Your Most Important Moments

I overheard a bit of a sermon in which the priest said “The moment of our death is the most important moment in our life.”

It is certainly true that it is an important moment, as it is our last. There is so much uncertainty beyond those moments. However, whether you believe in reincarnation, some sort of afterlife, or just simply that the end is the end, if the final moments of your life are the most important, then you have not lived.

If you believe that there is no afterlife, that once you close your eyes that final time there is nothing more, then to say that these moments are your most important is to say you left no legacy. You left nothing behind of importance.

If you believe in the circle of reincarnation, whether it be the cycle of karma, or simply a continuation of existence, then to say that those final moments are your most important is to say that you have done nothing to improve your lot or the lot of others.

If you believe in an afterlife, a heaven or a realm of the dead, then to say that the final moments are the most important is to say that you walk before your god with nothing to show for your life.

On average, humans live about sixty to eighty years. That is so much time that can be spent taking care of your fellow man, or bettering yourself in some way. That is so much time to do good in the world. That is so much time to make a difference even if it is for just one person.

No, as important as those final moments may be, they are not the most important. Whether you believe it to be the end of ends, a short respite before returning to battle, or a gateway to the arms of your god or goddess, it is still but a moment.

When you leave this world, leave it better for your having lived.
When you return to the cosmos, do so having bettered your karma for your next life.
When you enter the arms of your god or goddess, be sure you have something to show them.

Do not, allow your final moments to be the most important ones. That would be a crime against your self, your god, and your people.

When You Ride The Wind

When you embrace the wind, the wind embraces you.  When you follow the path of the wind, the Mother guides you with a gentle but firm hand.

Those who follow the path of wind do not pray for answer, for the answers are given freely.  Instead they pray first for a new set of answers, gentler easier answers, and then ultimately they pray for the courage to accept what fate has given them.

When you ride the wind is your guide, fire walks beside you, earth holds you up, and water embraces you.  You travel always the middle path, on the edge between joy and fury.

You know the truth, the path opens before you.  You at times pray for it to be otherwise, but in the end, you must walk through the flames.

You must trust the Mother and take that first step.  There are no excuses when you know the truth, seek courage and move forward.

Words Have Meaning

I know that most people don’t care about language, or even about cultural minorities for that matter, but it really pisses me off when I go onto a web forum and people are having a conversation about hackers and hacker culture, and then someone breaks in and starts trolling by using the HOLLYWOOD definition of hacker.

The word hacker has been in use a heck of a long time. It was imported into the computer science community somewhere in the 1950’s (yes, the word was already old 60 years ago). Somewhere during the 1980’s and 1990’s, Hollywood started making “Hacker” movies, and that is where many people get their meaning of the word.

If no one persisted in using the traditional meaning, then there would be no argument. However, Hackers still exist and have a thriving culture. That culture is quite often under attack by people who don’t even realize they are attacking it.

Words have meaning. When those words are actively being used, it is not good to warp the meaning (especially to something so exactly opposite). It is not good to target a subculture you know nothing about.

It is not fair that people are losing jobs, and in some cases ending up on terrorist watch lists and coming under legal scrutiny, just because their culture has been twisted to the extreme in the media.

When I got halfway through writing this, I almost stopped and deleted half of it because I was like “Wow, this sounds like I am comparing it to racism or religious discrimination…” But before I could hit delete, I realized that is actually a very apt comparison.

A subculture of people who have existed for a very long time are being maligned and their public image is being warped by the media. It is taking place to the extent that people are hurt socially and financially by the image that the media portrays. People lose jobs because their bosses find out that they are a “Hacker,” but they have no clue what that means.

People are passed over for promotions that they deserve, simply because the next person in line has never been labeled a Hacker, but they have.

People get subjected to police harassment and their equipment stolen (I think the official term is confiscated) because they are suspected of being up to no good when no crime has been committed.

All because Hollywood decided to take our words and twist their meanings.

Our modern world was put together by Hackers. Hackers created the software you are using to read this page. Hackers created the software that the web server is using to display this page. Hackers created the foundations for the software is running your computer.

What about the technology that holds together the internet? Hackers did that too.

The tech that runs your favorite video games? Yeap, that was hackers too.

Hackers are not criminals. They are people who like to play with things and create things and learn about things. Hacker culture believes in learning, and sharing what you learn. It believes in community and unity.

The “everyone for themselves, win at all costs, damn the consequences, damn the law,” image that you see in Hollywood Movies is just that: A movie.

I would love to find a way to educate people. I would love to find a way to get people to use words the way they were intended. I know though that I do not have near the cultural influence that a movie start or a film director has. For now, I will have to content myself with an occasional rant on the subject. I will have to content myself with educating the people around me on the subject.

After all, just because you can’t do everything, there is no excuse for doing nothing.

A Different Stance on Christianity

This was originally written as a message board posting, so if you are a Citizen Radio fan, you may have already seen it.

Regardless of what the following may look like, it is not intended as a direct attack on any particular group, but rather something to think about. For this reason, I ask that even if the first part is offensive, keep reading.

My own faith at the moment is in an interesting place perhaps, but I took a long time to get where I am.

My statement, simply put, is this: Modern Christianity’s approach to God is blasphemy against man, and sacrilege against God.

Christians believe that the book of Genesis is the depiction of the creation of the world. Some see it as a literal history, and others see it as more of a symbolic description of a truly massive event. Either way, it is a matter of faith, and happened so long ago that there is not much you can do to prove to most one way or the other. At this point, even the big bang theory is a matter of faith (even if it is more soundly founded in science).

The book of Genesis also goes into one very important detail other than how. It explains “Why?” Most Christians don’t think so much about this detail, and most churches seem to prefer it that way.

If you believe the Book of Genesis, then man was created not to worship, but to fellowship. The “Blind Sheep” concept of worship taught by the church of today (The one that has led to so many atrocities over the centuries) is entirely incompatible with what the ideas presented in Genesis.

It is better that you live as if there was no God at all, than to live as if you were simply an unquestioning servant. When you go before the maker, you should be able to stand toe to toe and say to him/her

“What you have created is Beautiful.”

“What I have created is Beautiful.”

And perhaps most importantly…

“Dude, you know… Some of that shit was real fucked up.”

I am not currently a Christian. I followed that path for a while, but I wandered off of it when it was no longer compatible with my view of the universe and the creator that may or may not be.

I do believe however, that if the God described in Genesis (and most books attributed to Moses for that matter) does exist, then he will not see my decisions as a crime.

I think though, that if he does exist, the modern church is fucked.

vi And vim

I keep seeing a comment pop up here and there on the web that is starting to anoy me just a little. Long time vim (vi) users seem to be constantly explaining how wonderful their favorite editor is and then say that there is a steep learning curve to using vim.

Quite frankly, that is a load of bull.

In their defense, for many of them it has been many years since they used anything but a full featured text editor.

They forget that their target audience is used to notepad and the like where simple things like search and replace are still new and shiny toys.

I say this because most of these speaches at least indicate that they are targeted at relative newbies.

A word of advice, it takes less than five minutes to learn enough about vim to do everything you can do in notepad or nano.

Unless you are using something similar to emacs, or one of he vi offshoots it will take you less than a day to get up to the same level of productivity in vi that you are at in your current editor.

At that point you can learn all the scary bits that everyone talks about at your leisure.

Don’t be scared. Give it a try. Worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and go back to whatever you are already using.

And for those who have found the ideal text editor for use on their local machine, vim is still worth playing with. It truely excels at editing files on a remote server.

If you have shell access to the machine, then there is a good chance that vi is already installed or that your admin will be willing to install it for you.

If you are the admin, there us a version of vim for pretty much every OS. 🙂

Vim is not a pretty editor, but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in style.

The Perfect Game

The best games start with a solid idea of where they are going, and how to get there. A path is laid, so that if everything goes smoothly the GM knows where to go next.

It is also important that the Game World is fleshed out a bit, and alternate paths are charted to get to the final destination.

Finally, once all this preparation is done, the GM has to make the ultimate sacrifice (from the perspective of a world creator). He or she has to give up part of his ownership of this world. He or she has to be willing to let the players take the rains of their character and go with it. The best games are a shared virtual reality created in the minds of the Game Master and the Players. It is not a straight forward game. If players wanted that, they would stick to the computer.

The best game is a living, growing, evolving thing. The characters that you will always remember are not the ones that you spend hours upon hours dredging out of a book filling your head with numbers and lists of powers and plans of grandeur. The character you will remember twenty years from now is the one that got away. The one that woke up one night at the gaming table, leapt forth from your mind, and never returned. The character that took on a life of its own. No matter what you thought you wanted for him or her, they had other ideas.

When the game takes a life of its own, independent of the individual gamers but thriving within the mind of all of them, that is the ultimate game. That is the game that you will find maybe a few times in your life.

It is like the surfer’s ultimate wave, the climber’s ultimate mountain. It is the kind of game that spawns novels that refuse to have a sequel, but leave people begging for one none the same.

I know that as a GM, I can only ever hope to come close to creating such a creature, but it is the goal.

A Bit of Advise

Everyone needs to choose their battles wisely.
I am not saying you should turn away from a strong enemy, or that cowardice is the right route.  Instead, what I am saying is that you need to insure that you know your enemy.
If you are going to engage a target, then make sure it is the right one.  Do not overestimate your enemy, and end up aiming six feet over their head.  Do not target a perceived enemy for the flaws of another.  Do not paint an unrealistic image of your foe, because that will make it harder to gain allies.  If you are going to fight a battle, make sure to do it on realistic grounds.  We cannot defeat a foe by punching at shadows.  We cannot garner allies through spreading lies, to do so is dishonorable.   We should make sure our allies know what is real as well.