.44.23 AMScreen Shot 2014-11-04 at 5.44.41 AM

That’s a rather pugnacious program…

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What The Hell Does Feminism Mean Today Anyway?

Thought Catalog

image - Flickr / Neil Krug image – Flickr / Neil Krug

I’m a feminist. I believe in gender equality; freedom of choice, equal pay, and reproductive rights for women. I also know that while great steps have been made in our global awareness of the matter and in lessening the gap, gender inequality (and subsequent sexual exploitation, harassment, and even violence) remains a pertinent issue in our world today. I stress ‘world’ and not ‘society’ as this is a global matter. Unfortunately, however, the mere semantics of ‘feminism’ can be problematic. It seems to have become a polarizing term, and therefore often falls short in its ultimate mission: gender equality. And as actress Emma Watson so rightly pointed out in her prolific UN speech last month, this mission concerns men just as much as it concerns women. “We need everyone to be involved” she said. Yet even alleged ‘feminists’ can often get their wires crossed…

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