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Comment: Re:Emma Watson is full of it (Score 1) 590

by mcvos (#47992999) Attached to: Emma Watson Leaked Photo Threat Was a Plot To Attack 4chan

How about the fact that a significant number of women still care more about building a family than a career?

Sockatume said "skills-matched employees", not working men versus women staying at home. Of course women staying at home make less than working men. But even in the same kind of job, with the same education and skills, women still make less.

Instead of trying to push for legal change, you guys should push for a cultural change where women don't pressure other women to get married young and start having babies.

Why do you think it's the women who push each other? I've seen plenty of men who originally promised to work less so they too could take some of the care of the children, and once the children were born, they claimed they really couldn't work a day less. And it's also men at their office who push them to continue working full time and push the child care on their wife.

We absolutely do need a cultural change, but it's a broader one than you're implying.

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 1) 363

by mcvos (#47869379) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

Look at all the companies that pay minimum wage; they do not like to pay a bit more so those less well off can have it better.

That's far too simplistic. It's not like they can just raise wages with no consequences. There is a trade-off between the amount they pay and the number they can afford to hire. Raising pay at the expense of the number of workers would have the effect of concentrating income, not spreading it around.

How many US companies are making that tradeoff? Most prefer to hire as few people as possible at the lowest wages they can get away with, in order to increase salaries for top management and profits for shareholders.

I think that when you talk about "most capitalists" you have a very select group of people in mind: the fabled "one-percenters".

There's two different meanings of the word "capitalist". There's the people who operate the wheels of capitalism which are indeed the 1%, but there's also the people who agree with the ideology that that's the way things should be. And considering the number of people who keep voting for the current system, that's clearly quite a lot of people in the US.

Even within that group I don't think you're giving enough credit—poverty in first-world countries pales in comparison to less developed areas, and that can be attributed largely to the 1% everyone loves to disparage—

You mean that the 1%ers are responsible for much of the poverty in the third world? Because they are not the ones who reduced poverty in the US. Back in the 19th century, many of them gladly took advantage of child labour, insane work weeks for very little pay, etc. It was often the workers themselves who had to fight for sane working conditions and reasonable pay. Of course there were people like Henry Ford who voluntarily increased the pay and reduced the working hours of their workers, but those are the exception.

but in any case the 1% isn't "most capitalists". Anyone with investments is a capitalist. If you have a 401k or IRA, you are in effect playing the part of a capitalist whatever your political views.

This is the difference between people who use the mechanisms of capitalism, and those who promote it. The system is capitalist, therefore anyone living in it makes use of it. Of course workers want pensions. That doesn't mean they carry the blame for fucking up the system or oppressing other workers. They only carry blame for it if they actively try to keep the lowest wages down while concentrating wealth at the top, and if they keep voting for the system that enables this.

In my opinion there are two basic aspects to systematic poverty (not counting temporary conditions). One relates to the individuals themselves, whether it's a matter of priorities, habits, or plain mental illness. Mere habits can be changed, if the motivation exists, but if someone chooses their current lifestyle over getting out of poverty, or lacks the capacity for making the choice in the first place, there is little anyone can do short of an unjustifiable infringement of their right to self-determination.

You overestimate the amount of choice the poor have. Their attention is entirely focused on making ends meet. Some recent research showed that the stress of prolonged poverty does fuck up your brain. And of course it's a cycle that continues itself because they can't afford the same education as rich people, or have the same network of successful people that rich people have. Free or affordable education has done a lot to increase social mobility in many European countries. Lack of it is holding people back in the US.

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 1) 363

by mcvos (#47869291) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

No, not really like any rich members of a corporatist party. Warren Buffett is a better example, because although he did get his immense wealth through highly capitalist means, he does complain that he should be paying more taxes over them. He knows he's benefitting disproportionally from the system and not contributing his fair share back. At least the way the system currently works. Even better is that he's voluntarily using his money for the benefit of others.

A better example are the MPs of the Dutch Socialist Party. They donate part of their salary as members of parliament to the party, so the party can hire more people, and run more campaigns for a variety of socialist issues. It's one of the best funded Dutch parties, and nobody is getting rich off it. The idea that the American Democrats are socialist is silly. It's good that they support universal health coverage, but so do the Dutch conservative liberals (VVD), who are the economically most right wing party in the Dutch political landscape. They're not socialists either.

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 1) 363

by mcvos (#47865861) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

If they were socialists, they wouldn't be paying themselves exorbitant salaries, they'd be spreading the money around.

You obviously haven't experienced how socialism works in practice.

You obviously haven't either.

The thing that makes the people in charge of social services enrich themselves is not socialism. It's seeing the salaries of people in charge of corporations, combined with a lack of accountability. I don't deny it hasn't happened; Netherland had a scandal a couple of years ago where the management of the UWV had a new office built with marble floors and crap like that. It was disgusting, and everybody was suitably outraged. It's not something that happens often.

And as far as I know, Sweden (probably the most socialist democracy in the world) is not particularly known for it's corruption in government or its overpaid politicians or civil servants. In the US, however, senators are somehow almost all millionaires.

In any case, what I mean by "socialist", is someone who believes in the ideology. Someone who wants to spread the wealth around. Of course in a socialist system (or a not so socialist system with some mildly socialist tendencies), there will still be people who want to hoard wealth rather than share it. Those are not socialists. They're the people who believe in greed, and in concentration of money (preferably in their own pockets).

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 2) 363

by mcvos (#47865777) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

I gladly pay a bit more so those less well off can have it better.

Oddly enough, so do most capitalists. The difference between socialism and capitalism (politically) lies not in whether you personally choose to "spread the wealth around", but in whether you advocate forcing others to do so.

Most capitalists don't. Otherwise, poverty would be far less of an issue. Look at all the companies that pay minimum wage; they do not like to pay a bit more so those less well off can have it better. I'm not advocating force, I'm advocating sharing, which clearly isn't happening. In fact, capitalists have a history of using force to preserve the inequality.

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 1) 363

by mcvos (#47862473) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

Wait a sec, are you saying English language is widely spoken because of Hollywood and the internet? Is that seriously what you're saying?

Also games. Without English/American TV shows, books and internet, why would I need to speak English? I'd be better off with German or French, who are closer.

Comment: Re:Contacting BBC, via VPN (Score 4, Insightful) 363

by mcvos (#47860205) Attached to: BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

If they were socialists, they wouldn't be paying themselves exorbitant salaries, they'd be spreading the money around.

There's also that despite their public funding, which means they could give their content away for free, then instead try to leverage it for profit as hard as they can.

Comment: Re:SHA-3 (Score 1) 108

by mcvos (#47860069) Attached to: Why Google Is Pushing For a Web Free of SHA-1

It would be nice if certificate authorities gave the option of getting a SHA-3 certificate. Sell it as an extra high security cert that will remain secure for a lot longer, but make clear that it's not supported by older browsers. People who really want the extra security would have the option to get it, and they'd have to insist that their users upgrade to a more secure browser. Win all around.

Comment: Re:Deprecation shouldn't start at the browser (Score 1) 108

by mcvos (#47860043) Attached to: Why Google Is Pushing For a Web Free of SHA-1

My bank is not a place I can easily walk into. I'd need to figure out where their office is, make an appointment, travel there, etc. And they'd have to do that with every single customer.

On the other hand, when I originally got my account there, I sent them a bunch of paperwork, and they sent me all sorts of sensitive stuff in return. Through snailmail. So I guess adding their cert (on a USB stick?) to that wouldn't compromise anything.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 1) 203

by mcvos (#47809915) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

I think if you want more realism, if you'll pardon the abuse of the word realism, in the game it makes more sense to switch to a more skill-based set of rules anyway - GURPS, Hero, White Wolf, JAGS, etc... Because levels are a similar kind of arbitrary framework that don't make sense inside the game but make things easier at a meta-game level.

I do in fact like skill-based systems, and back when D&D3 was new, I loved that it looked so skill-based (but it wasn't, really). But skills also have their limitations. Sometimes it's fun to play with the more class-based specialized roles. Skill-based systems sometimes lead to characters that are very similar, whereas class-based systems force specialization.

But realism isn't really the same consideration as diegetic/non-diegetic. In general traditional skill-based systems tend to be diegetic, but actually almost all traditional systems are diegetic, including most editions of D&D. The abilities on your sheet, the decisions you make as a player, are all directly related to the abilities of the character and the decisions the character makes. 3/3.5 started the move towards more abstract abilities, and 4e and Pathfinder definitely continued in that direction. Pathfinder definitely has some abilities that are too abstract, to unrelated to something real that the character might do in the world he lives in. And that makes it less diegetic. 4e goes in my opinion too far overboard in that direction; a cleric needs to hit an enemy to heal an ally. The fighter can do a fantastic attack for tons of damage and a cool side effect, but only once a day, whether it's the only fight that day or they're going to have 10 more fights that day. What's keeping him from doing it again? It makes too little sense from an in-character perspective, and the abilities and limitations feel very artificial to me.

But skill-based systems can also have non-diegetic elements. In FATE, for example, you can choose to have an aspect used against you, because it gains you a fate point, which you can later use for something good. It's a simple way to reward players for having characters with weaknesses and roleplaying them, but the decision to succumb to the flaw because it gets you a fate point is not the character's decision. But this mechanism is more separated from the character's actual abilities. It's the same meta currency for everybody regardless of what's on your sheet, and you'll never suddenly stop being able to do something.

The particular problem with using critical hits in Dungeons and Dragons instead of some sort of meta-currency is that the critical hit system that has existed in every edition before 5 isn't that potent. I haven't read about the critical hit rules for version 5, maybe it's improved. Critical hits in earlier editions are not useless by any stretch, but even if your DnD3 fighter uses a lance and has Weapon Specialization, and is against an opponent that is not immune to critical hits, he's got at best a 15% chance to do triple damage. (Maybe 10% or 20%, I don't remember.) It's better than nothing, but in a climactic battle scene it can't hold a candle to the effects of a cleverly targeted Charm Monster spell or Fireball or Improved Invisibility.

10% is pretty good, actually. That gives you a pretty decent chance of a critical hit every big fight. Of course if crits aren't powerful enough for your taste, that's simply a matter of tweaking the system. It's not an inherent problem with crits by themselves.

Not even counting Dungeons and Dragons 3/3.5, even in earlier editions with spellcasters that were weaker than their 3e counterparts, at high levels they still handily outdid Fighters for combat utility.

That is unfortunately an inherent problem to the quadratic way in which spellcasters rise in power. They get more spells, and every spell they have becomes more powerful. That last aspect has been reduced a bit in 5e; now Magic Missile only produces multiple missiles if you use it in a higher level spell slot, which would cost you the use of a higher level spell. That way the new spell slot they get is more powerful, but the old ones don't also increase in power, which I hope does a lot to mitigate their quadratic growth.

Meanwhile, fighters get a slightly quadratic aspect. They get their specialty dice which get better as they level up, and they get more abilities to use them on. To what extend this balances the classes, I have no idea. Time will tell, I guess.

So if you wanted to replace meta-currency with critical hits or something else equivalent, critical hits need to be improved. Or possibly a Fighter's base attacks and damage need to be improved, so he doesn't need better critical hits to be awesome.

That's something that Pathfinder did. Pathfinder fighters can do crazy amounts of damage. In a recent campaign I played in, the 7th level fighter did 2d4+20 points of damage on a regular hit, and double that on a critical. And with the right feat, his chance of scoring criticals will double, so that's a pretty massive amount of damage. But ultimately, Pathfinder still suffers from the quadratic wizard and mostly linear fighter problem.

I grant that in theory in Dungeons and Dragons and in practice in many other roleplaying games, all characters do not need to shine in combat. As long as every character has a fairly common chance to shine at something, the game should be fun. However, Dungeons and Dragons has had a very strong combat focus since the earliest editions.

That always used to be my impression too, which is why I avoided D&D for a long time. However, due to recent exposure to OSR, I learned that old school D&D combat should be more strategic, rather than the more tactical combat of 3e and later. And by strategic I mean that you don't stand there bashing the opposition until one side collapses from accumulated damage; instead, you try to figure out a trick to sway the entire circumstances of the combat in your favour. You avoid fair combats at all costs. Changing the combat could of course be due to a spell (it's what battlefield control wizards do, after all), but it could also come from equipment or anything else. I once heard of a group that drive a herd of sheep into a dungeon to set off all the traps, for example. But it relies more on player creativity than the abilities on your sheet. It's the old player skill versus character skill debate.

But even in tactical combat, strategic goals can make the combat more fun and give lousy combatants something to do. I remember a Pathfinder combat where we attacked the guards of a prison wagon, while my Rogue tried to pick the lock to free the prisoner before their reinforcements arrived. That's fun stuff. I don't need to kill anyone in that kind of combat, because I'm doing the thing that actually matters.

Basically, combats that are about grinding through the opposition's HP are boring. You need ulterior goals. Do you need to free someone? You you need to get away? Get past them? And is combat really the only way to accomplish that, or could you try talking or sneaking your way past? In reality, nobody stands and fights until they drop. People flee when the combat doesn't go their way. I believe older editions had morale rules, which unfortunately disappeared when 3e came along.

So even if we remove the magic-sounding encounter and daily powers from 4e from the newer editions, it's likely that 50+% of gaming sessions is a battle. The person playing the cleric that only heals well and especially the one playing the thief that only steals well are going to spend a lot of time twiddling their thumbs waiting for lucky dice rolls in order to feel useful, while the fighter and barbarian (and especially the wizard) are going to be highly effective.

But that's a matter of adventure design. If the adventure is only about combat, then non-combat abilities don't matter much. Suddenly everybody needs to be a fighter in disguise. Of course it's also possible that it's simply that the combats take along time to resolve. This is definitely true in 3.5 (and even more so in Earthdawn), and according to my limited experience with 4e, combats there aren't exactly lightning fast either. Older editions were much faster. Thing is, the more detail you put in combat abilities, the more time it takes to use them, the more combat slows down, and also the more you want to slow combat down in order to get the chance to use those abilities.

And of course, it's worth mentioning that Earthdawn turns this problem on its ear by making every PC class explicitly magical. So the Fighter can have magic-sounding cool powers because he's actually using magic. I loved the game concept, though Earthdawn seemed a little too complicated to me. I never actually played, though, maybe it works better in practice than it appeared on paper. I keep hoping Earthdawn will get ported to another gaming ruleset, but no such luck.

Earthdawn sometimes gets called "D&D done right", because it has a real in-world explanation for all the weird unrealistic stuff in D&D. Various Disciplines (classes) were actually surprisingly balanced, despite spellcasters having no limit on how many spells they cast or know. But it's absolutely complex despite its elegance. Many Talents were practically their own subsystem, and combats could be unbelievably slow.

Comment: Re:MMO Crap (Score 1) 203

by mcvos (#47799393) Attached to: Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

This is the difference between the diegenetic and non-diegetic view of character abilities. You want the character's abilities to be determined by the preferred story structure, even if those abilities don't make sense on their own. I prefer the character's abilities to be something real to the character. Something he knows he can do. The wizard knows which spells he can cast, and presumably knows he can only cast each spell once. But for a fighter to know he can't swing his sword like that again for the rest of the day once he's done it, or he can't make that perfect shot again for no clear in-character reason, well, that'd be weird. So unlike the wizard, the fighter character loses knowledge of what he can do. He becomes a puppet of the limitations that the story demands of his abilities.

Mind you, I'm not at all against some form of meta-currency to give you that extra oomph just when you need it. Fate points, plot points, karma, bennies, etc, I do like having that something extra to save for that special moment, and those exist outside the knowledge of the characters (except in Earthdawn obviously, where characters explicitly manage their karma). But that is an extra meta-currency on top of what the character himself is capable of, and what he knows himself to be capable of. But in D&D4, these meta-concerns infringe on the character's own physical abilities. And these abilities even have a special magic-sounding name, making it really more like a spell than a mundane ability. It damages the distinction between what the character can do and what the player wants from the story.

And those special moments in the movies, they could just as well have been a simple critical hit. Doesn't it hurt the suspense of the encounter when you know: I can still use my once-a-day encounter busting ability? One of the cool things about RPGs is their unpredictability. You can have the randomness of the dice create the drama of the story. When I played Earthdawn, the exploding dice meant that sometimes, due to luck, a simple d10 could roll over 20 or even 30. That move, whatever it was, was instantly epic, even if the player didn't plan it.

I grant you that class balance in 3.5 is seriously broken, and I totally believe you that 5 didn't fix it either. And yes, 4 is a lot more balanced, but balance at the cost of flavour isn't very good balance in my opinion. In the end, the core of class balance is this: in every situation, every PC has to be able to contribute something useful, and everybody has to get the chance to truly excel every once in a while. Not everybody has to excel in combat, unless your game is only about combat. Having one PC dominate combat is fine, as long as the others aren't useless, and the others get plenty of other opportunity to shine. Balance is only really broken when, as in 3.5, some classes will eventually be able to do everything better than everybody else, making everybody else obsolete. But forcing everybody to have very similar once-a-day powers is totally unnecessary.

Comment: Re: Her work (Score 1) 1262

Don't put words in my mouth please. Your Spock quote is exactly what I said. That quote shows that it's common for "understand" to be taken as approval, and also that it can mean other things. The word "understand" is used to mean slightly different things in different situations, just like many other words.

The Universe is populated by stable things. -- Richard Dawkins