Browsing the blog archives for January, 2008

Anonymous vs. Scientology

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Culture, Politics, Technology

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you probably haven’t heard of the declaration of war that the internet entity “Anonymous” has declared against Scientology.

This was the first video to hit the interwaves:

A new one has recently come out, though similar in content. There have been some threads on social news sites following the release of these videos. One comment in particular in this Reddit thread struck me as quite interesting. User notany says: “Anonymous might be the first real Stand Alone Complex.”

Spoiler-ish description of Stand Alone Complex behind the cut.

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More Massed Effect

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Culture, Games, Politics

Here we go again folks! More media controversy over Mass Effect’s raunchy, primetime-TV-watchable sex scenes.

This video found via Kotaku. I actually felt like Keighley really dominated the interview segment, but when we went to the panel all that progress was lost. Instead we got a bunch of people who have never played a videogame since Pong(!), commenting on something they know nothing about, and a news anchor pontificating on how difficult it is to be a parent and control childrens’ access to entertainment systems that costs hundreds of dollars, and games that cost half a hundred bucks each.

BuyCooperLawrenceNow

SearchInsideCooperLawrence

Funnily enough, the so-called expert called in on this Fox News segment, Cooper Lawrence, whose entire useful contribution to the segment was admitting that she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, is experiencing a mass effect of her own as her book is flooded by poor reviews on Amazon.

Anyone else think the pictures shown with her book are a little distasteful and “objectifying” of women? I mean, “Buy Now” and “Search Inside?” That seems a little inappropriate for children.

I am absolutely loving some of the reviews she’s been getting. Unfortunately, Amazon has already closed one-star reviews and will probably start removing some of the better reviews. A bit ridiculous considering Cooper Lawrence’s own uninformed opining on national television. A couple of samples from Amazon…

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Absolutely wonderful book! It is both an incredible sexual aid but is also quite useful for cleaning up messes that my dog has created.

1.0 out of 5 stars Oh look, a misinformed review, January 23, 2008
By Farzad Mesbahi “Z” (Bethlehem, PA) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
I’m just here to bash a form of entertainment I’ve never read (your book) after you bashed a form of entertainment you’ve never played (Mass Effect.)

Oh how much it sucks, doesn’t it?

1.0 out of 5 stars Ignorant, January 23, 2008
By Patricia R. Rossetti – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
If she feels that she is professionally qualified to bash a video game that she has never played, then she should have no problem with me bashing her book that I have never read.

2.0 out of 5 stars Concerned Parent, January 23, 2008
By S. Roegge – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
I am Deeply appalled by this book and the availibility of it to my children.
I took my child for a nice outing last saturday to the local library and i was frightened for society as a whole when i saw this book being displayed. The sexual tones given off by just the cover of this book alone was enough for my daughter to ask “mommy why is that lady making opinions about things she knows nothing about because she has not done minimal reasearch to even understand the basics of her opinion?”
As you may guess the car ride home was very interesting.

1.0 out of 5 stars Promotes underage sex!, January 23, 2008
By Richard Nast.e (San Diego, CA United States) – See all my reviews
This book is filled with pictures of naked women and depictions of graphic sex. Worst of all, it’s marketed to children!

1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good, January 23, 2008
By T. Goldman – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
I’m sorry, but this book is just not good. It’s not well written, the author has no credibility, and she apparently has no real knowledge on any subject. Reading this book is as helpful and interesting as staring at your wall for 8 hours. The cover is creepy too.

1.0 out of 5 stars An utterly abysmal read, January 23, 2008
By Mr. J. Bain “totalbiscuit” (Leicester, UK) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Be warned, for within these pages you will find one of the biggest collections of pseudo-intellectual drivel in the history of the written word. But don’t fret, if you can’t get past the truck-loads of assertions, broken logic, terrible arguments and outright overly feministic intellectual terrorism of this book, you’ll still have the front-cover to pin up on your wall. After all, good looks are all you need to be taken seriously as a psychologist these days apparently.

Turnabout and irony, so delicious… So bad, immature, and probably counterproductive but yet hilarious and devilishly satisfying nonetheless.

Update: EA steps in to demand corrections.

Less than Human

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Culture

I was recently looking at my trackbacks and saw this blog post linking back here. Apparently, the guy who runs the site takes issue with me having an interest in technology and certain forms of entertainment, but not identifying myself as a “Geek.”

This is the response I wanted to make to his blog post,

It’s a complex issue, but from one angle of looking at it we can say, “By acknowledging that having interest in technology, certain forms of entertainment, is one automatically a member of the subculture of ‘Geeks’?”

The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is no. Participating in sports doesn’t necessarily make someone a “jock.” Watching movies doesn’t make someone a “film nerd.” Listening to certain kinds of music doesn’t make someone a “< insert label here >.” There are obvious differences in degree that you conveniently choose to ignore, not to mention the differences in kind between people who embrace a given subculture, people who don’t, and people who are stuck there.

Some of the guys at and around Fear the Boot might choose to self-identify as “Geeks” that’s fine and their choice. I know Shamus does. Personally, I feel that “geek” has too many irrelevant connotations. I’m not part of the indie-ironic G4 branch, nor part of the social misfits cesspool. I don’t have any interest in associating with either of these groups. Even though most of the people interested in things like videogames, comics, and roleplaying games are now working adults, we don’t really have a useful way to refer to them, you’re either a misfit, or nerd-chic. There doesn’t seem to be any room in there for seeing technology, roleplaying, and videogames as general hobbies. Why should these deserve any more recognition or disdain than following sports, politics, movies, music, or anything else?

I might also add that, even though there’s been a general movement towards trying to rehabilitate the word “Geek,” and also “Nerd,” “Dork” and other pejoratives, I don’t really want any part of that. I don’t feel a particular need to have society validate things I enjoy, particularly because what I write about on this blog is only a fraction of that anyway.

Unfortunately, this blog (or its comments, at least) seem to be hosted on Tripod, which seems to have the most difficult CAPTCHA I’ve ever seen. Some examples…

Captcha1

Captcha2

Captcha3

Captcha4

If you guessed the correct combination was “VDRFNY” then congratulations, you’re wrong! I don’t know what is going on there, maybe the smaller, usually-obscured text is also relevant for this inhumane CAPTCHA? Either way, I don’t care enough to try and figure out some feature that won’t let me use it as intended.

The “Fact-Box” Race for President

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Culture, Politics

I know that they all probably assume they have better, much more important, urgent, timely, things to campaign on, but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new lies that one Kevin McCollough is marketing to ignorant adult children.

It’s called “Lying” and it allows Kevin McCollough – universally male no doubt – to engage in the most egregious falsehoods ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, pace, writing style, fib size of the lies they wish to “publish” and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the internet “lies” multiply in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.

The objections to such filth should be simple to understand.

Starting with the disgusting idea that one can “create” their own versions of reality, removing facts, truth, and honest spots while enhancing – shall we say – the exaggerated features of reality’s characters tends to demonize accuracy, correctness, and proper grammar. Right? We can all agree on this?

Then there’s the dishonesty behind the lie’s title. “The “Sex-Box” Race for President” sounds like an article written by an overwrought, undereducated high school drop out that was published because the advertisements for the local bowling alley got pulled after a bunch of French anarchists attacked patrons with firearms in the parking lot. By it’s design, parents could ask for it, or turn on their childrens’ Calculation Box to go read it from the tape feed with nary a raised eye-brow. Generic, non-descriptive, and entirely mindless.

But it IS marketed for the IBM Selectric 3600, perhaps the most manually stimulating typesetting system ever made. The hardware for such allows the blending of blatant falsehoods, incompetent analysis, and the manipulation of actual truth so that an alternate reality engulfs the infantalized adults reading it without much objection.

Now if I have trouble with my son taking Kevin McCollough’s lies a little too emotionally, imagine the powerful effect that deceit adds to the mix when the figments of Kevin McCollough’s own imagination are coupled like magnets with stupid-politicians, activists, and anyone else who tests reasonable peoples’ patience by legislating, regulating, and “putting themselves into power.”

I hear my local pastor’s answer already, “Kevin needs to take his medicine.” Figures, he’s a psychiatrist.

In the race for President there has been a lot of discussion about morality and it’s impact on the lives of the individual candidate. Some pretty inane ones like Penny Arcade’s less lucid moment this past week when they posed the inquiry about Soul Edge to Jedi Master Yoda.

Yet here’s a question that deserves to be asked, and in all likelihood will not be: “How much moral judgement should the President push into legislative issues that are likely to severely damage our society’s intelligence, function, and capability?”

I hear the nay-sayers claiming I’m being the wild and crazed Truth thumper I’ve always been – but its a worthwhile question isn’t it?

If a pre-octagenarian, cetacian, Klingon, or senior citizen hears such a lie in which the videogames DO act out Kevin McColloughs most forbidden fantasies, with Barbie streetwalkers, and embody whatever libel can be imagined, what’s to stop that same person from assuming that the videogames in this “real world” shouldn’t be forced to do the same.

We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of self-delusion was prevalent in case after case – long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations had been given into, they were forcing real live human beings to tolerate their misguided lust for control.

And because of the self-published, no-accountability blogohedron age in which we live – Kevin McCollough can be customized to sodomize whatever truth, said by whoever, however he wishes.

With it’s “over the net” capabilities virtual fact-free mind-rape is just the push of a button away.

Yes there will be many snickers that I decided to bring this issue up in the Presidential cycle of 2008 but how refreshing would it be for a President to prove to the nation that his own integrity was not in question and put his pen and signature to a bill that dealt with such unsimulated misinformation excess in a way that was punitive to its creators to such a degree that they would never recover from it?

And, yes, the above paragraph was just one long run-on sentence.

As technology continues to push the limits of imagination and interaction more and more the brain, the emotions, the feelings will integrate with physical responses in reality. Soon after, Skynet will become self-aware. And while Kevin McCollough and other makers of such yellow journalism trash seem to be pushing our next generation of legislators through the gates of hell as fast as is humanly possible, it needn’t be that way.

Here’s hoping that as the next President will be forced to deal with this continual emerging reality – and enemy that has set its site to our destruction from within – that we will have elected a man of such character that he will have precision in the clarity of his response.

How would that be for a bold and uncompromising “Fact Effect?”

CMB Crosspost

2 Comments
Miscellaneous

This week there was no Chainmail Bikini. After Shamus’ explanation I had to do this.

CMBNinjas

Tolkien

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Culture, Literature, RPGs

Last night I listened to the new episode of Fear the Boot, and I felt compelled to have a little rant. The episode itself was conducted by guest hosts, and one of the guest hosts mentioned that she had trouble reading Tolkien. Some of the other hosts were sympathetic. “The descriptions are so long!” and the usual other litanies were repeated.

It always irks me when I hear this. Tolkienis bad? I guess if Tolkien is hard to read then Dickens must be impossible to read. Heck, all Victorians are right out. And before that? Well, anything earlier than that may as well be hieroglyphics. Even though I don’t consider myself a part of the “geek” subculture, or whatever you’d like to call it, it’s always irksome to encounter these attitudes in people identifying as belonging to a subculture which ostensibly has higher intellectual standards than pop culture. I guess the bar has sunk so low where something that requires even the modest intellectual effort of reading is too much to ask.

It’s not like this is purely a matter of time either. Looking to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series will show a series of fantasy books with a tremendous amount of attention to description of things like heraldry, armor, and lineages. These are pretty common elements in fantasy literature that’s any good. It strikes me that objecting to the very methods by which authors craft their fantasy worlds for their reader is about as sensible as objecting to science fiction for having too much science in it.

I once knew a woman who loved Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but thought Tolkien was dull. Wheel of Time is cool! It’s got a hip, tormented hero (who has like 5 women fawning over him)! Tolkien is dull, it’s got a hobbit. Wheel of Time has exciting battles where its main hero uses Goku’s Kamehameha technique to wipe out entire armies! Tolkien just has some helpless hobbits, guys with swords, and so-called wizards with some knowledge of chemistry.

At some point, I think, it might be worth it to just step back and say, “You know what? I like all these derivative knock-offs more than the original model. Maybe I don’t like what the original was trying to do at all.” And, hey, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with popcorn entertainment like DragonBall Z or Wheel of Time. It’d be better for everyone if we were clear about our tastes instead of paying lip service to things we don’t like.

Fallout

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Anime, Culture

So Shamus recently made a post on, to put it broadly, the direction of the arts industry. The whole thing was apparently sparked off by an ongoing conversation on some other blogs about anime, “fansubs,” the open source movement, programming and art.

On the one hand, the process of creating anime as we know it does require a certain scale which makes it infeasible for anything but a well-funded company to produce. On the other hand, I’m pretty skeptical of accounts that fansubs substantially cut into profits. Granted, the extent of my knowledge of fansubs consists of watching a few clips on YouTube, and in interacting with rabid anime fans. My impression from the latter is that, outside of the corporatized piracy which is rampant in Asia, fan subtitled videos don’t represent a serious threat to anime sales in America. Fansubs seem to be thought of a stopgap allowing the truly rabid fans to get their fix early, but these fans are also the same obsessive personality type that insist on owning the releases anyway.

I guess I’m getting on a bit of a tangent from where I wanted to go. Darin, a commenter on Shamus’ site observes:

I have seen the end of Hollywood, and it is Open Art. CGI is getting very good at presenting realistic characters. And maybe you don’t even care how realistic they are. What happens once we get to CGV? Computer Generated Voices on the par where they sound “close enough”. And if computer power keeps increasing, I say that we’ll reach a point where someone will create a movie software package. Design the actors (CGI & CGV), write the script, gather the CGI scenery, and plot the movements and camera angles. Turn the crank and out pops your “movie”.

This strikes me as correct. I think we’ve still got another ~10-15 years before it becomes plausible for your average obsessive compulsive creative genius to make their own CG movies. It’ll probably take another 20-30 years or more before it becomes accessible enough for all but fringe elements. The confounding factor here, I think, is that it’s doubtful that existing media will survive that long. We’re already seeing a transition in how media companies distribute (and, to a lesser extent, create) their content.

Even though I can see a future where the bottom drops out for current media companies, I think it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever reach a “tragedy of the commons” situation where all our resources (in this case, anime) have been exhausted. Human beings crave culture and entertainment, often in specific forms. I find it exceedingly unlikely that a sudden end to existing business models would wipe out a cultural movement that’s got, say, thirty years of material built up and generations of people weaned on its specific style.

Image Hotlinking Disabled

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Administrativa

I noticed a couple of sites recently that were hotlinking images that were hosted on my site, so I disabled all image hotlinking. I felt like this was an unfortunate but necessary step, since obviously some people can’t be bothered to put in even the minimal amount of effort that would have been required to simply rehost images locally.

I can understand hotlinking in some situations: Let’s say someone in a forum linked to a post that I wrote about a game and also wanted to include some of the pictures I usually include with videogame related posts. Although forums tend to be huge wastes of bandwidth, that sort of usage makes some sense and isn’t instantly objectionable. After all, presumably the example here is one that’s discussing what I wrote and with forums you don’t necessarily have an easy at-hand way to deal with images. On the other hand, someone who has gone through all the trouble to make their own website and secure hosting for it doesn’t really have an excuse.

I would prefer if I didn’t have to completely disable hotlinking, so I am thinking about how I can revise my access policies, but for now it’s gone.

Politics and Awful Art

2 Comments
Culture, Literature

A bit of a follow up to an earlier post where I linked to Mencius‘ thoughts on “An Almost Pure Empty Poetry,” and the circlejerk that is the Poetry Establishment; I came across this article at Overcoming Bias with a similar theme on the badness of poetry, and how ideologues are often blinded to the obvious faults in their own verse for the sake of “sticking it to the man,” or whatever ironic epithet you may choose to poke fun at the reflexive 1960’s anti-establishment mentality.

The trouble, as the author of the article points out, is endorsing bad poetry for what is perceived as good policy. Which makes it particularly hard to endorse this article, given that it’s largely told as a working through of craft in which the author gradually refines a small section of verse from,

I was not your destination
Only a step on your path

To the far inferior,

I was never your city,
Just a stretch of your road.

Although the process itself the author uses to reach the latter seems very sound, it’s obvious to me from the comparison of the two products that both are bad. But at least one has a directness and verve and clarity of purpose that’s conducive to the message that’s trying to be versified.

I suppose in the spirit of not justifying bad verse with policy, we shouldn’t discount the policy because of the bad verse? Oh well. At least the comments provided a link to these clever little anecdotes.