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I'm not from the US, but the reality is the same everywhere: Candidates in campaigns will always portray their opponents (even their political relatives during a primary) in a bad light, because that's sort of required if you are telling the voters they need to vote for you. We can be as rational as we want in deciding how we weigh the different options, but there's a lot of gut and heart in presidential elections.
Doesn't mean I like it (I have a lot of respect for candidates who decide to stick to a clean discourse and fight on the idea level), but societies don't really work that way. Many times, what we internally perceive as very different political options can actually be surprisingly similar, and demonizing the opponent can be politically profitable in situations like these as a way of differentiating the options.
It's ugly, it's nasty, but it's also very easy to sit on a high throne and critizice it from the outside when it's not us who are trying to manoeuvre the turbulent waters of politics. There's a reason idealistic candidates very rarely make it to the top, and usually "lesser evil" really is the best option available; for a serious politician to ignore that would be irresponsible and potentially suicidal.
In that light, I've never been truly able to condemn a candidate who loses a primary and then makes a pragmatic choice to support the remaining one, even after a vicious campaign. Many times, the alternative could spell leaving your party's candidate out in the rain and segmenting the voters. After all, knowing what we know, it would be tremendouslly naive to assume that two candidates from the same political party/coalition who agree to participate in a primary together truly, 100% mean what they say when they paint the other guy as a monster, so lambasting them for sleeping with the aforementioned monster afterward seems kind of frivolous at times.
Though often confused -even by some medical institutions and universities-, the Caduceus Staff (the one with two snakes twisting around a stick) and the Rod of Asclepius (the one with a single snake) are different symbols with different meanings.
The former represents Hermes, Greek god of trade, messages, and a bunch of other things, and is properly used in economic-related institutions, while the second represents Asclepius, Greek god of medicine, which is the one doctors ought to employ.
For today, mushroom risotto.
The sauce still sticks to the spaghetti; less than the egg-based pastas, certainly, but it's not like the thing comes out clean. And it tastes and feels pretty good, which is really the argument I'm making when I disagree that they don't go together. Imperfect is not the same as bad.
My point is, at the risk of an ad hominem, even if spaghetti bolognese is not a real Italian dish, there has to be a reason why it's so popular everywhere else, which I'd be willing to say wouldn't happen if the ingredients really didn't go together.
After all, it's not like one is trying to recreate an authentic peninsular meal every time pasta is for lunch (this doesn't mean an authentic meal is often a rewarding experience, of course).
We use family records all the time as a cheap and somewhat effective starting point to judge a person's medical risks. And checking for a person's ethnic group is basically like using their very, very extended family record.
It's not always possible to identify a person's ethnic background, but when it is, it seems counterproductive to me to purposely ignore it on the basis that some other people use those concepts to act like garbage.
W E Ray wrote:
You ARE the one who started that 'driving on avocados, driving on grapes' Thread a couple years back, right?....
Hah! That's some good memory!
W E Ray wrote:
Absolutely! Should you somehow end up in Santiago, just say the word!
W E Ray wrote:
Well, keeping in mind this is an entire continent we're talking about and thus it is impossible to make a single statement that covers the whole gamut, Latin American culture in general shares a common trait of hospitality toward visitors. In all my travels across the region, it's been pretty consistent that locals tend to enjoy people showing interest in their history and customs and tend to be friendly.
Regarding the particular case of US tourists, treatment in general is good. While the so-called Bolivarian Countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador) tend to be more politically hostile toward the US as a country, the sentiment doesn't really transfer to the population as a whole. In general, I'd say just act normal; people will be able to tell in an instant where you're from anyway.
W E Ray wrote:
What are a few good choices where I can get around on foot or easily take cabs or busses (without speaking Spanish -- though I'll be learning some words and phrases in preparation)?
Every single Latin American capital, with the particular exception of Brasilia, was designed with the same checkboard layout, which means historical downtowns (where most of the old stuff to see tends to be) tend to be easy to navigate regardless of the country. The most practical way to visit any of these cities is to head toward the main square -easy to identify because there's always a cathedral next to it- and walk around the blocks.
Things can get crazy the further you head from the centre, given how most cities in the continent had a rather chaotic period of growth during the first half of the XX century, so in some cases you'll need to grab busses to get to other interesting parts of towns.
Cabs tend to be ubiquitous like in every other part of the world, but here it's important to consider some cities can be dangerous if you are not careful. In my experience, Caracas and Mexico City are the most sketchy when it comes to cabs, so it's best to ask in the local tourism offices for details on which lines to use (as a general rule, if the city doesn't have a standarized cab system, you need to be on the lookout).
Uber and, to a lesser degree Cabify, has become rather commonplace in places like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, and it's available in most other countries in the region as well. Though usually more expensive than regular cabs, they are usually very safe and you at least get certainty you won't get swindled (which, sadly, happens a lot to tourists). Stuff like SaferTaxi also works (at least here in Santiago. Not sure if it's available in other cities, but it should be).
Trains are very rarely an option; some scenic routes exist, but Latin America has never been too keen on extensive railway systems. Most big cities have metro systems, though, and in general they are reliable, though not necessarily extensive.
Language-wise, you should be able to get around without necessarily knowing Castilian, as most cab drivers can at least understand some basic words. Since the region is used to tourism, you'll always be able to find some kind of assistance for more sophisticated requests in every major city (towns and rural areas are another thing entirely, though).
Instead, the main barrier might be slang. From the outside, Latin America appears to be very homogeneous, but it really is a melting pot of closely-related by different cultures, and this reflects in the slang. For instance, a running joke is that no one can understand Chilean slang; another is that the exact same words can mean vastly different things depending on the country you are visiting (such as words like "Guagua" meaning "Baby" in one place and "Bus" in another). In Argentina they use a lot of Italian loanwords; in Peru they employ a wide range of Quechua and Aymara-based terms. So while basic Castilian works everywhere ("¿Donde esta el baño?" will get you the closest bathroom whether you are in Honduras or Paraguay), understanding what the locals are saying might be challenging. That's the case even in places where countries sound like they speak similarly if one isn't used to hearing them (like Colombia/Venezuela, Peru/Bolivia, Argentina/Uruguay, etc), which makes it all even more complicated.
It's common for libraries to have tiny handbooks with the local slang, though, so that's always an option if there's no one to translate to you.
Hope it helps!
As a Chilean I'd say come here, but it seems the idea is to enjoy warmer climates and we're driving straight into a cold winter over here. So Chile and most of Argentina might not be a good idea!
But I've had the blessing of visiting most of the continent, so maybe I can be of help. Going by some of the places you mention (if you need input on others, I'd be happy to help!):
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: It's a good choice; been to Dominican Republic thrice, two for straight beach and one for more in-depth tourism. Close enough to you that the flight will be fast, and it has a lot of really cool historical sights to visit, like the Necropolis, the Tomb of Columbus (that thing's huge), etc. Depending on how fast you want to move, you should be able to check the main areas in 2 days, 3 if you take your time. Rest of the time could be spent at the beach in places like Punta de Canas.
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: has a lot of options for all ranges of budget. Been there for work and vacation several times and it's a city you can never completely experience; there's just so much stuff to do and see. And the food is fantastic. It also has some spectacular beaches both right next to it and within close proximity (the archipelago of Angra Dos Reis is just a few hours southward and is a very nice place to see and rest at). Sao Paulo I would avoid; it's a stunning city in its own and has great places to visit and eat at (plus it's home to the most diverse set of cultures I've seen in a single place), but it's a nightmare to navigate.
Lima, Peru: Probably the best place to eat in America. Peruvian cuisine has this fantastical amalgamation of cultures, from the Spanish to the Japanese, that resulted in one of the most unique food selections anywhere. Lima itself also has a lot of really cool historical stuff accumulated during the centuries it stood as the head of the Viceroyalty of Peru, so you won't get bored. The weather is a bit boring, though, due to a particular micro-climate that keeps the city perpetually cloudy.
Mancora and Cuzco, Peru: If you're visiting Lima, you can complement the trip with the tropical beaches of Mancora to the north and the amazing historical sites of Cuzco. The latter has both fantastic sites (the Jesuit temple there has one of the biggest, if not the biggest, golden altarpiece in the continent. It's huge and so shiny) and great food (though I'd advice skipping the place called "Calle de los Chicharrones", where they fry so much stuff that the cobblestone itself is coated in oil). Plus you can take a 4-hour train to Aguascalientes and visit Machu Picchu.
Quito, Ecuador: Though smaller than other cities, Quito has one of the best preserved colonial heritage sites in America, and Ecuatorians really take pride in keeping it that way. You can really immerse yourself in historical landmarks.
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: Another excellent city for historical sight-seeing. It's right on the Caribbean shores, so it's as tropical as it gets, with fantastic beaches. But the really cool stuff here are the remains of the once mighty forts that centuries ago saw the fiercest battle among colonial powers in this hemisphere, the Battle of Cartagena. You'll see references to it all over the city and the man who won it, "El Mediohombre" (The Halfman, as during his years as a Spanish navy officer he lost an eye, a leg, and an arm), which is almost a patron of the city. Bogota is nice, but if you're going to Colombia, I'd go to Cartagenas and then to the nearby Barranquilla.
Caracas, Venezuela: I'd avoid it. Situation there is spiralling out of control and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Last time I was there was 2013 and, though Venezuela is a beautiful country, Caracas is rather depressing due to how tense the situation is. It feels devoid of life at times (plus it is extremely, extremely dangerous right now). I do admit seeing that you can fill a car with less money than it costs to buy a bottle of water was amazing.
Haiti: This is one I haven't visited, but a friend of mine has gone there several times as volunteer medic. Though the situation is better than it was right after the earthquake, it is by no means positive. It's the kind of tourism you do to immerse in the social hardships of the people, but not really to enjoy a pleasant vacation; you'll either feel too sad or too guilty half the time.
Guatemala City, Guatemala: Great place to visit, and much closer to Mayan ruins than places like Cancun! One thing of note that many people don't know is that the city is kind of new (founded in the last few decades of the 1700's), as the previous capitals kept crumbling down due to earthquakes. So while there is some historical stuff to see, it's less than in places like Santo Domingo, Havana or Cuzco, where you can still see stuff from the 1500's and 1600's (and older in the case of Cuzco).
Havana, Cuba: I'm not sure what's the current standing for US people visiting Cuba, but Havana is actually a very nice place to visit, particularly the Old City. This place was once the richest city in the Western Hemisphere, and though decades of Castros have taken their toll, you can still see some spectacular sites. You have to check carefully what you're photographing, though; I almost got my camera confiscated in 2007 because what I thought was a fancy colonial fort was in fact a political prison. But other than that (and the amazingly well-preserved cars), it's a very nice place to visit, plus only 2-3 hours from the great beaches of Varadero.
Rivera Maya, Mexico: This is mostly for straight-up beach time, though you can take trips to places like Chichen Itza if you are willing to sit on a bus for 3-4 hours (closer sites like Xcaret are mostly tourist traps I'd would advise against). The Rivera considers the whole north-eastern coast of Yucatan, and the main options are Cancun (bigger city, very tourist-oriented with a broad range of budget options), Playa del Carmen (small town that entirely survives on tourism and resorts. Though there are cheap options, it's not worth it unless you want to stay in a resort), and Cosumel (a small island off the coast of Yucatan. Has a more natural feel to it and is great to relax, but there's very little to see).
One would hope the people in charge of spreading news and information would excessive some degree of self-restraint, but while as a business owner myself I cannot in good conscience celebrate another being brought down due to legal costs (there's always people, families, years of work and sweat, and dreams involved), I do think the result should be positive overall; at the very least, it should scare "journalists" away from destroying people's private lives over petty things (I mean, it not like the Hulkster was revealing secret nuclear codes in his videos).
Found out two days ago that the only Pope not buried in Europe, Pope Saint Clement I (Pontiff between 88 and 97 A.D.) rests about two hundred miles south from where I'm currently standing, in the small chilean town of Linares.
Apparently, the nineteen-hundred year old relic was donated by Pope Pious XI in the late 1930's in celebration of the reconstruction of Linare's cathedral, which had been destroyed by an earthquake.
Interestingly enough, save for some of the locals, this has gone completely unnoticed by most of the population, unaware that the Fourth Pope's entire body is on display inside a crystal coffin in an otherwise quiet rural town. I had to call the bishop's office to confirm this wasn't just an urban myth.
The game is bloated; no question about that, just like AD&D and 3e got bloated as time went by. I think it's just the nature of the beast: Popular games with virtualy limitless potential for expansion and a market that's willing to buy a lot of new stuff.
I would hardly blame Paizo for it, as this is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of situation; I don't think anyone can objetively determine where's the line between too much and too little, considerng there's always a niche some group will want covered. And the more players there are, the more niches to consider.
Bloat certainly has it's drawbacks; I've encountered several players who have become wary of PF because they feel threatened by the deluge of material, and as much as we can argue that 99% is optional, the first impression still gives them doubts. On other cases, it causes severe paralysis in the face of unending ooptions, and not all groups have the discipline to preemptively check all sources and carefully limit what's available, specially when so much can be accessed freely online.
However, those I believe are unavoidable sideffects of something which is sort of essential to the game: Even if we rationally know an RPG book can be used for as long as it can be read, a game without regular publishing of new material runs the risk of feeling stale and unsupported. And as the years pass by (let's not forget we're entering the 7th year of PF, 8th if we count the beta), stuff will pile up.
Personally, I enjoy collecting books; I have every hardcover published by Paizo with the exception of Mythic Adventures and Pathfinder Unchained, as well as most softcovers that are not APs. I have shelves upon shelves of stuff from all editions of D&D, so I'm no stranger to bloat. I can manage it and so can my players; sometimes I let them use every book I have (as it has been for the past 3 years in our Planescape campaign using PF), and others I simply restrict them to core. That doesn't mean I cannot empathize with people who feel threatened by the size of the game, even if I know options are not mandatory.
A very interesting read indeed! Thank you, Samnell.
Question: I'm writing an alternate history campaign for an RPG, and I'm wondering: How feasible would it have been if, say, the British or some other power had gotten involved in the war by supporting the Confederates in order to make it last longer? Not necessarily fight in it, but rather help with resources and stuff like that.
My understanding of the US Civil War is rather superficial, but I'm of the impresion a big factor against the Confederates was how they ended up completely isolated from the rest of the world in economic and diplomatic manners.
Would something like that work to ensure the war would have extended further in time?
That's actually a very interesting idea. My original plan was not to involve Vecna yet (the Citadel is abandoned), but I have a couple of Ravenloft fans in the game who might really appreciate such a twist.
Celestial Healer wrote:
Our main Planescape campaign is currently taking place within Vecna's Citdel Cavitius (the version that's floating between the Negative Energy Plane and the Quasielemental Plane of Vacuum). Perhaps events could be changed a bit so that they end up taking a trip to the Demiplane of Dread right after.
Can't let Azalin Rex get out with it!
Earthquake in Chile, I hope Klaus is ok.
Thank you, man. Appreciated.
Other than a few broken cups and a cat so scared I still can't get him to move from under the bed, I'm in perfect condition. A Ravenloft book fell from the shelves right on top of me during the quake; wasn't sure if I was supposed to interpret that as a sign of impending doom, or that I have to run a game there.
The shake was 8.4 on the Richter scale and lasted for about 2 minutes; there were some six or seven aftershocks above 6.0 (3 above 7.0). The ground should keep moving for the rest of the week.
Though sadly there have been 8 confirmed deaths nationwide, damage was minimal.
Congratulations to all the folk of the fabulous persuasion!
I'm pretty big on my Catholicism as well and I too agree this is one of the things we cannot in good conscience attempt to enforce in society (I have somewhat of a theological difference on the interpretation of gay marriage, which I think shouldn't constitute a sin under Catholic understanding).
And many other Catholics think the same way. For instance, it was a very Catholic president over here in Chile the one who set up the legal framework for gay marriage to happen (it's still in the Civil Union part, but should be regular marriage within 5 years or so, depending on legislative clockwork).
My hope is that this change in the US helps with two things: The key one which is the dignifying of human beings that happen to be gay, and the secondary, but very important for me at least, which is to help Catholics in particular and Christians in general (as there are some denominations that have already fixed that) finally understand that the usual "gay is evil" rhetoric goes against the very fundamentals of our religion.