55 Simple Rules for Debate in the Modern World

It’s my own fault really. Because I like to see different sides to an argument before making up my own mind (see Rule 9 below) then I am unfortunately exposed to comments from people whose opinions are badly argued, uninformed, prejudiced, immature and just plain stupid. And this does annoy me at times.

I like to think that the 55 rules below are ones that I at least try to stick to when commenting online. I wish other people would too, even though a few of my ‘rules’ are actually opinions. Some of the rules are not so much rules for debate, more rules you should live by if you want me to value your opinion. Put it this way, the more of my rules that you break, the less highly will I rate your opinion.

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Tarkin (animated)

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American Graffiti director George Lucas's forgotten 1977 science fiction movie.

Want a cuddly archaeopteryx? There's still time to back the kickstarter!

Göbekli Tepe: a "smoking gun" for the Younger-Dryas impact hypothesis? (The Younger-Dryas impact hypothesis proposes that comet airburst or impact caused the Younger-Dryas cole period of the 11th millennium BC.)

A staff officer on the military strategy of Siege of Gondor.

The dangerous delusions of folk economics.

More anti-semitism at British universities.

"Letter to my younger self", by Ryan Leaf. Leaf was the second pick in the 1998 NFL Draft (right after Peyton Manning), and one of the worst draft busts ever.

Ten signs you're a pretentious foodie.

You thought the Americans had it bad? The French presidential election is a choice between the worst kind of left-wing populist and an elitist over-privileged enarque banker.

The best predictions from the first Earth Day.

Frank Frazetta, the grandmaster of pulp swords & sorcery art, once did some Lord of the Rings illustrations. And to be fair, they’re pretty damned good. At least you’ll start off thinking that, and then you’ll get to Eowyn’s arse. And then the orcs’ arses.

A brilliant gallery of nerds trying and failing to look hard. Some of them are actually scary. I wouldn’t want to mess with the big guy in the grey polo shirt, even without the knife.

12 things that prove Doom will run on anything.

Star Wars: Rogue One is coming to VHS!

Uncannily skilled Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast might be Antichrist.

Corporate Bullshit Generator

At Dawn We Ate Sugar Smacks: Wargaming Newbies Tackle the Monster of Monsters If you read this and think to yourself “I’ve gotta play that game!”, then a) you’re a bit weird and b) you’re in luck, because we have it in stock! If you read this and think to yourself “Sounds quite good, but maybe a bit too short? I mean it would be better if the game started in say 1935”, then a) you’re more than a bit weird and b) you’re still in luck, because we have the prequel in stock too!

Traveller Adventure

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PETA wrote to Games Workshop to ask them to remove plastic and metal fur garments from their plastic and metal miniatures. (I can’t decide if this was clever PR on PETA’s part or another example of them doing something that will only make people ridicule them.)

27 MPs voted in favour of a referendum on EU membership and then voted to ignore the result. Here’s a list of them. If one of them is your MP, please vote for someone else (anyone else really) at the next election.

Russians drink a lot of vodka. The USSR also wasn't the most environmentally conscious of countries. But at Ussuri Bay near Vladivostok, that seems to have worked out quite well.

Refreshingly Radioactive? The Wild History of Energy Drinks

These Game of Thrones pens are rather nice. Personally, I’d want the Targaryen fountain pen.

The 80s D&D cartoon series played like an actual D&D game

New Doctor Who should be a Dalek, say Daleks

A(nother) new low for campus craziness

This Hitler Nonsense...

Guess which corrupt leftie is a friend of struck-off tank chasing ex-lawyer Paul Shiner?

It's unfortunate when the early edition of the local newspaper of one of the teams in the Super Bowl has to go to press when they're losing 28-3 with only 17 minutes left to play, but I guess you have to go ahead and print... (Final score: 28-34, biggest comeback in Super Bowl history and tied for the fifth biggest comeback in any game in the NFL’s 96 year history.)

Hans Rosling has died.

Really clever Russians cheating on slot machines

Possibly one of the most unknowingly ironic articles ever written.

A triple century in T20??!!! Bloody hell. 300 off 72 balls. 39 sixes. Wow. Were they bowling underarm? Was the boundary ten yards away?

The connection between Hayao Miyazaki's film 'Howl's Moving Castle' and the  French Navy of the 1880s and 1890s.

Who said it? Donald Trump or Alan Partridge. (For those of you who haven’t heard of him, the other guy is a comedy character, an incompetent celebrity. I assume everyone knows who Alan Partridge is…)


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Forgotten Realms

Morkai Gate

The RPG campaign I'm currently running is an epic fantasy set in the Second Age in the far-east of Middle-earth. And since large-scale battles are an important feature of Tolkien's works, large-scale battles are an important feature of this roleplaying campaign.

Now while most fantasy wargamers use 28mm scale, that's far too big to look right for a big battle. (Unless you have a truly enormous space). So we use 6mm scale, in which a typical human figure is 6mm high.

This year, without giving too many spoilers to my players, the battle may well feature the castle which guards the only easy entrance to the mountain province of Angren. This is the Morkai Gate.

So, in my first ever work along these lines, I have made a 6mm model of the Morkai Gate.

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The Next Doctor

So Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who. I think that's a shame. I was greatly pleased when he was announced (so pleased in fact that I almost managed to scrub Rufus Hounds's pathetic pretence at being a 'superfan' from my memory) and I think he's been a good Doctor. He hasn't always had the strongest writing, but his acting and on screen presence has been excellent. His finest hour was 'Heaven Sent', undoubtedly one of the best ever Who stories.

Now it's time to think of a replacement. This is the sort of thing you can put bets on. (Question for scholars of Who and betting: Which new Doctor casting was the first to be covered by a high street or online bookmaker? How far back does this sort of thing go?)

I was greatly amused by this article from the Daily Mash, which pleasingly takes the piss out of those Doctor Who fans (and politicians) who maintain that the next Doctor "has to be" a woman. Harriet Harman even "demanded" that the next Doctor should be female. This woman used to be Deputy Prime Minister for god's sake. It's a good job that there's nothing else going on in the world for feminists to worry about at the moment... Thankfully nobody ever listened to her when she was a member of the government, and now she's a backbench member of one of the least popular opposition parties in history, really nobody listens to her at all except to poke fun at her when she says something stupid like this. Our actual Prime Minister Theresa May was also asked about this (she's a Who fan apparently (allegedly)) but replied rather more sensibly that it was for the programme-makers to decide. Having a state television company is bad enough, it would be really absurd if the Prime Minister was consulted on casting decisions...

You know what though? Go onto the more annoying parts of social media and search for #nextdoctorwho or whatever the appropriate shortcut is, and what do you find? Plenty of sensible suggestions (including some interesting leftfield ones, plenty of joke suggestions, plenty of people saying that it should be them (!), and unfortunately plenty of people saying that it has to be a woman and that anyone who disagrees is clearly a "misogynist". I really hope this isn't going to go on for the next few months.

I'm going to say it. I think making the Doctor female would be absurd. It was bad enough that they did it with the Master and turned a brilliant archenemy into a comedy freakshow (mind you, they did this with the Sontarans too). Making the Doctor female would be jumping the shark. It would hammer the ratings. Those fans (and 'fans') demanding a female Doctor might be loud and obnoxious, but they just aren't that common. Those who are into science fiction probably watch already. So making the Doctor female would gain no new viewers. But it would lose millions.

(And another thing it would lose: a positive male role model for young boys. A male hero who always tries to do the right thing, who prefers to avoid violence, who solves problems by being clever, who is brave, self-sacrificing and noble. If you are concerned about making society better (that 'social justice' thing that people are always talking about) then think about what happens when you remove one of the more obvious positive male role models for young boys.)


I do appreciate that there are fans who want to see an actress in the lead role in Doctor Who.

So I have a compromise. And, if I say so myself, it's brilliant.

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Gary Gygax

"75+ Hobby Ideas for Men"

Rather odd article from a website called The Art of Manliness (logo: handlebar moustache, so I approve of that bit at least). I daresay most if not all of these could be enjoyed by women too, so I thought this had the makings of an LJ meme.

Bold the hobbies that you regularly take part in and italicise the ones you’ve tried at least once as an adult. Ones that you do as part of your job, or did as a child, don't count. It also doesn't count if you did the activity as a chore rather than as a hobby to be enjoyed.

Copy and repost on your own journals, or just comment here. This might be a way of finding someone else who shares a hobby with you but never posts about it because they didn't think anyone else would be interested.

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Applying that decluttering bollocks to a post-apocalyptic world.

This guy really didn't like this year's Sherlock. (SPOILERS in the article.) I gave up on Sherlock years ago. Much prefer the ITV series.

Most A/B testing is bollocks.

"'No regrets': Pakistani mom promised her daughter a wedding reception. Instead, she burned her alive. Nice…

Always funny: posh students completely unaware of quite how patronising they are.

The best and worst memes of 2016.

On the question of whether the government should tell women what they can and cannot wear, Americans are very liberal, and Germans are really illiberal.

A truly bizarre BBC article attacking Donald Trump for being teetotal. That’s not the most ridiculous part. The worst is that they quoted Ted Kennedy explaining why Jimmy Carter being teetotal was so bad. TED KENNEDY??? I bet Mary-Jo’s family wish that Ted had been teetotal too!

"Taliban bomb expert accidentally kills himself and 4 sons" I question the use of the term “expert” in this news story…

CIA assessment of British politics from 1985 "The Labour Party is in the hands of urban leftists given to ideological extremes with only fringe appeal". It also identified Jeremy Corbyn’s links to Marxist guerrillas in El Salvador. Since that’s only mentioned in passing, I assume that everyone already knows that Corbyn is friends with mass murdering scum…

Some really nice photographs of trees.

Trump returns Churchill's bust to the Oval Office.

Life in a nutshell according to Google. (Thanks topum.)

The Tunguska Event might not have been a meteorite impact.

The best day to trigger Article 50 would be March 25th. For the lolz.