Miscellanea: D&D, Disney, and French Browser Proposals

AI-created image of an elf princess

This post contains my thoughts on a few stories I’ve been saving up that don’t merit a post on their own.

D&D Romance

Just a day after posting about my kids getting into D&D, I came across this article on Tor.com about The Golden Age of D&D Romance. I had no idea it was a genre, but I’m not surprised. Pretty much every genre can be crossed with every other. See The Dresden Files for fantasy mixed with detective noir, for example. After a brief introduction, the author of the piece lists 6 books in the D&D Romance genre. I don’t hate on romance as much as I did before I read a few books in the genre, but these aren’t my cup of tea. That said, they may work for you.

Disney and Severance

In another Tor.com post titled Severance, Disney, and the Ghosts of Corporate Modernism, the author explores the American culture’s move from the 1950s/1960s culture of awe in the large corporations and how we believed in their promises of a better world. The author explores this through Disney (as in the title) as well as behemoths like DuPont and IBM. The best paragraph of the piece, summing it up best, comes near the end:

I’m not completely immune to the perspective through which the likes of Walt Disney viewed the future. The ol’ Mousetro, for all his faults, firmly believed that there was no problem technology could not solve, that industry unleashed would build a paradise where all would thrive. It would get rid of the messiness of politics, and want, and disease. We’d work for our benevolent corporations, and they in turn would assure that we need for nothing.

Dan Persons – Severance, Disney, and the Ghosts of Corporate Modernism

The world Persons describes also reminded me a lot of what we learn of Aperture Science’s history in Portal 2. Minor spoiler for a game that’s been out for more than a decade: we actually travel through this corporate history in the game. The game brilliantly takes the concept we already have in our heads that, in archaeology, depth equals traveling through time. Inexplicably, Aperture science has rebuilt its labs every few decades and a few levels up in the strata of the rock that serves as the foundation of the building. Between the recorded messages from the founder and the posters on the wall, we see the move from a world where a brilliant CEO knows best to a company that seems to be in danger of bankruptcy near the end. (for more on Portal 2, check out my blog post from back when I first played it)

France’s Browser-Based Site Blocking

This time we move away from Tor.com to Mozilla’s blog. They key parts of the post are quoted below:

Article 6 (para II and III) of the SREN Bill would force browser providers to create the means to mandatorily block websites present on a government provided list. Such a move will overturn decades of established content moderation norms and provide a playbook for authoritarian governments that will easily negate the existence of censorship circumvention tools.

While motivated by a legitimate concern, this move to block websites directly within the browser would be disastrous for the open internet and disproportionate to the goals of the legal proposal – fighting fraud

Udbhav Tiwari – France’s browser-based website blocking proposal will set a disastrous precedent for the open internet

I don’t know if this is just part of the spread of authoritarianism through democracies over the last near-decade or just France being France (I believe that encryption was more illegal there than the rest of the world deep into the tech boom). Either way, I don’t quite understand what the French hope to do here. I feel that they should lean on French ISPs to block websites they want blocked. Those ISPs are within their purview and, presumably, the French folks get what they want from their government. But forcing it to happen at the browser-level is the wrong place for a few reasons. First of all, none of the major browsers are created in France. Second, all of the major browsers are open source. There’s nothing to stop people from forking the source code and running their own browsers that don’t have the French-blocking code. Finally, as the Mozilla blog says, this may have a legitimate reason behind it, but once Google, Microsoft, Opera, and/or Mozilla bend to the French in this case then why should they not bend to China? Why is one sovereign nation more important than another? There’s a lot that I don’t like about the way the Chinese run their country, but there is one thing I do like: they tend to make their own stuff and have their citizens use that. That is to say, if China designs a web browser that can’t go to Github (for some reason – instead of using their firewalls) and forces their citizens to use it – it doesn’t affect me. It’s up to the Chinese to effect change in their country or emigrate. (And I know that changing a country’s policies isn’t trivial – even in a democracy – but if we’re respecting national sovereignty, then we can’t impose our ways on others and more than we’d went them imposed upon us if we weren’t the hegemonic force)

featured image created by AI with the prompt: Disney Princess as a D&D character