Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review: Vulnerable

VulnerableVulnerable by Kyt Dotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars



View all my reviews

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferguson protests and gamers?

I’ve been reading way too much Ferguson news lately. It’s a stressful story about a city and population essentially under siege, journalists accosted and harassed by police, and the slow semi-transparent wheels of justice…

Even though I heard about the news of Darren Brown’s death the day it happened (and the night of the first protest) it’s taken a while for the news to finally reach the national stage.

With Twitter leading the way with most of the on-the-spot news of what’s been happening, I’ve long wondered how gamers and the MMO gaming community has reacted so far.

Looking at Google and the Internet at large, and a dearth of articles on the subject (from said community) I’d have to say I agree with Helvetica at Vox Ex Machina in that the impact is little seen.

How has the Ferguson news affected the MMO gaming community? (Not much) | Helvetica | Vox Ex Machina

I’ll be keeping an eye out for news to tip the people I know who write about this sort of thing, but I’m not holding my breath. If anyone notices any gaming groups making an effort to spread awareness -– through in game rallies, their own blogs, Twitter, etc. -- let me know and I’ll pass it along.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Interview with CrayzECook on MMO Anthropology

An interview in World of Warcraft with CrayzECook

As it turns out, CrayzECook is a 7-year-veteran of World of Warcraft. It’s been an interesting journey for him and recently he even started leading a raid group.

Hopefully the interviews can come back to see how he’s doing and what leading raids is like in the almost decade old MMORPG game of Warcraft.

via MMO Anthropology.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Welcome to the fog of war: In #Ferguson

A particularly damning image of the Al Jazeera news crew being tear gassed has been making rounds in the media. The image of reporters fleeing from attack, followed by another of uniformed police in SWAT gear taking down the TV equipment makes for a punchy, dramatic image of journalistic suppression. However, the situation seems to be a little bit different.

It is now known that whatever police department fired the tear gas canister at the reporters may not be the same department as came back for their equipment. In fact, those taking down the equipment were assisting the reporters to get away from the gas.

One of the strange things that social media does is it produces the perception of swift messaging out of time. In times of great strife and conflict, it is difficult to get information out of a hot zone in time for context to form—this is often known as the “fog of war”. Actors in a war often use this effect to their advantage by producing propaganda or a narrative that aids their position before actual facts come to light. Social media zings facts, photos, videos, and commentary out extremely rapidly and interpretive contexts form faster than facts can catch up.

Last night, an Al Jazeera news crew got caught in a tear gas cloud and ran. Another news team caught footage of this occurring and even took footage of a SWAT team arriving at their position who then lowered their lights and turned the camera away from recording the scene.

Al Jazeera itself put out a statement condemning the SWAT team saying, “tear gas canisters landed in their proximity and police fired rubber bullets in their direction.” The statement goes on to say that the police continued to fire on the crew even as they shouted that they were press.

People on social media took the dismanteling of the equipment shortly after the crew ran as a sign the police sought to quell media presence. Not difficult to believe after reports of police ejecting media from the city, the arrests of several journalists, and—of course, the video of a tear gas canister being fired directly at the feet of reporters.

In an attempt to get out from under the obviously damning images, St. Charles SWAT spokesperson Lt. David Tiefenbrunn says that the team took down the equipment to help the crew move to a new location. They were also not the SWAT crew who fired the tear gas.

It seems that separate SWAT vehicles are involved. One that fired the tear gas and a second one who assisted in moving the equipment, who were with the St. Charles SWAT team.

Tiefenbrunn also stated he does not know who fired the tear gas.

In statements to the media, Tiefenbrunn opined that the Al Jazeera crew may not have been targeted intentionally and that the police crews in the area did not know that the lights belonged to a news crew. The Al Jazeera news crew, however, noted to the media that they had spoken to officers stationed near their position, and had identified themselves long before. In fact, as seen from the footage across the street, the well-lit position would have been easily identified as journalists setting up.

Much like what happened during the Occupy protests, multiple police departments with little coordination is leading to situations where bad actors (firing tear gas at journalists) are not going to be disciplined.

We are still waiting for the Ferguson police to identify if it was one of their squads who fired the gas canister and how it was that it ended up landing at the feet of a TV news crew.

#Ferguson police dangerous, despicable, failures—tear gas, inciting riots, endangering life

The Ferguson police have shown a reckless disregard for peaceful protest such that displays a gross disregard for human safety in general.

If the police in Ferguson do not want to be portrayed as “bad guys”; perhaps they should stop tear gassing state senators and TV crews.

After all, at least that should show some sort of restraint.

The response to a US senator chastising you, by asking if she’s going to get “gassed again,” while attending a peaceful protest is not: “I hope not.” It should be, “Ma’am, I will attend to restraining those under my command to common regard for the safety of those they’re sworn to protect.”

Stop harassing the media. Stop arresting journalists. Stop firing dangerous weaponry in residential neighborhoods. The police in Ferguson have obviously failed, in an attempt to “keep the peace,” the police have become the primary present breach of the peace.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Comic-Con does not have a formal anti-harassment policy?

I was reading an article written up in The Washington Post about Geeks for CONsent and the second paragraph leads with this:

Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con.

I am baffled. Comic-Con has no formal anti-harassment policy? I’ve known about Comic-Con for what seems forever now. It’s a massive gathering of geeks, cosplayers, aficionados, and much of nerddom in a place that emblematizes comic fandom and everything amazing about comic culture.

So I poked around, I found the convention policies (and code of conduct) but it’s a bare minimum of metal-on-metal “use common sense,” and “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.”

Sensible but hardly formalized.

By now, even people who do not participate in conventions know that women—and especially cosplayers—suffer a noticeable or even ambient amount of harassment. The article itself highlights complaints spoken to CONsent involving groping, being fallowed, and other forms of sexual harassment.

Yes. Much of this harassment follows women from the streets (from cat-calls to following) but in the charged environment of a convention this sort of behavior becomes even more sinister. A cosplayer wearing an outfit that restricts her vision or movement may not even be able to react to someone groping or grabbing her; and we need only look as far as the “Cosplay is Not Consent,” meme to see there’s some amplification of bad behavior going on.

While the Comic-Con Code of Conduct may have mentions of not tolerating harassment, there’s no definitive examples of intolerable harassment. There’s also no guide to the policies that Comic-Con engages in when such harassment occurs. What can victims expect from the Comic-Con staff when they bring a report to them? Saying, “go to security” is hardly enough.

Comic-Con could do a lot to set itself apart from other conventions by outlining a filled out guide to process, expectations, and policy when it comes to the treatment of conventioneers.

Why Comic-Con has not already done this feels like a massive oversight given the well-documented and widespread knowledge and continuing visibility of these issues is disappointing. Fix it already. A solid, formal anti-harassment policy, with a little compassion, would go a long way to making comics and fandom safer for everyone to participate in.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Opening Star Trek Online lockboxes for fun and profit

Looks like I’ve become the proud owner of a Xindi-Aquatic Narcine Dreadnought Carrier.

Whenever a new lockbox drops in Star Trek Online, I often use my lifetime stipend to buy 10 or 20 keys. This time, opening the new Xindi lockboxes, the ship dropped from the second box I opened.

I will be flying it for a while to get a review written for this starship and try to get that up on GameOgre and Vox Ex Machina. Recently, I’ve written one review for the T’varo Light Warbirrd Retrofit and the Undine Nicor Bio-Warship (the second one is still pending publication.)

I particularly enjoy flying carriers in STO and I have a Catian Atrox Carrier as well as a Tholian Recluse Carrier on different characters. So we’ll see where the Narcine stacks up—from the look of it, with a heavy Tactical loadout, it’s a battleship designed for front line fire-support. This is especially accentuated by the fact that it comes with two hangars of frigate pets.

The frigates are also minelayers, which is an unexpected pet capability.

Just an FYI, “narcine” is the scientific name of a family of electric rays, which the Narcine Dreadnought looks a little bit like from a dorsal profile. I named mine “Sepiida” which is the order that cuttlefish belong to (a mollusk closely related to squid, octopus, and nautulus.)