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Eh, Steve!
18 April 2016 @ 12:13 am

I have to admit, I'm sometimes confused by the topic of cultural appropriation. On the one hand, reducing an already downtrodden ethnicity to a mocking trope for Halloween is a jerk move for sure. On the other hand, if an artist wants to emulate a style of illustration from a culture they aren't a part of, I don't see that as being automatically bad (although I can understand why selling it may be crossing the line). Not to mention the question of how to walk the line between cultural appropriation and being too Euro-Centric in fiction and game design. Some stuff is pretty obvious though. For quite some time, there has been a call for the Washington Redskins to change the name of their team. Old news, I know. It seems to me that if the owner truly wanted to honour the First Nations, he would ask the local First Nations communities to give him a list of potential names that would make them feel respected, and comission one of them to design a new logo to go with one of those names, like the remagined Blackhawks logo by Mike Ivall.

  The reason why I bring this up, is that I just had a thought today about my online handle. But before I share that thought, I feel like describing where it came from.

  Many years ago, I was bowling with some friends. We were not the kind of young adults to concern ourselves with maturity, so we were having some fun giving ourselves and each other stupid names on the score computer. One of those names was Bum Boy. I didn't know that was a term that meant anything at the time, I just thought it was hilarious for being juvenile and alliterative. Shortly thereafter, I needed a username for an email address, and with that inspiration I chose bumbot, as it had the added appeal of being slightly geeky on top of being juvenile and alliterative.

  About the same time, my sister had started doing something that I also found hilarious. Whenever she felt like being insouciant toward our mother, she would turn around and wave her backside in Mom's general direction. Mom would counter with "What, are you cursing me? Is that your voodoo bum?" I had been reading about Polynesian mythology and folklore, and I had found the idea of Kahunas fascinating. From what I had read at the time, I thought they were the healer, and spiritual and political leader all in one - like if President, Pope, and Surgeon General were all the same person. So whenever I copied my sister and waved my bottom in my mother's general direction, I joked that I was giving her the Kahuna bum.

  Then, in 2002, I was in Port Hardy looking for car parts on eBay in the community library. I saw some fuel injectors I wanted to buy, but I couldn't remember my password, so I made a new account using my "bumbot" email address. But eBay won't let you select a username that's the same as the username at the beginning of your email address. On the spot and uninspired, I made a portmanteau of the two terms, and so I started going by Kahunabumbot. Since then, whenever I've registered with a new website or service, the first username I try to use is Bumbot, and if that isn't accepted, I use Kahunabumbot, which is my username on both Google and Twitter.

  Today I was reading a book called Guns, Germs, And Steel. The chapter I was reading presented all the different societies of the Polynesians prior to European contact, and how they ranged in political organization, agriculture, and the production of material goods. I had no idea how advanced societies of the Hawaiian archipelago had been! With this sudden peak of respect and interest, I realized something that I should have realized earlier: I have appropriated a word from a culture to which I don't belong and have no connection to, flippantly and disrespectfully incorporated it into a joke, and turned that joke into a part of my online identity. "Oops" doesn't quite cut the mustard here. My first internal reactions were defensive: I didn't mean any harm; I'd never heard of cultural appropriation when I came up with the name; changing all my online handles now would be a lot of work; I totally respect Polynesian culture! Then I realized that I'd heard all these arguments before, coming from Redskins fans who didn't want to acknowledge how hurtful their favourite team's name is. And I remembered something that I've seen my progressive friends share: political correctness is not about hating, shaming, or guilting the proverbial straight, white, Christian, middle-to-upper class cisgendered man. It's not about condemning and renouncing people from the past, whose actions were socially acceptable at the time. It's about using the power of hindsight to recognize that harmful things have been said and done, and using that awareness in an attempt to be better in the present and in the future. That cinched it. I want to change my online handles now.

  So, what should I change them to? I could use something from my own Celtic ethnicity, like Druidbumbot. I had been reading about Celtic mythology prior to Polynesian, if I had made that joke in the first place, I might not be having these thoughts now. But then, neither I, nor my parents, were born in Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, and while I went through a phase of trying to define myself as being a Celtic Canadian in my early 20's, I've come to think of myself as being Canadian first and foremost since then. Not to mention the fact that I'm not pagan, and while I can't picture my pagan friends raising a fuss, I'd rather not go there. In fact, now that I know "bum boy" is slang, and sometimes used in the derogitory, I don't think I want to use Bumbot any more either.

  I can't really use my name. I've tried, and stephenbrown@whatever is taken, stevebrown@whatever is taken, stephenebrown@whatever is taken, stephenelliotbrown@, sebrown@, selliotbrown@, seb@, steveb@, every variation I tried was taken, and I refuse to throw in a number. I am NOT Steve Brown number 117, thankyou very much. It occurred to me that I could take a more medieval route, and list my patrilinear descent. stephen.sonof.douglas.sonof.elmer.sonof.george@whatever, but that's not only too long, it leaves out all the mothers involved, which is also not cool.

  I'd go with my interests, but they change too much. Unless I paint in really broad strokes. I've already worked out something like this, in fact. When my brother got married, he asked all his groomsmen to give him one trait about themselves that they felt was really defining. The best, broadest thing that I could think of was that as far back as I can remember, I've always been interested in anything to do with space travel, robots, science, and nature. But I had also really loved everything silly, like The Muppet Show. So my response to his question was "my dichotomous appreciation of rational thought and absurd behaviour." The opposite of which, acting normal without any apparent thought, peeves me greatly. But I could make that into an acronym: DAoRTaAB. With all those vowels, it's even pronounceable. Daortaab, rhymes with sour Saab. I could throw that into the middle of my name, steve.daortaab.brown@whatever, I bet that's not taken. Or maybe shorten it somehow, like rationallyabsurd@whatever, except that I bet that is taken.

  It is entirely possible that I'm overthinking this, as well. Really, it's just a bunch of usernames. The fate of the world, or even my life, don't depend on my picking the perfect name. Nonetheless, I don't like what I have now, but I don't have any good thoughts on what to switch to. At this point I'm open to suggestions.

Eh, Steve!
30 September 2008 @ 03:09 pm
(cross posted to facebook)

No, this won't be a continuation of the one I did all those years ago. An entirely new game, one night only (Monday, October 27), so there's no big commitment.

All the PC's will be Californian high school students who go on a camping trip in the fall of 1959. You can make your own character, or I can make one to your preferences (greaser, quarterback, nerd, poodle-skirted pep rallyist, etc.)

Jenn's automatically in, I'm just looking for two to four more players. Comment here or facebook if you want in.
Current Mood: geekygeeky
Eh, Steve!
04 June 2008 @ 01:20 pm
I've been doing those online surveys that advertise on Facebook, and I got some money from them in my Paypal account. Not much, but enough for a small download from e23. So I downloaded GURPS Character assistant. Not a bad little program. You still need a copy of the book to look up what all the advantages and skills do, but it keeps track of all your totals and does all the secondary math for you. I decided to try out the program by making an Autobot.

Splashdown, an Autobot/Motorcycle/PWC triple changerCollapse )
I don't expect these stats to mean much unless you're already familiar with GURPS, but this does make Character Generation easier for GURPS Overproof. If you want to play, and want to get familiar with the system, you can download a pdf of GURPS Lite for free here.
Current Mood: geekygeeky
Eh, Steve!
08 May 2008 @ 03:44 pm
Jenn and I have been upgrading our GURPS collection to 4th edition, which rendered several of my 3rd edition books obsolete. I wasn't sure how much I'd get for them at a used book store, so I asked my older sister in law if her eldest son might be interested, seeing as he turns 13 this friday. They're still fully usable, Jenn and I just want to be all set with 4th ed. for when GURPS Vorkosigan (eventually) comes out. Turns out Kev was quite interested, so I shipped them up on Saturday. The package was 5 kg, but the slowest shipping method was very reasonable, and only three business days to get to Prince George. They arrived yesterday, right on time, and apparently Kev has been pouring through them, and has already tried to get his mom to make up a character. Seems like it didn't take him long at all to catch the GURPLES. Atta boy!

Jenn and I also just bought a bunch of six sided dice, seeing as our tax returns just came in. Most of our tax returns are going on to our Visas actually, but I was surprised by the amount on our returns. They were both about $150 higher than I anticipated. I've found out why: neither of us wrote in the Employment Amount from line 363. Basically, if you earned $1000 or more at a legitimate job in all of 2007, you get an extra $150 in your return, and because I used Telefile, they automatically calculated that amount for us. Kind of a right wing attitude to reward people who are already stable, but combine that with the transit amount, and it looks like the Canadian government is actively supporting my lifestyle, so I shouldn't complain too loudly.

Now I'm going to attempt to infect my friends with the GURPLES. The Star Wars game is going to be taking a hiatus while Neal's away, and Jenn wants to start up Sunday Tea once she's got weekends off again, so I'm thinking Sunday Tea can be followed by a little game called GURPS Overproof! (Overproof meaning 70% action, a reference to my response to a questionnaire Derek made up for a 7th Sea game.) Basically, you make up any character you want (that can happen during tea), or use an existing one, and a random group of ever changing PCs take on a hoard of uglies (zombies, orcs, battle droids, velociraptors...) or a really big ugly (a T-Rex, Cthulhu's niece, a Sentinel Robot...) We'll pull out the battle map, whip up some pawns (probably paper, like what I'm using for Star Wars) and just do some combat. The object of the game is for Jenn and I to become familiar with the system for the purposes of starting an actual campaign of some kind, and also to give us time to read the books which should be arriving any day now, not to mention the ones we already have.
Current Mood: geekygeeky
Eh, Steve!
So Jenn left for work at 8:30 this morning. Around 12:30 I get a phone call from A&W asking where she is because she's on the schedule for 1:00. This is disconcerting. I call her cel phone, and there's no response. I phone the store back using the call display redial, asking if anyone's seen her at all, is she just doing an onion ring run, etc. No, she hasn't been there all day. I'm calling her cel phone over and over, no response at all. I'm thinking, should I call the police? I've heard there's a 24 hour wait for missing persons, but when someone doesn't show up for work when she left the house hours ago and isn't answering the cel, could this be special circumstances? I'm thinking about what could have happened: if there was a bus strike, or if the road was closed, she would have taken a cab or come home. If she'd been hit by a car, or had some kind of spontaneous medical problem, she'd be in the hospital, and I would have been notified. The only logical solution is that she's been mugged, viciously assaulted and left in an alley or behind some bushes or something!!! Maybe if the police can't help me I should phone my dad, and we can cruise around the bus route and see if we can spot her. Well, I'm phoning Jenn's cel so frequently that I'm missing all incoming calls, but I'm checking the messages that get left. The last message is the person who I spoke to at A&W explaining that they were phoning the wrong Jenn. In fact, they aren't even the A&W location that Jenn works at, they just have her number on file from when she worked there for two weeks in December. So I look up the phone number for Jenn's actual location and give them a shout, and who answers but Jenn herself. I'm so wound up I can't even spit out what I'm trying to say properly, but yes, she made it in to work just fine, she's been there all day, and she told me she was going to laugh at the Queensborough Landing people the next time she sees them.

The thing is, my biggest fear is that the world won't let me keep Jenn, so I'm glad she was ok, but it was still unsettling.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a drink.
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
Eh, Steve!
14 April 2008 @ 03:38 pm
So, after selling my broken Xbox 360 on eBay, I had a nice little sum of money on Paypal. Unfortunately, you can't just transfer Paypal money to your credit card, and transferring it into your bank means putting up your account info, and they charge money for it. So, I went to Warehouse 23 and ordered some GURPS books instead. I also just got my bonus cheque from work, as well as a paycheque from A&W which I wasn't expecting, so I put it all on my Visa so as to order a couple more. Also, I've been downloading free pdf's from E23. Which brings me to my next topic:

Those of you who DM, GM, or ST, take note! There's a free pdf which offers complete rules for the use of Lava in all systems! It's brief, concise, and has all the information you need, as well as easy to use diagrams and charts which you can print off and hand to players for easy dispute resolution! Even if you're just a player, this is an absolute necessity, and it's TOTALLY FREE! Go here to download it!

Last but not least, Jenn and I have been batting around ideas for a fantasy setting. We were talking about dragon kin, and I remembered a bit of an afterword in a Ben Bova book of mine, which led me to an internet search, resulting in this video, and a corresponding article from BBC News.

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Current Mood: geekygeeky
Eh, Steve!
20 March 2008 @ 07:52 pm
cross posted from Facebook:

I'm going to have a spot for a drop in character for my next Star Wars game on wednsday, the 26th of March. Just the one session, first person to claim it on my wall on Facebook gets it.
Eh, Steve!
07 March 2008 @ 01:52 pm
The other day I looked up one of my favourite NFB cartoons on Youtube, and showed it to Jenn. It's called The Apprentice:

I also looked for another one of my favourites, called Juke Bar. It's not on Youtube, but then I found out that the NFB site has about 70 animations up for public viewing. So, follow this link for Juke Bar: http://www.nfb.ca/animation/objanim/en/films/film.php?id=18042

I wound up getting sucked into Youtube, here's a couple more things I wanted to share:

Current Mood: amusedamused
Eh, Steve!
17 February 2008 @ 08:38 pm
When I got to work friday morning, a coworker told me that someone I used to work with at the PetroCan on River Road was dead.

"Body identified as that of missing local woman"

Kataryna was from the Ukraine. She was one of my favourite co-workers to be shifted on with, especially for an evening shift. In the evenings things would get really slow, and once everything was cleaned and stocked, you wound up having to talk to whoever you were on with. Her english wasn't very good, so she was always asking me questions about grammar. What does this word mean, how do you pronounce it, how do you use it in a sentence? She was also very curious about all the stuff we sold, what are the different fluids used for, where do they go, what do the numbers on the oil cans mean? She would also tell me about growing up in the Ukraine. She liked the bread much better over there, and thought the bread you bought in supermarkets was terrible. Her mom used to call her a monkey because she used to climb everything, and had a liking for bananas. She seemed to find a lot of humour around her, because she was almost always smiling. If we hadn't been co workers, I would have been tempted to ask her out, although I'm glad I didn't because I might not have wound up with Jenn if I had.

If she had died of an accident, like a car crash or house fire, or if she had died of a natural cause, like cancer, the news would be easier to take. I hadn't really talked to her for about seven years, although when I started at Seaside Paper she worked at the Chevron nearby and I'd see her around sometimes. When you're on that level of acquaintance with someone and you find out they've died, you're saddened, and you stop to think about them every now and then, but for the most part you keep moving on because fate hasn't drawn your number yet. The thing that's wearing on my mind right now is the fact that Kataryna should be in the same boat as the rest of us. She should be hearing about other people who have died of natural causes or accidents, and getting on with her life. Fate never called her number, someone chose to intercede on Fate's behalf. She's dead because someone chose to kill her. I just can't picture it. Even if her killer didn't mean for her to die, I can't picture anyone wanting to do her harm. I'm having a hard time believing it's real.

Also, I'm not sure how strongly I'm supposed to react. I find myself second guessing the way I feel. It's been years since I've seen her, and we weren't any closer than co workers who had casual conversations, am I dwelling on it too much? But I was attracted, I cared at least a little, should I be more distraught? I'm not falling to pieces, I don't need to take time off work or anything, but I keep thinking about her and feeling sad. I guess that's about right.

Another thing that makes me feel sad is that I don't think she had many friends. I could be wrong, I hope there's more than a handful of people who are going to miss and remember her, especially people that knew her better than I did.
Current Mood: sadsad
Eh, Steve!
13 February 2008 @ 11:56 am
Jenn and I looked at our finances, and decided that with my upcoming bonus cheque, we can afford an Xbox 360 arcade version. It was $100 cheaper than buying a unit that replaces the one I have, but that's because it's missing duplicate accessories, like a 20gB hard drive, headset communicator, and ethernet cable. Seeing as those parts are all fine, I don't mind saving the $100. Also, I got a 256mB memory card, so I can take my profile when I'm gaming elsewhere, and a third wireless controller, which I can sell to recover some of the money, although I don't want to part with it untill I've gotten two weeks functionality out of the console. I bought their in store two year coverage though, so I'm not too worried.

Also, I've taken pictures of the old console, inside and out, to put up on eBay, "as is". It looks like they usually go for about $40, but I'm hoping that the inclusion of parts for doing the X-clamp replacement mod will maybe boost it a little. We'll see.

Either way, I'll have to try the whole "have people over for video games" thing again sometime.
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Current Mood: contentcontent