Category: Politics


#OCCUPYMULTIPLAYERSHOOTERS

Yay protest time!Wake up sheeple of the gaming community! Your very online gaming freedoms are under attack even as I type this blog post. It’s time to #OccupyMultiplayerShooters!

There was a period, long ago, in gaming history where online shooters were about skill and knowing the map. Everything was fair and balanced. No player started out with any advantages over his or her opponents. We had an equal distribution of fun.

Things have changed thanks to the new breed of online shooters in the vein of Battlefield and Call of Duty. These two franchises have changed the gaming landscape to the point that the top 1% of online players now control over 50% of the weapons and upgrades at the start of every match.

Maps are no longer flush with weapons and powerups for anyone to take. Instead, players are incentivised to spend hours on end leveling up so they may gain access to equipment inaccessible to new players. This gives an unfair advantage to players born with more time to spend on the game.

Instead of fair and balanced gameplay, EA and Activision have subsidized these top players to the point that they are nigh untouchable unless one is willing to grind through the maps as cannon fodder for the top 1%. As if starting with superior equipment wasn’t enough, the 1% have an easier time of racking up killstreaks, providing them with even more tools of destruction to reign down on the 99%. In a game that is supposed to be about true competition, it seems that the 99% don’t stand a chance against their subsidized overlords.

Why all these subsidies? Shouldn’t a player’s value be intrinsically defined by his or her own skill?

It’s time to end this madness and turn back to our roots. We need to rise up and #OccupyMultiplayerShooters until our demands are met with a return to the days of fair and balanced gameplay!

Look to the Stars

JFK

History must repeat itself if we are to move forward in this age of technology. We are currently faced with many problems that our politicians ascribe to policies enacted by their colleges of opposing partisan lines. It does not matter who is right and who is wrong, what matters is that we are not unified in purpose. We are divided as a country, but we can overcome this by repeating our past.

Rewind back to the early 60’s when the space race was taking off. As a nation, we were a new superpower trying to show off our strength to the rest of the world while at the same time trying our hardest not to enrage the Russians. JFK came along and said, “Hey! Lets do something that will blow people’s minds!” and the entire country backed his idea of NASA putting a man on the moon. We instantly became fixated on getting to the moon at that point. No one cared about ridiculous things like what Sarah Palin may say next or how much more awesome the Rally to Restore Sanity will be than Restoring Honor was.

We had a goal and put aside all of our petty differences to achieve that goal. The trickle down effect from that entire movement is still felt today. Getting to the moon was not an easy task. We had to bring science and math to the forefront of our schools. We had to focus all of our attention on inventing completely new ways of doing things. As a result, we built our knowledge base high enough that we actually did make it to the moon with a side effect of building a better nation.

Our modern way of life arose almost entirely as a result of the progress we made while at the height of the space race. We were making scientific breakthroughs left and right. We were inventing new technologies that greatly enhanced our way of life. If we could simply latch back on to that goal of scientific progress, we could solve so many of our current problems.

Our generation does not have such a clearly defined goal, however. The generation before us bickers in Washington over who gets what piece of the American pie while they allow our scientific literacy rates to steadily drop. We need to stand up and let them know that we have had enough. We must unify and set our eyes on the stars.

Is Mars really that far away? I’ll bet if we put our collective imaginations together we can engineer a way to get there in our lifetimes. It is time to bring back science and math for our future’s sake. Were there is no vision, the people perish.

Mars

Just Legalize It Already

Weed Chart

Well, it seems out of all the problems facing Cali these days, they are still on track to vote on legalizing marijuana. A recent poll shows that citizens are on the fence with the issue. So, there is a slim chance that they could actually legalize it and move on to more important things.

I wish that they would just hurry up, legalize it, and be done with it. There are several advantages besides the typical “we can tax the frak out of it and save the state from bankruptcy” argument. Here is my humble opinion on why marijuana should be legalized everywhere and not just in the wonderfully progressive state of California.

1. Reduced workplace competition

With everyone stoned out of their minds, no one will want to come in to work anymore resulting in massive firings. What does that mean for the rest of us hard working Americans? Higher wages! Frak Yes! You will finally be able to get that promotion because there simply will be no alternatives.

Looking for a job? Who is the company going to hire? A stoner-hippie, or you who still remembers how to dress properly before coming to a job interview. Not to mention the fact that you will probably get it because the stoner-hippie likely confused the words ‘job interview’ and ‘marijuana dispenser’. The former being anathema to them and the latter nirvana.

2. You can sell anything to someone while stoned

How easy is it to sell useless and cheap merchandise to someone while they chase the dragon (or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days)? Exactly. Your business plan of selling off cheap goods imported from China will work out beautifully and make you filthy rich, which will almost certainly take on a concrete meaning since you will only be paid in extremely dirty cash.

3. An increase in art appreciation

No one has a greater appreciation of the arts than a stoner-hippie (or at least a good approximation of it). With legalized marijuana flowing in abundance, art galleries will be packed with stoner-hippies finding themselves while assuming they are all having collective extensional experiences. Anyone trying to sell new paintings of stupid things (like this guy) will have no trouble finding buyers partially due to my second reason.

This will probably destroy Hollywood, but who would really miss them anyways? Actually, come to think about it, it wouldn’t because movies like Speed Racer would demand a re-watch while high.

So, there. That is why weed needs to be legalized plain and simple. Come on, California, get to the voting booths and show your support for dear old Mary Jane!

The Israeli Game

Floating among the massive interwebs is a story of how Israel has mercilessly attacked an aid flotilla sent to Gaza. At first glance I was immediately repulsed by their actions, but I quickly checked the source and remembered that I was linked to it from Digg.com, which tends to favor more extreme stories. Nothing gets us Digg users stirred up like extreme claims.

Performing a search for this will pull results that paint Israel in a negative light due to the impartiality of the media. Being rather impartial myself, I decided to find out more about it. Heading off to Reuters, I found a story about how Israel’s attacks are only going to incite more violence from the terrorists in the area. Then I searched around on the Jerusalem Post and they were saying that a good portion of the travelers on the ship had ties to the terrorist network.

So, we arrive at an impasse. On one had, Israel is going to stir up more terrorist actions against them and on the other they are allowing the terrorists into their borders. What would you do in this situation?

Everyone always sides against Israel no matter the topic at hand regardless of the fact that they are surrounded by countries that hate them have even declared it would be better if Israel was wiped off the face of the earth.

Everyone always talks about how foolish it is of the UN to allow Israel to have nuclear weapons even when Israel has been responsible with their use. I don’t know about you, but I have not seen any mushroom clouds rising from the desert lately. Laying all that aside, nukes are only good for mutually assured destruction, which they need to even survive as a country.

Despite popular opinion, Israel does have a right to defend itself and when you are surrounded by people that hate and constantly undermine you, you tend to evolve an ability to discern those trying to bring you down. Israel does not have a history of terrorism and when involved in military conflicts, they follow proper conventions. I fail to see the comparisons being made between them and terrorist groups like Hamas.

Everyone needs to just calm down a bit and quit demonizing Israel on principle. I understand that the loss of life involved adds credence to Turkey, but there are always two sides to every story.

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WikiLeaks: Collateral Murder

As promised, WikiLeaks has released video footage today showing a group of Iraqis fired upon by a US Military Apache Helicopter. The Iraqis were suspected of being armed with AK-47’s and RPG’s, so the Apache was cleared to engage. Unfortunately, among the group were two Reuters journalists who were both killed. After the first wave of shootings, a van pulls up to try and help the wounded still in the street. The van is then engaged by the Apache and several more are killed. Two children who were riding in the van were injured. When US ground soldiers arrived, they immediately rushed the children to a hospital.

Here is the video, which has been authenticated and is extremely graphic:

The video is readily available all over the internet and is stirring up emotions everywhere. Every time innocents are killed or injured, I weep for their families. This situation was a devastating tragedy and a mistake made by our military. We can never make up for our mistakes like these, which is why our military goes to great lengths to prevent them. I want to extend my personal condolences to the families that lost loved ones in this tragedy, your losses have not gone unnoticed.

Every blog and news site tries to paint the soldiers in this video as bloodthirsty teens reveling in their killings. After viewing the video myself, all I can see is trained, mature soldiers carrying out orders and acting appropriately in the situation. They follow military protocols closely and did not engage until they were cleared to. I will not stomach an outlash against the US military over these actions.

After watching the cleverly edited video, which works to show the non-threatening nature of the Iraqis by highlighting relevant portions of the video, most commentators have concluded that the soldiers should have easily seen that some of the ‘weapons’ were actually cameras carried by the Reuters journalists and that the van was carrying children. However, I thought it was extremely difficult to make those observations in my civilian pass of the raw parts of the video. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to analyze the video in real-time and in an actual war-zone.

I knew that children were in the van before watching the video, but I still could not make them out until the edited part of the video specifically pointed them out. Rest assured, if the soldiers had known that children were riding in the van, they would not have fired. Our troops are not heartless murders, which is why they rushed the children to the hospital immediately upon finding them.

We have so detached ourselves as a society from the ground situations in both Iraq and Afganistan that we attack every mistake as ‘war crimes’ and ‘collateral murder’. What this video does not show is the surrounding situation and the actual mission of the Apache. We have no idea about the events leading up to this moment, or the ones following afterward. All we have is this small slice of reality that hides the deeper scope of the full situation. Before you cry out for vengeance on behalf of the innocents killed in this attack, realize that you do not have all the information required to make a fair, unbiased judgment.

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I love metal. I listen to it throughout most of my day via Sirius Satellite Radio‘s Liquid Metal station. Every once in a while, they will host artists in the studio to interview them, especially if the artists are approaching a CD release date. Today, a couple member of Fear Factory were there promoting their new album, Mechanize, that will be released next week. Liquid Metal has been playing a few tracks from the album lately, and they all sound pretty awesome. I am glad that Fear Factory is back doing what they do best. Unfortunately what they do best is creating metal and not thinking.

One of their new songs is unambiguously titled, “Controlled Demolition”.  Burton C. Bell, of Fear Factory, introduced the song with the following statement:  “This is a song about how a certain destruction in our world of the last decade may or may not have been a controlled demolition. It is up to you what you believe. ” Upon hearing this, I immediately felt nerd rage begin to overload my intellectual abilities as I thrust my headphones away from my face. All I wanted to do was reach through the radio and educate him in hopes that his ignorance could be cured.

I completely understand the reason for political differences, and I know that Fear Factory is liberally minded when it comes to politics. Political differences arise due to the opposing philosophical ideals that fuel them. This is why we will forever have the conservative and liberal paradigms. I could have easily listened to the song if it was promoting a political view opposite that of my own, but one thing I cannot stomach is willful ignorance.

I find it baffling that in spite of all the scientific evidence levied against the 9-11 controlled demolition conspiracy that people still believe it. Have we really become that scientifically illiterate as a nation? What really disturbed me about the band member’s comment on it was when he used the word ‘believe’. How can you ‘believe’ or not ‘believe’ in scientific facts?

Can I choose whether or not to believe in the ‘conspiracy of gravity’? If I plug up my ears and decry the notion of gravity as only a government conspiracy, does that make it any less true? If someone went around screaming about how gravity was only a government conspiracy, we would gently take that person to a nice group of doctors dressed in sterile, white coats. So, how are 9-11 conspiracy supporters any different? Their conspiracies have been scientifically proved false many, many times, but sadly enough, they remain willfully ignorant.

I realize that science is hard, but we must regain our focus as a nation on math and science to prevent this from becoming the norm. Ignorance spreads like a virus.

My new slogan: “Science is hard, so if you don’t understand it, keep your mouth shut until you do. “

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The Dividing Line

A couple of weeks ago, I was having a nice political discussion with one of my ultra-conservative friends (who is ironically a member of a worker’s union), and he made a statement about how Nancy Pelosi had nothing to say when Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital. Me, being the moderate I am, turned that around on him and reminded him what Rush had to say when Ted Kennedy died (sorry for the HuffPo link, but it was the first Google result). Then I began thinking about our current political polarization here in America, and when you think about it, it is really disheartening. We have become so quick to draw party lines and point fingers that we have forgotten what we are fighting for.

It doesn’t matter if you are a baby-killing liberal Democrat or a gay-bashing conservativeRepublican, we are all Americans and want the same things – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Being the intrinsically self-centered creatures we are, we tend think that our idea for attaining these things is the best thing since sliced bread and that all opposing ideas are evil plots specifically designed to destroy us and undermine the nation. Whatever happened to critical thinking? The only thing that is really destroying us is our inability to consider opposing ideas as viable solutions to a common problem.

No one claims to be right 100% of the time until you come to political topics, then they transform into a inerrant scholar and will not concede the argument no matter how many facts you throw at them. They completely reject any other approach and remain blissfully ignorant and arrogant. To move forward we need to purge this mentality and accept the fact that we can sometimes be wrong in our political views and ideals. All opposing views should be met with careful consideration rather than blistering criticism. Facts and analysis should always trump buzzwords and speculation.

Three simple steps to becoming a critical thinker:

  1. Admit you can be wrong
  2. Look at the facts
  3. Quite acting like a jerk

We have to work together to fix our problems and not declare “it’s our way or the highway” (big thanks to Scott Brown for stopping this from happening).

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