01
Jul 16

VIDEOGAMES: DESIGN IMAGINATION FAIL, FAIL, FAILLLLL

Never mind what game inspired this (Halo 5) but, nowadays in many fps (and third person games) you get many fine qualities but also a big tendency to fall back on trite over-familiar crapola from decades ago. Yes we get wonderful graphics, wonderful action, good drama and actions and voices in cut scenes, good voice actors (That Guy from Firefly and Castle in Halo 5, among others), pretty good settings, generally good interfaces, good music, relatively few glitches and when there are some they try to get patches to you…many good qualities. BUT there are egregious old cliches built into the structures of these rather expensive games and few designers are thinking outside the box. FOR EXAMPLE, we still have “bosses” at intervals, adversaries who are big and harder to kill, and so very very familiar, no matter the details. They usually have the same sneering British diction.

We still have to go to series of devices and switch them off to cause some remarkably primitive super futuristic super high tech device to overheat (!) as if they were steam engines or something. Or you have to switch off a series of powering devices to cut off a force field, and fight your way to each switch, etc. Or you have to–fill in the blank–some other object in some very very familiar way.

Thankfully they don’t make you crawl through extraneous overly convenient ventilation passages as much as they used to. But you have to fly or drive through mazes, you have to shoot flying vehicles in a way that is remarkably like arcade games from 1990, in a somewhat fancier modulation…Oh and you have to build up inventories of something until you create a Thing…and for some reason though you often work for a gigantic powerful military force you’re dropped behind enemy lines with a shitty rifle and a shitty pistol and you have to scavenge better weapons that are lying about on the ground. The whole “find ten power gems to power your energizer blaster” or whatever is very very old…

I could list many more examples. What I’m suggesting is, we are still encountering archaicisms and a general failure of the imagination in game structuring and story.

Some games try to get away from this–RPG games TRY and though individual missions tend to break down to the same thing (like the dreaded building-the-transporter device in Fallout 4) you sometimes get more interesting variations with RPG…


28
Jun 16

Have you been politically CHLOROFORMED?

I’m told there’s an actual term for a known strategy in conservative political circles, called CHLOROFORMING–that is the process of convincing people that they don’t want to vote, that it’s hopeless to vote, that voting can change nothing, that it’s too difficult or it’s pointless.

If you believe that there’s no point in voting, you have been “CHLOROFORMED”.


26
Jun 16

Your Next Nasty Political Surprise

Many were surprised Donald Trump could be taken seriously as a candidate–could win over so many people. What will be the next political horror to surprise us? How about the fact that *libertarians* are now being taken more seriously because they got a tiny little increase of support in reaction to Trump? Their candidates are being covered on CNN. But the only thing libertarians actually have going for them is the word “liberty”–which for libertarians actually means liberty for whoever controls the marketplace–and their general, theoretical opposition to war. I can appreciate people desperately supporting a party supposedly opposed to going to war. But it’s just as much a mistake as succumbing to Trump’s appealing simplicity.

Libertarians are isolationist, and they don’t want taxes and war induces taxation to pay for it so they’re “against war”. However–if there was a resurgence of communism threatening their business interests, you’d probably see libertarians calling out for an “exception”: a war for…liberty. Libertarianism is the right masquerading as the left.

Like Trump, libertarians have the attraction of being a simple answer. With Trump it’s, “just trust Trump, turn it over to him, he’ll fix it, and, don’t forget, he despises dark skinned foreigners”. With the libertarians it’s, “the unregulated free market will solve all problems, trust us, and by the way we’re against war and we’re all for marijuana”. (Never mind that marijuana is already being legalized in state after state, no thanks to libertarians.)

When libertarians are losing an argument–eg when you point out that real economic science and history demonstrate that regulations and reasonable taxation and federal economic stimulus all are shown to promote prosperity–they call you a *statist*. They don’t actually call for no state at all, as real anarchists at least have the balls to do. They call for libertarian government–and, inexplicably, the libertarian government is supposedly not a *state*. Only, of course, it would be a state. It would be a shitty, polluting state ceding control to corporate power. But it would still be a state.

And when did *state* in itself become pejorative? To pretend *state* is a pejorative, insulting term is poor usage–and it is childish. It’s early adolescent, really. And that, actually, is a state, so to speak, that has always gone with libertarianism. It’s the jeering, childish, “just because” political theory.


21
Jun 16

Tired of the same old Massacres?

If you don’t like the nightmarish availability of guns…then…

…show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like them crushing the middle class and the poor…then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like the suppression of science and climate change’s facts…then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.

If you don’t like the erosion of women’s rights…then show up to vote at *congressional races* and vote Republicans OUT. Encourage your friends to register to vote; encourage your friends to put on their coats, encourage your friends to simply note: they must vote the Republicans out.


03
Jun 16

From SEX HUNGRY DICTATORS Magazine (inspired by real news)

Trump said, “I’m tired of waiting, Kim.” He tore off his shirt and advanced on Kim Jong Un whose eyes widened, the North Korean dictator’s tongue caressing his lips with excitement. Then the door burst open and–

But first, here’s a real quote from Trump about Kim Jong Un Dictator of North Korea: “How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals, and all of a sudden … he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss,” Trump said. “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one. I mean this guy doesn’t play games.”

And here’s a real quote from CNN: “Donald Trump on Friday praised Vladimir Putin and appeared to defend the autocratic Russian president when pressed about his alleged killing of journalists and political opponents critical of his rule… Putin called Trump a “bright and talented” and the “absolute leader of the presidential race,”‘

News from a couple days ago: KIM JONG UN ENDORSES TRUMP for President.

…back to our story. Donald Trump turned from the silk sofa and the half-nude Kim, and The Donald’s eyes widened, his tongue caressing his lips. Then he said, “Vladimir!” Putin–already stripped from the waist up–stepped into the room, closing and locking the door, and turned furiously to Kim. “Get away from Donald. He’s mine!”

“So you say! But–” Kim panted. “You must prove it!”

Putin nodded. “Both of you–onto the sofa. Someone’s got to be ‘the top’ around here…”

(Anyway, it would be from Sex Hungry Dictators Magazine if there was one)


01
Jun 16

LGBT…Q?!

I entirely support the LGBT rights movement. I was used to the term LGBT and fine with that acronym; recently (anyhow it’s recent to me, I hadn’t seen it till yesterday) it’s gone to LGBTQ. I thought, isn’t that redundant? It terms of public relations, don’t you want to keep it simple and isn’t LGBT inclusive enough? Isn’t Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender already a sufficiently prolix phrase? But they added Queer which seemed to me to be already implicit in gay and lesbian. Jeez, the original gay rights groups chose queer as a way of co-opting a supposed insult and making it over into their own word. Now it means more, more and more: “LGBTQ: “LGBTQ” is an acronym that originated in the 1990s and replaced what was formerly known as “the gay community.” The acronym was created to be more inclusive of diverse groups. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) individuals/identities.”

It’s like, we weren’t confusing enough. I get it, the idea is supposed to be all-inclusiveness. But isn’t that a dilution of the movement? I mean…”questioning”? I was always told by gay rights people and scientists studying it that gay people knew they were gay from the start. Some people do have a brief period of psychologically coming out of the closet but is this really necessary for them? Isn’t the Q overdoing it? And many of us have encountered people who feel it’s fashionable to be questioning their gender identity when in fact they know it perfectly well. Every gay person I ever knew, knew they were gay from the start. They couldn’t always act on it but they knew. Straight people know they’re straight. Bisexual is already covered.

Too late now. The Questioning is out of the barn, it’s out there, we’re to accept it and I’ll use the term–saw it on MSNBC today, it must be somewhat official. But the community would be wiser to have some public relations perspective next time so they don’t end up with LGBTQPIALT — PIALT for possibly in another lifetime.

Or

LGBTQPMBBNTSORTS: LGBTQPossiblyMightBeBisexualNotTotallySureOrRefuseToSay

Also some may want to add and MS at the end for Meh-Sexual meaning “I just feel meh about sex” …

Queer always stood for homosexual in the movement but the old guys and gals of the movement–many of them have died off. So the young people get to make themselves feel self important by appropriating queer. Like “include me! Because…because…I’m questioning…that’s it!” Bullshit. That’s like saying “I feel that I’m an African American though I’m a blond Norwegian”…


28
May 16

Obama Works Toward Nuclear Disarmament. Is He a Good Man?

“Obama’s Hiroshima visit strengthens his call for nuclear disarmament” says the headline from the Guardian.

And yes some powerful people really do work for a better world.

You think Pres Obama’s support of the new pacific trade agreement is bad? Could be. But he insists it requires new environmental rules and in the long run will help America, pushing back against Chinese trade dominance. He also feels it’s an “on balance” thing–this has deficits for us but *on balance* it will help the economy over the long haul. He could be wrong! But that’s what he thinks: a gain for American in the long run.

You think his use of drones to take out al Qaeda, Taliban, and Isis operatives is bad? He’s changed the protocol for it to try his best to reduce civilian casualties and they’re doing far fewer of the strikes now. He feels that he has to keep terrorist organizations off balance and that it’s having a beneficial effect overall. I will guess that he feels that ethically it’s the best outcome in the long run; that it’s overall a gain for the world at large as well as Americans. I would guess that someone gets chewed out, or fired, when he finds out there was a sloppy targeting. Maybe he’s WRONG to authorize drone strikes. But it’s evident to me he sincerely believes it will be a gain for everyone over all, to take out terrorist and extremist leadership. The intended targets are, after all, people who advocate throwing acid in the faces of young girls for wanting an education.

Going back, his use of Wall Street connected people in his administration–he felt that in order to get banks and other investors *investing* again, he had to open up dialogue with them through intermediaries, and show he wasn’t hostile, even though he was pushing reforms. Maybe he wasn’t tough enough–or maybe the GOP blocked his efforts at tougher reform. They certainly blocked his jobs program.

Did he make a mistake on fracking? I think so. I think fracking’s going to be banned state by state in this country. He can make mistakes. But the guy is sincerely trying to work for a better world.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/27/obama-hiroshima-visit-japan-nuclear-disarmament


26
May 16

Campus Fraternities are an Embarrassment to the 21st century

“Condoms, tampons and feces: Oregon fraternity suspended after ‘disgraceful’ trashing of Shasta Lake” headline from the LA Times

Headline from the Daily Dot: “fraternity rape culture is even bigger than you think”

Since college fraternities have no real relevance in the 21st century–not a valid relevance–and since they consistently are a hotbed for over-drinking, the idiotic abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, sadistic and even lethal hazing, and the spreading of vile subcultures like racism and rape culture; and since they seem to teach a sense of unreasonable entitlement, academia should just end “fraternal” institutions. It’s slow to do it because of the old-boy donations stream. Colleges should do the right thing–something they have a long history of not doing.

The “Greek system” is an engine of old fashioned classism; it is utterly meaningless to today’s education–it’s only a device for insularity, a campus echo chamber of the dregs of 19th century values.

“Boolah boolah boolah rah rah rah, Kappa Bagel Frinka!”

We should reply, “Shut up and fuck off you left over parasite from the age of robber barons and Jim Crow.”


23
May 16

Hillary, Bernie, and the Big Picture

–Several points I want to make about the Democratic candidates for President:
       1) Bernie Sanders has no responsibility to quit the Presidential race before the Democratic convention has made its choice. He genuinely has a purpose in continuing through the convention, whether he’s likely to be nominated or not. At the very least, Bernie is creating a political base that will have enough momentum to overturn the right-wing dominance of the House and the Senate. Overall, he is like a lens focusing national consensus on political reform: a genuine reform of campaign financing, the breaking up of financial “institutions” (is a pirate ship an institution?) into smaller, more regulated, less threatening structures; on meaningful regulation and single payer health care; on a reduction of military spending; on much better wages and conditions for Labor. . .And in order to accomplish that he needs to rally people into political determination and political action. This grassroots organization can be extended beyond the Presidential election, even if Hillary Clinton is elected. Sanders accomplishes this most effectively by using the pulpit, the stage, of the Presidential primary, to continue to rally his people toward that political revolution…
     I’ll just add, while I think Sanders has a plan for reforming banks if he’s elected, he doesn’t need to have every step of that reform laid out now–he can organize that once elected, as long as we know what his goals are. And we do.
      2) The right for years has has been exaggerating about the Clintons; has been spreading assumptions, jumping to conclusions, smearing them. The Clintons made their mistakes–the pumping up of prisons, the weakening of financial regulations. They have learned from their mistakes. And there’s nothing wrong with an ex-president being paid hefty speaker’s fees, and nothing wrong with a stateswoman, a person trying to rally support for the Clinton Foundation, with charging her own fees to speak. It’s done every damn day. It’s called lecturing. People did it for a living going back centuries.
There is no evidence–just accusations being taken as evidence–that she gave preference to any donors to the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons do not make money themselves from the Foundation, either. The problem is that the left, perhaps spurred by right-wing operatives, have been picking up on conservative exaggerations and slanders re Hillary Clinton–the new, young left has been appropriating these exaggerations from the right and even the far right. In short, they’re dancing on puppet strings for the right, when they attack her as corrupt–when there is really no evidence of actual corruption.
      3) Conservatives, Libertarians, Theocrats, Trumpies–they all benefit when Bernie supporters lose their objectivity and spout insults and inject blind emotion into the contest; Clinton supporters are helping Trumpies and righties when they lose objectivity and rage at Bernie supporters. The divisiveness will divide the vote on the left; to some extent already has. The fascists love it when we on the left call each other fascists.
     4) I am voting for Bernie in the primary–and again in the general election IF he gets the nomination… If Clinton gets the nomination I’ll vote for her. Clinton fans should vote for Bernie if he gets the nomination; Bernie followers should vote for Clinton if she gets it. And I am confident that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination from the Democratic Party.
      And if we vote in the general election for whoever is chosen as the Democratic Party’s nominee–each vote will trumpet a resounding No! to right-wing political opportunism and manipulation.

15
May 16

Does God Exist? Yes and No

When people say they’ve lost their religious faith, the core reason is nearly always that they observe the world to be a mess, that cruelty and despair are integral to the world–probably to the cosmos–and God does not intervene, “hence God doesn’t exist”. I don’t blame them. They’re both right, and wrong, in my view.

There are various rationales offered to us for the existence of evil in the world–”it’s necessary so that free will can also exist” is one–but in fact evil probably exists because nature simply iterates that way, ramifying so that we receive “evil” (relative to our consensus reality) along with “blessings”. But a “blessing” seems doomed to be crushed eventually, as if it were a happy woman suddenly abducted and murdered: victimized by the infinite rolling of the cosmic dice; by entropy, and the bitter shortness of life; by death.

To me, there is no God per se, but that doesn’t mean there’s no Supreme Being of any kind. The mistake is in assuming that there must be a higher being defined by our childish notions. “The Supreme Being has to be our creator!” Then who created the creator? “The Supreme Being has to have deliberately designed this Grand Absurdity!” Says who? Primitive tribesmen in the Middle East 2500 years ago? “It has to be all-loving and good according to what humanity thinks is loving and good.” Same answer, and that presumption is your need for a perpetual parent which you superimpose on the world.

And these notions of your God’s loving kindness are strange in the context of the Bible where God does at least as much mass murdering as blessing–drowning millions of babies in the Great Flood for example. This same fellow sends billions of people to burn for all eternity for entirely arbitrary reasons. That should have been a sign from the first something was wrong with the whole concept.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no supreme, or higher being. Sunlight can be cruel. Be congruent with its nature, however, and it cultivates you. Darkness can be a blessing–modify harsh sunlight with shade, a modicum of darkness. . .

To me this pervasive, intrinsic consciousness–this hypothetical higher being– has some background, rootlike connection to our own consciousnesses. Then again, it’s like a river one goes to for irrigation– you must fetch out the water yourself, but it is, by its nature, always on offer. Just remember that a river is a natural force that might drown you as well as quench your thirst. The Nile is not kind or unkind. Nor is it a distinct god. Tillich said, the being that pervades the cosmos is “not a person–but not less than a person”.

I seems to provide a mysterious kind of guidance, and nourishment. But it’s not going to listen to your prayers for money or physical healing or saving innocents–it’s for us to save the innocents. The consciousness intrinsic to the universe is beyond listening to us as individuals…Do you hear the individual splash of every raindrop that falls in every storm?

Childish, self pitying notions of its obligations to us merely obscure it from view. And when we look for it, we tend to look with the wrong part of ourselves.