June 10, 2012

Minecraft + Civilization = Civcraft

Lately I have been playing Minecraft on a unique and server called Civcraft. It started as a social experiment by some anarcho-capitalists from Reddit, then branched out to other political communities. In contrast to most large Minecraft servers, which are either admin-run plutocracies or hardcore PvP tournaments, Civcraft uses special mods and hands-off administration to put the power in the players' hands and let them shape the world themselves. The players, in turn, exercise the great pastime and challenge of mankind: Civilization.

Without artificial rules and limitations, it is up to the players to decide how they will play and who they will be. I, for example, am the benevolent king of Gondolin, a hidden libertarian paradise with a Middle-earth theme. I'm also the new owner of the skeletal remains of one of the server's oldest cities, and the abbot of a charitable monastery. You can be anything you like. We have libertarian socialists, communists, republicans, of course AnCaps, and even villainous griefers who flirt with permanent imprisonment in the End. In two months, cities have been built and abandoned, wars fought, alliances forged, trust betrayed. It's a Minecraft world unlike any other- a simulation of real-world politico-economics among competing ideologies.

Join us.

March 11, 2012

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us

It's strange, I don't feel like I've been doing much of anything lately, but when I stop and think about it, I have plenty on my plate- at least in theory. Maybe I need to focus my attention on a few things at a time. I'm very much a "starter" and tend to lack follow-through.

Rather than make this another apologetic post about how I've been putting off blogging in favor of other things, I'll just switch it up and talk about all that's going on- and what isn't so much.

Girlfriend: Most importantly, I have fallen in love with a beautiful young lady named Jessica. I mentioned her briefly before, and you will hear more about her in the future. I may even persuade her to co-author this blog. Jessica is a life-long acquaintance, but we only recently realized that we're perfect for each other. She has unquestionably been the highlight of the past few months. Unfortunately we're forced to maintain a long-distance relationship, but we have been able to visit each other frequently and we manage to make do with Skype and IM.

Working: My job obviously takes up the largest share of my time and effort. The project that I have been assigned to for almost a year now as the sole GUI developer is starting to wrap up. I've learned a lot and gained some valuable experience, but it hasn't all been fun or even tolerable. As a junior engineer with limited experience I'm working a bit outside of my technical comfort zone and above my pay grade, but my results are being noticed. The company is making some transitions in technology and practices, and I'm right in the middle of some of it. Personally though, I'm just looking forward to moving on to a new project at this point.

Reading: I've tried to get back in the habit of reading books since I finished college, and now my to-read list is growing out of control. In addition to my extensive bookshelf on Goodreads (those 250+ don't count sequels and series), I keep picking up more used books from the library to the point where my (large-ish) physical bookshelf is double-stacked with books I haven't read. I'm currently in the middle of The Deed of Paksenarrion, Primal: The Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, and yet another pass through The Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, Jessica and I are participating in a challenge that my church organized to read through the whole Bible in a year. I'm still struggling to finish Genesis, although we're supposed to have read through Deuteronomy 8 and the gospels by now. So no so good on that front.

Writing: My foray into NaNoWriMo obviously didn't work out so well, but I certainly haven't given up on writing. I've been trying to organize all of my notes for the book, and recently came up with an important new plot thread. I think what I need most is practice- writing anything. It seems that when I do try to draft long passages I get bogged down in my inability to put my thoughts clearly into words, and soon give up because I can't get it to sound right. Writing more frequently, even on completely unrelated topics, would probably help me focus on getting more words down.

Drinking: As last year, I'm participating in 40 Days of Water. It's a campaign from the charity Blood:Water Mission to give up all beverages except tap water for Lent, and donate your savings to fund wells in Uganda where 30% of the population doesn't have access to clean drinking water. I got Jessica to join me this time, mostly to see if she could break her chocolate milk addiction. Today happens to be Sunday, so I'm enjoying the day off with a Yuengling. Okay, so that isn't really an ongoing activity, but it's a point of interest.

Gaming: As always, I picked up a number of new games from Steam's holiday sale. This time I added Mass Effect 1 & 2, Fallout 3 & New Vegas, Empire & Napoleon: Total War, and the complete X (space sim) series to my repertoire. Being the avid gamer I am, I'm still working on the early stages of Mass Effect. Like most other hobbies, my game library is growing faster than I can enjoy it. In other news, I'm still working on my Civ3 mod Legacy, which could theoretically be ready for a 1-era beta as soon as I check all the rules and insert some workable placeholder graphics.

In addition to all of that, I'll be getting back into running soon if the weather will stabilize. Then there's the political mischief that I'm always getting into. And don't forget blogging. I think I'll have enough to keep me busy, if I can stay focused on a few items and not get

January 15, 2012

2012, We Are In You!

Mid-January, is it? Why, it must be time for my annual I-should-be-blogging post!

Let's see, last time around I was... oh. Oh, I didn't even post until March. Well that's an improvement already! 2012 is shaping up nicely!

Actually, there has been quite a bit I've been wanting to post about over the last couple of months, but due to lack of time, or lack of interwebs, or just lack of motivation, I haven't gotten around to it. So allow me to summarize:
  • I dedicated November to writing thinking about my novel, which stands right now around 5-6000 words of prose plus several thousand more of notes. The whole writing blitz approach just didn't work for me, and I pretty quickly reverted to note-taking and outlining in place of blind drafting. In the interest of just getting words down and not worrying about editing I declined to post any more excerpts anywhere, but the plot is really shaping up. I'm certain at this point that it will end up being a trilogy.
  • Much of December was spent harassing Congress and my fellow citizens over the latest threats to the American way of life, namely the NDAA and SOPA/PIPA. As you are hopefully now aware, the NDAA includes a cleverly worded authorization for indefinite detainment of US citizens by the military, if they are suspected of potential ties to terrorism. Don't worry too much though; our trusty Commander-in-Chief only signed it into law reluctantly, and promises that he won't abuse this new power. In other news, SOPA and PIPA effectively hand executive power of the Internet over to corporate copyright holders, giving them unilateral power to shut down, sue, block, or starve off potentially infringing websites (read: the sites you visit every day) without due process. Thanks to a firestorm of opposition from the interwebs support for SOPA is failing, but some suspect that it was planned that way so that the slightly less draconian PIPA can then be pushed through under the guise of a reasonable compromise. Make sure your congresscritters hear from you on these ones.
  • Speaking of politics, the 2012 primary season has begun and your friend Ron Paul is doing quite well. He took a very close third in Iowa and a strong second in New Hampshire, establishing him as the clear alternative to Bachmann Perry Cain Gingrich Santorum Romney. This whole election cycle has been baffling, frustrating, and at times maddening, but I'm glad to see Ron getting so much traction among the Republican base. And for the record, he's still not only the most sensible candidate, but the most electable, regardless of what the media king-makers may try to sell you.
  • 2012 is going to be a momentous year. From my best friend's wedding to the London Olympics to the Presidential election to the end of the world on December 21, everything is happening this year. One week last month saw the release of theatrical trailers for both The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises. If those titles don't get me to a movie theater twice in one year I don't know what will. And of course, in the meantime we get to enjoy works of genius like this.
  • On a more personal note, I have somehow recently acquired a girlfriend. I'm not sure why she insists on being associated with me, but who am I to refuse?
Well that just about brings us up to the present. If anything else happens, you'll find out here- a few months late.