Sunday, March 24, 2013

FUN: Make Your Own Game of Thrones Family Arms

Game of thrones begins March 31, and HBO created a website that allows you to make your own Family Arms. Do it now!

Maybe I should make this my first album cover.


My elder brother took issue with my decision to decide the Coat of Arms, and issued a challenge:

VERY WELL, brother. I suppose it is to be WAR. We younger brothers have no problems with the whole cutting-off-the-nose dynamic. My rejoinder:

"Let's Have Sex With Robots Together!": OR HOW ABOUT NOT

NO, you are NOT about to kiss that little red abomination for purposes of making out with your boyfriend long-distance.

Can't unsee.

And yet. This could be the future of cheat-free long distance relationships. Simulated kissing will obviously develop into simulated carnal relations... danger-free prositution... lower unexpected pregnancy, STD rates...

And yet. Fuck it, I don't care. Too weird. Something's being lost that I'm not smart enough to articulate. I shall stand athwart history, vainly screaming "OMG stop it NOOO..."

Please, no robot sandwich?

Friday, March 22, 2013

BioShock Infinite: IGN Squees, But We Shall See

As one of the more stylish and beautiful games to come out since the Fallout series, people have high hopes for the latest futuristic-yet-old-timey, dystopic, libertarian dream/nighmare world that the latest BioShock installment promises to deliver in BioShock Infinite.

I don't like first person shooters much, but I loved the original BioShock. The atmosphere, the gorgeous old-timey/steam punk art direction, and the ways in which they tell - and engage you in - the story kept me in the world of Rapture till the end.

Now, BioShock 2, we'll give the Aliens 3 treatment. Pretend it didn't happen. Moving along.

IGN's review is mostly squee. And the visuals and storytelling do look pretty fucking brilliant. Will it live up to the hype IGN's fanning here?

We shall see, shan't we?
Yes. Yes, we shall.
Here's the Review:

More reviews and commentary:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why Americans Should Stop Calling People "Illegals"

Saw an article at The Nation: No Human Being is Illegal.

Damn right. So NOT a fan of Americans calling people "illegals" that I was compelled to make a picture.

Yes, that's a direct quote from Pat Buchanan

And here's a real American Indian doing it for real at an anti-immigration rally he happened to walk by. AWESOME.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Islam-Bashing is for Losers: "New" Atheism, or Same-Old Racism?

Great scientist, bashes Muslims too much.
Anyone getting tired of these "new atheists" and their penchant for Islam-bashing? I am, and that's without having the slightest regard for modern-day Islam (or any religion.) In many ways I'd be their fellow traveler (science, rationality, progress), but this persistent Islam-bashing is bullshit.

Yes, all religions are metaphysical bullshit. But if you come from a predominately Christian country, known for oppressing Muslims (looking at you, US and UK) , and especially if you're a white male from said country, singling out Muslims for special contempt looks a little suspicious. As do the fans of that kind of attitude:

  • White males, particularly the Internet-savvy, self-styled "libertarian"ones
  • White "atheists" (especially the superior, obnoxious ones)
  • Right wingers, Christians
  • Neocons
  • White millennials (because they know fuck-all about religion, racism or geopolitics, and because they're 20)
  • etc.
Something of a rogue's gallery, is my point. Strange bedfellows.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with bashing religion (I do it all the time). Pointing out the ridiculousness, the destructiveness, of Islam - or any religion - is great. But othering Muslims and appealing to Islamophobia isn't.

Here's the thing. You don't have to explicitly assert that a whole group of people are inferior, you just have to use the right language.

"These Muslims", huh?

Here's another "New Atheist", Sam Harris, from his "In Defense of Profiling" article: "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it." (As a mixed-ancestry - black/white - person of color who could "conceivably" look "Muslim", I speak for many when I say we get profiled enough, fuck you very much, white man. How's that for honesty, Sam?)

In the above examples, switch "Muslims" with "Blacks", "Jews", "Gays" (using the nice terms), etc. You get the idea. Where have we seen this kind of language before? Oh yeah, throughout the entire history of oppression.

Dawkins and Harris are using othering language, and they know it. If they don't, they're strikingly ignorant for people of their intellect.

And they must know that this kind of Muslim-bashing isn't the same as Christian-bashing. Christians aren't the ones being profiled at airports or intimidated by the NYPD. Christians aren't exactly an oppressed minority here in the States (more like an oppressive majority), and if they live in fear, it's only fear of the bullshit they make up in their own heads. When bashing, these things ought to be taken into account.

Could have missed it, but haven't seen any of these guys acknowledge what significantly contributed to the rise of militaristic, radical Islam in the first place: colonialism and imperialism, primarily by (surprise!) the UK and US. If Islam is to blame, then certainly Christianity is, too. More importantly, our (Anglo) nations share  direct culpability. Maybe we should take responsibility, instead of acting self-righteous and throwing temper tantrums.

You know, like Jesus said, deal with the huge plank in our own eye before we worry about the speck in someone else's. I'm not saying that Islam's issues are a speck, but I'm definitely saying that we have a plank, and if we don't acknowledge and deal with it, we have no right to be taken seriously. Hypocrites never should be.

Please, New Atheists, stop piling on. And remember that you're privileged white people talking about predominately black and brown people. People whose countries we invade. People our countries oppress, occupy, and kill in greater numbers than any terrorist could dream of.

I agree that Islam, - like most, or all, religions - is bullshit, and destructive, but your strident preoccupation with bashing Muslims looks a lot more like racism than enlightenment.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy 18th, Mae

My child is an adult. Speechless.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to Calm Down and Enjoy Life

This is an awesome TED talk by meditation guru Andy Puddicombe of You can get a lot out of his meditation courses, and not just feel-good zen kinda stuff. For people with anxiety, social anxiety, worry, depression etc., it can make a huge difference in your life (and those around you.) It has in mine.

So, watch his talk and then head over there for a free 10-day (10 minutes a day) guided meditation course. You'll be glad you did. I mean, when's the last time you took 10 minutes out of your day just to be calm and still? The effects can be amazing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Neverwinter Beta: D&D Goes Diablo, Rangers Get the Shaft AS USUAL

I always buy from this merchant, because, you know.
Because the gaming world needs another WoW-like MMORPG: Neverwinter!

It's beta weekend in the land of... wherever-Neverwinter-is, and yours truly has been gallantly clicking his mouse and keyboard, delving into dark dungeons in search of hidden gold and long-forgotten treasures (which conveniently pop, pinata-like, out of defeated foes for easy collection.)

Let's start with the really bad:

Rangers, that oft-maligned, viscerally hated and persecuted refugee of the gaming universe, will find no refuge in Neverwinter. Usually, MMORPGs wait until release to begin the slow process of repeatedly fucking Rangers over. Cryptic has got them all beat, though: there's no Ranger class at all.

I'm going to be a Ranger anyway! :p
Yeah, a D&D game without Rangers. I should have just hopped onto my roflcopter and left right there.

But I wanted a new MMORPG to play. And I think they said a Ranger class would arrive "sometime after launch". And they did do a few things right. And I'm a Ranger (an E-Ranger!), and we have low self-esteem. So I stayed, and hence the cycle of abuse begins again. Well played, Neverwinter. Well played.

Now for the bad:

So, we've established that this is a D&D game. Remember spending the better part of an hour creating your PnP D&D character? So many decisions, so many possibilities. Your background, motivations, resources, stats, companions, abilities, etc.

Well, in Neverwinter, you choose a class. That's about it. Oh, and you do a fake-ish dice-rolling thing for your THREE stats. And you look really carefully around the screen for the hidden "Ranger" button.

Because Diablo was too complicated.
Okay, so character creation isn't a big thing in Neverwinter. Life goes on. It's not as though you can't customize your class and make it your own as you level up, right?

Yeah, about that. The customization options in Neverwinter are, shall we say, limited. By "limited", I mean there aren't any. As in, all your abilities are chosen for you as you level up.

Yeah, a D&D game where you don't actually choose your skills and powers. These guys really made City of Heroes? I wonder.

Now for the good, I guess:

Cool guys don't look at pretty, moon-lit castles.
It's pretty. It can be a little rough around the edges in places, but the overall art direction is better than most MMORPGs I've seen (that's not saying much, but still.)

Combat in Neverwinter is actually pretty fun, too. It's a lot more visceral than your standard "swish-swish am I actually hitting something?" fare. Hits connect, satisfying noises are made, you get to knock people around. It's fairly Diablo-like in that respect, which is not really a bad thing. If you like Diablo.

Dungeon-crawling in Neverwinter is also somewhat similar to Diablo. Kill packs of foes, pick up all the loot that (literally) pops out of them, equip the Cool New Thing, continue. That was the most fun part of the game for this particular adventurer.

But overall, I'd say that Neverwinter fairly sucks, although I'm sure some people will like it (I can't think of what demographic that'd be, but I'm sure they're out there.) For those of us who loved PnP D&D, UO, EQ or even WoW, "meh" is going to be a likely response. Which also sucks, because this is the second D&D-based MMORPG, and probably the last we'll see in a while.

A Dungeons and Dragons game with no Rangers. Huh.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Great Talk: Tim Wise on Racism, "Color-Blindness", etc.

Tim Wise is one of the more articulate and well-read anti-racists out there. He's pretty damn adept at explaining (especially to the melanin-deficient variety of human) just how racist our society still is.

It's probably going to be a while before this country (as a whole) is ready to have an honest discussion about race, but this is a good example of the educating and consciousness-raising that'll get us there someday.

Well, that and old, racist white people dying off. That'll help, too. Muuhahahaha.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

POWERFUL: Same Love by Macklemore

Even if you're not a big fan of hip-hop, you might love this song. And especially if you're not a big fan of certain recurrant themes in hip-hop (misogyny, homophobia, thug life) you, like me, might hope that guys like this take over the industry.

No freedom til we're equal.
Damn Right I support it

Neverwinter Beta Weekend 2: Check it!

From the makers of City of Heroes (yay), Champions Online (boo), and Star Trek Online (sorta boo), comes beta weekend 2 of Cryptic Studio's MMORPG set in D&D's Neverwinter universe.

Well, they're not actually calling it a MMORPG. They're calling it an "action RPG set in an immersive MMO world". MMOARPG? That looks awkward. Whatever, it's a MMORPG.

Anyway, I shall be playing said closed beta this weekend and reporting back here with infos that don't break  whatever NDA-type arrangement they've got going.

Half-Elven Ranger Time!

Observe the Robotic Awesomeness

The NAO humanoid robot in all its majesty.

Yes, please. As a bonus, this robot won't scare the shit out of you, unlike those creepy Japanese sex-bots.