Saturday, December 31, 2011

Around Alderaan: The Tiniest Jedi Master

Why Master Jedi Shan, you seem quite small today… I was playing my Jedi Knight in Star Wars: The Old Republic today and this is what happened when I went to converse with the leader of the Jedi Council.

Needless to say, she’s become somewhat pint sized. She may be the daughter of Bastila Shan, but I don’t recall her mother being that tiny and her father certainly wasn’t a small man. So I’m not sure why Satele is the size of a gerbil.

swtor 2011-12-30 23-38-34-46

“You see, Padewan, I was meditating on the immensity of the universe.”

swtor 2011-12-30 23-38-37-69

“Thrust deep within my mediation I realized how insignificant we are in light of the Force. Struggling with our emotions between the Light Side and the Dark Side.”

swtor 2011-12-30 23-38-46-05

“Do you think you could give me a ride to the bathroom? …I need to use the little Jedi’s room.”

#

If I were going to guess, I think that what happened is that the game uses the same model when in the cinematic and when she calls me on the holo. It shrank her model down to the gerbil-size and overlayed it with the blue-coruscating lines a mere minute before when we spoke over the holo—but when it came time to put her back to her proper “human” size, it failed to do so.

The result? I’m an immense towering behemoth of a zebrak standing over a Master Jedi.

Of course, the game is kind enough to also have me incline my head down to her and she looks way up at me as well. That’s either a curious effect or my pattern-seeking brain is adding it to the scene because it fits.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Nintendo, EA, and Sony Electronics Pull Support for SOPA…Sortof?

stop-censorshipRight now, with GoDaddy staring down the barrel of a boycott over their initial support for the Internet-censorship bill SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) other companies are beginning to follow suit and renege support for the bill.

World’s largest video game producers Nintendo, EA, and Sony Electronics have yanked their direct support of the bill and this is a good thing.

However, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)—an alliance among whom EA, Nintendo, and Sony happen to claim membership—still supports SOPA. Unless the big three listed above remove themselves from that alliance they are still supporting SOPA by proxy (and with their money.)

Pulling their name from the list is a nice gesture; but in my eyes it’s a futile one if they remain in collusion with an organization putting its name and funds towards this censorship bill.

I will wait to hear that either the ESA has changed it stance; or Nintendo, EA, and/or Sony Electronics has withdrawn their membership in the association.

Trying to Head Off the PR Deathstar, GoDaddy Denounces SOPA with Announcement

And I’ll believe it when I see it, GoDaddy.

After discovering that not only did GoDaddy, giant domain registrar, support the Internet-censorship bill SOPA, but they’re also explicitly excluded from its provisions in the text of the bill, Reddit and the Internet reacted violently to their support of this legislation.

Hacktivist collective Anonymous, Reddit, and many others have pledged that they would move their domains off of the registrar pending a great-walk-out today, November 29th 2011. Dubbed “Dump GoDaddy Day” already they’ve been bleeding out thousands of domains since the discovery of their attachment to the bill—unfortunately thousands more have transferred in over the past week so they have had an apparent net gain.

Today will only get worse.

Of course, they’ve turned around entirely and now have been e-mailing news outlets to let them no that not only does GoDaddy no longer support SOPA, but they actively oppose it.

Today GoDaddy’s CEO sent a contrite press release via e-mail to a multitude of news outlets begging for mercy and quarter:

We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to GoDaddy's prior support for SOPA, which was reversed. GoDaddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time.

In their way, Anonymous has urged people to remain steadfast in the boycott even if GoDaddy is now opposing the bill this late in the game.

They have been working hard to make it look like they’ve actually opposed the current bill’s form from the beginning going so far to explain their position originally had to do with expecting it to be a job making bill (instead of the obvious censorship, Internet-breaking bill that it is?) It’s hard to believe that GoDaddy’s shareholders and executives weren’t aware of its Internet-breaking potential when they worked “tirelessly with lawmakers” to get themselves a personal exclusion from its authority.

Contrite as he may be, CEO Adelman is too-little too-late and the company should feel the sting of its bad choices. Dirtbags who would work with legislators to craft horrible community-crushing legislation should be strung up as an example.

Before I’m fully convinced that GoDaddy is willing to do the right thing, I want to see them putting full page ads in newspapers in opposition to the bill…

Note: They need not display a fully nude Danica Patrick to get this message across, but may not hurt.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Around Alderaan: SWTOR and Troopers as a newbie

As you might have guessed, I’ve gotten into Star Wars: The Old Republic, a new MMO released by EA and Bioware, and I’m running around a bit. It’s been something of an odd experience with a strongly narrative-based system that tells you a story as you play. In fact, the Flashpoints (instances in the game) are really Star Wars episodes.

swtor 2011-12-25 03-50-47-17

Republic Trooper armor is something to look at—and it’s absolutely reminiscent of the eventual stormtrooper armor that will make its debut 300 years later when the Sith Empire manages to take over the galaxy. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Of course, like any game, you’ll notice that I have an almost-clown suit of mismatched, yet colorful armor pieces that I’ve collected going about my missions.

This shot was taken on the desert-planet of Tantooine, the erstwhile home of Like Skywalker.

swtor 2011-12-25 03-52-12-43

The dune-held countryside of this region is like my own home to an extent. Tall mesas of reddened-rock thrusting out of ever-changing dunes. Although the presence of the Imperial soldiers leaves something to disdain.

I suppose I’ll sally forth and blast a few for old time’s sake.

swtor 2011-12-25 21-03-58-43

This is a shot from Alderaan—a lush landscape with snowcapped mountains, conifer trees, and a cloudy sky all day. Through green fields I walked while supporting House Organa against an incursion by the Empire. Alderaan, and House Organa, of course are Princess Leia’s erstwhile home planet and adoptive family respectively.

It’s a beautiful and majestic world with wonderful people. It’s sad to know that in 3,000 years time it will be vaporized into so much space rubble by the Death Star, killing the entire population in a show of force by the Sith Empire.

 

swtor 2011-12-25 21-17-24-15

Oh yeah, did I mention: you get a spaceship.

My trooper has a lopsided winged craft with a bunch of guns on it called a Thunderclap. Although, you’ll probably like my Smuggler’s ship better—it’s a Corellian light freighter (think the little sister of the Millennium Falcon) with extra-heavy engines retrofitted into the chassis for perfectly legitimate and legal purposes, of course.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from the World of Warcraft

Christmas time is coming and the MMOs are getting fat! Enjoy this video about the winter holiday celebration in World of Warcraft the Feast of Winter’s Veil.

Have a sprightly Yule all!

Link, via MMO Anthropology.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interesting Food-for-Thought About the Female Interest Juxtaposition of Animé and Comic Book Culture

spiderman-marvelGuest post by Arienne Keith, a prolific Facebook auteur, metal smith, jewelry maker, and also a dyed-in-the-film animé fangirl. Here she responds to an article in Kotaku entitled “Nerds and Male Privilege.”

My comments on the thing: I think it leaves out the differences between different sects of geekdom. I think this article speaks to comic book geekdom and some to video game geekdom, but it ignores anime geekdom. Not quite sure how to say this, but... my thought is that the sexualization of certain characters both is and isn't a problem in attracting female fans. I didn't read all the comments below the article but I skimmed some, and one said that both the male and female characters are sexualized, pointing at Batman's abs as an example. I think that they're not sexualizing them the right way, and this is why comic-book fandom is male-dominated and anime fandom is female-dominated. Somehow, with all the otherworldly DDD-cups bouncing around in anime, anime draws a noticeably greater female audience than American comicbooks. Also, anime is produced by a country where the feminist revolution is much further behind, and one could argue that anime is more sexist than comic books -- yet it still draws the larger female audience. So, sexist elements and overly-sexualized female characters don't necessarily deter female fans. I posit that anime has hot guys, and comic books don't.

I think my point is best exemplified by this: in Google, type in "top ten hottest anime guys" and the first page will all be related results; they spill over past the next page and you don't see hot anime babes until page three of results. And there are videos and images galore. Now type in "top ten hottest superhero guys" and only the first two results are related. Result four already starts with hot superhero babes. And, personally, I agree with the Google results -- there aren't any Marvel/DC Comics characters I find attractive... except maybe Spiderman. Just a little bit. In fact, I find comic book girls to be more attractive than comic book guys, and that's a bad sign because I'm a heterosexual. ANIME guys, on the other hand -- well let's just say the 1GB of pictures on my computer is mostly anime guy screencaps and fanart.

However, I haven't been able to pinpoint what it is that makes anime guys hot and superheroes not. My husband suggests it's the story mechanics and such: as an example, Spiderman is a college student who gets stuck in awkward social situations with his best friend and the girl he's crushing on, much like in anime. And maybe that similarity to anime is why Spiderman is kinda attractive. He was ranked #1 on the only hot superheroes list in Google.

Thoughts? Why are anime guys so much hotter than superheroes? And can any of you think of other reasons why comicbook geekdom is male-dominated and anime geekdom is female-dominated? Please discuss.

Link, via Facebook

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Have Evolved as a Technology Journalist

Recently, I had the chance to interview the amazing Dr. Amr Awadallah, Chief Technology Officer of Cloudera, about his thoughts on video games and Big Data. The interview will likely become an article over the winter holidays, but people who follow the social and cultural impact of video game and MMO culture will probably be interested in some of his insights.

Better yet, and totally selfish of me, I was introduced to him as a “reporter” and by someone who didn’t mean it ironically.

In the words of my good friend, RyAnne, I have had my pokémon evolution, “A Jolteon with ink in the blood, huh?”

jolteon-journalism-ink-blood

Expect big things coming your way this Yule from me on both anthropology and the cultural effects of technology in articles written for SiliconANGLE.

I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic

I am looking for a good server to play with my fans and people of like minds. So if you’re playing, hit me up.

I will be publishing screenshots from in game and a discussion of what it’s been like playing. If you’re interested in Star Wars: The Old Republic let me know what you think of it and what you’d like better ideas on how it works.

So far, it’s been a fairly good experience.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dragon Tamers by Kyt Dotson a █████ █████ Censored in Protest of SOPA and PROTECT-IP

I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: http://americancensorship.org/posts/5609/uncensor

Dragon Tamers
By Kyt Dotson © 2002
Dedicated to Corrin Ingold

The ██████████ was ████ and █████; a █████ ██████ ████ of █████ █████████. The ███████ █████ ████████ ████ the █████ of the ████ ██████ █████ ██████ ████ a ██████ ████████████. The ████ of the ███████████ █████ ██████ in ███████’s ████, as she █████ ███████ ████ one of the ████ ███████ of ████████ █████ ███████ at the █████ in the ██████. In the ██████ of the ██████████ an █████████ █████ had ████ ███████, it ████████ to be ████ ████ a ████ of █████ █████. In its ████ ███████ the ██████ ███████████ the ██████████ █████████ and ████████ ████ the █████ in the █████ sky. In the ████ ██████ of the █████ was ████ ████████ █████ be ███████ for: a █████ █████. The █████ was a ████████ █████; it ████████ ████ ██████ ████ it was ████ its lid ████ so ████ the █████ █████ ████ ████ its ████ █████ and ████ the ██████████. The ████████ █████ █████ and █████ ████ ████ ██████ its ████████ ████████ ███████ of the █████ of a ██████. The ██████’s █████ ██████ up ████ ████ its █████ and ██████ the ████-████ top for the █████, and its ████████—the ████████ █████ █████ of the █████—███████ █████ ███████ the ███████. ███████ ██████ a ██████ to ████ at the █████-██████ ████ her ████████ a ████ ████████ ████. “We are ██████ ██████,” she ████ to ██████. “████ is ████ we are.” * * * The █████ air was ████ ███████ ███████’s ████ █████████ as she ██████████ ███████ out of the van. It was ████ six █████ █████ she had ███████ the ██████████ ████—████ it was █████—but now it was ███████ to the ████. ██████ her, she █████ ████ the ██████ of the █████ ██████ who ████ █████ ████ her. ████ ████ █████████ █████████ ██████████ ████ the ███████. ████████ ███████ █████████ and ████ ██████ to ███████ a ████ of ███████ ████ ████████’s ████████. ███████ had ██████ ███████ in a ██████ █████ ████ of a ██████████ ████████. A ██████ ██████ ████ ████████ ████ ████ ██████ █████ of █████ and ███████, ██████ and ███████ ██████ her ████ ████ █████-███████ █████. An ███████ █████ for a ███████ ████████. For all she █████, ██████, it █████ ████ ████ ████ of █████ of fog: her █████ was the ████████ █████ ████ her ████. The ███████ █████████ her ████████. A ████ ███████ out to ████ her █████ and she ██████ the arm up to its █████’s ████████ and █████ for a ██████ at the ██████ █████ █████ of his █████. He was a ████ man, a ████ man, her █████. He ████ a ████ ████ ████ a █████ tie, ████ ███████; it ████’t ████ him at all. “Are you ████ ████ you ████ to do ████, Mel?” he █████, ████████ the █████ ██████, a man and a █████, ████ ████ ████ ████. He was ███████ at her but she ██████’t ████ his ████; █████ was too ████ ███████ in her. It ████ ████ ████ ██████ had ██████ her up, █████████ ████ ████ ██████ ██████ but ███████ to ███████. “Yes,” she ████ ████ a ████ and ███████ did ████ his ████. ████ ████ ██████ ████. “████ is the way ████ I ████ to do it.” He ███████ for a ██████ as if ███████ and ████ ██████, █████████. ████ ██████ ████████ at her █████, he led her ████ ████ the van and ███████ the ██████████. She ██████████ the ██████████ ███████ and ███████ him to █████ her █████ her ████████ ████████. ███████ of ██████ ████ ███████ █████████ ██████ ████ the ███████-lot and ████ the █████ to the ██████████. The █████ ███████ ██████ ████ ████ █████ and ██████ ██████ of ████████ ████ ██████ ████ the ██████████ █████ ████ ████████ ████ █████. ███████ and the ████ █████ to ████ ████ and ████ for the ████████ of the █████ to ████ ████. █████ █████ ████ ████ up in a ███████, ████ the █████, so ████ ██████’t ████ to ████ ████ ██████, it was ████ ██████ to █████ the █████. The █████ ████ her ████ ████ to █████. The “█████ ██████” ████ her, as she ████ ████████ of ████, ████ ██████ her ███████. ███████ had to ██████ ███████ ████ she was ████████████ ██████████ ███████ ███████ she ██████’t ████ ████████ ████. ████ █████’t her ██████████ ███████, but her ████████ ███████. ██████, she █████████, ████ ████’t ████ ████ █████ ███████ █████ ████ as if ████ ████ ███████████ to her. ████’d ██████ her for █████-████ █████. It ████’t ████ she ████ who her ██████████ ███████ ████ ██████, ████████ ████ █████’t so ███████████. █████ she was █████ to ████ her ██████ for the █████ ████, it was her ███████████. She ████’t ████ to ████ ████ she was █████████ her ████████ ██████ and ██████ by ██████ to ████ and ████ her ██████████ ██████…but it was █████ ████ in her ████. ███████ it was ████ ████ █████’t ████████ ████ her as ████ ██████; ███████, ████ █████ ████ ████ █████ and ████ her ████ her █████. ███████ █████ her ████ as she ███████ ████ ████ ██████. No one had ████████ to ████, ██████ was ██████ ██████. ██████ █████ ████ █████████ ██████, yes, but ███████ ████ ███████ ████’t ███████ █████ of. █████ a ██████ of █████████ the █████████ she ███████ ████ it was ████████ ██████ not to █████ █████ her ███████; ████ █████ ████ for ██████████ █████ all. █████ the █████ had ███████ ████████████, She ████████ her ███████ ███████ the █████ and ████ a ██████ ████████ ███████████, ██████ ████ █████ ████████ █████ in █████, ███████ for █████████, ███████ for █████████, and ███████ in ██████. ███████ in the day, ████ ████ was ████ as █████ as the ████ of the ██████████. It ██████ ███████ ██████ ██████ in it now. The ███████████ █████ be ████████ in ████ ████ ████ ███████. ███████ ████████ the ██████ ████████████, ██████ ██████ any ██████ all the way up. █████-q ██████████ ██████ the █████, ██████ ██████ to the ████ ██████ of █████████ █████ and ███████ the █████ █████ ████ ████ the █████████. It was ████ one of █████ ████ █████████ ████ she, her █████, and her ███████ ███████ █████ ████████ ████ ████ ████ a ████████ of ████████ ██████. The ████ was ███████████ and it put her in a █████ █████ she █████ ████████ ██████ the ██████ ██████████, and ███████ the ██████ ████ it ████████ ████ █████ the ██████ █████ it was ████ to see. The █████ █████ █████████ up the █████ ████ its ███████ █████████, ████ █████ ███████ had ████ it. The ██████ ███████ ████████ on the █████; its ████████ █████ █████ ████████ her ████ a ████████. ████ █████ she was old ██████ to ██████████ ████ a █████ was, ███████ had ████ ███████. At █████, her ███████ ████’t ███████ how █████████ her ███████ ████████ was █████ to be, so ████ ████ her ████████ in the █████ in ██████ and let her ████ on it in her ████ ████. ████ ████ got her ████ █████ of █████, the █████████ ██████ ████ █████ for █████ ████ ████████. She ███████ ████ █████ of the ███████ █████████ in ████ and ████████ ████. ███████ ██████████, ████ ████ her █████ ███████ ████ a ██████████ ██████ ███████ who █████ in the ████████████. Her ███████████ ███████ █████████ ████ █████, and ██████ a ████, she had █████ ██████ her own ███████’s █████ and ███████ █████ ████ a new ███████. A ████ █████ ████ the ████. And ████ █████ ████. ███████, it ██████, was a ███████ ████ it ████ to the █████. She was ████████ now and she had ██████ to ████ a █████ ████ her ██████████ █████ ███████ █████████. ████ she was █████ to █████ ███████, her █████ was █████ to ██████, and it was a ███████ ████ to add ████ a ██████ bit ████ ██████. The █████ ███████ ███████ ██████ the ███████ █████ as ████. The ████ was ████ ███████ her █████ and it ████ ████ to █████████ ███████’s ███████ and ████████████. She’d ████ an ███████ █████ all of her ████; ███████████ █████ █████…██████ she’d ████ ████ ████ her ██████ did █████ a few ████ ████ her at the █████████ of her ████. ███████ ████████ if she █████ ████ ███████████ ████ she met her ██████—if ████ █████ of “████ is my ██████” █████ be █████. She ███████ it █████ be █████, the ████ of it █████ ███████ her ██████ █████ of the ████████, of ████ was █████. It was ████ █████ ████ ███████ her ████ in the █████ █████. It was ████ ████, ████ the ████ ███████ ███████ her █████ to █████████ her █████, ███████ ███████ on ████ it was ████ ███████ up. She ████’t ████ █████ for █████ “█████ up” by her ██████ to her ███████ ███████…and now ████ she was old ██████, she ███████ it was ████ to ████████ ████ ████ her...██████████…████?...████████?...██████ was ████. Her ████ █████ ████ ████ she did ████ █████ her. She was █████, █████████ █████, in ████, ███████ had ████ ████. ████ she was ████ her ██████ was too █████ and ████’t ████ any █████ to ███████ her and ████ her, so she ███████ to ████ her to a ██████ ████ █████. ████ was ████████ █████ ago. A ████████ ago for ███████ and her ██████ was █████ ███████, if not ███████████ ████ ████████, at ███████ her ████████ and ██████ ████ had ██████ of her. ████████ ██████ ███████ her ████ █████████ ████ her ██████ ████ ████ ████ ███████ ████ she ███████ on ████████. It ████’t ████ ███████ ████’t ███████ of ████ ████ █████ ██████, it was ████ ████ ████ ████████ █████’t as ████████ or █████████. A ████████ ago her ██████ ██████ at her as a ████ ████ and her █████ ████ ████ ██████ ████ ████ she ███████ ████ she ██████’t ████ ████ of her own █████████, but she █████ for her █████ so ████ ████ she ████ her a ██████ ████ ████ she █████ ████ █████ to ███████. ████ ███████ ███████ █████ ██████ ████ ████ she ██████’t ████ ███████ ████ ████████ █████ ████ it █████ ████ ████ ████ █████ ████ her ██████████ ██████, ██████ ███████ █████████...but it ████’t ██████ ████ way, so ████████ in ████ ██████’t █████ ███████ ████████. ████████ ████ ███████ had ████ ████ day was █████ to be ████████ ████ a ████████-████; █████ ████ she █████ ████████ █████ her ██████, █████ her, and ████ ████ her ██████. █████████ ████ she ████’t ████ in … █████████ █████ and █████ ███████ and █████ ████. The ██████ ██████ the █████ ██████ █████████ to ████, ████████ a ██████████ ████████ ████ █████ the ██████ ██████. ███████ █████ ██████ see it ██████ up █████████ to ████ its █████. The ██████ ██████ the ████████ ████ ███████’s ████, ████████, ███████, by her ████ ██████████ in the █████. The █████ and the ██████ █████ ███████ at its ██████. The █████ ████████ a ████████ █████-█████ ████ ████ ███████ ████ the ████ of the ████ ███████ ██████ █████. A ████ ████ ██████ the █████ and the ███████ ██████. The █████████ of the █████ who ██████ ████ one of the ████ █████████—████ ███████ ████ █████ the ██████████ ████ █████ ████████ ████████—██████ █████████ █████████ in the █████. The █████ ███████ ████ the ██████ ██████ the ██████████ ████ ███████, ████████ her a ███████ ████. The ██████-█████’s ████ █████ to █████ ████, ██████████ in the ███████ ███████ ████ ██████, and ████ ██████ to █████ on the ███████████ █████. ███████ ███████. ███████. All █████ ████████ ██████████ ████ ███████’s ████ as she ███████—the ███████ was █████ to █████. The █████ ████ a ██████, ██████████ ████████, ████ a ████ of ██████████ ███████ ████████. Her ████ was ████ █████ and ████████ ████ her ████ in a ████ of ████████ █████. All ████ ████████ her as she ██████████ the ███████ of her █████: the ██████ in the ██████ of the ██████████. The ██████ ██████ up, its █████ ███████ ████ an ████████████ ██████████ in the █████████ of ████ and █████. The █████ ██████ up ████ her ████████, ████████, ███████ ████████ her ████ ████ the █████ as she ████ ███████ it ████ a ████████ and █████. The ██████████ ██████ ████ ████████████ █████ the ██████ ███████ her ████ █████████ ████. As she sat ████, her ███████ █████ █████ ██████ █████ the ██████’s █████; it ███████, █████████ to █████ to her ██████. ████ █████ ███████, she █████ to ████, and █████ ████ ████ the █████ of the █████, a ██████ ██████ out as if ████ ████ ██████ ███████ ████ its ██████████ █████ and ████ ████ the air. Her ███████ ██████ at the ██████’s █████ and ███████ the ██████ ████ its █████ maw in a ██████ ████████ of █████. The ████ air ██████ a ███████ ██████████ for the ███████████ ██████ ████ ██████ out ████ a ██████ ██████, ████████ ██████ and ████. It ██████████ ████ the ███████ ██████ of the ██████ █████ ████ ███████ the █████████ of █████████ █████████ and ████ ██████ █████ the ████████ and ███████ ████ █████ in ██████. The █████ ██████ ██████ up and █████ to ████ a █████ of a █████ far ████: █████ is a ████, ████ on a ████-██████ ████████, █████ █████ ██████ ████ the ██████████ of the █████ at █████. The █████ in its ██████████ ████ ████████ in a █████ ██████ ████, ██████ ████████ and all ████████████. A █████ ██████ of █████ who ████ ████████ at █████, █████ ████ ███████ ███████ the ███████—a ██████ ██████ the ██████ █████; the ██████ █████ a ██████ in—and █████████ ████ ████ ████████, █████ █████ ███████ to █████ to ████ ████ the ████ ████ ████ ████████ █████ ██████. ████████ ████ ████ of ███████. ███████ ████ in a █████████ far ████ █████—the ██████ ████████ out ██████; the █████████ of the ██████ ████████ ████ a ███████ ████████ █████████ █████████—███████ in ████████████ for the ████ to ████ ████ ████ and ██████ it ████ ████ ██████ the ██████. A █████████ ████ to █████ ████ ██████ █████████ █████ ██████ the █████ ██████. A ███████ ████ to ████ ████ ████ ███████ of █████ ████ to the ████ of the ████████ to ████ its █████ ████ █████ in the ████ of ██████████ and ████ the ██████ ████ ████. The ██████████ is ████████; the ██████ ██████████ ██████████ to its █████; the ████ ████ █████ █████ ████ ████ ██████, all the █████ ███████ ████ ████ the ████████ ██████: the █████ of █████ ████—the ██████ ████ of the ██████. The █████ █████ ████ her ████ and the ██████ ███████ ████ her ████. ███████ █████ ███████ ███████ at the █████ in the ██████ of the ██████████; ████ █████ had ██████ ██████████ ████ her ██████. ████ ██████ the █████ █████ to bow to the ████ ████████, the ████ in the ████ ████ █████ to ███████: “████ was █████████—I bet ████ her ██████ is ██████ █████ of her.” ███████ ███████ up to ████ a ████ ████ █████ one of her ████ ████ as ████ ███████ ████ her ██████. “Yes,” she ████, “her ████████ is ████ █████ of her.”

Uncensor This

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Talisman Online Review

My friend, and writer on Vox Ex Machina, Nelson Williams has reviewed the free-to-play MMORPG Talisman Online. It's 3D antics muse a bit with Chinese mythology and as you'll see, provide a different sort of approach from MMOs that play in the Western mythos sandbox.

Link, via YouTube and GameOgre

Friday, December 09, 2011

LAPD, SFPD Act Like Shameful Troglodytes

If there’s anything that civil rights movements have shown us, it’s that the police forces involved in suppressing protests and demonstrations (even peaceful demonstrations) behave with violence and inhuman lack of compassion.

With all this in mind, this week the LAPD and SFPD have displayed shamefaced bad behavior that reflects poorly on their departments and casts them and theirs into a very poor light.

The LAPD

Patrick Meighan, a writer for Family Guy, described his arrest and subsequent shamefully bad treatment at the hands of LAPD. Although it makes sense that the police may need to apply force to separate protesters who have linked arms in order to stay together to make arrest difficult, the level of sadism necessary to produce the sort of assault described is beyond the pale.

It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm.

I was put on a paddywagon with other nonviolent protestors and taken to a parking garage in Parker Center. They forced us to kneel on the hard pavement of that parking garage for seven straight hours with our hands still tightly zipcuffed behind our backs. Some began to pass out. One man rolled to the ground and vomited for a long, long time before falling unconscious. The LAPD officers watched and did nothing.

Shame on you, LAPD officers who brutally assault people who recoil from your careless use of zipcuffs. Shame on you, LAPD officers who fail to act like compassionate, proper human beings by leaving protestors to sit in squalor, vomiting, falling unconscious without seeking medial attention for them.

Your callous, inhuman behavior not only sets you apart as bad protectors of the public trust, but also makes me sad to think that you’re people worth believing serve that trust.

The SFPD

In another instance of police failing to stand up to their actual duties, SFPD sergeant Peter Thoshinsky has been caught on camera giving an illegal order to officers to commit what is essentially criminal battery.

“If they do not do what you tell them, strike them,” he ordered his officers at the line of a kettling of protestors demonstrating at Occupy San Francisco.

Assault is not necessary to affect the arrest of a nonviolent offender and assault is illegal when there is no case of arrest. This sergeant’s order may have been illegal, and in fact his officers may have been to intimidate the protestors, but both cases make Peter Thoshinsky an irresponsible, failure as a commanding officer.

Threatening protestors with violence won’t deescalate a tense situation, but it will make it scarier. This sort of intimidation endangers not just the protestors but the police officers that he commands. His action in saying that in front of protestors shows a vast failure of judgment and extremely poor leadership.

Both links LAPD, SFPD via Boing Boing.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Around Azeroth: Blume is level 85!

Well, that’s the news: Blume of Thunderhorn is officially level 85!

To celebrate this event, I have a few screen captures from the game across other leveling zones; but since the Hour of Twilight expansion—patch 4.3—just came out, I figured I’d hold off on that and reveal some screenshots from the newly released Darkmoon Faire.

WoWScrnShot_120411_155143

Right now in Mulgore, the Dark Moon Faire has a portal entrance into the deep, dark designs of the Faire. This gateway leads to a dim, dire forest with goblin-lit signs pointing down a winding path. At the end of which the sounds of revelry and carnival barkers can be heard.

Also, if you’re so inclined, you can partake of a menagerie of animals.

WoWScrnShot_120411_160503

The Faire zoo is open to the public, although as one careless carnie discovered, the animals aren’t all perfectly safe. (An exotic crystalline basilisk might be snacking on a menagerie keeper tonight.) So keep your distance.

Also, you’ll see from the image that there’s fireworks being shot into the sky. This one is a time-lapse rendering with multiple fireworks melted into the frame. They’re not all shot up like that at the same time; but I wanted to capture the mood so I put my camera with a repeated shutter.

WoWScrnShot_120411_160343

It looks like the Level 90 Elite Tauren Cheiftans are also at the Faire and I was lucky enough to get an image of them playing! Although this close to the stage you can actually hear them playing one of their famous songs. In the past, I’ve complained that their appearance in Shattrah had no music the first time I saw them.

No such problem here.

Although it is much quieter than any concert I have ever been to.

The Hour of Twilight – Patch 4.3

For anyone hankering for the trailer for the 4.3 patch. Above and enjoy.

Friday, December 02, 2011

False Flagger Burdens VenomFangX with Streisand Effect

As we should all know by now, infamous Christian YouTuber VenomFangX, fraud and charlatan, has himself an ever increasing set of bigoted views that he’s hanging on the nail of his religious convictions.

For this we can set aside his anti-gay attitude and his belabored bigotry and ignorance that he hides behind his holy book to protect himself from criticism over. What happened to him in this round of drama is probably not his own doing, but it’s going to come down on him anyway.

The current saga unfolds as follows:

Well-known atheist YouTuber BionicDance posted a video addressing VenomFangX with grudging respect over how he appeared to approach the still-proceeding failure of multiple culture to recognize human rights to homosexual individuals. He seemed to present that while he’s still a bigot with regards to homosexual individuals; he wouldn’t seek to repress their human rights by petitioning the government or other people. This, BionicDance found to be a respectable position.

This is all in a video not currently on her channel because almost a week ago she accidentally deleted a swath of her stock. Of course, it’s irrelevant now because of what happened next.

BionicDance posted this video as rebuttal to one of VenomFangX’s videos on the subject of homosexuality—during which she basically loses all the respect she had build up for VFX previously.

Then someone flagged down her video and it was removed by YouTube. In effect, someone has stifled her speech. Note: This is more of an issue about the polity and policy of YouTube that involves flagging; but it’s obvious to the community this is a false flag and her video should be restored.

There’s no good reason to believe that VenomFangX flagged her video down, nor do we believe that he egged his followers to do this. In fact, its in his best interest to have left her video alone—it gives him attention from his fawning supplicants.

The false-flag, however, makes his followers look very bad; and by association it only tends to draw our eyes back to his previous bad acts and why VFX is a bad neighbor, a piss-poor member of, and parasite upon the YouTube community.

Previous VenomFangX coverage:

Jan 2010 Venomgate Redux: The VenomFangX Scandal Revisited

Aug 2009 YouTube Series: The History of VenomFangX

Jul 2009 VenomFangX and His Triumphant Not-Return to YouTube

May 2009 The VenomFangX Scandal: Venomgate

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Exploitatively Dishonest Anti-Piracy Propaganda Makes Me Laugh

Perhaps it’s just that I’m an expert in propaganda released by interest groups, tyrannical governments, religions, and corporations; or maybe it’s just that I’m a student of the English language and the linguistics of war; or perhaps I just get a good laugh out of the way that marketing works when a niche interest couples itself with a powerful media distribution organ.

Still, the newest bilge that has sloshed out of the hold of the copyright enforcement MAFIAA pumped with our tax dollars needs a moment of contemplation.

This sort of atmospheric marketing is the sort of thing I’d expect to raise up the specter of Noam Chomsky to reach through the screen to throttle the people who made this ridiculous tripe. Of course, he’s wisely warned us all about this sort of loaded language and carefully embellished Big Lies.

At least the assertions the commercial makes aren’t as caustically stupid as the previous claims we’ve seen about piracy.

Thinking of other propaganda campaigns that fell over cliffs:

I still recall in the early 2000’s when I was a computer science major, I walked past the TV room in the dorm once and heard a propaganda commercial spitting out measured talking points: “I helped pay for bombs dropped on helpless women and children,” a young man said. I believe the commercial happened to be about marijuana sales. I stopped for a moment and opined, “You’re old enough to pay taxes?”

I didn’t get to watch the movie Reefer Madness for the first time until last year. I don’t even smoke marijuana; but I have enough of a medical background to know it was smoking its own imaginary dope. By the same turn, as a copyright holder, a producer of digital content, and a computer scientist, I know pixelated gastric emissions when I smell them.

The sort of emotion-grabbing demonstration we’re seeing in this poorly tuned propaganda commercial is nothing short of intellectually dishonest and it requires the viewer to make all the connections for them. We’re pretty sure that no DVD markets are made by children; they certainly aren’t profitable enough to fuel drug markets—which can fuel themselves; the movie industry isn’t losing jobs at a rate that much higher than the rest of the US did in the downturn; and while gangs and organized crime might look into counterfeit DVDs, they’re certainly not doing so in the United States.

Nate Anderson of Ars Technica does a brilliant job of vivisecting the vague not-claims made in this commercial on Wired, but some of this needs a bit of retelling to make the points clear:

He quotes a lengthy portion from a 400+ page academic report put together by 35 researchers over 3 years on the subject of piracy entitled, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies:

We found no evidence of systematic links between media piracy and more serious forms of organized crime, much less terrorism, in any of our country studies.

What explains this result? Invariably, the rationale offered for criminal-syndicate and terrorist involvement is that piracy is a highly profitable business. The RAND report, for example, states (without explanation) that “DVD piracy… has a higher profit margin than narcotics”—an implausible claim that has circulated in industry literature since at least 2004.

We think the record is clear that piracy was a highly profitable business through the early 2000s, when optical disc production facilities were expensive, industrial in scale, and relatively scarce… We see no evidence that piracy, outside a few niche markets, is still a high-margin business.

Increasingly, commercial pirates face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free. This decline in costs is, in our view, the primary factor shaping pirate markets and a growing disincentive for traditional organized-criminal involvement. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, no industry or law enforcement statements about alleged criminal connections have thought this worth mention. As in other contexts, the issue is avoided by conflating piracy and counterfeiting under the rubric of what Interpol calls “IP crimes.”

That really doesn’t leave much left for the propaganda to hold onto except for rotting canards about piracy causing the loss of jobs in the movie, music, and book industry.

This entire campaign is being run by the same people who brought us McGruff, the Crime Dog: the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). I think this is a shameful low for what used to be a useful educational tool. The White House, the Department of Justice, and Immigrations & Customs Enforcement also have a hand in this—and, of course, it’s coming out of the taxpayers pockets.

Overall, I’m not impressed by this poorly thought out work. The money that went into producing this intellectually dishonest mélange of nascent fallacies and errors could have been spent on an educational campaign on why people should support the arts, or indie developers, or be part of their ever-growing community on places like YouTube and Reddit, or produce content themselves…

…or take part in our Great Democracy!

Like I am right now.

Via Wired, Boing Boing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Rusty Hearts Review

Once again, my friend Nelson Williams from Vox Ex Machina has put together a review video for a currently popular MMORPG. This time it’s Rusty Hearts, a Castlevania-mixed-arcade style RPG with a cast of snarky characters.

Star Wars: The Old Republic the MMO

Yes, I made it into the beta weekend.

Yes, the game is pretty amazing.

Think of what a game would be like if it were a massively multiplayer online interactive movie. This is exactly what SWTOR appears to be attempting to emulate. There’s other people with me, and sometimes I’m forced to group together with them; but the game focuses heavily on the single-player aspect of the story being told.

In fact, each of the 8 different classes each have their own story from prologue to chapter-by-chapter. Every conversation is voiced and there’s a lot of reasons to keep moving on to get through the next storyline point.

It’s a single-player themepark MMO style that’s not been seen yet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shame on you, Lieutenant Jon Pike

6361217877_9e48c83c21_z-thumb-580x386-69778

[Image credit, Brian Nguyen, student photojournalist.]

I may have titled this post reflecting the name and rank of the perpetrator of a violent chemical weapon assault on non-violent protesters on a UC Davis campus; but we’ll leave it there. This man is probably already subject to a multitude of ugly remarks regarding his shameful, immoral behavior and I cannot hope to offer an adequate mirror to display the open disgust that I have for this craven act.

Meanwhile, the next-best-thing we have as a society has been levied against him—and I wish against his commanding officer and the police commissioner for making apologetic excuses for it—in the form of a shame meme.

It’s almost beautiful.

awesome_pepper_spraying_cop_memes_640_26

Also, please stop ordering pizzas for him—this prank may be silly but it costs a pizza place money.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper condemning his actions—even better cc: it to UC President Mark G. Yudof, who is obviously a politician smart enough to immediately state that he was “appalled” by the behavior of the police. Unlike Police Chief Annette Spicuzza who decided to make apologetic excuses for the attack—who is now rightly been suspended from duty--or Chancellor Linda Katehi who failed to act like a human being in the face of this horrific act and condemn it for the vicious act it was.

Chancellor Katechi has since mended some of her bridges by coming forward and stating that she wants to advocate for the students injured in the attack; but people should be pressuring her as the beginning of her advocacy to unequivocally condemn the act of violently assaulting non-violent protestors with a chemical weapon.

Meanwhile, welcome Jon Pike to a special form of infamy. The Pepper Spraying Cop.

tumblr_lv02knWVCL1r6m1z5o1_1280

“I once heard a Python explain that the single goal in life of every British man is to make it safely to his grave without being the center of a major embarrassment. I think that needs to be updated in the wake of the OWS affair.

“It should be the goal of every person to make it safely to their grave without becoming a goddamn Internet meme that shows up on CNN.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Around Azeroth: Out of Northrend into Cataclsym, Already Level 84

It’s been a busy week for Blume of Thunderhorn. She’s seen a lot of the world and has fought her way out of the broken Outlands, into the frozen wastes of Nothrend, and then descended into the broken landscape of Cataclysm. All this and now she’s made the grand olde level of 84.

WoWScrnShot_111511_210408

Before leaving Outlands, I figured I’d see some of the sights. And sights did I find! This screenshot comes from between Hellfire Peninsula and the ever-crumbling wastes of the Netherstorm. A boat stranded on a rock in the middle of nothing isn’t exactly what I anticipated finding in this region—although it’s not much of a shock—it’s made for an excellent screenshot for the end of my tour in the region.

Beyond the dry-docked ship, out on more stable ground, is what seems to be an entire human city (wizards possibly) lost to the Netherstorm.

WoWScrnShot_111411_153103

Here’s Blume overlooking some troll temples and ruins in Zul’Drak. A zone in Northrend where the trolls have attempted to fight off the Scourge by turning on their own gods. This bloodletting weakened them considerably and has left them vulnerable not only to the Scourge but to other invading cultures. I spoke of as much when I leveled Anoxia, my blood elf rogue, through the same zone.

It’s a beautiful winter-scoured landscape full of troll architecture, undead, and a sad sense of loss for what may have been a beautiful savage race.

WoWScrnShot_111511_220341

This happened in Ogrimmar during a raid in the Outlands into The Eye where we went up against Kael’thas Sunstrider—the beachbunny king of the blood elves—we attempted to deliver him some smackdown but our small 4-person team couldn’t muster enough firepower to actually bring him to his knees. Even with members a full 15 levels higher than he, we just couldn’t get the bastard to kneel to our superiority.

Meanwhile, this blue dragon appeared over the Horde main city along with a lot of azure drakes.

It seems that this is the culmination of a quest chain that starts with “Your Time Has Come” (in Orgrimmar and Stormwind) that starts after killing a Molten Lord in the Firelands. It leads down a winding quest chain that culminates in witnessing a dragon council and the choosing of the new Blue Aspect: Tarecgosa.

The quest line also makes receivership of a new legendary staff: [Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest].

I rather like it, I wonder if I’ve got the time and energy to get this staff for Blume (and if it might even be worth it.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

A League of Legends Video Review

My friend, Nelson Williams from Vox Ex Machina, has gone and done it again: he made another video. Once again, it's for GameOgre.com and this time it's for "League of Legends."

Around Azeroth: Blume and the Phoenix Hatchling

I figured that I would start this back up again, perhaps as a weekly episodic addition to my blog when I have little else to do. For those who aren’t in the know, I’ve been able to get back into World of Warcraft and I’ve been tempted to start up a new character. This time I am trying to gather the time and energy to level a warlock all the way to 85. I already have two other warlocks: a demonology warlock and a destruction warlock. So this will be my first affliction warlock.

WoWScrnShot_111211_132651

I figured that I would spice things up a little with screenshot “photographs” of my adventures. Pictured above is Blume of Thunderhorn—aforementioned affliction ‘lock and her small herd of pets. I recently got the ability to make [Critter Bites] that allow me to get a Warcraft “Critter” to follow me for a short period of time. This is required for the “Critter Getter” achievement.

What you see above is the result of going for that achievement in Ogrimmar—the main city of the orcs, and therefore pretty much the central hub of the entire Horde.

I started out about two weeks ago as a level 1 in Deathknell and above you see Blume pictured level 70. As a result, I’ve made my way into Northrend.

WoWScrnShot_111211_102909

One of my favorite parts of Northrend happens to be something happening to the denizens of one of the Western coasts. An ancient Viking phantom enemy is incurring upon the lands of the Tuskarr (an anthropromorphic walrus people.) The invaders appear and act somewhat Norsk with very obvious Viking affectations.

They roll in on dragonships along with an all enveloping mist.

When slain, they explode into a wet splash of water and fall to the ground as a mat of seaweed and starfish fallen in a vaguely humanoid shape. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on, even from the lore, but it seems that they once inhabited the same lands as the Tuskarr and the meddling of the Lich King has stirred their restless souls from the horrible depths.

When wandering in the shore overtaken by their menace, the fog pervades and produces the effect seen above.

It reduces vision distance and separates the player from the rest of Azeroth. Essentially they go out of phase with other players not in their group.

WoWScrnShot_111211_173224

Finally, a close up shot of Blume and the most recent addition to my stable of companion pets: a [Phoenix Hatchling].

I have never to this date seen this drop, except for today when I received one! I had decided to use the Looking For Group Dungeon finder to make sure that I got the achievement for The Magister’s Terrace. I ended up going in with a group on Heroic mode—and this is an instance that groups would constantly fall apart whilst attempting.

We made it to the end. Fought the final boss, Kael’thas Sunstrider—the beachbunny Lord of the Blood Elves—and after striking him down, this little beauty dropped. As I wanted it badly and I was in a PuG, I just hit Need (part of the loot distribution system) and it fell into my lap. I’ve been trying to get a nice pet for Blume since her birth, opting for the cockroach that you see in other screenshots.

I think that she’s going to keep her phoenix hatchling.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A World of Tanks Video Review

My friend Nelson Williams from Vox Ex Machina recorded this review for GameOgre.com and his review has already exceeded over 5,000 views on YouTube. Way to go!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

All Saints Catholic Newman Center: Construction Update

It looks like some intrepid person made it onto the Mill Avenue Vexations blog and left a comment noting that as of October 18, 2011 a construction trailer has been placed on the site.

By site, I refer to a dusty hole in the ground left after the demolition of the church in March; that didn’t lead to immediate construction efforts due to some sort of fall in income.

I’m sure we’ll be on the lookout for more updates as they come along.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Politicians creep me out sometimes, from #OccupyDenver

After the City of Denver took action against Occupy protesters in Veteran’s Park this Friday morning, Governor John Hickenlooper had some irresponsible things to say about the police action.

The #OccupyWallStreet movement has hit a sort of mainstream stride, emerging in over 100 cities across the entire United States over the past two weeks. It’s slowly but surely becoming an unstoppable juggernaut of nonviolent resistance against—different city’s license to decide who can stay where and for what reason. Most nonviolent protests via peaceful resistance involve getting in the way so that people notice and the Occupy protests take that up a notch by putting people in place for days instead of hours.

Recently, protesters were arrested at a site in Denver—according to a news article on the subject 23 in total were arrested—and now the public (?) park they were staying in has been indefinitely closed by the city.

The bad behavior of the city to close a public park so that the occupy protesters cannot use it to demonstrate aside (as protestors could violate that order anyway to continue their peaceful resistance and protest making the city government even more of a villain) what really bothered me is the statement made by Gov. John Hickenlooper,

“Demonstrators in Lincoln Park were told every day this week they could not camp in the park. Yet each day the number of tents grew. Last night, and after multiple requests to follow the law, the Colorado State Patrol intervened. State troopers and Denver police demonstrated extreme restraint and professionalism as they encountered a very difficult situation.”

If by “extreme restraint and professionalism” he means that the police officers did not endanger the lives of protestors by committing vicious assaults or deploying non-lethal chemical weapons while breaking up a peaceful demonstration, I don’t think this man understands what these words mean. If Denver police and State Troopers are permitted to use extreme force against nonviolent protestors then perhaps they did show extreme restraint; however, in the case of police arresting people not violently resisting or rioting how much restraint does a person have to show not to behave violently in return?

Precisely how does the governor expect that the police should have acted if they did not use extreme restraint? What extreme things exactly does he expect that they restrained themselves from doing?

Law enforcement acting with the base level of professionalism should never need to include extreme restraint—anything worth being labeled extreme would probably also be rightfully labeled criminal.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mill Avenue Nights: Friday, October 7th 2011

Tempe police have become much more zealous about stopping people from bringing their own chairs to Mill Avenue citing a City of Tempe ordinance previously unbeknownst to Ave visitors. This policing was discovered tonight when Tempe city police officers warned Arienne, Dragon, Omni, and I when we were sitting on chairs, playing a tabletop game of 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons. (Yes, dice and all.)

The law is quite clear on the subject from Tempe City Code §§ 29-70,71 that nobody shall rest upon blankets, towels, or not permanently affixed chairs upon a Tempe public sidewalk and to do so would be a class 3 misdemeanor. Apparently, this is the case even for the region near the Post Office which is not part of the sidewalk thoroughfare and is public property.

Of course, according to the code we could have been permitted to do this on a weekday after 10 p.m. or, it being a Friday, after 1 a.m.

The officers were polite, cordial and addressed the situation. They even paused to tell one of the nearby buskers that he would not be permitted to sit in a chair and play his guitar in front of the Post Office. All of us so addressed complied with the lawful orders of the police and moved our chairs away to against the side of the PO.

Of course, we continued to play the game on the ground.

The officer in question could have done without making up lame excuses for why the code is in place (none of us disagreed and we complied immediately.) The code is not in place “for our protection as drunk people might come along and bother us,” that’s just outright wrong. The law had nothing to do with us playing a game on Mill Ave; it may have more to do with preventing people from blocking thoroughfares…

…or more likely it’s a form of legislation designed to alienate and darken the city’s benevolence towards itinerant peoples.

The City of Tempe a few years ago had an ordinance of the same type that made it illegal to sit on the ground itself. The ACLU of Arizona and others got together to fight that exceedingly obvious and stupid legislation and eventually got it overturned. The current legislation is probably an outgrowth of that law that is avoiding making the same mistake.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

It’s Time for Steve Jobs to Rest in Avalon

Steve Jobs is dead.

The headlines today have been sobering and sad. He’s been fighting cancer for quite some time and it’s seemed like his stubbornness might win out in the end. Even after he passed on the reins to Apple to a successor.

I even wrote an article about that comparing Jobs to the legendary King Arthur, Here Stands Steve Jobs: Apple’s Once and Future CEO.

His death comes with a profound sense of loss for the entire tech community. It may not quite be the end of an era with the death of one our brightest luminaries and innovative visionaries—but it’s a little death for all of us.

Sleep well, Steve Jobs.

GameOgre: R2 Online First Impressions

r2-online-squareThere is no dearth of Asian-themed fantasy MMORPGs in the free-to-play market and the newly appointed R2 Online is no slouch for this contender. It’s still in the beta phase; but I was given access to it in order to review the game for GameOgre.com.

It features a strong 3D engine with a lot of special effects, epic booming music, and an extremely tight grip on the concept of transforming players into other things. The developers and publisher also seem to have spent a lot more time pitting the different guilds against one another moreso than driving the underlying storyline (although the narrative is certainly there.)

During my play through, I encountered a lot of different people—although most of them did kill me after I left the city—but overall the community will be driving this game with PvP and events. In fact, one thing that this game seems to push hard is events. The fact that I stumbled across something called a Monster Racetrack really caught my attention (although I didn’t get to see a race.) The world is vast, contains a lot of interesting things, and would take a while to explore.

While the game does work fairly well, I don’t think I’ll be returning to play. I’m not a fan of getting pwned repeatedly by the wild-world-of-PvP and just couldn’t stand exploring under threat.

Link to Kyt Dotson’s First Impressions review of R2 Online, via GameOgre.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sony Not Looking Good with Forced Arbitration in PlayStation Network TOS Update

Sony_psn_logo After suffering a huge outage due to a hacker breaching their network and compromising over 1 million personal and financial records of customers, Sony feels a little bit vulnerable.

How do they respond?

They add a forced-arbitration clause to their TOS aimed to prevent users from gathering together in class-action lawsuits to help cover Sony’s ass—in the event that, say 1 million people have their personal and financial records stolen from Sony by a hacker.

I wrote an article over at SiliconANGLE about the coverage we’ve seen appearing in UK media (specifically the BBC and The Register) but this doesn’t really look good for Sony because it works instead to shield them from civil justice when they wrong their customers. Go read, “Sony Dodges Behind Updated EULA to Avoid Responsibility for Future PSN Security Breaches,” to get an idea about what this means in the end.

At first glance, it seems like a corporation might want to defend themselves from class-action lawsuits because their expensive. But class-action lawsuits are difficult to put together; they’re not easy to generate, they take an actual systemic injury between a lot of different people, and generally judges don’t allow them unless there’s a good reason.

The only purpose of adding this sort of language to the TOS and EULA by Sony is to intimidate users into not suing them for what amounts to actual damages.

Sony is not sitting pretty today.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mill Avenue Nights: Friday, September 2nd 2011

Where Mill Avenue gets a visit from The Door and I speak to one of their parishioners

Upon arriving on the Ave, Arienne and I noticed a group out in front of the Post Office singing and carrying about signs. The signs contained mostly Christian propaganda messages that included references to “Jesus” and “blood” and other common metaphorical elements of the Christian doctrine. They had amplification and seemed to have an almost-band set up. I didn’t recognize them, so I wanted to go over and check them out.

It took us about ten minutes to make it from our parking spot back to the Ave.

After reaching them, I broke out my voice recorder and my anthropology journal and started taking notes, positioning myself on the other side of the newspaper kiosk wall.

A woman approached Arienne to offer her some literature and speak with her. The woman immediately after handing over a few tracts started speaking about the Christian religion and asking if we (mostly Arienne, as I was engrossed in my notes) knew about Jesus Christ and his activities—insert the usual Christian religious doctrinal spiel here. What I didn’t know at the time was that the woman had handed Arienne a tract identifying her as being part of The Door.

The Door is a cultish Christian group with a community church not far from Mill Ave who have been indicted in numerous bad behaviors on the Ave. They have in the past created violent outbursts during Halloween, interfered with the Mill Avenue Resistance’s amplification equipment (pulling Kazz’s microphone cord and holding it), and lied to the police about their activity after calling them on the Resistance after ostensively committing simple assault.

As a result, Arienne turtled and didn’t speak to the woman except to nod her head and smile; absorbed in my work, I didn’t realize she didn’t speak to the woman at all and the woman probably felt somewhat ignored. I probably should have had a talk with her instead, but I needed to get my notes down. Of the literature I received, one is a glossy, two-sided color advertisement for The Door Christian Fellowship Church on Broadway; the other two are Chick tracts: “HI THERE!” and “THIS WAS YOUR LIFE!”

Questioning Arienne about the events and why she didn’t speak to anyone, she confided that she didn’t want to speak to anyone from The Door because of their reputation of bringing violence and tension to the Ave. She also expressed that even though she’s a Christian, she belongs to an enemy faction to The Door and didn’t want to accidentally give that information away (once again noting fear of their bad reputation.)

A gender switch and a different parishioner decides to come talk to us

After the woman left, she was quickly replaced by a male, who immediately asked me about why I was taking notes.

(I believe he introduced himself as Tim, but I didn’t catch his name; neither did Arienne.)

I told him that I take notes about Mill and that preachers feature in the notes because they appear on Mill. He asked, “What’s wrong with that?” referring the preaching. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the preaching per se. I explained that I study Mill Avenue as an anthropologist and I write fiction—I gave him a card for Mill Avenue Vexations—and forgot that I’m even wearing my Mill Ave T-shirt.

At first he asked questions about my religious experience and attitudes and I attempted to explain Celtic paganism to him. He elaborated that he, “Teaches other people about other religions and it helps if he understands them so that he can explain them.” Tim must be a terrible teacher because instead of listening to what other people have to say, he projects his own biases onto them and constructs entire scarecrow populations of strawmen in reply.

He asked about afterlife beliefs, I tried to explain the Otherworld.

He asked about morality and code of conduct and I explained the social construct of moral codes, harm, entitlement, and social contracts. He eventually went on to ask me about what pagans felt about “killing children…and other sins and immorality like abortion, homosexuality, sex before marriage…” I don’t know why he started out by asking about where pagans stand on “killing children” it made absolutely no sense and he quickly distanced himself from it.

We had a very brief exchange that sin is meaningless to people outside of his culture who don’t accept the concept of a divine command or divine law. Since “sex outside of marriage” came up last in his list I noted that pagans don’t care. Marriage is not a social construct that most pagans believe has any necessity with sexuality; furthermore, sexuality is something that we as a culture have developed numerous technologies to make safe and good for everyone and it’s proper that we educated ourselves and used that technology.

Tim tried to point out that nobody listens and I noted that’s because proponents of the “abstinence only” and “no sex before marriage” are deliberately miseducating and not educating people. I likened it to gun-control proponents giving out guns then deliberately not educating anyone or miseducating them; and then pointing out how dangerous guns are in the hands of neophytes as a reason to ban them (actual advocates don’t want people miseducated.) Since I don’t find “divine command” to be more important than actual harm I pointed out that his assertions would have to be backed up with more than just an argument from irresponsibility.

Noting that I kept dismissing anything that happened to be a divine command and asked for evidence of harm, Tim decided to switch to a witnessing propaganda tactic where he started to talk about how he used to be very much like a pagan: “I used to be shooting up all the time and engaging in carnality of the flesh.”

I’d repeatedly had to tell him that I didn’t say anything about pagans encouraging debauchery and unsafe behavior, which he kept intimating I meant by saying that pagans couldn’t care less that YHVH commanded people to get married first. This had already been an ongoing problem in his replies. Every time I mentioned that pagans didn’t accept some restriction placed by his deity and/or culture, he would immediately reply as if I had said there were no limits altogether. I pointed out that he didn’t care what Zeus or Odin had to say on the subject either because he’s not Ancient Greek or Asatru; but that didn’t mean that simply because he didn’t accept one of their restrictions he was reckless on all matters.

Finally, he started to make bald statements about how he had the absolute truth and that I would have to submit to my creator. To which I replied, “My creator would be a female goddess; not your male YHVH like you keep claiming.”

He kept trying to tell me, “I’m just telling you what I believe, like you told me what you believe.” Except that he wasn’t telling me what he believed; he had skipped directly to telling me what I should believe. And he did so by advocating this divine authority that he kept attempting to place on me. This isn’t an exchange of beliefs. There wasn’t any “I believe” in his statements it had all become: “You will” and “you must.”

I explained to him that his propaganda isn’t convincing and that he had started using a technique called the mere messenger stratagem. This is where the propagandist claims to be a mere messenger for a greater authority to which the recipient has no way of corroborating or access to.

He went on that he didn’t intend to convince me.

I tried to explain that when a person starts telling me what I should believe that in fact they are trying to convince me, so why was he doing that if he didn’t want to convince me.

He followed that up with some statement that Jesus told them to “compel” people…

At which point I think he lost the plot, since compelling people is by its nature by force and good luck forcing anyone to believe anything. Belief doesn’t work that way unless it involve traumatic brain injury. Here I thought he’d just wanted to fall back on, “I’m just having a conversation, an exchange of beliefs,” but no, he either misunderstands the word “compel” or he’s actually out there to attempt to force people to convert.

At this point, Tim noticed that the parishioner group of The Door had vacated the Post Office about ten minutes earlier.

He hastily excused himself.

The Door and their bad reputation

The Door’s well-deserved bad reputation for their intimidating and brutish behavior on Mill Ave has really made an impact on some of the people who visit. The fact that another Christian, Arienne, finds to cause grave concern deeply worries me. While I would like her to be able to speak to anyone who comes to Mill, I am not sure I am not about to press people into interacting with them.

She has rightfully pointed out that she doesn’t want to encourage them. They have, after all, made themselves a dangerous influence on the Ave and if they should wonder why people are treating them like wild animals don’t need to go far to discover that they’ve done it to themselves.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mill Avenue Nights: Saturday, August 20th 2011

A night during which a drunken oaf trips on my cane and blames me

The most eventful strange thing to happen to me tonight took the shape of a drunken man tripping over my cane.

I stood listening to Vocab Malone (Christian evangelist) speak to a Muslim man—the man wore traditionally modest costume for his religion in the form of a long white shirt and a cylindrical cap (I am still discerning the name for this religious garb.) As I had been standing for too long, I leaned heavily on my cane; but I try my best to keep it as close to my leg as possible, however, it does stick out some.

I felt my cane jarred as if with a blow and a body fell nearby.

A drunken man had brushed past me so close that he caught his toe on my cane, stumbled, and fell about five feet away. It took me a moment to realize that he’d run into my cane and that’s why he fell. Dumbfounded by the fallen man a ways away from me I started for a moment.

He immediately became hostile, shouting, “Really? Really!? You just tripped me with your cane.”

His friends, however, didn’t agree. I furrowed my brow and started to say something but couldn’t figure out what to say—the man’s friends helped him stand while telling him, “No, you tripped yourself.”

The drunken man then started calling me a “fag” and insulting The Legend of Zelda, “Zelda sucks you fag.” I simply stared at him and held onto my pepper spray as his friends dragged him away. At first I couldn’t figure out why he felt the need to insult Zelda. Then I realized, I was wearing a Legend of Zelda T-shirt. Not that I care if he dislikes Zelda, I suppose he figured it would insult me. Also, I’m continually baffled by the mainstream social consideration that someone should be insulted if you intimate that they’re homosexual.

The hypermasculine macho culture that we belong to seems to believe that homosexuality is a threat to masculinity (or perhaps machoism) but by the most part, being macho doesn’t contain many advantages at all. Point-in-fact, if I were actually a “fag” as in a homosexual, his insults would be meaningless; and as that I am not, nor do I care if another male thinks that I am, the only thing insulting about him was his ignorance.

Fortunately, groups have a behavior conserving effect and his friends didn’t want him tangling with someone he didn’t know.

In order to trip on my cane, he had to brush within inches of my body without paying attention to his surroundings. Also, being drunk, he would have hugely delayed motor coordination and be unable to right himself in the situation that he lost his balance. His inebriation also led him to becoming belligerent.

I expect as a non-drunk person he’s probably a lot more amiable.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Notch vs. Bethesda Softworks: Quake 3 at Dawn!

After the threat of a lawsuit from Bethesda, Notch (the maker of Minecraft) challenged them to a duel. We’re still waiting for the bigger software developer to respond.

Notch Demands Satisfaction, Challenges Bethesda to Trial by Combat” by Kyt Dotson:

“I challenge Bethesda to a game of Quake 3,” proclaims Notch, proudly offering the gauntlet to his esteemed legal foe. “Three of our best warriors against three of your best warriors. We select one level, you select the other, we randomize the order. 20 minute matches, highest total frag count per team across both levels wins.”

While I wouldn’t have chosen Quake 3 myself, it seems like an excellent arena to test the mettle of the champions of both sides. However, the legal veracity of which a duel might be questionable. Notch might want to get his legal team to draft a contract that causes the outcome to become binding.

The stakes are simple, he explains: “If we win, you drop the lawsuit. If you win, we will change the name of Scrolls to something you’re fine with.”

Champion trial-by-combat is an old tradition that has grown out of a multitude of cultures who sometimes used the show of armed prowess as a deciding factor between armies to reduce bloodshed. However, contemporary societies including Sweden and the United States—the respective countries the contestants are headquartered in—have grown into legalistic bureaucracies and generally settle things using regulations and money.

Minecraft Creator Challenges Bethesda to Quake 3 DM Over Patent Case” at GamePolitics.com.

Will Bethesda accept this challenge? Probably not, as the Skyrim development team had nothing to do with the legal action, and it's highly unlikely that its parent company's lawyers even know what Quake 3 Arena is…

Bethesda has a strong chance for some good PR here; but these corporations very rarely play to their fans.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mill Avenue Nights: Friday, August 12th 2011

I couldn’t remain on the Ave more than 20 minutes even at 10pm at night after encountering sweltering heat and high humidity. The oppressive atmosphere, however, didn’t discourage many of the townesfolk from idling on the red bricks and enjoying the night.

I found myself amused to discover a busker outside the Post Office bearing an acoustic guitar who, caught up by a passerby, allowed her to borrow his instrument to play “The Timewarp” from Rocky Horror Picture Show. She did a passable job at singing the song, although, for some reason whenever I hear it I always feel like it needs itself a hellish chorus of awkwardly unmelodic voices from an audience.

Otherwise, we had a somewhat dull night on the Ave. People came and went from bars, walked the streets in their revere, and the lights in W6 dimly lit from the newly opened lofts in the Tombstone Towers.

Let’s do the Time Warp again!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Mill Avenue Nights: Saturday, August 6th 2011

A few nights now, there have been drummers set up in front of the Post Office and that had displaced the evangelical preachers across the street. However, this evening there were no drummers and thus they set up in front of the post office.

We saw a few of the usual folks standing around, including Marcus,

That’s when Arienne and I were approached by an older gentleman of notable more than average height. He attempted to offer Arienne a Way of the Master fake-money tract depicting President Cleveland. (Of course, after I got home and examined the tract, I discovered it’s in Spanish.) After introductions, we learned that his name was Ken.

Like most of the Way of the Master evangelicals his approach is decidedly deep in the propaganda training than it was much personality. It took me a while to determine that this was his first time on Mill Ave and that he’d come to the Ave with the other evangelicals after meeting Tom.

He spent some time using a lot of different elements of propaganda on me and even held a long conversation with Arienne. He seemed a little bit ignorant of the history of his religion but has spoken about tightening up on his understanding of the lack of historical evidence for mythological characters like Jesus (even going so far to repeat a common canard that suggests that there’s more evidence for Jesus than Abraham Lincoln. A slogan that’s as patently false as absurd.)

After many minutes of absorbing his knowledge of Way of the Master propaganda, and letting Arienne converse with him, I decided to see if I could speak to him as a person. As he was new to Mill Ave, he seemed pretty zealous about selling his viewpoint; but none of it is anything that anyone extracultural would want to buy. As Arienne actually belongs to his religion, I figured that I’d best observe his interaction with her to get a baseline, especially if all I was going to get happened to be mirror-speak.

Eventually, something unexpected happened and Ken started talking to Omni (the Reverend Übermensch Omnicynic) and that conversation became interesting. Not a person to sit down in front of a challenge, Omni cultivated a discussion of Christian mythology that painted YHVH as an ineffective deity who fled in the face of rivals and needed his followers to do everything for him. I couldn’t quite follow along with everything discussed; but I did hear Omni speak about much of the comparative mythology.

After some lively discussion, Omni tired, claiming that Ken had begun to repeat himself. He quit both the conversation and the Ave at that point.

Eventually, however, after Crystal arrived on the scene Ken actually sat down with us and held a much more personal conversation bereft of the propaganda that advanced a personal dialogue. We ended up in a rather lively conversation about the origin of birthmarks, freckles, and the pigment mutation in recent European ethnic descent that causes us to have much lighter skin tone than African ethnicities. The conversation wound on to discussing aberrant psychology such as schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Ken revealed to us that a relative worked in a mental hospital and spoke a little bit about the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome patients and its apparent prevalence in the population. Elaine Mercer from Black Hat Magick exhibits some of the spectrum of Asperger’s syndrome—as similar and fantasized about in the geek community—but even these examples don’t well reflect the reality of the condition.

I enjoyed the time I got to actually sit and speak with Ken as another person. I don’t know that I can adequately approach his cultural propaganda; he lacked the apparent cynicism and paternalistic simpering of many of the other preachers who speak down to passersby and could actually be an asset to the culture of the Ave.

Chicago Still on Mill Ave

Glad to see that Chicago is still bringing his interesting bottle-tab outfit out to the Avenue. He’s laconic, but smiling black neo-punk who fashioned his wardrobe out of metal bits and bottle-tabs; the effect produces a chainmail armor and coif effect as it’s a hoodie, a shirt, and a pair of pants.

When I hit the bricks, I often find him sitting near the clock.

Don’t Know Where I’ll be in a Month

I’ll miss the Ave the most.

Diablo III: Eschews offline play and adds cash auction house

In an actual that generated a giant swell of vitriol among fans, Diablo III will not have offline play—the entire game and campaign will require an Internet connexion. In related news, a Blizzard executive appears baffled that the fans are very pissed about this.

Also related to this happens to be something that I wrote about which involves the addition of the cash auction house to the game. Something fans have been mixed on.

It’s hard to say exactly how these two elements will change the already extremely popular Diablo franchise or the highly anticipated game; but it’s easy to say that Blizzard, as always, is at the forefront of experimenting with extremely effective business tactics.

No strangers to angering their fans in World of Warcraft; perhaps they just saw it as time to get the goats of their Diablo fans. Many of my friends and peers in the gaming community have already revealed that they may not want to buy D3 due to the online-only move. Still, it’s hard to dismiss the power its popular momentum.

Link, via GameOgre; and link, via SiliconANGLE.