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Royal Mail Redeliveries

Brainiac

or, Why I'd Rather be Fucked up the Arse by a Syphilitic Wombat

Was the Royal Mail’s redelivery system yet another breathtakingly stupid invention of Crapita, or is it an in-house effort to make getting parcels and recorded mail about as fun as drinking a pint of Domestos?

Fundamentally, I don’t care. But I’d rather chug the pint of bog-bleach at this point. You may gather that I am somewhat aggrieved. Strap in, kids.

I’ll note that this is unrelated to privatisation. It was a fucking terrible service before the government sold Royal Mail off at a massive loss, it’s a fucking terrible service now. Only now their moral duty begins and ends at maximising shareholder revenue, rather than providing a public service. Just like the railways. Infrastructure privatisation: if you think it’s a good thing, you’re a fucking idiot with no job speaking about politics.

Here’s how things would work in a sane system:

Parcel isn’t delivered at day d0. Card comes through door. You then have three options.

  1. Go to the delivery office at or after the evening of d0. Collect parcel.
  2. Go online. Get told that you can book a redelivery to another address within the local area for any time on d1 – processing happens on d0, redelivery is flagged up before parcel goes out on d1.
  3. Go online. Book a redelivery to the local post office on d2 – processing happens on d0, delivery to post office happens at some point on d1, pickup on d2.

If it were only that simple.

Instead, 1 is only an option 24 hours after delivery. Even if you know that your postman returns all parcels by $FOO, you can’t collect them. It’s also contingent on being able to reach your local delivery office.

DO1 is located about four miles from my flat, and indeed from my entire top-level postcode. It’s a 45 minute bus ride. It also involves walking through a dodgy industrial estate that doesn’t have pavements in many areas, and where a rusty knife to the kidneys is a very real possibility in broad daylight, let alone after dark.

DO2 is about a mile from my flat. It’s a pleasant walk through a nice part of town, with places to stop and get a coffee literally 30 seconds from the door. If it’s pishing it down, it’s a 10 minute bus ride to the door. It’s as far from my flat as my workplace.

DO1 serves my flat despite being four times further away than DO2. DO2 serves my workplace. Because Royal Mail’s delivery office network doesn’t understand basic fucking geography I can’t get something that’s attempted delivery to my flat to my office.

Instead, I book online for a delivery to my local post office. This costs £1.50 because fuck you for not owning a car, that’s why. It arrives on d2 – I assumed processing on d1 even though the parcel’s in the goddamn DO on d0, delivery on d2, pick up any time.

Nope. Pick up any time after four fucking p.m. on d2. And pay for the privilege of having to wait a bastard age because fuck you for not owning a car.

This is as much fun to deal with as taking an unwrapped pack of Mentos as a suppository then applying a Diet Coke enema.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

What Has Gone Before

JuJu

Part of me wants to talk about the closure of the World of Darkness MMO. It’s not an easy thing to think of – the people working on the MMO were the remaining parts of White Wolf. I have friends among the people who have lost their jobs. I don’t want to trivialise the fact that they must now find new places to work.

At the same time, I do want to note the passing. Papa Chuck must have taught me wrong, though, because I can’t find them. So instead, I’m going to point you to the words of two friends, and two better writers: Chuck Wendig and Aaron Debski-Bowden

I guess I don’t share quite their outlook. I’m heavily involved in writing and developing World of Darkness games for Onyx Path. I’ve got both Werewolf games to my name. I’m working on the system for the new edition of Trinity and Scion (which Onyx Path own outright). I’ve got my name on Vampire books – something I was sure would never happen when I started. We’ve been publishing what people think of as White Wolf tabletop RPGs for a couple of years now and that’s continuing apace.

I think part of why I can’t find the words is that so many of us at Onyx Path are ex-employees and ex-freelancers for White Wolf. From my perspective behind a keyboard in Scotland I’m talking to the same people and writing words for the same game lines – and some new ones – as I was when working for White Wolf. Sure, some of the friends I needed to get through those first books — people like Aaron and Chuck — have gone off to become bestselling writers, but that’s how the world works.

I played White Wolf games as a teenager. One of my first characters was a bitterly sarcastic Corax with long hair and a leather trenchcoat; not so much a character as a prediction of what I would become. I created him for the first edition of Werewolf: The Apocalypse when I got my hands on the Werewolf Players’ Guide. Just recently I dug out his sheet and converted him to the updated rules in Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition and W20: Changing Breeds – the latter being the first book I developed. He’s still the same, though I’d play him differently now.

The key thing, I think, is to note White Wolf’s passing but not to mourn the pale pooch – not as an entity. White Wolf, as a collection of games and worlds, hasn’t died – it’s changed. As the God-Machine Chronicle says:

What rises may fall. What has fallen may rise again.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

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Should Scotland be an independent country?

Beltane

If you follow me on social media (especially Twitter), you’re probably aware of my answer to this question already. But I think it’s about time I explained why.

I.

I was born and raised in England. I didn’t move to Scotland until I was 24. I grew up just outside Hull, in what was first called “Humberside” — an administrative decision imposed on the people of East Yorkshire by a London government trying to make things easier for themselves. My dad was a draughtsman at the local shipyard. My mum worked part time in a supermarket.

When I was a teenager, it never really felt like home. I went to university in Stafford after fucking up my A-levels with too much escapism. That didn’t really feel like home either. My first summer, I went to visit a friend up in Edinburgh. That was the first place I’d stayed that felt like home.

I may only have moved here nine years ago, but I do not want to leave. When I think about living somewhere else, it’s got a tacit “in Scotland” pegged on to the end of it. The thought of not just going to England to see family but of staying there, with a house and a job, is something I have nightmares about. I’ve never considered myself English. Sometimes, I’d say I was from Yorkshire. Sometimes, I’d say I was British. But neither label reflects who I am.

I live in Scotland. That’s who I am.

II.

I didn’t really get into politics when I was at home. The few times we talked about it, my parents told me they voted Lib Dem, but never told me why. I’ve got an idea, though — Labour was for people living in council houses in Hull, people who frittered their money away smoking and gambling, and who wanted handouts. My parents lived in Hessle. It’s not like you could tell the difference without the signs pointing out the boundary, but it’s important psychologically. They’re not from Hull. Hull’s lower class. Despite that, they wouldn’t vote Tory. Not when the Conservatives robbed the rest of the UK to make the London buble richer. Not when they attacked striking miners. The Tories weren’t our kind of people either.

Despite that, my dad used to read the Today — an upscale Murdoch rag pitted against the Express and the Daily Mail, each of which he moved on to reading. He lost his job when the shipyard closed, and was told that because he had savings, he wouldn’t get any help with the mortgage. The people he’d worked with who had gambled and smoked their money away got more, to help with their rent or mortgage. In his eyes, he was being punished for being responsible. That this was exactly the sort of rainy day his savings were for never crossed his mind.

When I went to university, the system had changed — again, in a way that my dad saw as victimising him. Previous generations of students got a grant that they didn’t have to pay back to help with living costs. I didn’t. Instead, I’m saddled with a loan that I’ll probably never repay. Previous generations got university education for free. My dad had to pay £1,000 a year. This idea, springing from the Labour party — supposedly the champions of the poor and downtrodden — felt like an insult. My dad had paid for twenty years of students to have a free education and money for rent and beer, but he had to pay all over again for me.

I’m the only member of my family to get a degree. A lot of that is because of how much it costs.

III.

I see a lot of people in England talk about Scottish independence as though they should have a say. Even the supposedly-leftist side of the press regurgitate the words of a right-wing government and right-wing think tanks. The London-centric champagne socialism of the Guardian and the New Statesman don’t give a shit what’s right for Scotland. They want what’s right for Britain. And what’s right for Britain usually means "what’s right for England".

Down in England, the arguments against all stem from the same thing: the English feel that Britain is their country, and that Scotland becoming independent is somehow a reflection on them personally. It’s not. It’s Scotland deciding that the government that England elects has not got Scotland’s best interests at heart.

Many English people don’t understand that. Even people I otherwise respect say “I don’t want to influence you one way or the other but I’m really upset at the thought of losing part of my country.” Which is silly. If you say that, you are trying to influence things. If we vote “no”, you won’t be upset. It’s a poor reason, but it’s still part of a broader pressure.

And the problem is, “Britain” isn’t your country. It’s a shorthand for “England” with a few regions. People talk about “The North” in a British context, but they only go as far as Yorkshire and Manchester. If you’re particularly lucky they might mention Newcastle. “The North”, in the minds of “British” commentators, is the North of England.

If you set off in a helicopter from the northernmost point of the UK, and flew to the Southernmost point, but you had to refuel half way, where would you be landing? Lockerbie. Halfway down the UK, you’re still in Scotland. Yet Scottish tax money is spent on a project that “will improve Britain by linking London and The North” — by which they mean Manchester. It might improve England, but not Britain.

IV.

I lived in Germany for a year and a half as part of my degree. When my parents came to visit, I’d show them around. We went into an Irish bar — they’re everywhere, and I was so hungover I coudn’t remember much German. It wasn’t your typical Irish bar; the owner and half the bar staff had move to Germany from Cork, in Ireland.

Above the bar, the owner had strung all manner of flags of nations. The flags of all the European nations, North and South America, flags of Ireland and Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales. But not the English flag.

When we left, my mother was properly raging. That they’d celebrated all the other bits of the UK but not England was a grave insult to her. She didn’t care that maybe the Irish didn’t like the English too much. She didn’t think that Ireland was properly foreign. Like Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it was all British to her. Really, deep-down beneath all the politics, it was all England really. Those other bits have their own flags and call themselves countries, but they’re England with a few changes, not their own thing.

I don’t like that attitude.

V.

Is Scotland a country? Yes. We have our own legal system. We have our own banknotes, backed by sterling. We have an agreed border with England. We have our own territorial waters, our own sense of identity distinct from that of England.

Everyone arguing against the idea of Scottish independence paints the current system as each country being part of the greater whole that is Britain. They’re claiming that Scotland isn’t a real country. We’re just England with funny accents, bagpipes, and haggis. Our whisky exports and oil reserves make vast amounts of money for Britain.

In their eyes, we’re not a country. We’re just another region that makes money for London to spend on itself.

VI.

My parents think Scottish independence is somewhere between a joke and an insult. They don’t see a difference between wanting independence for Scotland and independence for Yorkshire.

Personally, I’m all for Yorkshire independence. London has done it no favours, and the regional character is such that it makes sense to me. But it’s not going to happen. The last time Yorkshire was independent of England was as part of the Kingdom of Wessex in the 10th Century.

Scotland is a country. It’s not a region, it’s not a group of counties. It’s a whole country. It has some powers for itself, but on important matters like whether sick and disabled people get enough money to live, or how our tax money is spent, or whether we want nuclear weapons, or whether we want any part in an illegal war, or whether we want to privatise the health service, we have no say. London makes those decisions for us.

The UK government has been determined by England alone since 1974. In the past 30 years, the people of a country have not had a say in who governs them.

I think this is wrong.

VII.

Lots of people say that one argument or another argument should determine the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum. People cite oil, childcare, renewable energy, the NHS, the pound, EU membership, bankers’ bonuses, the bedroom tax, pensions, the minimum wage, and many more things as reasons to vote one way or another.

But ultimately, these issues are points of procedure. In an independent Scotland, we can decide those things for ourselves. What the people of Scotland are voting on this September is a single question.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Another Look at PWYW

JuJu

Back in September I wrote about my experiences during the first three months of Pay What You Want on DriveThruRPG. I went back to look at a longer span.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

Querulents and Questers

JuJu

Mirrored from Zero Point Information.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

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W20 On Sale Now!

JuJu

You might remember that my 2012 was pretty much defined by one book: Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition. I put a hell of a lot of words into that book, and ended up developer for the resurrected Werewolf line.

It’s now available from DriveThruRPG in PDF and Print on Demand versions. The Kickstarter-exclusive deluxe versions will take a little longer to come through since they’re a traditional print run, but the book’s available now!

I don’t post all of my White Wolf/Onyx Path releases here, but this one’s the big one.

Mirrored from Zero Point Information.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.

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Character Creation 76: curse the darkness

JuJu
My good friend has been having a shitty week, so I thought I'd cheer him up some by breaking out the play test docs for curse the darkness and making a character to show you all why it's an awesome game.

The Game: curse the darkness
The Publisher: Play Attention
Degree of Familiarity: I've read al the preview material, but haven't yet been able to run a playtest game.
Books Required: Just the playtest packet so far.

Here be monstersCollapse )

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Character Creation 75: Thousand Suns

JuJu

The Game: Thousand Suns
The Publisher: Originally Rogue Games, now Grognardia Games.
Degree of Familiarity: I’ve planned games, but haven’t got to run them yet.
Books Required: Just the revised rulebook (which looks sexy, by the way).

Read more...Collapse ) Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Advocacy

Brainiac
This one's just going out on LJ, not Dreamwidth or my blog or anywhere else.

Livejournal's once again rolled out a bunch of features that best suit it's main0 customer base, but that negatively impact smaller sectors of the customer base that do not feature the same capabilities for long-term and long-tail monetization1. Naturally, this makes sense for Livejournal. It's also yet another in a long series of LJ being less than stellar in thinking through the impact of their actions. Naturally naturally, the usual suspects are crying "conspiracy" based on evidence flimsier than the Bride of Dracula's lingerie. And yes, I think that's fucking stupid. But that doesn't mean that I blindly support LJ; I don't like stupidity on either side.

Dreamwidth is built by people who used to work for Livejournal. It's got Livejournal's feature set, plus a few nice tweaks (a separation of "I want to read" and "I want to give access to" for starters). You can post from Dreamwidth to Livejournal, you can mirror your already-existing Livejournal content to Dreamwidth in case the Russian government flips their shit again, and people can comment on a Dreamwidth entry using their Livejournal credentials (it's called OpenID, and lets you log in to sites A, B, and C using the login credentials for site X, and it's nice and secure).

Join us. We have whisky.

Until the end of the year, you won't need one of my hundreds of invite codes to create an account. After then, give me a shout.

Everything on this Livejournal (except meta-posts like this one) is mirrored from my Dreamwidth account. In a few months, I'm going to turn off comments here. Livejournal is more and more an archive, and most of the people I want to read have moved there. Some folk don't want to, that's fine. I still read my list on both sites. But Livejournal ain't my primary any more.

0: Pron: "Paying".
1: Pron: "That the rest of youse whinge about".

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

JuJu
Getting the word out to folks in the USA.

Originally posted by gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.


Character Creation 74: Stars Without Number

JuJu
The Game: Stars Without Number
The Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: None. This is my second time reading it over.
Books Required: Just the core PDF

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Character Creation 73: Remnants

JuJu

The Game: Remnants: Post Apocalyptic Mecha
The Publisher: Outrider Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None yet.
Books Required: Just the corebook.

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
JuJu

The Game: Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.
The Publisher: Third Eye Games
Degree of Familiarity: None; I got the corebook in a DRTPG charity bundle
Books Required: Just the corebook

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

The joys of crosstalk

JuJu
Just a note to say that Livejournal's XMLRPC interface is quite badly shagged at the moment. In English, that means that things I post on Dreamwidth aren't showing up on here. Since this is the first entry I've put on LJ directly since starting to use DW, you can see the problem.

http://digitalraven.dreamwidth.org has all my entries, not affected by whatever DDoS or Russian turf-war that's currently eating LJ. The entries will show up here eventually, assuming things get fixed, but don't you want to read them while they're fresh(ish)?

Character Creation 70: Eclipse Phase

JuJu

The Game: Eclipse Phase
The Publisher: Posthuman Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None with the game itself, a lot with the genre
Books Required: Just the corebook

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
Rumble

The Game: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1e
The Publisher: TSR Games
Degree of Familiarity: None whatsoever
Books Required: As is a running theme with D&D, both the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Character Creation 68: Mage: The Awakening

Corax

The Game: Mage: The Awakening
The Publisher: White Wolf
Degree of Familiarity: Not as much as I'd like, though I do want to run a game.
Books Required: Mage: The Awakening and the World of Darkness Rulebook

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Character Creation 67: Abandon All Hope

Torch
The Game: Abandon All Hope
The Publisher: RPG Objects
Degree of Familiarity: None
Books Required: Just the core

Oh, dear.Collapse )

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
JuJu

The Game: Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium
The Publisher: Neoplastic Press
Degree of Familiarity: I’ve been all over this one, but haven’t played it thus far.
Books Required: Just the corebook, baby.

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Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

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