a Christian podcast about tabletop RPGs and collaborative storytelling

Weekend Reading 35 – Internet Neighbors

Our Weekend Reading series (brought to you by our Patreon backers) continues with a curated selection of articles—and a few other things—from around the Internet that interested us this week! We’re currently on an every-other-week schedule.


Gnome Stew has an article on Dominant Players. It’s a very good article, but it was also one of those things I read and went “Aw, crud. That’s me.” It’s a good reminder to try to be the sort who facilitates and brings others in rather than just hogging the spotlight.

Yeah, dominant can mean that guy too.

They’re easy to spot when you start playing. Confident and forthright or pushy and obstinate, they’re often the first voice the GM hears. You certainly can’t ignore them. Dominant players are difficult to miss and they end up being either a blessing or a bane at the table.

The Christian Century has a really good, and really fair, piece on the passing of the Reverend Billy Graham. As you’d expect in the case of a man like Graham, “fair” means acknowledging that he wasn’t perfect while honoring his amazing and singular legacy.

Graham capitalized on both inherited and acquired qualities. His Hollywood face, trim physique, million-dollar grin, and voice—aptly described as “an instrument of vast range and power”—came naturally, but he also tended them very carefully. More important were the personal disciplines he maintained. Fame never compromised his commitment to marital fidelity, financial transparency, honesty about numbers, and, with rare exceptions, refusal to criticize others. The historian William Martin said it well: Graham represented Americans’ “best selves.” Journalists took note.

Finally, there’s this absolutely fascinating article about bananas from Atlas Obscura that is ABSOLUTELY worth your time. Flavor, blights, and cloning are just some of the highlights. Seriously, give it a read.

It wasn’t always the case: The Gros Michel was once everywhere. When America fell in love with the banana, this is the fruit that captured its heart. The alchemist who first produced the banana split used a Gros Michel; the chemist who produced artificial banana flavor allegedly had it in mind as well. When Eddie Cantor sings “Yes, We Have No Bananas,” it is Big Mike he’s singing about.


This article was posted about a month ago, but as the anniversary of his death was just this week, this article about Mr. Rogers’ theology was worth rereading for me. Mr. Rogers was not part of my childhood. (Mr. Dressup was, and to be honest I much prefer watching him to watching Mr. Rogers.) However a lot of the messages that he talked about in his show related directly to his faith.

He was a pastor on television in the golden era of televangelism, but unlike televangelists, Rogers’s focus wasn’t on eternal life, but our own interior lives. Christian evangelists were making a name for themselves preaching about the wickedness of mankind, but Rogers was more interested in his viewers’ inherent value and worth. Evangelists were finding ways the human race didn’t measure up to God’s moral standard. But Rogers said over and over again: “You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

Despite having played tabletop games for as long as I can remember, and having a decent level of literacy, I have a huge amount of difficulty interpreting rule books. I am a visual and tactile learner. If a rule book doesn’t contain diagrams for every possible action, I get VERY lost. I recently came across a webcomic sub-series associated with Up to Four Players called Ready to Roll. The comic tackles visual interpretations of several tabletop game rules with the intent of teaching the “WHY” behind the mechanics, and I am VERY happy about it.

Finally, an Atlas Obscura post about one of my favourite acquired (and apparently very Canadian) tastes: Tiger Tail ice cream.

Canadians love their tiger tail ice cream. Oddly enough, this retro favorite is almost impossible to find outside of the Great White North. Tiger tail doesn’t call for rare ingredients foraged from the Canadian Rockies, nor is it intellectual property of the government. It just doesn’t seem to appeal to anyone except Canadians.


So here’s an interesting project that’s cropped up in the United Kingdom. The government is partnering with rural churches to post 4G masts in church buildings and steeples. It makes a lot of sense—churches tend to be in the center of isolated communities, so this maximizes these access points’ effectiveness.

I’m a big fan of Trello for note-keeping and project organization, though I don’t use it anywhere near often enough. Gnome Stew has a pretty good article on how to use this tool to manage your campaign.

I’ve become a big fan of tools that let me organize my campaigns digitally. I’m familiar with Trello due to other ways it intersects with my life, but I’ve used programs like Basecamp, Google Drive, and Slack for campaigns as well. Trello is made to organize projects, and that dovetails nicely with the utility needed for organizing a campaign. The fact that it is free is, of course, a major selling point to being able to test it out and try it.

We all have an image of the Dead Sea in our heads, built off National Geographic photos and stories from the Bible. It’s disappearing due to environmental damage, but that hasn’t stopped modern hermits from taking advantage of its desolation:

Half the world is hi-tech. I’m with the other half,” said Mark, who did not give his surname and said he was about 60 years old. Often relying on the kindness of strangers for food, he has lived on the beach for the past 10 years, without electricity, or a mobile phone.

Many visitors to the Dead Sea come for the therapeutic properties associated with its minerals. Jade, a former fire-fighter from New York who did not want to give her full name, said she came for healing purposes and had planned to go back to her home in Jerusalem after a while.

She’s now been here over a year. Her Zula is lined with crystals, herbs growing in plant pots, books and packets of food she brings once a week on the bus from Jerusalem.

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