Getting back in the saddle…

Hallo all!

I’m sorry I’ve been away. I had a bit of a breakdown earlier this year, and it took me about six months to realize, and it’s taking me a bit to put myself back together.

For those of you who have been waiting for new Blank or Blue Bloods, I should resume a regular schedule by the end of the month.

For those of you waiting on new novels, I’m waiting on paperwork for new Iron Angel, and I’ve had some inquiries about other works as well.

For those of you waiting on other stuff, I haven’t been cheap, and I certainly haven’t been fast, so the only thing I can do is be good enough to make up for the other two.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Posted in Bob Life

Game night last night…

So, I got to play Sasha again last night. It’s been nearly a month, and I’ve missed her. I think the most disturbing part of that statement is that I don’t actually find it disturbing.

In any game, there will be completely random things that become sort of mini-memes, or in-campaign-world memes. In Sasha’s case, that’s where the rule ‘that costs extra’ came from. It’s also why when a pair of demons attacked our ship, one of them went out of his way to bring a necklace of immunity to fear, because apparently even the Nether Hells are now aware of Sasha’s… unsettling nature.

Also, she tried to subdue someone again. She accidentally hit her target so hard the wizard’s father wound up stunned for a week. Luckily our wizard could rebuild the poor ship’s wizard.

Later in the evening, the ranger’s animal companion, a cougar, got killed by a frost giant in the giant’s last (rather spiteful) living act. He kept on hitting the giant, so Sasha figured he needed some closure. Enter Sasha as Memorial Design Consultant. The mage created a cairn of pure, clear, ever-frozen ice on the edge of a cliff, and Sasha carried each of the giant corpses the cat helped us create over the edge of the cliff and nailed them to the cliff face with instructions to lead the poor cat into cat-Valhalla.

No idea if the Frost-Giant afterlife heard her or not, but the Dwarf seemed to feel better.

Also, in more important news, the Mage made Sasha new pumps and a tiara. Her reaction was, at least in private afterward, significantly Amy Farrah-Fowler-esque.

The entire session prompted the creation of a new Rule.

Rule Number Seven

– Clean your blade

– Keep your tools well, and they will keep you well

– Keep your hair styled, your skin soft, your limbs toned, your breasts firm, your sword sharp, your daggers balanced and pointed, your wardrobe classic, varied and immaculate, your partners healthy, equipped, and focused. Know the proper recourse if one of your tools nears failure. If your body grows weak, exercise it. If your tools break, repair them. If your partners have needs, whether they be for knowledge, for justice, for closure, or for something important, make sure those needs are met. You never know which of your tools you will need tomorrow, or what the cost may be if it fails.

Posted in Bob Life, RPGs

Sasha’s Rules…

So lately I’ve been getting back into old school pencil-and-paper tabletop roleplaying. Specifically, I’ve been playing in a fantasy game on Tuesday nights. I’m playing a character named Sasha Black, a terrifying fashionista assassin. The most succinct description of her is “Sociopathic Disney Princess”.

She’s inspired by several characters; she’s got a bit of the Mercenary from Oglaf, a rather large chunk of John Wayne Cleaver, and a thin yet adamantine coating of Rarity tying everything together. Warning: Oglaf is NEVER safe for work. Even for adult entertainment industry workers. Porn stars and prostitutes reading Oglaf can’t think about sex without laughing, which is bad for business.

Speaking of prostitutes, that’s part of Sasha’s… charm. Her official listed profession is ‘fluid extraction specialist’. You name the fluid (and the body it’s currently stored in), she names the price, and if you’ve got the gold, she extracts the fluid. So far in the course of the game, she’s managed to get the party passage on two ships, get the target of an assassination alone and unarmed, and most importantly (from her point of view) double the size of her wardrobe in an hour, all without spilling blood. The blood spilling got us all kinds of mad cash. Which she mostly spent on clothes.

Did I mention half the party’s gear, by weight, is Sasha’s clothes? Or that she’s had the entire party stop and look the other way so she could change, because her dress got ripped? I’m sure I haven’t yet noted that, while gallivanting about dungeons and forests and typical Lord of the Rings style adventure areas, she’s wearing fashionable evening attire. Think Belle in the dancing sequence. Because anything else would just be gauche. As noted, she’s a terrifying fashionista. My favorite use of said terrifying nature was, when the only two priests in a town capable of exorcism were themselves possessed, she leaned over to where they lay and whispered ‘get out’ in their ears. The demons fled in terror.

The primary cause of the scary is due to her being… just not right in the head. I’m playing a sociopath, but one who desires, in a manner similar to John Wayne Cleaver, to not be  a monster. In a fantasy world, monsters get killed, which impedes the ability to buy, wear, and look good in dresses. Inspired by JWC and Jethro Gibbs, I’ve been making a list of rules Sasha follows in order to survive, thrive, and yet remain non-monstrous. Without further ado, the list referenced in the title of the post; Sasha’s Rules:

Rule Number One

– Trust No One

– People will be true to their nature, not their word

– A scholar will betray you for knowledge, a thief will betray you for gold, a priest will betray you for his god. A monk will betray you for enlightenment, a knight for honor, and a paladin because it’s the right thing to do. The only honest one among them is the thief, because he’s the only one who will call it betrayal.

Rule Number Two

– Get paid in advance

– You may die, or the client may die, or the client may like musicals

– Whatever the job is worth, get that much before you start. A client may die before you finish, a client may choose not to pay you, or your job may not be possible. If you have payment in hand, the first doesn’t matter, the second isn’t possible, and the third leaves the decision in your hands.

Rule Number Three

– That costs extra

– Give nothing away for free

– When you give someone something, they do not value it. Set your price high, and people will value you. Set your price low, and people will discard you. This is true at every level from a kiss to a kill. If others do not value you, you will not value yourself, and you lose that you do not value. Neither Death nor Debauchery should ever be lost.

Rule Number Four

– Finish the job

– Your word is your bond. Without your word, you are nothing.

– If you don’t finish the job, word will get around. When that happens, no one will hire you again, and you will become worthless. If the job can’t be completed, return the payment.

Rule Number Five

– Don’t do partners

– Your partners are part of you.

– Never betray your party. The cost is not worth the reward; no sane person will trust you after, and no insane person trusts anyway. Your party is an extension of yourself, almost as important as your clothes or your sword.

Rule Number Six

– Balance the scales

– Never let a debt go unpaid

– When you owe someone, whether a fortune or a favor, it lessens you by the value of the debt. Never let a debt go unpaid, a loan go uncollected, a favor unrewarded, or a slight unpunished. Do so often enough and you become worthless, a thing of bits and rags belonging to everyone and no one.

Posted in Bob Life, RPGs

Soraka – The True Tank

Quick up-to-speed for the various readerships. I’m sure you all know what a real ‘tank’ is; big military vehicle, heavily armored, big gun. All else varies, but it’s a big monster on the modern land battlefield.

In RPG terms, a ‘Tank’ is generally the party member who soaks up the enemy’s damage. Big guys in heavy armor. They’ll generally have some way to keep the enemy focused on them, because a *smart* enemy will kill the ‘nukers’, the squishy things in the back row. That means they either need a legitimate weapon of their own, so they can’t be ignored, or they need a ‘taunt’ ability.

In League of Legends, ‘Tank’ is even a specific role. Characters with lots of damage taking ability, some way to lock the enemy down to fighting them, and some way to avoid damage.

Now, I read a while back (In Hell’s Faire by John Ringo) that the purpose of a tank on the modern pitched battlefield *isn’t* to roll forward as an unstoppable damage soak. It’s to ignite the ‘rescue response’ in the infantry. The tank rolls forward, and the infantry go ‘oh, heck, we’ve got to save those poor dumb brave bastards’, and charge behind the tank. Now, admittedly, we don’t see many ‘pitched battles’ in the modern world, because anyone smart enough to build modern weapons is smart enough to not want to use them, but that’s beside the point. The point is, a true tank isn’t a damage soak – it’s something to ignite the rescue response.

Enter Soraka, The Star Child.

At first glance, she’s an unremarkable Support character. Basic heal (Astral Blessing) with some minor armor buff after. Mana Restore (Infuse). Her global heal ultimate is kinda nice for supporting a dispersed group, but other champions can do similar things to tight groups late game. On top of all that, her autoattack throws bananas. Most of the folks I play with seem to think of Soraka in that particular niche role, a second rate healer and comic relief.

Thing is, when I first played her, I didn’t know all that. I read her stats. Read her abilities. And immediately focused on Star Call. To you military buffs, ‘Final Protective Fire’. Yep, she can call down an artillery strike on her own position. Every two seconds. To which she and her friends are immune. Which lowers the defenses of any enemies hit.

I looked at that and fell in love. I thought about what I’d want to add to Star Fall; the ability to slow enemies is nice, so I added Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. Now everything nearby my ‘Raka is covered in ice and moving slow. Next, lighting things on fire is also good, so I dropped a Liandry’s Torment into the mix; that lights them on fire, specifically fire which does more damage to slowed targets.

Now, those two items also increase Soraka’s Ability Power, which adds to her Star Fall damage. Her autoattack is slow, but isn’t bad in terms of damage. Adding a Lich Bane to the mix adds her Ability Power to her autoattack, but only after she’s just cast a spell. Thing is, Star Fall IS a spell, and it’s nearly as fast as her autoattack. That leads to a pattern of StarFall / Attack / Starfall / Attack rinse and repeat as needed. She’s doing her Ability Power damage every two seconds.

Now, that to me says she needs more Ability Power. We’ve got two slots left. I used to go straight to Mejai’s Soul Stealer, which gives you more Ability Power for each kill or assist, and her global heal, Wish…

Yeah, she’s a Champion who’s ultimate ability is called ‘Wish’, and she’s generally thought of as second rate. SMH.

Anywho, any time she heals a champion and he kills someone in the next little while, she gets an assist. If she pops off Wish and three of her teammates at varied parts of the board kill three different champions, she’s now got three more assists. Add a Rabadon’s Deathcap on top of that, which adds thirty percent to itself and any other ability power you’ve got put together, and you’ve got a serious amount of damage flowing out every two seconds.

Thing is, they retooled Soraka recently. Infuse, which used to be free, now costs Mana if you use it to refill friends. It’s still free if you use it to silence (and damage) enemies, though. Also, the damage it does is now based on your maximum Mana.

Enter the Archangel’s Staff / Seraph’s Embrace. The Staff is a neat item which gives you AP, and also gives you a percentage of your Mana as AP. Also, it increases your maximum mana every time you cast a spell… Like that Starfall you’ve got going off every two seconds. When that bonus gets to a certain amount of extra mana (94 spells, or roughly 3 minutes), it morphs into Seraph’s Embrace. SE gives you even MORE mana, plus it lets you use a percentage of your mana as a HP shield.

Now, let’s return to the Rylai and Liandry. They add special effects and AP, but they also add to her HP total. Between the two of them, she can take a solid beating before falling down, as much as most fighters. The Seraph’s Embrace gives her as much damage soaking as most tanks… except…

Most Tanks can’t HEAL themselves. That’s right, while they’re trying to beat you down, you can toss a heal on yourself every two or three Starfall / Autoattack cycles, and remove all the work they’ve just done. On top of that, you’ve got the Wish for when things really get hairy. Now you’ve got someone who’s fairly hard to stop…

And it keeps getting better. There’s *another* item with that mana-per-spellcast thing, Called Manamune, it adds Attack Damage instead of Ability Power, so her bananas start hitting even harder. When *it* transforms into Muramana, it gives a toggle ability to consume some of your Mana and convert it straight into damage with every attack. That means that while your Starfall is now a nasty area of affect attack, and your Infuse now hits like the hammer of an angry god and silences the enemy, disallowing *their* abilities, your Autoattack is now the Banana Of Doom.

So… a tank needs to be hard to stop; check (good HP), check (Mana Shield), check (Astral Blessing), check (Wish). It needs to have a viable main gun or two; check(Starfall), check(Infuse), check(Banana of Doom). There leaves only that final item: igniting the rescue response in the infantry.

In this case, the ‘infantry’ are all those other champs on your team. When a ‘Tank’ goes in, the rest of the team may or may not follow. They’re a Tank, after all. They can take it. No rescue response. When ‘poor little Soraka’ goes in in her swishy skirt with her banana topped staff, everyone follows in to ‘save the support!’. That’s some Rescue Response right there, you betcha. What’s even funnier is that some of the time you don’t *need* the rescue. I’ve taken on entire teams like that, if they didn’t have some way to stun / silence / stop me from casting.

Now, who’s a second rate Support, again?

Posted in League of Legends

Thoughts for the day… New Year!

Well… Here it is, 2014. Welcome to the new year.

I’ll be trying some new things here this year. Stay tuned for updates.

New Blue Bloods today. Go check it out while you wait.

Submitted Crowbar Girl yesterday. Now I wait. Based on the publisher’s website, I’m not expecting to hear back until mid-year, really. So I’m not holding my breath or anything, but based on their current offerings, I think they’d be a good fit.

Still haven’t heard back from the publisher to whom I submitted Cat’s Paw. I spoke with the head of the publishing house at Philcon in early November, he told me I’d hear back by the end of the month. I’m hoping he’s just got sidetracked again, and not trying to come up with a polite way of saying “I now need brain bleach. This is a crime against humanity. I’ve contacted Interpol.”

What? It’s the Werecamel Stripper, the Accidental Porn Star, and the Demon from the End of Time. That’s likely to require some mental acrobatics for most people.

Finally, my MX-11’s backspace key is sticking. This annoys me.


Posted in Bob Life, News At 11!

“It’s Time To Talk”, The Hamster Said, “Of Many Things…”

WARNING – This post will be long, and may offend some folks. There may be triggers, please be advised. Now buckle up and let’s begin. Please remain reading until the essay has come to a complete stop. Enjoy your ride!

As most of you are no doubt aware, there has been a brouhaha surrounding the topic of ‘Fake Geek Girls’ and the inappropriate responses to them. The first I became aware of said brouhaha (that’s a fun word – try saying it out loud – ‘brou-ha-ha’Smilie: ;) on July 26th 2012 when John Scalzi over at Whatever posted a rebuttal of Joe Peacock’s call to arms against ‘Booth Babes’, AKA ‘Fake Geek Girls’. A few things nagged at me, the inklings of this essay, but Scalzi made many good points, and Peacock was shallow. I link surfed a bit, then left things to ferment in the back of my head. Short version: Peacock claimed to be Pope of the Geek Orthodox Church and excommunicated hot cosplayers, Scalzi trumped Peacock’s Pope with Erisian Anti-Popeness (and more Geek Cred) and simultaneously excommunicated Peacock and denied the ability of anyone, including himself, to excommunicate anyone.

On November 14th 2012 the topic reared its head once more, again brought to my attention by the inimitable Scalzi (yes I follow his blog, and so should you, trust me), wherein he examines a FaceBook rant by Tony Harris. Again, something teased at the brew I had bubbling in my subconscious, but I’ll readily admit to laughing too hard to stop and think about the matter closely. Link hopping occurred, and this article by Rich Johnston at Bleeding led me to yet a third explosion in the daisy chain of gaffes, misogyny, and regret. Short version: Harris had a meltdown, Scalzi showed up with a fire hose.

Rich Johnston did another fine job reviewing an unfortunate byplay between Bleeding Cool authors de Guzman and Manning regarding a meme Manning reposted on his Facebook timeline. Link hopping followed. This time the subconscious bubbling indicated a post nearly ready to decant, distill, and imbibe, but the time was not yet quite right. Short version: Manning shared a meme with the word ‘whore’ in it. This was remarkably unwise, and he was branded ‘sexist’ post haste by… well… everyone, mostly.

There was one intervening conversation that catalyzed all my various thoughts into a coherent whole, I didn’t realize it had until a recent article at Cracked pulled the subject back to the foreground of my mind. At least three of my friends linked it on Facebook, with comments supporting the article, standing firm against the tide of geeky misogyny. Short version: Thomas Willeford and my wife may be the only pair speaking to me after I finish this, but Thom’s a cool guy, and the Ur-Goth is all the female attention I need.

Then a whole bunch of other stuff intervened in my life, and I back-burnered this essay as less important than major political issues and a lot of professional need-to-get-dones. Maybe a mistake, maybe not, as I had the opportunity to reread the Olweus anti-bullying documentation I got last summer. Then this past week, Scalzi again brought up the issue of harassment, this time through the medium of policies, both convention anti harassment and his regarding them. Reading the comment thread set off another link surf, and reminded me of this long neglected essay, that first one especially.

Now you’ve got some of the impetus of the article, as well as some of the background if you missed it. Now for a few items I take as givens, which may apply to the brouhaha. If you take exception to these, please tell me in the comments, but try to be civil.

– There is never an excuse for bullying, no matter what form it takes, and the victims of bullying need support and guidance, not condemnation. Social disability does not negate or reduce this need, it exacerbates it.

– Social disability is a real thing. Widespread use of common diagnostic tools for ASD is a fairly recent thing. Prior to that, if you could cope well enough to avoid non-engineered public disgrace, you were just relegated to the nerd table at lunch.

– Social talent exists as well. We often refer to it as ‘charisma’, and there are some folks who can say the exact same words, take the exact same actions, and get a completely different reaction.

– Men and women have differences, some genetic and some socially imprinted. Some are harmful, some are not. We also have similarities. We can understand one another, at least on an intellectual level, but not if we don’t communicate.

– ‘Geek’ and ‘Nerd’ are not synonyms, but there is a strong crossover between the latter and the former. Lately, not so much the other way. For purposes of this discussion, I’ll be using ‘Geek’ to refer to someone who is ‘into’ a subject, and I’ll be using ‘Nerd’ to refer to someone who is socially inept.

So. Fake Geek Girls. More generally, ‘fake geeks’. According to popular belief, they are a product of the fevered imagination of poor benighted souls like Harris and Peacock. The problem, of course, is that many of the old school insist they exist, and have built up huge defenses against them. This isn’t strong evidence they exist, but it is strong evidence that something scared these guys at some point.

Something important to note is that many of these guys are nerds. They may have quite a few learned social skills, but that’s exactly what they are: learned skills. They watched a person who got good social results and emulated them. If they got lucky, they found a sympathetic non-nerd to give them clear instructions on how to do something the non-nerd found instinctual. The latter is often harder than the former, especially in current times; society has publicized the contribution of the nerd, but it’s still not easy to explain to someone the mechanics of how to breathe or eat.

So… the nerds go looking for a social group. They don’t fit in to any of the bigger ones, because most of those are based on social skills, of which they have few if any. At best they might be used as social cannon fodder or to help pay for food. They’re forever relegated to the bottom of the social hierarchy which, as Thomas noted, exists. This layer of the hierarchy is a prime target for bullying by the top layer, as they are fundamentally powerless. They wind up getting bullied and, as most anti-bullying efforts are useless or worse than useless, they withdraw from socialization.

So they have no social group, despite the ‘best efforts’ of concerned relatives who repeat variations on ‘Have you tried not being a nerd?’ There’s a public misperception, sometimes internalized, that nerds don’t want social interaction. What they don’t want is to be bullied, and the only way they can avoid it is to withdraw. With the spare time most people spend on parties, they find a hobby and get very, very good at it, at least at the memorized knowledge aspect of it. At some point, while looking for more hobby materials, they meet other like minded individuals. At this point, an interesting side effect of hobby enthusiast (e.g. Geek) Hierarchies comes into play; the more you know about the hobby (trivia based), or the better you are at it (creation based), the higher you are on the hierarchy. They’ve found a group where *social* skills aren’t the desired ones. Nirvana!

So that’s why a huge portion of the Nerd population winds up as Geeks; it’s the social group where they aren’t powerless. Now, it’s important to note that at this point some of them become bullies themselves. This type of behavior needs to be called out when it happens, because it’s just as wrong. On this I completely agree with Mr. Scalzi – the only time to use your Geek Cred to tell someone to can it is when they’re using their own Geek Cred to bully someone. Do note there are better ways to put it than ‘can it’, but we’ll get to that when we get to it.

We need to discuss history here for a second. Before The Internet, those Geek communities hadn’t become nearly as massive a cultural force. Yes, conventions existed, but these were the days before Harry Potter became the bestselling series of all time, with Goosebumps running a close second. These were the days before the second Star Wars trilogy, when movie producers thought tossing any old sci fi / fantasy / comic dreck on the screen would get the same sales figures as Star Wars itself, since ‘nerds and geeks have no taste anyway, or they wouldn’t be nerds and geeks’. Finally, the Internet itself wasn’t there. No Google, no Wikipedia, no Netflix. If you wanted to get into something, it could be a huge time investment. There wasn’t much support or room for the ‘casual geek’, except in the socially acceptable geekdoms, such as sports.

Then the Internet happened. Lord of the Rings happened. Harry Potter and Goosebumps and Transformers and…

Suddenly, it was possible to be a casual geek. If you wanted to immerse yourself in Doctor Who for a weekend, you didn’t need to know a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy to get the VHS tapes, or shell out the money for them yourself, or shell out even MORE money for convention tickets. You fire up Netflix, grab the popcorn, and indulge. If you want to  talk about Doctor Who, find a forum. If you want to do Who arts and crafts, Google some pre-designed projects. Geekdoms swelled, and the old school nerds, who had sheltered safe in the bosom of the geekdoms, were suddenly inundated with new people to deal with. People who hadn’t grown up learning to deal with the socially inept, because socially inept people were the only ones who would deal with their own ineptitude.

People who were used to ignoring a very real handicap, because it didn’t have a physical symptom. People who said to them ‘stop being a nerd, or get out of the geekdom’. People who said ‘why don’t you try not being a nerd?’ People who responded with ‘don’t let him in, he’s annoying’ – thus engaging in exclusion, Olweus’ second form of bullying. Yeah, you’re recommending bullying as a solution.

Now, here’s my first point and suggestion: some of the folks we’re talking about are still dealing with traumas, and saying ‘get over your disability or get out’ is re-traumatizing them. You wouldn’t say ‘get over being raped or I’ll rape you again’ to a rape victim*. Okay, some people would; but I think all of the civilized people in the conversation agree that these are the BAD GUYS. Don’t be a bad guy. For those of you who have some measure of that disability, and need a script, or just can’t relate to a nerd’s headspace, try the following:

That behavior** wasn’t acceptable. When you do that, you hurt the people around you. We’re not excluding you, we’re asking you to stop doing that one thing. If you need to express yourself, and can’t figure out how to do so without repeating that behavior, ask someone***.

Most nerds aren’t bad guys. If you tell them they’re hurting someone, they’ll want to stop, but they often won’t know how. If they keep doing that behavior, suggest they get some professional help to break the habit. If it continues without any sign of attempt to change, it’s distinctly possible what you’ve got is not a nerd, but a socially adept asshat pretending to be a nerd to get away with stuff. At that point, try the following:

You’ve continued with that behavior we mentioned. We all want to keep hanging out with you, but until you stop, you’re hurting too many of us for us to keep ignoring it. We have to take a break from you****. Take that time, get some professional help, and get over that behavior. If, when we get back together, you can behave in a better manner, it’s in the past. If you can’t, we may have to make that break permanent.

Now, for the original point of this article, the one that got sidetracked by the Nerd thing. Fake Geeks. Remember how I mentioned in the history where Casual geeking became a thing? Where you didn’t have to structure your life around your geekdom in order to really enjoy hanging with your geek friends once in a blue moon when you got some time away from work? Yeah, that brought a huge influx of new geeks into geek hierarchies, but at the same time, it drew them away from the traditional social hierarchies.

Now, here’s an important point from Olweus*****. Bullies aren’t ‘socially maladjusted’, nor do they have ‘poor self esteem’. On the contrary. Bullies are typically socially adept, able to play crowds for their own amusement. They also tend to have fantastic self esteem. The ‘typical’ bully, in point of fact, is indistinguishable from the people at the top of traditional social hierarchies******.

So the traditional social hierarchies, many long run by a succession of bullies or proto-bullies, are being abandoned in droves by folks who can now get their social on with folks who care more about their hobby than about who did what to who six years ago, or who is more popular than who, or who is dating who^. Our putative ‘social leaders’ are now leaders without followers. Successively higher tiers now find themselves at the bottom run, target of bullying. They drop off as well. The infighting gets nasty. Cannibalism^^ is the inevitable result.

However, not all of the proto-bullies are stupid. Some of the leaders realize they’re captains of sinking ships. Some of the followers have dreams of grandeur. They all see these new social circles and realize that they are remarkably light on manipulators^^^. The ones who exist use pathetically primitive techniques. They join the crowds fleeing the increasingly toxic ‘traditional’ structures.

Now, remember, these are folks who are good at social interaction. They realize this new social structure is based around participation in some activity. They’re not into that activity, but they can fake it long enough to acquire some clout, and a little clout is all they need to manipulate themselves back to the top of the social pile. They have not come to the new world as refugees, like the first nerds. They haven’t come to the new world as settlers and seekers of freedom, like the massive influx of new geeks. They’ve come as conquerors of the pathetic wretches who should have known better than to flee the dominion of their betters.

Here’s where an odd, good thing happens. Some of those social manipulators realize they like the new activity. They like the non toxic environment. They’ll never stop manipulating, just like a nerd will never instinctively know what the right thing to say is, but any conscious manipulation they do is with the goal of smoothing things over, making their new world a better place. They learn and grow and life is better.

But not all of them. Some of them pull on the geekdom like a mask, wear it just enough to get that first bit of power, and then shrug it off at every opportunity. They’ll pull geeks, new and old alike, into the same old political games, because they enjoy it. They scramble and claw into positions of power, because they like bullying.

I’m sure many of us have seen them. The guy who comes to the con exclusively because ‘geek chicks don’t know how to say no to a guy like me’. The girl who comes with a group of friends, looks bored out of her skull from the time she arrives, and the moment all of the ‘required’ things are done, says ‘let’s go do something fun now’, where fun is defined as ‘anything not geeky’. Some of them are good at it. Some of them aren’t. All of them gradually erode geek society as we’re trying to make it.

The only solution is to out them when and where they do it. Stand up and say ‘no, that is not right’. Men, when a guy says something offensive about women in general or a man in specific, tell him it’s wrong. Right then, right there, at that moment. Women, when a girl tries to set the group against one another, call them on it, publicly.^^^ Don’t let it pass, don’t do it ‘quietly, in private’, because they’ll try again.

The only time bullies stop is when their peers, lots of their peers, come out in public and say ‘No. This is not acceptable. You are not cool. We will not be silent and let this pass. You will stand down, apologize, and not do that again, because we will not have bullying in our playground.’

Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you’ll feel like the only guy or girl in the room who sees what’s going on. Sometimes you’ll be the lone voice against the crowd, the lone candle in the darkness. But even then, our shared geek heritage can come to our rescue. After all, we are the ones who gave the world the phrase “You shall not pass!”?

As Brimley so succinctly put it; thanks for your time.

*If you object to comparison of rape and bullying, note the statistics on suicides and murders related to bullying. I’m not downplaying the seriousness of rape, I’m pointing out that bullying is a serious problem. In addition, just like rape, bullying impacts different people in very different ways and to very different degrees. Assuming a one-sized-fits-all ‘just get over it’ remedy is disingenuous.

**Be specific. Don’t say ‘oh, you know’. They don’t, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

***Give them a specific person to ask, but make sure it’s someone socially adept and thick skinned. Nerds don’t object to the idea of mentors; if they believe the gesture is an honest one, they’ll likely badger the person quite a bit for advice, because social skills can become a kind of trivia geekdom for them.

****Set a specific time. Seeing a pattern here yet? Yeah, specifics. Nerds don’t have the instincts, so they rely on hard facts. Make sure the time is enough, because they will live and die by that time.

*****Yeah, I’m quoting him a lot. Dude is one of the few doing science on bullying, and has been doing it since the seventies. Forty years of science, he’s got the data backing him at this point, as well as the experiments. Where his methods are put into place with all trimmings, bullying screeches to a halt. That’s called testing a falsifiable hypothesis. To quote a great man, ‘Science! It works, bitches!

******More specifically, when you take the set of psychological features shared by the majority of bullies, they are also shared by people at the top of traditional social hierarchies, and more importantly, not a defining feature of non-bullies and non-social leaders.

^Got tired of asterisks. This is not to say that politics and drama don’t occur in geek circles. This is to say they are not the reason the circles exist, and many of the geeks will note they’re like toxic waste, to be disposed of as carefully and thoroughly as possible.

^^Mostly metaphoric.

^^^Not saying they don’t or didn’t exist.

^^^^Not saying the reverse gender situations don’t happen. Just making examples. Women, out the misandry; men, out the social climbers.

NOTE – Some of the references may be slightly dated. Anything of that nature isn’t an intentional distraction or attempt to deceive; I’ve just been thinking about this for a while.

NOTE TWO – The original title of this was ‘The Myth of Fake Geek Girls – A Rebuttal’. I expanded the article and changed the title to ‘The Last Socially Acceptable Target for Hate’, but that didn’t cover everything either, so…

Posted in Bob Life, Conventions, Philosophy

Time for a public apology

Hey guys,

About that contest I set up a while back – I had everything set to go up in an automated, clockwork fashion, because the end of school is always crazy days. Unfortunately, I *didn’t check it*, and I just realized it didn’t go off. I’m sorry.

I’m going to think on this for a few days to sort out what I can do to make it up to the folks who entered, but rest assured I’m going to do something for everybody who took the time to comment.

Thanks for listening.


Posted in Contests

Gather ‘Round for the Ministry Kickstarter Blog Hop

Howdy, all!

Been a while, I know. In case you’re wondering, I’ve been over at Juke Pop Serials putting up a chapter a week of Blank and Blue Bloods. I’ve got some other bits and pieces in the works, but nothing I can crow about yet.

Speaking of things to crow about, my friends over at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences are in the process of launching The Ministry Initiative, a Fate Core RPG. Go on over, take a look, I’ll wait.

BlogHop02 copy(For those of you staying here, a short short version)

“Galileo Games and Imagine That! Studios have teamed up to bring you an ambitious steampunk project! The Ministry Initiative is a two-part creative endeavor that will not only premiere new fiction from the steampunk world of the Ministry but also present a brand new role playing game from the makers of Bulldogs! and the ENnie Award winning game Shelter in Place. Thrill to the tales in Ministry Protocol anthology, or join in as an Agent in The Ministry Initiative RPG.”

In order to promote their launch, the folks at the Ministry are sponsoring a Blog Hop, with contests and everything. For my part, I’m giving away some Iron Angel / Undying 54th themed swag. A ‘Punked out nerf derringer and two decorated containers of pfefferneuse.

Entry to win one of those three prizes is simple; I’m trying to sort out whether, for my next serial, I should stick with small (6-8 page) once-a-week updates, medium (10-12 page) twice-a-month updates, or larger (12-14 page) monthly updates. Tell me which you prefer in the comments, along with an email address I where I can contact the winners. I’ll pick the winners at the end of the month and announce them here!

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m over at Cereal Authors today!

Come pay me a visit! The site is here!

Posted in Guest Post, Snippet!

Interviewed by TK Anthony today!

Come on over and pay a visit, the interview is here.

Posted in Book News