Friday Flotsam: Cars, Alignments, and Age

1. I am thinking I am going to have to find creative ways to avoid driving places for the near future. $70 for a full tank is rather much. Looks like I may be self-identifying as Albanian for a while (there’s a very beautiful, but also very ethnically definite Albanian church within walking distance of where I live).

2. The rise of the automobile and especially the urge to ensure everyone has one has been, of course, one of the chief factors in the destruction of communal life and, with it, the rise of the cost of living. The fact that we can assume most people have a car means that we can separate places of work, living, shopping, entertainment, and so on. The result being that, rather than having a place of each within a mile or so of each other, we can fling them abroad almost as widely as we want. So, you can have whole areas the size of small towns that are just for labor or just for shopping or just for living. The result being that you not only have to drive everywhere, spending your gas money, but also that you only ever see the people at work at work and the people in the store in the store, and you and they become giant, faceless pill capsules while delivering yourselves to each of these receptacles.

I really think that restoring a healthy society will mean, in part, re-arranging our towns and cities for much less driving. But that’s a few bridges down the road.

3. Not that I’m against the automobile, of course, just that I think its ubiquity probably isn’t good for us (and given how hermit-like I am, all this is a matter of principle over inclination). There are a number of modern inventions that I think are good in themselves, but which we probably need to cut back on.

4. I’m also heavily in favor of restoring the passenger rail network in this country. In the first place, it’d cut down on overcrowded planes and make air travel more bearable for those who still opt for it. In the second, it frankly seems nuts to me that our options are flying or driving (or bus). And in the third, I just plain don’t like flying and much prefer trains as infinitely the more comfortable. I’d like to see train travel as the cheaper, slower alternative to air-travel (who knows, that might make air travel profitable again!).

5. Here’s a very good piece from the blog Don’t Split the Party – my first encounter with that site – on not making your good guys boring or stupid or weak. A perennial problem with writers today, and one we should all seek to avoid.

6. In the process, he touches on the alignment system in DnD and other RPGs: wherein you designate your character as good, neutral, evil and lawful, neutral, chaotic. Honestly, I never liked this system, because, at least in the hands of lazy players and writer, it turns values and worldviews into a simple designation. So that you can have ‘evil-aligned’ characters who are perfectly decent and unfairly maligned and ‘good-aligned’ characters who are horrible monsters. Which is simply a matter of not using words properly (Order of the Stick – which I’ll certainly do a piece on when it’s finally done, because wow, that is a massively mixed bag – does this a lot, with the unfair treatment of ‘evil aligned’ creatures being a major plot point. Except that if the creatures are actually evil, it wouldn’t be unfair!).

Point is, morality is not an alignment. You are not ‘good’ in the sense that you are ‘American’ or ‘Jacobite’ and evil in the sense that you are ‘Republican’ or ‘Canadian’. It should not be possible to have a ‘good’ or ‘neutral’ character who slaughters innocent people on a flimsy pretext, or an ‘evil’ character who is the innocent victim. If it is, then you need to re-think the words you are using.

7. This is kind of nice: oldest man in the world (113 years young). He prays the Rosary twice daily and says the secret to a long life is: “work hard, rest on holidays, go to bed early, drink a glass of aguardiente (a strong liquor made from sugarcane) every day, love God, and always carry him in your heart.”

I can’t help noticing that most people who get interviewed for being among the oldest people alive tend not to have a doctor-approved diets or lifestyles. I remember an earlier example said to eat ice cream every day.

They also seem to be pretty happy people, and I suppose if you’re going to live more than a century, you’d better be.

7 thoughts on “Friday Flotsam: Cars, Alignments, and Age

  1. 1. Albanian? This highly amuses me. Did I ever tell you the story of the gay fascist in the Eastern European forum I (mostly) lurked around in for a while?

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’d always been under the vague impression that the Yugoslav Civil War had been Croatians vs Serbs. To judge from millenials on the internet though, it seems like the people a lot of Serbs really hate is Albanians. (Also really hung up on Kosovo and NATO intervention, but that’s not the particular tangent I want to go on.) My impression is that Albanians are perceived as Turkish invaders – I think they may actually be ethnically Turkish. (For comparison, most Arabic peoples are perceived as Turkish invaders down there, so one has to be careful about assuming from what people think. A bit of reverse racism, I suppose: the Turks colonized the Balkans, not the other way around.)

        This one Serb in the forum I was hanging around last year, though, openly identifies as gay. Which most of the folks there make fun of American / Western cultural imperialism being gay and all, and I’ve known some guys who let’s just say they thought people had issues with their sexuality but everyone actually had issues with them being emotionally incontinent and passive-aggressive about everything… But this one gay Serb, never seemed to care what anyone else thought as far as I noticed, so that’s interesting. He also openly identified as “fascist” but when asked to elaborate on his politics once asked if anyone else had read Rerum Novarum.

        Anyway, back to Albanians. Gay “fascist” Serb was the one guy on the forum who would defend them. The way he put it, Albanians had overcome their religious divisions between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims through their shared ethnic heritage on the one hand, and on the other had actually rebelled against the Turkish Empire a couple times. So he basically told everyone from time to time: these people aren’t your enemy, they’re a good example for the rest of us Balkaners!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 3. I feel this way about the internet. Maybe more strongly, but selective. Like, the internet is a shitty place to live if you’ll pardon my bluntness, and the right amount of that is that we probably ought not live on here at all. But I don’t mind plenty of internetting if done well (and supplementing a real life in… real life).

    4. Man I love flying! The granduer of creation is quite noticeable from in the heavens.

    Still would rather take the train for distances that require an interstate, and not have to drive from the suburbs to downtown almost at all because each suburb’s downtown ought to suffice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “The granduer of creation is quite noticeable from in the heavens.”
      Yes, except the only part of creation I can usually see are clouds. And I’ve looked at those from both sides now.

      Yep, internet was one of the ones I was thinking of.


  3. DND: I actually have read discussions of which actions are forbidden by any given alignment or, if not forbidden, may force the character’s alignment to change with various consequences for doing so. Obviously it’s simplified to a game mechanic, but some players do care about that aspect.

    Liked by 1 person

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