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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in drcpunk's LiveJournal:

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Monday, February 26th, 2018
5:58 pm
I Need a Word
I need a word that means the male equivalent of the Grand Dame. "Grand Duke" isn't quite right, nor is "Grey Eminence".
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
12:29 pm
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
1:51 am
TremonTEAM Season 3 Week 8: Guns on the Mantel, Author-Reader Contracts, and What I Need
If you're not reading Tremontaine, you can change this by going here.

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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
2:56 pm
Saturday, November 18th, 2017
5:51 pm
Trust for the Future, aka TremonTEAM Season 3 Week 6 Challenge
This week's challenge was about opening the sort of business we thought Riverside might need. So --

It's another collaboration!

Lisa (who will be playing Dr. C): What does Riverside need?

Josh (who will be playing Neme, pronounced "NEH-mey") (without pause): Insurance.

Name of Business: The Paper Blade

Slogans: Be Sure! Insure with Neme and Dr. C! We protect your Ass(ets)

Best read in a Brooklyn accent.

Potential Client: Insurance? Isn't that what I have my swordsman protector for? Hugh here keeps people from messing with me and what's mine. Anyone tries, Hugh'll kill him. What more insurance do I need?

(Hugh preens)

Neme: And how will that stop you from going out of business if someone's too drunk to recognize Hugh? Now, look. Let us say there's a duchess. And this duchess puts a lot of her family money into -- into -- help me out, here, Doc! What do duchesses put money into?

Dr. C: Um... They have those pretty boats, Neme.

Neme: Sure, sure. Let us say this duchess puts her family money into a boat. One of those explorer boats.

Dr. C: Yeah! One of those explorer boats.

Neme: And let's say that boat happens to... you know, sink.

Dr. C: Boats do that.

Neme: Sometimes, yeah. Not all the time, but yeah.

Dr. C: You understand, no one wants them to sink. We're not talking an "accident". We're talking an accident.

Neme: Yeah. This isn't that kind of insurance.

Dr. C: You want _that_ kind of insurance, talk to Larry down the block.

Neme: Or don't.

Dr. C: Hey, he gives very reasonable rates!

Neme: The point is, that kind of insurance, you're getting protection from the person selling you that kind of insurance. Or, you could hire a swordsman.

Dr. C: Which you've done.

(Hugh preens)

Neme: But the swordsman won't protect you against the world.

Potential Client: But that's exactly what I hire a swordsman to protect me against.

Dr. C: He protects you if it rains? If a branch falls on your house?

Neme: If it catches on fire?

Dr. C: By accident. Not by "accident".

Neme: So all you have to do is give us a bit of the value you want protected, every month.

Dr. C: Like, say --

Neme: No, no. We gotta asses it first. See what the risks are. We've got a student at the university working for us who can turn all of our observations into numbers.

Dr. C: It's really very impressive. And all he asks for are tomato pies.

Neme: Yeah, great bargain! Now see, that duchess's boat --

Dr. C: You know, the hypothetical one.

Neme: Yeah, hypothetical.

Dr. C: That hypothetically sunk.

Neme: Yeah, yeah. If we knew it was, say, going out to -- hey, Doc? Where did the chocolate princess come from?

Dr. C: The one who was with Tess the Hand?

Neme: Yeah, that one.

Dr. C: Um... B-something? Bikin--

Neme: Whatever. It doesn't matter.

Dr. C: Then why did you ask?

Neme: (sighs) She's so literal minded. The point is, journey like that, never succeeded before? We wouldn't have sold her insurance.

Dr. C: We wouldn't have?

Neme: Nope. See, insurance is a way of sharing risk.

Dr. C: Yeah, sharing. People ought to share. But, we all know we need to know what's in it for us first. That's just smart.

Neme: So we wouldn't have sold the duchess insurance at any price she was willing to pay.

Dr. C: Hypothetically. I mean, of course, even a hypothetical duchess wouldn't do hypothetical business with us, but never mind that.

Neme: But, your ordinary house fire. Most houses don't catch on fire most days most years.

Dr. C: Er... there was that dry summer five years back.

Neme: Yeah, that's why we have a clause for district-wide fires. We don't pay out for those. Otherwise, nobody would get any money and everybody would be unhappy.

Potential client: Wait, but if you don't pay out anything for a district-wide fire, nobody gets any money, except you, and then someone burns down your shop. How is that good for anyone, including you?

Neme: Oh, we might pay out a bit on a catastrophic event, if you've opted for the catastrophic clause. It costs more, and it's not really worth it. But, that's up to you.

Dr. C: Yeah, we don't pay the full value. But anyone who opts in will get a little, even if it's the entire district. It costs us, but there's that sharing thing.

Neme: But everyone's gonna hurt. Including us. But for the little things -- your place getting robbed ---

Dr. C: When you and Hugh aren't there --

Neme: Or maybe an inside job. As long as it's not too inside. You can't arrange your own losses.

Dr. C: Yeah, at that point, we talk to Larry, and if Larry can't help -- which he almost certainly can. He's really very reasonable -- then we just don't pay you.

Neme: Yeah, that's in the contract too. Look, just think of us as a gambling parlour. Except, instead of hoping to win --

Dr. C: By which he means get paid because your stuff got messed with.

Neme: Instead, you hope to lose. Which is to say, you pay us a small amount for insurance, you don't get anything back, but you don't lose anything either. Your money protected you. You paid for safety and your stuff was safe.

Dr. C: And this money we get. Yeah, sure, we got living expenses. Sure, we got... little luxuries, let's call 'em. But most of that money? We invest it.

Neme: That way, your money's still doing work. Your premiums --

Dr. C: That means payments.

Neme: Yeah, they stay low. And no one, which is to say us, gets chased by an unhappy mob.

Dr. C: Yeah, we hate unhappy mobs.

Neme: Mutual, I'm sure. We'll even ensure things that aren't business. Like, your life, for instance.

Dr. C: Yeah, Hugh can stop a swordsman.

(Hugh preens)

Neme: But he can't stop age. And sickness.

Dr. C: Or tripping over a broken cobble and breaking your ankle.

Neme: No, that's medical insurance. We're not touching that. But, we'll even offer some free advice on how to protect your investment. After all, once you've bought insurance from us, your risk is our risk as well.

Dr. C: Yeah, we don't want to pay you. That means we really don't want you to get robbed. Or to have a fire. So, we go out there, we say, maybe, "Your lock is crap."

Neme: And if you replace it, we'll give you a cheaper premium.

Dr. C: We can recommend people, but it boils down to the quality of the lock. Yeah, we get the usual from someone we recommend, and we will recommend the best we know -- because it's our risk too -- but if you know someone as good or better, it still lowers your risk, and that lowers our risk.

Potential Client: There's just one thing I don't understand. If I pay you money for years, nothing bad ever happens, that's not you doing anything. That's luck. But I'm still out the money, because you don't give it back.

Neme: True, but if no one ever attacks you because Hugh is really good at his job, he's not giving you your money back either.

(Hugh shakes his head emphatically.)

Neme: But just like Hugh, we're giving you something you can trust in. Trust, for the future.

Sometime later...

Dr. C: So, that guy with Hugh, what was his name again?

Neme: Mark.

Dr. C: Oh, of course.

(Enter Potential Client #2, who's heard about this from someone else)

Potential Client #2: ...and so, I'm trying to find out if this is real.

Dr. C: Oh yes. I mean, we're talking about a lot of hypotheticals, but the money's real. Risk is real.

Neme: Yeah, exactly. And technically, we're not selling you anything.

Potential Client #2: How do you figure that?

Neme: We're buying. We're buying your risk.

Potential Client #2: You want my risk?

Neme: No, absolutely not. Nobody wants your risk. You don't want your risk. We don't want your risk. You'd have to pay us to take it. Which is basically what you're doing.
Tuesday, October 31st, 2017
6:12 pm
TremonTEAM Season 3 Week 4 Challenge
With help from [personal profile] mneme:

If you're not following Tremontaine, you can change that by going here, which will make the following somewhat more comprehensible. And, no, Seanan McGuire's not currently writing for it, but you can find out what she has written over here

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Sunday, October 29th, 2017
2:09 pm
A Rant on Solicited Group Mail
This is about solicited email, not about junk or spam. It is about mail from political organizations that I have not told to take me off their mailing list.

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12:14 pm
TremonTEAM: Tremontaine Season 2 and Season 3, Episodes 1-3
I figured it was time to get some ranting and thoughts onto the virtual page all in one place, rather than scattered in the comments on other blogs. For those not following Tremontaine, you can change that by going here, and that will make this post more comprehensible.

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11:53 am
TremonTEAM Season 3 Week 3 Challenge
This is the weekly challenge post for Tremontaine -- and if you aren't reading Tremontaine already, you can easily change that by going here.

So, as readers of Tremontaine know, Rafe Fenton wants to found a new school. I have a few thoughts:

With visitors from Chartil, perhaps arrangements could be made for guest lecturers from that land, bringing their knowledge of the sciences and the arts. When the ambassador is available, perhaps Rafe might talk with him.

I have no idea what Joshua's specialty is. I think he could probably teach basics and organization, and these need to be taught by someone good, but I'm sure there's something else he'd rather teach. And, in the matter of practicalities, someone needs to be doing the books for this school. This isn't a job for Joshua, but perhaps he knows how to find the right person -- or perhaps Rafe's father does.

I've been thinking about how Micah might teach. I think she would have some success if she tried to explain how she played cards. Certainly, students would have more inspiration with a clear example of the practicality of mathematical knowledge!

Maybe a walkthrough of a game, perhaps in an appropriate tavern setting with beer and tomato pie, possibly with Tim and the rest of Rafe's circle, with editorial comments about how Tim is obviously bluffing, and really shouldn't, and why it's obvious Tim is bluffing -- that could be educational, especially for Tim.
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
6:36 pm
TremonTEAM Season 3 Week 1 Challenge
It is a Special Occasion for Duchess Tremontaine. What to serve at a dinner in her honor?

This is not my forte. Still, hm. She was originally Diane Roehaven, so a main course of venison would be appropriate. And of course, there must be swans. Sugar swans floating on chocolate!

Beyond that, I don't know. Perhaps ask Micah for recommendations on vegetables, and if she wants radishes carved into swans, sure! Or turnips. And find someone who knows wine to find out what would compliment this.

While I still have some issues with Season 2 (and went into those at length during season 2), thus far, Season 3 is off to a great start.

I love how it makes the city both infinite and intimate -- cities are many cities in one, but because of who knows whom, they all intersect. It's rather like the big gaming convention Gen Con or like a huge WorldCon that way. Heck, it's even like the much smaller Intercon, the larping convention I go to -- 300 people or so, and I know most of them, and some of them I never see the entire weekend because they're doing a different convention than I am because of the games they choose.

Now, we'll see how things develop. I like what I'm seeing of various characters' strengths and of consequences. I want to keep seeing that. People are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, but I want to believe in the combination I see of the two, and to still care about the characters. I'd like a less dea ex machina than last season.

But for right now, I'm satisfied. Duchess Tremontaine is very much herself, and one of her big weaknesses is that she always assumes everyone sees the world the same way she does and acts for the same reasons she acts. And she still sees the city as hers, and I suspect the city sees her as its own.
Saturday, September 2nd, 2017
12:38 am
Friday, January 20th, 2017
10:52 pm
RIP Larry Smith
I've been in the habit of making a list of books to look for at Larry's tables at various conventions. I'm still a bit dazed by the news, as we saw him at Arisia and at GAFilk before that.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
4:38 pm
Team Tremontaine: Women of Tremontaine, Surprises, Recaps, and Hopes
I'm doing two weeks' worth of TremonTEAM challenges.

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Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
11:44 pm
Team Tremontaine: Swordsmen, Scholars, and Social Media -- and musings on last few episodes
This week's challenges:

Challenge 1: Would you rather be a Swords-person or a scholar? Discuss!

Really, it's not as if one can't be both.

Challenge 2: What social media sites would the characters use? Feel free to either write a post describing their habits, or create a post/tweet/image as if you were one of them.

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10:55 pm
Recent Reading

67. City of Wolves by Willow Palecek. Intriguing and enjoyable -- I'm hoping for more in that world.
68. Reread of H. P. Lovecraft's "Horror at Red Hook" and Victor LaValle's The Ballad of Black Tom.
69. Devils & Realist #10
70. Whitehall by Liz Duffy Adams, Delia Sherman, Barbara Samuel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Robins, and Sarah Smith. I am trying to figure out why I like this one. I know the history, and I don't care for most of the actual people. But every other week, I'd gobble down two installments. It worked best for me two at time, for some reason.
71. Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer. I need to reread this.
72. Bloody Mary #4
73. Alarums & Excursions #491
74. Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire. Oh boy. It's on. When's the next book coming out?
75. Once Broken Faith & Dreams and Slumbers by Seanan McGuire. I'm counting the second as part of the first.
76. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. Reread. Hey, I had to reread the first four so I could read the fifth. This one's an old friend already. Also, some stuff that surprised me in the third and fourth book is very carefully set up here. Or maybe not, and Valente picked up things she put there by accident, which is just as good.
77. Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Meyer
78. Tales of the Caribbean, a collection of Call of Cthulhu scenarios from Golden Goblin Press. I edited this one, and while I've read all of it several times, I'm only counting the final full read through of the final version of the laid out book.
79. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente. reread. I loved this when I read it and appreciated it even more on the reread as I saw how things were set up.
80. Alarums & Excursions #492
81. Medusa's Web by Tim Powers. It's very much a Tim Powers book. Fortunately, I like Tim Powers books.
82. I am counting Justin Alexander's Alexandrian Remix of Pelgrane Press's Trail of Cthulhu campaign Eternal Lies here. If you have read it, I think you will agree that it counts as a feull book. I am itching to run Eternal Lies again, and if I do, I will be using a substantial amount of Justin's material.
83. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne Valente. Reread. I need to do a review of this one. It's the middle child of the family and the one that I didn't like as much the first time through, so I paid careful attention this time. And it's about time. The book, I mean.
84. Lucifer, vol. 1: Cold Heaven by Holly Black, Lee Garbett, Stephanie Hans, and Antonia Fabela
85. Alarums & Excursions #493
86. The Monsterhearts 2nd edition sneak peak pack by Avery Alder. I'm using this for a Monsterhearts game, with 1st edition for whatever's not in it.
87. The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian. I read this as background material for the first part of the Night's Black Agents scenario "The Carmilla Sanction" and it did what it was supposed to, which was give me a better sense of how dangerous mountain climbing is. The book's a parody of the James Bond stuff, but the section on the mountain is in a class by itself.
88. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne Valente. Reread. This felt like an old friend already.
89. Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee. Bisexual teenage superheroics was what I was expecting. There's also a lot of intriguing worldbuilding. Turns out this is the first of a trilogy, and I'll want to read the next two. I'm annoyed that Barnes & Nobles didn't have it on the shelves. Apparently, it's only print on demand, so I ordered it online. (Yeah, B&N would've special ordered it, but at that point, I'm not Right There to catch the book as it falls off the shelf.)
90. Black Butler #23
91. Devils & Realist #11
92. Occult Crimes Taskforce by Rosario Dawson, David Atchinson, and Tony Shasteen. Yes, that Rosario Dawson.
93. The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman. Some authors do set up you can feel sliding into place. Here, stuff I didn't see slid into place, which isn't so much "ah, yes, I was expecting that" as "oh!... That explains a lot that I didn't realize needed explaining, but it totally did!" or "Yeah, I was sort of wondering about that, but I kind of assumed it was just a thing -- and no, there's actually a reason for it!"
94. The Necessary Deaths by David C. Dawson
95. Alarums & Excursions #494
96: The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente, as well as a reread of "The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland--For a Little While" (read before this book, but after the first in the series) and "The Beast Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still" (read any time after the first in the series, remembering that, as with Coleridge's "Kubla Khan", the introduction is a part of the work). There are more stories that could be told here, past, present, and future, but this is a fine ending to the series itself.
97. Bloody Mary #5
98. Clover by CLAMP. Oh CLAMP! Sigh. I gather that there were supposed to be 2 more volumes, making this a 6 volume set (well, depending on how you count things -- the existent 4 volumes are collected into a single volume and are in three parts). As with X/1999, which I doubt the work will ever be finished in graphic novel form, I very much want a written summary of where CLAMP was going to go with this. Cyberpunk, dystopic, and all about love. Oh CLAMP.
99. Chobits by CLAMP. Published in 2 large volumes, but I'm considering it one work. Complete, all about love and humanity and some questions that are very good questions and, depending on your point of view, either sidestepped or answered in the only way that counts. Oh CLAMP>
100. The Devourers by Indra Das. Very well done. I'm a sucker for well told stores.


1. Backers' Draft of Dresden Accelerated for Fate. Sweet! I playtested the alpha and beta versions, which were about 96 pages. This is over twice that length, as it has all the material we didn't need for the playtest as well as improvements. We had a blast with the alpha playtest, and documented all our bumps. Moving house happened during the beta, so we didn't have many playtest sessions, which meant we couldn't test the new stuff, but it looked solid and a lot of the bumps were gone. The version I just read looks even better and has a section that was so obviously needed -- and it never occurred to me that this was the case until I read it. At base, the Dresden books are mysteries, so there is a rock solid section on how to use Dresden Accelerated -- and, by extension, Fate in general -- when running mysteries so that things move, rather than stall. And the expansions of Accelerated make me wonder if I should switch my Kerberos Fate game from an Atomic Robo Fate base to a Dresden Accelerated base. Possibly not, but Dresden Accelerated has still taught me a few tricks that will transfer over.
Monday, December 12th, 2016
3:36 pm
Team Tremontaine: Choices
With thanks to Duchess Tremontaine for her grace and forbearance, here is this week's challenge, somewhat belated.

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Friday, December 2nd, 2016
2:23 pm
Thursday, November 10th, 2016
12:45 am
Team Tremontaine: Heroes, Protagonists, and Others
One of the challenges this week is to talk about who we think the hero of season one is and who the hero of season two might be. I'm not sure I'd describe anyone in Tremontaine as The Hero, but let's look at the list.

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Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
12:55 pm
Tremontaine: Season 2, Episode 3
I've finally written about Season 2, Episode 3 of Tremontaine.

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Saturday, October 29th, 2016
6:30 pm
Team Tremontaine: Current (and Possibly Previous) Challenge
Week 8 Challenge: Shipping in Tremontaine -- and perhaps half credit for week 7: Something I'm curious about

I'm curious about Theodorick de Bertel and Rafe Fenton. Actually, I'm curious about Rafe's University years in general, and about his friends, especially, Joshua, but today, I'm focusing on de Bertel.

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