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Thursday, July 24th, 2008
10:11 pm - Frustrating Evening
I don't know why, in my previous post, I said my phone was broken. I blame MASSIVE STRESS. In actuality, it was stolen. The calls Mr. Cell Phone Thief made on it cannot be removed from my account unless I file a police report, and tonight I learned that the police can't take that report over the phone unless I'm calling from a 202 number, so I can't file it until work tomorrow.

I also contacted Dell. They walked me through some system diagnostics, which confirmed my hard drive is completely fried and needs to be replaced. I am NOT PLEASED. I am also going to be buying a backup system post haste. I've lost about two years of writing. If anybody has *anything* I've written sitting on their hard drive or in their e-mail, it'd be much appreciated if you could send that to me. Uh... after my computer's fixed. At least my current projects are still salvageable -- I have at-most-a-week-out-of-date copies of them on flash drive.

Finally (though actually, this happened first), I called the cable company TEN MINUTES after they closed for the night.


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Sunday, July 20th, 2008
11:54 pm
Sorry about being around so intermittently lately. Work has been really heating up -- my boss quit and I had to take over the giant-mega-project-of-doom she was working on -- and my laptop is kaput. Also my cell phone is broken, and the cable keeps cutting out. This has NOT been a good week for technology.

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Friday, July 11th, 2008
1:03 pm - More fun from Slacktivist: The Omeganime!
So, over at Slacktivist, we somehow got onto the topic of a Left Behind-Death Note crossover. Shaenon Garrity informed us that she'd actually pitched a spinoff series to Viz where the Death Note is used to fake the Rapture, but I think we were already talking about that very idea when she brought it up.

Anyway, from there it mushroomed into a giant crossover thing where pretty much every anime with a remotely contemporary setting (and a couple not even remotely) got mixed up into the execrable bag of poorly-written sociopathic nonsense that is Left Behind.

I pointed out that we had not yet included Suzumiya Haruhi, and slacktivist Spalanzani responded:

"I have already given some thought to how to fit Haruhi Suzumiya into it. I've had this anime-dom/Left Behind idea for awhile, and have given it more thought than is probably good for my long-term mental health. So I have an idea for where she'd fit into the general universe, although I still haven't thought of how to directly connect her to Left Behind.

"See, here's my idea for the theogony of the animeverse: The cosmos were created, of course, by Arceus, with his 1,000 hands (some of these hands are featured in Berserk). Arceus first makes Dialga and Palkia, who are the same entities also known as Haruhi Suzumiya and Tenchi Kami-sama (the 11-dimensional godlike being Tenchi Masaki is connected to). These two generate new data from nothing, creating time and space. Time and space is divided up into countless branching universes, like in Noein. The two also create lesser gods (like the 3 goddesses in Tenchi Muyo), and the first lifeforms. However, the cosmos is still very chaotic. Everything that exists is immortal and indestructible, but is capable of sinking back into complete non-existence, which is what happens to most of the initial creation.

"To prevent this from happening again, the few surviving beings try to organize the random data constantly created by Haruhi and Tenchi. This First Ancestral Race becomes the elemental crystals in the Final Fantasy series, the Treasure Gems in Gunstar Heroes and Gunstar Super Heroes, and any other unexplained powerful crystal or jewel throughout animedom. They then create Adam, Lilith, and God, and send them to each planet/universe to seed them with life. God first takes away the curse of immortality that had previously afflicted beings, giving rise to death and change.

"To govern this process, God creates the Phoenix. Adam creates angels, of course, and demons (like in Devilman), and stuff like that, who specialize in innate power. Lilith creates humans, who specialize in technology. Lilith therefore becomes the goddess of human technology, like the Internet, and is also known as Lain (sometimes L-sama for short). God creates the many lesser gods in anime, including nature spirits like Totoro or the God of the Forest, and also all those damn Shinigami. She then dies and becomes mostly forgotten by humans, but a few cults here or there hazily remember her.

"So this all works out reasonably fine for a few eons, until the crystals feel that the cosmos is again in danger of being swallowed up by nothingness. Nothingness goes by many names, like the Void from about half of Final Fantasy, or Outside Space in Gunstar Heroes. It's also served by certain beings, like Shangri-la in Noien. The crystals think that the gift of mortality was a mistake, as now living things are too frail to resist the Void. So they create a New God, and send it to each world to make everyone immortal. But the old gods resist this and fight the New God (also known as Nova Jehova or Jenova, and sometimes called Datatsushi) and in most cases it ends up defeated, and often decapitated as well. But its cells of course never die, and become the sacred blood worms that grant immortality.

"The New God tries to restore itself so that it can carry on its mission, and to this end instills in certain people an abnormal fear of death. Some of these people try to achieve immortality by downloading themselves into computers, or by merging all humans together into a single immortal 14-year old girlsuper being. Many of those affected by the New God develop a sort of mind virus, a stand-alone complex, and begin independently working to simulate the events of the premillenial dispensationalist time-table to end the world and establish an undying and really rather boring kingdom of heaven.

"Hey, I did manage to connect Haruhi to Left Behind after all. Kind of."

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Thursday, July 10th, 2008
2:14 pm - Topics to Research for NaNo idea
*Biography and writings of Maimonides
*Biography and writings of Spinoza
*Biography and writings of Ben-Gurion
*Interpretations of Book of Revelation
*Other Christian apocalypses
*Jewish apocalypses, particularly story of Bahamut, Leviathan, and Aziz
*Mayan apocalypse
*Hindu apocalypse/end of cycle
*Region-specific long-term effects of global warming
*1918(?) Flu Epidemic
*Details for "planet dinosaur killer" cometary impact (mass, volume, energy release)

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Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
1:20 pm - TV, Writing, Research
Watched the whole fourth season of Doctor Who over the past couple of weeks. Best yet? I'm thinking "best yet". Not one howler! The silly episodes were amusing or cute instead of cringe-inducing, the ending was pretty decent (BUT STOP KILLING OFF THE CLASSIC VILLAINS DAMN YOU DAVIES ARGH!), especially seeing the Doctor get called on his incredible inconsistency re: killing, and I was actually a little sorry to see Donna go. She had a pretty good arc from Runaway Bitch to... well, to what she became. Plus... Davies' last season in charge! Just have to get through a few more specials, and then at last we'll have New Who with Moffat in charge, as it should always have been!

Our year of free Internet expired at the end of last month, so we got cable installed over the weekend. I have already developed a potentially dangerous fondness for the large number of free on-demand shows. I've watched several episodes each of Coupling and Pokemon D&P.

I have a very good story idea, but it requires (*shudder*) research. I'm going to need to find a good library (and, more importantly, a good librarian to assist me), but good public libraries appear to be thin on the ground in D.C. First order of business, however, is to make a list of topics I need to research and questions I need to answer.

Blargh, I hate research. It's like reading with every bit of joy squeezed out by regimentation and goals.

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2008
12:33 pm - Character name help needed
I need to name a female character. I want her name to be a completely normal name that has a slutty, bimbo-ish diminutive, so that people can use said diminutive and then she can slap them. I've come up with a few possibilities, but none of them really click.

Cheryl (slutty diminutive: Cherry)
Christina (Chrissy)
Candice (Candi)
Amanda (Mandy)
Alexandra (Sandi)
Alexis (Lexie)
Catherine (Kitty)
Michelle (Mikki)
Sharon (Sherrie)

Any suggestions?

Also, a point of curiousity raised by the above: Are there *any* bimbo names that *don't* end in an "ee" sound? I can't think of any.

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Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
9:16 am - Rhetorical
How exactly does one inform one's boss that one cannot leave the house due to incoherent fear and inexplicable exhaustion?

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Thursday, June 19th, 2008
1:21 pm - Controversy!
Some interesting ideas on controversial topics I thought I'd pass on...

Abortion!Collapse )
Economics!Collapse )

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Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
3:33 pm - More on morality
Thank you to everyone who responded to my questions about morality! I'm still processing the answers.

Here's one interesting thing I've thought of in the meantime.

Nonexistia's leaders, in order to distract attention from domestic issues they are handling poorly, manufacture a false causus belli and invade Fredonia. They collapse the Fredonian government, and set up a lengthy occupation, claiming always that they are trying to "rebuild" Fredonia and suchlike.

In the absence of a legitimate government, old ethnic and religious tensions in Fredonia have flared into violence, some directed against the occupation force, but most against each other. The situation rapidly worsens. Nonexistian soldiers (an all-volunteer force) are frequently ordered into attacks that cause high levels of civilian casualties in an attempt to stamp out Fredonian terrorist cells, which keep multiplying. Fredonian prisoners are abused and sometimes tortured by their Nonexistian captors. The Fredonian government structured by the Nonexistians and elected by the Fredonians early in the occupation is ineffectual and often corrupt.

It is widely predicted that, should the Nonexistians pull out, Fredonia will collapse into a long and vicious civil war that could well spill over into other countries in the region.

Here's what interests me about the situation: It is clearly immoral for any individual Nonexistian soldier to take part in this occupation. Each of them should leave the military and go home. However, if all of them do so, it could result in a massive amount of bloodshed that would otherwise have been averted (or at least amortized...)

So, if each individual soldier behaves morally, the result may be an immoral mass action. It's like a moral version of the Tragedy of the Commons.

I have absolutely no idea what it means.

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Friday, June 6th, 2008
10:00 am - Computer troubles
My power supply has died, and my laptop ran out of batteries before I noticed. I'm going to see if I can get it replaced on warranty, in which case it should be up and running by Monday. Otherwise, it could be as much as a week, maybe more.

While my laptop is down, I have no way of checking my e-mail -- it's supposedly IMAP, but the always spotty webmail client completely stopped working about eight months ago.

Best way to contact me in the meantime is over lj. Phone will work, too, but I check my messages maybe twice a week, so lj will be much faster.

Edit: Contacted Dell. They're mailing me a new power supply.

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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
2:28 pm
Yesterday morning, I learned from my flist that tomax died in his sleep Saturday night. I'm still trying to process that. I've known him for more than a decade, though we got out of touch for several years. I'd been back in touch for a year or two.

He didn't have an easy life, but he had a great sense of humor about it. He was a great cook, too. We'd talk on AIM and share recipes and jokes and chat about the women, or absence thereof, in our lives.

I'll miss him. He was a classic rogue, funny, fond of skewering sacred cows, great hair. His handle when I met him was Bikke the Pirate, and it fit him perfectly.

I don't think he was even thirty yet.

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Thursday, May 29th, 2008
3:51 pm
The Givers of Employment are starting to show displeasure with my chronic absenteeism, lateness, slacking. It's the same old story: When I do my work, I do an awesome job, but I don't have enough to do, so I get bored, so I slack.

There thus far have been no threats or ultimatums, and no mention of the employee reviews in a few months, but... they hang there unspoken, a ticking clock to clean up my act or lose a job I actually don't hate.

And I *can't*. I literally cannot pull myself out of bed on the mornings I don't show up or come in late. I don't have the discipline to keep from fooling around on, say, livejournal during the patches of the day when I have nothing urgent to do.

I have a hard time functioning without an immediate crisis to take care of. I need to learn, with enough lead time to re-establish my employers' positive impression by September. But September is aeons away, and so the crisis isn't immediate enough. Trying to work on something that far away feels like slogging through mud.

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11:31 am - On terrorism and war...
I'd like to as you all to do something for me, in the hopes of kickstarting my thinking on these questions. This is going to be a not-insignificant time investment (anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours), so I completely understand if you can't or don't want to.

If you do, thanks in advance.

For now, please refrain from questioning/criticizing one another's comments unless the first commentor specifically invites discussion. Regardless, please refrain from personal attacks and hysteria (I think I can trust you all on that one, but this IS the tubular intertruck, after all).

I'm not grading this or testing you, though it did come out weirdly test-like in format. This is meant more to understand what people think. This is an extraordinarily unscientific survey -- the questions have not been vetted, the sample is tiny, and we've almost certainly got a heavy self-selection bias going. The point isn't to get a representative sampling of views; it's to get me, and hopefully some other people, thinking.

A hypothetical scenario:

40 years ago, a group of rebels under General Jones overthrew the ruling communist regime in Fredonia. The General was a brutal dictator, suppressing all dissent violently and collapsing the national economy. On his death, and election was held, and General Jones' chosen successor, Smith, won in a surprise come-from-behind victory over the communists. Smith was even worse than Jones, and engaged in ethnic cleansing and purges of "undesirable elements", including communists, atheists, Christians, and Muslims, mandating a return to "the ancestral religion of our Glorious People", which he made up.

After a fierce civil war, freedom triumphed and the Republic of Fredonia was formed. Free elections were held. Reconciliation and Reparation Committees were set up to investigate the crimes of the previous government, and recently they learned that U.S. CIA operatives trained General Jones' forces, provided advisors, funds, and weapons to him throughout his rule, and fixed the election in Smith's favor when it looked like the communists would win. Their repeated demands for reparations from the U.S. and their appeals to the U.N. have been ignored. There is a tiny U.S. Air Force refueling station on a small island off the coast of Fredonia.

The questions...Collapse )

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Saturday, May 24th, 2008
1:15 pm - Penny Arcade and Death Note
The Death Note movie was really quite good, but the idiots showed it dubbed. You do NOT dub live action. That hurt it badly. But L rocked just as much as he does in the anime, Light got to be even eviller, and the ending? Oh, man, that was awesome. B-, increasing to a B+ if it were subtitled.

Also, the lengthily-titled Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slicked Precipice of Darkness, Episode One is quite fun. It combines the best elements of Final Fantasy (active time battle, only much faster than any FF, so it's actually challenging to keep up at times), Paper Mario (hit at the right time to reduce damage, special attacks require little ultra-mini-games to execute), PC RPGs (quest log, combat does not happen in a separate screen), and old-school SCUMM games (the out-of-combat interface, conversation trees, using wacky items in wacky ways). It's not at all perfect (too much fetch-questing, not enough item-based puzzles, combat system takes forever to get used to), but it's fun, it's challenging, and it's quite amusing, occasionally even laugh-out-loud funny. Of course, with the Fruit Fucker as a major villain and Gabe as a major character, there's a good bit of crudity, but not as much as you might expect. Most of it is just the built-in crudity of what the Fruit Fucker is, and that's partially mollified by the fact that it's steampunk now, and steampunk designs are always awesome. Finally, it's got Lovecraftian trimmings made Very Silly. I am a total sucker for that.

Is it worth $20? I dunno. It's quite short, but a lot of that is because the obnoxious tedium of most RPGs -- the endless grinding, the long runs back and forth, the dungeon after dungeon while the story unfolds at a glacial pace -- has been pared away. It's got a lot more *fun* in it than most RPGs I've played. I can say that if all four episodes are $20, and all are this short, I'll be a bit miffed. If either later episodes are longer, or they do them as *expansions* for $10 each or so, I think it's well worth it.

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
10:53 am
Okay, normally, I hate the Shouting Idiot school of "journalism" that typifies the 24-hour news networks. But this guy really deserves to be shouted at.

As he says, talking is not the same as appeasement. He's wrong, however, that appeasement is "giving things to the enemy". That's a valid form of diplomacy, if the enemy makes sufficient concessions in return that the deal is worthwhile. Real appeasement is a form of limited surrender -- it is giving things to an apparently stronger enemy, not in exchange for any real concessions, but in the hope that they might therefore leave one alone. Historically, in the form of "paying tribute", it has usually been quite effective, at least in the short term. It is one of only two strategies which stand even a chance of working for the weaker player in a very asymmetric conflict, the other being a mix of guerrilla tactics and terrorism.

Bush's speech at the Knesset was quite revealing. By referencing appeasement, he admits to what we already knew, that deep down he believes Teh Enemy is stronger, by far, than we are. Or at least that's what he wants us to believe. It is, as always, difficult to tell how much of Bush's persona is a calculated act and how much is genuine incompetence.

Anyway, negotiating from a position of strength is nearly always preferable to war. After all, one might lose a war one expected to win. When one has a gigantic military armed with advanced long-range missiles and tanks and aircraft carriers, and the potential enemy is hiding out in caves with black market RPGs and Cold War-surplus Kalishnakovs? That is an excellent time to negotiate.

And when one is dealing with an organization that originated as terrorists and has since evolved into a full-fledged political movement, such as Hezbollah or HAMAS? All the better -- the more that organization can accomplish by negotiation, the weaker its more violent partisans become in internal conflicts and debates. That's how the Northern Ireland issue got settled, and that's the only hope for settling the incredibly similar situation in Lebanon.

On a related note, I am more fed up with the absolutely disgusting phenomenon of conservative Jews every day. Not capital-C Conservative Judaism, the religious sect, but lower-case-c, Jews who are political conservatives.

I can understand how conservativism is attractive to a certain personality, the sort of person who is bothered by the fact that not everybody wants to live the same societally sanctioned life. The ultimate goal of conservativism is the exact opposite of a pluralistic society; it is a world in which everyone is a white straight middle-class American Christian, and anyone who isn't acts like one anyway. A liberal is content to allow people who want to live out Leave It to Beaver to do so, though there will be much sad shaking of heads, but conservatives either cannot comprehend or cannot abide the notion that some people don't. After all, Leave It to Beaver could hardly have worked if a single mom lived next door, or a gay couple, or a Muslim family. It is impossible to believe the central tenet of conservativism -- "My Way Is the Only Way" -- when confronted with the reality of other people making other ways work. Conservatives believe that gay marriage threatens their marriages, but what they really mean is that gay marriage threatens their certainty that their kind of marriage is the only kind that works.

In short, if you're a white straight middle-class Christian who's uncomfortable with either your own freedom to choose how to live, or the notion that other people might legitimately choose differently from you, it's understandable why you'd be a conservative. What I can't understand is conservatives who aren't white straight middle-class Christians. Especially not those who have suffered in the past for a refusal to conform to white straight middle-class Christian values, who have insisted on charting their own destinies and, in response, been locked away in ghettos, murdered in pogroms, denied their fundamental rights. American Jews are good at pretending to be white straight middle-class Christians, and so it's possible to get away with being a conservative. Tirades against non-whites ("illegals" this week), the non-straight, the poor, non-Christians (Muslims this week) rarely target Jews anymore. But while that makes it possible for a Jew to be a conservative without being a hypocrite, it doesn't make it remotely excusable.

We have been the victim far too often in far too recent history of demands that everyone behave like white straight middle-class Christians. We know exactly what it is like to be on the receiving end of conservative disapproval leading to conservative scorn leading to conservative hate leading to conservative violence, as it inevitably does unless restrained. We learned this lesson in Britain, in Russia, in Poland, in France, in Germany: first they make you a second-class citizen, then they pretend they cannot control the people murdering you, then they build a wall around you, and then the official purges begin.

"Never again" does not mean "we personally will not be victims again." It means NEVER AGAIN. Never any of it again. No matter who the target is, no matter who the perpetrator is, it is our duty to ensure it never happens again, because we know what it is like. No more authority, whether you want to call it divine right or the zeitgeist or the unitary executive. No more condemning people because they choose to peacefully pursue a lifestyle that is different from your own, whether that means praying toward Mecca or men marrying men or abstaining from pork. No more standing idly by while madmen consumed with hate attack whatever is different, whether pogroms or KKK members or terrorists or Minutemen or "settlers". No more permitting the strong to prey on the weak, whether that's rich Texans buying and selling their undocumented housekeepers, Israeli tanks flattening Palestinian villages, Palestinian suicide bombers blowing up coffee shops, or employers refusing to pay a living wage.

A white straight middle-class Christian conservative might be misguided, confused, self-centered, or simply ignorant, but they are not necessarily evil, merely wrong (some, of course, actually are evil; some liberals are evil, too, though fewer). A conservative Jew is a traitor.

...Yeah, that's enough tirade for today, methinks.

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Thursday, May 15th, 2008
1:59 pm
The wonderful thing about starlightv, besides her incredible enthusiasm and infectious energy, is that I don't have to hide my sexuality* with her. She doesn't uncomfortably tolerate it; she gleefully embraces it. It's amazing how freeing that is.

Snipped: Comic-Book MoviesCollapse )

snipped to talk about booksCollapse )

*To clarify: I don't mean sexual orientation. I mean sexuality. My friends DO NOT TALK about sex, not even, "Hey, look over there, she's cute" sort of thing. Whereas I can lean over to Viga during a movie trailer and say "Honey, I love you, but I reserve the right to cheat on you with Anne Hathaway." And she answers, "Hey! No fair! She's mine!" And then we compromise that we'll share her, but Viga gets Rosaria Dawson to herself.

Edit: HUGE news via 2ce: The California Supreme Court has ruled that laws which limit marriage to a man and a woman violate the protection of equality and the fundamental right to form family relationships. As of today, gay marriage is legal in California.

Score one for the good guys!

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Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
12:49 pm - Possible candidate to join Ashton and Frank...
So, I'm sitting here trying to stat up tomorrow's D&D session, but dejapes is playing an RPG which features, as one of its characters, a Scottish robot that has an earth-elemental attack in which it uses a fishing pole to throw a giant catfish at the ground, causing an earthquake.

Read that sentence a couple more times. Let it sink in.

He is a Scottish robot, complete with accent. Who uses a giant catfish to do earth damage.

I think I'm going to cry.

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Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
2:58 pm - More vindication!
cnorgard has undertaken the massive project of creating Pokemon d20. One of the reasons he's doing it is that my own Pokemon BESM campaign, and the minor Pokemon-with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off elements in the current d20 campaign, had strong elements of cosmic horror. He's determined to create a Pokemon campaign that *isn't* horror.

Today he admitted that it's actually *really hard* to keep Pokemon from veering into the horrific. Vindication is mine!

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Thursday, April 24th, 2008
12:31 pm
Bush's 2009 budget cuts all funding for Reading Is Fundamental, an absurdly cheap ($26 mil) program that provides 4.6 million free books a year to underprivileged and at-risk children. The only surprise, in hindsight, is that he hadn't done it already -- we already have ample evidence that Bush cares not a whit for children or education, and still less for poor people.

Anyway, Congress can add it back in, but only if they realize that people care enough to notice. Send a letter to your Congressperson here. Help stop Bush from making his last few months as destructive as the rest of his Presidency!

Edit: Forgot yet again to give 2ce for this. He gets credit for introducing me to the Jaud, too. Also fixed the broken link tag.

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12:19 pm - This has been a decidedly odd morning...
Someone threw a pencil at me this morning. Out of a moving bus. I don't know why. I was just walking to the train station, this bus was going past, and suddenly something hit me hard, right in the sternum, and bounced onto the ground. I looked down, and there was a pencil.

Also, somebody in a Bugs Bunny suit is hanging around in the lobby.

Finally, I appear to have started a game of "Who would you switch teams for?" on Slacktivist. Anyone real or fictional is an acceptable answer, though most people have named celebrities. Assumption is casual sex/one-night stand; if you don't do casual sex, answer with who you'd switch for if you did.

Leading answer for straight men: John Barrowman/Captain Jack Harkness
Leading answer for straight women: Angelina Jolie (to which I can only say, blech)
One lesbian has answered: Salma Hayek
No gay men have responded.

Edit: Corrected Barrowman's name.

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