It is the nature of my defective brain that rather than preparing me for real world challenges such as paying bills on time, planning meals or having clean clothes to wear it prefers to plot out detailed plans for unlikely scenarios such as how to survive if every other human being vanished from the Earth for a year, what kind of palace to construct should I suddenly have the opportunity to construct a palace, or what I’d podcast about on finding myself stranded on a space station located at Lagrange Point 4 that nonetheless has excellent wi-fi.
As such I have spent much of the last week considering what tracks I would put on a CD to send back in time to the year 1990 to astonish, shock and confuse the inhabitants of that far off epoch. Having finalised said playlist, I happily present it here to assist in diagnosing whatever the hell is wrong with me (I’d put my money on maladaptive daydreaming, no matter what the DSM-5 may think!).
When you stop and think about it the Prosperity Gospel is really rather clever.
For those not in the know the Prosperity Gospel is a peculiarly American bastardization of Christianity developed by certain televangelists (including one named – I kid you not – Creflo Dollar) to convince their viewers, on the highest Biblical authority, to fork over all their money, and it goes a little like this…
1: God loves you and wants you to be happy.
2: So if you follow God’s laws you will be good and Holy and God will reward you.
3: If on the other hand you don’t follow God’s laws you will be bad and Unholy, and God will punish you.
4: It therefore follows that if you’re rich and successful, God is rewarding you, and therefore you are Holy.
5: Whereas if you are poor and struggling, God is punishing you for your sins and you are Unholy.
6: So if you are poor – and therefore Unholy – how can you get right with the Lord, and become Holy? (and also rich, but that’s secondary to being Holy of course)
7: By taking what little wealth you have and giving it all to someone Holy! Like the filthy rich televangelist telling you all this! Plant a seed of faith by handing over every dollar you own and before you know it you’ll be rich and successful and be able to fly around in a private jet avoiding all the demon possessed rabble that travel coach!
8: (Oh, and if you don’t immediately become rich then you’re not trying hard enough, send more money and it’ll all come true!)
The great Terry Pratchett foresaw some of this with the Yen Buddhists of the Discworld, a sect who believe that money is the root of all evil and it is therefore their sacred duty to spare the souls of the innocent by personally accumulating as much of it as possible, but the audacity it takes to implement such a system in the real world is really quite something! And of course the Prosperity Gospel discards that pesky issue of wealth being sinful, thus allowing its proponents to get as rich as they like with no theological problems at all!
Naturally all of this can be justified by picking and choosing Bible verses, a fine example of the observation (I believe from the Vedic scriptures of India although I can’t seem to track down the actual source) that “Just as an animal may drink from any side of a trough, a smart man may derive whatever meaning he desires from scripture”.
If you feel that Christianity works for you, great! If the version of Christianity you select says you get into heaven by doing good works, do good works! If it says you get into heaven by accepting Christ into your heart as your Personal Saviour, accept him! But if your obscenely rich preacher is telling you you need to pay your way into salvation by making him even richer, then maybe take a step back and have a think about a few things.
Important Note: In Australian English the term ‘Wog’ – while historically a racist slur – has over many decades been reclaimed by the immigrant community and is now a marker of pride for Australians of Greek, Italian and Balkan heritage, and a neutral term for describing said Australians for the rest of us. With that cleared up, read on!
In the wake of World War II Australia found itself in need of workers, and unable to supply that need from traditional English and (slightly less desirable) Irish sources relaxed its horribly racist immigration policies a smidgen to let southern Europeans slip in as if they were proper white people. With Europe in ruins many Greeks and Italians took advantage of this and relocated, bringing with them exotic fruits and vegetables (broccoli? what the hell is broccoli?), proper coffee culture (Starbucks lost $165 million when they tried launching here in 2000) and food preparation techniques beyond ‘aggressively boiling into submission’, enriching the nation beyond all measure.
They also brought the distinctive architectural styling of the Wog Palace.
You are an Italian immigrant and decide to start a new life in Perth, Western Australia (if you were Greek you’d likely go to Melbourne). You arrive in a country where you don’t speak the language, you can’t get a decent coffee anywhere and the locals treat you with scorn and suspicion. Nonetheless you buckle down, work your arse off – likely in the construction industry – twelve or more hours a day, seven days a week and after some years have saved enough money not just to bring your family out from the old country, but to buy a block of land on the edge of the city and build a home for them. Naturally you do the labour yourself (with your kids’ help as soon as they’re old enough to safely pick up a brick) and after several years your luxurious new home is ready to move into. You have a Wog Palace to call your own!
So, what are the distinctive features of a Wog Palace?
Size: You have a large family to accommodate, and you’ve secured a large block of land, so you’re going to have five or six bedrooms, and plenty of entertainment space. It’s common to go double story, particularly if you decide to include an integral garage, and if you do include a garage why not make it a double? Some outbuildings for storage and food/wine production are also a good idea, and why not a swimming pool too?
Verandas and Balconies: What use is a house if you can’t sit outside in comfort and enjoy the view? On a two story Wog Palace you’ll have balconies. On a one story you’ll have a verandah instead.
Brick: The material of choice for a Wog Palace is brick. Preferably dark brown, but lighter shades will do in a pinch. Plastering over the brick for a smooth exterior can be done, but is a bit gauche.
Gardens: A productive garden is a must! Vegetable patches, olive trees, grape vines and fruit trees. These will usually be out the back because the front garden will likely have been concreted over for parking space.
Arches: Anglos may be content with right angles, but a proper Wog Palace will use arches instead. Arched windows, arched doors, arched verandas and balconies. Arches are class!
Pillars and Lions: Need a balustrade or something to stop the kids falling off your balcony? You need white, semi-classical pillars! And why not throw up some statues of lions to guard the place while you’re at it?
Low Pitched Roof: A subtle distinction but an important one. Anglo houses have steeply pitched roofs to prevent snow build up – which is not a threat in Perth’s Mediterranean climate and actually something of a disadvantage as they tend to trap heat in our blazing summers. The architectural tradition of the Wog Palace – developed in an actual Mediterranean climate – uses lower pitched roofs sufficient to shed rain without all that wasted space. The roof may even be flat enough to be used as an additional entertaining space in fine weather.
It is an entertaining game to look for Wog Palaces while driving around Perth. They’re a useful marker for the edge of urban development during periods of heavy immigration – which is why you can spot so many along Morley Drive and up in the Swan Valley. They are, in my opinion, some of the best houses even constructed in the city, and where I even in the position to upgrade from my apartment to a house I would definitely be on the lookout for one.
A few examples of Wog Palaces in their native habitat
The next time an online scammer asks you to send them photo ID please feel free to supply them with this carefully crafted yet entirely nonsensical United States drivers license, featuring the best photograph ever taken of everyone’s favourite pervert cult leader Tony Alamo and the signature of one Elvis Presley.
(Please note that Denys P. Wyrm and Wyrmworld cannot be held in any way responsible for anything that happens to you should you be stupid enough to try and use this mockery of an ID for anything other than confusing scammers)
Some years back (about 6 I think?) I spent a fair bit of time putting together a map of the post-apocalyptic Moscow Metro system of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s Metro 2033 series. While this was received pretty well by both the cartographic and Metro communities I was never 100% happy with it – in particular the way it echoed the inaccurate depiction of interchanges from the official map – and I always intended to go back and revise it.
So now I have.
After many hours of studying Moscow’s geography and trawling my way through the Russian Metro wikia (with the assistance of Google Translate) I have redrafted and updated my map to produce what is undoubtedly (by which I mean ‘doubtedly’) the best English map of the Metro ever produced!
As is my wont I’ve included some information from the expanded “Universe of Metro 2033” books by other authors, despite some of them being a bit silly (I’m still not quite over there being Skaven on the Serpukhovsko–Timiryazevskaya line). I’ve also used some content from the Metro computer game series, which is based on the books but takes a number of serious liberties with them (any version of Metro 2033 where Artyom doesn’t spend a week being forced to shovel human waste out of toilet pits simply isn’t Metro 2033!).
My next insane project is a redraft of the regional Moscow map I found on the Russian wiki, which is highly deficient in various areas. I will take some time off first however – at least until I stop waking up in the morning with the names metro stations echoing in my head (Театральная… Театральная… Театральная…)
Here’s another idea for an RPG campaign that I’ll never get around to running, partially because organising even a single gaming session – let alone a campaign – when you get to my age requires a major effort, and partially because it touches on some tricky issues that I’m nowhere near good enough to handle in a suitably respectable fashion. Oh, and also because I’m explaining it here and my players are a bunch of dirty cheats who’d read this post in its entirety and spoil the whole thing.
So, it starts out as your standard fantasy RPG game, although the players would notice a few non-standard features of the setting. The PCs are all resistance fighters on the run, living rough in the wilderness while fighting back against the evil empire that has conquered the once prosperous realm. Sort of Robin Hood meets John Connor’s guys from The Terminator.
They need to sneak around, gathering resources to survive, making alliances with groups and individuals who may or may not be trustworthy and launching risky strikes against the foe whenever they can manage it. It’s a highly uneven battle – the enemy holds all the cards while the PCs have little but their determination and belief to keep them going.
While the warriors of the enemy are tough, the greatest threat to the PCs are the mind-bending magics of their sorcerers, capable of rewriting memories and personalities and turning trusted friends and allies to the side of evil. Being captured and subjected to mind-magic is the thing of nightmares and to be avoided by the PCs at all costs.
As the campaign progresses it should gradually become clear to the players that things aren’t all that they seem. As evidence mounts up it should slowly dawn on them that the PCs are not fantasy heroes valiantly fighting evil…
…they’re mentally ill homeless people living rough on the streets of a modern day city. The evil forces ranked against them are cops trying to maintain order and the terrifying mind-wiping sorcerers are social workers trying to get them into treatment.
As I said I could never pull this off in a way that firstly works, and secondly doesn’t make a mockery of the very serious issues of homelessness and mental health. But someone else might be able to manage, so have at it!
(Inspirations for this concept include the Tube Station scene in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Dirt Merchant Games’ extremely messed up – and extremely funny – “LARP” Freebase, which is well worth looking up.)
In these times of plague and disaster, who better to turn to for help than an ancient snake god whose cult pretty much consisted of Alexander of Abonoteichus perfecting his ventriloquist routine?
Simply print out copies of this stylish icon of Glycon (aka ‘Sweetie’) and post them about your local area. Not only will your neighbours be extremely confused, but the ancient sock puppet himself will be guaranteed* to protect both you and them from any menacing plague clouds hovering in the vicinity!
If Glycon’s good enough for Alan Moore, he’s good enough for you!
Ex-President Trump departed Washington on a raft for Florida this morning, skipping the inauguration of his successor Joe Biden.
Aides close to the President state that during the trip down the Potomac he declared himself “The Wrath of God” and announced his intention to marry his daughter, found “the purest dynasty the world has ever seen” and rule the entire north American continent.
He then proceeded to interrogate several squirrel monkeys, demanding to know which of them were “with him”.